Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Seven Months of Puttachi

Puttachi is uncontrollable. If she is still immobile and so uncontrollable, how on earth it is going to be once she starts moving? I cannot even start to imagine.

She hasn't yet started crawling - technically, that is. She can get at an object a metre away by some clever acrobatics, but that's about it. She gets into the standard crawling position and tries to move forward, but falls flat. But in the middle of the night, I wake up to see her in the crawling position, eyes blinking sleepily, hair falling over her face, big eyes staring at me blankly from behind the mosquito net over her crib. I giggle helplessly before I reach out for her.

Her solid feed times are totally crazy periods. She doesn't sit still, but holds me and pulls herself up. On the way, she bites my thigh, my shoulder, and if she can reach, my cheek. By the time we are done, both of us are covered from top to toe in food. I did away with bibs long ago, since they were of no use. I now need something to cover her from top to toe to protect her clothes. I'd rather change her entire clothing after every meal. Its that crazy. As for me, even an apron is not enough.

I started strapping her up in her car seat and feeding her. It is now slightly better. Only she and the car seat get dirty. I escape unscathed.

Some time ago, S~ and I were discussing the use of a high chair for Puttachi. I had said it might not be of much use, and we had suspended the discussion. But now I think it might come in use. Tie her up at one place and feed her, and perhaps allow her to eat some by herself. Do you think it will be useful, or is it just a waste? Is a car seat enough? Please chip in with your advice.

She now dances to music. A gradual shift from just enjoyment, to swaying, to actual bouncing and giggling. Delightful.

Her sleep schedules have slightly regularized. She sleeps for half an hour each in the morning and late afternoon, and for an hour or sometimes more after lunch.

Here's the funny thing - she sleeps in slots of half an hour. Half an hour, one hour, or one and a half hours. That way. If she is sleeping and I see that it is 35 minutes since she fell asleep, I know that I have 25 minutes more! Strange, huh?

Her night sleep continues to be pretty good.

She has become far more responsive and interactive. I now actually feel that she understands what I am telling her - at the basic level.

Life with Puttachi is getting better, and crazier.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Township Tales - Sports Enthusiasts

There was a man (not in our township) - let's call him SM Sir. He was upset by the lack of stress on sports in his sons' school, and decided that he would start a sports group for children. He called it ASHA (Academy of Sports, Hobbies and Athletics). His sons' friends, and their friends joined the group, and soon, it reached our township. Since there was a lot of space for games, and we had indoor games in the Community Centre too, SM Sir started coming to the colony, and soon, he had recruited many of us into ASHA.

Some parents were hesitant, saying that it would interfere with their children's studies, but SM Sir was great at PR - he convinced everybody, and his enthusiasm was really infectious. Many of us joined. My parents were thrilled with the concept, and my sis and I needed absolutely no convincing to do - they said Yes almost immediately. There was a monthly fee for membership. I don't remember how much it was, but it was quite reasonable.

He would come to the township nearly every evening, and we played all kinds of games in the lawn. He taught us rules for all the games that we so far had just played blindly. He taught us tips, and tricks. He introduced me to Table Tennis. I hadn't even held a TT racket before he came on to the scene. And once I picked up a TT racket, I was hooked. To this day, it remains my favourite game, and I have only SM Sir to thank for it.

Besides games, he trained us in fitness. Every morning, he would expect us at a field about half a kilometer from our township. We would rise at five, drink something, get into tracksuits, and a group of us would go to the grounds, and there, he would make us warm up, and then jog round the field as much as we could. He kept an eye on each of us - he made sure that we increased the distance periodically, according to our ability.

After about an hour or hour and a half, we got back home, bathed, ate a monstrous breakfast, and then went to school. I don't remember ever being tired at school. Just very, very fresh.

This was perhaps the fittest period of my life. I was about 12 or 13. I had the stamina, I had the strength, and the energy. And the interest. I cannot believe that I rose at five every day for so many months. The mornings were beautiful. The sun rising, the birds chirping, the crisp, cold, morning air biting our cheeks, and a group of us friends, young, spirited, happy, quite sure that we were training to be the next Flo Jo.

We went on a couple of treks too, to hills around Bangalore. Those were wonderful experiences - something we had never done before. Once, we walked all the way from Malleshwaram to Kanteerava Stadium, through the greenery of Sankey Tank. We "trained" at the stadium and had a great time. After these outings, we always returned tired, but very enriched.

He also organized many events. We regularly had potluck dinners, or parties on contribution basis. We even brought out a simple, cyclostyled monthly journal for a time, where we were the writers, editors, everything.

And apart from all this, of course, we grew better and better at sports. Because of my experiences here, I got many prizes in school too. There was one year, I think the ninth standard, when I won prizes in running, relay, shot put, long jump, and TT.

I would have won in high jump too, hadn't our PT teacher insisted that I jump without my specs on. I told him a hundred times that I needed to see the bar which I would have to cross. But no. He said my specs would fall and break, and he wouldn't be held responsible. I told him that I have done all kinds of acrobatics with my specs on, but no. He refused to let me participate with my specs on. Duh. I ran and directly hit the bar instead of jumping over it. No, my eyesight wasn't, or isn't that bad. It is just that I didn't get the right perspective to plan my jump. Hmph.

Back to SM Sir. Does anything in India work without politics? Some people in the colony raised objections about the dust we kicked up playing in the lawn. So the management forbade SM Sir from coming to the colony, or some such thing. Bang. He lost out on a place where he could conduct ASHA's activities. He started having it elsewhere, many, many kilometers away. We were too young to travel so far, and going every day was out of the question.

We gradually lost touch with him. A pity. I wonder where he is now, and what he is doing. I hope ASHA is still functioning in some form or the other, and giving kids some respite from sedentary school life.

Next: Celebrations

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My sis is here!

* My sis PeeVee has come down for a visit after 1.5 years. She and Puttachi met for the first time, and they are thrilled with each other. Puttachi is in that stage where she talks to strangers from afar but bawls if they carry her. But she went to PeeVee and settled down with her as if she has known her all her life.

* PeeVee has grown 1-2 inches taller. I need you people to tell me if it is possible. For someone to grow after a certain age, after you have thought she has stopped growing. I thought people grow till they are 21 years old, but PeeVee is quite past that age. There is no doubt she has grown... she was always petite, and much shorter than I was, now she is just an inch or two shorter than I am. She bikes a lot at her school. Is that the reason?

* She has done a good amount of very thoughtful shopping, and has brought personalized gifts for the family. Amazing, with the little time and money she had!

* One of the things she has brought is a pain-relieving ointment called Bengay. Now the funny thing is that in Kannada, "Ben-gay" means "For the back". This has totally cracked me up - I can't get over it.. I keep imagining a conversation:

Person 1: Bartha angadi inda novige ointment thanni. (Please stop by the drugstore and get me a pain-relieving ointment.)
Person 2: Sari. Yavudu? (Sure. Which one?)
Person 1: Bengay.
Person 2: Gotthu ninna bennovige antha... aadre yaava brandu? (Yeah, I know it is for your sore back, but which brand?)
Person 1: Helidnalla, Bengay. (I told you, Bengay.)
Person 2: Gotthappa ben-gay antha, aadre ointment hesarenu? (I know, pa, its for your back, but what is the name of the ointment?)
Person 1: Bengay.

It could go on and on :D

* Having a good time chatting away into the night with PeeVee -- and enjoying watching PeeVee giggle over Puttachi's activities and drool over mom's cooking.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spotlight Series at Blogbharti

We have started the Spotlight Series at Blogbharti, where well-known bloggers/writers have been invited to write on contemporary issues. Two essays are already up, and there are many, many more to come. Do hop over, and join in the discussion.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Township Tales - A shady hangout

There was a nice, leafy, woody area in one part of the colony which we called "C-type", after C-block, next to which this area was situated. It also happened that the house that we lived in for a major part of our stay in the colony, overlooked this area. In fact, my table was next to the window overlooking this place.

This area also housed the main water tank of the colony. We always dreamed of climbing the spiral stairway inside it, all the way to the top, but we were never "old enough" for it. This place also had the "pump room", and the vicinity of the pump room seemed to be the hangout of the electricians, plumbers, etc., who worked in the colony. In later years, the iron man of the colony, i.e. The Dhobi, put up his stand here, just underneath the passion fruit creeper, full of gorgeous passion fruit flowers.

This place formed an important part of our non-game activities. Chatting, planning, one-to-one bonding - stuff like that. My earliest memory of playing in this place was just after the rains when it was teeming with earthworms, and we used twigs to cut the earthworms in two, and watched both halves wiggle.

When we were learning about Harappa and Mohenjodaro at school, my friend (the 25-years of "best" friendship one), whom I will call Bab, and I, went to C-type, and dug the earth with stones and twigs, hoping to find "ruins". Sure enough, we found a piece of a clay pot, and a stone with a very neat shape. We were quite sure that we had unearthed some ancient ruins, and that the stone was a stone-age implement, and the clay pot was an important relic. We even named the new ruins "Bashru" ruins, and even discussed whom to contact, and how to keep this discovery a secret until we found more evidence. Later that evening, our parents brought us back to reality. :(

C-type was the picnic venue too. We would decide to have impromptu picnics, everybody would run home and bring whatever there was at home, starting from half a packet of Parle G biscuits to a couple of bananas. Or even home-made chakli or "mixture". If there was time, we would run to the house opposite the township, where they stocked Nilgiris products, and bring some snacks (I would bring Vanilla drops).

One of us would bring a mat or a bedsheet, we would spread it out, sit on it, share all our eats equally, hog, and then go back to play. Such simple pleasures, really!

And oh, since my mom's kitchen overlooked this area, she would sprinkle water at us and then hide :) I, of course, knowing my mom, would know where the water came from... my friends were left puzzling over it for a long time!

Next: Sports enthusiasts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Township Tales - Playtime in the Lawn

One fine day, we woke up in the morning to see that our lawn had new guests. A slide, a merry-go-round, an "A" monkey ladder, and a round monkey ladder. We watched with bated breath as they affixed it to the ground with cement. We couldn't wait to try them out, but no - they had to be painted. So, painted they were. And they told us that we could play on them in the evening.

I haven't seen such a turn out before that or ever since. All the kids in the colony were out in full force that evening. There were queues to play each game. Come to think of it, we were pretty decent kids - we queued up, didn't push each other - quite a feat for kids so young, I must say. The paint hadn't dried yet, but we were least bothered. By the way, the frock I had worn that day bore the stains of wet paint forever.

As time passed, the attraction faded. But they were still special. The slide was the favourite. We never climbed the slide from the steps. It was usually from the slope that we climbed, and slid back again. Even the sliding was not done sitting decently on our bottoms. We slid lying down on our backs, on our tummies, on our tummies head first, on our backs head first, running down instead of sliding.... you name it, we did it.

Then we started climbing the slide from the supporting poles at the sides. Have you seen these men climb coconut trees? Just like that. One of my school friends had visited me once, and she saw me climb up the slide from the side, like a monkey. She was shocked and thrilled at the same time. The goody-goody Shruthi, who is neat and quiet and does her homework regularly - is actually a monkey! My friend had gone to school and spread the word. By being a monkey, I had become just that much more human!

There was this kid who loved to climb the slide and then pee down the slope from top of it. Yeah. Yuck. And invariably, after he did this, someone would carry mud up and pour it down the slide, so that there were streaks of mud down the slope. Till today, I don't know who washed it, or whether it was washed at all, but after a few hours, it would be shiny clean, and then, ensuring that someone else has slid down it before us, we would follow suit.

The merry-go-round was for us adventurers. Sitting on it was for kids - hmph. We would stand on it and ride it. It was this little four-seater thingy that you see in children's parks. We would bring it up to speed with our feet, and then we would stand while it was turning. If we leaned backwards completely, it would slow down. The moment we leaned forward, towards the center, it would go at dizzying speeds! Without our knowledge, we were imbibing physics ;) In hindsight, it was a pretty dangerous thing we did.. but we were never scared!

The "A" monkey ladder was, you guessed it, shaped like an "A". We would sit at the apex and discuss "important" issues. And kick with our feet those who came to eavesdrop by sitting on the horizontal bar of the A.

The "O" monkey ladder was by far, the least popular. It was shaped like an O, sort of, if you looked at it from atop. We devised some game that saw us all inside it, and the "Out" person was outside and had to catch us by putting her hand in and trying to touch us. Dangerous game, I got hurt very often during this game.

Do you remember this programme called "Alpha Plus" on television? It was a sort of competition that tested physical and mental skills. First there was a military kind of race, where the participants had to climb nets, jump walls, hang on ropes - that kind of thing, and the second part was a kind of quiz. Well, we adapted it to suit us. We would note the time taken by each one of us to climb the slide, slide down, run to the merry-go-round, go two rounds of it, go in and out of the "O" monkey ladder, and then cross the "A" monkey ladder, and reach the starting point, and the quickest person was the winner.

For some reason, writing this reminded me of the bottle-brush tree, with the spiked leaves, and red flowers shaped like the brushes used to clean bottles with - the tree with a unique smell. I had even forgotten this tree! Phew! why did I remember this? Was it our starting point for Alpha Plus? Perhaps. I don't remember. Strange are the ways of the brain.

Next: A leafy area in the township.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Signs

You know that you have been married for a long time, when - When a movie is mentioned, you no longer ask your spouse, "Have you watched it?" but "Have we watched it?"

P.S. It is also a sign that you are getting old and losing your memory.

P.P.S. - Thanks for all your wishes. Puttachi and I are doing much better.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Tooth

Yes, Puttachi is sprouting a tooth. So far, it can only be felt (rubbing her gums with a finger), and heard (when she rubs her gums against the spoon when I try and feed her). But it hasn't been sighted yet, one - because it seems to have only just emerged, and two - you are lucky if she opens her mouth for you to peep in!

On one hand, I am excited about the new arrival, but on the other hand, I am going to miss her toothless smile.

In other news, it has been a very sick week. I will spare you the details, but Puttachi is only just getting okay, and I am still quite bad. I grab every spare moment and use it to sleep, and hence the slowdown in posting.

I will be back soon.
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