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December 09, 2013

Of Music and Dance.

November and December were again that time of the year where I was busy coaching the girls group for a dance program and Ashu's violin recital. Both went well this year. And Antu too joined the dance this time and since she was the youngest in the group, she was the cutest too! :) They danced to "Bawre", a fun song from the movie Luck by Chance.  There were 10 girls this time and though it was loads of fun practicing and choreographing, it was a nightmare to organize a day and time which would suit everyone! As always, we managed somehow and pulled it off. Not to mention it was a good workout for me as well! :)


The violin Recital was last Monday and Ashu played two solo pieces and a group recital. This is her third year and shes enjoying playing now and its a joy to listen to her these days. I try really hard to suppress my inner tiger mom avatar and let her be! :)



Here's one of the pieces she played. Bach's "Aus der Bauernkantate".




November 14, 2013

Kinderhotel.

Its November already? Even my one post a month resolution is hard to keep. October was great. At least it did nt snow like last year, phew! So we could enjoy the great outdoors more. And when the kids had 2 weeks fall break, we went to Austria and stayed in a Kinderhotel for 5 days and it was a blast! Four more families came with us too so it was like a big fat Indian wedding! This was the first time we are going to a Kinderhotel and I wonder why we don't have that concept in many places! So the place we stayed was in Galtur which is a ski resort in winter. It had already snowed there in October but it was sunny and bright and the views were to kill for. The children have a play area where they are supervised. They get their own breakfast, lunch and dinner form the buffet. The hotel arranges outings for them. They can watch a movie post dinner in a big screen. They can take the bicycles and go biking. Or use the pedal go karts and take them for a ride. It is just heaven for the parents. And not to mention the spa, pool, jacuzzi, sauna, etc... Our days went like this every day - Get up and have breakfast and check the kids in the childrens area. I also gave Ashu a room key and she and her BFF along with Antu had a blast. I told Ashu she can do whatever she wants as long as she had Antu with her! And she did! Hd and I along with our friends set out for a hike...  and it was one of the beautiful hikes I have ever done. Breathtaking views! And we would come back around lunch time. By the time, the kids would have the lunch by themselves or we will have it together. Then relax for a bit and hit the pool with the kids. Then dump the kids with the men and us ladies enjoyed the spa. Bliss! The kids dinner began at 6.30 and they went to watch a movie at 7.30 while we were served five course dinner! Sigh! That was the best part of the day where we could have adult conversation instead of doing panchayathu between the girls on who called whom stupid first!!! And then in groups we went out for moon lit walks and when the men had enough and went to bed, us ladies sat and talked for hours! I would give anything to do this kinda vacation every time! I did nt want to come back home at all! 

Leaving you with my favorite photo of the trip.

September 09, 2013

Pillayar Chaturthi Special.

The Plliayar under the blue umbrella made by yours truly under the able instruction of Antu! And the one under the Red umbrella by Ashu all on her own. We have improved soooo much from last year! :) 
Hope Pillayar brings all good things in all our lives! 


August 20, 2013

India Trip Report.

Four weeks in India was hectic as usual. Apart from the usual Madras and Kumbakonam trips, managed to go to Hyderabad for a weekend to see Utbt and family after three loooong years. The highlight of the trip was Ro, Utbt and me walking around Charminar in the middle of the night thanks to the Ramzan night market. What an awesome experience! A stomach bug which caused havoc to my system a day back could nt stop me from eating pani puri at Kailash Parbat and the yummy biscuits from Karachi Bakery! Ashu and Antu had a blast with Utbt's girls and it was so heart warming to see the foursome together having fun! In less than two days, they managed a pajama party, movie night, camping (in the hall!), swimming, building legos, reading, visiting park, shopping and million other little things. Talk about time management! Thanks Ro for taking time to meet us and it was lovely to see Ayaan and Tarana too. (Happy? I mentioned you first! :) When in Madras, Ashu did nothing except taking over a room and setting camp there with her Kobo. (See pic.) She would come out only during meal times!

Did nothing new in Madras this time except visiting the Vandaloor Zoo and Dakshin Chitra. And a fabulous puppet display near Kanchipuram organized by the Kanchi trust. And the Phoenix Mall, if you insist! And visiting friends and family too! Stayed a night in Pondicherry at a resort before proceeding to Kumbakonam and I enjoyed my first trip to Pondi. Visited the ashram, Auroville, a few temples, the beach, etc... While Hd and the in laws left from Kmu the next day and Hd to Zurich the day after, the kids and I stayed on in Kmu for one more week before doing the same. It was a week of doing nothing for me and it was pure bliss, as usual. I dont know what I will do if I don't get to recharge my batteries like that once a year or so. Long live Mothers!


The kids did nt want to leave the house and were busy with a cat and two kittens outside our house and all their friends and cousins from the colony who come after school to play with them. My parents were so thrilled about the Kallanai dam opening its gates and water flowing into Kaveri and Kollidam that we went all the way there to see it on Aug 5th. The kids hated road trips there and had to be dragged out! "I dont know why Thatha is so excited that theres water in Kaveri! Are nt rivers supposed to have water?!!", asked Ashu! Poor girl! Thatha and Paati, of course, were over the moon and were photographing like crazy! The girls found a bouncy castle and a few rides on the other side of the dam and were quite happy! I just wanted to get back so that we can buy the Ashoka Halwa at Thiruvaiyaru before the shop (Aandavar Halwa Shop) runs out of it! It was devamirtham, if you must know! :) The next day, Antu said that she had a dream that Kaveri came and asked her to come and see her and when she went, there were crocodiles in the river! Im still analyzing that one! :)

A trip to Swamimalai Temple and an Aandaal Kalayanam at my Aunts house rounded off the trip nicely. Not to mention Ashu falling down and majorly scraping both her knees! The scar will remind her of this trip for a long, long time! I had long chats about many, many things with my grandma cuddling to her in bed and wished I were a kid! She is 98 now and according to Antu she is going to die soon because shes almost 100! I know teaching this kid math was bound to come back and bite my behind! When it was time to leave Kmu, Antu started bawling that she wanted my mom to come too! Ashu blinked many times and declared that she hated me! I guess everyone has their own coping mechanisms! I had the halwa handy! My dad accompanied us to Madras. Antu bored me to death by telling awful slug jokes from Panruti to Vikravandi and the horrible, horrible roads paled in comparison!

Loaded with boxes from Krishna Sweets, more kurtas than I need, a million children's books, home made pickles and bakshanams and a vague memory of watching Mariyaan at Thyagaraja theatre, we came back to Zurich with a heavy heart last Wednesday. I have been walking around with a lump in my throat ever since! Where the hell did I keep that dabba of halwa? *blinks back tears*

August 19, 2013

3.Klasse & Kindergarten.

Ashu and Antu began their yet another first day today in third grade and Kindergarten 1 respectively. I could hear the butterflies fluttering in Ashu's stomach! She wrote an email to her friend yesterday which said "My school starts tomorrow and I wish I can stay home a little while longer!" My poor litte darling! Antu, of course, has been dying to go to KG with her BFF and thats the only thing she kept talking about this whole year. The day was here today at last and Hd and I walked her to her class, stayed for a while and said bye to her and came back home. She seemed thrilled to be there!

In the afternoon, Ashu walked to the KG and met me there at noon and we picked Antu and got home by 12.05! Ashu has agreed to this pick up duty from next week which means I dont have to step out, yay! Of course, Antu is all "I can go on my own" already! Sigh! Why do they have to grow up so fast?

July 18, 2013

On our way.






Five days of shopping and packing and organizing and cleaning frenzy later, we are packed and ready to go. India - here we come! 

July 13, 2013

Summer Holiday Special - Day 1.

First day of summer holidays went in what else but cleaning the kids room! Tonnes of crafts and colorings and drawings and cards to be recycled! Broken parts of toys and cheap goody bag toys and "precious" stuff found in parks and pavements to be trashed! Books which have been read a million times, books which have nt been touched in a million years and books which the kids have outgrown to be hidden! The list goes on... 

I did the best thing -  threw out Hd and the kids out of the house - and tackled the mess for four straight hours and still have nt even caused a dent. Sigh! Of course I spent half the time reading their "stories", admiring their art work, laughing out loud at the funny lists they are so fond of writing,.. 

And I could nt throw the below one without taking a photo first. Three months back when I asked Ashu where she wanted her birthday party, this is the list she came up with!



July 12, 2013

Another school year, done and dusted!


So its that part of the year again. Last day of school. That melancholic feeling I get every year wishing time to stop still. Last year this time, I was second guessing our decision to switch Ashu to the local school and was worrying so much. Now a year has just flown by and Ashu has adjusted to the new system remarkably well. In the Swiss schools, the children have the same teacher for three years. So her current teacher will continue in third grade too and Im glad. She has gone on school trips, participated in shows and musicals, made friends,... She has made good progress in speaking German and tells me school gossip too! :)



Antu finally says good bye to pre schools and play groups and gets into Kindergarten this year. Since shes June born, she missed the cut off last year and she has been waiting to go to KG. The KG building is just next to our apartment and we can see the building from our window. Most of the kids from her playgroup are going to KG and her best friend and her are with the same teacher. So its going to be a fun year, I hope. She understands Swiss German quite well and the only one in the family to do so! I confess I secretly video tape when she brings friends home and talks to them in Swiss German!


Taking their pictures this morning was fun! When I asked Ashu to smile and pose, she grudgingly did and when I was clicking the third photo, she rolled her eyes and said, "You realize Im getting late for my school, Amma?" and scootered away before I could answer. Antu, on the other hand, has all the time in the world for photos. She strikes pose after pose, asks me to show the photos and asks if she has blinked(?), then poses again, then "one silly face photo Amma, please" and left for school only after approving the photos! Chalk and cheese!

June 27, 2013

27.06.2013

Dear Antu,

You are five today and I am in denial. Well, whats new? Its always tough for me around your birthday. How can the baby of the family get older? But of course, you spend year after year looking forward to your birthdays. You planned your party long back. That you wanted in your playgroup with your favorite teacher organizing it and your dear grand parents present. So we had the party last week since your grand parents were leaving before your birthday. And you had another party the week before with just us family since your Perimma and Perippa were here. And then you are taking cupcakes to your class today. Not to mention the truck loads of gifts you have been getting. Nothing makes you happy in this world like opening a present! :)

You have been enjoying ballet and swimming this year. Your musical sense and the way you move when you hear a song and the way you are constantly humming songs has become legendary in the family. My mom calls you mini-me since you are a reduction xerox of me in many, many things. I am both proud and scared at the same time! You have many, many friends and if you can have your way, you will never ever come home straight after school. I shudder at the thought of you walking to school and back on your own from August. A kindergartener, sigh! Your best friend R and you are together in the same class in KG too and I cant wait to see you both holding hands and walking to school!


You have just about began reading and writing and very excited about it. You love your playgroup which you go to two days a week and hate your preschool which you go the other three days. You are totally daddys pet and always locking horns with me. Your sister and you fight for everything these days and I dont know what to do to make you guys be nice to each other. When you are nice to her, she ignores you and when shes nice to you, you provoke her. Im the one who is losing hair over it though. When I yell at you or give you a time out, Ashu is the first person you go to to get a hug. And shes the one you go for help when you know you are in trouble with me. Your Tamil has improved leaps and bounds since your grand parents were here for 2 months. The way you switch languages depending on whom you are talking to is to be seen to be believed!


You are a total rebel and do everything I ask you not to. The other day I warned you to go brush your teeth before I count five. You were just standing staring at me. So I asked "Well, what are you waiting for?" And you said, "So start counting!" The gall! Ashu could never ever get away even with half the things that you seem to be getting away with. However hard I try to be fair, its a losing battle. Its a perk for second borns, I guess and Im not complaining! :) If I ever raise my voice at you, you proclaim that Im not your friend anymore and stomp off! Of course two minutes later, you are giving me a hug and telling me that you love me a trillion! I love you a trillion too, baby! Heres to many more birthday parties and presents to you, my little Diva! Hope all your dreams come true!  Happy Birthday!

Love,
அம்மா.

May 29, 2013

Ashu's First School Trip.

Hd and I got married one fine day in June and about 2 weeks later, he joined work. It was around 8 am and he was getting into his car and I was standing near the gate waving goodbye and felt this huge lump in my throat! Tears were about to roll down my cheeks and I did nt want him to see them so I just smiled and went inside. But he knew. We never talked about it later and even to this day, almost 13 years later, its hard for me to see him leave even if hes just going to get the mail! But of course the feeling is nt as intense as it was the first time he left and I even forgot how intense it could be and how hollow it makes you fell. Until yesterday. 

Ashu left on a school trip. Her stupid school trip! (Thats what I ve been calling it for the past one month, much to her annoyance!) I was all fine until the weekend. Then I started worrying! How will she manage! What would she do! What would I do! We bought her a new suitcase, a new sleeping bag, packed her stuff, gave her a million instructions, quizzed her on trivial things and when the day and time arrived, my dad, Hd and I walked her to school. She saw her best friend and stuck to her. The friends mom and I looked at each other and could nt say much because both of us had worry written all over our faces! The girls climbed into the bus, sat next to each other and buckled their seat belts. For a minute, I thought of grabbing her and running away! Hd was keeping an eye on me because he was sure I would do something utterly crazy! My dad kept on asking Ashu "Are you sure you want to go?" and Ashu was rolling her eyes at him! I took a photo and waved and blew her a kiss and the bus went on its way! This was Monday morning 9.40 am! I will see and hear from her next on Friday 2.30 pm! Needless to say, Im a nervous wreck! I cant even remember a day I did nt talk to Ashu in the last 8 years and now I cant hear her voice for over 3 1/2 days! I dont know what shes doing, what shes eating, what shes wearing,...! Sigh!

The house is eerily silent in spite of 4 adults and Antu! And the lump in my throat and the butterflies in my stomach are refusing to leave! Sorry Hd, the first time you left is a walk in the park compared to this one. But Im glad you are suffering along with me because I cant do this alone!

I know there would be many, many more trips and good byes but I dont think I ll ever forget this day. I dont want to.

April 27, 2013

27.04.2013

Dear Ashu,

Today I feel like I am writing to a young girl and I should watch what I write. To be honest, I never wrote any of your earlier birthday letters thinking that you would read them one day. It was just something I was feeling and wanted to put them in writing so that I can revisit them whenever I want. So far I have never showed you any of them and may be this year, I would! Not that theres any escaping from you since you would go to any lengths to read! That would be the word of the year - reading! You read every waking moment. You get cranky when we theres a delay to our library trips. You start rereading the books if a new book is not in sight. Although I am so happy and proud of you, sometimes I just want to grab the book and fling it away so that I can see your full face, see you smile, see your eyes and talk to you! Do you realize how frustrating it if for a mom to let go of her baby to a strange new world and not feel included? A series of 50 Boxcar children books? Seriously? How can I ever catch up with you?

School. Where do I even begin? We threw you in the deep end by switching schools and the way we you have progressed in German is amazing! Though I still have my doubts and sometimes I wonder why I rocked the boat, you have never ever made me feel guilty even though I know you miss your friends. You skip to school happily everyday, come home for lunch and then run again. You bring friends home even though I can talk to them only with the help of Google Translate!! Your teachers are very impressed with your progress in German and think of you as a Math Whiz! The only thing your teacher wants from you is to participate in class discussions more and to talk loudly! I did nt know whether to laugh or cry when he said that! I should record you at home one day and show him! Why do you reserve that loud voice of yours only for your family? Why should we suffer alone? So please do the needful.

Friends are coming and going and your circle is ever growing! I dont know why and you refused to give me a reason but you said you did nt want a birthday party this year. And when I kept nagging you, you said, "I dont know why you are forcing me, Amma"! So I gave up. Since the 8 girls from your dance group are quite thick and you girls performed thrice this year and are always doing something together, I suggested I take you all our for a movie as a treat and you suggested that that can be your birthday party. So "The Croods", it was and you girls had a blast! No cake, no balloons, no fancy snacks,...  But your face glowed when you opened the gifts! I dont know what to make of these mixed signals! Stop being me and tell me what you want!

I think this is the first time in your life that you did nt go to India for an entire year! Your entire seventh year outside India! Wow! But of course it meant that your grand parents, uncle and aunt visited us here and we spent a lot of time with them. You love house guests and hate it when they leave. Your only complaint is why we cant move to San Jose and live there with Perimma and Perippa! Or better, why cant you live with them?! Wish I had an answer for that. Well, there is. But then like Hanuman, I have to tear apart my chest and show you that there would be an Ashu shaped hole in my heart. My parents are here as I write this and I'm so thrilled that you will spend your birthday with our grand parents, but it also breaks my heart to see you a teeny weeny bit distant with them than before. Of course, your sister fills that void and sticks to them like glue but nevertheless its tough to realize that you are growing up and that its the age!

You are a very thoughtful girl, Ashu. And I wish you never ever let go of that quality. Whether its something I ask you to do or you think of yourself to do, you always do that little extra special which makes me feel so special. It can be a birthday card you are making for your sisters friend or for your own mother, you put your heart into it. Like the other day, there were some kids home for dinner and I asked you to set the table. And you kept the water glasses on the left except for one place and when I asked you to correct it, you said that thats for Antu since shes left handed! I was humbled by your answer. Hope you never stop amazing me, my little girl! Happy 8th birthday dear and its super special since we are in Venice celebrating your birthday on a Gondola! Happy Memories!

Love,
அம்மா.

March 07, 2013

Spring is in the air!

I dont know if its because we did nt go to India or the US during the December holidays (like we usually end up doing!) but this winter has been tooooooo long! Hours and hours of skiing, ice skating, driving, drinking gallons of tea, pot luck lunches and dinner parties,.... How can anyone bear all these after a point? Not to mention the heavy jackets and boots one has to wear even to step outside for a minute! And for a Hausfrau like me who has to step out a dozen times a day, its highly frustrating! In and out between freezing cold and warmth makes you have crazy thoughts! Like buying a one way ticket to Hawaii just for yourself!! (Sigh!) 

And right in the middle of February, there is this 2 weeks Ski break! Ashu went for a ski camp the first week and read like a million books, the next week. (The latter deserves a separate post!) The camp was quite intense and poor thing did nt complain. One hour by by bus, 2 hours of skiing, lunch break, another 2 hours of skiing and then back in the bus for an hour! She did this Monday to Friday! Not to mention wearing the ski boots all day long, lunging the skis, helmet, etc... I know I would have quit sometime in the middle of the first day!! (Right after the lunch break! ;) And she was also in a ice skating class every Saturday and there was a final performance last weekend which was beautiful! Antu of course does nt embrace winter like Ashu does since shes more like me! Ice skating class - "NO!" Skiing - "ok! But I will cry the entire time! And you have to carry my skis and hold my hands while I walk with the skis and be handy with a tissue to wipe my runny nose and tears"! End of story! Somewhere a four year old Ashu is judging me!!

Anyway, for the first time in four months the weather seemed warm yesterday and I could nt believe my eyes! Is it really warm or am I hallucinating? Are they really kids I see playing outside? The pond melted and the ducks are out? Is it really the sound of the stream flowing? Are the birds chirping? Oh my God! I cant explain it in words! I could actually HEAR the change in the season! Thats when it hit me! That its the silence which is really unbearable about winter! As if Mother Nature is mad at you and decides not to talk to you for a few months! Ashu and Antu went to the shed where the cycles were hibernating and brought them out! I stood in the balcony and waved at them! Of course, nothing lasts forever and the weather forecast says its going go below zero next week but Spring is almost here and with the little preview we got this week, I cant wait!

March 03, 2013

Reason No. 3331 why sisters are the best thing in the whole wide world.


In spite of being in India attending THE family wedding and being in the midst of all, she calls you during the wedding reception so that you can hear TM Krishna singing "Jayathi jayathi bharatha matha" knowing how much it means to you! Sigh! 

Thanks, Sis! You are the best! 

ps.
"Jayathi Jayathi" was followed by "Sri Valli Devasenapathe" and "Aananda natam aaduvaar". I hung up in the middle of "Himagiri thanaye..." because I got all teary eyed! Best international call ever made in my life though! :)

March 01, 2013

Bunking School - Check.

Antu bunked school today. Fake coughed and said she has a very bad cold. Which is partly true. And since the preschool she goes to takes the kids walk in the woods on Fridays, I thought its a good idea for her not to be outdoors for a long time and said ok. Which was a huge surprise for her! But her master stroke was early in the morning when she wished me "happy birthday" and gave me a card she has scribbled on! And its not even my birthday! "But your birthday is in March and today is March, Amma!", was her answer! So I guess she laid the foundation early and decided to milk the situation later! Successfully, I must add! I must be prepared on Monday.

ps.
Yet another attempt to bring the blog back alive. I dont know the reason for this lack of interest. May be the kids are getting older? May be I am getting older? I hope its the former! :)

January 22, 2013

2013 began with a bang!

I cant believe I have nt written anything since the new year began! And its not like there was nt anything to tell. I could have written about my Sis and Bil visiting us during the christmas break (no it was nt a surprise this time! :), about the ski trip to Klosters which was out of the world, about the Spa trip we all went to which was even more awesome and when the good times ended with a bang when my dear husband fell down while skiing and tore a ligament or two in his right knee, ... I kid you not! Not a boring moment in my life, I tell you! Now Hd is reliving exactly what I went through last year! And its not fun! :( 


Antu's first ever Ski lessons began this year and as expected, she hates them! :)


Ashu had a blast in Klosters and declared that Klosters is the best place to ski in the whole wide world! (The pro skier in our family, my Bil agreed too that it was one of his best skiing experience!)



Hope the new year is treating you all better. This beginning of the year with a bang reminds me of someone. He used to work for my father a long time back and truly believed in the daily prediction on the daily sheet calendar based on one's birth star. If it was printed "selavu" (spending) for his star, he would immediately buy tea for all his colleagues hoping that thats the only spending he has to do and nothing big comes along later in that day! Cant fault the logic, can we? :) If it was supposed to be kashtam (tough) for us this year, I hope we have seen the worst and things start looking up from now!