Friday, June 27, 2008

Discpline your kids, they say.....

Scene 1:

Puttachi is chewing on one of her toys and I am teaching her not to do so.

Me: Puttachi, ringna baayige haakikobaaradu. (You should not put the ring into your mouth).

Puttachi smiles, and continues chewing the ring.

Me: Puttachi, listen. Ring.. baayi.. no-no (Ring.. mouth.. no-no)

Puttachi: nonnonnonnnnooo

Me: Yes, that's right. Ring.. baayi.. no-no.

Puttachi: Baayi.. nonnonnnoooo

Me: Correct! you got it. Ring.. baayi.. no-no-no *shaking my finger*

Puttachi: *wags her finger* baayi... nonnooo

Me: Yes! *Satisfied, settles back on the cushions*

Puttachi smiles and puts the ring back into her mouth.


Scene 2:

Puttachi loves the slippers I wear at home. She touches them at the slightest opportunity. I have spent weeks telling her not to touch them, that they are "Thoo... Cheee... Vakk"... and I make a big deal of washing her hands and I keep repeating it ad infinitum.

Yesterday. I am watching her play, when she spots my slippers where I have left them near the bed. Instead of jumping up and hiding the slippers, I watch to see what she will do. Puttachi goes up to the slippers, looks at them, starts to bend down, then straightens up and walks past them.

I exult. I jump up. I pump the air with my fist, and do a little jig. After I am done, I turn around and look at Puttachi, only to see her standing there, happiness written all over her face, and........holding a slipper in each hand.

Scene 3:

Puttachi is playing on the bed, and at short intervals, she takes a couple of toys and throws them off the edge of the bed, and takes great delight in it. And then she screams for me to pick it up and give it back to her. I have been telling her for the past half an hour not to do that, I have been refusing to give the toys back to her because she threw them. I have been pretending to be very angry.... all that. Finally it looks like it has worked, she goes nearly ten minutes without throwing toys off the bed.

And then she takes a couple of toys and goes up to the edge of the bed. I am giving her piercing looks. She pauses at the edge, looks at me from the corner of her eye. When she sees me watching, her eyes fill with mischief, a huge grin breaks out on her face, and with the utmost delight, she throws the toys off the bed, and giggling with glee, she turns a back flip, lands on her back, cycles in the air with happiness, all the while looking at me. And me looking stupid with the useless stern look plastered on my face.

Kids!

But really, how do you make them understand? She watches me throw her dirty clothes into the tub kept for that purpose. Sometimes I just drop it in, sometimes I throw it across the room into the tub. She imitates everything I do, and so she does the same with other objects. Amma throws clothes, I throw toys. How can you tell her the difference?

How do you make her understand that footrugs and footwear and bathroom floors can be touched with the feet, and not with the hands? How will the poor kid make out the difference? Feet-ok, hands-not ok, why?

You encourage her and clap when she upturns her box of blocks with a flourish, and you expect her not to spill a glass of water with the same action, the same flourish. How will she understand?

But even when she does understand that something is forbidden, she does it all the same, with greater delight - what do I make of that?

It will happen with time, I know.. and until then... Puttachi! Puttachi! Stop! come back here this instant!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Time

I was watching the beautiful movie "Fiddler On The Roof" for the nth time. There is this song during Tzeitel's wedding, where her parents look at the couple and this song plays in the background"

Is this the little girl I carried
Is this the little boy at play

I don't remember growing old
When did they?

I feel that way already about my one year old Puttachi. I remember the way she was when she was brought to me minutes after she was born, and I look at her now... how much she has grown. So much time has passed, but I am still the same. Well, time hasn't stood still for me. Time has aged me that much more, but I don't feel it. But the passage of that time is more than evident on my baby.

I am sure it will be this way... My daughter will become five years old, ten years old, twenty..... and I will turn thirty, forty, fifty, sixty... and then wonder.. where did all those years go?

Sunrise sunset
Sunrise Sunset
Swiftly fly the days

Says the same song. That is how it is, isn't it? And those days become years before you know it.

During Puttachi's early days, my mother would tell me. "All this takes me back to the time when I was a new mother. Being awakened at unearthly hours by a tiny whimper, and the sleeplessness, the smell of milk and baby powder, the baby clothes, the soft, warm, bundle in my arms... it is the same thing happening all over again... this could be yesterday.... this could be my baby... but hey, when did my little baby grow up, old enough to have a baby of her own?"

Where did those years go? How did the time fly by? It is an unsettling thought.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some news, and a tag

I have started working from home, part-time. I'm enjoying it. So If blogging becomes slow, you know what to blame!

And, as if I have extra time now, I have decided to start responding to comments again, because I feel terribly guilty for not responding to all those nice, insightful comments that I receive.

And now, since I don't have any ready posts in my kitty, I take refuge in another tag, again passed on by Shyam.

The rules of the tag are:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

The book nearest to me is "Baby Donald's day at the beach", which has only about ten pages, so I am going to pick up the book second closest to me, which is "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (recommended by and borrowed from Ano).

The relevant passage is:
"It was addressed to his daughter and the monogram "J.U.C." was imprinted on the seal. He slipped it under the door when he passed Fermina's bedroom, and she never understood how it had come there, since it was unconceivable to her that her father had changed so much that he would bring her a letter from a suitor. She left it on the night table, for the truth was she did not know what to do with it, and there it stayed, unopened, for several days, until one rainy afternoon when Fermina Daza dreamed that Juvenal Urbino had returned to the house to give her the tongue depressor he had used to examine her throat."

I wonder what the point of this tag is. Any ideas? :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My favourite literary characters!

Shyam asked me to do a very interesting tag, the name of which I have shortened to "List your ten favourite characters from literature." So here they are!


Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird; Author: Harper Lee) - THE man. Smart, caring, bold, stands up for what he thinks is right, and a great father - in my view, he is the best character to have walked the literary earth.

Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice; Author: Jane Austen) - The dashing gentleman - rich, handsome, proud, wronged and misunderstood, but comes out smelling of roses at the end. I read this book in my teens, and I was head over heels in love with this character.

Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind; Author: Margaret Mitchell) - Oh, he is wicked, he is dashing, he is smart - and he totally enjoys his life - without any qualms. The man who can sweep anybody off her feet. I don't really remember "liking" this character, but I waited eagerly for passages with him in the book, and I guess that makes him a "favourite"!

Mma Precious Ramotswe (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series; Author: Alexander McCall-Smith). The very likable protagonist of The No.1 Ladies Detective series. She is firm, opinionated, independent, capable, brave, and intelligent. And supremely contented with life - except when there is a mystery to solve!

Treebeard (The Lord of the Rings; Author: JRR Tolkien) - An "Ent". The most interesting creature that I have encountered in fiction. Ancient, huge, tree-like, slow and measured, and most of all, fascinating.

Jeeves (Jeeves series; Author: P.G.Wodehouse) - The perfect butler. Poker faced, brilliant, just-so. The perfect foil to his bumbling employer Bertie Wooster (who is also a wonderful character). I absolutely love the way Jeeves gets Bertie to give up a piece of garment that Jeeves find jarring, by just giving his employer the cold shoulder, and by refusing to fish him out of trouble.

Mark Thackeray (To Sir With Love; Author: E.R.Braithwaite) - He is smart, he is intelligent, and he knows just how to win the most difficult people over. Without any effort at all. And what a teacher he is, how patient, how understanding! It also helps that I absolutely loved Sydney Poitier in the movie of the same name.


Miss Marple (Miss Marple series; Author: Agatha Christie) - The tiny, fragile, mildmannered old lady with the sharp brain. I love how she sits in her armchair and solves mysteries just by comparing the events with seemingly harmless occurences in her countryside village.

O-lan (The Good Earth; Author: Pearl S.Buck) - The strong-willed, hardworking wife of Wang Lung. I read this novel too long ago for me to give you a reasonable character sketch, but I remember being very impressed with her.

Heidi (Heidi; Author: Johanna Spyri) - One of my all-time favourite characters, from a novel I loved as a child. Heidi is this adorable, bubbly little girl who goes to live with her Grandpa in his house in the Alps. Such a feel-good story. And there was a fabulous animated series on Cartoon Network on Heidi. Very well-made, with the most beautiful music. I still hum with pleasure the title song, after all these years. [I just did a search on youtube, and to my utter delight, I found the opening music, and the very lively and lovely closing music - my personal favourite - too. I am listening to it over and over again and feeling young and restless again! :)]

Ah! That was one of the most enjoyable tags ever. I'm sure some of you would enjoy doing it, or rather, I would like to read your choices. Ano, Devaki, Anil, Anu, Chitra, Poppins, my2cents, Usha, would you like to try?

And any other book-crazy person out there, please pick up this tag! I assure you, it's a lot of fun.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Graduation

This is a much-awaited day. A day that my sis Peevee has been waiting for, for quite a while now. I am sure, on some days, buried under mountains of work, she must have wondered whether the sun would ever rise on this day.

But the special day is finally here. She is graduating from Stanford today. [Btw, Oprah Winfrey is the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony.]

I wish I could have been there with her to share her joy, but I am glad that at least my parents have been able to go there to attend the ceremony.

Here's to my little sis, and her friends! :D

Friday, June 13, 2008

Where to find good outfits for kids!

Look what comes from pouring your heart out to dear friends - Solutions!

In response to my tale of woe in my last post, many suggestions poured in. Wunderyearz mentioned Dolphin's in Malleshwaram. Just as I was planning my next trip to Malleshwaram, Collection of Stars wrote to say that there is a Dolphin's in Jayanagar 4th Block. I immediately did an online search, got the phone number of the Jayanagar outlet, called them, found out the location, and landed up at the place yesterday. [It is on 11th main, 4th block Jayanagar, in the basement of Pizza Corner].

It is a small place. Not too many clothes, and they are all displayed on the rack. Not like in other places where you ask the salesperson to show this and that, and then you find that you don't like anything and then you feel bad for having asked her to show you so many outfits.

Oh yes, and the clothes are good! Bright, and smart designs, and easy on the pocket. I liked most of them. We bought a nice sunny yellow dress for Puttachi.

Collection of Stars also mentioned "Desi". I haven't been to Desi after Puttachi was born, but I have visited a similar store (sister concern??), "Parampara" in Mysore. I got a very pretty copper sulphate blue frock from there for just Rs.65. It is very pretty. The only problem is, of course, that it runs colour and it needs to be handwashed. [I also got a very beautiful skirt for myself at Parampara, but I am digressing].

Kanti Joshi mentioned "Solo" and "Crystal" on DVG Road.

Solo puts up a sale regularly at the hall next to Aavani Shankar Mutt in Basaveshwaranagar. I have gone there twice since Puttachi was born, and we found that some of the designs were very good. And most of them were at unbelievably reasonable prices. I was just thinking that I should try and catch up with the next Solo sale, and so I am glad that Kanti Joshi told me about the Solo outlet.

Sumi Akka presented Puttachi with one of her first frocks - a very pretty one, and said that it was from Crystal, Mahakavi Kuvempu Road (The road connecting Navrang and Malleshwaram Circle), but I never got around to checking out the place. I am guessing the Crystal on DVG Road that Kanti mentioned is a branch.

Any other good children's clothing stores that you know of? (In Bangalore) Please leave the info in the comments section! Thank you all, and once again, hurrah for blogging!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Frocks - A tale of woe

When I was expecting, I didn't really care whether the baby turned out to be a boy or a girl. But whenever I saw pretty little frocks on displays in shops, I would wish that it was a girl, so that I could dress her up in those cute frocks.

Little did I realize that those very frocks would turn out to be such a pain in the wrong place.

Sometime ago, I had expressed surprise that one tiny frock costed 500 rupees, and someone had commented with a "This is just the beginning/ you haven't seen anything yet". I know now. I can't believe how terribly expensive baby clothes are. And their quality? Don't get me started on them.

No, wait. There are pretty frocks available at pretty reasonable prices, if you take the trouble of looking. Most of these frocks are based in white, with pastel prints, and a couple of ribbons and buttons and laces here and there. Some can be incredibly cute, and invariably, I tend to buy them. Left to myself, I can be very content dressing Puttachi in these beautiful light-coloured, white/pastel/light floral dresses.

But my mom-in-law craves to see her beloved grand-daughter in bright clothes. "Take advantage of her beautiful complexion - bright colours will suit her", she says. I know exactly what she means, and I would gladly dress her in bright colours, if I could.

For here is where the problem lies. Look for dark and bright frocks, and all you get are utterly atrocious pieces of cloth that make you wonder whether the designers were stoned. Colours that corrode your retina, prints that make your head go round and round. And designs that make you wonder where the neck is and the sleeve is, and what is this hole for.

Psychedelic prints. Solar systems. Grotesque teddy bears and bunnies. Animal prints. Sequins and beads all over. Sparkly writing, with some kind of shiny powder all over. Glittering paint. Gaudy coloured lace. Brass-coloured buttons of various shapes sewed on in the strangest places. A huge belt with a huger buckle in some weird place. And all in horrible, sweaty, prickly synthetics. I can't bear to inflict the synthetic-torture on Puttachi's tender skin.

The other day I saw a frock that looked like a fish's scales, and I could swear it had fins too. Another frock looked like a cross between the skin of a panther and a panda. And it had a few porcupine quills too.

Really, how difficult is it to take a nice, soft, piece of cloth and sew it in a simple design, add a couple of pretty buttons and motifs and attach a lace?

Actually, there are such frocks, yes. I saw a stunner of a frock in Weekender Kids and a heartstopping one in Lilliput last evening. I snatched them from the rack and my brain took a trip imagining how cute Puttachi will look in those frocks. Then I glanced at the price tags. 600 and 750. Can you believe that? Gaaaaah! I dropped them like hot bricks and hurried out.

S~ baulks at 600 and 750 too, but he is more liberal than I am when it concerns frocks that cost about 400 or so. Come on, he says, it is not everyday that we buy good frocks for her, and this is such a pretty frock, let's go ahead buy it. But I just cannot bring myself to do it. For one, Puttach will outgrow it in two months, and two - and this is the core problem - I know just how easy it is to stitch those frocks. I grew up only in home-stitched frocks. My mom and grandmom and aunts pored over Sears catalogues, selected good patterns, and churned out the most beautiful clothes for us. I know that this frock worth 500 can be stitched with ease by any of them. And that is why I cannot bear to pay so much for it. I know, a screw loose in my head, but that is hardly news.

S~ also says, come on, let's try one of those crazy hallucinatory prints sometime, I am sure Puttachi will look good. Oh yes, I say, I am sure Puttachi will look good. Like all mothers, I think my baby looks great whatever she wears (and doesn't wear). But really, even little girls are entitled to a bit of elegance. Little girls should look like little girls, and not like item girls.

Sigh. What do I do? Oh, I know, I know, mom, the solution is in my hands - pick up a good piece of cloth and stitch a frock myself. But it is one of those things that I "could" do, but don't do.

All I have to do is bide my time and look for a pretty, dark coloured, bright dress, which is not too heavy on the pocket, and meanwhile, I have to exercise utmost strength not to buy any more pretty light coloured clothes.

Now, if only it was that easy.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A very verb-y tag.

Thank you Usha, for this tag. I enjoyed doing it. And I have to apologize that I retained a couple of your answers, because I couldn't see any other answer that fitted as perfectly.

I am: older than I was yesterday.
I think: too much.
I know: I am being unreasonable at times.
I want: to see the world.
I have: a loving family and great friends.
I wish: I had a magic wand that I could wave and make everything alright in the world.
I hate: to behave in unnatural (to me) ways to please people.
I miss: climbing trees and cycling in the rain.
I fear: being a burden.
I feel: happy and sad and miserable and euphoric.. all in one day.
I hear: thunder.
I smell: petrichor
I crave: for pakodas and tea and good company.
I search: for my real self.
I wonder: why people are the way they are.
I regret: not having taken care of my teeth better. (I'm undergoing a horrible root canal treatment, that is why this enlightenment).
I love: life.
I ache: when I see injustice.
I care: about people.
I am not: male.
I believe: people blindly most of the time.
I dance: with Puttachi.
I sing: in tune.
I cry : easily.
I don’t always : try hard enough.
I fight : when reasoning and discussions don't work.
I write: to lighten my heart.
I win: friends and influence people (How I wish!)
I lose: gracefully (I think).
I never: say never again. (This is not the entire truth, but I couldn't think of anything that I "never" do).
I always: try to be on time.
I confuse: myself with all the thoughts in my head.
I listen: sincerely when people are pouring their heart out to me.
I can usually be found: tearing my hair out, and running after Puttachi.
I am scared: of losing my loved ones.
I need: love and understanding.
I am happy about: how this tag has turned out.

I don't usually tag people, but how about I tag some new friends and readers this time... Sumana, Lively, Swati, ~nm, Dhanya... , and of course, an old friend, Shyam who likes tags :). Anybody else? Please feel free to pick up this tag!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rohinton Mistry's books - impressions.

I read two books by Rohinton Mistry - Family Matters, and A Fine Balance.

Mistry is an accomplished storyteller. In both the books, each sentence is lovingly composed, perfectly worded, and it tells you the story on your face. No innuendos, nothing incomplete. It just gives you the facts.

The characters in his books are very real - very grey characters. The situation affects their behaviour, and it is not always right, but it is very real. The words and the language and the expressions they use is also very close home - it is language that you and I would use talking to each other.

He also has a great eye for detail. Each book is like watching a movie - all the details are very clear, all right in front of you!

There are a couple of unique aspects in Mistry's writing.

One is that he uses words that are so simple, so beautiful, and yet, strangely, in all the reading I have done, I hadn't encountered any of them. A simple example is the word "Laity" for "lay people". It is such a simple word, but how come I hadn't come across it anytime? The book is scattered with words like these!

Another aspect is that his characters have the habit of seeming like people you really know. A couple of days ago, after reading a particularly heartbreaking sequence in the book, I almost said to S~, "You know, poor thing, such and such a thing happened to such and such a person." I stopped, and I laughed at myself - what was I thinking? But if I closed my eyes, I could swear that I knew this person in the book. It is an eerie feeling.

This could be the reason why I actually broke down crying, with real tears running down my cheeks, while reading some passages in both the books. Or it could just be that Mistry's storytelling is so powerful. Whatever the reason, I have very rarely experienced this. I have laughed, felt unhappy, yes, but actually bursting into tears reading a book? Very, very rare.

And what are the books about? Family Matters is about an old Parsi gentleman Nariman Vakeel, who lives with his unmarried step children. When he breaks his ankle, and his condition is aggravated by an onset of Parkinson's, his stepchildren conspire to send him away to stay with his daughter Roxana and her family. The effect of this is tremendous on Roxana's loving, close-knit family. What happens after that is beautifully narrated. The change in Roxana's husband Yezad, from loving to annoyed to angry, to accepting, to Nariman's helplessness, to how her children suddenly grow up - lovingly put together by Mistry. Compelling.

A Fine Balance is about - well, it is about India. About four characters who, in a way embody what life is all about - a struggle for existence. Dina Shroff is a lady striving to preserve her dignity and independence after the death of her husband. Maneck Kohlah is a boy from the mountains who comes to Bombay to study, but traumatized by the ragging in his hostel, comes to stay with Dina as a paying guest. Ishvar and Omprakash Darji are an uncle-nephew duo, who come to Bombay looking for work, fleeing from the caste-based atrocities in their village. How these four characters get together, and their stories, and the sub-stories, all set in the time of the Emergency - is one amazing read.

Devaki recommended it to me when I wrote about perspectives. She is right. The book is all about perspectives. For example, Mistry tells you how annoying Dina's brother Nusswan gets, and you start getting angry, and all of a sudden, he switches and continues the story from Nusswan's point of view. Bam! You realize what has been troubling Nusswan and start empathizing with him. The book is full of such instances. It takes a rare talent to see both sides of a situation, and Mistry has used it very well to weave this story. Look at Devaki's review for more.

The only grouse I have against both the novels is the undercurrent of suffering, and unhappiness and disquiet. Yes, I know, life is not all roses, but sometimes you just want a happy ending :D But to give credit to Mistry, there is never an actual tone of sorrow - there is always subtle humour, light banter... - you know what, just stop reading this, and go read his books instead. Really.
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