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July 22, 2011

Notes from a Small Town.


The one good thing about my parents living in a small town is that Im totally relaxed. I am taking laziness to an all new level. Like in Madras, no mad shopping to do hunting for that perfect short kurta, no restaurant hopping looking for that elusive Schezwan fried rice, no beaches, no visits to the dentist,... Im not even moving my behind to go to any of the temples for which this town is famous for. Only one quick visit was done to Govindapuram the day before the Kumbabhishekam.

I signed up Ashu for a 10 day swimming camp in a hotel pool nearby. Never in a million years would I have thought that my daughter will learn swimming in Kumbakonam of all places!! Unfortunately I took my dad along for the first class and seeing her splutter and pant, he took the coach aside (Im not sure if he bribed him! Hes capable of it!) and told him to teach her swimming with her head above the water! sigh. The even more sad part is that the coach agreed and now after the last lesson, Ashu is swimming exactly like how our Labrador (God bless her soul!) used to when she fell on the Kodaikanal lake!

I hardly come online or talk on the phone. My mom and dad take care of the girls. If Im really tired watching TV or looking at the ceiling (during the power cut), I play judge to the Pallankuzhi match between my 96 year old grandma and 6 year old daughter. My happiness cant be measured when Ashu makes her move after she counts the Sozhis discreetly so that she can pothufy Kaasi or take a muthu. I can proudly say that she has become the member of the Secret Society of Pallankuzhi! Antu is having her own fun upturning the heavy wooden board and scattering the Sozhis everywhere. Some (read Sis!) might say that Antu is following my footsteps but for the record, I did it only when I lost a game, mind it!


If you think at 96, my grandma is the oldest in the family, you are wrong. My grand uncle turned 100 (One Hundred!) recently and he lives with my uncle and aunt next door. Ashu and Antu visited him as usual and he remembered their visit 6 months back and said, "The little one will come to me. Shes not shy like the older one!" Gotta give it to the old man! Sharp as a cookie even though hes very weak physically. The irony is that every time we visit home, my mom or my grandma will insist that we go visit him as soon as possible because "God knows when what will happen? Seekram poi paathutu vandhudu". This has been going on for the past 10 years and its really hilarious that this dialogue is coming from my 96-not-out grandma. Poor thing used to wipe her tears and say, "May be I wont be here the next time you visit. Take care of the kids"! But even she thought enough is enough and during my last trip declared, "May be Im not going anywhere until I see Ashu getting married! So see you next time!" Hope to God I have the same sense of humor when Im old. (Not that old, please God!)

I dont know why but I sense that my parents are very proud that we live in Switzerland and I cant explain why but Im most reluctant to tell near strangers where I live. Ashu being the girl she is hardly ever strikes a conversation with strangers and even if she does, she ll only answer to Yes or No questions. Antu being small, people hardly direct their questions at her and even when she says "I live in Zurich", people assume she said Zoo and give me a weird look! So that only leaves my mother! While on the train, I went to the loo for like 30 seconds and my mom had introduced her grand daughters to half the compartment and maamas and maamis are asking me how I manage in the snow! One gentleman is asking ashu what her name is in German(!) and another lady is asking me if I get Murungaikaai there! Some people dont even know where Swiss is (Adhu enna? Newzealand pakkathula irukko?) and I have to tell them that it is near London! (My apologies to the Swiss!)

I dont know how my parents did it when we were kids but watching TV with Ashu is like Chinese torture. It does nt help that she has nt watched a full length Hindi or Tamil movie. Or a non-kiddy English film for that matter. It feels like a different Ashu is unleashed when I watch a Tamil movie and she catches a few scenes. "Why is that baby crying? Why is the mom leaving the baby and going to fight a war? Why is she crying now? So what if she came to know she is adopted? She has a mom and dad, right? Why does she care about her real mom who left her?" All this for a two minutes scene from Kannathil Muthamittaal. As if this is nt enough, there was a scene where Maddy and Iduppazhagi are hugging and the Akka character stops them. "Why cant they hug? Why is she stopping them? So what if they are nt married? So why dont they get married? Why should they ask the dads permission? Why dont they just get married and surprise him?" This from a girl who still informs me that shes going to the bathroom before she does! God save me! And here we were my sis and I as kids suffering through rape scenes, kissing scenes, hugging scenes, near rape before the hero saves his sister scene, rape after which the girl marries the rapist and lives happily ever after scenes, rape followed by suicide scenes, rape followed by murder scenes, MGR duet songs, Moods advertisement, etc... etc... etc... without batting an eyelid and without a peep! And in those days, parents could nt even change channels like we can today because there was only one channel to watch and most importantly there was no remote. And even if one was lucky to get the Srilankan channel Rupavahini , changing the channel meant that someone has to go to the terrace and change the direction of the TV Antenna to a certain angle and for people below to scream, "Yes, yes. STOP! No, no. Go back! Yes. A bit more. No No. Too much." Im sure its hilarious to hear now but it was one of the most frustrating thing, let me assure you. Coming back to the point, what am I doing wrong?

All good things must come to an end and so did the mango season. Just when I was finishing a whole Rumaani Mango and scraping the seed with my teeth for that last bit of pulp stuck there, my mom announced that that was going to be my last mango for this trip. For a moment, I thought of swallowing that seed whole but the childhood conditioning of how a tree will sprout from my head if I ever swallowed a seed would nt let me do it. Well, theres always the next season I suppose. I can wait.

July 12, 2011

Let He who has never eaten a road side Pani Puri cast the first stone!

Yes, we just swat the flies away and continue to eat the very same food the fly was sitting on a second ago. We remove ants from our tea/coffee and drink it. Not only drink, we even relish it! We dont stop and wonder where the fly was sitting two seconds before it was sitting on our bondas or if the ants marched from the bathroom! We do draw a line when it comes to cockroaches and lizards though! (Only because the critters are too big to ignore!) Ok? Alright? Happy? Now dont roll your eyes! Yes, you! You dared to ask me how I could possibly do such awful stuff? I just smiled and nodded and walked away. All the while I wanted to ask you, "I have never seen you or any member of your family take off your shoes before entering your house. Your child crawls in that house. Your older one drops a biscuit on the floor and picks it up and eats it. Have you ever wondered that the very same shoes you are walking around the house with are the same pair you were wearing when you used the public bathroom earlier in the day?" And dont get me started on public swimming pools! Now, shoo! Go away and let me eat my beach side molaga bajji in peace!

July 10, 2011

Summer Vacation.


As usual, our India trip is going strong. After a wonderful week in Madras where we went to the beach everyday, the kids, my mom and I Ieft for Bangalore while poor Hd had to go back to Zurich. Antu being the appa gondu is missing him quite a bit! The Bangalore trip was to strictly meet my maternal family and friends and we did just that. We stayed in four different places in five days, met dozens of relatives and friends and spent more time in the car than any house! The girls had a wonderful time everywhere. S who left Zurich in April and had nt even settled in Bangalore fully yet dared to invite us to spend a night in her place and Ashu packed her bag even before I said yes! The girls had a sweet reunion and my heart swelled. Antu too seemed to have missed the little boy. So much so that she did nt bully him at all! As far as I know, that is! :) Thanks, S! Whats life without a blog meet? Lovely Art opened her house yet again for a blog meet and it was nice to put a face to many people! My cousin A with her two kids played host one day and I got so nostalgic thinking about all my summer holidays as a kid spent in Bangalore with A playing Amma-Appa games! Where did time go? My two college going nieces were absolutely adorable and the kids stuck to them. I was so tempted to kidnap one of the girls back to Zurich. Perfect baby sitters! :) They also took me with them to watch Dehi Belly! God! What a movie! I cant remember having laughed so much in a theatre in the recent past! A must-see! That reminds me, Hd and I caught Aaranya Kaandam and it was bloody BRILLIANT! I plan to watch both movies again.

Ashu and Antu met so many of their cousins and other friends kids that they were truly overwhelmed and Ashu was giving me the "What the hell are we doing in Zurich?" look all the time! Sigh! After the hectic trip, took a train back home. My parents place, I mean. Phew. The true vacation begins here with nothing to do all day long! Just what I need to recharge my batteries before I board the flight back to Zurich and get into the routine life! Ashu is busy playing Pallankuzhi with her great grandma, hide and seek with her friends, magic tricks with her grandpa, fighting with her sister, arguing with me, going for swim classes and skipping her Tamil tutions with my mom and playing Uno with her instead! I don't see Antu in one place for more than two minutes unless and until shes sleeping. Me? I am sincerely doing the one thing I came here to do braving the summer. Mangoes, ripe mangoes, red mangoes, sweet mangoes!