Monday, 19 November 2012

And sooo a post

I was in the kitchen frantically trying to do 4 things at the same time. Lunch was going to be late if I didn’t hurry. 

Just then the better-half calls out to me from the bedroom. I turn down the flame to simmer 2 dishes and was trying to finish the seasoning on the third when he calls out again. I wipe my hands on the towel and hurry into the bedroom where the hero & the kids are lounging on the bed.

“Tell me quick, I've got stuff happening on the stove.” I say preoccupied.

The better-half leans forward, pats the side of the bed for me to sit and says “You know, I was just thinking that 2017 is going to be crucial year for us because Nikita will be in her 12th and Naina in 10th grade”.

“Goodness, however are we going to manage??”  I look at him in worry. 

“Right now I can’t even imagine them in 10th & 12th. But you know what, there is one thing in our favour; both of them will have these exams in the same year and so they will finish in one go. Otherwise just imagine, we’ll be freaking with the same issue for 2 years” I shudder.

The better-half leans back against the pillows contemplating. I return to the kitchen still pondering about the issue and am attacked by the acrid smell of something burning.

Damn. Damn.

I quickly turn off the heat and attempt damage control.

[Insert elevator music here]

Marching back to the bedroom I demand…

“You called me sooo urgently to discuss something which is going to happen in 2017”.


Snow writes in the previous comment section "aw come on.. now that we're used to reading your posts every day, u can't stop :P we need our daily fix of Nancy-isms ;-) :-)."

Who can resist a comment like that???

And soooo a post:-))).

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

30 is just a number

Blog like no one’s reading is a post written by Agnes which I can never forget.

I find that phrase very difficult to grasp even now.

I have come a long way though…for instance there was no way I would have attempted a blogathon like this a few years back. Then last years ‘Q&A’ posts I did made me [unconsciously] comfortable with the idea. But this whole blogathon was a spur of the moment thingy. I totally blame Sridevi here…..her act in ‘English Vinglish’ was solely responsible for this 'shoot myself in the foot' effort.

The timing was all wrong. [Without thinking] I started the blogathon when the kids’ exams were going on. Then I fell sick. To top it the Eid holidays popped up. I can’t imagine how I managed. When I fell sick I was this close to calling it off…..but I grimly hung on. I’m usually so laid-back that anything apart from daily routine is an effort. But when I make up my mind I try to keep it. It’s good when the motive is benefitting but I usually find myself doing it for the wrong reasons. Like the time I fought with the better-half and swore never to eat ice-cream ever again;-(. And Ice-creams are like my favourite dessert. Don’t ASK. DON’T ask what we fought about…’s that silly. I’m desperately searching for a loophole now....all suggestions are welcome except the ones involving an apology;-P.

Compared to giving up ice-creams blogging for 30 days was a piece of cake...yeah well now that it's over I can say that;-D. Having a cache of jokes/quotes/poems/cool-facts/puzzles helped a lot. But the most important thing here for me is....I know now that it’s not impossible.

A few things I want to do…

Be more regular on the blog.
Not to launch into long-winded explanations for every single thing.
Most of my posts are about my ‘frog in the well’ existence. I’d like to change that unless anybody wants to tell me otherwise;-)???.
Blog like nobody’s reading.

The last bit is the toughest. If I can get past that block I believe I can achieve more.

Thank You so much for encouraging me with your comments. I’m very grateful for your support especially since I know I didn’t do anything to deserve it. I don’t view the blogworld with rose-tinted glasses. Everywhere, even in the real world it works mostly[I said MOSTLY:-)] like that. Expectations are natural. And I have been very remiss. The state of mind is hard to explain but I resolve to be more regular. Thank YOU once again. 

It’s a very difficult thing I know to comment on almost every single post for 30 days but some of you were close. Bins, Deepa, Ramesh, RS, Swaram if you guys are okay with it I would love to send you a postcard. Please mail me your addresses but absolutely no issues if you are not comfortable with the idea:-).

I’m soooo tempted to take another break to recover but I sternly direct my fidgety fingers to do the right thing before everybody brands me a ‘Blog-break Rani’ or worse;-D.


Monday, 12 November 2012

29th Post

I thought since I wrote about Naina last week I better note down some details about Nikita too. In a few years when she’ll read the blog & not find a post on her….well I don’t want that held against me along with other stuff:-). Here goes…

Nikita is everything that I am not. Smart, alert and quick-witted. The minute she is awake, she is out of the bed and about. It’s like she’s afraid she’s going to miss something exciting if she sleeps some more.

She was one of the most difficult babies to handle till she was about 3 yrs old. She cried a lot, was very fussy and made my life miserable in every way she could think of.

It must have been a phase I guess because now she is kind, polite and very helpful to everybody except ofcourse her sister for whom she reserves her worst best or is it best worst;-/.

Naina & I call her Lucy Loll. Lucy Loll is a character in an Enid Blyton book who leans on anybody she meets. Similarly Nikita, I just have to pass by and she’ll immediately fake tiredness and lethargy and put her whole weight on me[this mostly happens when she is feeling jobless;-/].

Weight reminds me…she is very skinny just like how I was when I was her age. Most people remark on it making both of us parents feel like we don’t feed her enough at home. I think it's because she burns calories even when she is sitting down quietly somewhere….I can feel her restlessness all the time.

Her keen sense of smell is note-worthy. When we go visiting Nikita will fiercely whisper into my ear "Mama you know I don't like Orange juice, please don't make me drink it". She can actually smell what our hostess is preparing in the kitchen. Even at home, as soon as she walks in after school she'll sniff the air & tell me exactly what I made for lunch.

She is always asking questions “Why is that…”, “How is it possible…”, “where does the…”. I am often drained out just watching her in action. 

She is neat by nature; I never had to nag her in any way regarding her cleanliness/hygiene. Her handwriting is one of the best in her class.

When I'm sick she is the one who loiters around me waiting for my next command. So many times I have awakened to find her sitting quietly and holding my hand. She has in my weak moments reduced me to tears with her thoughtfulness.

When I'm stressed or hard-pressed for time I dump all the small jobs on her and she does them all for me and awaits further orders. The best part is….it’s not like she is doing it under duress. She is very interested in everything I do, which ofcourse is not a very good thing sometimes;-P

Listening to audio-books on my iphone is one of her favourite activities. And at the same time she’ll be working with clay, threads, scoobie strings or if nothing else will be fiddling with her hair.

Sometimes when I refuse to buy something for myself because it’s too expensive she’ll tell me that she’ll get it for me when she starts earning. She’s also planning to take me to Switzerland and Singapore. Papa is welcome too but Naina is not invited. But Naina is planning to hide in the suitcase[only I know that:-)]. Just hearing all this makes me feel all warm & go “Awww my lil girl” in my mind. Naina at the same time will be looking at her sister like as if she is crazy thinking about wasting money on the old mater when one could splurge on goodies for self;-/.

I'm posting here a picture of a clay peacock she made 3 yrs back. Some of you will remember it in a tag I posted long back:-).

A few days back I asked her if she remembered making it she shook her head; I showed her the picture and she was shocked at the poor craftsmanship  She then made another peacock to show how much she has improved :-).

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A Stinky Post

This happened today…after coming back from school Nikita removed her id[from around her neck] and it caught her ear before coming off. She felt her ear and realised the earring was gone. I was busy making lunch so I asked both of them[pleaded is more like it;-/] to search since it was a gold earring. They looked around for 2 minutes and found the front of the earring. 

I pleaded some more to look for the end but they had lost interest by then. They had already started on their favourite past-time which is arguing. Nothing happens in my house without an argument. Like it was expected, 5 minutes later both got mad at eachother & went their separate ways. 

I gave up on them and went to look for it myself…I switched on all the lights to make the room brighter and looked….under the table, moved the chairs, moved the computer table,  shifted their school bag…..nope nothing. I went back to making lunch thinking I’ll get back later.

After lunch I called the bus conductor and asked him to please, please keep an eye out for the earring while cleaning the bus [recently a neighbour found her daughter’s earring that way]. The sweet guy that he was he promised to look in the classroom also. I then got the broom and did a clean sweep. Suddenly I thought of something….earlier in the day when I had swept the whole house I remember hearing a faint metallic noise under the brush. I even looked into the dirt casually but there was nothing but dust and bits of paper.

As I walked towards the dustbin now I was thinking of my mum. I remembered an almost similar incident....once she was washing her earrings under the tap in the kitchen and one of them slipped through her fingers & fell into the sink. Her face crumpled and she burst into tears in shock. I consoled her and joked about searching in the drain pipe. She immediately rushed out of the back door and slipped open a grate half-way to the main pipe and made me pour water slowly through the sink while she blocked her end with something solid. 

I followed instructions but all the while I was making retching/puking/vomiting noises to show my disgust at my mother’s actions. I was thinking I’d rather let the earring go than go mucking in the drains. Nothing was worth that trauma…nobody will ever catch me doing nonsense like that;-/.

And there I was peering into the trash tentatively. People who can smell the stink already please jump to next to next paragraph. I was thinking vaguely ‘Atleast I hadn’t thrown the trash out for the day, so there is still a chance’. The 1st item encountered was a packet of fish remains which I gingerly picked up and moved into the other bin[which is usually for plastic/bottles, etc]. Almost immediately I saw the results of the morning sweep. Right underneath that was again a packet containing some left-over kubz. Aha…I was in luck. Meaning I didn’t have to search thru the whole trash. And even the morning sweep results were roughly wrapped in a paper.

By then I was quite certain I’ll find it. I gingerly pulled it out & placed it on a large newspaper and rifled through it. ‘What goes around will come around’ I was holding my breath and thinking irrelevantly. I remember my mum saying severely after the whole issue[because I was pulling her leg continuously] ‘You just pray it doesn’t happen to you’. She got her earring back in case you are wondering:-).

The Earrings...actually earstuds :-)
After around 2-3 minutes of repeatedly scrabbling in the dust I got the end bit of the earring. I don’t think I would have found it if I hadn't been sure. Rushed to show it to the better-half, he moved like 3 feet back in reflex action and looked at me admiringly like as if he didn't think I had it in me;-P. 

I never knew I’d do something like that myself;-D. 

I also called the conductor and told him to call off the search.

Yeah well anyway, I'm thinking maybe it was meant to be....

Like it was probably written somewhere that I had to scrabble around in the trash today;-P.

[The same way I was meant to beat the fridge up today...seriously I did. It was not working in the morning & things were beginning to defrost. I got upset and gave it a few whacks on the back. The better-half who checked it later just decreased the temperature & it started working again;-S.]

I haven’t decided yet whether I’m telling my mother about this incident. I can just picture my sister's & her reaction*insert Archana Puran Singh’s high-pitched laughter from Comedy Circus here*;-(

Do you have a similar incident in your memory…do share:-).

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Phone Perspective

Friday, 9 November 2012


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

By William Henry Davies

Thursday, 8 November 2012

To be on the safe side

A few months back there was an article in the newspaper about an Ethiopian maid who succumbed to her injuries after a gas leak accident at her sponsor’s house in Dubai.  Shocked, I read the details as such incidents are quite rare nowadays. Towards the end of the article  when her sponsor’s name caught my eye I was even more shaken. Masood Salem is one of us….a popular blogger with whom I interacted all the time. I quickly went to his page to see if he had written anything about the issue. It was all there in detail.

I didn't sleep that night. Somehow there is a difference between reading about a random person in the newspaper and actually knowing the people involved in the tragedy. The fact that it happened in a house of somebody I know made it all the more horrific for me. The whole incident kept playing in my mind and all along I was thinking ‘It could happen to anyone of us’.

I contacted Masood to offer my support. Later he wrote back to me about the whole incident and what the family went through. He stressed how important it was for all of us to take a few precautions which can go a long way in averting a disaster.

We all take the gas cylinder which is innocuously sitting in one corner of the kitchen for granted. In reality it is a killer if not handled properly. The reason we prefer to use gas is primarily because it is cost-efficient and also relatively safe if we take the right protection measures.  However gas stoves/ovens can emit dangerous gases which if it doesn't burn properly or if not adequately vented, and can result in explosions & tragedy.

Masood suggested simple precautions like switching off the regulator every night before going to sleep and leaving the exhaust fan on. I went on the net and read up some more about it and am sharing it with you. It always pays to be aware.

How to detect a gas leak:

Be alert. Natural gas is a colourless and odourless gas so it is very difficult to detect it immediately. But there is an addictive in it called mercaptan that gives out a smell similar to rotten eggs or rotten cabbage. As soon as we smell it the immediate step we have to take is open all windows and ventilators. Get out of the house as soon as possible and call the fire department.

Sometimes these leaks can also show up in the form of a white cloud or mist. Also look for bubbles in standing water.

Symptoms can range from a headache, nausea and burning sensation in eyes and nose. Dizziness and weakness are also possible indicators.

There is a simple test you can do to check to confirm a leak. Mix some detergent in water and rub it with a brush on the gas pipe. If there is a leak you will see bubbles arising from the area[reminds me of the puncture repair on a bicycle tire].

Call in an expert to assess the problem.

Simple precautions you can take:

Make sure you get an expert atleast once a year to check your gas stove/oven, gas pipes and accessories and replace anything looking remotely suspicious.

Incase of a suspected leak, avoid using anything connected with electricity and even the telephone as this could create a spark and cause a fire.

Always leave a window or ventilator open.

Switch off the regulator at nights after you are done with cooking, switch it off when you go out whether for a short while or for a holiday.

Never use the gas stove for house heating. Risks of carbon monoxide levels increase will be there & also the risk of a fire from an unattended oven.

And not the least if you see a worn-out gas rubber tube, even a suspicion of a cut on the tube, call in a professional to rule out any notion of leaks & change the tube immediately. Please don’t keep it for another day. It is a matter of life and death.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Obama won ofcourse...

....but this post is not about Barack Obama. It is dedicated to Michelle Obama and everything she stands for. She is a lawyer who graduated from Harvard Law School; she later quit her job to lead a non-profit organisation called Public Allies where she worked to develop young community leaders.

Michelle Obama is beautiful, confident and has charisma. She has inspired people across the world to eat healthy, exercise and fight obesity. As First Lady, she launched a campaign Let’s Move!, to bring together community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenges of childhood obesity. 

Leading by example she planted the first-ever White House Kitchen Garden and invited young people from across the country to the White House to experience firsthand what she is trying to achieve. 

An accomplished lawyer and public servant, Michelle Obama describes her most important role as being mom-in-chief for her daughters Malia and Sasha. 

With her support and encouragement there was no way Obama could have lost. Fine, I'm biased so sue me;-).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Of crosswords and competitions

Our newspaper The Gulf News has a magazine called Friday which we get every Friday’s[obviously;-P]. There are 2 competitions in the magazine which I religiously take part in every week.

One is a quiz on books and the other a crossword puzzle. I've won the quiz many times and now Nikita has taken over that leaving me to concentrate on the crossword. I enjoy solving it and my love for trivia is gratified at same time;-).

Earlier the crossword used to take me atleast 2 days to complete but now I’ve gotten better at it…ermm gotten better at getting the answers from the net is more like it;-P.

There are atleast 50 correct entries every week and my name figures in the list most of the time but only 1 lucky winner wins a Cross Pen, which I'm determined to win atleast once...actually twice, one for my sister and one for me;-D.

The above picture is my submission for this week.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Newer memories

My children in contrast have always had more dolls and soft toys they could handle. I soon got tired of cleaning up after them and around 3 yrs back I packed around 80% of the soft toys and dolls and gave it off to an orphanage. And we flatly refused to buy more.

They understood and never asked. Alright maybe they looked at us hopefully once in a while but one firm shake of the head was enough to make them keep back the toy in its place and walk out of the toyshop without a murmur. Instead we got them books, clay, beads, paints and games like scrabble, monopoly and chess.

Around 2 months before her eleventh birthday which was in September Nikita secretly asked me if we could get her a doll. She even showed me the kind of doll she wanted when we walked past a toystore one day. The dolls[the whole series of them] were attractive with huge buttons for eyes and hair in eye-catching colours. I looked at the price and did a double-take. Nikita looked vaguely guilty, she was like “Mama, they are expensive because they are Lalaloopsies. And Lalaloopsies are very different from other dolls. Please I’ll never ask for anything ever again.” She said she didn't want anything else….no party, no dress, no chocolates to school, didn’t want cake, nothing. Just the doll.

My 1st instinct was to refuse. And I did. And then explained “Nikita there is no way we are going to spend so much money on a doll. I don’t know if you realise but there are people in the world who can pay 3 months school fees for their children with the same amount.”

She turned away very disappointed.

Later I related the whole conversation to the better-half. And the funny bit was even though I refused to consider it then I was half-swayed now “Maybe we should get her this last doll”. But we both knew the price was too much to spend on a doll.

The next one month Nikita was on a roll. She did everything right. She topped in her Sunday School exam, she did very well in her class tests and she did her Arabic on her own & even helped Naina get top marks in Arabic test and saved us the tuition money. As she went about her way we knew she was desperately hoping we’ll change our minds.

Naina inbetween would do her own canvassing “Please Ma, get Chechi the doll, she really wants it. And don’t worry I won’t be sad if you don’t get me one.”

As the birthday closed in both the better-half & I gave up our tough stance and decided to get Nikita what she wanted. After all, she was going to be eleven and that was special we convinced ourselves.

So we let Naina into our secret because we were not sure of the specific doll Nikita was interested in. Naina was thrilled for her sister and readily gave us all the information. Just as we were concluding the conversation after laboriously noting down all the choices, Naina says “And if you feel like you want to get me also a doll, you can” and skips out of the room.

The better-half and I look at each other shell-shocked. This was totally unexpected.

Anyways a day before the big day the better-half goes shopping & calls me from the store. Seems like he checked 3-4 stores and all the stores didn’t have Nikita’s choices. And the store he was standing in right then had an offer where 2 of these dolls packed together had a 20% discount. Ofcourse there was nothing else to do but get them.

The girls were delirious with joy. It didn't matter at all they didn't get the dolls they wanted. And for the next one month they did nothing which didn't include the dolls. Both the dolls are farm girls and are cousins in relation. That's about all I know. There are pages & pages of information on the net about them & ofcourse N&N know it all byheart;-/. The dolls now have their own beds[shoe-boxes transformed], birth certificates, driving-license, cv’s, don’t ask what else, all made painstakingly by the girls at various moments.

Sometimes when I'm cleaning up and they catch me swinging their dolls by the legs they are horrified. They snatch them out of my hands like as if I'm some evil ogre and lovingly cradle them in their arms and carry them back to their rooms. I 'll be grinning to myself;-D

Inbetween Naina’s doll lost her pet[a yellow chick which had come along with the doll]. She went around putting up ‘lost’ posters all around the house & we all searched for it but it was never found. Naina is still heart-broken about its disappearance. After that they have both became extra-careful with their toys.

Once school started after the holidays the attention has gradually lessened but the attachment is still there. Sometimes when I go to check on them after they are asleep I’ll find the dolls hidden under the blankets because they know I don’t like it when they take toys to bed[only bcoz the hard parts will poke & bruise them].

Their heads are very heavy so they can't stand or sit up:-)
Nikita’s doll is called ‘Berry’[pink] and Naina’s is ‘Sunny’ but I very pointedly call them ‘Last Dolls’. Let there be no doubts;-).

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A very old memory.

I must have been around 4yrs old.

I had just recovered from a fever and my parents took me out to Brigade Rd. I don’t know how I can be so sure its Brigade Rd but I just know.

We were walking down the road slowly, looking into the brightly-lit store windows as we walked. One of the shop windows had a lot of toys on display and I struggled in my father’s arms. My father stopped and let me down. There were all kinds of flashily coloured toys on display but I had eyes only for one doll. She was beautiful with golden hair, blue unblinking eyes and long black eye-lashes painted on. She had on a dress made of red silky material.

I stared hard at the doll and then looked up at my father. He was watching me.

“Do you want the ball or the doll???”

hadn't noticed the ball. I looked up to check out it out; it was a big red-white-blue-yellow coloured plastic ball. If I hadn't noticed the doll first I would have definitely been interested.

Then I saw the price displayed alongside. The ball was Rs.3 and the doll was Rs.10. I knew immediately my father was hoping I’ll choose the ball. To be honest I can’t imagine how a 4 yr old could have read the prices and understood. Maybe I was 5 yrs old not 4 but if that was the case then my sister would have been there…I remember clearly there were only the 3 of us. Maybe my father told me it was expensive but that bit I don’t recall.

My father asked me again “Do you want the ball or the doll???”

I refused to answer and stared hard into the shop-window blindly. I wanted the doll but couldn't tell him because I knew he wanted me to choose the ball.

“Come, we’ll go get the ball” he decided for me and we walked into the shop. My father was not a sentimental person. He made practical decisions and bought useful things. I was feeling light-headed[after-effects of fever] and was near tears but did not cry, of that I'm very sure.

I don’t remember what transpired in the next 10 minutes. I only remember walking out of the shop clutching to my chest a rectangular pack containing the most beautiful doll in the whole world. My mother smiling at my delight & my father cautioning me to take care of the doll well are the last things I remember.

She was my first and last doll. 

I last saw her 2 yrs back, leaning against the stabiliser on the refrigerator at mum’s place. She is bald now[my sister pulled all the hair out but she flatly denies it;-/]. Her original dress got damaged when I tried to put nail-polish on her tiny fingers and toes and ended up smearing it all over the dress. She now wears a red and white checked outfit which my mum stitched with some left-over material. She even has a tiny cap to cover the bare head.

Recently I asked my mum about her and she said she had no clue. Seems like she packed her into some carton but can’t remember where exactly.

The next time I go home, I'm going to search for her and bring her back with me.

For a while I couldn't recollect her name. 

And then it came to me....her name is Dolly:-)).

Tell me about your first doll/toy???

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Something to think about...

Friday, 2 November 2012

A Picture and some keywords

Keywords: Sharp winds, Shack selling Ducks, Houseboats on the other bank not visible in photo, Alleppey, Kerala, Aug 2010, Suspicion of storm on the horizon, no particular reason why this particular picture, but nice picture no??, Red Blouse Lady shutting Ducks up for the night, Lightening, Fridays are very busy days, no time to write proper post, but 30 days, juggling, slept like a log this afternoon, busy morning at church, got up with a jump, grocery shopping lies ahead, family dressed and waiting patiently in the living room, they think N getting organised, N hurriedly hitting publish, Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
Robert Fulgham
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
These are the things I learned..
Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.
Think of what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. 
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.