Thursday, May 24, 2012

DIY Birthday parties

So far, all the birthday parties we have had for Puttachi have been small affairs.  So that gives me a lot of opportunity to involve Puttachi in the organization and preparation. 

Last  year, she wanted decorations, and so we got together and made some things together.  Arvind Gupta  Toys is a wonderful resource for many things, and it proved invaluable for our decorations.

We made:


Another Chandelier

Skeletal butterfly

We also slipped the return gifts into this easy-peasy newspaper bag

While making all these decorations, we got waylaid and made these two lovely toys
Jumping Frog
Flapping bird

This can engage even adults for hours.  So much fun!

This year, we made these, but forgot to hang them up, heh heh :)

For the return gifts, Puttachi spray-painted A4 sheets of paper and wrapped the gifts in them like this:

They could have been brighter, but I did not want to direct her to do this and do that, since she did it all by herself and is immensely proud of it.

This time, she also helped in making sandwiches for the party, and she was there when I shopped for the party.  She hasn't yet tired of telling her father how much fun she had and how much effort she and I put into all the shopping :)

To top it all, both this year and the last, my mother baked the birthday cake.  Last year, it was a lovely three-tier chocolate cake and this time, it was a Mickey-mouse cake.  She brought the cake to my place, and all of us frosted and decorated the cake.  Puttachi had a few cup-cakes that she could frost and decorate herself, and she loved that both times.

This year, she picked out alphabet sprinkles, and decorated the cupcakes with the names of all the friends she had invited, and gave each friend "their" cupcake.

In a five-year-old's life, that is super-exciting.  :)

Okay, I don't know how to end this post, so I'll just end it like this. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Puttachi turns five today. A big little girl by all accounts!

She jokes that now that she's no longer four, she will have to call that space between her eyebrows and her hairline "fivehead." :)

I cannot remember not having her around. For example, the other day I was remembering the time I rock-climbed at Darjeeling when I was 21, and the thought flitted past me, "where had I left Puttachi?". Like I said, can't remember life without her!

Happy birthday, my sweet Puttachi, and stay happy!

Also read:
Letter to Puttachi at one
Letter to Puttachi at two
Letter to Puttachi at four

Friday, May 18, 2012

From darkness to light

My earliest memory of eating mangoes is that of a bunch of us kids in our underwear, standing in our grandparents' backyard, eating slices of mangoes, while the juice ran down our chins and arms.

Fast forward to my teens.  I had braces on my teeth.  It wasn't, to put it mildly, easy to clean the mango fibres stuck in my braces, and so mangoes had started irritating me. Besides, there was one time when I ate a mango with the elastic bands (of the braces) on, and the off-white bands got stained yellow, and became bloated.  I was so repulsed by the sight of them that I swore off mangoes forever.

My terrible vow became a matter of great consternation for my family, especially for my mother.  She couldn't get even a piece of mango down her throat when I was around, because she felt guilty for eating such a delicious fruit "without giving it to me."  Mothers!

Fast forward to my first year of marriage.  My Father-in-law enjoyed buying the best fruits, cutting them neatly, and putting the pieces into bowls for everyone in the family.  I liked that. Who wouldn't, being handed delicious fruits - ready to eat - on a platter?

Then the mango season arrived, and my Father-in-law bought the first few mangoes home, cut them up and handed all of us bowls of mangoes.

"Ah no," I was about to say.  "I don't like mangoes."

But then something happened.  I looked at the bowl.  I looked at the mango.  I don't know what it was - was it that I was hungry?  Was it that my body was craving sugar at that time?  Was it that my subconscious finally got rid of the yuck-factor of the bloated yellow elastic bands from my memory?

I don't know.  And frankly, I don't care.  For I picked up a piece and put it into my mouth.  Squish - went the fruit.  Squirt - went the juice.  And I chewed and I closed my eyes while I went to heaven.

It was like I was tasting a mango for the first time.  I ate another piece, and then another, and before I knew it, my bowl was empty.

I sat there, with just one thought running through my head - "Excuse me, what just happened here?"

"Oh, I can see you like mangoes," said my mother-in-law, smiling.

I came out of my trance, looked at her, and took a deep breath.

"Yes," I said.  "I love mangoes."

(Written for the Tulika Summer Blogathon)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Malabar Whistling Thrush

Early in the morning in Wayanad, I heard somebody whistling.  Not a particularly merry tune or a fast tune, and not the same tune each time, but a random pattern of notes going up and down the scale - like somebody whistling while walking up and down with no specific agenda.  A happy person, I thought.  Perhaps the security guard or one of the people who work at the resort.  And why not, to live and work in a place like this....

But the song went on from 6 to 7 30 am.   It then hit me that it was a bird.  I called my avian-encyclopaedia friend  (AEF) to ask her what bird it is, but she didn't answer my call.  Must be deep in some forest herself, I thought....

I came back and tried to google, but didn't find anything.  Thankfully, AEF called soon and set my mind at rest.  The moment I said, "a bird whistling like a human", she said, "Aah, the Malabar Whistling Thrush.  Did it sound like this?" and she whistled it for me.  And yes, that was it.

I looked it up and found that the common  name for it is the Whistling Schoolboy or Idle Schoolboy - both of which are such perfect descriptions!
The song
Another sample
A longer one.

It was one of the most beautiful songs I have heard.  By itself the whistle is fascinating, but imagine sitting in that greenery and silence early in the morning, and amidst the sharper and quicker chirping of a thousand birds, somewhere in the background you hear this vague, haunting sound.........

I told you I am on the verge of bird mania.  Now all I need is a good pair of binoculars and a holiday in the jungle with AEF. :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mysore, Calicut and Wayanad

We had a lovely ten-day holiday.  A week in Mysore, with the mandatory zoo visit thrown in, but nothing else, really.   Then we went to Calicut where my aunt lives, and stayed there for  day.  We went to the beach and I was gratified to see that Puttachi loved it.  Her previous beach visit was a disaster.  She was terrified of the waves and refused to go in, so it was lovely to see her enjoy it.  The beach isn't too clean there, though.

After that we stayed at a resort in Wayanad, and didn't budge from that place for 48 hours.  There was nothing to do there, and as a result, there was so much to do!

We took walks into the forest, watched the rain for hours, listened to birds and crickets, watched giant red squirrels jump from tree to tree,  listened to the silence, bird-watched, tree-watched, and Puttachi did a mini-PhD on touch-me-nots.

We heard and observed a number of birds, most of which I had never seen before, and whose names I don't know, whose songs are haunting me, both because of their beauty and because I don't know which birds they are....and now, I am teetering on the brink of bird-mania.

Anyway, now we're back in Bangalore, back to the regular routine......

Meanwhile, somewhere on the forest floor, a leech is digesting my blood.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Big thoughts

I'm in Mysore and very much behind on my correspondence.  Will get back to my regular online activity a little later, but meanwhile, I had to record a couple of big thoughts of a little mind.

Puttachi:  I was just thinking.... if there were no humans, there would be no earth, right?

Me:  What made you think so?

Puttachi:  See, all houses and roads and buildings are built by humans, and trees are planted by humans.... so everything around us is because of humans.  So if there were no humans, then what is the use of the earth?

[Astounding, isn't it, how early we learn to think that human beings are the centre of the universe!]

Me:  Puttachi, remember I told you about animals like dinosaurs which lived much before human beings arrived?

She: Yes.

Me: So where did they live?

She:  (thinking) oh yeah... on the earth....

Me:  Yes.  We are just one of the plants and animals living on earth.  The earth belongs to everybody.

She: Oh, am I just feeling that human beings are important because we live with human beings and we see humans everywhere?

Me: Yes, perhaps.


Puttachi:  Amma, I was just thinking.....

Me: (Aren't you always? :))  Yes?

She:  Amma, the whole world is one family!

Me: What do you mean?

She:  See, now we know somebody in one house, who is related to us, and so that person is a part of our family.  But we might not know that person's mother.  But the mother is that person's family. So thinking that way, that person's mother is our family also.  Like that, if we go on thinking about everybody, then the whole world is our family.

Vasudhaiva kutumbakam, indeed!  Go, kid!

Edited to add on Feb 13, 2013 -

Puttachi seems to be bent upon making the whole world one family.  She came up with another explanation now.

She:  Amma, were you and Papa related before marriage?
Me:  No, we weren't.
She:  But you might have been related.
Me: Why do you say that?
She:  Perhaps your mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's... and so on, mother's son's son's son's son's and so on... son is Papa.  Is it not possible?
Me:  Yes, it could be.
She:  So that way, everybody might be related.
Me: Ha ha, yes.
She:  So everybody is one family.  Our teacher's don't teach us this in school.  I don't think they know all this.  Perhaps I should tell them.
Me: Ohhh-kayyyy.... :)
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