Monday, August 31, 2009

A month of festivals

August had been a month of functions and festivals. Normally it would be yet another day with only some puja or an extra item cooked being the additions. But with V trying to participate in all the 'household happenings', we were enthused to make each one a celebration. It began with "Avani Avittam" (I am planning to compile details of as many rituals, festivals and functions possible for V's sake). V was very excited because his appa tied a silk veshti around his waist and also put over his shoulder a namesake poonal (Yagnopavita, the sacred thread, in V's case a 'kalla poonal') He went around with what he called 'poolan', and as usual demanded to be photographed. We were n't surprised at his excitement, given his penchant for the puja room and its contents! He removed it and H (the husband) hung it on a nail in the room and whenever he wanted it V asked for the 'poolan'!
Next to follow was Gokulashtami (since we do not celebrate 'varalakshmi viratham'). My job was made easy by my mother who asked me not to 'strain myself' with a kid around and brought the sweets, seedai and murukku the previous day. For our part, we bought the bag that was available at Grand Sweets! On 'Gokulashtami, H had some important meeting at office which he could n't miss and was to come home only after eleven at night. So that evening it was the toddler and me who actually performed the puja! V 'helped' me by rubbing off all the tiny feet that I had manged to draw with the rice flour. After lots of cajoling and screaming I let him do what he wanted to and drew everything again with a piece of wet chalk! Thankfully he did not notice them. I tied the veshti around him and he immediately asked for the 'poolan'. I tried to deck him up like the Lord himself with some jewelery, but the little one resisted so strongly that if not for the silk veshti, he would have looked like a small sanyasi!
In the puja room he 'helped' me again by heaping the flowers and chanting Oommmm and a lot of other comprehensible things. To top it all I gave his favorite brass bell to ring. We were done after half an hour and at about 7:30 just when when I was wondering how long it would take for H to come and whether I should wait or just keep the stuff  on the table and go to sleep, the unpredictable husband walked in! I was irritated more because we could hear the bell in the neighbourhood well after nine!
The last one for the month was Ganesh chaturthi and H was thankfully at home. V wanted to touch the clay pillayar and decorate the diety himself. He kept sneaking away with the paper kodai (umbrella) and we had a tough time securing it from him. This time too the amma happily settled to make only vadai and payasam and skipped the 'kozhakattai'. Poor V. He would have to depend on his granny for all the delicacies. As usual he had a field day with a lot of chanting and bell ringing!

Oops..almost forgot the highlight. H had taught V that we celebrate on certain days to mark the 'birthdays' of the respective incarnations (not in the same words though!)

This is what V said first thing in the morning...

Aaapppy bethdayy to u keechna...
Aaapppy bethdayy to u Peepaa (for pillayar)!!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You are addicted to blogging when...

...You log into your blogger account at least ten times a day pretending to write a post
...Edit posts at least ten times before clicking the publish button
...View your blog at least seven times whether or not you publish anything
...Visit a minimum of ten different blogs a day
...Visit each of those ten blogs twice
...Sneak in to blog whenever there is time, whether it is early in the morning or late in the night, or when the husband is eating
...You pretend to browse but blog all the time
...Claim that you are getting more information out of blogs than news sites
...You think of all that you need to blog so much that you sleep with the same thoughts, dream of them and wake up with the same thoughts. As soon as you get up you log in to check whether you've really created a new post
...You keep thinking of it so much that you log in to see how complete your blog is
...You are disappointed to find only ten posts. The rest are still in the head
...Looking at the number of bloggers already out there, you feel so left out that you are so charged up and spend at least ten hours a day doing nothing but blink at the screen
...You read someone else's blog, read the comments, click on to the commenter's link, read his/her blog, click their commenter's link and go link after link after link that you forget what you were actually reading first
...You want to put down a recipe, but think a cookery blog will be a better idea so create one; then you write a post about your son and want to make a collection of all those posts, so you create a mommy blog, you write a film review, think you are such a big movie buff that you create your own film blog...this goes on and on and you have blogs on sports, career, management, gardening, health and festivals. One fine day you read them all to find that each has only one post and end up collating and get back to square one - your general blog
...Change the template once in two days
...You get so paranoid upon not having written a new post today that you end up writing this.
...You leave some blank space to add if you act crazier in future
P.S: I don't know if there are similar posts on blogging addiction. Even if there are, I have n't read them. This is my own.... Oh yes...but I really want to know what others have written about their addictions...No...there can't be many jobless persons like me...or what if there are...I think I'll browse and check...no..there is the milk on the stove...it'll take another five minutes to boil..
I browse for posts, go mad as usual and after half an hour remember the milk. I kick myself thinking of all the excuses that I could give, visualize the empty almost destroyed vessel, smell for gas leaks and the stench and when I enter the kitchen the milk is not there. When did the husband come in? V is too small to do such things. I look up and down, inside the fridge, on the table and conclude that I did not put the milk on the stove at all. An hour later when I open the microwave oven to re-heat something, I find the milk there...

Slokams and more than that...

The husband and I are not particularly religious. We believe in God, to the extent that we offer the regular pujas, flowers and visit temples once in a while. We don't go over the top. We try to put our best efforts into whatever we do, offering prayers irrespective of whether the said task is done or not. The husband is much better between us when it comes to knowledge of traditions and rituals. You will not catch him doing his daily puja or chanting slokams aloud. One look at him (both of us as a matter of fact) and one single conversation can make people believe that we are atheists. We don't care and are happy about the low profile we keep.  On any festival, when a puja is required to be performed, H ensures that he is dressed in the appropriate costume (read silk veshti),  decorates the puja room with flowers and lights agharbathis and gives the festival its due. The lazy wife (lazy because push her to the brink, she'll still only think about a saree and not wear one) does her best in the kitchen. 
All along we make sure that V participates. The H teaches him some slokam once in a while (and whatever V says sounds the same as of now!). Don't even count me on that. We actually do not insist him to do this and that nor are we proud that we know or don't know something. But our collective opinion is that whatever we perform at home has to be a learning experience for V. At least we want him to know the traditions we follow and have left it to him to decide what he wants to follow in the future. A festival brings in a lot of positive energy.  When  sees us giving sweets to neighbors he learns sharing. When we visit temples he not only becomes familiar with devotion but also traditional architecture. We have not as yet (what if he is only two!) pushed him into anything and don't wish to, in the future either.
I must however say that V gets very excited at the sight of the bells in the puja room. He loves pulling off and putting on flowers, rubbing of the 'kolam' that I painstakingly managed to draw, rings the brass bell and brings a plate to every one asking them to touch the imaginary flame from the imaginary camphor. I am happy simply because all these keep him occupied for 20 minutes!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whining, wailing and playing!

The problem after having decided to blog is that there are too many things in the head and so little time and opportunity to actually put them down. I repeatedly kick myself for not having done this earlier (say two years back???) and now I want to put down whatever I recollect! See I digress, waste time and wail.
The last said is my first topic. V, for the past three weeks has resorted to wailing. I checked Dr.Spock's manual and hundred other websites and all of them only talk about whining and more whining. They probably thought wailing is too harsh a word to describe a child's behavior. But I do not want to paint a rosy picture, so wailing it is. My first instinct is to laugh and this makes things worse. If it was mere crying and anger I could probably 'wide-eye angry' shush it. But that is not to be. My little  brat wants to run all around the house mouthing incomprehensible language, thus not making things easy for either of us. Picture this: I tell him his rhyme time is over...wait... this one is even more interesting(?). The rhymes are actually done on the CD and he lets out a loud cry...Ammaaa ducckku (or Maama. or linga linga or tick thock or however he wishes to call them) aaacchiii (over). When I try to pick him up he says Nnnooo and goes amma vaangaaoo intha rhymmee pothu venta nanu etc etc. Sometimes out of frustration I try to play it again and he says Nnnooo. And this is how the rest of the conversation goes:
Me: Will you drink Horlicks?
V: amma orliks.. I go to get it (IGG) ammaa orlicks Nnooooo
Me: Biscuit?
V: amma bikki Again IGG amma bikkki Nnooooo,
Me: Ok.. Tata polama? (Shall we go out)
V: Taataaa pulaam (we'll go) Nnooo amma taataa nnooo and goes amma vaangaaoo intha rhymmee pothu venta nanu etc etc
This continues until the wail becomes a whine becomes a sing song and I end up lifting him and showing how the washing machine functions!
I guess like every other phase (as the good doctors put it) this will also pass.
The baby center website is a boon. Whenever I encounter what I think is a problem, I get a newsletter from them which has information on the same issues! So I sit back relieved that mine is a genius like every other kid! A few weeks back I received an email on the variety that pre-schoolers looked for and how instead of hitting the toy shop every other week, we can use things at home for play-time. Between us the amma is obsessed with buying new toys and V (much to his appa's delight) is satisfied with every available plate, spoon, bucket, towel, newspaper, his parents' mobile phones, reading glasses, sun glasses and what not, to keep himself busy.
This morning we were playing with his cars. Five minutes later he brought his drum and wanted me to play the nathaswaram with a spoon! Ten more minutes later he pulled out a puzzle and threw it back in the same breath. Some minutes later he came with our multi plug connector and pulled the wire as I stood with the adapter. After he pulled its full length he tossed it up and down giving me the occasional warning Nooos when I tried winding the wire. Mercifully he decided to eat his lunch after that. I have to check what else is at home to keep him occupied! Hmm..ennathaa solla?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I write, because I want to...but I don't waste anybody's time!

I was actually wondering if the status of a celebrity or so-called-celebrity would give you a lot of visibility or the right to demand visibility. A lot of people (read those from the media) choose many a forum to express themselves. Some toggle between TV and radio, some radio and the press, some the press and TV, some all three. Many of them also interact online through blogs and websites. The problem here is that the line between experts and celebrity experts, is blurring.
An English daily is now carrying a fortnightly write-up on relationship issues, by a celebrity, who is popular in the mainstream media. Agreed. But what about content? Just because someone gives the writing space (I also guess money), are we readers suppose to tolerate any nonsense? This appears in the popular daily supplement to the newspaper. I read it regularly as it is more interesting than the main newspaper. Probably people like me contribute to the glorification of certain people and certain things.
I started blogging only recently (look at my archives....not yet??) But I am very happy these days because I need not slog myself into writing something, sending it across to newspapers and then waiting for it to be published. No..here is a space which I use to pour down my thoughts and carry on with the rest of my business. I don't care if anyone reads it or not. Even when somebody does, it is a discussion only between us and do not waste anyone's time or space.
Forget me, a nobody... A lot of celebrities simply create blogs and websites to interact, stay in touch and to post information. Why... just why can't the above mentioned resort to any of these (I must check if something exists) and why waste precious newspaper space?
I really hope the forthcoming weeks provide something better...or else I will be coming up with a stronger post. After all...who would care to read what I write?!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Live and let me live.... and also let others live!

I do not give unsolicited advice. I do not complain on what people wear unless it is someone really close and to whom what I say would matter. I appreciate people who are well dressed and choose their make-up wisely. If I do not like something I just keep quite. I am not laying any rules for life. Also I do not care what others think about others...it is their life and their opinion.

But please-oh-please let me be me. I am a plain Jane. I have been one right from my childhood days and I have absolutely no regrets. My sartorial adventures before marriage used to begin and end with some pairs of jeans and t-shirts and the wardrobe post marriage accommodates salwar kameezes and sarees (that were purchased and used only for and at the wedding!).

Before my wedding, the last time I applied make-up (read lipstick!) was for a dance programme in class five, eons ago. As I had mentioned earlier, I appreciate and would even recommend brands and clothes to people who are interested in fine dressing. Though my sister was more dressed than I was at my wedding, I gave her ideas on accessories. I like "window shopping" for jewellery though I don't like sporting any (except ofcourse the 'bare' esssentials, that the society requires a married woman to wear :p).

I am blah blahing because I am sick and tired of people who take great pains to know why I am like this. Why can't I keep a bigger bindi (hello..I at least have one on my forehead!), why could n't I have dressed up in a designer saree rather than that heavy pattu saree at my sister's wedding (People recognized me ..that was enough and I had to use that pattu saree more than once!). Why did I have to put on the simple and traditional maruthaani (mehendi) design on my palms instead of the spidery stuff for my wedding and why not even that at my sister's? Here I get particularly irritated at some people (read old) who say what I did was right ...our traditional designs are the best. They don't give me any credit for this. They only reiterate their points of view and my case is convenient for them.

Well.. I am like that because I like to be like that.

On the other hand criticisms are also faced by people who dress well and by those who only need an occasion or a mere reason for the occasion (WDP)! The people who are against me are also against the WDP. Their problem lies within themselves. They cannot tolerate a well dressed teacher or a doctor. At the same time if someone wears one-fifteenth of the jewellery that they adorn or if someone else's saree has one inch less zari, they are not left in peace either.

I guess the problem lies with the people who comment. They want to dress simple, but forever have to grapple with the fear of facing ridicule. They want to dress more but probably do not have the aptitude to do so (I won't say looks here...No way!) The least they can do is to keep quiet and let the others move on. The sad part of the whole issue is that it is not the elderly alone that comment. People across age-groups have this problem. Yes... It is a problem not mine (or the WDP's) but theirs (I'll add later if I coin a name!)
Live and let live...in which ever way possible.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

He is what he is

I am tired, frustrated to the point of disgust, of all the questions people put to me about the little one. As a baby and as one that thrived only on mother's milk, V was a little more than healthy. So much so that people would ask him if he was a year old when he was only eight months old. I was not worried because I knew why he was like that. Also, I learnt to rely on my instinct, facts I had gathered from books and Doctors. But people would n't just let be. In the very beginning, the questions were: What...you are not giving water? He's four months old...You have not started external supplements? He is only six months old hah hah...thought he was older hah hah etc. As he grew older the growth rate slowed down (as it does in any other baby) and after he turned one and started walking, he did not look anything like the baby that he was. His weight according to the doctor was and is normal. Now I get these questions.. Why has he gone down...does n't he eat properly, or plain does n't he eat? I learnt to ignore all this..
However, worse was to follow. I was able to ignore questions on food and weight because I ( in fact, both the husband and I) knew exactly how he was doing and what he was eating, and that he is doing good. But not those that were about his "development'. V started creeping only at the eighth month, crawled only at ten months, began sitting by himself by eleven months and started walking (properly) only when he was fifteen moths old. Which meant he was normal by any standard! The onlookers (read relatives and a few outsiders) seemed to think otherwise. They began comparing and I began explaining until my voice turned hoarse. One day when I was totally exhausted to even raise a small protest, I decided to think rather than talk.
When I did that things (that I had known deep within) began falling in place. My son is just like anyone else 'like him'. That toddler in the park is like 'any other toddler like him'. In short he is what he is. He is like his parents. His parents (that is us) were (a few factors overlapping, others independent) were exactly like what he is now.
When I began saying, he walked late because his father did the same, the questioners stopped talking about that. When it was about V remaining a bystander and an observer when other kids rolled in the mud, I said it is because his mother (me) was like that and they simply shut up. And when I told them that he is an active kid who likes trying to do things on his own, cleans every available furniture with every available piece of cloth, is polite, does n't throw a tantrum (touch wood...toouuccchhh wooddd!) in others' houses, they stopped talking to me...at least about toddlers and kids in general!
And, I am one happy mom. I now give such an expression as a reaction (not answer!) to those people that the look on their face cleary says "why am I enduring this". I only hope I don't get another opprtunity to wag my nasty tongue again!
As for the little one, he is happy being who he is because he still is ensconced in his own little world of imagination and waatcchinngg matcchines. I wish children could never grow and be as they are.... Tall claims huh?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Then and Now...

From baby to brat...V has come very far. His latest entertainment, comforter, time-pass, boredom reliever (though he still revels in watching rhymes and song videos) is a set of videos (three-minute from the digital point and shoot camera) that were shot during his baby days and the days when he could barely walk. He rolls in laughter when the 'paappa' (that is him!) struggles to sit up, creep and crawl. He has tears in his eyes as he giggles uncontrollably as he watches the little one bang his head against a door or tries unsuccessfully to climb a low chair. We tell him that the 'paappa' is none but little V...he accepts and then begins laughing again. When some one comes home he drags them to the computer and asks his appa to show them 'crying paappa'. So much so that yesterday he sat against a door and began banging his head, just the same way the 'paappa' in the video did! To top it all, he adds "appaaaa...pphotho eddu"...Really...what was he thinking?!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Of Washing Machines and fried Vadams!



A few weeks back, one of the pillars of our domestic system, our ever reliable, overloaded washing machine almost cranked out. With water leaking with every wash, what was thought to be a mere plumbing problem turned out to be a probable and untimely washing machine funeral (well almost)! The repair would have cost us some five thousand rupees and would have rewarded further anxiety with the steel drum damage looming large! We decided to replace it with a new machine. The old one was a front loader (FLM) that served untiringly during the last four years. Untiringly I say because with the birth of the little one, the machine had to endure nearly three washes a day! So if a normal FLM life was say eight to ten years (for a single wash load one in two days), our 5 kg punch packer decided to breathe its last in four. Now the question was, what next? The machine that we had was a standalone IFB brand and not the one that was manufactured by IFB, Bosch and Siemens in collaboration. The re-sale value was almost zero. The best bet in FLMs was the tried and tested Siemens However, its after sale service did not get great reviews. Also, it would cost us a whopping Rs. 28,000 (minimum) for a 7kg washer that we wanted to buy. So, the obvious choice was to try a top loading machine (TLM). I was used to TLMs, with a close to fifteen year experience with a Whirlpool machine to be precise. However, a four year stint with the tough, time consuming yet water, electricity and detergent saving front loader made me think more than twice. The dealers, reviews, relatives, scrap buyers and every one else suggested that since we are so used FLM, we go in for a Whirlpool machine which is the only TLM brand to have the agitator in the middle of the tub as well as an inbuilt heater which only FLMs normally have. I should say that we really did n't have a choice, as the high end, 7kg load, Whirlpool machine cost us only around Rupees 15,000 after exchange and discount.

Now why all this blah about washing machines and what is this all about vadams? Well, the husband has this habit of browsing for product details, brand details, price, models, specifications, pictures, reviews, sob-stories, criticisms, analogies, flow-charts, dealers, their phone numbers and more on the Internet. In addition to this he insists that we visit at least 15 dealers (from the smallest to the biggest), find out the various brands they deal in, the prices they offer and compare prices, discounts, gifts, lies...all of them! The poor wife and kid have to endure all of this seated in the pillion of his bike since there is the problem of car parking and difficulty in getting an auto or bus in the obscure places that he chooses. Believe me...the same ritual is conducted for every thing be it a punching machine or our current requirement - the washing machine!

Even as we were breaking our heads over the type of washing machine - now that the FLM was ruled out, it had to be between the agitator model and the 'pulsator' model- comparisons were made between the type of wash each gave. (Front loading was our personal favorite because of all the advantages I had mentioned earlier) Despite arguments, explanations and proofs the husband would n't relent. He wanted more information. He was not used to a TLM and wanted to know all the advantages and disadvantages and of course, the differences.

Now for the vadams- I normally use very little oil for cooking (the reasons for this would require many posts, if not a separate blog). When I fry appalams and vadams (which is a rarity in the household), I use much less oil than what is normal and use a butter knife and a long spatula to twist and turn and immerse and fry the poor appalam as it gets bigger in the oil. So there's the analogy, a FLM uses lesser water because of the tumble wash it provides. AAh Now that is the one big difference between TLMs and FLMs along with the blah blah I had mentioned earlier!!

So more than the washing machine itself, I was kicked with the analogy given by our resident Einstein. Having accepted the fact that, given the price and after sales service factors, a TLM was the only available choice, the husband was convinced and we were ready to welcome the new gadget home. So a Whirlpool White magic pro 700h it was.

Now that I am done with husbands (in the post!) and vadams, here is how the little one reacted. As soon as the new machine came home, V, who had visited the show rooms with us and had had a look at all the appliances, squeaked .. "ammmmaaa.... puuthhuuu waaacthiinngg matchinne" (Amma new washing machine)! He repeated that all through the day, blabbered in his sleep and the first thing he would say on getting up in the morning was "puuthhuuu waaacthiinngg matchinne".

Then came the most difficult part. No, it was n't the setting up or getting to know the new machine. Nor was it about the washing quality or the soap consumed. V, who had to just peep into the FLM to have a look at how it functioned, now insists that we carry him and show how the "puuthhuuu waaacthiinngg matchinne" does drrrrrrr and drrrrr. So now, in addition to putting him to sleep, waking him up, cuddling him once he is awake, brushing his teeth, giving him a bath, running behind to give food, playing, jumping, reading , singing rhymes and everything else... when he says "waaacthiinngg matchinne drr drrr pakkanu (to see)" I, alright, We, have to lift him up and show!

Reliving those wonderful college days!

Thanks to a college friend who took great pains to locate some of us through orkut, a few of us met a couple of days back. The occasion was the the wedding reception of that friend's brother. I was so excited that I began planning ten days earlier! Well, the planning included contacting friends who were likely to attend the function and making arrangements to leave the toddler behind! That actually was the main part of the 'plan' and it added to the excitement. For the first time in two years I was planning for a venture minus the kid and the husband! One by one the friends backed out and I was banking on just one of them for the outing. To make sure she came along I pestered and nagged her every one hour at the danger of making her back out too. But she eventually succumbed to my repeated "we will never get this opportunity again" and trotted along. The 'big day' came and the two of us in characteristic style arrived at the hall ( a hotel here) much before the bride could begin getting her make-up done! To kill time we wandered about T.Nagar okay, a particular mall in T.Nagar. When we decided to leave for the hall, the rain that was playing hide and seek all along left the two of us not so wet and gasping and we were thankful to our car driver who ensured that we did not make a spectacle of ourselves and took us safely to our destination. The big deal about the whole encounter was that I (famous for such things) was with one of the least-likely-to-get-caught-in-such-situations-friend. Anyway...we did meet a couple of friends at the dinner, and more than anything else, I was happy to carry the smallest of bags, that I d ever gone out with these two years!
Close on heels (two days later) was the first birthday celebration of another friend's daughter. This time, the toddler came along and the number of friends that met rose to four. It was even better than the first one, with the husband of the friend who had organized the function, wondering if all of us (including his wife who was the first of the gang to get married almost a decade back) ever grew! So much so that Deedu found company, not among the kids running around but one of us! At the end of it all, we were very happy to find out that despite being married, over weight, mother of one or two, or still looking for that right match, all of us had retained some of the eccentricities of college days.