Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spacewalk

A long-lost friend from my early college days is in Chennai on an official trip. We caught up wit the news of some 20 years just as my kids were going to bed. Both wanted to talk too, going by tradition - another long-lost friend I had met in Dubai became more their friend than mine in her new avatar. So they thought it was their legitimate right to talk to whoever Amma's friend is.
"What is your friend's name?" Ash asked.
"Sunita."
"Oh! Sunita Williams!" exclaimed Ash. He has just learnt in school about this first Indian woman who went to space. "Has she gone to space too? Will you ask her to take us too?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jokes apart

Today morning as I was getting out of bed, Mira called out to me from the drawing room: "Amma, where have you kept my leave letter?" She did not go to school yesterday as she had fever and needed to submit a letter from the parent stating the reason.
I told her as I headed to the bathroom that I had kept it atop the gramophone. She did not know what it was and searched high and low. But my worldly-wise maid who grew up in a Kerala of gramophones and radios, spotted it for her. 
"Is this thing called a gramophone?" I heard Mira ask in wonder. To her, it was another of her father's acquisitions, a "pattupetti" which we never used.
"Yes," the maid said expansively. "ഗ്രാമങ്ങളിൽ ഉപയോഗിച്ചിരുന്ന ഫോണ്‍ ആയതു കൊണ്ട് ഇതിനെ ഗ്രാമഫോനെന്നു പറയുന്നു (it is called so because it was used in the gramas or villages)".
She helped me start my day with mirth and much laughter! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Father's day out

The dad came down from the desert for 15 days after missing the kids' first term vacation by a month. He called each of his offspring aside and told him/her privately that he had come just to see him/her. It made them happy and proud of themselves initially but when it got repetitive, my outspoken and bold daughter said: "You keep telling me that 'I came to see my darling daughter' and you tell Ashwin that 'I came to see my darling son. I think you came not to see us, but Amma!"
Moral: Kids today arent easily fooled by sweet talk 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Past talk

The blog has become a thing of the past  in this age of facebook and whatsapp and whatnot. The kids are whatsapp savvy too, snatching the phone from me to chat with their dad, granny and Liza aunty (my friend they met in Dubai) - mostly as recorded audio. I often tell myself I should write about them but put it off and then forget.
A term has passed in school and they havent passed them in flying colours, so I had to meet some of the teachers on Open Day.  Ashwin was talkative and distracted at times in class while Mira was meticulous yet slow. So I am making it a point to ask them what they did in class each day. Yesterday as me and Ash walked to the hair salon to get his mane trimmed, I asked him casually if he still talked and disturbed others.
"So what do u talk to your friends in class?" I ask him.
"How can I remember something that happened some time ago?" he retorts. " Can you tell me what you talked to Liza aunty on April 1?"
I am speechless.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The lost smile

Reading newspapers these days fills a parent with anxiety. Numerous incidents of child sexual abuse are reported on a daily basis. The worst and most worrying among them was the abuse of a little girl in a school in Bangalore. A place that every parent expects their wards to get safety becomes the scene of abuse and worse still, hushes up the matter until there is a public hue and cry.
How much can one explain to a little girl? How well can she keep herself safe? Mira tells me that she has received instructions from school about bad touch and avoiding strangers. So much so that she avoids smiling at the regulars too. In fact, of late she doesnt like to go to shops because strangers smile at her!
Little girls are forced to forgo their childhood and be conscious of the world around them - not to look at them with wide-eyed wonder but with alertness and suspicion.
The poor little boys get sidelined in this effort to protect little girls. They are equally susceptible to abuse and mentals scars. Are we living in a more unsafe world now or are we reporting things that went unreported when we were children?

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 ( and booked tickets for Bangalore Days as I write this). 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 and 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.