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June 27, 2011


Dear Antu,
As long as we live outside India, your birthday is always going to be in India or in the US, I guess. Just like your first birthday, we are back in India for your third as well! Are nt you a lucky girl to be celebrating amongst your doting Thathas and Paatis? This year, you were truly looking forward for your birthday and even declared, "Amma! I ll blow the candles and you cut the cake, ok?" I know its all your sister's coaching but it sounded so sweet when you said that. Unlike the previous years, I'm shocked that you are only three! Really? You talk more than your sister and some times you even seem to know more than your father and you act like a thirteen year old me! Deadly combination, I tell you! Tone it down, little girl! I want to live long enough to see your kids giving you grey hair! ;)

We had a family dinner get-together yesterday in Madras and you blew the candles and cut the birthday cake surrounded by your grand parents, grand uncles, grand aunts, uncles, aunts, older and younger cousins and especially your great grand mother. This is the best kind of birthday according to me. I felt so loved with so many of the family present and I hope you realize how lucky you are to have had that special day. Ashu was the perfect hostess, as usual! Thank her when you are old enough to understand how much she does for you. It is frustrating to see you take her for granted and manipulate her to get your way in everything but I know its just a phase (correction: loooooooooooong phase!) and later you will worship her and that she ll mean the world to you. Personal experience speaking, of course! So I guess I have to grin and bear.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Sweetie Pie! Hope you are always surrounded by love like you are today.


Yes, I owe you half a piece of baby corn fry. I should nt have let the Cascade waiter take your plate away when you had nt finished your baby corn fry. But you need not have kept saying,"He took my baby corn!" with an accusing finger pointing to the waiter every time he crossed our table. Before your next birthday, I ll get you a full plate of baby corn fry and will also let you finish it. Deal?

June 20, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2.

Ashu's KG graduation gift was a movie - Kung Fu Panda 2. I was thrilled to go for a movie with her. Though her first movie was Toy Story 3 last year, she watched it with my Bil. So this was our first time to the big screen together. Naturally, I was making a big deal and she did nt care! The news spread and more moms and kids joined our plan. At the end, we were 4 moms and 9 kids. Hd could nt believe we were leaving him and Antu and going on Father's day but we reminded him that every day is fathers day and we don't believe in all this marketing scam! Mother's day is almost a year away. So he ll forgive and forget, Im hoping! ;)

Armed with 3D glasses and a pick-your-own-sweets bag (madam does nt believe in popcorn, the ultimate movie companion!) she walked to the dark screen and plonked herself in between two of her friends while I stood and glared at her! "Do you want to sit here, Ashu?", I managed to squeak. "No, Amma! I'm going to sit here!", came the prompt reply. hmph! I could have just dropped her at the entrance and gone home, I guess! The ungrateful child! Anyway, we loved the movie. Even though there were nt many laugh-aloud scenes, Ashu seemed to be laughing whenever Po was on screen! The 3D experience also enhanced the movie and the animation was just breathtaking. The colors were just brilliant. I could nt take my eyes off. I wanted to pause each scene and look at every little detail. What an effort! Lord Shen, the peacock was my favorite! ( But he seemed too stiff when he was walking. No offence to the Dreamworks team, but I have never seen a peacock walk without moving his long neck. Thats the classic movement of the peacock, is nt it? May be Lord Shen had a botox or something? ;)

After the movie, Ashu said that she liked this better than Toy Story. (Come on, Pixar! Do something!) I asked her if she understood the story and she said she did. "But I did nt understand one thing, Amma. What is Inner Peace?" Err.... A profound question indeed! But I expect no less from Ashu. "You know how Amma is on a school day morning, Ashu? When you cant find your water bottle and Antu refuses to drink her milk and your dad is on a phone call and I'm making tea and breakfast and lunch and trying to comb your hair all at the same time?" "Yes....", Ashu gulped. "Well. Inner peace is exactly the opposite!", I declared. She, of course, did not get it. But I found inner peace alright, even if it lasted only a minute! :)

June 16, 2011

Kindergarten Girl Graduates.

Was nt it just yesterday that I blogged about Ashu's first day of Kindergarten? Time flew and here we are on the last day of KG. Sigh! At least Ashu is all excited that she is going to be in FIRST GRADE from TOMORROW. (according to her!) But I cant seem to let go of my Kindergartner. Well, there is always Antu, I suppose!

Today when we were getting ready and I was wiping tears and packing her lunch, (because I knew it will come back half eaten AGAIN!), Ashu declared "I don't want to go to school, Amma!"

"What? Why? You love school."

"Yes, Amma. But I don't like last days. I want yesterday to be my last day and I dont want to go today."

"I know its tough, Ashu. But you have to go today and say good bye to everyone."

(sighs) "OK."

"And also today is the last day and if you miss today then you can never ever go to Kindergarten ever again in your life even if you wanted to. Think about that."

"No Amma. I can go to Kindergarten again if I become a teacher!"

Well, theres no arguing with a Kindergartner, I guess! I shudder at the thought of a precocious first grader at home!

June 14, 2011

Big-Ears and a Big Disappointment.

The very first book Ashu got as a gift at the ripe young age of 5 months was "Noddy's squeaky shoes". (Excluding the tonnes of book my sis got for her, that is!) We would have read it to her at least a million times. And I think her first TV show was "Make way for Noddy" too. At least thats what she liked the most to watch on TV. So much so that my mom got her a huge stuffed Noddy toy for her 1st birthday. She got a Noddy cake too. And when we left for Zurich when she was 20 months old, I bought a couple of Noddy CDs and about a dozen Noddy books. Which she has watched/been read to a couple of more million times. She has poured through each and every picture in each page, well... a million times. Rinse and repeat for Antu too. Now after all that Noddy overdose for SIX long years, Ashu picked up the "A Bike for Big-Ears" today and declared that she can read the whole book all by herself! I was all ears, of course! ;) But she stumbled on the second page. And on a very simple world - "He".

"Big-Ears is a BOY?", she asked with her eyes as wide as saucers! Silly me thought at first that shes asking if he were a man or a boy. So I said No. Then she said, "But it says "He" here. She is a He? He is a She?" Since I had watched Mrs. Doubtfire very recently, I burst out laughing!

"Of course Big-Ears is boy. Hes a man actually! Did you really think he was a woman all this time?"
"Yes, Amma! Look at the long hair!"
"Thats not his hair, Ashu! Thats his beard!"
"Really? Wow!

I could see her whole Noddy world crashing down inside her head. She literally shook her head and continued reading and finished the book. It was a bittersweet feeling for me. One one hand, I was thrilled that she could read on her own. But on the other, it was upsetting that she ll be concentrating on the words more than the pictures. Power of the word, huh?

June 10, 2011

Schloss Neuschwanstein.

This year for our anniversary, we were in Fussen, Germany. It happened to be an extra long weekend here last week and in continuing our tradition of being in a different city for each of our anniversaries, we pulled it off successfully for the 11th time. When we went here 8 years back on our first visit to Germany, I was so looking forward to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. But it was a foggy day and we could nt see a thing. While we did take a tour inside, the picture postcard views were sorely missed and I vowed to go back again just for the views. My dream came true last Saturday. Ashu was thrilled to see a real castle and the weather was just perfect.

We bought a combo ticket for both Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle. We booked it online so that we dont have to stand in long lines and also theres a mad rush in Summer. One can see the inside of the castles only with guided tours and chances are that we might not get a time we want if we buy it directly from there. So in spite of the online booking fee, its worth it. (Though kids go free, there was a booking fee for them too. Go figure!) We drove from Zurich to Fussen which is around 3 hours and stayed there overnight. The next morning we drove to Schwangau which is 10 minutes drive and parked near the ticket office. From there, its a 10 to 15 minutes walk to the Hogenschwangau castle. Theres also a horse drawn carriage which takes you to the castle. But we used it for the Neuschwanstein Castle since its a 40 minutes uphill walk and also time was tight between the two castle tours. Its a very good idea to take the stroller for young kids.

Hohenschwangau was King Ludwig's childhood home. He built the Neuschwanstein Castle later but never completed it since he died under mysterious circumstances.(He drowned in the lake at the age of 41 along with his... wait-for-it... psychiatrist!) After the tour of the first castle, we walked back and took a carriage to go to castle no. 2. There was a long line but we did nt have to wait long since there were many carriages. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the royal ride! Neuschwanstein Castle is just breathtakingly beautiful. And what a location! After the tour, we walked to the Marienbrucke (a bridge) which is around 30 minutes walk from the castle for the fantastic view. It was totally worth hiking with the kids. Then we walked back to a restaurant near the castle and had a late lunch. (A platter of asparagus in hollandaise sauce, anyone?) Fussen is also a beautiful town and the town centre with the cobbled roads is very charming with shops and restaurants lining the street. The next day we drove to Forggensee, a beautiful lake, and did a one hour boat cruise. The views were beautiful. A perfect anniversary weekend getaway.
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