Monday, 30 September 2013

Mark my words

N&N posing in front of a funny mirror

The term exams got over last week.

[happy dance]

Now all of you can thank me one by one.

[N waits expectantly for outpouring of gratitude]


[All she gets in return is a yawning silence]

You didn’t notice???

[N put hands on hips and taps foot on ground impatiently]

Dammit, I take so much effort and u guys don’t even notice anything;-/.

I said the kids' Exams are OVER.


[N takes a deep breath & practices the little yoga Nikita taught her when she was in 3rd std]

“Didn’t u realise I didn’t bug you with any post on how fast the exams were approaching and how horrible they were going to be and how I was going crazy searching for text-books and notebooks which had mysteriously disappeared over the holidays and how the better-half was not helping and how my BP was going up and how the kids were least bothered and how….”

“Oh just forget it, I have a good mind not to tell you anything;-S”



[N imagines a crowd of bloggers pleading with her to forgive them]

Alright, alright I’ll tell you only if u answer my question truthfully???

And you ofcourse know very well that I can’t hide anything from you for long;-/.

So like I was telling u, the exams went off very well….

.....actually very badly:-(. 

Both Nikita and Naina came back home with expressions more morose than the other’s each day of the exams. I kept quiet as a mouse as they showed me all the questions they blundered on. Well it was not really their fault was it. Their exams were held immediately after school reopened after the holidays. And we as parents should have planned our holiday after taking their exams into consideration. No point talking about it after the episode:-(.

Anyways, while the better-half and I were still dilly-dallying about what is the best mode of action to take from now on, Nikita has decided for herself that it did not make sense to keep waiting for her parents to wake up from their apathy, instead she herself must be vigilant about these things. And the sweet kid that she is, she even worded it very carefully so as to not hurt our feelings in any way.

Atta girl
[N pats herself  in appreciation ]

Now I must find a way to get her to invoke the same feelings of motivation in Naina;-P

Seems like Naina took so much time over her Hindi paper that the boy next to her who had finished almost an hour before her asked very concerned “Naina, tera saboon slow hai kya???”*


Some of the questions in the GK Paper Naina attempted:

Q1. Who is Mukesh Ambani?  
A.   Mukesh Ambani is a very famous Fashion Designer.

Q2. Who is MS Subbulakshmi?
A. MS Subbulakshmi is a very famous person. He has won many awards and is very very famous.

Q3. Who wrote Malgudi Days? 
A.    RK Kipling

We just scraped through GK with minimum marks and are very grateful we passed.

On the other hand Nikita got 20/20 in GK….full marks only in GK but I’m still grinning like a fool;-D.

She too faced problems but of another kind. She is not the topper in her class but atleast she tries. So the kids who are sitting close to her during the exams are peeking into her paper to get the answers they don’t know. Seems like one kid was so unprepared that she copied 90% of Nikita’s answers. Nikita hates it but is not able to express her displeasure vocally. So she compensates by writing in a lousy handwriting.

There was one question which asked the name of the palace built by the Portuguese in Cochin?? And Nikita wrote the correct answer. 

After the exam the girl who copied everything from Nikita was like
“What a funny name for a palace???”
And Nikita was like “What so funny about it???”

The girl was hopping mad when she found out it was Mattencherry palace and not “Mutton Curry palace”;-D.

Last heard the girl is totally confused as to how Nikita got full marks while she got only 11/20 inspite of copying everything from Nikita’s paper;-).

And I haven’t forgotten the question I was going to ask even if you are going to pretend u have… 

Reflections Survey Sheet

Marks: 100
Attempt any one:

Q1. What kind of posts N writes is most irritating???    (10 marks)
a. the paranoid post before the exams
b. the neurotic post during the exams
c. the anxious post after the exams
d. All of the above and all the rest of her posts


Q2. Given the hectic and busy life N leads, how often do u expect her to update her space???   (10 marks)
a. once a week
b. Bi-monthly
c. once in a month
d. whenever she feels like

Kindly post your answers in comment section with detailed explanation.                         (90 marks)


*Lifebuoy ad

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Mystery of the Ringing Doorbell


The doorbell pealed suddenly in the middle of the afternoon.

I waited expectantly for the kids, the better-half,  somebody, anybody to open the door. I had just sunk into a couch after clearing lunch and was feeling lethargic.

Obviously everybody around was feeling the same;-/.

I reluctantly got up to answer the doorbell wondering who it was. I knew it was not the kid’s friends because those kids never rang the doorbell, they just  knocked on the door[by now we are familiar with the different types of knocking and can accurately predict which kid it is even before we open the door;-P]

Who the heck comes visiting right after lunch anyway???

I looked through the peep hole.

Couldn’t see anybody.

Opened the door and looked left, then right, then left again and right and everywhere.

There was nobody out there.

The kids also emerged to inspect the visitor.

All 3 of us looked at eachother in confusion.

Realisation dawned a split second later.

Somebody rang the doorbell and ran away.

The kids were indignant. “The cheek……”

I wanted to laugh.

Whoever it was made a clean getaway.

We went back inside, kids animatedly discussing who it could have been.


3 days later around the same time….


Arriving at the same conclusion all 3 of us hurried to the door to catch the offender.

But by the time we got up from where we were lounging around and rushed to the front door the offender had escaped once again.

The kids were hopping mad. What guts…they fumed.

This time I walked down the corridor to check the lift.

It was stationary.

Opened the door to the staircase and listened.

Absolutely quiet in there.

So it was somebody from our floor itself.

Some kid was right then standing behind his/her door and snickering away silently I supposed.

But who???

The kids were heatedly arguing amongst themselves as to who it could be.

My apartment was at the end of the corridor.

The apartment opposite ours was occupied by an Arab couple with a toddler.

So they were ruled out.

At the other end were 4 doors placed close together. All the 4 apartments had kids.

“Mama, I heard the door to the garbage chute bang shut just before our doorbell rang. Which means whoever is ringing the bell is going down this passage to throw garbage and then ringing our doorbell and running away“.


2 days later round about the same time again…

Ting-Tong Ting-Tong Ting-Tong

The kids and I dropped everything we were doing and ran like maniacs to the front door. In those few seconds we heard the kid rushing noisily down the corridor and slammed his/her door just as we opened ours.

I banged the wall in half amusement and frustration.

The kid was getting bolder. A simple ting-tong was now a Ting-Tong multiplied into 3. I was soo hoping to catch the kid red-handed and have some fun.

The kids were boiling in fury. They had already come to a few conclusions by now.

“Mama…we are sure it’s JoJaJo” burst out Nikita angrily.

Most of the kids on the floor were their friends and they played together all the time.  JoJaJo were 3 kids with names starting with J[wht else] and the only kids they had some issues with.

“Stop Nikita, we cannot accuse anybody without proof” I warned.

Now we were alert all the time especially after lunch. If we heard anybody open the door to the garbage chute[luckily for us, it opened with a noise] all of us looked up in expectation and waited.

But nothing happened for the next 2 days.

Then at 11pm one day, just as I was winding up for the day….


My heart nearly jumped out in shock. In the silence of the night the ring was so loud that for a moment I just stood there and did nothing. The better-half and kids who had already gone to sleep an hour earlier, got up with a start.

I rushed to the door but again I was too late.

But enough was enough. Being disturbed in the middle of the night was not funny.

We decided to knock on JoJaJo’s house and asked if any of the kids went to drop the garbage a few minutes back.

JoJaJo’s mother was like “No they didn’t, they slept almost an hour ago”.

I knocked on the next door.

They took almost 5 minutes to open the door.

The entire family was already in bed.

At the next house too they denied any knowledge of the incident.

I hesitated to knock on the last door.

The Irani family who stayed there had 2 girls above the age of 10 and the woman of the house was a formidable lady who was well-known for her terror tactics. All the kids on the floor detested her because she was always complaining about the noise they were making. Even we kept out of her way;-P.

Since I knocked every other door I reluctantly knocked on hers too.

She came out and said everybody was asleep and what’s more, nobody from her house will do something like this. Behind her I saw one of her kids peeping from one of the rooms.

I came back all upset and puzzled.

I felt really terrible going like that and knocking on doors in the middle of the night but this was getting a little out of hand.

I related the whole episode to the better-half and kids . The better-half then said he heard a slap and a child crying just a few minutes earlier. We have a window near the bedroom which is left open sometimes and if the neighbours left their window opened too we could clearly hear what was going on there.

The kids & I looked at eachother in shock because the Irani family stayed there.

We couldn’t believe it. Her daughters were almost 14 & 11 yrs old. Even though those kids didn’t come out to play with mine there was no animosity between them as such. So then why…

We went to sleep after that.

The whole incident was discussed and examined with a microscope the next day but no conclusions were reached.

Anyways the problem was solved.

Or so we thought.

The very next day at around 9pm.


To say we were stunned was an understatement. I was at the far end of the house fixing the kids beds for the night. Too far away.

“Nainaaaaaa, open the door quick” all of us yelled at the same time. 

Naina was at the water dispenser filling her glass and closest to the door.

So many thoughts went through my mind.

It was not the Irani kids after all.
What will I do when I catch the kid red-handed???

There was no doubt here we’ll catch the budding delinquent because Naina was already opening the door and we could still hear noisy footsteps rushing off.

Just as we opened our door, the door opposite ours slammed shut and we heard the key being turned in the lock.

We were totally taken aback.

How could it be????

The Arab who lived opposite our apartment was a new tenant and as far as we knew, lived there with his wife and 10 months old child. Their names were not even there in our list of suspects.

The better-half knocked on their door.

The Arab came out carrying his baby. The baby is one of the prettiest, cutest and most endearing toddler. My kids loved her and go running to [baby]talk to her whenever they saw her.

Emerging out of my thoughts, I see the better-half explaining the problem.

Within 2 minutes we had our suspect in our hand.

Suspects actually.

The Arab had his relatives staying with him for the holidays. Looking back now, we remember seeing them once or twice. Their 3 kids[3 cheerful & naughty looking kids of different age;-D ] would come out everyday to throw garbage down the chute. While going back into the house they found it very amusing to ring our doorbell and run away.

The Arab was so apologetic that we felt bad and ended up reassuring him.

Nikita then put everything  together and presented her deductions….

“Those kids took turns to ring our door-bell everyday which explains the varying tones in which it was rung” she explained authoritatively. “And Mama, what we thought was footsteps running down the corridor was actually the sound of 3 children rushing through their door one by one” concluded Nikita, wrapping up the case neatly.

Only one doubt remains….

If these kids were the culprits, then why did the Irani lady wake her supposedly sleeping child at 12 in the night & make her cry;-o???

Do you have any such solved/unsolved mysteries to share:-)????

Monday, 9 September 2013

Trip Along

Way back in March itself we had decided to stay back in Dubai this year for the summer holidays[July-Aug]. Reasons were many, and all of them valid too. But 1 month into the holidays we were all climbing the walls for different reasons.

And worse, our whole building wore a deserted look.

Even the few [kids I mean] I met were like “We are going to our country next tuesday” and I found myself desperately wanting to reply “Even we are going to our country next Monday, so there”.

Simply everybody we knew and didn't were travelling out for the summer.

We had absolutely no plans to go.

After all decisions were made to be followed, right.

So we changed our minds and left to India in a hurry.

Friends asked concerned “Any emergency???”

And we were like noo, noooo….and left the sentence hanging because we had no clear answers for our change of mind.

The kids and I took off [the better-half was swamped with work which was part of the reason why we decided against going in the first place] to my mom’s place in Bangalore.

Not satisfied with the distance we covered we sat around planning another trip, with family this time.

Goa was my brother-in-law’s first and only choice.

But friends who just came back from Goa warned us “It’s drizzling continuously. We stayed cooped up inside the resort all the 4 days we were there.”

“Delhi????” I ventured. I always wanted to see the Taj Mahal.

“Delhi is flooded. The newspapers are full of it. Infact it’s raining everywhere, given the season it’s not surprising is it??” BIL looks at us reprovingly as to why we pick the rainiest of seasons to come home.

Smarting under the veiled attack of ‘not reading newspapers’ I mutter huffily “I’m quite sure it’s not raining in Rajasthan”.

The next thing I knew we were booking tickets to Rajasthan.

We settled for a 5 days trip divided between Udaipur and Jaipur. Mt. Abu was reluctantly ruled out because we knew the kids wouldn’t be too happy with all the travelling. We were also fortunate to find a lovely hotel at such a late stage.

The trip was good. The journey spaced out and comfortable. The hotels first-rate.

But even then, almost everybody had issues.

The kids were not happy about all the sight-seeing  we were doing everyday.  All the travelling from one palace/fort to another in the heat took some out of them. We were sympathetic and cut out a few forts and temples from our list to keep them happy. But they were not very impressed. Today if you ask the kids about their trip they'll tell you in a loud and dramatic voice “You know, we were attacked by monkeys in Rajasthan.” 

Both sets of grand-parents got a shock when they heard this.

Nothing like that happened….they are talking about 1 or 2 monkeys who came a bit too close hoping they’ll get a bit of the ice-creams the kids were eating.

"Nooo wayyy…there were atleast 5 monkeys."
[I can hear their voices in my head stoutly defending their story]

And that is all they remember about Rajasthan;-/

Coming back to the subject, the BIL also had complaints. He was not enthusiastic about the trip to Rajasthan in the first place. He still thought Goa was the ideal destination. The airfare itself irritated him. Well it stumped all of us. You knw our airfare to Rajasthan[from B’lore] was more than our airfare to Dubai[from Rajasthan];-o. I'm sure he was thinking we could have done Thailand on the same budget;-).

The better-half[he took a break & joined us in Rajasthan] came away disconcerted and disillusioned at all the going-ons. He didn’t have any specific incident to tell but I knew. You see, he has always lived outside India and went home only for the holidays. Which meant he didn’t really meet ‘people’….u know like aam aadmi* of India. Being jostled in lines and spoken to rudely and watching officials behave arrogantly towards the tourists all unsettled him. His question of the day[actually he pondered over it everyday] was “why were people in authority acting like they owned the place they worked for. And inspite of paying the amount they demanded as entrance fee[& what not] why were we being treated like second-class citizens and palmed off second quality goods in our own country??” We all went through the same experiences as him but the difference was that we took it in our stride...well it is not something new, is it????

On the last night of the trip my sister & I stood contemplating all these issues outside our hotel rooms[while the others slept]. I lowered my voice and whispered  “But I enjoyed everything… was fantastic, even the noise, the grime, the chaos, the delays, everything” and looked at my sister almost guiltily.

She leaned forward conspiratorially and whispered “Me too”.

We couldn't stop giggling for like 5 minutes;-D.

Seriously I loved it……….I loved the visits to the heritage sites and found the history of each, fascinating. I rued that the guides rushed us through everything but then I know if I went there without one I would have wandered around the same place whole day leaving time for nothing else. The greenery was amazing; I thought Rajasthan was a desert but it was green and so fertile everywhere I looked. And the Aravalli mountains all around do I put was all sooo romantic. Later somebody told us that the monsoons made it seem like that and that Jaisalmer and beyond were more desert-like. The weather was a bit hot and it sometimes rained too but that never came in the way of our plans for the day.

The locals were very approachable and had the tourist routine down pat. And the traders were so good at selling their wares that we felt guilty if we didn't buy something from them. We picked up razais**, saris, paintings, carved pieces, carved pencils[the kids of course], magnets[heee] and even a pagdi[Rajasthani headwear];-D.

And oh how could I forget the puppets….the kids were soo thrilled with a pair I got for them at a puppet show the hotel organised for us. The next day I found the same puppets for half the price in the market;-(.

We also tried the local food, the main attraction being the Rajasthani Thali…..delicious.

Rajasthani Thali

I took lots of pictures and here are a few....

City Palace, Udaipur
Udaipur is known both as the 'City of Lakes' and 'The White City' because of the marble work the place is famous for. It is also known as 'Venice of the East'.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
Most of the palaces have been converted to luxury hotels and the Lake palace[above] covers an entire island in the Pichola lake. We didn't go there but I heard it's an experience of a lifetime.

White City, Udaipur
Artist at work

The train journey from Udaipur to Jaipur took around 6 hours and we got to see a lot of villages and cities on route.

City Palace Entrance, Jaipur
Jaipur is known as the pink city but the colour is not exactly pink, more terracotta. Most of the old city wears this colour...seems like the law states that they have to be painted this colour and no other.

Jaipur City Palace
The palace is very imposing, interesting and spread over acres. The present Maharaja who is a teenager[seriously, he is] lives in the yellow portion of the palace[see above pic].

Largest Silver urn in the world

Seems like more than 100 years ago the then Maharaja of Jaipur had to attend a meeting in London. To avoid the punishment of crossing the ocean he carried with him 3 huge silver urns of water from the Ganges for his exclusive use. Each urn can hold 9000 litres of water. I remember reading this a few years back in 'A Princess remembers' by Gayathri Devi. At one point our guide was mixing up a lot of info which made me wonder if these guys were making up stuff as they went along;-).

Entrance to Jantar Mantar
According to Wikipedia "The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Sawai Jai Singh who was a Mughal Commander and served Emperor Aurangzeb and later Mughals. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as "an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period".

Samrat Yantra, Jantar Mantar
Can u see those 2 people in the corner of the picture??? Now just imagine how tall the structure is:-o???

Amer Fort
Amer Fort is a major tourist attraction located high on a hill. The view is breath-taking from there; Nikita & I took a lot of pictures. Any angle I missed she covered;-). But when I look at them now, none of the pictures I feel really captured the essence of those moments spent there.

Palace Grounds, Amer Fort
Visit the place in the morning for the elephant rides. Mostly foreigners were queuing up;-D. I think the authorities charged around Rs.900 per person for the ride.
Kitchen area, Amer Fort
Does it look familiar to any of you??? Seems like the kitchen scene[where Jodha cooks for Akbar] of the Hindi movie 'Jodha-Akbar' was shot here:-).

Jaigarh Fort
By now the information on the different palaces and forts were getting muddled up in my head. All I remember about this fort is that this is where the monkeys attacked us;-P. Yep right at this point.

Camel rides being offered
And finally what's a trip to Rajasthan worth without a camel ride:).

All in all, a wonderful trip especially since it happened so unexpectedly & also maybe because I went with no expectations.

*common man

Sunday, 1 September 2013

"If the path be beautiful....

.....let us not ask where it leads" ~ Anatole France

'Path'etic return to the blog world, you think:-P???