Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Preparing for School



When Pavan and me returned from our nature walk, we found the kids lazing in the swimming pool, in the afternoon sun, starring into thin air, thinking something so profound.  It was such a peaceful sight…

They had read their teacher’s letter’s a couple of days earlier. In anticipation to their first day at school , were they raking their brains on which is that special picture from their vacation, that would make the cut to be displayed at school? Or, was it, about that special thing that they could show to their class that would tell their classmates about themselves?  Meantime, I am going through 3 lists of school supplies to fill up. I had thought that just like I am managing the triplets at home the teachers would give me a list that I would need to fill times 3.

I have been hoping for this, for the last 2 years. But, it doesn’t happen so.  I wonder why, that in spite of the triplets being in the same grade, their list of school supplies that each of their teacher asks is so different. One of them wants a 1” binder, while the other one will ask for a 3/4” one, one of them wants a 2 pocket red folder while the other teacher will ask for another color. One of them will want 3x3 post it’s, and the other will have a request for a ruled one with different size. Why does this task have to be so complicated?  Why do I have to have a list that is 3 times long instead of buying 3 of the same things from a common third grade list?

I could extend this topic a little further. Why was it, that one of my kid had a Math Teacher come to their class to teach, while the other kid’s class teacher took the class with them?  Why is it that one of my kid is better at verbal but, her math homework is not on par with the other kid’s math homework? The kid who’s math homework is challenging enough doesn’t have the verbal part as challenging. Shouldn’t all the kids be provided with teachers who’s expertise lies in verbal as well as quantitative? 

I consider myself lucky that I’m able to look at 3 different teaching strategies from 3 teachers. I am able to compare their homework s. This helps me understand why one of my kid is excelling on one scene while the other kid doesn’t seem to.  It helps me make decisions on what I can do as a mom to get all my kids on par. Most of the times, the response I got from the school when I pointed this out was a simple sentence, this can’t be compared. Intellectually, I know that all my kids are around the same level. Then why is it that one kids gets a teacher who is better at verbal and the other one gets a teacher who math skills are better? Why does this kid have to miss out on the verbal part and vice versa? These are some of the things I will have to deal with in this year.

Coming back to the school supply list, since I don’t have a choice here, I decide that instead of cribbing about this, I will skim the stores to make sure the color coded folder demands are met. The wide ruled or other ruled composition books and subject books  and binders with different tab requirements are bought. I just wonder what is done with all these supplies through the year. For the last 2-3 years, I’ve seen these note books come back home at year end( I don’t even remember how many were bought), with just a few pages filled out. Makes me wonder, why they need all these books if all they are going to write in them is a few pages.

The next evening as I spoke to the kids asking them how they felt about going back to school in another week and a half, the kids told me they were excited and had already figured out what they were going to show to their classmates on the first day of school, just like I was able to buy all the items that was on their list of school supplies by logging onto some online store.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

End of Vacation!!!


As our vacation is coming to an end…The kids are looking forward to getting back to their school. I’m looking forward to getting back to my routine. To check on my plants and trees back home. To thank my neighbors who have been keeping an eye on them. I hope that I’ll be left with some more bloom time before the winter puts its cold feet into my yard. We are all looking forward to getting back to our busy schedules again.

These past 2 months had at times been boring, with lots of adjustments to make , but mostly, had been relaxing, enriching and lots of fun for us. The kids are happy that they made this trip to India. DSC_5336-1


My mom too, enjoyed becoming a bigger family for two months.  She loves her lone and quite time. So, considering that, it had not been easy with 4 young kids screaming around, and making fleeting and unreasonable  demands for food and taste buds that were so difficult to please. We got to do a lot of travelling in and around the city, shopping, visiting cousins and grandparents.

The kids made new friends at their dance class who were all such great kids. We are  going to miss them and the teacher. He is one talented and devoted guy. We are also going to miss the 4 year old little girl who made sure she was well appreciated for her efforts at dancing in the class. You can spot that tiny tot in front of the class below.


Richa was telling me that she doesn’t want to go back to the “red house” (that’s what she calls her home), which I’m sure she will forget, when its time to leave.

The letters from the kids teachers has arrived. The triplets are excited to meet their new teachers. They are also anxious to know who their classmates are going to be this year.  Since, all the three are in the same grade, they have a special situation where they get to know and be friends with kids from three classes of the same grade.  Since Poojha and Neha are identical twins, many times, the kids of their class take a while in recognizing between them and call them with the other’s name. In this process, becoming friends.

As we are spending the last few days of our vacation with our family here in India, I feel that my kids have been very lucky to be loved and pampered and showered with blessings from their grandparents and other elders of our family. They have been able to meet many more cousins, first second and even further off from the family tree. This year they have realized that their family is much bigger than they ever had imagined and they are thrilled.

A little incident I remembered from our vacation. The other day we went to the restaurant along with the grandparents of the kids.  As all of us were eating, the triplets were busy walking around their grandma’s chair and trying to peek around her like they are trying to find something..After a while they came to their papa and asked him in his ears..”Where did Aaji hide her teeth?”  (My MIL, a strong old woman, wears false teeth which she removes, when its time for her to eat food. The kids find this very puzzling and constantly bug her asking her why she does that).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

From R’s mouth

Mama:  “PNK, can you tell me what the time is?”
R: Its five minutes mama.
R: I want to have Maggie.
Naani: I will give you Maggie if you finish your milk.
R: Mama, look Naani(grandma)  is saying that she is not going to give me Maggie.
Earlier, when R was very scared of the ants around. We told her that the ants were Naani’s friend and they don’t harm anybody. After a while she got comfortable with them around her.           
One day, Trying to pull a magic trick on me, she pulled out a cookie from under the pillow of the sofa.
Mama:  “R if you put cookies under the pillows , the ants will come on the sofa to eat the cookies”, trying to dissuade her from doing such things.
R: “Mama, Naani’s ant friend is very good and will not eat the cook ie”.
R is hiding and I have to act like I have to spot her.  As I walk around pretending to find her, she bursts out into high pitched giggles continuing to hide. This game is so exciting for this tiny tot, that I can also hear her breaking wind while she is laughing.
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Yesterday, R was insisting on carrying a grocery bag. I told her that the bag is heavy and I am meant to carry it.  She said.
“ Papa can carry it too, He is big ..”, extending her arms high up into the air to show how big…
“He is strong” she continued.
“Mama is tiny”..
“Mama is tiny big, Like this”, showing her thumb
“Mama is strong and tiny big. She can carry it too”.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hyderabad as I saw it!

In an earlier blog on Charminar, I had recounted a story of how we were robbed on these streets by the burkha clad women, of valuables, some of which were priceless.  I had eventually overcome my fear of this place and had gone in search of a tailor who would be able to stitch Kathak costumes for my triplets. So, one fine day, it was time for me to go to this intimidating place once again. Of course, to check out the costumes the tailor must have made ready by now.

This time, I got brave and decided to take my camera along and nothing else on me. No money, No purse..just my camera which I was going to hold so tight that the strongest mugger wouldn’t be able to flick from my hands even at ……. point.  And why not click pictures on the way of people, some weirdoes, some sites (Beautiful or not..!) too.. Here I present pictures from the streets of Hyderabad which I wasn’t able to illustrate in an earlier blog.

The law abiding Indian, off to work on his bike with a helmet. Maybe the only helmet shot I took.DSC_3848


Huge uncomfortable movie hoardings for display on the streets.  Common site around Hyderabad. Are the administrators so in-sensitive? DSC_3842


I am a big fan of terracotta displays... I have quite some collection in my home. There are some very beautiful pieces here in this roadside stall. Bird baths, and rural musician sculptures, horses and elephants and bullock carts, Ganesha’s,  wind chimes and lanterns. Too good and a treat for people like me who enjoy decorating my home with such stuff.  Especially, love the new Terracotta wind chimes…

Notice the nursery behind this terracotta display. Beautiful tropical plants. DSC_3843


Multitasking!!  in the backdrop of these little terracotta wind chimes. Why Mr.Hyderabadi? Don’t you care for yourself and your family? DSC_3844


A gypsy family’s home on the road side. Making and selling bow and arrows.DSC_3849


The young corporate crowd on the crossroads of Paradise (Secunderabad). There was no pun intended. This place is really called Paradise. The Name comes from the big hotel called Paradise. It is so famous for its Chicken Biryani, called Paradise Biryani. I haven’t gotten to eat it, since I am a vegetarian.DSC_3861


A traffic police man, single handedly managing this unruly traffic.  Kudos to him! They have to stand at the spot for long hours in rain (haven’t seen them having raincoats) , and hot sun with temperatures of 100F and more. Their only weapon , their whistle, which feels faint in the deafening honks of the million vehicles around.DSC_3870


The view of the on coming traffic from inside the vehicle on tankbund road. This is one of the picturesque locations of Hyderabad, with the Hussain sagar lake to the right (when I’m going towards Nampally). DSC_3879


The statue of the Buddha on the Hussein Sagar Lake and that foggy atmosphere. This statue has been carved of a single rock. To make a long story of its installation, short. The statue had slipped and fallen into the lake. A few people died coming under it. It was removed from the lake and installed. The then chief Minister Mr NTR, a Tughlaq and a megalomaniac, in his own right, had taken up the task of beautifying this place. Thanks to his efforts the place looks nice. He got statues of the main pundits and gurus of Telugu literature and state installed on the other side of this lake. I’ve heard people say that these statues resemble him.DSC_3980


The Hyderabad boating club here too.DSC_3983


Pictures of Saina Nehwal, the Hyderabadi girl , who is currently ranked No 2, in Badminton, being flaunted at many places of Hyderabad with captions like the “Winning Stretch” and so on.  I love this, as it can inspire a lot of the young crowd around the city to achieve more. India needs such inspiring hoardings to motivate the younger generation most of who get depressed and de-motivated from the competition that is now-a-days.


Another hoarding I miss seeing is of the Indian Idol “Sreeram”. He is from Bowenpally, about a kilometer from my home here.

One evening I was at my tailors place. He has 2 daughters, elder one around 13 years of age and another younger. The elder one received a phone call from her friend. I heard her say “Come on xxxxxx, you are too much yaar, I wont come”.

Then she asked her dad, “Sreeram is passing by , can I go and see?”

Her dad said, ask your mom. She went inside and then came out and screaming…”mama , said I could go…I could go..I could go”. The sisters got dressed immediately and left.


Then we also have hoardings of beautiful women draped in gold…Jewelry advertisements.DSC_3972 


Look at the traffic around us. Helmets?!!! maybe a couple of them are wearing it.DSC_3882


The office crowd, standing outside their workplace, either to have a smoke or buy a bag?!. The temporary stand of bags on the roadside is very convenient for the guy who kept it and for the people working there, I guess, until the police comes one fine day and ask him to clear out the space.DSC_3893


Common site to see women driving around, totally wrapped in scarves and dupattas and gloves to protect their hair and face and hands from the dust. Shows the amount of pollution in the atmosphere. But, what about the helmet?DSC_3898

Men too!DSC_3889

And Pedestrians too!!DSC_3899


A roadside stall to get ones shirts and pants.DSC_3896 


Burkha clad ladies starting to appear…we are getting close to Charminar! DSC_3929

Works out well for them, protection from the dust.DSC_3922

From all these picture, one can see how much the people of Hyderabad are battling dust in the atmosphere. Such scene was unusually higher this time and will only get worse


A few pictures of the historic structure..DSC_3935 DSC_3955  DSC_3949


And A few pictures of the historic Laad Bazaar.



Sunday, August 22, 2010


For Indians like me who enjoys dressing Indian, there is not much shopping to do in the US. Maybe sometime some formal work wear, but, apart from that, I don’t have anything exciting to shop for myself in the US. So, I hold all my shopping spirit till I reach India…and then I let it free.
Every time I come to India, I wonder what the fashion trend would be..and unfailingly its new dress designs , embroidery work,  sari's, and jewelry in the market.  There is so much to choose from…I don’t even know where to begin.  This time around, the design patterns are focusing on the Anarkali, or Masakkali patterns with the use of cubic zircon on dresses. My daughter rightly calls these dresses the “hurty dress”.  A Masakkali pattern shown below.
The fabrics for dress material  range from cotton’s to Chanderi’s, raw silk to Banaras Brocades, Chiffons to pure silk brocade to pure crape, semi silk to pure silks (I don't even know most of the materials being used).The cotton prints are amazing. Very affordable airy fabrics. Needs maintenance though and most of these fabrics bleed color. So, they are not washable, dry cleaning would be the best bet.
Then there is the net fabric. So dreamy, and shows off the embroidery patterns on it clearly without any interruption from the weave of the cloth. The motifs that are sewn on each kali…can also be gotten from Charminar. There’s a store in Laad bazaar (in Charminar) called Kasat. A very good stop for buying embroidered borders, and motifs that can be used for Saris and Dresses.
My most favorite stop  for dresses and material is Taruni at Park lane, in Secunderabad.  It caters from the lowest of prices (Rs300), that most college going kids go for to the costly party wears (anywhere between Rs5000 - Rs12000+). Their readymade section has improved so much now. They have started a website this year, but the patterns on the site are not as many as available in the store.  I’ve found this store less expensive compared to the bigger names like Neeru’s, Mebaz, for the same dresses. I also love the mix and match section too.
(Pictured above, another dress from taruni. Need to make sure, we have our high heals on, when trying Anarkalis. It doesn’t flatter short as much as tall)
Then the saris, OMG, so many selections. I started of looking for saris with half net and half Banaras chiffon/silk/shimmer chiffon/tissue chiffon , then, we moved to the full net saris.  The transparency of the net fabric brings out the beauty of the embroidery work on it. One can have a jacquard or brocade weave fabric (contrasting/matching) inner skirt to go with a net sari.
Then, we saw another new trend, jute brocade sari..very nice followed by Bandani (tie and die’s) pure crapes enhanced with beautifully done Kutchi embroidered borders. The Uppada silks..such light silks. followed by the traditional Kancheevaram silks, followed by silks embellished with embroidery and Swarovski's. Apparently, it costs a little more than 1000Rs to embellish a sari with approximately 3000 Swarovski's.
Loved the Banaras brocade saris. After going through all these, I had a difficult time let going of so many selections, because, I can’t afford to buy all that!!
The guys at the store who help with your selections, will drape the sari on you, for you to check it out..The worst is when they drape it on themselves…to show you how it looks. I had to tell the guy explicitly, that if he wanted me to like a sari, to stop draping on himself. The marketing has gotten aggressive with every season. From the last few times that I’ve visited India during summer, I’ve come across the Ashadham Sale…Never heard of such sales when I lived in India. A single apparel store now  appears like a mall by itself, selling fabrics, to readymade, to saris to  1 gram jewelry, footwear, to handbags. Everything that one would need to be completely dressed.
This season, the 1 gram jewelry focuses more on big pendants with big ear rings.  I did enjoy my time shopping but, now starts another problem. The age old problem with the Tailors. The dress material is only as good as the tailor who will make it fit you. If he makes a bad cut, it doesn’t matter how beautiful a dress one selects. So…I am going around battling with my tailor everyday. They ask you to come and then make you wait, just to tell you that its going to be another hour…or the job is not done. There is no value for anybody’s time.
All of us women go through this cycle, whenever we buy a dress or a sari. The high of buying the sari/dress at the store followed by the low at the tailors. Buying the dress/sari at the store is just a fraction of the journey one will make until they get to wear it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Clicks of the week (Part 2)


There is a bird couple just outside our door and its making a nest in the mango tree. Its so amazing to watch them. The male waits nearby while the female is weaving the nest and as soon as she flies out, he joins her. In a couple of minutes, they are back together with another twig and he continues to watch on her while she weaves her nest. It reminded me of my father-in-law and mother-in-law…Even now, we family tease them calling them “love birds”. They are so devoted to each other.

This couple has made our yard so noisy  (I meant the birds ),  as they get nervous of any creature who comes close to the nest. They have become our morning alarm!!  The other day, there was a bird of a bigger size..I would have loved to take some pictures of that bird, but, I I had to shoo it away, because this couple (actually, just the male) got so anxious and were tweeting so loud. These birds are tiny but, their sound is piercing. Even as I mentioned this story to my kids, Kavya told me…

“yeah, I got up when the sound came..It was so loud”

Here is the couple..I’m no bird watcher and this is the best shot they have given me till now..Bad idea to take it from below against the sky…DSC_4810


Here are some of the birds that are troubling them…(actually, I need to put a picture of myself also…since I’m troubling them enough too). You can see how it was eyeing their nest..

As it flew away..it let out a sound..like it told me..”I’ll be back”..though it sounded like a cuckoo. Haven’t see one in this color though.DSC_4732


and these tiny ones too..what’s with the birds being tiny and their voice being so piercing…DSC_4850


Just watch the same bird pictured against the coconut branch instead of the sky…its features gets so clear. It has yellow eyes with a black eyeball. DSC_4873-1


So, by Richa’s expectations…I’ve covered her birds and I just have her Ant Friends to shoot ..(Well, if I could literally, because, they are a menace)…Anywhere one turns, we have naani’s ant friends…I’m also getting a lot of lessons on ant behavior, thanks to Richa.

“Look mama, the doctor ant is carrying the sick ant”

“Look mama, the little ant is following their didi’s (elder sisters) in a line”

and so on…

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Richa with the ant watching device..

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best clicks of this week(Part 1)

In an earlier blog, I mentioned about the ‘Kanakambaram’ flower. This is popularly found in orange color.  Now see this in a light cream color (I know it doesn’t show cream, but well,  it is)!! Haven’t see this ever until now. It is flowering in my mom’s yard…Wow!, I would have loved to have a plant for myself..She has only one plant!  DSC_4719
A tidbit I found today:
In the quest of finding naturally found phosphorous rich stuff so, I can apply it to my mom’s yard to help the plants flower more, I found that, coca cola is used for this purpose too…! Bone meal, rock phosphate, powdered coral are most commonly used.
My Friend the Butterfly visited me again!!
Do you know how to distinguish between a male and female butterfly?  From the little I read, seems like a male to me (not sure).  He was too obliging. Flew around and stopped at different locations, so I can take another shot of him. Enjoy, (s)he told me!
Don’t forget to notice this guy is camouflaging himself.  If you look at him against this copper background(which is the bark of a tree), his wings appear copper and the green is merging with the green around.

Now look at him against another background, that has black and green…it appears black and green.

In fact, the green on its feather look like the green showing from behind it…through holes…like, through a cutwork fabric. Beautiful!! Amazing natureDSC_4768
A tidbit: Richa (my 3 year old) is the one that got me to shoot these butterflies. Since I photographed the last butterfly, she has been following every insect around and makes sure they are photographed. Her ant friends are still on my list and so are the birds who are making their nest in the yard. Birds are the most difficult to photograph…especially the tiny ones…They are so flit and fast..
Favorite Gulmohar (Delonix Regia) again!!

The Plumeria alba (Temple tree, Pagoda tree)…One of my favorite tropical plant. The leaves are so geometrical and green. 
Richa is smitten by this fish. She stayed around it..all the time.
DSC_4551                DSC_4396
To be Continued……