24 December, 2011

'Tis the season to be jolly

Whether you follow this blog, or just stumbled upon it, here's wishing you
a very Merry Christmas and a very  Happy New Year.

23 December, 2011

Techies, HELP*

Now baby has a phone like mommy's. The only problem is that the chunkier colourful one gets lost every now and then. Then little `big boss' manages to get mommy gone on a search for the thing. Mommy wishes it were an easier job. If only we could give it a ring and find out just where it is, like we do when we misplace our adult cellphones.

Toy techies, could you find some way to make it easier to locate toy phones. And while you're at that, could you find away to locate missing television remote controls too. Mommies and daddies everywhere would appreciate that.

* This post was lying in my drafts since I-don't-know-when. Mommy has moved on to her next phone but the above issues  continue. Please HELP!

01 November, 2011

Technologically ensnared!

The new Docomo ad says, "no getting away from the network that always connects." Docomo got that right; it's the no-getting away age, whether we like it or not.

Remember the days when somebody would call for you and somebody else could take that call and say you were out (even if you actually weren't)? That was before the cellphones. Then we all wanted those little handsets. Since then, there's been escape. Even the 'missed calls' are recorded, so can't be missed altogether. Do you have any other excuse for not returning that call?

Remember when you could say you hadn't had the time to step into a cyber cafe? Or that you hadn't turned on your computer as yet? That was THEN. Now, you are a proud owner of the coveted smart phone. Now there's no running away from those emails, work or personal. You are IN; in the now network; in the always-connected network. You leapt into the technological snare. And there you stay! Unless, you actually pack your bags and move to Mars.

17 October, 2011

Before meets after

Before I became a mommy I had much better hair. I needed no hair products save some coconut oil and some Pantene shampoo. My crowning glory even did some  modelling for a feature on hair care. Now my hair needs conditioner, hair serum and a hot air brush to make it look presentable. I'm soon going to be 'needing' hair colour. Graying happens to everyone, I agree. I'm amazed at the how it speeds up when it is coupled with parenthood. Thank you baby for the Wisdom Hair.

                                                             *     *    *
You know how little kids say almost incomprehensible things that only mommies can understand, right? Before I became a mommy, I feared that when my time came, I wouldn't be able to do that well; that I would fail miserably and feel ashamed of myself for not being able to decipher my own little one's weird toddler-speak. It's been over two years since the beginning of motherhood and when I look back, I see that I haven't messed up altogether. I have figured out that audio means Oreo, thanthal once meant Water and dalo was Yellow. Now I know that loopuk means Look up and tandapis means Stand up. I know that the contextual meanings of kis can be Kiss, Biscuit and Squirrel. Multiple meanings of Kis; Ah! how convenient for the toddler.
                                                                *      *     *

Oh, and the questions they can ask you when they begin to talk! I remember the doubts I had when I was little -- Phew! I'd rather not go there. I often wondered what I would do when I became a parent? Could I be a know-it-all mommy? Hey new mommies and daddies, our stars are good; what would we do without the internet!
                                                                 *     *      *

Before I became a mommy, I carried a small handbag and don't even remember what I carried in it. Now I carry a big one and what do I have in it -- diapers, wipes, an extra pair of dress for the little one, some snacks, disinfectant wipes, a small bottle of sanitizer, a couple of band aids (you never know when u need them), a sipper, a small box of biscuits/cereals... In there are also some of my own things like my driving licence and debit card, lip balm and hair brush and all of that. I'm looking forward to shedding that weight and probably by then, it might only get heavier with baby formula, burp cloth and all.

More (raves and) rants in The Mommy Diary 

You might also like:
Memoirs of a mom-to-be

10 June, 2011

Today I think of him

This morning I woke up to news that I lost somebody so very dear to me. Today I think of him and nothing else. I think of the many great memories I have of him, I think of his words of wisdom, I think of his paintings, I think of his love for life, I think of the immense influence he has had on me.

I think of the part he played in my life and pull out this post I put up a few months ago. It has no title but is straight from the heart: *** (no title)

He will be missed by the many lives he touched and inspired. His memories will live on.
Rest in peace, Achacha. Love you.

18 May, 2011

Tamasha of the day

Our toddler who is almost two is in that fun phase of learning to talk. He's been learning a lot of Malayalam and reproducing it fairly well. (I'm a mommy, hence biased).

It's been a few good months since he learnt that very essential word for water - Vellam; but he's been pronouncing it as lla. Well, good for now, thought I until a few days ago it changed to thanthal, in an effort to say Thannutha vellam meaning cold water. (It took me a while to figure that out tho') Anyway, I let that be, too.

However, it was only today that I learnt that the thantha in his thanthal didn't really mean anything...he just picked that up from somewhere.

This morning, he asks me for water and I gave him some warm water because that was all there was. A few seconds later, he looks at me and says, "Chooda" (it's hot). 
I ask him what is hot 
And he says, "Thantal"

(That was an LOL moment. For those who don't understand Malayalam, he was very seriously telling me that I had given him `hot' cold water. )

02 April, 2011

For the record

I too got to see the supermoon (no, I don't call this great photography)

I never thought I would be able to see it because in this part of the world there was a big storm brewing and the evening was really rough. Oh yeah ... and we were expecting a QUAKE (read my previous post).

Just as I was preparing to retire for the day, long after the clock struck midnight, I peeped out of the window and saw this spectacle that hasn't happened in the last 18 years, fighting to see through the storm clouds (Which was almost a miracle if you knew how violent the weather was).

By the way the quake didn't show up that day but we can expect a big one to hit just about anytime. (Read Living between Faults)

19 March, 2011

Something to soothe the dread

It is a time of so much of dread. And the dread is only spreading. It was just a week ago that Japan was devastated with an earthquake and a tsunami. The world is still reeling over the Japan disasters.  And Japan is still in pain. To add to their misery there's the nuclear plant that is threatening to leak larger amounts of radiation. Over 2 scores of people in the plant are killing themselves trying to get the situation under control and save the nation from the harmful effects of radiation. Meanwhile some of it has has already escaped from the power plant has found its way into milk and spinach. And a part of it has crossed the Pacific Ocean and stepped into California.

Not enough the bay area -- and the rest of CA -- lives in constant dread of earthquakes, there are tornado warnings now. Sigh! It has been raining here and the forecasts have yet another storm for us later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Then there's the Supermoon: when the moon said to be closest to the earth and promises to look 14 times bigger and 30 times brighter (or something like that). That's interesting, but it spells bad time for sunny California. There's this prediction that CA's next big quake is just around the corner. According to Geologist Jim Berkland, this one is sure to hit the state sometime between today (the 19th) and the 26th; most likely day being today. 

Amidst all the bad news and the growing dread I looked out of the window when the showers had stopped for a while and saw this soothing sight. 

12 March, 2011

Living between faults

Yesterday: I wake up in the morning and have a look at the newspaper. The front page is all about the twin natural calamities that hit Japan; the high-intensity quake followed by a monstrous tsunami. I'm shocked. I go further than the headlines and learn that so many lives have been lost and property damaged. I am sure that this is all the news channels will be about for the next few days. It's news. Big News. MAGNITUDE!*

I brush my little one's teeth and sit him down to breakfast and quickly find the remote controls and switch on the television. What I see is news closer home. There's a reporter with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. I hear that the water is rough; that people have been asked to leave a pier by the bridge because a high wave had crashed onto it. An expert is having quoted saying that it is odd that the water that normally flows out through the Golden Gate strait is now flowing inwards into the SF Bay. Weird!

Back to the Newsroom. A report from Santa Cruz. Boats have gotten lose. Unmanned boats are floating along, bumping into other ones. There is some damage. More boats on the lose, colliding with docks. I see the visual of one boat floating away and into the pillar of a bridge, broken docks, capsized boats. More damage. 'Tsunami Surge,' they say. Reports from Crescent City; another harbour that has met with some devastation. More news. Local news. PROXIMITY!*.

After all, the Japan disasters are just an ocean apart.

Since it's the great Pacific, it'd taken a while for the waves to hit the American mainland. Although travelling at 500 miles per hour, there was time -- a few hours -- to warn the people living on the California coast to evacuate and move to higher ground.

I'm glued to the television. Newscasters seem to be juggling with news from abroad and home. It is the world's fifth largest quake that rocked the islands of Japan. US west cost is calmer although there are some reports of awkward behaviour of water in some places. Then there are reporters getting hold of random Californians and asking them how prepared they were for a quake. After all, this is California - America's own quake capital.

It is the land of the infamous 1989 Loma Prieta and the SF quake of 1906

I remember the first time I felt a tremor. That one was probably the strongest I experienced. I remember the big thud, felt the earth shake and then for a few more seconds the window blinds kept flapping against each other.

Then there was a second and third time and a few more (some felt, some we've been oblivious to.) It's an every-year thing, as -- experts say -- the faults have to let off some steam.

That CA is expecting a major quake within the next 3 decades is no news around here.

Back to the television, there are more interviews with locals. More people are asked about how ready they are for a quake or an evacuation. I'm kind of surprised and ashamed, all the same: many people have a plan, they have radios ready, they have emergency survival kits; all just-in-case...

They all seem to say in chorus, "better to be safe than sorry."

Then an ABC correspondent talks to another Californian - she has just some food and a couple of gallons of water ready and she is called a 'laid back Californian,' This wakes me up. Then what would I be? What would we do if there's another quake and if there's no power, no water and no gas? PULL QUOTE* -SHAME.

And we live in the proximity of 6 major fault lines and in between the San Andreas and Calaveras faults.

Family discussion. Online searches. Emergency Kit on the way from Amazon.com. One bag with clothes we don't use much, diapers, some first aid and the sort; just in case...

Today: I'm a wee-little more prepared.

When I was younger and heard of places prone to natural disasters I wondered why people continued to live in dangerous places.


                                                                                                                                       ...despite the faults.

*Some journalistic jargon

15 February, 2011

There's a Stewie @ home

I get a lot of this these days:

Too funny to be true eh? Honestly...my 20-month old does this too; only that Louise is not my name. I cross my heart; he's got is own equivalents for 'mom' and I get: Amma! Mamma! Mammun! Amman! Amna, Amta, Mummy and even Mola (an attempt at saying molu,as he hears daddy call)!

And worse still, I don't even get a "Hi." Ask him `what' and he'll softly say kaalu (meaning 'leg' in Malayalam) He loves saying that word. I only hope this doesn't get upgraded to "My foot!" 

PS: Lately he's been screaming, "Acha, Kuttah! And it's just as loud.  Hmm!! (And hubby asks me if this video influenced him. No way!! In fact this antic of his reminded me of this clip.)

04 February, 2011

Lessons from Schwartz and Gibran

Had he so desired his sons would have stopped what they were doing to be with their father every minute of his final months. But that was not what he wanted. "Do not stop your lives," he told them. "Otherwise this disease will have ruined three of us instead of one." 

In this way even as he was dying, he showed respect for his children's worlds. Little wonder that when they sat with him, there was a waterfall of affection, lots of kisses and jokes and crouching by the side of the bed, holding hands.

- from Tuesdays with Morrie 

These were the lines that spoke to me the loudest; it was from here that I took away a lesson from this book by Mitch Albom.

`Respect for others worlds' -- that's kind of old age I am inspired to live. Should I do even think otherwise, I hope this post will bring me back on track. (Here's hoping that my readers too will take home this 'little' lesson that will make a 'big' difference).

By the way, I also remember reading Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet and taking note of what he had to say On Children:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Now that's a good approach to parenting. What do 'you' think?

03 February, 2011

*** (no title)

Tuesdays with Morrie, is the book that now sits on my nightstand. On the cover of this Mitch Albom book are the words: an old man, a young man and life's greatest lesson. Tuesdays with Morrie is all about several conversations between a student and his aged professor. With each Tuesday meeting that the two have, I seem to be liking and respecting Morrie, the protagonist of this book.

As I read it, my mind found its way to a very special person in my life. He knew me before I was born, he was the one who held my hand and guided me through the very first letters I ever wrote (at my Vidyarambam). He's seen me go to school, watched me grow into a teenager, written long (really long) letters to me, noticed my talent to sketch, encouraged me to read more and write better. 

When my adolescence was at its peak, he pacified the angry young woman in me and often played that bridge in the generation gap between my dad and me. He took pride in my achievements and cheered me on. He's had a very special place in my world and will always be that irreplaceable gentleman who inspired me in more ways than one. He and his charming wife are so very dear to me and I would like to say that although this couple is neither my father's nor my mother's parents, they are my grandparents.

I look back at my long association with them and I think I have been so blessed to be so accepted, and so loved. To all who are acquainted with them, they have been an example to live by: never heard complaining about life or about senility. Ever since I can remember they have been as active as they could be, physically, intellectually and socially. They are all about being genuinely interested in everybody they know, I swear. They are all about spreading cheer and love and just not expecting anything in return. Just knowing them has made my life so much richer.

Retirement did not slow them down one bit. Their retirement was about building a home, making friends and making it a point to attend any function they were invited to even if it meant travelling for several hours together. It was only in the last four to five years that they had cut down on the travelling as it had really begun to get difficult to do so. When I was getting married I had passed them a message that I would not be offended if they could not come. Instead I could make a trip to their place and show them the man I had chosen for a husband. But they made it a point to come. This grandmother even told me "How could we not come when you were getting married?" I was so touched. They really had added me to their already big (a dozen, to be exact) group of grandchildren. Exactly! how could grandparents miss a grandchild's 'big day.'

That was a little over four years ago. Hubby and I caught up with them a few times in the next two years. Then we moved abroad. Two years later when we made a trip back home, we made it a point to drop in at their place. This time, in addition to seeing them, we had a baby to show them. 

Things were really different this time. Much as I loved being there, it was painful for me. Age had begun to catch up with this grandfather of mine. He has difficulty walking. His memory has been slipping away too. Although he can still make some connection with me -- if he was told my father's name - he does not remember the many good times we shared or the role he has played in my life. He even forgets my name every now and then. I am not offended; not one bit. I love him just as much.

It is just so difficult to see the change in him. His easel and paints have been stowed away. He's not the conversationalist he once was, he does not even read the newspaper, a thing he looked forward to every morning.

He won't even be able to read this post that says how much I love him. I am just glad that as a school girl I wrote so many letters to him and was lucky to have had him write me such long and engaging letters (some of which I still have and will always treasure). 

Before I got married, I wished that my husband-to-be, would be able respect my relationship with these grandparents who were not `blood-relations' as such. It turned out that I got much more than I asked for; I now have a a hubby who adores them just as much as I do. I only wish Achachan could know of this.  

*** This post happened when I let my my mind rewind and let my fingertips key away... just couldn't come up with an apt title. Any suggestions, anybody? Or maybe I should just leave it like that)

Added 4 months later: Today I think of him 

31 January, 2011


Just one look
at my napping baby
makes my heart melt.

Restless that he is,
Only when he sleeps
Can I admire him.

Oh my!
It's a beautiful,
Beautiful little boy.

So cuddly, so perfect.
An absolute
Piece of art.

Our masterpiece.
Hey, hubby dear,
We did a great job!

05 January, 2011

Seeking Culture Shock (or the idea of it)

Culture shock...

Where are you and what do you look like? I have heard plenty about you and have always wanted to meet you in person and get to know you. Well, and have my own opinion about you.

 A couple of years back, hubby's office transferred him to the company's corporate office in CA and so we moved. And I thought, here's my chance at finally knowing you. 

To US we moved. What I saw barely shocked me or even surprised me. I had already seen some of what I was seeing, heard most of it and read about all of it. Nothing was really new, leave alone be flabbergasted by anything.

I was deeply disappointed by your absense. To make myself feel better I sought a silver lining: Maybe I'd get to meet your younger (and brattier) brother on returning to India. Soon my wish to shake hands with 'Reverse Culture Shock' only got intense. This was bound to be more interesting than just Mr. culture shock, I was sure.

Anyway, two and a half years or almost that, went by. It was only a few months ago that I was looking forward to making my first trip back home to see for myself how culturally shocked I would be (it's the Reverse Culture Shock that I'm talking about)

One November evening I landed in India and waited for THE SHOCK to knock me down.

To my utter dismay, wait as I did, Reverse Culture Shock too failed to turn up to receive me. Nor did I brush shoulders with him in the days that ensued. Or was it that he was present and I only failed to recognise him?

Everything seemed just the same, just the way it had always been in `motherland.' Everything seemed familiar -- just the way it was when we left there -- and the two odd years away just felt like a few days (honest).

Coming back to the second shock sibling: I have heard that you have had rendezvous with even those who have been out for the country for a couple of weeks. Honestly I did want to have a face to face meeting with you; really wanted to know how you would make 'me' feel. Alas!

I was surprised that I wanted to go on an autorikshaw ride again, wanted to have some of that tasty roadside chaat and yearned to hear the sounds of an Indian railway station:  the raised voices of porters and chai vendors (Thankfully I got to do that). 

Obviously you weren't there. Or is something wrong with me that I failed to see you. Or were you avoiding me because I was desperately looking for you? Or was I just returning to something that was already a melting pot?