Thursday, August 30, 2012

Excess baggage

One of my PG-mates in Mumbai came to the city with three suitcases.  She got the last available accommodation in our PG place, but that room didn't come with much storage space.  So, she transfered her essential items into one of her suitcases, and left the other two in her father's friends house, to collect "when she got more space."  She stayed in the city for 1.5 years, and managed very well with the things she had in her one suitcase.  She did occasionally mention something or the other that was in one of "those suitcases" but it was clear she did not need them.  When she left Mumbai, I went with her to drop her at the railway station.  We took a taxi, went to the friend's house, picked up "those suitcases" and went to the station.  So in the end, those two suitcases with their contents just ended up having a ride to and from Mumbai, and a good hibernation in someone's loft.

Ok, what I am getting at is this - my friend could make do with the essential things in that one suitcase for 18 months.  Yet, she dragged two times more baggage with her when she came.

I have been remembering this ever since our move.  Comparatively, we don't have too much stuff in our house.  Both S and I are very careful to buy just what we need and nothing more.  In fact, the bulk of the stuff is Puttachi's, since I don't know where to draw the line, sometimes.  Yet, her things are much less compared to what I see in other kids' houses.

When we moved here, two of my friends laughed when they saw so many full-length built in cupboards in our new house.  "All the clothes of all three of you will fit into just one of these cupboards," they said.  "What do you need the others for?"

And yet, in spite of having such less stuff, I realize how many things we have that we can make do without.

The weekend before the move, I packed and sent across all the non-essential things, and managed for more than a week without them, and didn't miss them either.  And then when we moved, we took the essentials with us.  And naturally, when we started to set up house, we  unpacked the essentials first, and due to various reasons (not the least of which is lack of motivation and laziness) I am yet to unpack the non-essentials.

Yes, I do remember something from those things, sometimes - saying, oh I wish I had this handy, but the point is, I can make do without them.

How much we accumulate, without even realizing it, when in reality, all we need are just a few things!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In defence: Television

How come Puttachi doesn't watch television?

It is because it is not a way of life in our house.  It is just another appliance that we use once in a while.  When I am bored, I never switch on the television for entertainment.  Most of our television watching is selected, and done after Puttachi goes to bed.  So she doesn't see the television on too often (never on weekdays) and so for her, it is not an option for entertainment.  Doesn't even figure in her list of things to do.

But you let her watch movies and videos and animated songs.  How is that alright?

The two main things I have against television are:
I have no control over the programmes that are aired.
I have no wish to expose her to advertisements right now.  There is enough time for that later! 

Movies and videos - I have control. I know what she is watching. 

As for movies, I always, always watch it with her the first time, guide her through confusing/emotional scenes - make her understand what is happening.  Subsequent viewings - I don't mind if she watches it alone.

But once again, I have rules -

- never on weekdays (barring exceptional circumstances)
- on weekends, no more than an hour or hour and a half per day.  And not on every weekend either.
- and as far as I can help it, no eating anything while watching the screen.

What do you have against watching anything?  TV, movies?

Television is addictive.  It can become a habit.  And I know that when Puttachi is watching a movie, she is immune to everything - sleep, hunger, thirst, even the calls of nature.  If I hit the pause button for some reason, she comes out of the trance, realizes she needs to go the loo, and runs.  What kind of a medium is this that can hypnotize an active child in that way? 

And every hour spent watching the screen means an hour less of imaginative, creative play, physical activity, socialization, reading, crafting...

You're keeping her away from reality.

If all that sexism, racism, stereotypes, violence and sex that we see even on kids' television is reality, then she is better off being away from it as long as I can help it.

She's going to feel isolated from her friends.
She might.  When her friends were talking about "This was on Nick," I overheard her asking, "Who is Nick?"  And her friends said, "Whaaaat, you don't know Nick?"  

So far, she has got on quite well without having any problems.  It might change very soon, but I'll handle that when we get to it. 

She's going to rebel later on and watch a lot of television.

Not if she's hooked on to other more interesting things, in my opinion.

What do you think about parents who let their children watch television?

To each their own - the situation in every home is different, and I, sitting here, cannot possibly pass judgement on anybody without knowing why people choose what they do.  I know how tempting it can be - to plonk the child in front of the tv, and get all your work done, get some much needed alone time.....

But I do think that the harmful effects of extensive TV-watching far outweigh the advantages that the caregivers get from letting the child watch too much TV - so, yes, do take informed decisions, and of course, limits and rules definitely help.

Too much and too less.

The days in my life are largely uneventful - every day is usually pretty similar to the previous one.  Every once in a while, something happens that keeps me abuzz for a while, and then life takes on its regular pace.  I am not complaining I actually enjoy it, as long as it doesn't get monotonous.

So imagine how it is for me the last few weeks.  The major event, of course, being the Big Move to the new home, and all the attendant issues - which by itself is enough to overwhelm me.

Add to that, my parents' departure to the US to visit my sister, the arrival of my aunt and my friend to India on a holiday - both of whom I keep constant touch with and so wanted to spend as much physical time as possible with.  

Add to that the arrival of a little being - my brother-in-law and his wife had a baby girl.  Puttachi's first little sister :) , and my first niece - so that's not an everyday occurence.

And then the book release, and all the hullabaloo surrounding it.

And with all this, a Humungous Cold - that happens to me only once in about 2-3 years - but really grips me and shakes me up, and nearly puts me out of commission for its duration.

And these were the big events - I'm not talking about many many little get-togethers and parties and chores and ... well... what do I say?

3 weeks of all this, and 49 weeks of quiet.  I seriously would prefer it a little spaced out, please.  Familiar?

Book available now

The book is now available on Flipkart and at Reliance TimeOut outlets.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview on Chillibreeze

My interview on Chillibreeze

Comments and questions welcome.

It is "outed" not "ousted" at one point in the interview.  I have asked for it to be corrected.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I don't usually mark milestones on my blog, but this calls for a celebration.  500 posts.  Coming to think of it, it is not such a big number at all for all that I have said over more nearly seven years. 

But what a journey!  How I agonized before publishing my first post!  I was so shy about showing my writing to the world.  I rightly guessed that blogging would cure me of that hesitation, and now here I am, 500 posts later, with a few writing successes to my credit.

In these 500 posts you can see my journey from a clueless and irresponsible new bride, to the mother of a five-year old, someone who doles out hot (albeit shapeless) phulkas as effortlessly as she doles out unsolicited parenting advice (heh.)

You can see me transition from someone who wrote to escape the boredom of a job I wasn't interested in - to someone who writes for the love of writing.

A large part of what blogging did was to open me up to an entirely new world out there - to people who have affected my life profoundly in ways I would never have imagined.  There are people who wouldn't ever have come into my life if not for blogging.  Windows have opened that led to doors, and more doors, and with that came more people - and the learning, the discovery, the joys - phew!

I'll stop the gushing - I'm sure you get the picture.

Some of you have been with me all through that time. Some have joined me later, a few have held my hand in the beginning, but you've moved on since.  Some have been silent, some of you have constantly spoken to me. But each one of you has contributed to me and my writing in some way or the other, so thank you all for being there.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Book is here!

Edited to add: Report in The Hindu
And so the book has been launched, and it is really nice to hold a book with my name on the front cover. :).

That's me on the extreme right, with (L-R)  Jahnavi Barua, Teresa Bhattacharya, Usha KR, who released the book.

Another picture, with Rachna Chhabria.  Both our stories make up this book.

 The front cover of the book

The back: 

It says about my story:   
This delightful story tells you how little Meenu sets out on a mission to save this arid world by bringing back stories that fill our lives with colour and delight.  Shruthi Rao succeeds in exploring the profound world of creativity and imagination using terms that even a child can understand.

Soon, I will update the blog with details on how and where you can buy a copy of the book.

Edited to Add:   The book is now Available on Flipkart and in Reliance TimeOut outlets

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Story Lady - Book Release

The book with my prize-winning story, "The Story Lady" will be released on Friday, Aug 10.  Here is the invitation.  If you can, please be there!

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