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June 27, 2023


 Dearest Antu,

15 is a nice round number. No pressure of the 16 yet. Not too far from 13. One can get away with pretty much anything. One is either “such a responsible kid at such a young age” or “they will grow up and learn." You are a mix of both and being a second born, have the added benefit of parents taking it easy after losing it miserably in the first round. You are lucky in a hundred different ways but none of them as beneficial as having a rocking sister who has paved your way for you with rose petals while she has to forge her own path. Its a blessing and a curse to have a perfect sibling. Ask me. But you are dealing with it much admirably than I did. I still struggle. May you both remain close and be there for each other long after I am just a traumatic memory you bring up to your respective therapists! 

This year has been fun with back to regular traveling. An india trip after a while, a long weekend to Barcelona, our annual ski trip to Austria, visiting families and loads of day trips. This year has also been a hectic back to back traveling for me, the most fun being my New york trip with your sister for her 18th birthday. I made sure to ask your blessing before booking the tickets. And you were ok with it though slightly jealous that it was to NY where you have never been. And then I had a girls trip with my friends to Porto, Italy trip with my parents and the anniversary trip to Lisbon with your father. Though I failed to see the pattern, you made sure to mention that I have gone on trips with everyone except you. What a shame! Am glad you brought it up and I ll rectify this situation soon. It feels nice to be needed. Not to mention how brave of you to vocalize your feelings and not to be afraid of being vulnerable.

Music has been a huge part of your life and Taylor Swift, your own Goddess. You are continuing your piano lessons even though you are losing interest a bit. You have been wanting to quit learning carnatic music and I can’t lie that its not heart breaking for me. You have been learning for 6 years and your teacher was shocked when I mentioned your disinterest. According to her, you are the most sincere student and you have an uncanny grasp of the songs and have an insane memory power. Not to mention, a beautiful voice to go with it. You were extremely frustrated when your father and I insisted that you continue. We are at a stalemate now and I don’t know what the next school year brings but I wish you keep at it. One day you will thank yourself for not giving up. But that said, if its not bringing you joy, do something else that does. Don’t let your talent go waste. Not everyone is blessed with such a gift.

You joined me to run a 5K in May and it was a huge accomplishment for me. Thanks for the motivation and the support. I couldn’t have done it without you. You never make fun in a mean way. You are always encouraging. And you are nice while being honest. All stellar qualities straight from your father. No wonder you both have your secret club and secret smiles and roll your eyes at your sister and me for our crazy dramatics. You also made sure to let me know when I am being horrible with how it is affecting you instead of a character assassination. Its all in the attitude after all and you have it in spades. One does nt have to be cruel to speak the truth. But I fail miserably at that in every turn while you choose your words wisely. Oh teach me, Master. Happy 15th Birthday, Kanna! May your year be filled with all things that bring you joy.


April 27, 2023


Dearest Ashu,

Your 18th Birthday is here. I have nothing to say. (and then she wrote a 10,000 word essay, dear Reader!)  

Live your life.  
Be brave. 
Be righteous. 
Make mistakes. 
Be kinder than necessary. 

Ask for help. 
Love many things. 
Let go. 
Trust the Universe. 

Just go forth and conquer the world.

I am immensely proud of you and I will always have your back. Today, tomorrow and forever. Happy 18th Birthday, Kannamma! 

"How should we like it were stars to burn
with a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me."
         ~W.H. Auden~


June 27, 2022


 Dearest Antu,

Time flies like it always does. It also shows us what really matters. When I sit to write these birthday posts every year, it makes me think of the all important milestones and happy memories and reminds me to be grateful. And also to be in denial about all the things that should nt matter but still does. But hey, progress not perfection, right? You are fourteen today and I am still trying to adjust that you are a teen! You can be a total baby one minute and a mature old soul the next. Cuddling one moment and banging the door the next. Being silly and goofing around and then all emotional and upset. We spoil you rotten and in return you make us fell that we are your whole world. Your father dances to your every tune and you both belong to a secret club of two where I am not allowed. Who wants to belong in this silly club anyway? Im not at all jealous! We both have lot of fun together doing umpteen things without the rest of the family. You are my favorite car passenger. And my favorite person to cook for because you enjoy your food and never fail to compliment. Are you sure you are not adopted?

You have completed one year of secondary school and has made new friends. And that has been a total relief. I used to think you are more social than your sister but things have been hard in that department as you have become reserved and quiet in the past couple of years. Are nt school years supposed to be all about friends? Guess you and your sister take it quite seriously and actually learn! I thought Ashu had high expectations for herself but she has mellowed a bit in high school. You are a menace though! Anything less than a perfect grade and you fall apart. I am exhausted giving you pep talks and making you feel secure about yourself. And to accept life as it is. Let me say this again. You are smart. Believe in yourself. You are thriving in all things music. You play piano like a dream. Pick up carnatic songs with ease and music theory is something you love too. Never lose the interest. Just keep at it even when things plateau. Challenge yourself and don’t forget to enjoy the process. You are barely hanging onto swimming and tennis and am glad you are doing something sport related even though you are not a fan. Your father really wants you to take up running and join him in his weekly runs. Lets see if this is the year. Go on and make your old man happy, why don’t you?

We took care of our neighbors small dog off and on this year and you totally fell in love with the little one and took care of the dog with so much love and affection. It was heart breaking to say bye to the dog each time and you have upped your nagging about getting a dog of our own. It would tug at my heartstrings but unfortunately I have none! I really really wish we could. But its not practical so Im against it. But at times I feel I should give in. Believe me when i say that no one likes to have a dog more than me in this household. So lets see if the universe conspires.  Your sister hooked you into Marvel movies as well and its the one thing uniting all four of us in the household right now. Books have been bought. Cake themes have been done. Endless discussions have been had. Its fun to have something in common with the resident youth. Thanos is your favorite character much to your sisters annoyance but still she made a Thanos cake for your birthday this year. You both fight like crazy sometimes but also giggle over silly things. You want to emulate her in every way and she pretends to tolerate you. Its unbearable sometimes when you both are at it but while the bad times are bad, the good times are very good. So there.

Mistress of questions, that’s what you are at this age. You love to know everything about everyone. Right from favorite color to the deepest darkest secret. Its so easy to talk to you. You hardly judge and even if you say something hurtful, you are quick to apologize and own your mistakes and make the necessary changes. Which is a phenomenal character trait to have, according to me. And it comes so easily for you. Your emotional maturity astounds me sometimes. You are very clear in your beliefs and at the same time, willing to listen to the other side. I wish I could be as empathetic as you. I sometimes get upset with you for no reason. I overcompensate for your sisters indifference. Blame you for stupid things. But I hope and pray I have nt killed the spirit in you. I am genetically obligated to take your side against the world but you make it look like the right choice and I thank you for making my life easier. Go forth and flourish and I wish life is kind to you in all the ways I am not. Happy 14th Birthday, Thangamma!



April 27, 2022


 Dearest Ashu,

17. One year short of a legal adult. Just one more year of childhood. Give me a moment here to contemplate my life. …… Fine. Lets move on. This year has gone by in a blink and I am not sure it sunk in that you are 16 yet before another birthday has zoomed in. Whats the rush? School has consumed your life and whatever time is left over, we either ignore each other or quarrel. As soon as you open your mouth, I see disrespect and cynicism. And when I do, you see anger and disappointmentl. Match made in heaven, that’s us. If not for your father and sister, I wonder how anything would get resolved between us. They both are the solid rocks to our tidal waves and I hope you appreciate them for all they do for us. I analyse my behavior constantly and feel regret and guilt and like a colossal failure as a parent.  I would die for you without a second thought and at the same time, can’t bring myself to be more patient with you. What is it that is wrong with me? Nothing in particular but everything in general, you might say! Yes, I see my faults in you. At the same time, you are also the favorite part of me.

You have such a morbid sense of humor and a healthy dose of pessimism. Deadly combo, that. You should come with a warning! This one time we were discussing the point of life and your sister who has nt yet been disillusioned with life by high school was giving me quite a peppy answer while you commented, “there’s no point. we are dead already". And I turned to Antu and said, “Please hit me in my head if I ever ask her anything anymore” and without missing a beat you quipped, “Can I do it for her?” Ha. Ha. Ha. I was making a photo album for your grandparents a few months back and under the family photo, I had written “Putting the fun in Dysfunctional” and thought that was quite witty. Until you came back from school and commented, “More like putting the fun in Funeral”! I rest my case. 

We had such fun having a family reunion at our place in October and after the pandemic panic, it was so nice to see you and Antu with your grandparents, aunt and uncle. We have not been out of Swiss in the last 3 years and finally bit the bullet and traveled to Sicily earlier this month and we had a fantastic time. I will never ever take travel for granted again. Nor should you. You have grown leaps and bounds in the cooking and baking area. Being a total perfectionist helps. But at the same time, be kind to yourself too when something does nt go your way. Be patient and don’t give up easily.  You take fantastic photos but hate it when I take pics of you. You love to cook but eat very less. You like school but are a grumpy bear on weekdays. You are a bunch of contradictions and a riddle wrapped in a mystery and as you grow older and older, I feel I know you lesser and lesser. Guess, that’s every parents journey and I hope I have the grace and dignity to accept it. Give me time.

The only time we bond is when we watch TV. And we have been doing that quite a lot this year as you are interested in all kinds of movies and shows now. More so than before. You nagged me and Antu to watch the Avengers movies with you if we want to watch the new Spiderman and Doctor Strange movie and after some initial resistance from me, we did a marathon for 10 days straight and watched that many movies and by the time I watched Endgame, a fangirl was born. (Black Widow is your favorite Avenger. Captain America is mine!) WandaVision followed next and now I am hooked. We watched Secrets of Dumbledore recently and were collectively disappointed. Even though for completely different reasons. (Give me more Grindeldore!) Nothing like art and entertainment to bring people together. One day, I will be able to wish you a happy birthday without choking on my own heart but that day is not today.  Happy 17th Birthday, Kannamma! I love you 3000.


June 27, 2021


Dearest Antu,

Welcome to the teens! Though you have unofficially been a temperamental teen for a quite a while, you can confidently get away with it now. You are slouching more. Are more grumpy. Started wondering what's the point of school. More screen time. Less time outdoors. Fewer friends. More fights with your sister. The beginning of door slamming. Way more sensitive. Basically, the works. Thankfully, no big surprises there, thanks to you being the second born. Ashu paved the way well. While I was crawling on all fours trying to keep up with her, I am skipping and dancing along right with you. Hope to retain my sanity and sense of humor through all this. You are more vocal about your feelings and that helps. Every time we have an argument or a discussion, I get the feeling that you are trying to convince yourself more than me and you want to come out of the conversation feeling better about yourself. Which is a rare quality in our family. I hope you never lose it. Or I hope as a parent, I never squash it. 

We managed to travel within Swiss whenever we could in these uncertain pandemic times and you are a great travel companion. You love the planning, the houses we stay in, exploring hiking trails and trying new restaurants. For the first time, you said no to ski lessons and your sister and you went on your own this year. I was really worried. We just dropped you both at the gondola station and you girls just went off on your own without a backward glance. Scaling mountains. Skiing down. Finding a restaurant for lunch. And then meeting us back at the time and place we have agreed upon. So grown up! And trusting your sister implicitly even though she says that you are the bane of her existence. You will follow her to the ends of the earth and won't deny her anything. Long live sisters and the sisterhood of the traveling (ski) pants! 

You finish 6th grade which is the end of primary school here. So a big milestone. You are going to start in a new secondary school from August and none of your best friends are in the same school. You are both nervous and excited. School has been a little too easy for you this year and may be you were a bit bored because of that. Your stellar report card made me so proud and I hope the secondary school is challenging enough for you to keep you motivated. You enjoy your piano lessons and the Carnatic music lessons and very soon your digital piano is going to be replaced by an acoustic one. I have no music knowledge to speak of and all I wanted to know was how heavy the damn thing is going to be and how to make place for it in your room. I hope and wish you continue to learn music and enjoy this amazing world. 

Finally you are getting a proper phone with a sim card and I don't know how we managed to stretch it this far. Like I told your sister 4 years back, use it well. It's all downhill from here, I know that now. But its inevitable and I guess I have to accept it. You are lot like me in one aspect and that is to mould ourselves to fit in with other people. I used to feel like a fake sometimes and wonder if I am hiding my true self. But when I look at you, I know its because you genuinely care about people and want to make them comfortable around you. You don't think its weak to show love and kindness. You forgive easily. It's so difficult for parents not to see their own faults when they look at their kids, but a glimpse of strength here and there gives me hope and not succumb to the existential despair of parenting. Happy 13th birthday, Chellamma! Rock your teens!


April 27, 2021


Dearest Ashu,

STOP PRESS. You turn SIXTEEN today! How in the world am I supposed to cope with this? I can’t even drown myself in alcohol since I don’t drink! But wait a minute, you can!!! You are legally allowed to drink wine and beer in this country from today and if that is nt a sobering thought! Sixteen is special in many cultures and the only Tamil culture that refers to this age is in the movies and most of the time, girls this age fall in love with a stupid boy, lie to their parents and elope with the said boy. So please refrain from doing any of them. You graduated from middle school and got into high school this year and its a big deal in the school system here. You chose the school you wanted to go and the subjects you wanted to take and made so many important decisions in your life. I am so proud of you. This fierce independence streak is something I admire in you. Please do ask for help when you need it though. There is no shame in it. Help is always given to those who ask for it. Not only in Hogwarts, but at our home too. Anytime. Anything, Anywhere. OK?

Our long lunches together have rapidly decreased ever since you started high school and I miss them dearly. Weekends and holidays are the only time we got to spend time together and have fun as you have lot of school work. You are complaining that you don’t have enough time to read for pleasure anymore and its heartbreaking. You are listening to lot more music though. You are keeping at it with Violin and Tennis and Table tennis and all the stress-baking, of course! Due to the pandemic, we have been traveling within the country for the holidays. Since Swiss has no dearth of exotic places, there were many hikes, many lakes, a week of skiing and snowboarding, day trips and what not! They were sometimes accompanied by sulking and complaining and tantrums and resistance. Its a task to get you out of the house. You drag your feet, steal my socks, tease your sister, try your fathers last ounce of patience. But you relent. You listen. And I am thankful for that. You do you. We will get by. 

I call you selfish a lot of times. "Its always I, me, myself with you", I say to you. But when I actually sit and think about it, you are far from it. I know for sure I did nt do even a fraction of what you do when I was your age. Its not just doing the laundry. Its also folding the clothes into neat little squares and taking them to each persons room and leaving them on their bed. Its not just making two cups of tea for me and your dad. Its the perfect ratio of ginger to milk to sugar. Its not just baking a cake for each one of us. Its the personalized touch in each one of them. Its just not setting the table for a special dinner. Its the napkin folded into flowers and the exquisite taste in decorating. Its not just recommending a secondary school for your sister. Its the research you do and the pros and cons you list. I can go on. I am sure you get the gist. If and when you do something, you give your 100%. I am the selfish one to want more. I am sorry to be so greedy.

The other day we were joking about something and JK Rowlings name was mentioned as it invariably does in our household and you said, “I don’t like her that much anymore”. It could be because of JKR’s Transphobic comments or something else, I am not sure now. But it was a huge moment for me. I told you how this “cancel culture” is very prevalent these days and quite toxic. One can say, "I like JKR but I don’t like some of the things she says”, instead of a blanket “I hate her” comment. No one is perfect. People would nt be people without flaws. This strive for perfection whether its the physical look or the mental strength or that amazingly shot insta photo or the perfect grade in a school test, its impossible to expect it from people including oneself. We make mistakes. We learn. We forgive. We are forgiven. Life would be so dull otherwise. So please overlook the flaws and find the goodness in everyone. And forgiveness is so underrated. We forgive not because the other person deserves it, but because we deserve peace. I wish you all the peace and happiness in life, Kannamma! Happy sweet Sixteen!


June 27, 2020


Dearest Antu,

You think that you have figured me out. That I am sad that you are one more year older and that I am going to flood the house with my tears that my baby is turning 12. But I refuse to be predictable. I am very excited and very happy, I would like you to know. 12 is a wonderful age. Just perfect. One year closer to the Teens. I cant wait! See? I can do it. I am smiling and NOT at all crying inside. I am NOT looking at your baby photos and its NOT breaking my heart into a million little pieces. In fact, I am so overjoyed that…. Fine! I give up. Who am I kidding? I am dying, alright? The world as I know it is coming to an end and I am terrified that I am gonna have two teens at home by this time next year. You have changed so much in the last one year. Unlike your sister with her devil may care attitude, you care too much and get hurt too much which in turn hurts me way too much even though I am the one causing the hurt most of the time. Go figure! Dysfunctional family, for the win!

You are very insightful and the topics of our conversations throughout the day range from favorite color to existential questions like “Who will tell your story when you die?” Sometimes I have to take a moment and reexamine my whole life just to answer a simple question from you. You are obsessed with all kinds of games like 21 Questions, Would you rather, What if.. and drive the whole family crazy with your non stop questioning and I do wonder if you would do well as a lawyer or a counsellor when you grow up! This one time you nagged your sister to play with you and she being who she is came up with “Would I rather play this game with you or jump into that pond there?” and you earnestly replied to her with a “jump into the pond?” half hoping you got the right answer and at the same time worried that she means that! Oh my poor little darling! Always worried about when your moms going to blow up, when your sisters going to get upset, when your father is going to stop making you pancakes! (The last one will never happen, you and I know that!) We all love you in our own way and would do anything to make you happy, got it?

You are majorly into paper crafts and make all kinds of awesome stuff watching youtube videos. The 3D and pop out cards you make for us are legendary in our family and I have no clue how you got to be so talented. Taken after your sister, truly. Also the reading. We have turned you into a total potterhead too. You finished reading all of the Harry Potter books multiple time in both English and German and and currently you are reading them to your dad. Interesting thing about reading books in two languages, I asked you the other day if you prefer to read in English or German and you said “I prefer German if they are originally written in German” and I was blown away by that information. Go forth and conquer, my girl! Music is also a big part of your life. You are very interested in what I am listening in Indian film music. You are learning to play Piano, you have made a huge progress in Carnatic music and can sing like a dream. (Though extremely shy to sing in front of an audience!) My favorite part of the day is when I am prepping dinner and you sit near the kitchen with your Shruthi box and practice your singing. I could nt be more proud of you.

School and friends are your raison d’être and the 3 months of lockdown this year was quite hard on you. But it also gave a chance for you to be glued to your father like you used to long back and its heart warming to see you both spend so much time together. That man has been a goner from the moment he laid his eyes on you, the exact second you took your first breath but he’s truly and deeply wrapped around your little finger now and I am equal amounts proud and jealous of that fact! You worship your sister and any praise from her is a gift from the Gods for you. You respect me but also afraid to disappoint me. You adore your grand parents and uncle and aunt and very much upset about the cancelled travel plans this summer to meet them all. You are kindness personified and almost always make the right choice. May be, you will tell our story, Antu. I would very much like that. Keep being you, Kannamma. Wishing you a wonderful 12th Birthday!


June 05, 2020


Yes. It's one of those mushy anniversary anecdotes. 20 years together and I think it deserves some reminiscing. The husband of mine is an enigma. And I don't mean that in a mysterious or layered way. He's just an unpredictable idiot with a side of adorable. You can put any two beings together for 20 years, throw in a couple of kids, privileged life, barely-there-first-world-problems and I ll bet my last Rappen that they both can live relatively happy ever after! Same goes for us, I guess. Nothing earth shattering there. Love, shove, death do us apart are all fine and good when ones young and clueless but if the art of loading a dishwasher is what makes or breaks a marriage, we are at a strong 8/10 after 20 years of training. (I mean how hard is it to try to fit one more spoon, I ask you?)

Hiking with the kids is always accompanied by some weird games Antu comes up with. Shes the master of Questions. So this one time, we were playing a mix of "Would you rather", "Two Truths and a Lie" and "What would you do if..." 

Question 1: Which one thing or one person would you take with you if you are stranded in an island?

Me (even before she finishes the question) - Your father!

The said father (after thinking about it for 2 whole minutes) - A dog!

Question 2: If theres one thing you would change about Appa/Amma, what would it be?

Me  (after thinking about it for a bit) - nothing exactly. No, wait a sec. I ll change something so that hes not allergic to pollen anymore. Hes really in a bad shape in spring.

The said allergic Wimp (immediately) - Her anger! I ll make her less angry!

Question 3: Two truths and a lie?

Me (Baring my heart and bringing out childhood trauma and untold secrets)

1. I had a crush on a boy when I was in 5th grade.  (True.)
2. Once I did nt talk to my father for three whole months (Also true.)
3. When I was 15, I went on a hunger strike for 5 days. (Lie. It was only for 4 days!)

The said Enigma:

1. I like Jasmine
2. I like spiders better than bees
3. I like flying.

I swear on God, I was ready to kill the man in spite of his 8/10 dishwasher loading capabilities. No one is that desperate for perfection! (Fine! Who am I kidding? Perfection or death is my motto in life!) Anyway, the man is the Ron to my Hermione. Especially his "emotional range of a teaspoon"! Of course, hes also an ace strategist like Ron and got out of his murder situation by explaining that he would nt want me to suffer with him stranded in an island and he would always want the best for me and went all deep with Q2 "I like you just the way you are. But you are always upset with yourself about your anger and I want only what you want for yourself"! (Ahem. Where's the damn tissue? May be I am allergic to pollen too? *wipes tears*) But that still does nt explain his LIE. He does nt like jasmine, it seems?? WHAAAAA? Which self respecting Tamil Male does nt like jasmine now?? Whats the next big reveal? He does nt like (H)alwa also? Anyway, I digress. What I am trying to say is that you think you know a man after twenty years of being his jailmate out of which the last 90 days, you were literally his cellmate thanks to the lockdown but he still manages to surprise you!

Dear Enigmatic Idiot,

I would hate you if I did nt love you so much. I don't know what good I did to deserve you in this life, but I hope I am doing enough good to deserve you in my next too. Happy 20th! 
Never stop surprising me.

Always yours until the end of time aka the elusive 10/10,

April 27, 2020


Dearest Ashu,

Yet another year gone by and you turn 15 today amidst interesting times. The last 6 weeks of being cooped up together in our house with the four of us with just a break here and there and we both have nt attempted to murder each other. As yet. I am so proud of both of us. Not just for these past weeks but the whole last year where I finally feel we have grown up in our tumultuous relationship. You are showing much maturity and I think Im inching towards being patient. A big phew and all that! That does nt mean you are nice or anything. You are the reputed snark queen in the house and sarcasm could be the lowest form of wit but its your choice of weapon to wield! Oh and how you wield it! I used to get so annoyed with your utter lack of respect and my oft repeated mantra "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything!" fell to deaf ears. But later I realized that a snarky, sarcastic Teen who is at least talking is better than one who keeps to herself and never shares anything! So bring it on, Girl! After all, you learnt from the best and I can give it back as good as I get it!  Challenge accepted! 

You are very creative and have such clever hands. Be it playing the violin or plaiting your hair or your sisters. Playing Table tennis and winning medals in school tournaments or baking and decorating delicious and stunning cakes. Solving rubic cubes or drawing and sketching. Setting up elaborate projects on domino effect or making and editing ultra cool videos. You are a true star! Your talent astounds me and the amount of hard work and dedication and creativity you show at this age makes me feel like I was a total Buffoon when I was your age. And if my ego would allow me to say it, I still feel like one! You still have nt met a book you did nt like and listen to music all the time! Billie Eilish is your current Queen and your devotion to her is up there with JK Rowling and that's saying something! Keep reading and keep yourself surrounded with music and do something creative every day of your life!

My second best moment of the past year would be our girls trip to Berlin back in October.  I had always wanted to go on a trip with just us three girls and decided it was high time for me to adult and we flew to Berlin for 4 days. To put it mildly, I was terrified! But we had such fun and you were so responsible and were so happy and had such a good time that we were planning another trip even before we landed back in Basel. Which has nt happened yet and seeing how the world is going right now, it might not happen again in a long, long time but we will always have Berlin, won't we? And in December, we 4 went to the Andalusian region of Spain and we had a fantastic 8 days in Seville, Malaga, Granada and Cordoba. You were in love with the choice of food there especially the churros and chocolate combo and wanted so badly to extend the trip. We walked close to 100 kms in those 8 days and had an amazing time sight seeing. Even if we are quarantined for eternity, I could look back at all our family vacations and be content knowing how we have such a wonderful travel history. Especially you at this young age.  Always remember that you have been gifted with this privilege and please pay it forward in any way you can.

Now onto my most favorite heart melting moment of you at Age 14! A little history first. So its a known fact that I love Harry Potter. And I have a love/hate relationship with a certain Mr. Snape. Both you and Antu cannot for the lives of you understand why I adore him one moment and call him a selfish B@$T@&D, the next second. And having watched the movies like 17 times with Alan Rickman portraying Snape as if he was born to do the role does not help my case one bit. And I am ALWAYS, ALWAYS (Get it?) attracted to these kind of grey roles. Good is boring. Bad is terrible. But the ones in between are just right and delicious to devour in fiction. I love to analzyse these characters to death. And there's one scene in the 7th movie which is my favorite scene in the entire HP franchise: the back profile of Snape against a huge window. I love that scene and the framing and keep telling you all that I would love to own a poster of this frame whenever we watch the movie.(which is a lot!) Its just such a melancholic and breathtaking scene even without a single dialogue. So what do I see when I open my birthday present from you this year? A handmade notebook with a cover of the above said scene. WHICH YOU HAND PAINTED! I cried. I ugly cried. I cannot begin to describe the emotions I went through when I saw your thoughtful gift. All I will say is, I love you Pattu. Have a wonderful 15th Birthday. Stay blessed. Always.

The gift.

April 13, 2020

Life in times of Corona aka Life goes on...

Exactly one month ago, on my birthday, the lockdown began in Swiss. Hd had a dinner date planned for me and we were wondering whether to go or not. Ashu who loves any chance to get the adults of the house insisted that we go. "Could be the last time", the ever morbid teen prophesied. And I am glad we did! At least I ll remember fondly my last romantic meal in an Italian restaurant when I am dying on a overdose of Rasam and Rice with a side of kids whining and not to mention Hds annoying zoom calls!

The first week was a breeze. The kids were happy with no school. Hd was working from home and relaxed. I was cooking and cleaning and generally grateful for life. The second week was a bit crazy. The kids got school work and were stressed. Hd was putting out too many fires at the same time at work and I was cooking and cleaning and slightly grateful for life. The third week was painful. The kids were spending too much time on screen and fighting like dogs! Hd was using too many coffee mugs to my annoyance and I was cooking and cleaning and cursing my life. I planned to set up a hunger games sort of thing for the fourth week to see who would come out of it alive but I did nt want the prophecy of the resident teen to come true because obviously she would come out on top because she has been  planning our murders for far too long! So I resigned to my fate and cooked and cleaned and screamed and yelled and all was back to normal. Amazing how we get used to things given enough time, huh? 

Hd and I go out for a walk almost every day. One of us go out to do groceries twice a week. We get almost everything. We are safe and healthy and relatively happy and still it feels like we are in a limbo. I stopped reading news except once a day. Not reading or clicking on any forwards unless and until a certain stubborn sibling calls up and yells at me to see it because I will like it! (I did nt!) I am reading like crazy. (Questionable content though! Don't ask!) I finished a 12 week coursera course I began in Jan as a new year resolution and am very proud of it. Began another short course three weeks back. I am so thankful for technology and all my privilege but still it does nt stop me from yelling at Hd when he comes back with Avocados from the grocery store. Current gen dudes are useless in the face of apocalypse or what? In his defense, it was on sale it seems! Like I said, we are doomed!

Jokes aside, I hope you and your loved ones are safe. I hope the totem stops spinning soon! (The kids are nt the only ones with too much screen time!)

June 27, 2019


Dearest Antu,

Your birthday party is already done and I wept so much while lighting the ELEVEN candle that you did even have to blow it out! If I was telling the previous sentence to a live audience, here's where you would have chipped in with a "you are lying, Amma. That did nt happen!" Sigh. You and your being fair and always so righteous! Thats you in a nutshell! Whether tattling to the teacher about your best friend cheating in a test (Ashu and I gasped in unison when you came home and reported this incident!) or speaking your mind (I like my room the way it is ok? You may not like it. But I do!) or helping me around the house without a peep or going above and beyond to help people, you are your great grand father and grandmother rolled into one! Do not ever change and keep the world at its toes!

Friends and family are everything to you. Of course we have to compete with lego friends and sylvanian family and every other cute little plastic thingies! You have a long list of requests for toys, books and apps that you absolutely "need" at any given point of time! Slime is the word of the year. Various liquids in various stages and smells line your shelves and sometimes my fridge too! "Poison! Do not eat!", you left a note thankfully! (Which your sister removed and stuck it in my muesli!!) Your dads shaving cream, my contact lens solution, shampoo, baking soda, everything is fair game in your slime making process! One liter of glue is one of your birthday presents this year! Music is life to you. We went to Anne Marie concert in May and when we surprised you and Ashu with the concert tickets, you let out a ear piercing shriek and hugged me and started bawling because you were so overwhelmed! Its worth doing everything for you just to witness the sheer joy in your face. 

Its lovely to travel with you. Whether we are visiting a museum or a cathedral, a beach or a national park, you are 100% into it and you ask a million questions and enjoy the little things. You walk for hours without complaining or whining. And most importantly, willing pose for my photos! You eat like a bird and that's quite a problem when we travel. But you are healthy and growing, so I guess I have to count my blessings. You love animals and collect info and trivia about them like a passion. Getting a dog would be your dream come true. Wonder when thats gonna happen though! You know everything about everyone. Whats our favorite color, favorite food, our likes and dislikes and individually cater to everyones needs. Theres never a dull moment with you around and you are the glue holding us all together and I thank you for that.

You are a confident and independent kid and I'm always learning from you a thing or two about loving and giving. The kind of mother I am to you is totally different from Ashu and its a very bittersweet feeling. We spend more time together and goof around more. You and Ashu are like chalk and cheese and its very difficult for me to be kind and nice to her when she's grumpy and is not ready to receive my love and kindness. How to give when one refuses to receive? But I look at you being your loving self and never changing the person you are in any situation. While I become a screaming banshee and unkind and mean and rude. Says a lot about me, does nt it? I tend to blame Ashu for bringing the worst in me but the worst should exist to come out right? If I keep changing myself that easily, who am I then? This one time when Ashu was very mean to you, I told you to stop talking and interacting with your sister. And even though you were hurt by her, you pounced on me with a "But I want to talk to her, Amma. I don't care what she says or thinks about me. I will always like her!" I don't know how a spiteful me gave birth to this zen monk! You are also very emotional and empathetic and broke down and cried when we heard the news on 29th May that my paternal grand mother has passed away. You were affected by how much I was affected by the news and hugged me. How the tables turn! I would never forget that in my whole life. Thanks for being there for me, Kannamma. It means a lot to me. Happy 11th Birthday and keep spreading your love and kindness to the whole wide world!


June 06, 2019

Pattamma. (1916 - 2019)

My dearest grandmother (Pattamma to me) passed away last week at the over ripe age of 103. We were all expecting this. Actually praying for it. But when my mom sent this news at 7.22 am on a Wednesday morning, the world stopped spinning for a moment. I could nt talk. And I broke down and bawled like a baby. Well, I have always been a baby for her. My grandpa who I was extremely close to, passed away 20 years back and Pattamma never really fully recovered from his loss. With 6 daughters and 4 sons and dozens of grand kids and great grand kids and half a dozen great great grand kids, its an understatement to say that she lived a full life. And here I cant seem to manage two kids! I am so happy Ashu and Antu spent quite some time with her and knew her and will remember her. Ashu has played many a pallankuzhi games with her, helped her to scrape coconut, interviewed her for her school project (Pattamma had a pet green parrot growing up and it talked and repeated her mothers scoldings!) and has generally been around her more than Antu. Pattamma was smitten by Antu from the first time she saw her and like me, she was babied by her a lot. 

Pattamma was fit and healthy well into her 90s helping my parents around the house, washing her own clothes and climbing the stairs. But around 5 years back, she slipped on a step and broke her hip and everything went downhill from there. With every visit, I could see she was suffering more and more. Being bed ridden, being fed, having to wear a nightie instead of a saree, being helped by the nurse to take a shower, having to use diapers, .. everything was a torture for her. And she hated being a burden to her children especially to my parents and my uncle/aunt who took care of her between them. And when she turned 100, it was party time! All her 10 kids under one roof and all she wished was the sweet release of death. The last three years, that's all she thought about. "Naan eppo poven dee?", she will ask me and I would say I will pray for you, Pattamma. She was of sound mind and could see, hear and talk quite well until the very end. The last two years when we visited her, Antu would sing the carnatic songs she is learning and she enjoyed listening to her. Only 6 weeks back, Antu sang "vara veena" to her and Pattamma was mouthing the swarams and the lyrics along with her and her right hand was automatically tapping to the beat. It moved me to tears. The way our brain works is just amazing, no? 

I will miss her kind voice the most. The way she said "Take care of yourself" and "Take extra care of the kids" (Nee udamba paathuko. Kuzhandhela jaakradhaya paathuko). You knew she meant it. They were nt just hollow words. Only a grand parent can give you that kind of unconditional love. "Be kind to the kids. Talk to them kindly. They are good kids. Be patient" she repeated this to me every time we met! Its another story that I never listened!  A couple of years ago when she was talking to me and was complaining why God would nt take her away, I had a brilliant idea! "Why don't I take this pillow and smother you and kill you Pattamma? Do you want me to do it? Just nod your head and I will do it", I told her! Yes, we had that kind of relationship! Her reply is still echoing in my ears - "andha paavam unakku edhukku dee ma?" (I would nt want that sin in your hands!) I don't think I can love anyone like that ever in my life.

I love you very dearly Pattamma. And will remember you always. Your food. Your kindness. Our conversations. Your warmth. You suffered a lot in the final years and that broke my heart. If I could do one thing, I would like to see you now and tell you "You are gone, Pattamma. You have passed away. You got what you wanted. God did take you with him" and would like to see you smile one final time. "Neenga poitel, Pattamma."

April 27, 2019


Dearest Ashu,
We celebrated your 1st birthday in India and now after all the years, we are here for your 14th birthday. From a Noddy themed birthday party where 100 people were invited to “I don’t want a party. I don’t want a cake. I don’t want any gifts, just get me a better phone. This one is dying”. May be you tried to say the same when you were 1 too and as usual I did nt listen! You are enjoying this trip and am glad I decided to come in this scorching heat because it’s so heart warming to see you so happy. When Thatha was driving the car from Kumbakonam to Chennai, you fought with me for the front seat and sat there and talked and laughed and enjoyed the trip with him. In contrast to Swiss where you put your headphones on and sit at the back and don’t say one word to me. You are so patient with both set of your grandparents and talk to them kindly and help them while you won’t even give the time of the day to your sister.  I guess I need these India trips to realize that the problem is not you, it’s me!

Your big wish came true this year. You always wanted to go to the USA on your own to your aunts house and I thought it won’t happen in the near future because why would nt Antu and I come too? But then the universe conspired and Antus passport did nt come back in time and we let you go first and we both joined a week later. My heart was in my mouth when I waited at the boarding gate and you walked to the plane. I came home and kept tracking the plane and thought I must be the worst mom in the world! You had a wonderful week and everyone had only good things to tell about you. We also went to Austria for the ski holidays, to the beautiful Croatia and then recently to Canary Islands which you loved! Mainly for the resort we stayed in. “ Will you promise we will come back here, Amma?”, you asked when we were checking out and I thought what spoilt kids I am raising and how hard adulting is going to be for you both! But then we sleep on a mattress on the floor in India and your grandmother drags you in an Auto to temples and you want to come back here too every year. So I guess all’s not lost. 

You have adjusted to Basel now and have made a few friends. You are very hard working in school and doing good. Come rain or snow, you cycle to school, do your laundry, leave the kitchen sparkling after your baking experiments, a little perfectionist in whatever you do and it makes me so proud. In school this year, the kids need to find a job for one week in May. And you sent out resumes to a dozen companies and none of them were doing this short internship programmes. You tried in book shops and libraries as it’s your dream come true job! Then desperately got in touch with our neighbor and went for an interview and got the job in their manufacturing department. What an amazing experience! I hope you enjoy and learn a lot! Good luck, Chellam! You also sneakily watch Netflix, listen to Ariana Grande all day long and read like your life depends on it. You are continuing to learn violin and play a little bit of tennis and table tennis. But would rather stay in your room than get out of the house. And these days I have to check with you before accepting dinner invites because “I have a test on Monday. I have to study for it. I can’t come out” excuses have begun!

Our fights have got more intense and more frequent much to my utter disgust but I don’t know what to do about it. There’s a thin line between letting you do whatever you want and making you do whatever I want and I seem to be struggling to find it. Please know that I am trying. I swear on your favorite Nutella that you are precious to me. It’s not easy to like you at this grumpy age but it does nt change my undying love for you. Please believe. In yourself and in your mother. Antus devotion to you and your fathers pride in you will never diminish. Not to mention the extended family which thinks the Sun rises and sets for you! So much so that my father plays the skip card to Antu but never to you in the Phase 10 card game much to all our protest! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is! Though you are not touchy feely and vocal about your feelings, your love for everyone shines through when you bake for them or when you make something for them.  I miss the cuddles and kisses and I love yous and I guess I have to grow up and accept that you are growing up. But please don’t feel shy to compliment, to love, to appreciate and to say a kind word, Ashu. Live life and live it well. Happy 14th Birthday, Chellamma! 


October 29, 2018


It was Destination Croatia during the fall break earlier this month. I don’t think I have ever visited a country and then not rave about it! So Croatia was no different. In fact, it will easily be in one of the top spots. What a spectacular place! We had a fantastic week and came back glowing! We landed in Split and rented a car and drove straight to Plitvice National Park. On the way, we made an unplanned stop at Krka National Park and one look at the view, the walk and the waterfalls and I was in love. I was wondering how Plitvice could be any more beautiful than this! But I was so so wrong! The next morning, we left early for the Plitvice lakes. Parked our car, bought our tickets and ventured inside. It was quite chilly until the sun came out. It is a huge park with 16 lakes and hundreds of waterfalls. Theres a wooden boardwalk all around the park. Short hikes. Caves. Stunning views. Boat rides. We spent about 8 hours there, walked about 12 kms and with barely any lunch as the choice of food inside the park was not great for vegetarians. But we did nt mind. It was a magical place. A slice of heaven on Earth. I was telling HD “Lets go back home now. Nothing else we see in Croatia is gong to match this!” Famous last words!

The next day we drove back to Split stopping in Zadar for lunch. It was a quaint little port town. We found an amazing Italian place for lunch. Then we reached Split, chucked our luggage in the house we were staying and walked to the Diocletians Palace. We spent some time at the sea side, walking around and then called it a day. The next day, it rained in the morning. So we left late and drove to Trogir. Thankfully, the sun came up and we had a great time in Trogir. Its a small town by the Adriatic coast. The historic centre of the town is part of Unesco world heritage sites and it was pretty as a picture. Small alleys, cute shops, loads of restaurants,… We explored a bit and found a nice place for lunch. Then we drove back to Split and walked to the palace again, visited the city museum and hiked the Marjan hill before stumbling into a vegan restaurant for dinner.

Day 5 was the highlight of the trip. Giving stiff competition to Plitvice was Brac Island. We took a ferry from Split to Supetar and then drove to the Bol beach. I swear that that was the most beautiful beach and the most beautiful spot in the world. White pebble beach. Bluest of blue water. So calm like a pool with no waves. Absolutely no crowd. Water was warm enough to go for a swim. And the most interesting fact is that the beach is V shaped with the Adriatic Sea on both sides and I have never seen anything like this in my life. I was going round and round like a dog exploring the small stretch with pine trees on one side, beach on either side. We swam for a bit and then I sat and kept looking at the water in a trance. I never wanted to leave. Hd and Antu had to be dragged out of the water too. We had a blast. Ashu was happy that she found a crepe stand and was stuffing her face with a nutella crepe. Not wanting to miss the ferry back, we drove back with a small detour for a breathtaking view of the beach from a cliff! The ferry ride back to Split with the spectacular sunset would be etched in my memory forever.

Day 6 we drove to Dubrovnik and usually I am not impressed with hyped up places and I was like “bring it on”! But clearly I don’t learn a lesson. After a pizza lunch, we walked to the old city and it felt like we walked into a movie set or went back in time! I also realized why Plitvice and Brac Island were almost empty. Everyone was in Dubrovnik! It was mad crowd everywhere. We explored a bit and then walked back to our house. Though it was about 15 mins walk, we had to climb like a million stairs! Every side street is  a staircase, I tell you! Am glad we went when we went. I don’t think my knees would take this in my old age! Which is not very far!!! On the next day, Hd and I woke up early and walked to the old city to look at the sunrise. With no crowd, the place was even more beautiful. We came back after breakfast with the kids and visited the Fort Lovrijenak, Rectors Place, a few churches, went for a walking tour inside the city and had lunch at another nice Vegan place we found. We also bought tickets to walk the city walls and it was a stunning stunning view from the walls. By the end of the day, we had walked 16 kms and climbed 78 floors. Kudos to the girls!

Our last day, we drove back to Split from Dubrovnik. We decided to drive via Bosnia and make a quick stop in Mostar to see the pictueresque medieval old bridge. The drive was long in narrow roads with no village or town in sight. And hardly any cars. Finally we reached Mostar, grabbed some lunch and took a few pics and were on our way to Split. There were like a million Pomegranate trees lining the road and a kind man gave me two for free! They were yummy! Our flight was early next day and I don’t know how one week flew by. For the first time, we stayed with Airbnb for the entire trip. Usually I hate to make beds and fix our own meals in vacation because thats all I seem to do in my life and always prefer hotels. But this was a pleasant experience. Lots of friends have warned us about food in Croatia. So it worked out well that we managed lunch outside and fixed ourselves a simple dinner almost every night. There was more space and character and it was nice to talk to the local hosts. So thats that! Croatia - I will be back!

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