Sunday, November 27, 2011

Language art!


Language is a very complicated art form.  When used right…feels like a painting with a great composition and the correct colors, the perfect hues and the right balance of colors. The more honest, that much more earthy and natural.

It can come in such myriad forms and change peoples lives for ever. It has created so many civilizations and burnt so many too! It can be so intimidating to the weak of hearts and yet can have such a power to move the hardest or toughest of souls (a la moving mountains?!)  even if written in the simplest way.

It can be so contagious and spread like wild fire if written for the masses. It can be the most confusing and yet, its rules are so simple, that even a small child can capture ones attention with their simple and yet so captivating words of expression. 

I remember chiding Richa for eating so slow once..when she was 3 years old…She had replied

“I am eating mama…I am not swallowing”

If used right…language could convey the message without the slightest of effort. Which makes me think, if a 3 year old finds it effortless to find the right words for the right moment…why is it that I struggle to express…that I almost want to give up even before I start?!!

It’s a big mystery for me because, I never got it right!

True, sincere emotions are a big part, in my opinion, why, somebody’s language can sweep another of their feet. And of course, it needs a partner, the power to express. Just like one gets the gift of gab, some people have this innate ability to get it right and affect people’s lives in a positive way or negative! I think it has to do with ones ability to organize their thoughts well, and feel sincerely about they are writing.

I’m not one among those gifted ones.  That’s an art too! The art of being able to organize and sequentialize ones thoughts. Mine always feels like a muddle. It always reminds me this clip from Calvin and Hobbes…


Recently as I was wandering around the hallways of my kids school as I was too early to the last of my kid’s conferences, I happened to read almost all the write ups I came across along the corridors of the school. It was an upper elementary school.

It was very touching and even interesting to know these children’s thought process, some of them so profound, some so funny, some so descriptive.. Each of these cute writers had some unique punch to add in their writing. It sort of gave an insight into their personalities.

They showed real talent and were so effective. Made me envy those teachers who are exposed to all this material day in and out and are affecting their minds in this positive direction…

In particular one write up swept me of my feet. It had touched my soul…I had almost felt this I finished off with the last line of the kid’s writeup. Truly, this kid had written with his/her heart.

It was a reflective write up of their experience of tackling a tough job. They were each given a fictional job with a salary and they were supposed to manage their finances of their fictional house hold with that.  In the process, they learnt what a check book is, how they paid their bills, etc.  Each of the student had even managed to have a balance in the end of the month after frugally spending on every need of family, through the month.  After all this , they wrote their reflections on the project.  This is the piece that stole my heart.

One important thing I learnt is to respect everything I have. I used to think 600 dollars was a lot of money but, I paid just over that for my apartment.  I learned the real value of dollar in this project.

One of the hard challenges I faced with this project was making a living.  I realize that this was just a project, but, if it were real life, I would be in trouble, considering, I have very little money and I have so much to live.  If it weren’t for my roommates and my part time job, I would never have survived in real life.

The most fun and memorable part of the project to me was learning how to use and balance a check book, because I feel, this will help me very much in real life. I always wondered about check books but, I never really got it. I also like writing them and signing them.

I will use the skills I learnt from this project in my everyday life.  For instance I would look at insurance and car commercials and wait for them to be over, but now I listen to them and actually understand what they are saying. And, I’m curious about what they are saying.

In this project I learned to appreciate all the stuff my parents do for me and understood why you get nothing free, because, people work hard for what they have. I’m happy I did this project because I learned that I want to stay a kid for a very long time.”

They were lots of other reflections that were poignant too. One of them had mentioned, how the project had made them realize the importance of going to college and studying hard so they can get a decent job to make a comfortable living.  These upper elementary children had made such a drag subject of managing finances of their homes into such a soulful topic!!

Kudos to the teacher who had thought and taken up this effort.

How many times have we come across technical books that didn’t come across as technical ? I’ve had the opportunity of reading a few of them.  These books were clearly talking dealing with technical stuff, but, I wonder why they didn’t come across like that?!

I guess because they were written from the heart.

Because emotion played a very important role in the writing. Surely, one needs to have all the details without which it would hardly hold any value, the power to express, in the most precise way and to feel all this in your heart as you do it.

As a programmer the first book that I could read like a breeze was a book in C++, by Scott Meyers.

“Effective C++: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Design”.  It had become my bible in my earlier days of programming. C++  is hard core technical stuff and my brain is not wired for technical. But, this book kept everything so precise and yet so simple and light.  First time in my life I felt like I didn’t need to have pen and paper handy. For the first time in my life..I felt I was able to understand technical, without much effort! For the first time in my life I didn’t get the inevitable sleepy feeling..the need to keep the book away and go to another!!

I could read this like a novel.  I then took my next plunge into the sequel of that book. Surely a much drier book compared to the first one but, good indeed, maybe because it wasn’t written with the same emotion that the first one was written?!  Or, the topics just got that much more complicated?! I’m yet to decipher that Smile

Then, I came across this book called “Freakonomics” by “Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner”.  Pavan, my hubby,  an extremely voracious reader, had recommended it to me a long time ago.

“Its an economics book..but, you’ll like it!”, he’d said.

But, I just couldn’t get my mind to agree that a book on economics could be an interesting read, maybe because the recommendation was coming from a guy from the field of finance?!  I wasn’t sure.

If you go to and search for this book. You’ll find almost 2000 reviews of this book.  This book had hit the nerve of a common man.  So, one day, at the dead of night…with adrenaline in my body still active after a late night workout, I thought I could deal with this and took the dive.  Right! it was far from technical, and was dealing with the driest of all topics on earth..Economics!!

Everything in the book belonged to our day to day experiences that I could relate to. It could just be read like a book on fiction. How one treated the information in the book is best left to ones personal opinion but, it was surely written with a lot of emotion.

Even books in photography. I just couldn’t imagine reading any. For years I had wasted away my camera and its clicks without the slightest knowledge of a basic exposure.  We had taken a million pics (atleast it feels like that!!!) all through our years of dating , early marriage…and after fifteen years of marriage..when I just was going through all the stacks of photographs, this weekend..I was shocked, terrified and couldn’t believe those clicks I had wasted away.  Surely, a very frustrating day for me…

(Maybe , calls for writing a bit on the the topic ….a frustrating day in my life.)All those sweet moments that were meant to stay etched on paper forever,  were all blurred or darkened out. There were no meaningful pictures.

There was no concept of composition in the pic. They were all just random shots…even the camera wasn’t held steady. 

There were some good pics…Not because I composed well or the pic turned out good. Only because of us, Hubby and Me! The subjects in the pic. That’s when I felt

“Wow, we look so good together!”.. 

Maybe each of us looked beautiful, because we had love in our eyes! Because we were in the stage of our life when we both were ready to give unconditional love for each other…We both were ready to give more than we expected to get back Smile  

Not digressing more, the processing lab had even tried to warn me by pasting some tips and tricks on the prints but, did I even care to read them?

Suddenly, as the equipment started to get fancier, I took the ultimate dive. I was lucky that the first book I came across was an easy read…sometimes funny, but with all the data one needs to know enough to want to know more! It was an introduction book by Scott Kelby. Surely light, I finished the book in 2 days with all my work load. I was ready for the next and next …. The book on lighting by “Joe Mcnally”, called “The Hot Shoe Diaries”,  was also a very interesting read, especially because of how he coupled his experience to the situation he was describing, and he sure had a funny way of presentation.

So, in the end all this boils down to the following for me:

1. A writing needs a starting and an end. Its funny how this part is the most difficult to do..when writing. Thoughts always come but, how do we start and get to the thought?!  And when it comes time to end, I’m tired...its always been abrupt!

2. Details, Clarity, Organized thoughts which I’m incapable of!

3. Need for emotion..and ofcourse coupling it with the innate creativity of language art that I don’t have!

And maybe, I’ll be able to express as well as those upper elementary kids!  I think that’s going to take lot more of my years than I think to get there. Reminds…me, I’m able to hear Richa screaming…

“Mama, I need my breakfast!”

Saturday, October 29, 2011



Its a..cloudy, windy, rainy, dark Saturday morning outside..Richa is awake and she gets hold of a flash light..She's bored why all her peers are still in bed. She comes to me flashing the light on her feet..and exclaiming that the light is following her feet!
"Mama, I wanted to find Didi's names.."
"I was using this light to find out.. "
"I still couldn't find out.."
Mama: WHY kanna?!
"Didis said ..Get out of the room!!"

“So, I came here!”, she said, flashing light on Papa’s face Smile

She was picking her sister’s hair of their sleeping faces and flashing the light on them to check out who it was :-) 

Reminded me of all those episodes I had with my brother...He had had the pleasure of pushing feathers into my nostrils, or a blade of grass into the ear..while I was sleeping. He even had poured water on my sleeping face...

The aftermath didn't scare him at all. that I would be running after him with all that rage, didn't stop him from doing that..The thrill of the moment was enough for him to make his day :-) 

It had not even taken a second for me to get out of bed  shouting     


while he ran..till the end of our home, giggling away..putting his arms in defense at all of my frustrations.

After I had my full of getting back at him..the only thing that remained in my memory were his giggles. He still had had the last laugh, the better deal of the whole situation.

He was able to wake me up in the best way he could think of. My mom had not meant for him to wake us up this way, when she had asked him to go wake us up..

Looking back, those were the days that made our childhood so colorful, so vibrant. I miss them now. He makes me and my kids laugh like that even today!DSC_5012-1

Can’t forget his snake dance performance, he had entertained the triplets with!

Happy Bhai Dooj Raju!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another year!


Some birthdays are meant to make you feel another year older and some are meant to make you feel loved…Yesterday’s was one that made me feel loved..Love showered through the wishes from my parent in-laws, my mom, my family, my friends .. and more friends on my Facebook. 

The kids came down early to wish me…with their cards!! I wondered what they would’ve created this time!

N’s creation was so cute. She had made like a cut out..of 3 women…each of them dressed different. One in saree, one in pants and the third in an Indian chudi!  The 3 forms of her mom she sees around everyday! That was so thoughtful..

Poo was so impressed with her own card.  She loves drama!! As usual she had lots of mushy things to tell me…in her own dramatic way! She said..

“WOW mama! doesn’t my card look like a book!”

And K, the cutie that she is…created a cute card for me..explaining what mama meant to her and how that dress fits me perfectly!  What more can a mom ask!

Until a few years ago..this was all I would have asked for!! When my family from India called me on my b’day, I had felt elated…I felt blessed. I felt wished.  I felt good, they remembered me this day, even though I didn’t even bother to remember their’ s. 

Today, that was surely necessary, but, was it sufficient?!!

Today, in this age of social networking where I’m connected with people right from the days when I took my first step.   Ok! must be an exaggerated version of being connected..but, you get the point!

Following all these connections I’d made from being in school till now, where,  I’m now, mostly in touch with the mom’s whose children go to the same school and pre-school as my kids…

How is it possible to not be wished by all these friends of mine? 

Your diaper buddies you shared the crèche with, your school friends, college friends…encompassing all those schools/universities that you’ve been to, and  a lot more people that you’ve met travelling through your life..

All of them are there to wish you well today!  Isn’t that the best cake one can have?!  I was lucky enough to be wished by many of you’ll. 

Last month, it was Hubby’s b’day and he got a mere 17+ wishes on his Facebook page… I had told him..

“What  Hubby, only 17 people thought it worth to wish you?!”

Hubby dear, the optimist he is, saw a lot of positive in it.. He replied

“Considering I hardly post anything, that, I’d not wished anybody yet…, Isn’t that great?!”

So, it all boiled down to a popularity contest here between the Palle spouses…Who is more popular?! Of course…I won the race, hands down!

Thanks for that my Facebook friends.  Every wish was cherished like there wasn’t another…for me.  Like I had said before…each of them..helped me add points into my Karma bank.

Remember posting birthday wishes on your friend’s Facebook wall?.. I ‘ve posted on my friend’s walls too.  Did you have to struggle for the right words? Thought hard, what words would that be, that would put a one in a million smile on your friends face? Trust me, I did too!! I’m sure my friends did too!

I remember struggling to find the right words sometimes,  maybe because there were so many messages on my friend’s wall…and I wanted mine to stand out!! Or, maybe I’ve not known the person for a long time and you know, people change…completely in that much time!

I know, I have!!

The friends who knew me as a kid, or even in my teens, would claim hands down, that I was a girl of few words, always lost in my thoughts and a smile sometimes. And then, Hubby dear happened.   Just as I was realizing that if I don’t start talking now,  I’ll have to spend all my life just listening..the kids happened,  the mommy thing rubbed off on me..and the words started to pour out, first, as a trickle and then, profusely!!  

So, had surely managed to get the appropriate words for a difficult situation too.

Other times, wishing some others, had been so spontaneous for me.  Some recent incident with them, or a recent remark that wasn’t replied to, provides fodder to  write a nice message. In the simplest of words, honesty does show out. I’ve seen the most loving, moving, honest but, simple messages from my friends on Facebook.

And then, there were times, I could just post a “Happy Birthday xyz!” and I felt like I did good! 

Do you remember the ring of your name, as your friend would call out to you.  The accent! Everyone has a way of talking, of calling you, right?!

Sometimes…I can feel like the person is right beside me and almost hear the voice in my ear.  How my name sounds when they would say, “Happy Birthday Gayatri!”.  I could hear that distinctly! 

And, they would have written nothing more than just that,  “Happy Birthday Gayatri!” ..but, it does magic..the voice itself reaches your ears.

I also received a few, that said…

“Happy Birthday”.

I can understand that!  You don’t feel as close to the person, yet, you do want to convey to them, that, the b’day was acknowledged and want to blow some wishes their way.

Most times, I remember, I’ve ordered around, in guise of wishing…I’d written stuff like..

“Have a blast Rupa!”,  “Have a great one Jaya!”

“Have  a good day Sugu!!”

Meaning to let them know..I’m not going to be jealous of you today..if you had the finest moments that I’d been yearning to have in a long long time! Go ahead…Enjoy them without any guilt!

I received a couple of wishes like that too!

Then I felt, I had a new responsibility now!! I couldn’t let my friends down, they had asked me to have fun! What would I write them back…That my day sucked!!

I had to really make it right. I had to make it great!!  As I thought of how, I could do that,  I found that I had made my way to the gym.  The yoga instructor led us through these routines, that, when I came out of the class..along with a few aches and pains.. it was time to go for the swim…

Ahhhahh!! That was the moment, those thoughts invaded me..those thoughts, you know.. That make you take a hike from the gym…

“Its your birthday Mama!!” I could hear the kids say.

“Its your birthday Gayatri!”, I could hear Hubby dear say.

“Have a great day Gayatri!”  the message said..

I mean..Its my birthday!!…

“Maybe, I can skip the swim today…Its so cold anyways…”, I thought.

Like the water in the pool was exposed to that rainy weather…But, who cares for all those facts..I was trying to make my way out..of the gym, right?!

While these thought were taking control of me, I found myself wrapped in the suit..I remembered the scale from that morning…

“I had added 3 more pounds !!! “

Still ready to run out the next moment..I walked towards the pool and lo!! there was a lane that was free!  All for myself..I didn’t need to share the lane with anybody today!  A birthday gift! Especially, if it was the corner one!

Ok! Maybe I’ll just finish this with 35 laps today, I thought..and took that dive into that cold water..

I came out after an hour completing my whole routine like I always did…I was able to pick Richa up from her school in time and had just reached home, the kids came home…ready with instructions for the back to school night Sad smile

The school had done its share of letting me

“Have a great day!”

Right! That’s what the order/wish was all about!  Wasn’t it?!  It didn’t mention the evening…

People! Friends! next time when you wish for somebody, make sure you take the evening/night into consideration too…The gods do listen!!  They do eavesdrop on all of these wishes…even if they are electronic!! Which ever network protocol! How ever secure!

Right. I didn’t get to go out on any dinner or even sit down with Hubby dear to share some moments together, with a cup of tea that evening.   

No Complaints!!

Hubby dear reached home just in time so I could hop into the vehicle to run off to the back to school night. Oh Boy! was that fun or exercise?! Juggling through 3 classes…The school seems to have worked really hard, making sure all the three kids are placed in classes in the three corners of the school.

I came back to a quite home, everybody fed, done with their showers

Wow! Wasn’t that great!!!

Thanks so much for all your kind wishes.

With Love


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The schools commence (Part 2)


There is another important event that happens before schools start. The curtains are raised on which teacher your child has been assigned to. This announcement, that almost nails down, how fruitful the child’s year is going to least from parents perspective, isn’t it?!

As soon as that happened this year, suddenly, the email activity in my inbox shot up…there were strings of emails from all my friends…each of them with a familiar question to each of us..

“ My baby has been assigned to Ms. S’s class, Does anybody know her?”

There were email thread circulating with every parent trying to find a little more information on their kid’s teacher. Or, if any of our kids are going to be together this year.

These circulating opinions, collected from our wide connections, also called the Mommy network of our district where we don’t need to subscribe to any forums, but any question when posed..will surely get you the answer...either bring solace to the parent or puts them in misery..until the day they would meet the teacher and eventually find out..

“This teacher is not as bad as I thought!”

“Not any close to how somebody had described her/him as!!”

Every parent, depending on their situation has different opinions of a teacher they have known in the past. I’ve known of parents who had been so happy with a teacher and another parent who was equally sad with how their kid fared that year under the same teacher. 

There was one year when K was under a very kind and understanding teacher. She somehow seemed to understand my situation,  the kind of atmosphere my daughter would need to help her through the year.  That year, I came to know later, she was trying to become a mommy! So, whatever I spoke to her from a Mommy’s perspective hit on the mark.

I was so happy with how K progressed that year and during the same time I had heard from another mom who told me that her child happened to be in the same teacher’s class during a previous year and what a nightmare that year had felt to them.

Then why would one even bother with this process.. You could call it “Curiosity”!! Or, the fact that some knowledge is better than none!!  Not sure! We are just bound by our ways..can’t help, isn’t it?!

To me, my first glimpse into the teacher’s personality comes from her/his welcome letter.  It surely reflects to me, what the teacher is going to be like.  What is their field of interest..Does it matter to them to make the child comfortable? Are they very academic? 

Just like the other years, this year too…I got 3 different welcome letters.. The first letter for P was from her teacher Ms.D.  She surely was excited about a lot of academic stuff that was waiting for the kids in class and at the same time, the letter had a softer feel to it..when she introduced herself, her pets and listed all things they were going to do to understand each other in class..

N’s teacher Mr.V, was too the point. He mentioned a lot of science activities that was waiting for the kids when they get to class. There wasn’t much, in the letter in terms of knowing him as a person, except he loved sailing.

K’s teacher, Ms.W,  seem the softest and funniest of the 3. She had taken a great deal of the letter introducing herself, her troop of pets, her 3 dogs and n number of cats and chinchillas and others..

What more could the kids ask for?? They were all sold on her.  Immediately there was an uproar at home..P and N were running after K..

“That’s not fair!! That’s not fair!! Why didn’t I get her as my teacher?  I want to be in that class too!!!”

K was gleaming with pride and happiness. Her teacher was the coolest of the lot.

So, here we parents were,  trying to find which teacher is best for their child, which teacher will provide the most challenging environment for their child, which teacher will push their child’s learning to the brim,  which teacher will go the step into making the child realize the beauty of learning…light up that curiosity lamp in the child..get them excited, motivated to learn…make it seem, COOL, you know.

The children had an agenda of their own!

That was not all..these kids were already collecting information from their senior friends on which teacher is the coolest to be with..

“Mama…N says..Mr.K lets the kids to chew bubble gum in class!!”

“ teacher is going to let us take the pet home for a week!!!  When its going to be my turn, I’m going to bring the chinchilla home!”

These were the things that got the kids excited of being in a class.  None of them even mentioned if its going to get more challenging in Mr.K’s class.  That didn’t matter. They would deal with it, when they found themselves in the situation..What mattered to get the insider’s scoop on which is the coolest teacher to have.

Now 2 weeks into the school, we parents as well as the kids have forgotten all that talk that we had engaged in..The kids have already gotten busy with their home works.  I’m busy comparing why their home works are not on the same level. Why one of them has just one page of work to complete while another comes back with 3 pages of homework…I’m busy trying to balance this out by giving some work of my own so everybody knows the same. In Telugu there is a saying

“Peeta kastalu Peetave, Sita kastaalu Sitave!!”

So here we are dealing with our own problems or problems that we create instead of looking at a situation, like it is,  Simple!

Time has become a sparse component in the whole equation.  The parents have already gotten busy with checking their kids work..juggling their life between their work and the kid’s school. Life is back to normal!! Smile

Friday, September 16, 2011

And schools commence (Part 1)


September is a month that brings back a lot of memories for me! In the form of birthdays and anniversaries. It reminds me of all the virgos in my life!!

There are happy moments and sad ones to remember too. My father, and my father-in-law both have their birthdays in September.  I lost my dad in September but, there were new additions to the family in September too!! 

Its also the month that marks the end of summer and time for my kids to be shown their rightful place to be in…Their School!!!! Time for me to tell their teachers..

”They are all yours! Fragile, Handle with care!”

For 3 long months these tiny balls of energy  ( let me use this analogy until I can..I know, I’ll soon be the tiny ball in my family, with the way the kids are growing!)  had tried all they could to make my home  a noisy, cluttered and a lively place to be in, but you see, I do treasure my quite moments.  Its time for me to reclaim that.  Its time to push them into that big yellow bus that would take them back to their schools.

Two weeks into the school, the back to school bug seems already faded out.  Now, past the scramble of getting the school supplies for our kids before they disappeared from the store shelves… I find myself settled into this new routine.

There is a calm in the air now!  The usual calm before the storm when the desks are going to flooded with homework's to be complete and checked, for projects to be done, for forms to be filled out, for decisions to be made,  which can be as silly as which string instrument to choose. Seems like that’s the biggest decision my kids are making right now!!!  Decision making hadn’t been so exciting before. They already feel the freedom..That, they are in charge of what they want to do in life Smile  

Tiny pleasures!!! Smile 

One decision old…and N is already taking other major decisions. She’s deciding what she wants to wear when she is going to be a teen!! Farsighted, uh!!

“Mama, can I decide what I can wear when I am a teen?!!”  Like I am the one deciding their clothes now?! Nothing’s going to change then also…I will have to shell out the bucks for her dress, when she’s a teen too! right?! All this talk, so she can wear jeggings when she is a I would mind that!! 

“Sure”, I say..”As long as you’re not showing more skin than clothes!!”

I’m sure, as inconspicuous as this permission feels now..its going to give me and her some stressful moments..some tears..some disappointments.  I’m already preparing myself for that Smile  Actually, both of us are getting ready to face it!!

Wasn’t I talking school supplies?!! I thought so too.

This year’s school supplies list had been varied as were the teachers. Some teachers had shown ascetic trends in their demands for school supplies, while, another wanted 5 composition books, 5 spiral note books, 5+ double pocket folders..and bundles of post its and index cards and scotch tapes and water colors and crayons and color pencils and markers and sharpies and dry erase markers with different tips!! The list had felt unending.

Just as their teachers, the kids have different demands too. For their backpacks, lunch bags (that they may carry 4 times a month for the love of buying cafeteria food…WoW! I must really suck at cooking, right?!). My kids wanted a more cool look this time with sling backpacks and messenger bags (the cheapest I found at Amazon for $30…no way!!) ..and lunch bags that had no remnants of the princess era they had been through.  The bags need to have a cool retro look!

I took the easy route this time again! I went on the internet to find stuff  because the stores never have all of them. Isn’t that an easy way to shop?!  A set of markers from Crayola is going to be the same set if I find them in a store, right?! I had a lot more choice when it came to folders and sharpeners and school bags, on the internet.

I was even able to nail down the tip specifications of the sharpie marker and dry erase markers that was demanded in the school supply sheet!  Fine tip, Ultra fine tip!!! Can you believe that?! Yes, those were some of the demands.

One teacher asks for specific colored composition books for each subject while  for another, a stack of them would do! I didn’t’ realize that selecting a composition notebook can be such a tedious job. As soon as I saw the first composition book pop up in the search, I was happy to click on the quantity when my eye fell on the review that mentioned how the paper of “Mead” composition books have deteriorated over the past couple of years.

Ok! Let me look at another brand then, I thought. But, they need to be wide ruled and have a 100 sheets. Wasn’t the size specified too?!! I tried to remember. At this point,  I realize, I’m not going to waste my effort this way!

But what if I bought something that the teacher wouldn’t’ accept? What if I bought a composition book with a paisley design for its cover, because I love paisleys?  Then, the teacher could write back to me..

“Wasn’t my instructions clear enough?!!”


What would my daughter answer her?  What if she sat my child in  the last row for being so careless.  What if that made her decide my daughter’s grade, already?! 

Don’t they say..”The first impression is the last!”

The over protective, over indulging parent that I am..I don’t want my child to be in such a position , Would I?!!

And just as I had felt that all the items on the list have been checked off…phaattt comes another.  I’m standing at the door, welcoming my excited kids, after their first day of school!

“We need Book Socks Mama!!”, the kids come inside, saying. Is this the first thing they could talk about, after their first day at school?!

Now what is a book socks? Haven’t heard that before!

Surely, I’m not going to find a socks so big that’s going to fit in all their books..Are backpacks banned in school now for any security reasons?!!!

Turns out, it’s a fabric or stretchable wrap for a book to keep it secure. So, I’m back to the internet to order some book socks.  Now, what size was that supposed to be? I order Jumbo sizes…

After we got it…the next day, N comes back from school saying..

“Mama, the book socks doesn’t fit..its not even stretchy…”

“OK! you’ll have to do without a book socks now!!”  At this point I didn’t care if her teacher will mark any grade for her…

Collecting all the school supplies is such a pain for any parent.  The demands are so specific. Looks like the teachers make sure that its not as easily available as it was to her/him!!  Or maybe, they want to put the parents to test!! Lets see which parent is the most persistant..won’t give up so easy. or, maybe they want to check out which parent is the most resourceful kinda person. Knows where to find what!!

I feel thankful that they just request for  “A box of tissues”  and “Sanitizer” instead of  “A box of tissues with Aloe” or a “Strawberry Scented Sanitizer” because the kids might get allergic to the regular sent!!   That would have been atrocious!!

I’m happy, I’m through filling in the class supply list for this year! .. Maybe not..Am I? Well, I hope so!! Sad smile

To be continued…….

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My cup of Trouble or Delight!!

When the triplets had turned 9 this summer..Richa had asked me when was it going to be her birthday. Actually, she had put it better,

“How long for MY birthday, Mama?”

Hers was the only name not on the cake..during this summer birthday.  Seemed so unfair. I had answered,

“6 months, Richa!”

She had exclaimed a disappointed “Ahwwww!” like she had any clue what 6 months meant.  Even today when somebody asks her how old she is, she answers in the elaborate..

“I am 4 olds now and I will be 5 olds in Ja-nu-ary. In 6 months!”

I’ve heard this phrase called  “The terrible 2s” but, seems like in case of Richa, the 2 is just extending seamlessly across all her years.

Of late she’s been troubling her Didis to her hearts content. She steals their pencils or erasers or just about anything they are working with and runs away, inviting them to a game of tag. 

How else can she get the attention of these popular angels of our home. She hasn’t been accepted into the sorority of her sisters, yet! Frustrating enough.  They seem to talk cool stuff, get to go in this big yellow school bus along with the rest of her friends, seem to know much more than she knows or comprehends!

She just wants to be there … at their level because the possibility of them toning down a little bit and talk stuff that sounds less gibberish to her..seems like a remote option.

She’s not the type who wants to give up, is she?! She’s up for the challenge. She makes up by showing them how agile she can be…

Just sneak up to them and flick their stuff and run around. They’ll be running behind her, the next second. She knows!  Now , she has the whole troop behind her…chanting her name!  Maybe bellowing sounds closer to the truth.

All of them running behind her..yelling

“Richa!! Richa!!! Richa!!!…give it back..!”

Sounding like music to her ears, her adrenaline getting a kick. The triplets, frustrated with this guerilla attack on them..have formed a union against her for such situations. They have realized the im-pon-tence (Richa’s version of ‘importance’)  of this phrase

“United we stand..divided Richa rules!!”

One of them is available to shout out,

“Mama..Richa took our stuff!”

Another is running behind her to get it back..without hurting her, for if Richa even feels any molecule in her body move because Didi managed to get a tight hold of her..she would be ready with her version of a war cry which even includes some foot stomping, following which, her Didi would be in for a dose of Mama’s medicine. 

So, that calls for some fine handling.

The third one is hiding all the other stuff from the table so Richa would not get her hands on them. After a full summer of dealing with this, day in and out, I’d only started to breath a little easy when I realize that the start of schools didn’t mean a stop to all this.

Now that the triplets had discovered Richa the Menace, they had started to keep their doors closed to her. They would lock the door of their room from inside and almost immediately, we have holler,

“Mama, Didis are never gone let me come into their room!!!”

Then, another one follows..this time from Mama,

“PNK!!!! What’s all this?!  I said, no playing with the doors!!”

Immediately..the doors open and Didis are shouting

‘Mama, she is stealing our things!”

Now, it was time for Mama to find a place to hide…

As much as she has been troubling the living day lights of us…every thing she speaks is a delight to hear. The other day, as I was working, Richa comes to me and asks..

“Mama, Did Didis tell on me?”

“About what?!”, I ask

“That I had taken their legos and run away!  Did they tell on me?”, she asks without even realizing that she is the one who is doing the TELLING on her!

“No, they didn’t say anything.., Why are you touching their stuff, Richa?!”, I ask, now that I’m aware of what she has been up to.

“Mama, Didis are never going to let me touch their city..their lego city”, she continues…

As much as she is enjoying being the shoe stealing puppy..she is very aware of all the talk around her .. She makes it a point to stop us point blank and clarify…her big doubts!

Hubby dear, who was on a call is heard saying..

“Ok Guys..I’m going to drop off now!”

“Drop off! What are you going to drop Papa?!”, she asks immediately. Or, another time…

“Mama, what is opposite..why did you say opposite?”

Which wasn’t as difficult to explain as when she asked..

“Mama, Why do you say internet?! What is internet?!”

She had just eavesdropped on a conversation that Papa and me were having.

“Richa, its another planet. It has lots of stuff called information in it and I can get that information on to my computer through these wires..”,

I say, suddenly caught unawares, unable to use words like networks, communication and sharing, emails etc.  I suddenly realized as I blurted out what had come to mind…I really wouldn’t have been able to define it if the triplets had asked me either.

They know better now..they find it easier to “Google” than to find out what a dumb a-- Mama is!!

Sometimes its confusing to understand the kids of this generation. How much information is too much for them, you wonder?

Thinking again, I don’t think anything is too much for these kids now-a-days.  I tell you, you start explaining to them the concepts of networking and trust me they will get it, much better than you did the first time!  I have that confidence. Then, I wonder, why I hold back…

Sometimes she reminds me…as if telling me

”Make no mistake of my innocence, mama!”

Like the time I told her…that bugs will start to make their homes in her hair, if she keeps refusing to wash her hair…and she replies, saying,

“You’re funny Mama!”

The other day, after we came back from school, I tried to find out from her if she had in fact eaten her lunch or thrown it in the garbage.

I was sure she would’ve have finished the yogurt because, that’s something she can live on and not want anything else. But, I still went on..

“Richa, are you sure you finished your yogurt?!”

“Yes..Mama, I did!”

“I will talk to Ms. J and find out if you really did”, I said, intently watching her for her reaction..Waiting for her to say…”Fine! I threw a little bit, Ok!”. Instead, she answered.


“Did you finish your jelly sandwich?!”

“Yes, Mama”

“How much did you throw in the garbage?”

As she searched for the right words…I was already glowing inside..thinking..

“Ahh there! I caught you baby!!!”

“Nothing!…I placed the two slices of bread on each other and then..I ate it all up, like this!”,  she answered, acting out the whole episode!

“Ok, let me check you tummy and see if I can feel the 2 slices of bread”, I say.

I just pressed a little bit here and a little bit there on her tummy…and acted like I am touching something and said..

“Here! I can surely feel one slice of bread here!”,

“But, where’s the other slice?!”, I asked..

“Really!!!, You can feel the bread in my tummy?!”, she asks, her eyes popping out,  totally believing me..Astonished, that one can do that.

She then..stops walking and spends some time feeling her tummy for a while and says..

“Ma…that’s 2 slices of bread! I can touch 2 slices of bread!”, she said with a sly smile that she couldn’t help hiding,  totally catching me of guard and letting me know.. “It was me who was taking you for a ride all this while, missy!!”

Recently, she had her hit with a harsh reality called HOMEWORK!   That she is liable to learn stuff forcefully too!!!

She has been getting a few minutes of Music and Dance lessons from the triplets Guru and suddenly she finds herself in midst of something that she had not signed up for!!  HOMEWORK!

She was supposed to memorize the Dadra Taal. A taal constituting of 6 beats (A measure of 3 beats!) with the finger movements. The simplest of all taals.  Somehow, this didn’t come across to her as a fun activity. You see, It came to her in the form of HOMEWORK!

Wasn’t HOMEWORK..something only Didis were supposed to do?!  She never had to do this before..She was just meant to do fun stuff, where she got to decide what she was in the mood for.

There was another insider information she knew about HOMEWORKS! Mama or Papa would eventually need to check it, sometimes with..some soft words, and other times, with some more softer words…not soft enough to mean they were fun..She knew that. 

She’s now liable for all this?!! 

When did life take this weird turn?!  The consequence of approaching her 5th birthday in another 4 months now, I remind her.

Why don’t birthdays feel enticing anymore?! I could hear her insides scream.  Same shoes that I find myself too Richa, I commiserate with her mentally.

She has suddenly understood the importance of remaining a small kid…

“Mama, I’m a baby still, you know!”, she reminds me. Already fearing a backlash, she adds,

“Fine!!! I’m not a baby, right, I’m bigger but, still a tiny kid!”, she says, trying to defend her stand, for not being subjected to any homework!

Sitting with me…as I’m trying to teach her this sequence of 6 funny words, to be repeated in a pattern, and she stares at me and says..

“I don’t know how to say that Mama”

She has learnt it early enough..agreeing to do some homework today, will be like asking for more, tomorrow!

Here I am…with my hands on my head, trying to hold on to whatever sanity is left while some more seeps away, well aware, that this girl will soon be doing all these things expected of her…Only, the road to getting there, doesn’t seem like an easy one. And, I wonder..why everybody asks me..

“Triplets!!! How did you take care of them?” 

Weren’t they the easiest, I wonder.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A decade, and 9/11 still feels like it happened yesterday!

For 10 years, this week, this day, has come and gone, leaving me terrified, shaking, teary eyed, angry, overwhelmed, and also grateful to have my Hubby safe, by my side and at the same time, almost feel guilty for being among the lucky ones who got to hug, kiss and be with my loved one, while there were so many others who didn’t get to do the same. There was nothing on earth that could provide them with the same comfort as I felt!

Every brings me back to this question that I dread to even put into words, “WHAT IF?!”  Leaves me trembling! As scary as those words are to me…Those moments had left a life long scare in all of us..

Even today…, when Hubby dear leaves for work, there is this discomfort in the pit of my stomach, that I feel every morning, with a question..”Will he come back safe for dinner?!” There hasn’t been a single morning, since that dreadful day, 10 years ago,  when I’m not subconsciously praying that he stays safe, comes back home still feels like he’s going into a war zone, every morning! 

There have been days when Hubby would have missed my calls for any reason, and I had immediately put on the TV news to check if everything was alright and finally when he picks, how I had gone berserk with him on the phone…

In the time we were struggling to contact Pavan on that terrifying day, a lot of drama had ensued at home too! The live coverage on TV, especially when the towers started to fall, was the point I had lost it and started to wail, as I had still not heard back from Pavan.  Remembering all that still gets me weak in my knees, every single time. Reading the stories of survival and lose of life, the pictures of people leaping to their death because they didn’t want to be burnt alive gets me sick.  And its already 10 years since that happened and it feels like yesterday, for me.

How casually I had taken the first bits of news of the plane hitting the towers and just in a few more minutes finding myself in a big crisis, slowly realizing that I didn’t even know which tower Pavan is in, or which floor he worked on! As I dashed home..hoping, praying that Pavan would’ve already called…his parents.

My In-laws who were visiting us at that time had a shock from which they haven’t recovered till date.  My MiL’s cries from that day still haunts me..My FiL was going through his own agonizing moments.  And I wanted to keep my calm and try to find a way that I could do something. 

I remember feeling terrible listening to those cries. I had wanted it to stop.  I had wanted her to stop crying. I remember pressing my hands against my ears. It sort of made me feel like something was really wrong with Hubby dear.  I had wanted her to be positive,  that my Hubby would be safe and is going to call us soon…which he did in a few more minutes..but, how can I explain how long all those minutes had felt! It feels so weird to remember myself from that day, and how I had reacted in that moment of crisis..

This replay of events as the day had unfolded, of that day,  has been going on in my mind for a decade now, every time, giving me the sweats. Terrified to even imagine any other outcome for my family.  Sure, we were among the lucky, very very lucky ones! After hugging Hubby dear that evening, which was when he was able to reach home,  I had thought, I don’t think I have anything to complain in life about.  But, it hasn’t left us untouched.  It did change our lives for ever.  Some for good and some for worse.

For one, Pavan and me realized that there is no problem or argument between us that could be bigger than our relationship, bigger than us, that, we would never step out the door, anytime, mad with the other.

Every time, I feel cross with him, every time I feel I need to walkout of an argument that we’d be having..the first thing that crosses my mind are the stories of the people who didn’t get to even say a proper good bye to their lost loved ones, and what they would give to have just one more time with their loved ones, all these thoughts makes me realize how inconsequential our tiff is!  It reminds me exactly what it was…a tiff!  So miniscule!

Till this day, Pavan is unable to wash off the memories of the fire fighters he had seen as he was getting down the tower. Their faces, their smiles, their words of encouragement to the people getting down are memories that can never be expunged from our minds. 

Till this day, Pavan’s parents get panicky sitting in India, that they haven’t received a call from their son.  If they are visiting us..they don’t feel at peace until Pavan is home in the evening. The pacing of my MiL from room to room while she waits for her son to come back home in the difficult to forget or ignore, even when they are not visiting us…How she would just calm down and take a seat and watch TV as soon as Pavan walks in through the door. That day had surely changed our lives for ever.

It was last year that the kids had really realized the gravity of what happened on that Tuesday of September 11 and what it had meant for us, as a family! We had hugged and cried together for the first time after all those years with our kids, about something that happened when they weren’t even born, not even conceived! It had made me realize that my kids are not kids anymore. We had felt so blessed to be the family we are.

Sept 11 will always remain in our memories not just for the horrendous event but also for the show of great support. On one hand an event of appalling magnitude was unfolding and on the other,  it was so heartening to watch all that support from the public, of the guardian angels and good Samaritans who came out in such large numbers to help the people in need. What opposites to watch on the same day..People going out of way to help others while there were others who belonged to the same species who had created this hideous devastation, this mayhem.  And for what?!  Every reason as ridiculous as the the next.

How can religion get so messed up that it becomes a reason to wreck havoc in other’s lives?!

My blog on this last year!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Trying to explain Shutter Speed!


Now that we’ve understood aperture and what it controls, its time to understand the second aspect of the photographic triangle. Its known as “Shutter Speed”. Its defined as the duration for which the camera’s shutter stays open.

Along with the aperture, the shutter speed determines how much light reaches the image sensor. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light can get inside the camera to make the exposure.

Shutter speed being a measure of time, its values are expressed in seconds…or, most cases in microseconds. For example, values like  1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15 and such. These values shows the fraction of a second that the shutter stays open. The bigger the denominator the faster is the shutter speed. And, if you notice, with every change of the shutter speed, the light entering the camera is either doubled or halved

(It’s the same in case of the aperture too! That with every stop down of the aperture, the area of the hole that opens, halves.  Its just not as obvious as the shutter speed and beyond the scope of this blog to explain the math behind that!)

Since, the amount of light that one would need to make a perfect exposure is fixed, it means…any changes in aperture will have to be compensated with a corresponding change to the shutter speed (considering we are not changing the ISO value!) , for the same exposure.

Say, you are able to get a perfect exposure at

aperture = f/5.6

shutter speed = 1/125

ISO = 400

Now lets decrease the depth of field in the picture, say, we want to drop down the, f/2.8.

That would mean, moving the f-number by 4 stops…

f/5.6, f/4.8, f/4, f/3.3, f/2.8

To not change the exposure, we would have to make a corresponding change to the shutter speed by raising the shutter speed by 4 stops.  That would be

1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000

So, to get the same exposure with a shallow depth of field, The values will now have to be

aperture = f/2.8

shutter speed = 1/2000

ISO = 400

Keeping this in mind, you wonder, if the exposure needs to be the same…why would one want to change shutter speed?! Lots of reasons..

You can use low shutter speed to show the effect of moving objects in your pictures..  You can use high shutter speed to freeze an action. For the picture below..when P was jumping on her trampoline..a shutter speed of 1/500 sufficed at f/2.8, ISO 200 to catch her in action.

_DSC7555 as Smart Object-1_DSC7580 as Smart Object-1

You would slow down the shutter speed if you want to show some motion blur in your picture.   Blur is not always bad… Sometimes, it can be used creatively, to show motion in your picture.  Almost like a still video, as paradoxical as that sounds..For example…in the picture below, you can see that Hubby dear was trying to throw the rope up somewhere!!  You can almost see the rope flying up. Isn’t it?


Or in here, that K was trying to lift a box of cheerios! The exposure values for this was  f/2.8, shutter speed of 1/6 sec and ISO of 200.


When a slower shutter speed is selected, a longer time passes from the moment the shutter opens till the moment it closes. More time is available for movement in the subject to be recorded by the camera.

Now that we know, slow shutter speeds cause blurs, what is the minimum shutter speed that one could use to have a picture taken so, there’s no blur?

If you are hand holding your camera, ( and considering you have a static subject! ) most photographic pros consider having a minimum of 1/60  shutter speed.   (That should roughly be about the focal length of a 50mm lens, for a full frame sensor.)

Some cameras give you the ability for very slow shutter speeds also. For example, 1”, 10”, 30”…measured in seconds. Why would you needs such shutter speeds? Suppose you want to take a shot of a night scenario. This calls for very long shutter speeds, measured in seconds..For eg.


This image was exposed , for 30 seconds at f/16 and ISO of 200.  (You can see..there’s still,  a slight blur in this image..caused by the action of clicking the pic itself…To get tack sharp the pros call them..they suggest using remote release cables or wireless shutter release or just plain self timer to release the shutter ).

To click such images,  you would first fix your camera, to a TRIPOD, then,  set your shutter speed to a value that gives you the best shot and click, considering that you have moved your mode dial on the camera to Shutter prority mode, or, the “S” mode!

You can use low shutter speeds to picture night skies, where you want to show how the stars move over a period of time. You can use it to show light painting, by making patterns with sparklers as you hold them. You can use it to picture streets at nights.

The picture below shows a light trail of a vehicle that was passing by my tent at a camp ground. You could use such shots to creatively picture city night. The light trails left by passing vehicles leave beautiful patterns.


There is another use of slow shutter speeds. Do you remember seeing posters of water falls were the water fall looks so silky smooth. This is achieved by using low shutter speeds too. One would need to use special filters to achieve these effects like neutral density filters. They cut the amount of light reaching the camera..allowing the photographer to use a very low shutter speed even during the day!…Here’s my experiment, I did at my kitchen sink!!! Which obviously shows..that I wasn’t thinking much in terms of being creative !

_DSC7758 as Smart Object-1  _DSC7759 as Smart Object-1

See, how the flow of water is softer in the second pic. Its because I had used a neutral density filter (0.6) on the lens..which required a longer exposure compared to the exposure of the first pic, thereby making the flow of water look softer.

Now that you know some things you could do by controlling shutter speed. Don’t forget to turn the mode dial on your camera to “S” and try out some shots that you had just been wondering how to!

You know, after writing all this…I come across this clip from Calvin and Hobbes and I thought it was worth mentioning for all that effort

Calvin: As far as I'm concerned, if something is so complicated that you can't explain it in 10 seconds, then it's probably not worth knowing anyway.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The ABC’s of Photography!


Introduction or whatever!!

Recently, back in India, as I clicked the pictures of my family, I spoke to them of the camera settings and other fundas while clicking…My brother had remarked

“Why don’t you write a blog that explains the basic concepts in photography that one would need to know to click a decent pic… layman terms?!”

That had gotten me thinking of what one would need to know. What was the information I would have wished I had known when I first got a hand on a camera.

It had gotten me thinking of how cameras had become cheaper and owing a DSLR is no more a dream for a non professional. In spite of owning one,  how I had found most people, using them as point and shoots (Me included, for so many years!!!). 

Surely, we’ve come a long way from the “film roll” times where, every click took away the option of another click. Every click meant more money, even to view it (Thank you LCD!!!!)

(Recently, the kids and me were going through the index prints of  numerous rolls that I had clicked of their infanthood and before that…of Hubby’s and Mine, of Hobbes.  Some roles had good pictures while most of them were either blurry, overexposed, or just wasted clicks that today, I wouldn’t have bothered to get them in print. But, how do you know until you see the picture!!!)

And every click meant that there was no room for experimentation, the shot had to be good, creative, and there was no scope for mistakes.   Photography was a field that was left only for the fiercely passionate kind of people with an extra buck to spare.

Today, not only can one own a decently priced DSLR, one can shoot a couple of hundred times in a span of a few minutes, just to get that good shot to share with friends or (annoy them!!!)…, or, display them on your digital frames, leaving more room on your table for other stuff , like  “Ganesha” art .. Smile


_DSC6884 as Smart Object-2

So, I thought I would share, in these series of blogs, the basics that I have learnt.  I myself am no far from a beginner, when it comes to understanding my camera, and its myriad options.

I wish I had known some of these facts, I now know,  years ago when I had wasted so many rolls and used my D40 as a point and shoot and wondered why the bokeh’s I sometimes see were not consistent.  I had wondered if I could even control that!

Even today, when I pick up my camera, I’m learning something new and I feel that I haven’t progressed at all!  And the worst is when you actually know what to do..but, don’t remember to do so, and find your pictures not coming the way you’d think they should, only to realize later…your ISO setting or the white balance settings had not been reset from the last time you changed them.

As the word photography, Photo+Graphy means…writing with light without which there wouldn’t be any thing to write. Right?!  As basic as this sounds…it does get intimidating and challenging to get this light in the right amount.

How can one get a perfect exposure? How we can get the correct amount of light to light up the sensor,  to create this wonderful picture you have in mind?!  (The sensor in your digital camera is the light sensitive computer chip, the equivalent of a film roll.)  It all revolves around 3 settings on your camera called…

1.  Aperture or f-stop

2. Shutter Speed

3. ISO  (remember those film roles with ISO #s of 100, 200, 400, 800..)

They are also known as the Photographic triangle that when set right, will get you the most wonderful picture with everything appearing the way it should, the way you had envisioned it in your mind.

Lets first understand what an Aperture means.

Aperture or f-stop:

This refers to how wide the hole in the lens opens, when you take a picture. This determines how much light passes on to the sensor.  It can also be expressed in terms of f-stops or f-numbers.  The lower this F number, the wider the opening is and more light that reaches the sensor.  

Do you remember coming across this information on pictures… f/2, f/2.8, f/3.3, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 .  At f/2 , the lens is supposed to be wide open, which means a lot of light can enter through the lens, which means that,  its not possible for the camera to see the whole image clearly. 


Just like you remember, when the ophthalmologist had put those drops in your eyes to dilate it. Do you remember, trying to open your eyes when your eyes are fully dilated?  Its difficult to see things clearly because of that blast of light entering your eyes. It’s the same in case of the camera. The picture gets a bit blurry,  while the subject you want to focus on, stays clear!

Aperture and Bokeh:

Bokeh is a word that comes from Japanese meaning ‘Blur’. By lowering the Aperture, i.e., when the f-number is the smallest enough, one can get dreamy portraits of your subject with blurred out surroundings, with bubbles of light in the background.  It gives a lot of situations to get creative with your pictures.

For eg  

DSC_5265 as Smart Object-1


For some more pictures showing bokehs…click here

As we start to raise the f-number, the lens opening gets smaller and the blurs start to disappear.  The picture starts to get clear.  At f/8 or f/11, most of the surroundings of the subject becomes clear. This is called the sweet spot for most lens.  Watch the difference in the pictures below…The only thing I varied below is the F-stop.  Can you guess which one is the picture with a lower F-stop?!

_DSC6865 as Smart Object-1 copy_DSC6864 as Smart Object-1 copy

At higher f-stops, everything in the picture is crisp and clear. This way, one can use the Aperture mode to be creative, using wide open apertures for creating pictures with beautiful bokehs, to make the pictures softer, to create portraits and smaller apertures to picture landscapes.

Opening the camera wide (lowering the f-stop or f-number) in low light conditions,  is another way to use ambient light/surrounding light,  to lighten up your photograph.  It gives the scope for one to get creative with light, rather than make your picture feel like a snap shot. 

Aperture and Depth of Field:

Changing the Aperture also gives a 3-dimensional feel to your pictures which can be expressed in terms of DoF, Depth-of-Field.  The wider the aperture, the shallow the DoF which explains the blurred surroundings even better. So you see, Aperture controls the Depth of Field.

_DSC6871 as Smart Object-1 copy

For landscape pictures, where you want the whole composition to be clear,  raising the f-number, or Aperture value will help you achieve that.

For group photos where people are standing at various distances…f values of f/11 or higher are used.

Aperture Mode:

Now that you know the pluses of controlling the Aperture on your camera, why don’t you move that dial from “P” mode or program mode, which in other words means, automatic mode of your camera (On a Nikon) to the “A” or “Av” mode on your DSLR camera.

In this mode, while you set the Aperture value, the camera decides the Shutter speed, for you, when you click a picture.

( You must wonder that there is another mode that is called “Automatic mode” in your camera. On a Nikon, it has a flash symbol on it, or a green box. This mode forces the flash to fire if the light is not enough while the P mode lets you decide when the flash is to be fired.)

Now that you’ve moved the mode dial to the “A” or “Av” mode on your camera, you’re in Aperture mode.  Its so much easier to deal with one aspect at a time, rather than you have to deal with setting everything on the camera, like you would do in the “M” mode, or the Manual.

Why would I want to get to this mode. Exactly for the same reason that I explained earlier. If I’m taking portrait shot and I want that 3 – dimensional, softer feel to the pic, I want the subject to stand out against its surrounding, when I feel I could use the boken effects in the blur to enhance the picture, when I don’t want to emphasis the surroundings of the suject, instead use the colors in the surrounding to make the picture bright..I would use this mode. In fact, most times this is the default mode that I am in.

In my next blog…lets see how shutter speed effects a picture or, when would one find it necessary to be in “S” mode.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


It was such a revelation to the kids when they were made aware of this phenomenon!  We travel at jet speed to the other side of the globe, almost through 10 time zones, in a matter of a few hours making our hunger and sleep rhythms go haywire. This is one jetlagged women typing away at the middle of the night waiting out the 10 days of jetlag.  Waiting for my body to become aware that its travelled through all these time zones in a matter of a few hours. Waiting to catch up with Hubby as he functions regularly while his other part, is jetlagged!

After being back from our vacation,  I enter my dear home with this nervous feeling of what condition I was going to find it in. How well had Hubby dear treated it?! How many of my plants had I lost to the absence of my TLC.  In case you wonder how well the home had treated hubby dear? Well, we’d already met Hubby dear at the air-a-port and was happy to see he was doing good. And why not?!   They don’t just make movie dialogues like “No Nagamani…Enzoy!!” for nothing?!

After one such vacation, we had returned to find that I had left a couple of plants inside that totally dried out. My home had turned into this giant dehumidifier. It had even shrunk some of the grout on the wall and had made it crash to the ground..decorating the kitchen floor with a weird pattern of white. 

This time around I was careful enough to leave all the plants outside, to leave it to the care of the elements because that seemed like a better option than relying on Hubby to water them. The weather god had been really ruthless this year with the recent heat wave that the east coast experienced. I did loose some good ones. On the brighter side, most of my jasmine plants had survived..although they were engulfed in weeds.

With Hubby closely watching for any change of expressions on my face, I entered my home and everything seemed to be in its spot. Returning from a dust ridden place..everything felt cleaner although I couldn’t resist myself from letting Hubby know that the counter tops could have been cleaner.

Hubby dear had cooked us a sumptuous south Indian meal but, the girls were more interested in the basics.

Bread and milk!  

These basic “ruchulu” that, they had been deprived of, during the vacation. How can anybody go wrong with such fundamental tastes, they had wondered. How can milk taste so bad else where?  How could bread not feel the same as it did back home?! It had been a shock to the kids! How could people go so wrong with the spice?! Don’t all of us have the same feeling on the tongue?! They had wondered.

Every morning, it had been a pain to get a glass of milk into their system.  Richa used to come to me, and pointing out to my mom with that furtive glance of her’s, she would say…

“I don’t like her milk!”

We had burst out laughing, the first time we heard her say that..then, would start my task of distracting her so she could, would forget that she’s actually drinking up that weird tasting liquid which although, looked like milk, was far off in taste from it.  She had already decided her menu, on the flight back.

“Mama, when I’m in the big red house, I am going to have toasty bread and milk!”

She hadn’t forgotten it when she got home.  The girls had their toasted bread and milk and realized that they hadn’t had such a satisfying meal in some time now.  The bread was soft again and the milk tasted like milk again!!!!

It was the euphoria of “Home Sweet Home”. They had also missed their trampoline. They ran to it as they got of their vehicle. Then started the task of keeping us awake so our biological patterns would find themselves again.

As the day progressed and I heard Hubby talk, it had just felt like a lullaby to me.  While he spoke of a bike trail that he had discovered and the girls were screaming in the other room busy with their play…it all sounded like Brahms Lullaby to me! I just needed to get my sleep!

Hubby had saved a few episodes of “Law & Order, CI” and “White collar” among others that we usually watch together and was waiting to share them with me!  So, after we settled the baggage we sat down to watch TV.  He watched as I fell asleep. He brought tea to wake me up with my favorite snack…and I drank it in sleep, while he waited beside me, hoping to talk a few words.

I tell you, this jetlag thing, as much as its supposed to affect everybody who travels across time zones at high speeds…it truly doesn’t affect people who don’t know or don’t care about it.  I say it from experience, you know!

Take my kids for example. They sure know about it..but, I don’t think they even cared about it, as they lost themselves in their games. They seemed to be doing good. In fact too good to say! They slept regularly, woke up just a little bit early, while I am up at 1am for the second day in a row.   Its always worse when your spouse is in jetlag and you are able to function normally.  When do we talk…when do we catch up..How nice if Hubby dear would stay up with me at this hour!

Not knowing what to do, I had started to empty the bag gages. When that seemed to disturb my sleeping hubby, I went on to my computer. When the sound of typing my blog, seemed to make him restless, I just waited for the clock to move faster Open-mouthed smile 

Can’t that move at high speed too?! Well, then it’ll get jetlagged and then there’ll be another movie to beat 2012! No, I couldn’t risk that thought of another movie like that.

So, I’ve decided that waiting out is a better option. When does any mom get such legit reason to relax and do nothing.  Its getting close to 1pm and I’m going to let myself dose off now……..,mfsdknnnnnnnnnvksiehfaf jlskd oiwef zzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Driving in India


A few weeks ago, we once again experienced driving long distance in India. My adrenaline glands got to exercise a lot more than it had, when I got up on the supposedly world’s highest roller coaster at Cedar Point, in Cleveland, more than a decade and a half ago. It had been a thrill or lets just accept, a life altering experience for me at the time. Well, it’s been replaced now. 

Actually, it had well been replaced a few years ago when we drove from Hardwar to Delhi.  Except for the driver, none of us in the car were sure, we would reach the airport to take the flight back to Hyderabad.  Luckily, and by gods grace, we did.

A few weeks ago, my family had started from Tirupati to travel to Hyderabad by road with a stopover in Vijayawada,  The road between Tirupati and Vijayawada is a good 4 lane one with the on coming traffic clearly separated by a wide divider. It would have been an easy ride even if the driver had wanted to touch 100k and some more.

This brings me to another question. What is the speed limit on an Indian Highway?  Would anybody know that? I failed to find any sign related to that on the highway. One thing became clear to us…its for the drivers to decide the speed limit on these highways.

In spite of such clear highways and a few obstacles..that could easily be tackled…


we took well over 8 hours to reach Vijayawada.

Mr.Driver’s adrenaline was taking a rest. It must have tired out during the previous ride. Surrounded by a gang of pukers who were waiting to drench me in their vomit with a slightest bump…with great mental tenacity, I had stopped my hands as they moved towards the driver’s knees, to push it down with all my might, so the vehicle would gain some speed.

Being at his mercy…Hubby dear had offered him yet another cup of coffee, hoping it would wake the driver’s sluggish mind and body.  It didn’t. Given up, both Hubby and me took refuge in the thought that this way is much safer. We tried hard to ignore the 10000 times 4 of

“How much more time to reach Vijayawada?” 

“How much longer?!”

“Are we there?!”

from our restless kids.

We were clearly excited beyond doubt to reach Vijayawada. After having a great time with friends, I shuddered at the thought that its going to be another 7 hours of drive to Hyderabad from there.  Nothing worried me more than handling this hopelessly lovable gang of pukers that I had, around me. 

Armed with enough information, sickness bags and some motion sickness pills we set out on the drive.  Little did I know that there was another thing that I would be dealing with this day.  Although, our driver looked like the same man who drove us to Vijayawada, he was a changed man this morning!!  In fact…he was a charged man today!!!

The road to Hyderabad wasn’t like the one we drove on the previous day. Most of it was a single lane road and the rest, under construction. Guess how one drives on such lanes..? Overtaking the bigger trucks every few minutes is the code to follow. Well, there is a safe way of doing that and then, there is the way, our rejuvenated driver was in the mood for.

The way he overtook these big lorries, it was clear that he had made a pact with Lord Yama of some sort, the previous night. He felt invincible. He was fiercely overtaking the on-coming trucks at close range and as soon as he had joined back the lane he was on, he lost no time in overtaking the next vehicle without even checking for a vehicle on the on-coming traffic lane.

This guy was getting a high, overtaking vehicles at such close quarters. My screams of OMGs and high pitched Nooooos!!! were fading out in the sound of the speed of the vehicle. I must have shrunk a considerable inch or two, during the drive as my heart kept skipping beat after beats as the driver recklessly overtook. Finally Hubby, put his foot down and demanded that he drive with caution.

What puzzled me was this driver’s decision to go slow on a road that was perfectly ok to drive faster..while go full throttle on a road that demanded some caution.

Driving on the local roads is another ball game. It’s a game of who succeeds in letting the other driver know, “I’m the aggressive one!”  It’s a game of who is going to bow down to whom. There is another kind of high the drivers get in this situation. Like yesterday’s incident.

We are going on the road and another car had to join the lane…First, the car sets out to join and when its just short of bumping into our vehicle…it would stop to check…or maybe NOT!  Both the drivers know that the other is approaching but, none has the right to give up and stop, you know!

They eventually will, when the vehicles are an epsilon distance of touching each other. Then they come to a sudden and jerky halt. Now, Begins the sizing up process begins!

Both the drivers will look at each other at this point and exchange telepathic messages…decisions such as,  if they should make their hair rise up ( like the cat does)  to appear bigger and stronger are taken. The one with the stronger, peering gaze continues to drive on while the other one looks on, mesmerized with the glow that he just saw in the other’s eyes.

And, what can one say about the two-wheelers. The way they fill up the gaps like water in sand…Add to this the puddles and man holes that one has to juggle. The monsoons!  The exercise of keeping the eyes open while one drives a two wheeler in rain with a wife at the back and a baby sleeping on the gas tank in the front!  

Its amazing to see how the traffic moves. There is a method in every they say, can be experienced perfectly on the streets of Hyderabad here!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011



Today was one of those days, I was reminded of my student days in Hyderabad.  The frustrations that I had faced as a student, as a resident of my state, as a citizen of India.  There was this one year during my graduation when almost 60% of the academic year had been lost to bandhs.  I had hardly gone to college that year. It reminded me of that. The final exams had to be postponed. We students were totally confused on when to be in class and when not. It reminded me of that.

The last 48 hours had been declared a bandh, among the many that were, by some joint action committee of nincompoops, to whom the progress of the state didn’t matter.  The pain of a common citizen when every store, every business, is forced to close down didn’t matter.  The time and knowledge a student would loose out, didn’t matter. The crisis that the sick, the old, the travellers would face didn’t matter.

The picture in the newspaper was of a war zone like atmosphere, of the Osmania University campus.  There was scenes of fire, smoke, students pelting stones with faces covered with some scarfs.

Its totally beyond my comprehension, for what mission these maniacs are fighting for or why. Why isn’t the progress of the state holding any value to these selfish and self important politicians. They could learn from states who have already gone through such disturbances and are struggling to bring their economies to any decent level.

But, that isn’t their goal, is it?! Spreading unrest, wrecking the futures of millions of students who are admitted into colleges around the state, unsure of what their next step should be, demotivating the younger generation with non relevant issues rather than motivating them to invent and discover has become the new motto of these politicians.

It has been rightly said that religion and regionalism is a mass business. It is clear, they are cashing in on this  They have enough funds to help divert all the dime-a-dozen-all-muscle-no-reason-no-drive type of people to move in the direction of their choice. 

How outrageously they went ahead demolishing the most picturesque place in Hyderabad.  As we drove around the Tankbund had hurt us to witness all that non-sensical destruction that these waylaid youth had done. Not a thought had been given to the fact that what they where destroying actually belonged to them!!!!

Now, even a humble investor is wondering if they should consider investing in a region whose future is so uncertain.  I’m sure there’s going to be an exodus of the student community who care for their future, from the universities here.  I recently read in the local newspaper that the admissions in Osmania University had fallen down considerably.

Property values could plummet while there are state like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka who are treading a path of progress with foreign investments getting diverted to such places because of a much stable environment for growth.

Yesterday’s had been a 48 hour bandh.  The hired chamchas forced everything to close down.   The gundas went around on bikes forcing all the people to pull their shutters down and the people complied lest their properties are destroyed. The police watched all this like dummies. The smaller businesses are the hardest hit on these days, unable to bear even a tiny lose.

Some of the bigger establishments who would suffer crazy loses if closed, resort to paying these activists heavy dough so they could be allowed to continue with their business.  As I read in the newspaper that many politicians have reaped from such situations didn’t come as a shock to me.

In case of the common man, they have no access to everyday needs for the home. An average home in India, mostly shops everyday and doesn’t buy stuff to store for such situations.  As simple as bottled water, bread and milk gets difficult to have in a home with kids on such days.  The supermarkets have to pull down their shutters and let the food rot inside.

So frustrated was I today, on the second day of the bandh. Hoping to find any store which would let me sneak inside,  and buy bread and milk for my kid who were refusing to eat anything else, I set out. 

How could you explain the concept of a bandh to a 4 year old who believes that we can get all that from the store outside. How could a parent explain to the kid, why the milk tastes so weird the next day of the bandh? That it had not been refrigerated well!

How could you explain all these to bigger kids too?! Didn’t we elect all these people to rule us?!  Why would the government let all this happen? They would question us back, already demotivating them from the political system.

Trying to find an answer to all these questions rising in my mind, I kept driving to different supermarkets, until I finally found one that was stealthily letting in customers. I was successful in getting the stuff my kids were in need of.  I did notice the butter, the yogurt in the refrigerators warmer than it should be.

As I drove back..I saw so many kids playing outside today. They were outside, playing cricket in landfill areas and bylanes around the homes. They were oblivious to the effects of all the disturbances around them. They were enjoying their day off ….or should I say…..days, off from school.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

45 years!



Today my parent-in-laws celebrated 45 years of wedded bliss, of togetherness, of tiffs and romance, of mouthing grumbles and sweet nothings, of hard times and easy ones, all in one pot.

I’m always at awe when I meet this couple.  45 years they have loved each other and also tolerated each others idiosyncrasies that, today,  they find life intolerable without those very idiosyncrasies of their spouse that had irked them.  The very quirks that had bothered them, about their better half..earlier in their marriage, are so dear to them today, that they start to recount them, with such fondness.

They have spent so many more years together, than, they were single.  Almost makes the part of life when they had not met, insignificant!

If today,  they would meet themselves that they were 45 years earlier…without their children…and grandchildren and all the struggles they have gone through raising their children, to see that they are settled well in life,  it wouldn’t be a surprise at how overwhelmed they must feel at the things they have achieved.

Love birds!  That’s what all the relatives refer to them as.  My FiL would start to talk of how proud he is, of his wife at the drop of a pin.  Even though I’ve heard those stories a 1000 times ( might not be an exaggeration!). How athletic she had been, how persevering she had been in getting a masters in spite of the obstacles she had faced, how giving she had been.  To be honest, I don’t get bored at all having to listen to all this again and again, atleast,  for the first 20mins, sometimes even for 40 mins  Smile , then I wait for some family member to come to my rescue!!

He recounts with such pleasure how they had been neighbors all their lives, living in the same lane, before marriage but, hadn’t even glanced at each other.  He does agree that its unbelievable, but,

“Those days were such!” , he says retrospectively.

He has no bitterness for today’s generation.  He merely refers to today’s generation as

“The times are different now..people are different, they are bold and confident and know what they want! A boy today wouldn’t hesitate to steal a glance of an attractive girl, how ever decent he might consider himself.”

So, today after I wished them..and they were wished by all their grandchildren…I spent some part of today…listening to

“Tales of Mr and Mrs Palle senior”

which included a few cute confessions where he teases his wife saying…that even though they didn’t know each other before their wedding, their’s is a love marriage in some technical sense that only he can comprehend and the rest of us will never be able to!

My MiL although very proud to hear all that from her husbands mouth..doesn’t forget to remind him that he should stop talking as he’s boring me to dogs…

Their eldest grandchild demanded that after five years…their grandpa would have to host a grand party.  He happily agreed to host it although he couldn’t understand the reason at first…

“That would be the golden jubliee celebrations of your wedding grandpa!”, said Yashwant, his eldest grandchild.

Most of the times..we find them..grumbling at each other but, if there was love in anger…these were the moments one could get a glimpse of it. 

That was one of the thing that Hubby dear had promised to be when we got married.  To love me like his father loves his mom!

So profuse and absolutely!

Although I do realize, it would be very juvenile at the current stage of our marriage (its like comparing apples to oranges…45 years of marriage to 14 years !)  but, to this day he does try that sincerely…how ever difficult I get!