Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be back

Hi! I am still here. I had a post that I wanted to put up last week, but just then I heard about Mumbai, and I couldn't bear to talk about normal, everyday happenings, when such terrible things were going on there. But I couldn't even talk about Mumbai, as I couldn't find the right words. I still can't find them.

On the personal front, there is a whole lot of activity going on. My sis Peevee is getting married this week. So I will see you on the other side of this week. Until then, ta.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eighteen months.....

... And Puttachi technically leaves babyhood behind.

There is only one major update to give you all for this month. She is a chatterbox. She talks non-stop all the time - except when she is sleeping (Thank heavens for small mercies).

Put on a piece of music, and she has to dance compulsively, and she has to make everybody around dance too. Once she gets into the mood, she sits on the floor, puts taala and sings sa-ri-ga-ma (her version of it) and doesn't allow anybody else to sit in peace either. All of us have to beat the taala out (not on our laps, no, but on our other palm - just like she has seen my mom do to teach her students), and sing with her, as long as the mood grips her. If she finds something interesting in a book, she has to make sure that everybody has seen it at least fifty times.

She doesn't let S~ and I get a word across to each other. She has to be the one to talk, we are the listeners, and nothing more. We have often asked her to please keep quiet and sit in one place, reminding me of that definition of parents - "Parents are those people that teach their child to walk and to talk and then ask them to sit down and shut up." There isn't anything truer.

She speaks in complete sentences. Her first complete sentence was "Puttachi Dothe betha" (Puttachi wants dosa - of course, she said her version of her real name, not Puttachi). And after that, she has been speaking quite easily in full sentences.

She explains things when we don't understand what she is saying, by using actions and other related words. I can't stop saying this - everyday is a surprise.

A couple of days ago, S~ put three blocks in front of her and asked her, "Count them - how many blocks are there?" She pointed to each and said, "One-thoo-thee". Shocked, I took away one block, and asked her to count how many were there now. "One-thoo", she said, confidently. We are still regaining consciousness. And conducting more experiments to ascertain that it was not a fluke.

She loves the alphabets - whenever she finds big letters anywhere, she insists that I read them out to her. I have no idea what she understands, though. S~ got her a lovely singing and speaking alphabet-fridge magnet set, which she loves.

Each time I start a Puttachi update, it runs into pages, so I am really holding myself back now.

Oh and yes, one update of my own - we moved into a beautiful new place - a very good location too. Since I don't know the first thing abut managing an entire home all by myself (along with a hyperactive chatterbox), I am still running around in circles, and am not able to set aside a sizeable chunk of time for working/mailing/blogging. Yet. So if you are wondering why the silence on the blog/mail/phone, now you know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reading and books - A tag

How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I have no idea. Perhaps about three years old, or maybe four. Strangely, I remember my first English lesson in UKG - "Here is Raja. Here is Rani. Raja has a ball. Rani has a cat." Either my parents or my teachers must have taught me how to read. But the habit of reading? That's entirely different and was inculcated in me by my parents.

Did you own any books as a child? If so, what's the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?
I owned many books, so I cannot think back and pinpoint the first book I owned. Perhaps it was a cheery red big board book that had the Alphabets, Numbers and a few nursery rhymes. Or it could have been that picture book, with stories in pictures - how I loved it, and how many hours I have spent with my mom going through that book! It was one among the many Russian publication books that I had. There were many such Russian publication books back then - excellent quality at unbelievable prices.

What's the first book that you bought with your own money?
When you say "own" money, I guess it is the book I bought with a gift voucher that I received as a prize at school. It was a Gangaram's gift voucher, and we had been to their store on MG Road to pick up a book. I wanted to buy Famous Five, but those weren't books that my parents encouraged us to BUY. Borrow and read, sure, but they are not worth buying - they felt, and I always resented it. My mother had spotted the complete collection of Mark Twain, and was trying to persuade me to buy that, but I was least interested in it. Finally we reached an agreement - my parents would buy me the Famous Fives if I agreed to buy Mark Twain with the gift voucher. I didn't touch the Mark Twain for more than two years after that, after which my curiosity got the better of me, and I tried it out, and devoured everything at once. I love it. Even now, all these years later, I have no idea where those two Famous Fives have gone, but the Mark Twain is a treasured book! [Hmph! Parents are almost always right, aren't they?]

If I consider the first book I bought with my own salary, then it must be a book I bought at Mumbai, because that is where I started working. But I didn't need to buy books there because I was a member of a circulating library close to where I lived. So did I buy anything at all? I guess I did buy Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code - so that must be it.

Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?
I was a crazed re-reader. I would have entire books by heart. I don't remember any single book that I re-read most often - I re-read all the books I read. I don't re-read much now. I am painfully aware of the fact that there are too many books to read and too few years to do that in.. (and more books are always being written!) .. so I re-read very rarely. [Doesn't this paragraph read like a tongue-twister?]

What's the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
What is an adult book, really? I read loads of classics that definitely were not classified as "children's books". But I guess I know what you mean, so I think the first adult book that I read was, coincidentally, the same as Shyam, from whose blog I picked this tag. The Final Diagnosis by Arthur Hailey. I don't know, I must have been around 16 at that time. I was fascinated. It introduced to me an entirely different world. Once the bug of this genre bit me, I was totally taken. I have never stopped since!

Are there children's books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
I guess that should be To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kids' Food Recipes!

Here are a few recipes suitable for children - healthy and tasty, that work or have worked with Puttachi.

Oatmeal: Takes just two minutes to make - and you have a healthy, wholesome, tasty meal!
What you need:
A handful of Quaker oats
Milk
Sugar/honey/jaggery

How I make it:
1) Put the oats into a microwaveable bowl
2) Pour enough milk on it to just cover the oats.
3) Microwave for 2 minutes.
4) Take out the bowl, add milk to dilute the oatmeal, which would have become very thick. Adding cold milk brings down the temperature, ensuring that you can feed it to your child immediately.
5) Add sugar or honey or jaggery to taste.

Puttachi loves oatmeal. It tastes far better when sweetened with jaggery.

Wheat Dosa:
A handful of whole wheat flour
Milk
Salt
Optional: A tablespoon of rice flour for crispness, chilli powder, jeera, onions, other finely chopped vegetables - whatever, depending on your child's age and taste.

1) Add the flour into a bowl.
2) Add milk and stir so that no lumps are formed. Add enough milk to bring it to a dosa batter consistency.
3) Add salt to taste, and other ingredients of your choice, and mix well.
4) Spread it out like a dosa on a tava. A suggestion - make many tiny 2 inch circumference diameter dosas instead of one big one. Somehow, it tastes better!
5) Use ghee instead of oil for the dosa. Great flavour!
6) Serve as it is, or with anything - sugar, shrikhand, honey, ketchup, chutney, etc.

Btw, this is a great instant snack for adults too. Very tasty.

A kind of Soup:
1 carrot
1 tomato
1 onion
A handful of peas
7-8 string beans
A piece of beetroot/chow chow/any other vegetable lying around in your refrigerator
1 clove of garlic
1 potato OR two slices of whole wheat bread
3-4 1 inch cubes of paneer
A piece of cheese or a dollop of cheese spread
Milk
Salt to taste.

1) Cook all the vegetables together with salt.
2) Blend it all in a mixer with the paneer, bread (if you are using potato, cook it along with the other veggies) and milk.
3)Add a dollop of cheese spread or a cube of cheese, mix well and serve hot.

Puttachi just gobbles this up - it is an entire meal of its own - easy to make, great taste, healthy and filling.

Khichdi 1:
1:1 rice and split greengram (hesaru bELe). The split greengram has to be dry roasted until light brown before use.
Ghee
Jeerige (cumin seeds)
Vegetables - carrot, beans, peas, chow chow, etc., chopped
1 onion
Cloves of garlic - according to taste.
Ghee

1) Heat ghee in a small cooker, and add the jeera to it.
2) Add chopped garlic and chopped onion, fry in ghee until fragrant.
3) Add all chopped vegetables, and the 1:1 rice-dal mixture, and cook it all together until done.


Khichdi 2 (Huggi).
1:1 rice - split greengram (roasted)
Ghee
A few pepper corns (menasu)
A few cloves (lavanga)
A piece of cinnamon (dalchini)

1) Heat ghee, fry lightly pepper, cloves and cinnamon.
2) Add rice and dal and cook until done.
3) Be sure to remove the pepper, cloves and cinnamon before serving to the child.

Both the above khichdis, if cooked such that it is sticky, can be eaten by the child herself. If it is liquidy, she will need a spoon, or you might have to feed her.

Mini snacks:

Boiled potatoes mixed with cheese
Boiled peas on a plate
Pomegranate seeds

The peas and pomegranates are great for keeping the child occupied for a while :D

I will put up more kids' recipes as I discover them. I would also welcome such recipes from you! :)

All the best!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wisdom from a still-learning mom to new moms!

I haven't ever heard a mother say that her child eats her food well. Either it is because a mother is never really satisfied with how much her child eats, or it is because she is afraid to say aloud that her child eats well, for fear of a jinx.

I fretted a lot in the initial months, after Puttachi's solid feeds increased and milk feeds decreased. I always felt that she never ate enough, and I even had a post asking you all for help.

But with time came a certain amount of wisdom - that she probably just has had enough. I have never force fed her, but I used to persist. I would try to distract her, or make the food interesting by adding something she likes to it - I would try everything possible to get a couple of more spoons of food into her mouth. I now realize that it is a waste of time, energy and effort. Both Puttachi and I are happier if I just let go after a couple of tries when she has announced that she has had enough.

I also have seen that if she eats nothing at breakfast, she tends to eat a hearty lunch, or if she nibbles at her lunch, she has a huge dinner. Or if she starves today, she gorges tomorrow. So ultimately, she does make up for it. And with great difficulty, I have learnt not to worry and to trust her instincts.

There are some days of course, when she doesn't eat well for three days at a stretch, and just when I start worrying, I see a new tooth sprouting, and then realize why all the fuss - toothbirth pains!

Every child is different, and all we need to do is identify and recognize our child's special characteristics. Puttachi, for example, cannot eat too much at one go. I discovered this very early on with a hint from my doc. So I am forced to split her meals into two or three parts. For example, she eats her rice and dal and vegetables first, and then eats curds after an hour, and then a fruit half an hour after that.

How you feed the child and in what form - this also changes very frequently. I used to make a rice-dal-veg concoction for her initially, which she would eat without a fuss. Later, trying to bring her to mainstream family food, I started giving her a bit of our food, which was fine until it was new and interesting, after which she wouldn't have it any more. Then I discovered that she likes plain dal and plain vegetables and plain rice, but not all together. So I started giving her dal, with salt and ghee and some garnishing, which she would polish off. Immediately after that I put a pile of vegetables on her plate which she would eat all by herself, and I would follow it with little balls of rice, which she would eat with gusto. This worked for a long time - but seems to be undergoing some change now. Fine, I'll just watch her for a while and the think up something else. Psst... parenting fosters creativity, don't you think?

Another thing. There was a time when she would be more interesting in playing, than eating. Distracting her with stories and songs and books did not help. My aunt told me that she had no problem with her son, she would just keep a book open in front of him and he would gobble down the food. I wondered why Puttachi didn't do that. If I put a book in front of her, she would totally ditch the food and start reading the book.

But from the past ten days, this strategy is working. I put a book in her hands, and feed her - and she just eats up the whole thing. How long this will last, I don't know.

And some more tips. If the child asks to eat on her own, let her. Half of the food will fall on the floor, but if you don't mind cleaning up the mess, this is good for both you and her. Whatever you say, some food does go in. She is happy, you are happy. But of course there is a strategy there too. To ensure that some food does go into her, I tell Puttachi in the beginning that the food is veryyyy hot, and so I am huffing and puffing on it to cool it down and am feeding it to her, and that she can eat it herself when the food cools down. It works. She eats up half the food without any fuss, and just after her tummy is a little full, she wants to eat by herself. After that, I let her. She does tend to eat up the food herself. With a spoon, fingers, whatever.

Another strategy - starve them. Space out breakfast and lunch, such that your child has to come to you asking for food! She will eat better and faster too.

Puttachi hates milk. I don't understand that. [My sister and I were milk lovers - we drank milk at least four times a day - my sis, in fact, would ask my mom, "Amma, I am thirsty, give me milk." Our neighbours used to tease my mom, telling her that she needed to rear cows.] Anyway, so I try to make up by giving her other milk products, like curds, paneer and cheese, and put milk into any food that can possibly take milk!

Next post: Some recipes that have worked well for Puttachi.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Naane

Naane. I'll do it myself. This is the word that Puttachi uses most often nowadays, and this defines her at this age.

I have been trying to write updates for a long time now. The problem with that is that I write down a bit, and then come back to it two days later, and find that it holds good no longer! Everything in this stage passes so fast - what she does today, she doesn't do tomorrow!

There has been a sudden change in her. Her speech has become clearer, she tries to sing songs, her vocabulary is increasing in leaps and bounds - and she has now no longer just reacts. She acts too. She initiates conversations, expresses her opinions without being asked for them, she plays pretend-games, has become very assertive and demanding, and has started to show the beginnings of the Terrible Twos.

And she wants to do everything - Naane. Eating, drinking, wearing clothes, climbing steps, bathing, washing hands, climbing up and sliding down the slide, playing the merry-go-round, carrying things, applying oil/cream/lotion on herself, opening the pages of a book - you name it, she wants to do it herself.

She now recognizes almost all animals and a few birds, and even says their names out, not always clearly. Her retention, object recognition and association skills are improving remarkably.

She has even got tired of the much-loved play instruments in the park. She tries new things. She is bored of climbing the small slide from the regular rung ladder, so she tries to climb it from the complicated ladder without the handrails at the side, or from the incline itself. She even tried to climb the largest slide, but I stopped her just in time. She now isn't content to just play on the merry-go-round - she wants to push it! She made her friend sit on it, and she set about trying to push it! I just sat back, looking on indulgently, not expecting her to have the strength to push that huge iron thing - but to my shock, she actually did. She also wants to climb monkey ladders, and is bored of the once-loved swing. She still loves playing with sand, though. But what she plays with it has changed. She now wants to throw sand around, and see what will happen if she puts it in the hair of the child playing next to her. Phew!

One thing - she needs more children of her age to play with. More often than not, she treats other children like she does her toys. She pokes their eyes, pulls their hair - so until I find friends for her to play with regularly, I have started telling her not to mishandle her teddy bears and dolls - that they will get hurt. Hopefully it will translate to treating other children gently too.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan Schedule - 2008

Continuing with the tradition, here is this year's schedule of Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan concerts. This time, the schedule was sent to my father, on request, by AIR itself! (They seem to have finally become internet savvy :)

I do not have enough time to format this info - but here is the key:

KM - Karnatic Music
HM - Hindustani Music
The number at the end is the duration in minutes.

Happy listening!

25.10.08 (Sat) 9.30 P.M. KM Nagaswaram Chinnamanur A Vijaykartikeyan 60
25.10.08 (Sat) 10.30 P.M. KM Mridangam Solo V. Kamalakara Rao 30
26.10.08 (Sun) 10.00 A.M. HM Guitar Pt. Anup Das Gupta 60
26.10.08 (Sun) 11.00 A.M. KM Vocal Dwaram V J Lakshmi 60
27.10.08 (Mon) 10.00 P.M. HM Santoor Pt. Ulhas Bapat 60
28.10.08 (Tue) 10.00 P.M. KM Vocal Koviladi R Madhwa Prasad 60
29.10.08 (Wed) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Mashkoor Ali Khan 60
30.10.08 (Thurs) 10.00 P.M. HM Sitar Syed Ahmed Alvi 60
31.10.08 (Fri) 10.00 P.M. KM Flute A Chandan Kumar 60
1.11.08 ( Sat) 9.30 P.M. HM Vocal Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty 90
2.11.08 (Sun) 10.00 A.M. HM Sitar Sahitya Kumar Nahar 60
2.11.08 (Sun) 11.00 A.M. HM Vocal Jayasri Patnekar 60
2.11.08 (Sun) 9.30 P.M. KM Violin Duet R Ganesh & R Kumaresh 90
3.11.08 (Mon) 10.00 P.M. HM Dhrupad Dhamar Brij Bhushan Goswami 60
4.11.08 (Tue) 10.00 P.M. HM Clarionet Gopal Das 60
5.11.08 (Wed) 10.00 P.M. KM Veena R Madhuri Devi 60
6.11.08 (Thurs) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Raka Mukherjee 60
7.11.08 (Fri) 10.00 P.M. HM Sarod Pt. Sunil Mukherjee 60
8.11.08 (Sat) 9.30 P.M. KM Vocal Duet Lalita & Haripriya 90
9.11.08 (Sun) 10.00 A.M. HM Sitar Kushal Das 60
9.11.08 (Sun) 11.00 A.M. HM Vocal Ganapati Bhatt 60
9.11.08 (Sun) 9.30 P.M. HM Thumri/Dadra Vid. Savita Devi 60
9.11.08 (Sun) 10.30 P.M. HM Pakhawaj Solo Prithvi Raj Kumar 30
10.11.08 (Mon) 10.00 P.M. KM Vocal G Baby 60
11.11.08 (Tue) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Ajay Pohankar 60
12.11.08 (Wed) 10.00 P.M. HM Sarangi Liaqat Ali Khan 60
13.11.08 (Thurs) 10.00 P.M. KM Mandolin Suresh Kumar 60
14.11.08 (Fri) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Narayan Bodos 60
15.11.08 (Sat) 9.30 P.M. HM Sitar Purbayan Chattopadhyay 90
16.11.08 (Sun) 10.00 A.M. HM Flute Sunil Kant Gupta 60
16.11.08 (Sun) 11.00 A.M. HM Vocal Vid. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande 60
16.11.08 (Sun) 9.30 P.M. KM Vocal S Sowmya 60
16.11.08 (Sun) 10.30 P.M. KM Tavil Solo Tanjore T R Govindarajan 30
17.11.08 (Mon) 10.00 P.M. HM Violin Asgar Hussain 60
18.11.08 (Tue) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Manjari Alegaonkar 60
19.11.08 (Wed) 10.00 P.M. KM Vichitra Veena Vijay Venkateshwar 60
20.11.08 (Thurs) 10.00 P.M. HM Shehnai Pramod Prabhashankar Gaikwad 60
21.11.08 (Fri) 10.00 P.M. KM Vocal M Raghvendra 60
22.11.08 (Sat) 9.30 P.M. HM Sitar Vidushi Manju Mehta 90
23.11.08 (Sun) 9.30 P.M. HM Vocal Pashupatinath Mishra 60
23.11.08 (Sun) 10.30 P.M. HM Tabla Solo Ustad Zafar Mohd 30
24.11.08 (Mon) 10.00 P.M. KM Vocal Nedumkulam Vasudevan 60
25.11.08 (Tue) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Uma Garg 60
26.11.08 (Wed) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Raja Kale 60
27.11.08 (Thurs) 10.00 P.M. KM Veena M R Shashikanth 60
28.11.08 (Fri) 10.00 P.M HM Vocal Sarathi Chaterjee 60
29.11.08 (Sat) 9.30 P.M. HM Rudra Veena Ustad Asad Ali Khan 90
30.11.08 (Sun) 9.30 P.M. HM Vocal Pt. Kaivalya Kumar Gurav 90
1.12.08 (Mon) 10.00 P.M. KM Violin Duet Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi 60
2.12.08 (Tue) 10.00 P.M. HM Vocal Vid. Sumitra Guha 60
4.12.08 (Thurs) 10.00 P.M. KM Saxophone Kadiri Gopalanath 60
5.12.08 (Fri) 9.30 P.M. HM Vocal Pt. L.K. Pandit 90

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Township Tales - Rajyotsava

Somewhere, sometime, I had started off our Township Tales - and for no reason at all, it came to a standstill. I remembered our township again because of the date - Nov 1st - the highlight of the year in our township was the Rajyotsava Celebration.

The planning and organization for the Rajyotsava Celebrations, which would go on throughout the month of November, would start much earlier. The "Township committee" would draw up a careful calendar of events, and nominate a "Sports committee" and "Cultural programme Committee", and the respective heads of the committees would plunge into sincere and thorough arrangements.

Through November, there were games and competitions and other events. The sports events consisted of Carrom, Badminton, Table Tennis, Chess, Cricket, and so on, all of which we played in all possible versions - Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles, Team Events... you name it, we had it. Since the participants consisted not only of children, but also for adults, all the events were held in the evenings, and would go on until late at night.

On other days, we would all stop playing and get back home by 7 30 pm, with only occasional forays after dinner to chat up with a friend, but these were rare. But during November, all deadlines and self-imposed rules disappeared. Our parents also became very lenient during this period, allowing us to do things that wouldn't otherwise have been tolerated.

For example, I would be eating dinner with the family, when someone would shout out from the Community Center, loud enough for everybody to hear......

"Shruuuuuuuuthiiiiiiiiiiii... your carrom match starts in five minutes!"
Me: *mouth stuffed with food* Can't you postpone it by fifteen minuuuuuutess?"
"Nooooooooo, it is a doubles maaaaaaatch, your partner is free only nooooow, if you don't come right away, the other team will receive a byeeeeeeeeee!!!"

Horrors! How could I allow that? I would ditch my food and dash out in a trice. And my mom would understandingly say nothing, and keep my plate aside for me to come back and eat later. Bliss.

And there was somethng exciting about playing a night match of Badminton on the lawn. With real floodlights. We felt so important!

There were other events like Memory Test, Singing, Fancy Dress, Quiz, Antakshari, painting, and some silly games too, like putting the ball in the bucket and seeing who could light the most candles with a single burning match... we participated in everything that could be participated in.

Whether we lost or whether we won, the whole experience was so beautiful!

Along with these events, the rehearsals for the main function would be going on. Invariably, my mom would be in charge of training the group singers for the group songs, and the rehearsals would take place in our home or in the house of others who were in the group. Rehearsals were accompanied by hot tea and snacks, and a whole lot of giggling. I would also be in the group, and a couple of years, I played the keyboard accompaniment.

After all the rehearsals were concluded, the matches played, the competitions held, and the winners decided, it was time for the Grand Finale. The actual day of celebration. The Main Function. The Gathering.

This day, sometime towards the end of November - this day, I can tell you - was VERY exciting. It was usually on a Saturday, and so we would be back from school early, by which time, the arrangements would have begun. Someone would have started arranging the chairs in the lawn, and a wooden stage would be getting ready. Red screens and curtains would be lying by the side, ready to be put up. We would go home, have a quick lunch and get back to "oversee" the arrangments, and would go back home to have a nap because the programme would go on late into the night. We would be awakened from our naps by the setting up of the microphone and sound system, accompanied by feedback screeches and "Allo, allo, 1-2-3 testing.." Our excitement would reach a fever pitch.

Sharp at 4 30 pm, we would turn out in new clothes, and salivating mouths, to partake of snacks and tea, with a background of songs praising Kannada and Karnataka being blared from loudspeakers. After that, the programme would begin with a huge screech. Invariably some Sandalwood personality or an Office Biggie would have been invited, and their arrival would be marked with a lot of buzzing and whispering.

The programme would then start with an invocation, followed by speeches, and then the cultural events, in which we would also participate, presenting the songs that we had rehearsed so long for. The fancy dress and prize distribution followed - and then dinner.

And if you thought that was all, no. This was followed by late night Housie - where we delighted in losing money and cursing those who always seemed to win lots of money (But they buy ten tickets - they will anyway win!)

I don't think I have enough words to tell you how exciting these times were for us - but we would revel in the memory of it for days afterwards, reliving each moment, breaking down every event for careful contemplation and ruthless remarks.

And after all the excitement died down and the routine of school swallowed us again, we would look forward to the next Rajyotsava.
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