Friday, June 27, 2014

Snapping away

Some shots from Dubai-Sharjah -- tasting Lebanese food, at the Sharjah aquarium, ice-skating rink at Dubai mall; our new home, the renovated Trivandrum airport; Buhaira corniche; toy train in Sahara mall, setting up our new home; fish watching.

The single parent

A lot has happened since May 19, my last post for the blog. On May 19, V joined a company in the UAE. So now I act the single parent trying to bring some color and cheer into my kids' lives, the way their father could do. The only possible colour I am adding is an occasional movie at the theatre next door. So in these few months they have seen Drishyam, Frozen, Rio 2, and Bhoothnath returns. The only other outing is the morning mass at church on Sundays; the Sunday school after mass brings some cheer to their lives when they get to study ad play with their friends there.
After school closed for summer vacation in April, they attended a week's vacation bible classes, something they really look forward to. Lots of fun activities, good (junk) food and friends that they dont feel the intense kathri heat.
Then came 15 days in their grandparents' house in Chandanapally, a rural set-up where power cuts and thundershowers were the order of the day. The single parent then descended on them and flew them off to Dubai where the other eager parent awaited us. The first week was spent at their cousins' place, so the second week in our new apartment seemed too tame and boring for them. Only Mira loved it to an extent as she spent her time sweeping and mopping. It was good there was no TV as they found time to do other things.
Living in Sharjah in an apartment facing a corniche and park was fun. One didnt feel that one was living in a desert. There is more greenery than what one gets to see on Poonamallee High Road in Chennai. On many days we went for a walk in the Al Majaz Park and gazed at the skyscrapers across the corniche with their twinkling lights. The worst of summer hadnt set in, but it explained why glitzy malls were the main source of entertainment.
Malls, malls everywhere but not a place to sit. The walking tired me, for one had to either keep buying or looking around. I learnt to go to a nearby mall on my own by taxi. Most of the cabs are driven by Pakistanis with a string of four names. My smattering of Hindi came in handy. I even managed half a day out with the kids to the Sharjah aquarium on my own.
The best part of my vacation was meeting friends from college I hadnt seen in two decades. Friends from my colleges in Changanacherry and Tambaram who took pains to meet me and entertain. One friend we visited in  her Jumeirah villa boarding the Metro and sleek buses. The Persian cats at her place made the day for my kids. To my regret, I couldnt meet my oldest friend - from my childhood days and a part of my college days - in all the hustle and bustle. Our mobility was also limited as V hasnt yet procured a UAE driving licence; the shift from right-hand drive to left-hand drive.
Coming back to Chennai after two weeks was tough especially for the kids - leaving cousins and their dad. I bunked the first day at work unable to take the kathri heat and the commotion and filth on the roads. A month into my post-vacation life, I am once again a hardcore Chennaite taking in my stride the heat, the water crisis and the rude auto drivers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ash at 10

Ash in his classroom on Annual Day
Ash and Harry Potter,  at Domino's Pizza.
Mira with her neighbour and friend Viona
Ashwin turned 10 last month. He wanted a small party, so we arranged one at Domino's Pizza and called a few of his friends and some of our relatives. Mira had a party at McDonalds when she turned 8 in September so he insisted on one too. Anyway, he was damn happy.

Drawing

Miriam sometimes conveys her thoughts through pictures... This for her dad. By the way, Vinod has got a job in Dubai and left this week, so we are alone here right now. Nanny L is back, so that is a huge relief.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Life in the absence of a maid



A couple of stressful months have passed since the departure of the live-in maid. My hopes of getting my favourite help L from Kerala immediately were dashed when she kept postponing her trip to Madras. I guess she needs to finish some chores back home but now she has promised to come in November. I wait like a "vezhaambal (hornbill) for rain". This note finds me terribly exhausted trying to be the superwoman - cooking, washing, mopping, and the numerous unlisted chores that are needed to make a home presentable while keeping a job with unpredictable work hours and the equally unpredictable commute.
The kids, after the initial enthusiasm to help, groan at the mention of mundane chores. Mira would rather cook than do things she can actually do. Right now, I have a temporary cook to do dinner so that the kids dont have to remain hungry till I return.
Meanwhile, we enjoy life as a family more without a stranger eavesdropping into every conversation or watching every action of ours. The kids keep us entertained with their comments on life as they see it.
Yesterday, after watching the latest Shahrukh hit "Chennai Express", Mira tells me: "Amma, the good kiss is between noses (as in the Hindi movies) and not between lips (as in some bad English movies)!"
And recently when V and me fell of the bike (but without much injury, save for some aches and pains), the kids were concerned. V, who likes to talk sentimental, asked them: "What will you do if Appa and Amma die? 
Pat came Mira's asnwer: "We'll go to Jessy aunty's house.
Jessy aunty is V's cousin, who has come to live near our place. And the kids love going there to see her and her college-going daughters. 
As for Ash, he is getting very materialistic. He tells V: Appa, if you are alive when I am in Class 10, please get me...." That is another 5 years.
And this time, on a trip to their grandparents' place in Kerala, granpa asked Ash to massage his feet. 
"Our rate for massage is Rs.3000. Since you are my granpa, I can bring it down to Rs. 2500," quipped Ash. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

A-Shanti

It is over a month since our maid of two years left amidst much drama. Her daughter-in-law reportedly committed suicide on July 19 and she informed us later that she has to stay back to look after her 2-year-old grandson. 
So far we have managed though it has been very tiring for me at times. We do enjoy the privacy and the fact that our expenses have been reduced by half. The kids are loving it as they get variety food made by the parents, not the staple diet the maid churned out day in and day out. A bossy woman, she had a say on what the kids ate each day and at each meal. 
V has been expanding his culinary skills too, and his experiments have been accepted whole-heartedly by the kids. Yesterday's Naadan chicken curry earned him the certificate of "Dad, you are a very good chef!" from them.
Until both parents conk out and a maid replacement arrives, it is the kids who will be having a ball.

Pocket money

The kids have been getting some pocket money thanks to tips from visiting relatives. To my consternation, these have been hefty amounts for such little kids, the kind I got to see only when I started working. I dont like the idea of under-10s getting such money as it doesnt teach them the value of each penny. For them, Rs.500 seem to be the lowest denomination, so anything less than that is like a pittance. A bottle of mineral water at the restaurant for Rs.30 elicits the response: Oh, so cheap!
Anyway, they are also learning to chip in to help the parents who are increasingly sounding like they are hard-up whenever the duo wants this or that. Ash has been pleading with us to buy a tab so that he can play all his favorite games. Not only do his friends talk about using them (apart from playstations and mobile phones), he actually saw his cousin playing with an ipad she had got as a birthday gift. That she was somewhat reluctant to share her expensive toy made him all the more keen on one for himself.
So the long and short of it is that he has offered to put in all his pocket money (what left after he bought a few books at the Scholastic Fair, which were not exactly what his mom would have wanted him to buy) to help his penny-pinching parents buy a new Samsung tab. V who seemed on the verge of buying a tab for a week seems to have lost interest now and is hoping that Ash will forget about it soon. Though the son is not the kind to forget anything he badly wants.
The best part is that he has offered to give all he has to buy a villa project we saw yesterday in the outskirts. It has everything the kids fancy - a pool, gym, play areas, badminton/tennis courts etc etc. I guess it reminded them a little of the gated bungalows in Nairobi he had spent his last summer holidays. Both have been entreating us to buy it at some cost. But what costs for something that is in the back of beyond right now for people working in the heart of the city. Maybe 5-10 years later, we might regret not buying it but right now that is the least of our priorities.