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July 31, 2007

SURPRISE!!!!

Today is my fathers last working day. Hes retiring from his job after working for 34 years in his beloved organization. I would nt be lying if I say that he loves his office and his job a teeny weeny bit more than his grand daughter and that's saying something, is nt it? So how can I make his day special? By surprising him, of course! We have been planning for a month now and since my mom reads this blog, I could nt write here and it was killing me not to let you folks know. And how can I not whine to you guys about flying with a toddler alone? But I held my tongue and all for good reason. And that's not all! I pulled my sister into this plan as well and she traveled from the US and reached Chennai on Sunday night. Ashu and I reached in the afternoon. We reached our hometown on Monday night by road. My dads still in shock and my mom almost had a heart attack. But it was all totally worth it! The look on my mom and dads faces was just priceless. Ashu of course is the most happiest of the lot having a blast being with her favorite Aunt and her grand parents at the same time. More details of the whole thing later. Now got to go and get ready for the farewell party for my dad.

Happy Retired Life, Dad! You are the best!

July 26, 2007

M-I-L-K

For more than a year now, we have been spelling the word M-I-L-K rather than saying it in front of Ashu. If we were in a car and were about to reach home in 15 mins, we would nt be stupid enough to say "Got to give MILK to Ashu as soon as we reach home". Because our darling little girl will only hear MILK and start asking for milk NOW! Or if we were in a park and I say by mistake something like "lets go home, she must be hungry, I forgot to bring milk for her", it would be war! I want Milk, Paal Venum, ... She used to cry when she was much younger and then later, started nagging and now she screams! First it was Paal(Milk in Tamil) and then we started using the word, milk. Then she understood the English word too and started asking for PILK. So we switched to spelling. It worked. Until now. Yesterday, madam got up from sleep and declared "I want Em-Eye-El-Kay". I mean, imagine it coming out of the mouth of a 2 year old. Hd and I were like WHAT! Then today, she said it again to prove that she actually knows and that one time was nt by mistake.
Bee-Are-A-Tea this one!

July 23, 2007

Got "Baby talk for dummies"?

Do you moms & dads get bothered when you don't get what your child is saying? Long back before Ashu, one of our friends used to annoy me a lot by not understanding what his son said and always asked the mother what he was saying. I understand that the mother gets to be with the children thoughout the day and the dad is sort of out of the loop. But this dad never made an effort to understand what the kid was saying and it happened a lot of times. For an observer, it looked as if he was nt a big part of his sons life. And I did nt like what I was seeing.

Fast forward to now, lot of times, Hd and I have no clue what Ashu is saying. And her gibberish baby talk only makes it harder for us to understand her words. but I make her repeat and she patiently repeats it a dozen times and after racking my brain, a light bulb flashes somewhere and I get what shes saying. Like "neithuttr" means she wants a nail cutter to trim the nails of her doll. And she tried so hard to make me understand that one by showing the dolls feet and going to the bathroom and showing the cabinet. And I can see that she gets really upset and makes a sad face and sighs(!) when we don't understand what shes saying. (Yes! She sighs.) And 99% of the time, I don't let her down. But Hd! Well, men will be men and all that but I hate to see the poor things face when he just nods and says OK to whatever she says without understanding a word. This one time, I'm in the bathroom and can hear their conversation. They are doing puzzles and seeing the examples for circle, shes saying Ball, Sun and "pait" looking at the disc shaped thing which I usually say as Frisbee to Ashu. So Hd says "paint? OK" and Ashu says "No appa. Pait". "Pait? OK OK, whats the next shape?" But Ashu is not done. She says "Pait, Appa. Ashu mummam, Appa" but I think Hd has gone on to triangles by now. And I scream from the bathroom, "Shes saying PLATE"! And this is another major reason why I hate sending Ashu to school. Today she told me something she did in school with another little girl, S and I totally did NOT get it. I am becoming like Hd. :(

ps.
Note to self: "Aandhi" is Laundry in Ashu talk. It took 45 minutes and a lot of gesturing to get that one so don't you ever forget that.

The End.


Since I have never ever finished a book within 2 days of its release and don't think I will ever do it again, until JK Rowlings next book that is, here's a thanks to the author for the magical times with Harry and his friends. I bow to thee, JKR.

I was sad and happy at the same time when I read the last word of the book and turned the page to find it was the end. I hope this fantasy becomes real when Ashu turns 11 and gets a letter from Hogwarts in spite of her muggle parents. And gets into Gryffindor's. :)

July 20, 2007

Our Friday ritual.

Soaking in all the oil after the massage.

Trying to blow a bubble during a leisurely, long bath.

Wondering who is God and why is Amma making her say, "Lord Muruga! Save everyone!" Whos Everyone, by the way?

Inhaling the Sambrani and looking at the smoke patterns.

Off to dream land after eating a hearty lunch! Amma can peacefully blog surf for solid 2 hours! ;)

July 17, 2007

Heaven is...

... sitting alone on a bench under the shade of a tree on a hot, sunny day eating juicy, ripe, red plums, drinking freshly squeezed, chilled orange juice and looking at the graceful Swans floating in the clear, blue lake by the hills while (this is the most important part!) the husband slogs away at work and daughter tries to settle in her new playschool.

Life, as they say, is beautiful! :)

July 16, 2007

My favourite Indian Writing.

I don’t remember at what age I started reading books. I always loved the books that were part of the school work and used to finish reading the English and Tamil books which had short stories, Non detail books, etc... even before the school year began. And then one day my sister and I stumbled upon the big, rusty Trunk potti. It belonged to my mom and she had loads of Tamil books in it. Pages torn from the Tamil magazines every week and neatly bound, sort of like a DIY novel! And I was hooked. I was too young to read "that" kind of books, according to my parents. I was 12. So I sneaked them to the bathroom or to school or to the terrace and devoured them. I have forgotten the titles and authors of so many books I read during that period of time but a few of them left a lasting impression. Here are some of them.

Paalangal by Sivasankari.
It was about three generations of women. I vaguely remember the story but I can say for sure that it was unputdownable. I love the details in her books. The elaborate way she describes the customs and the rituals of the older generation when a girl attains puberty, during an engagement, the wedding,... Its the same thing I have heard from my grandma a dozen times but when you read it, you wish you belonged to that generation where you did nt have a care in the world or so I thought! I got to get hold of this book soon. I wonder how I will like it after 18 years!
I remember another book "Naan Naanaaga" by Sivasankari which I read again recently. Its about a 40 year old woman who is bored after her sons go off to college and takes up dancing once again much to the shock of her family. A simple but lovely novel.

Kadal Pura by Sandilyan
My mom absolutely did nt want me to read books by Sandilyan until I finished my 10th standard, when I would turn 15. But her rule only made me curious and I finished Kadal Pura even before she found that the book is gone! Its a Raja-Rani story set in historic times and is an absolute thriller! Im ashamed to say I don’t even remember the story line. Another book, I am not sure if its Mannan Magal, was an amazing read too. I understand there are tonnes of more books by Sandilyan. Its time I pay a visit to a Book shop in Chennai the next time I go to India. I’m rubbing my hands with glee already at the thought of it!

Another book from my Moms Trunku potti was Pirivom Sandhipom by Sujatha. The teenage me loved this book. Is nt this the book with Kamal Hassan and Sripriyas photos as illustrations? Was this book made into a movie with them? I never found out. But loved looking at Kamals pictures while reading the story! I also read Aa and Karai Ellam Shenbagapoo. Don’t remember anything about the former except the title illustrations but liked the latter a lot. Pratap Pothan and whatshername completely spoiled it for me in the movie! His short stories, Srirangathu Dhevadhaigal are my favourites and I am hooked to his articles, Katradhum Petradhum, in Anandha Vikatan magazine.

Works of Kalki R Kirshnamurthy
Oh, where do I even begin? Kalki is my most favourite writer in the whole wide world. (Kalki and Roald Dahl to be honest!) I am sure every person who reads Tamil will have Ponniyin Selvan in their favourite list. What a book! Its a long story with five parts and it took me a couple of months to finish all of them. The last part I finished in a 10 hour flight without a wink! Its a book set in historic times and the amount of research Kalki must have done for this book leaves me absolutely dumbfounded. And since my birth place is Kumbakonam and I grew up there, I could imagine the places he describes, the temples he writes about and made me realize what a historic place I am from and how clueless I have been about the Cholas and their history. I am sure kids will learn a lot more if Ponniyin Selvan is recommended as a text book for schools instead of the boring history books! I am the proud owner of all the five parts.

I read Sivagamiyin Sabadham before PS which I found in our local library in the UK. This is the book which introduced Kalki to me and am I thankful to the library! Soon after, I bought Alai Osai and that’s another classic. I have read loads of articles and short stories by Kalki in the Kalki magazine and every time he proves what a great writer he is. Veenai Bavani, Sunduvin Sanyaasam, Kailasamaiyar Kaabara, ... Oh I can go on and on about his short stories. Some are so hilarious that I have literally rolled on the floor with laughter! A sample passage from கைலாசமய்யர் காபரா -

பாம்பை அடிக்க வேலைக்காரன் கொண்டு வந்த தடியைக் கைலாசமய்யர் பிடுங்கிக் கொண்டு பையனை அடிக்கப் போனார். நல்ல வேளையாக, அந்தச் சமயம் ஜோஷனாரா பீகம் வந்து குறுக்கிட்டதால் பையன் பிழைத்தான்! ஜோஷனாரா பீகம் என்றதும், சில பேருக்குச் சுவாரஸ்யம் தட்டலாம். ஏதோ இந்தக் கதையில் நவாபுகளும் அவர்களுடைய அந்தப்புரத்து அழகிகளும் வரப் போகிறார்கள் என்று நினைக்கலாம். அப்படியெல்லாம் ஒன்றுமில்லை. கைலாசமய்யருக்கு வடக்கத்தி ஹிந்துஸ்தானி சங்கீதத்தில் அதிகப் பிரியம். "பயமில்லாமல் கேட்கக் கூடியது ஹிந்துஸ்தானி சங்கீதந்தான்" என்பார். ரேடியோவில் அவர் அடிக்கடி லக்னௌ ஜோஷனாரா பீகத்தின் சங்கீதத்தைக் கேட்பதுண்டு. ஆனால், வீட்டிலே மற்றவர்களுக்கு - முக்கியமாக அவருடைய மனைவிக்கு - ஜோஷனாரா பீகமும், அவளுடைய சங்கீதமும் கொஞ்சமும் பிடிப்பதில்லை. எனவே, அவர்கள் வீட்டில் வளர்த்த ஒரு கறுப்புப் பூனைக்கு 'ஜோஷனாரா பீகம்' என்று பெயரிட்டிருந்தார்கள். இந்த ஜோஷனாரா பீகத்தைக் கண்டால் கைலாசமய்யருக்குக் குலை நடுக்கம்! அச்சமயம் அந்தப் பூனை வந்ததினால் தான் அவருடைய பையன் மண்டை உடையாமல் தப்பிப் பிழைத்தான்.

Is he a genius or what? I hope to read every short story written by him. Is there a collection of short stories by Kalki? Any book suggestions?

Though I have always wanted to read Mogamul by T Janakairaman, I started reading Sembaruthi last month at my sisters place. As you would have already guessed, I was hooked and spent more time reading the book much to my sisters disapproval. And that idiot would nt let me borrow the book. I could nt finish the book before I left. If I die without finishing the book, you know who will be haunting your bathroom, Sis? The book is set in the 40s and is about a young man Sattanathan Pillai and how he struggles to bring up his family which includes both his brothers family. It has an nice flow and the feeling and emotions of the women folk are surprisingly well told. I hope to finish it soon.

I have a love hate relationship with the works of Balakumaran. But his books have always made me think so got to give credit to this eccentric man. I would have read a dozen books by him, I don’t remember a single title. I would dislike him less if he stops telling women how to be a woman.

For the first time, I followed a story in Anandha Vikatan magazine. Usually I have always read the novel later after the book comes out. I have never read the thodar kadhai.(One chapter each week.) But this one was too engrossing. It was Karuvaachi Kaaviyam by poet Vairamuthu. I have always disliked the man for reasons unknown. May be many of his lyrics for the Tamil film songs irked me, I don’t know. I have never given him a chance. And then one day, I read the 3rd or 4th chapter in Vikatan and predictably, I was hooked. I followed the story religiously for around 40 weeks. Its quite thrilling to read a novel that way, a chapter a week. Its about a village girl, Karuvaachi and her depressing story and how she raises above it all. The illustrations by Maniam Selvam were apt. Every week, I saw the pictures and wondered what’s going to hit Karuvaachi next. (Trivia: Maniams Selvams father Maniam did the illustrations for Kalkis Ponniyin Selvan in the magazine) Especially this one chapter where Karuvaachi goes into labour and all alone in a deserted part of the village, the description of how she gives birth to her baby is amazing. I could nt help wonder if Mrs.Vairamuthu wrote that chapter. The entire story takes place in a remote village with village slang, their customs and traditions, their daily lives and to be honest nothing surprised me as I have grown up in a village myself and know what he is talking about to a certain extent. I am glad I followed this story from beginning to end and pleased that Vairamuthu proved me wrong about the impression I had on him.

I have read very few English books by Indian authors. Lots have said about those books too. So for the record, I LOVED God of small thing by Arundati Roy, Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, Sister of my heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni(did not like its sequel, The Vine of desire though!) and RK Narayan of course!

Seeing everyones list has onle made me hungry to read more. Im sure Im going to spend a small fortune on books the next time I go to India. Thanks Desi Girl for tagging me. I am surprised I even remembered all the books I read 15 years back. Brought back loads of memories. Thanks again.

I tag UTBT, Priya, Terri, Kiran, Tharini, Gauri, Kodis Mom, Rohini, Sheela and Kowsalya. Take it up if you are interested guys! (Terri, no pressure!) And any one who wants to, of course. It would be great to read all your list and add to my alarmingly growing list of books to read.

ps.

One of the reasons it is tough for me to recollect all the Tamil novels I read a long time back is back then, I read for instant pleasure and was weary of getting caught. My dad thinks reading is a waste of time and was very strict when it came to his school going daughters. So I never discussed the books with anyone which is very important to remember them, if you ask me. I was always on high alert not to include myself in book conversations and none of my class mates read anything beyond Ramani chandran, Tamil Nadus answer to Mills and Boons. Oh, I read her too! :) And then of course once I went to college, it was only "Englees" books to look cool! Funnily enough, my dad never bothered to reprimand me if I had an English novel in my hand. Poor guy!

pps.

The Tamil translation of this post is here. How can I not write about the Tamil writers in Tamil, however finger breaking that ordeal is!

July 11, 2007

Day 7 proves to be lucky.

After Day 5 of school, we had a long weekend as we did nt go to school on Thursday and Friday. So on Monday, Day 6 I thought we have to start all over again. Hd went to leave her in heavy rain and traffic, trams we re nt running and he got quite frustrated by the time he reached the day care. He dumped Ashu at the school door even before she opened her mouth to cry and rushed to office. Couple of hours later, I left home to pick her up. And it started raining again. Though the trams were running thankfully. She started crying when she saw me but was OK once we came out. Then the trams stopped running again and we were stranded halfway from home waiting for a bus which never came. Then Hd borrowed his colleagues car and came to rescue us. By the time we came home, I was ready to call it quits to school until the rains stopped.

Then on Tuesday Day 7, I went to drop her, again in the rain of course! And all my hard work(!) paid when she went and hugged Miss.A and said "Bye Amma"! I was speechless. She was nt smiling when she said Bye but at least she was nt bawling and that's exactly what I wished for. No crying. So my baby has let me go at last! When I went to pick her up, she cried of course. But I can take that! Miss Hooley told me that yesterday was the best day so far with her having fun and trying to eat some food there. She also did some coloring and asked for a tissue when her hands became messy and Miss Hooley said that's OK, we can wash later. So madam went and wiped her hands in Miss Hooley's jeans! LOL! Take that, Miss Hooley! I was walking with a stupid grin the rest of the day happy that Ashu is OK with school and looked forward to the next day. But of course mother proposes and child disposes. She caught a terrible cold all of a sudden and it worsened in the night with her coughing continuously and crying. Shes clinging to her Appa and her nose is running like a tap and shes has slight fever. So no school today of course! And guess what? It is not raining today!

July 09, 2007

Love is...

Last Sunday at the Boo household...

Usually I make Pasta for Sunday Lunch. Hd loves Italian next to Indian and so do I. Last week, I was in the mood for a full fledged Indian meal. So I prepared everything - chopped the veggies, soaked the tamarind, cooked the dal,... And just before putting everything together, with a silly grin I asked Hd,

"So what do you want for lunch? Do you want Murungakka sambar, Lemon Rasam, Potato fry, Vendaikaai curry and rice or would you like Pasta".
"Pasta", came the answer.
"What!", I exclaimed.
He repeated, "Pasta".
Almost with tears in my eyes I said, "I prepared everything and asked just to see your expression when I told the menu. And you want Pasta?"
"No no. Of course I want Murungakka sambar. (slurp, slurp) I said Pasta because thats easy for you and why do you want to strain yourself making so much?"
With a relieved smile, I muttered "May be I should make Vendaikaai Morkuzhambu instead of the curry!"


This Sunday at the same household...

"So What are you going to make..."
"PASTA", came the stern reply from me even before he could finish the question.

As the saying goes, Love is...
...temporary!

July 06, 2007

Off to School - Part 3.

Day 3 Monday:
We went at 10 am. Ashu started crying as soon as I left the school. I roamed around for a couple of hours and went to pick her up at 12.30. She bawled as soon as she she saw me. Miss. Hooley told me that she wanted to be carried all the time and cried whenever she left her down. I came home and seriously contemplated quitting. The pouring rain every day does nt help much.

Day 4 Tuesday:
Good news at last. Though she cried when I left her, it seems she stopped in 15 minutes and started playing. She had bombarded Miss Hooley with questions, "whats this, what that" looking at all the toys and generally had a good time. She cried when I went but it was not the high pitch cry like the previous times.

Day 5 Wednesday:
Ashu got up and declared "No school". I said ok but went on packing her bag. She saw me packing and started crying! I gave an exasperated look at Hd and he volunteered to drop her. Ashu thought that Appa is at last taking her to show his office and happily went with him. Hd told me that "Caesar" would have been proud of her for the look she gave him at the school entrance. Et tu, Brutus? Miss. Hooley told me that she settled down in 5 minutes and started playing. Relief! That day was the first time I got some home alone time. I did what any self respecting woman would do. I removed unwanted body hair and took a long shower! When I went to pick her up two hours later in the pouring rain and howling wind with a broken umbrella, she gave a fake cry. I was never so happy to hear her fake cry!


After the first day of school, I felt as if my child's spirit has been broken. She was unusually quiet, was nt clingy, played and talked with herself sitting in a corner, had a tired face and cried in her sleep asking for me. That's how I used to feel when I was young and got into trouble and my father hit me while my mom watched helplessly. Lonely, quiet, betrayed, emotionally drained,... I could nt bear to look at Ashu. She looked like a prisoner out of the jail after serving a long sentence. I know I was over reacting but that's how I felt and no point in denying that. Life goes on and I ll always remember that day as the day the umbilical cord was completely severed. By me.

The end. (Or is it the beginning?)

July 03, 2007

Off to School - Part 2.

In all honesty, I thought Ashu would take to school a little better. Though the suspense was killing me and I could nt wait to find out how she would react, I thought she would be okay and she will like it. I sincerely felt that she was bored at home all day long with this horrible Amma and would love to have a change. She loves to play with kids so I guessed she will have fun. But what do I know? She likes her boring Amma better than anything else. If this is nt pure love! :) But I should have known better. I should have known that the Genes always win and a mothers curse always comes true!

Now for a little history and no surprises here, I HATED school. Right from when I was 3 years old when I joined LKG until I finished the 12th standard, everyday was a battle. I just did nt like going to school. I was fine once I entered the school gate and was top 3 in my class through out my schooling. Either my classmates were really dumb or perhaps I was just lucky. I complained I had a stomach ache every damn morning just before getting into the rickshaw to avoid school. A few times it worked and my dad allowed me to stay home so I tried it everyday. I always had a big lump in my throat when I left home in the morning. And to think that my Big Sis loved going to school. She hated taking leave so every time there was a wedding or some other family function out of town, either my dad or mom used to attend and almost always I bunked school and accompanied them. Any reason not to go to school. And my parents made my life easier by allowing me to take leave occasionally. And I love them for that. I mean if not your parents, who else can make your life easier, huh? The way my sis and I are, I have doubts about the term "parenting" now. With the same set of parents and the same parenting style, we are as different as chalk and cheese. So kudos to my folks for making our lives as much easier as possible by encouraging us to do what we wanted to do rather than what they wanted us to do or what was the right thing to do. I was just a lazy child. Going to school was work and I wanted to sit at home, eat, read comic books and play with my imaginary friends. So even though children might adjust and stop crying and settle down in school after the first few weeks, they might not like it at all. Like me. And I continued to whine through five years of college and 8 months of work.

And today, I have to be the grown up and tell my daughter to go to school. I hate being in this position. And shes only 2 years old. She wants her Amma and if not now, then when can I be for her? I don't have anything else to do anyway. I am thoroughly confused. I feel like a total hypocrite. And all this emotion for sending a 2 year old to a stupid day care since 3 days. Am I crazy or am I crazy?

July 02, 2007

Off to School - Part 1.

Me: Ashu, what did you do in School today?
Ashu: I cried.
Me: You cried? My poor little darling. Why did you cry?
Ashu: I want Amma. I cried.
Me:
(gives her a hug swallowing the tears.)

Yes! My baby girl started school from this week. We call it school but its just a small day care. "Drop the kids anytime, pick them up anytime, kids do whatever they want to do" kind of day care. We had checked it out 2 weeks back and Ashu seemed to like it. I talked about the school and the caregiver, lets call her Miss.Hooley, all week long to Ashu and prepared her.

On Wednesday (27th June 2007, when she turned 26 months old) we got ready and I dropped her at 10.30 am. I planned to hang around a bit and see whats going on. But Ashu started playing with all the toys there and did nt bother to look for me. So I sneaked out. I called 30 mins later and Miss.Hooley said shes doing good. It was raining cats and dogs so I was just sitting in the tram and going nowhere in particular for one hour and then went to pick Ashu up. She was eating a cookie and as soon as she saw me she started bawling. I hugged her and said its ok but she kept sniffling until we reached home 45 mins later. She had her lunch and went to sleep. When she stirred from her nap, she started crying and asking "Amma, where did you go" and it broke my heart. In the evening she said she liked the school, she liked Miss. Hooley, she liked S and S who are her friends who go to the same day care and she would go to school the next day.

On Thursday, I left her at 10.30 am and said Bye and she waved back at me. I walked by the lake and did some window shopping and checked with Miss. Hooley by phone half hour later, she told me that Ashu is looking for me and crying a bit and clinging to Miss.Bee who is another caregiver there. She told me she will be ok and not to worry. I worried. When I went to pick her up 90 minutes later, I saw Ashu holding Miss. Bees hand and whimpering with a tear dried face. As soon as she saw me, she started crying. I hugged and told her to STOP crying. She did. She happily said bye to everyone there and we took a tram home. She gave the same "I like school. I like the teacher. I ll go to school tomorrow. I wont cry" feedback in the evening.

On Friday, we bunked.

(To be continued...)