Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pooh and Pooh's Amma

Last night, Puttachi was terribly hyper, and though it was past her bedtime, and her eyes had become tiny, she was showing no inclination to go to bed. She was bouncing in her crib, and I told her stories, sang songs to soothe her, but nothing worked. I had reached the end of my patience.

Me: Puttachi, I've had enough. Now, just lie down still, close your eyes and go to sleep.

Puttachi: Tell me a story.

Me: No more stories. Time to sleep.

Puttachi: I'll tell you a story.

Me: (Resignedly) Ok, go ahead.

Puttachi: Once upon a time, there lived one Pooh. There also lived Pooh's Amma. You are my Amma, aren't you?

Me: Yes, Puttachi, I am.

Puttachi: Just like that, Pooh also had an Amma.

Me: Oh, really.

Puttachi: Then one day, Pooh told Pooh's Amma..... do you know what Pooh told Pooh's Amma?

Me: No, what did Pooh say?

Puttachi: Pooh told Pooh's Amma, "Amma, I am not feeling sleepy."

Then, she looked at me through the corner of her eye, burst out laughing, and continued her bouncing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Some like it hot

The weather, that is. They cannot stand the cold, and long for the heat of summer. But I am totally a winter person. I would any day don warm clothes and curl up under a blanket with a hot beverage, than bear the heat of summer.

Heat drains me, tires me out. If I don't remember to keep myself constantly hydrated, I turn into this moping, grouchy, whiny, tired, irritable person, someone you would do best to steer clear of.

Bangalore summer has never been too bad, but it is progressively getting worse. Yet, I should be thankful I live in a city with a fairly good thermostat.

As if to teach me a lesson for complaining, fate sent me to do my post-grad in Trichy, a hot, dry place in Tamilnadu. The town is known for three kinds of weather - hot, hotter and hottest. I don't know how I survived 18 months in that place, but I came back with a healthier respect for Bangalore.

When I first entered the hostel, I was surprised to see that most of the local girls slept directly on the metal cots, without mattresses. Come summer, I understood the logic. The mattress was an encumbrance. It radiated heat. I rolled up my mattress, set it aside and lay down on the welcoming cool of the steel cot. It was alright for a while, until the cot took on the temperature of my body. Add to that the discomfort of sleeping on a hard surface, and I decided that I would rather sleep on the mattress. I then took to pouring a bottle of water over my mattress before I went to bed, just for the few hours of coolness. By midnight, the mattress would be dry, and it would be hell again. There was a fan, of course, but somehow, it was just not enough. Thankfully, there weren't many power cuts there. There was only one terrible night, where there was no power for a few hours. It was the peak of summer, and I stayed up all night fanning myself with the moistened lavancha (khus/vettiver) hand-fan. Yet, by morning, I was drenched in sweat.

The sun in Trichy is treacherous. Even when it doesn't look all that sunny, all you have to do is venture out to feel the sun burn your skin. It almost feels like needles pricking you. I travelled around the campus in a bicycle, mainly to make sure that I get from one place to another as quickly as possible. It didn't help that it was a terribly conservative place, where I couldn't wear even a sleeveless top without a thousand tongues wagging. So there I was, overdressed, panting, pedalling with all my might, straining to get to my destination before I turned into a dry leaf.

In spite of all my avoiding being out in the sun, our department (of Energy Engineering), had very thoughtfully arranged the Solar Energy Experiments in the Summer Semester. And the time? Just after lunch. So there we were, out in the sun in 42 dec C (I measured that in the thermometer we used for our experiments), and working out things like which inclination works best for solar water heaters and which for solar photovoltaics. It was so hot that you could fry pakodas on our heads. Not that you would want to, though, in that heat. And the strange thing is that I never sweated. Probably it was so hot that the sweat evaporated as soon as it was ejected from the pores of my body

When I got back to my room after that, I would go to the bathroom and pour a bucketful of cold water over myself. None of that water reached the floor of the bathroom. My parched body absorbed it all.

Then there was this time when my friend R and I had been out to the city. We hadn't carried water with us, and we were very thirsty. The city bus dropped us at the main gate of the campus, from where we had to walk nearly a kilometer to reach our hostel. We were so thirsty that our throats were burning and dry; we could't even talk. Just as we got down from the bus, the sky opened up a wee bit, and let loose a few drops of water. But we had no reason to rejoice. The moment the drops of water touched the burning, black, tarred road, the water just turned into steam and rose up. So there we were, walking in a veritable sauna. If the hostel had been even a wee bit farther than it was, we would have had to crawl up to the hostel, with our tongues hanging out. I realized then that those actors who portray thirsty people in the movies weren't really overacting.

The water that finally slaked our thirst felt like it came straight from heaven.

Now just writing all this has burned me up. Time for a drink of water.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Doing nothing and everything

I am at my mom's place. I came here for a 4-day visit, but due to various reasons, I have had to extend my stay. It has been more than a week now.

Since Puttachi has totally hooked on to my parents, I am left with a lot of free time. So I have had the opportunity to do a lot of things that I hadn't done in a long time, so long that I had forgotten how beautiful it is to do them.

- Reading a book for long stretches without a break.
- Drinking tea in peace before it gets cold, and eating junk along with it.
- Just sitting and looking at the ceiling and contemplating life.
- Trying out something totally new - I have been meaning to start solving Cryptic crosswords for years now - I have finally got round to doing it. You can see me sitting around with stacks of old papers, pencil in hand, and scribbling away furiously. I can see why it is so addictive.
- Just picking up a random photo album from the shelf, going through old photographs, laughing and reliving sweet memories.
- Sleeping when I actually feel sleepy.

I could go on.... Ahh.. The small pleasures of life.....

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Puttachi Speak

I can't remember the last time I gave you Puttachi updates. The only update these days is how MUCH she talks. And understands, and communicates.

Here are a few snippets of conversation.

NOTE: Our entire conversation is in Kannada. If I try to write everything as she speaks, I will have to translate her words first into intelligible Kannada, and then into English for non-Kannada readers. So I am directly giving you the English version, with some exceptions.


Out of the blue, Puttachi walks up to the shoe stand with purpose, takes her sandals and walks up to the door, her stuffed chimpanzee tucked under one arm. She starts putting on her sandals (Btw, she can put on her sandals herself now.)

Me: Puttachi, what's the matter? Where are you going?
She: (looking at me with all earnestness and concern) Chimpanzee has got hurt. I am taking it to the doctor.

I wonder what she would have done had I opened the door and let her go!


She: Amma, come, dance with me!
Me: I can't dance today, Puttachi, I have a tummy ache. You dance alone.
She: (immediately stops dancing, comes to me, sits cross-legged, pulls my head on to her tiny lap, pats my head.) Poor Amma is hurt.. go to sleep now. (And she "sings" a lullaby)


Sound of an aeroplane is heard. Puttachi strains to see it in the sky, but cannot spot it.
She: Aeroplane modad hinde bachitkondbittide. [Aeroplane is hiding behind the clouds.]


Her first story:

Me: Puttachi, tell me a story.
She: Once upon a time there lived a baby. Baby said "Aaaaa!".... Then... Baby went round and round. Then baby went zoommmmmm. Then..... baby went to bed.


Me: ... And this is a rhino's horn.
She: Peem peem?


She does something cute, and overcome with love, I squeeze her tight and give her hard kisses on her cheeks.

She: (Frowning and pulling away.) Don't do that! It hurts! (Wags her index finger at me.) Now come on, stroke my cheek and say sorry!


S~: (Trying to entertain her with one of her favourite songs).
She: (Frowns) You don't sing! Let Amma sing.


Me: Puttachi, don't come close to me. I have a needle in my hand. It might prick you.
She: Like a porcupine?


She: (Drinking milk, points to the froth). What is this?
Me: Froth. There is air inside those little bubbles.
She: Like the air that comes from the fan?


She: (Says something unintelligible) Baathish.
Me: What did you say?
She: Baathish.
Me: Say it again, what is it? Show it to me, where is it?
She: (vehemently) Baathish
Me: (puzzled and helpless look)
She: Gottagtaillva? (Aren't you able to understand?)


She: (Eating cashews)
ME: Puttachi, give me some cashews, please?
She: (Gives me two) Eat them one by one, and chew them well, okay?


Me: (showing her a book on pandas) Look, this is a bamboo tree.. what is the Panda doing there? (I expect the reply, "Panda is climbing up the tree.")
She: Panda is climbing DOWN the tree.
Me: (We and our stunted thinking!)


S~ has gone out to buy, among other things, Rajma.
She: Where is Papa?
Me: He has gone to the shop.
She: To buy bread?
Me: No, to buy beans.
She: (thinks for a while.) Papa will bring the beans home and Amma will throw them away.
Me: What?
She repeats.
Me: Why will Amma throw them away?
She: Amma will throw the beans away. Like this. (And makes a throwing action).
Now I wondered why on earth she thinks that I will throw away the beans... I wondered.. until it hit me. Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack brings home beans and his "amma" throws them away... So here, S~ brings home beans, and "amma" will throw them away!


She: (sees the picture of a waterfall in a book) What is this?
Me: You tell me what it is?
She: "Down".
Me: ??
She: Down. And she makes a falling action with her hands.
Then I get it. "We all fall down" at the end of "Ring-a-ring-a-roses.". Water fall. Fall down. And so Down. Get it?


She: (Confiscating a ball lying in the park.)
Me: Puttachi, the ball belongs to that little boy, give it back to him.
She: Who?
Me: That little boy in the red shirt.
She: A red shirt, like the red shirt that Pooh wears?


I am in my mom's place, and I take her to the bathroom to give her a bath. She has just started recognizing and naming colours, and so she is thrilled to see that the bathroom is entirely in blue.

She: (points to the washstand) "Boo!" (To the commode) "Boo!" (The floor tiles) "Boo!" (To the wall tiles) "Boo!" (To the bucket) "Boo!"
(Then she points to the pink mug, and stops short. She picks it up in her hand with a frown of puzzlement.) "Amma, the mug is pink. Why?"


Yet, yet - her speech remains terribly unclear. Extreme baby-talk. I am kind of thankful for that. With all this talking, if her speech was also clear, my baby would not be a baby any longer! :)
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