Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yearly Recital!

Last week my triplets performed in their music and dance school’s yearly recital.  They rendered 3 dance numbers including a classical form called Kathak and a few Vocal Classical songs. As a parent, I was very excited, but I also felt and bore the heat, because, its when I realized that dressing up a few girls for their dance performances is no joke. Its a tedious JOB.

As much as I was excited to see my kids on stage, the pre work was hard hard work. After a year long torture of making them practice and listening to the teacher’s taunts when the kids happen to go unprepared to the class, there was more to follow. Preparing them for the recital. What I thought would be done in at most 2 hours took me more than 3 hours (Go ahead!! count me among the clumsy too! ).  Then I had about 10 minutes to dress myself up!

When we reached the venue and were about to park..I realize, I forgot the music CD for their dance. OMG!!! Hubby was not just mad, he went ballistic. Late is something he cannot  stand. 

How about a little justification?! So easy for him to have such expectations, if only he had to do all the work that the kids and myself put into all of this!  I can still picture him standing around and watching them getting dressed, not needing to move a finger. 

“”OK Mr, I should have started another hour earlier, I miscalculated!!!”” I yell back at him.

DSC_4676              Here’s how they looked after all that work!!!

He was able to come back just in time, just as the kids music recital was about to start. 

Yey! I cheered, silently.  Talk about tiny moment pleasures.

It was when I realized that he could have missed the kids recital that I felt so guilty for being such an airheaded a--.  And that’s when the kids started singing.  Ask a mom how it feels to hear her kids sing in such harmony. I tell you from first hand experience. Its Pure Bliss!!

In spite of the mike that went into a squeaking mode sometimes or blaringly loud at other times, I wasn’t able to hear all that dissonance. The rest of the audience did. I was just fixated on the voices of my kids. Sure!  their voices don’t sound like the Classical Guru’s and Pros, but, it was in rhythm and the notes were hit at the right spot.  And the vibrations that came out of that recital..HEAVENLY, EUPHORIC!!!

They rendered a Saraswati Vandana (A song of praise to the goddess of knowledge and music) in a Raag called Raag Yaman.   Yaman is a very beautiful Raag. So versatile and vast that its depths haven’t even been fully explored yet. That, its been used to compose an assortment of emotions. Be it agony, romance, devotion, frustrations of separated lovers. This Raag is also one that allows a lot of flexibility and freedom, in the usage of notes, since there are lesser restrictions.

To me..from the little that I’ve learnt and heard, it paints a romantic picture in my mind. How can one forget that beautiful song of the yesteryears..”Chandan Sa Badan”.  Every time I hear it, the lyrics and the voice that added so much to this Raag, inundates me and I get transported into this romantic world where nothing can go wrong.

This Raag belongs to the That class of Raags.  Meaning, all the 7 notes are used in this Raag. A very important sequence of notes, when one can be sure this is Yaman…is

Ni, Re, Ga, Ma, Dha Ni Sa. (Pa skipped in the ascending)!

Re Ga Ma Paa,,,,Re, Sa.  (Notes need not descend in order)

Even though, I had started off to write about my kids performance, as usual I got carried away with the technicalities of this Raag. You see, I’m in love with this raag. Not because my kids did a performance based on this raag. Some of my favorite songs belong to this Raag. 

Like I was reading a fellow blogger who mentioned about being tone deaf vs tune deaf.  I fall in the same category.  Unlike her, I cannot say that I’ve learnt enough classical music already to be able to recognize a Raag being rendered. But, I surely recognize and memorize tunes easily to hum it..

Considering the time I have spent on this Raag myself (about a little less than a year!)..I am not sure that I will be able to point out, if a Bandish is based on Raag Yaman but, on one thing I can bet…I’m surely going to like the song. 

Apart from the one listed above, there’s another melodious song that belongs to Raag Yaman. Anybody who knows it will surely have it in their list of favorite songs too. I’m sure! Remember…

“Zindagi Bhar Nahi Bhulegi Woh Barsaat ki Raat” 

There is a very famous Meera Bhajan that my Guru had been kind enough to teach me. “Jo Tum Todo Piya , Mai Nahi Todu” and a few bhajans.

Being young, they still have a long way to go, to even understand the essence of a Raag, the power they hold in their voice that can create strong emotions in people who listen to it. To move them..such that they may end up getting overwhelmed. That, it would be hard, not to cry.  That power, that skill, is going to come with age and with training but, with their immature kid voices, they were still able to hold the notes so perfect, in unison.

Then, PNK (referring to my triplets) presented a dance recital on “Maa Durga”. A beautiful number choreographed by their music teacher who is also their Kathak Guru. I had gone armed with my Nikon D90 to shoot stills and video in HD, all in one.  As I opened the tripod to set this HEAVY camera of mine…it BROKE!

“Forget the tripod”, I yelled to myself silently.

I held the camera high up, above all the heads that came in the way, with shaking hands, to shoot the video of their dance. Then, within 2 minutes of it..the recording is terminated…

OMG!! What was this camera doing?  I didn’t even have time to fret. I pressed on the record again.

Talk about perseverance and murphy’s law in the same breath!!! Now, the lens refused to focus. It wasn’t able to find the subject.

Is this what is called, “Lens Malfunction”, I wondered???!!

And I had been worrying about “Costume Malfunction” all this while?!!! I had been checking their saris repeatedly, making sure all the ties were proper and in place.

I still didn’t give up. I terminated that recording again and restarted. This time it was able to record the last few seconds of the song. Luckily, Hubby dear was having this teeny tiny camera in his hand and he was able to get the dance in full.

Yey! I cheered silently!

After that, it was time to get them dressed for their Kathak performance. As I  opened the suitcase for their costumes, what did I notice? The costumes were missing!

OMG!!! Not again! I didn’t keep their costume in the suitcase??!  I shouted in panic. The teacher was quick enough and decided to change the sequence of the program. She switched the dance items. In the mean time Hubby dear had to drive back home again to bring back the costumes.  It was clear, I had been a total failure!

Forgetting all this, I dressed the kids up for the dance item, that was to be presented in the end but was moved up now..That was the bollywood dance number “Dhadak Dhadak” from movie Bunty and Bubli.  Hubby was able to come back before the dance started.

Yey!! I cheered silently, for the n’th time!

“He’s making up for all that effort he didn’t put in…during the year!”, I thought and how wonderful! I was giving him a chance to make up :-))

After that, it was time to dress them for their main performance, the Kathak Recital. Every thing in place, this time. I was even given a chance to assist the Guru on the vocal, to sing the sargam. Wasn’t I grateful for that?!


All in all, I came back home with my family, feeling like one proud Mama. I did grow a little plump that night from all that pride, I didn’t swallow.

Who said that?!! No way! No exercise and lots of food makes J a fat human being?!! you say.

The audience were very kind to us. They showered lots of praises and I loved it. I bid good bye to anything that referred to modesty and humbleness being a virtue, that evening!

I have posted some pics here of my kids from the program!

The next morning…Richa found the costume and said..

“Mama, I wish I can wear that costume too… can you help me?!”

Her voice sounded so cute..I just had to help her get into the dress. I could understand how she must have missed being part of a celebration where every kid seemed to have a part except her! Her sisters had stolen the limelight from her.

Here is my Anarkali!!!


Spring is Here! Spring is Here! Its the best time of the year!


Although the cold is not ready to leave its frozen feet from my yard yet..Spring is surely in the air. I can see the plants and trees trying to burst out their shoots. The Maples are red and the Forsythia is starting to send its wonderful fiery flames out as I drive around and see the ushering of spring.

Today was definitely warmer than the abnormal freezing weather, we had last week.  A couple of weeks had gotten warmer and all the bulbs in the ground started sending their shoots up. All of us were excited, very happy and the kids eager, to get outside on the yard. Their swing sets and trampoline showed signs of wear, telling the story of the terrible winter that was!



Then, suddenly last week, we had snow, hail, freezing rain..and you can name it! Its when I realized that when we are not prepared to face the abnormal weather is when the cold feels the most unbearable.  In fact, I felt it much colder last week than the winter itself..maybe because, just like the plants outside..I wasn’t ready to face it!                                                           DSC_4608


Today, India won the cricket match against its arch rival Pakistan.  I sure remember being a cricket buff when I was younger, maybe in school. I remember watching the 1983 world cup match..peeking through windows as I walked to go to my class.. Even had people standing outside my home, some of them peeping from the window, because it was a house full already, everybody wanting to get a glimpse of the match. ( Remember! Those days, when TV was getting popular among homes, how we didn’t have any qualms barging into a neighbors house to watch TV, there was no need for invitations!!.)

But soon,  I had lost interest for everything cricket. Academic requirements, and other hobbies and passions  had taken over. Fast forwarding to today, with hubby dear eating, breathing cricket..I’ve been dragged into this manic world again..No complaints!! I did enjoy the gatherings we had during the weekends, in the name of cricket.  Weekend breakfasts had suddenly become a big affair, with so much variety, and bountiful too! Each of us were out to show our talent as cooks and the taste checkers..were ever so obliging to check out the dish. Not to forget the kids…who couldn’t wait to be done with the night and meet up with their friends. Looking forward to another weekend morning of “Coffee with Cricket” !! 

So this morning, knowing well Hubby dear will be following the match at work, I did peek in, now and then, to find out where we were.  Was happy just like all of you, we won the match. It was even fun to see so many people log on to facebook and post their signature messages expressing their joy.  Each of them distinctly different from the other.  The prophesies, much more important and LOUD than Nostradamus's too! For who was going to win the World cup this time?!

While all of you did that..I went into the yard to experience the spring that was back in the air after its hiatus from last week. And I got some wonderful shots.

 DSC_4899       This is Chionodoxa…One of my spring favorite. The blue on the edges, so magical, almost looks painted.. I love its name too! I had a lot of this in my yard, but, not this year..I see that, quite a few have survived the landscape work, Yey!!  So, hopefully they will multiply. This also come in a pale pink color.



DSC_4900                                              This is another spring favorite of mine.  The “Scilla” . Tiny flowers in blue and white.  In spite of their size…cannot miss it, if its in the yard. The blue is so bright and has streaks of dark indigos too. Its hard to believe its real. The white is yet to bloom in the yard.

And the next flower that features among my most favorite early spring blooms, I have in the yard. They are the crocus.  I even went ahead in planting quite a few of them under the grass..

DSC_4283 DSC_3939 DSC_4043


Two of my favorite shots!!!!

DSC_4929  DSC_4928

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tales from the “Diary of the Wimpy Kid” and Others!

Last Christmas…Santa, took the form of Ravi Uncle, and presented my kids with the whole series of “The Diary of the Wimpy Kid”.  My kids had loved reading it. They had already read the series but they were thrilled nonetheless, to own a bound version of the whole series. It had influenced them enough to write their diary, the same cartoon like way… I was impressed at the neatness with which they had making notes of their days in their dairy…

DSC_4561   One of the triplets diary: Illustrating her reaction to going out in the snow and comparing it with her sister’s who is all excited about the same!

Watching her Didi’s being fascinated with this book…Richa, developed a great interest in these books herself. Most times, she brings the book to me and asks me to read it for her.  She is not interested in knowing more than a line’s worth on each page that sums up the figures on the page. 

Lately, she has also started to interpret the illustrations herself, since she doesn’t find a reader for her, when she needs one.  Recently, when she brought the book “The Ugly Truth”.  She read the book to this!

 DSC_4563                           “The teacher is teaching how to make jewelry. There is a scissors, a necklace, a chain, some tulaberries and a silly face”

Another time, she had also called these drawings as “Noodles”.

DSC_4584                          In here, Richa explains, “ He was going to the bathroom but, he is not able to go because he needs to learn how to remove his pants, his shorts”


DSC_4564                      Her story here was the most hilarious. “He dressed up as a ballerina and was dancing in his back yard when his daddy came inside!”


And in this case!                                                                                       DSC_4574                          “He went into the hole to fix something but, he got too hot. See the 3 lines mama, that means, he is very hot”


DSC_4573                  “And all the others went inside the hole and got hot too!”

While in this case,DSC_4579             “Its nap time now!”

Sometimes, its not difficult for her to guess the situation like in this caseDSC_4585                   where she said, “They are throwing all the thrash around and making a mess”. I had almost heard her say..”They are recycling the thrash”

DSC_4581                Or here, she said, “The teacher is snatching their things and throwing it in the garbage and they are very sad about it”.

There is another series of books that the triplets love. They make it a point to refrain from reading themselves..except hear it in my voice.  Its about this preposterous  “Sideways stories of the Wayside School”. Its the ridiculousness of the story that they prefer rendered in my voice and the reactions that follow, happen first hand, as we face each other.

I have been chosen the official reader of that book to them and they have maintained that rule. Its been months since we started the series and have yet to complete it.

So, on the nights when they want my company, when they want me to put them to sleep reading something..WACKY!, after their call to their grandparents,( in whom they find the best audience as they render some raga they must have learnt that week),  they turn to me to give them the final lullaby before they fall asleep.  (BTW, Shouldn’t such routines be reserved for Dads and Grandparents?!).

We cozy up on their bed..that can fit me along with all the three of them..and we continue this reading saga...


Well, we’ve been at it for months now.  Just down....3-4 chapters into the book…I am already falling asleep, my dreams a my babbles get incomprehensible, my kids wake me up and let me stop for the night. I take their leave and hope to reach my bed safely before I fall asleep again.

It is the story of this weird school of thirty floors, with only one room per floor and missing its nineteenth floor,  One steps directly into the 20th floor from the 18th floor. There is no scope of asking questions like “Why?” or “How?” in this book because every page is riddled with weirdities.

(At one time, a student gets a job of delivering something to the nineteenth floor. Imagine the students confusion).

Even as the first chapter “Wayside school is falling down”, the mailman asks for “Mrs Jewls”, a teacher of the Wayside School and as long as the yard MAN, Louis answers saying “Yeah, that’s me”, the package is his to have..but only so long as he says..”Right, I’m Mrs Jewls”.

After climbing 20 floors up to Mrs Jewls class, who is teaching her students the concept of gravity, he is unable to open the door having his hands occupied.  The teacher Mrs Jewls, to be fair to her students, holds a spelling bee to choose the best kid to open the door. All this while, the heavy package is ready to slip off the yard teacher’s sweaty hands.

Even as he enters the classroom, he’s not allowed to place the package down until he finds out whats inside, so that he can avoid doing the job “twice”. As soon as they know that its a computer…Mrs Jewls places the computer at a window and pushes the computer down to demonstrate to her students the concept of gravity. Telling them..”computers are wonderful machines and teaches things faster”

The kids in Mrs Jewls class are each as wacky as the teacher and the school. Its a mad adventure one following the next.

So, today I read them the story of TODD, who has been struggling to stay in school beyond 12.30pm.  Everyday, he fails the discipline test in Mrs Jewls class and is packed off home early in the kindergartner bus, because his name has figured for more than 3 times under the DISCIPLINE label.  It was the story of Todd’s resolve to stay at school for a whole day and, how he manages to fail it, again just like every other day.

As a kid, I didn’t have the fortune of reading such wacky stories. As much as the story is wacky and weird, it does prompt the kids to think.

Consider this excerpt from the book.

“Did you get in trouble a lot?” asked Todd.

“NO, I never got in trouble,” said Bob.

Todd smiled and nodded his head.

“Did you like to pull girls pigtails?” asked Paul.

“Of course,” said Bob. “Who doesn’t?”

“Did you like ice cream?”, asked Maurecia.

“I loved it,” said Bob.

“What is your favorite subject?” asked Jenny.

“Spelling” said the hobo.

“Spelling!” exclaimed Jenny. “I hate spelling!”

“I once came in first place in a spelling bee, out of all the kids in my school,” Bob said proudly.

“Well how come you became a hobo?” asked Dameon. “I mean, if you’re such a good speller?”

“I’m not sure,” said Bob. “When you grow up, you’re supposed to turn into something. Some kids turn into dentists. Others turn into Bank Presidents. I didn’t turn into anything. So, I became a hobo.”

“Did you ever try to get a job?” asked Calvin.

“I tried,” said Bob. “But nobody would hire me because I didn’t wear socks.”

“SO, why didn’t you just wear socks?” asked Eric Fry.

“I told you. I don’t believe in socks. Yes, the girl with the cute front teeth.”

Rondi lowered her hand. She was missing her two front teeth. “What do you eat?” she asked.

“Mulligan stew,” said Bob.

“There was once a hobo named Mulligan”, said Bob. “He made the first mulligan stew”.

“Was he a good cook?” asked Todd.

“No, he was eaten by cannibals”.

“Yuck!” everyone said together, except for Dana who was very confused. She thought Bob has said he was eaten by cannonballs.

Allison raised her had. “Can’t you just wear socks, even if you don’t believe in them?” she asked.

“Socks!” Bob shouted so loud it scared everybody. “Is that all you kids ever talk about? Socks!  Socks!  Socks!  Albert Einstein didn’t wear any socks!  Why should I?”

“Who’s Albert Einstein?”  asked Eric Ovens.

Mrs Jewls answered that question. She said, “Albert Einstein was the smartest man who ever lived.”

“Was he also a hobo?”, asked D.J.

“No, he was a great scientist,” said Ms Jewls.

“Why didn’t Albert Einstein wear socks?” asked Joy.

“Because socks makes you stupid, “ said Bob.

“That’s not true, “ said Mrs Jewls. “Albert Einstein was just too busy thinking about big important things to remember to put on his socks.”

“Maybe” said Bob.  “But remember I told you, I won the school spelling bee? Well, the day I won it, I forgot to wear socks. Think about it.”

Everyone thought about it

“So after that I never wore socks again.” said Bob.  Mac raised his hand. “Once I could only find one of my socks,” he said. “Man, I looked everywhere for it…..You’ll never guess where I finally found it.”

“in the refrigerator,” said Bob.

“Mac’s mouth dropped open. “How’d you know?”

Bob shrugged. “Where else?”

Everybody had lots more questions for Hobo Bob, but Mrs Jewls rang her cowbell. “Show-and-tell is over,” she announced. “Let’s all thank Bob.”

“Thank you, Bob” everyone said together.

“You’re welcome,” he replied

“Do you know the way out of the school?” asked Sharie.

“I’m not sure,” said Bob.

“Just go straight down the stairs,” said Sharie.

“Thank you”, said Bob.

“But don’t go in the basement,” warned Sharie.

“I won’t,” said Bob. He shook Sharie’s hand, then waved good-bye to the rest of the class and headed out the door.

Everybody waved back. Sharie returned to her seat. It was time for their weekly spelling test. “Everyone take out a piece of paper and a pencil,” said Mrs Jewls.

“The first word is---“

“Wait a second!” called Calvin. “I’m not ready yet.”

Mrs Jewls waited while all the children took off their socks.

:-) :-) :-)

P.S. And trust me!  I did google to find its true that, Einstein didn’t wear socks! Not even, if he were going to the White House for dinner. He even wore women shoes sometimes. In fact, I got to find out a lot more facts on Albert Einstein.

Saturday, March 19, 2011



A very mysterious and anomalous word, but, if Richa is in charge of the naming ceremony..the names would end up sounding like this. A year ago it was “Baaka”. That was the name she gave to her finger who just about managed to make every mess, that SHE didn’t intent to make.  She had created this fanciful character to conveniently blame all her slipups on.

Wow! I was more surprised and proud at this intelligent feat of hers, than I was mad at her gaffe,  that, she could invent some character to blame her BIG faux pas on.  It had all looked very cute and instantly made me forget that I had indeed been mad at her a second ago.

If it was the need to find a fast scapegoat to blame her bloopers on, a while ago…it’s the need for a friend that will listen to her instructions, right now, who she can boss around a little bit, mother and take care of too. Reminds me of the bomb she had let on me one fine day when I tried growling at her for some goof up she had done.

“Treat people like you want them to treat you”.

She has found that chump in ThigThi now! This fictitious character that she has following around her seems like a cute one. There is not an moment when she wouldn’t mention her..Thigthi goes to school  with Richa and helps her shop too. She even comes along with her when she goes swimming. Richa wouldn’t fail to mention that we need to be careful with Thigthi because she is scared of water. 

This phantasmic friend of Richa’s has a lot of pluses. I don’t need to make preparations that one makes when expecting a play date. And the fact that the friend is always available when needed, makes it all the more convenient too! In spite of this, I realize that its so much better dealing with real toys and real friends of hers, because for one, I know where to look and who to talk to. I am not at the mercy of Richa for instructions of what her friend’s response is, or where she is located!

For a long time, we weren’t sure what this thing was. Sometimes, I was sure it was a little girl, other times, I wasn’t even sure if its an animal or human. Sometimes, you can almost see the invisible leash in her hand.  She will fix this imaginary leash to the door, bend over and give instructions, as if she was talking to Hobbes on the leash. Like I needed some explanation, she would turn to me and say..

“Thigthi is this tall” , showing as high as her waist.

She is as loyal to Thigthi as Thigthi is supposed to be loyal to her in providing much needed support.  They talk, they have conversations. Only, I always hear it one sided.

“Mama, this ladder is por tall people.  Tiny people cannot climb it.”, she will say..offhand.

“Richa, since you are not tall, you cannot climb it.”, trying to play smart, I say.

“No Mama, Thigthi is tiny..I can climb it.”, she says shutting me up.

She has had this imaginary friend for a long time now. She even takes my permission as we are getting out to go shopping..if Thigthi can come along, like that would increases my liability a tad more!

As soon as she gets my consent..she is already giving directions to TIgthi how she should be behaving as she rides with her in the van.

“Seat belt please.”, she will announce to this unfailing companion.  

Another time, she will pretend to eat spicy food, and as she munches on her Bagel, she will let me know

“Mama, I am eating spicy food, Tigthi cannot eat spicy yet!”.

Thigthi is almost as real to her as it is unreal to me.  Sometimes, it does give me the shivers if there is indeed something ghostly, out there that she is able to see and communicate to, while I’m unable to see it.  I’ve only seen these things happen in movies.

Why?! Aren’t TV serials promoting such thought too! Like the Dino Dan serial that comes on Nogin

Here, this little boy..proficient with the knowledge of the dinosaurs, is able to talks to dinosaurs around him. He can visualize dinosaurs in any animal or bird around him. His knowledge of these creatures is so overwhelmingly accurate and extensive that nobody, not his teachers at school nor his mom at home even consider talking to him out of such . 

This is one of the favorite serials that Richa watches. Along with the knowledge of the Dinosaurs that she has assimilated from this program, she has also considered creating Tigthi.

Its sad that I can’t even take a picture of Thigthi, to let Richa know of this best friend that she will soon forget as she grows up. I’m sure she will find these notes on her fascinating, when she will be able to read and comprehend it.

She has another unswerving friend in another pet she holds very dear to her heart. Her Reindeer friend that was gifted to her on her birthday, by her teacher Ms.J.  During the times that she is not in her world of imagination, she carries him around using strong words like


“He is close to my heart”

The other night when we returned home from a visit to a friends home..she was put to bed and fell asleep. Suddenly, within a few minutes, she wakes up terrorized with the thought that she didn’t bring her friend Reindeer back home. As she starts to feel sad and cry, I remind her that we had brought him back and its lying downstairs. She didn’t believe me until she walked down to the kitchen and found her friend there.  She brought him to bed with her and fell asleep again. 

This attachment for the toy almost reminded me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.  To the kid, the toy was a real tiger. Looks like Richa has found her Hobbes in the Reindeer. Only, I shudder to think if she would start behaving like the precocious child that Calvin was supposed to be.  A kid who was so smart to explain gravity to his mom and let her know, that’s what caused the mess that she had to clean up. The kid who chose to ignore the abundance of common sense he has, on the pretext of appearing cool!

As I watch Richa take her imaginations to the next level,   I remember that the triplets at this age were not as vocal. They were being bombarded with 5 languages at the time. Not having any elder sibling to look up to, to boost their confidence, they chose to show all their creativity by drawing out what they had in mind. And, not just some average drawings they were! IMG_1438-2 (Drawing of her sister on the potty)

IMG_1599 (Drawing of a girl reading the book)

IMG_1259 (Drawing of a Parade!!!)

They had made some masterpieces for the age they were at.  I’m so happy I took pictures of their doodles. Its such a wonderful age. Their creativity was focused to drawing and expressing their mind in various ways. They didn’t know the concept of copying yet. 

One of them elaborates their potty scene, other one, elaborates a Parade. This for me was complication made so simple, I can’t fathom how a child could visualize a group of people in a few lines.  As a grown up..I give up before I even start to try.

Could you imagine if you were given the task of drawing a parade..a group of people at a celebration..if you would consider this a feasible task..considering you have had no training in drawing? 

To me! this is impossible but, these kids could do it just like that, on the spur..when they were around 4+ years old. I also remember of a drawing that N had made during that time. My mom was shocked.

She had made the drawing of a cloths line.  she had drawn quite a few different types of clothes on the line..without even lifting her pencil point from the paper.  They were all simple lines. I had thought that I am going to save that paper for ages to come as a proof of how creative they had been as toddlers.  To help motivate them as they grow up...  If the mind could do so well..surely, they hold the potential to do more. In the process of growing up and cleaning the mess of a growing family…I’m not sure where I placed that treasured piece of art.

As they grow, and their focus widens, their ability to show their creativity is being scattered in so many directions. With new knowledge, they find themselves being overwhelmed with new paths to explore.  Would it be their academic skills, or their flare for art..or music and dance or their leadership qualities, or researching or inventions (which could be as silly as inventing a game!). The other day, one of the triplet invented a board game for a school project. She created a whole new board game which I, the MOM was obviously very impressed (So easy for us moms to get carried away, right!!!) . Another time, I found a triplet researching and writing an article on Indian Classical Music. They’ve already been exposed to the power internet as a data warehouse.

They are being bogged with so many avenues that they will eventually have to chose their field as they grow up and decide to concentrate on the one they most love to do. I feel very lucky as a parent that I’ve been blessed with kids who are so creative and hopefully will be able to play a role of a parent who will be able to provide them with enough fodder to help increase this fire inside them.

Richa on the other hand is trying her hand at drawing very hard. I find her engrossed in her drawings at the table with a paper and a pen. Her drawings have 3 main components without which they would be incomplete.  It needs to have Mama, Richa, Hobbes (on leash), and a CAKE!

and continues to explore her prowess on the art of speaking…

Here’s what she had to tell me a few nights ago during bedtime

“Mama, I’m so glad you are my mom”!!

I just hope she holds on to this thought, this feeling very tightly as she grows up to be a big kid, a teen, an adult, through all my chiding…at their blunders (compounded with my parenting bungles) as they are bound to make as part of growing up.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mama, I’m sick!


Lets be honest, we all crave for attention and love from our parents, the absolute kind. Although, we do have it, we want it on our terms.  Where we don’t want to be reprimanded when we break rules..(its a different issue, that our conscious does that to us now..that we’re grown up).  I remember as a kid, I sometimes wouldn’t mind getting sick. The attention that I got during such times, from my parents was most coveted. It made for the most important reason why I needed to be sick. Needed to stay sick a little longer!

All my transgressions, my noncompliance's were so willingly forgiven and forgotten.  It made for a perfect situation to come clean to them, if I had done something wrong, without the scare of being censured. There wouldn’t be anything I could do wrong during this time that would ever get me in their bad books. Siblings would be encouraged to be gentle with me..and comply with me, however unreasonable sometimes.

Thinking back, my parents gave me quite a few opportunities to overstep rules, if I wanted, but sadly, I never could because, it happened only when I was sick. Ah! How brilliantly timed that was!

And the most precious moments of all, when they gently placed their cool hands on my hot tummy, to check my temperature. whenever my fever soared up. It had felt like heaven.  I would insist that my dad/mom let them hands stay on me.  It made me feel so good.

I had done my fair share of feigning sickness too, for this TLC. Having both parents working, time with them had been a sparse commodity.. I had practiced it enough to be considered an expert Hypochondriac.  Who would figure out?

My dad was a licensed practicing Homeopath so, go ahead dad, if you could diagnose what was wrong!  Wasn’t the cure based on recounting the right symptoms? But, if the symptoms were a creation, wouldn’t it need a creative cure? Surely, he had that in his pocket too..Just plain tiny sugar beads. It appeared just like the real medicine.

This tiny act had a lot of advantages attached to it. Apart from what I listed above, my parents would take off from work and if not possible, they would juggle their schedules so somebody could stay with us. Of course, I got to bunk school., and when I went back, I didn’t even bother to do the homework. I had been sick, right?!

Then, as I grew up something fascinating started to happen. Those symptoms started to disappear.. In college, during the exams, I sure got butterflies that I mistook for tummy aches but, appearing for the exams had been more important.

Now, that I am a mom, I never get sick. If ever I fall sick which BTW, I have no right to, I’m up as soon as the fever reducer does its trick, Just like my mom did when she had been sick. As soon as she had felt better, she was up and into the kitchen to cook dinner for us. She could not afford to take a rest, with a whole family waiting on her, for things to fall in place. The dinner on the table, the clothes washed so, we have a change for the next day, the house cleaned and I could go on.

Even hubby dear, who was no less a baby earlier, when he got sick, almost in love with his doctor (a very beautiful lady!), who, he used to run to, for every little cough, now, is a totally different person.  I don’t even know on days when he would just pop a few fever reducers so, he can go about his job. We’ve changed, we don’t have the right to be sick or fake it or exaggerate symptoms for some extra TLC, anymore. The kids have taken that right away from us now.

My mom, who was a tech working in an aeronautical firm, who could not sit still for a moment. It almost felt sinful to her..if she even took a moment to rest..  I remember, in the 2 roomed space that we lived in, she would come to check on me as a kid, as I lay on the bed with fever..and remember as soon as she came in, that she had left something on the stove and rush back to attend to her chores.

I loved all those truncated minutes of attention I got from her..her loving touch, the feel of her cool sari (which I used to try on..during school vacations when she left for work) , the mommy smell from her body, everything!! Now looking back, I wonder why I didn’t once hug her tight and take a long breath. I had thought those days would exist for ever..If only, I had the wisdom of knowing, how fleeting time was….Reminds me of what Bill Waterson had written “Childhood is short and Maturity is forever”!!

It also reminds me of this stripimage

I’m sure there are a lot of situations we’ve been in life, that we wish could have turned out different, that we would want to do different today.  If my life had a rewind button,  I would like to go back in time and hug my parents more than I did. We were not a family that showed our love by touch, by holding hands, by hugging, by kissing. It was more of a telepathic kind. The most sublime kind that didn’t need expression. It was just understood. We just felt those waves travel through air and reach us and made us feel so elated.  But, today when my kids hug me tight and kiss me loud and wet, as they leave to their school in the morning, ( its amazing to see that its become second nature even for K to come and do that) …I have realized that I love this way of expressing love way more.

In Indian households, especially like the one I grew up in..”Respect” was the key word to remember!  I think that’s the story for most Indian Families.  We end up touching our parents feet more often than their hearts. The other day, I was watching “Outsourced”  and the main thought in that episode was on this line.

“Respect your Parents..The writing is all over the wall”!!!

You think as you grow up, and as you become a parent of 4 kids, you get wiser 4 times over ( only wise enough to decide not to have another kid, I guess!  because, they don’t stay toddlers for ever!! right?), you can control your flit mind, you can maintain your direction of thought..but, some things were never meant to change, like my art of digressing!

So, coming back to the topic I started off with, Today even though, I am a stay at home mom, with all my attention for my kids,  that I missed with my working parents, I find that my kids are still, in the same boat that I was in. They love all that extra TLC,  when they get sick. They enjoy those moments, when they cannot do anything wrong to make me upset, except if they got sicker. They adore those moments when I wouldn’t care a damn about their infringements, the only care on my mind being, to see them get well.

On my part, I find my shoe size has gotten as big as my parents. I find myself feeling the same feelings as my parents did. Nothing else mattered to them, than to see me get well, when I fell sick. I feel the same for my kids now.

I don’t care about their school work, they don’t even need to go to school, for an extra day or two or a week. They can watch TV for the whole day, if they choose to. I won’t be mad, even a tiny bit (as K would put it!) . They could keep the messiest room and I would still pray the same prayer, that I used to pray to god, when my parents got sick. To make them get well, so they can get on with their effort of making me pull my hair off my head. 

My kids on their part, are playing the role of the attention seeking moppets that they ought to be. The most difficult thing for them to accept, as they recuperate after a sickness, is the fact that, they are getting well. So, these are some of the things I see now-a-days when they get sick.

DSC_3683  (Here she is, all hungry, eating from one bowl and hoping to puke into the one below)

After a week of sickness, N got better and was packed off to school by the end of the week. The next week, P got sick. She happened to get better 2 days ahead of N. Already fine, she walked around for another day..with the bowl in her hand, because she was supposedly nauseous in spite of the fact that she was relishing different foods, the whole day.

Her kid brain forgot to let her know that my mommy brain is smart enough to figure this out. These are precious days for her and I let her have them. She got to be with me, home alone, when all the other siblings were at work….I mean at school!! And later, when the other siblings came home they compared notes, if their sick day schedules matched up! And who had the most fun.

“Mom, Did you take N to the store XYZ when she was sick last week?”, P asks

“Yes, we were out of bread and needed to buy that”, I said

“Can you take me to the store also?”, P asks

“P, I don’t need to buy anything today, and Its better we stay home so, you can relax!”, I say.

P frowns in disappointment.

Later when N and K are back from school. They hug like long lost lovers.

“P, I missed you at school”, K and N say.

“P, Did Mom take you out with her?”, N asks

“No, she didn’t”, P says

“I got to go to the store with Mama”, N brags.

“Mama, did I fall sick often when I was younger?”, K asks, already feeling bad that she isn’t sick and comforting herself that she had gotten her share of TLC when she was younger, I mean, a few months ago!

“ you have gotten stronger”, I reply, actually proud of myself,  I had gotten successful this time, in keeping the sickness from the other 2 kids, blame it on better quarantine, or better immunity. Not spreading the germs myself, from one kid to the other.

I don’t think any amount of hugs would make K feel better. That, she doesn’t need to be sick to feel my love.  Wouldn’t she still have to finish her homework?! She will have to go to school the next day, as usual. She still holds that innate dexterity of making me mad with her careless omissions.

Simple colds, coughs, tummy aches, during childhood are very treasured moments for the kid as much as we parents hate to see our kids be in that situation, they love to experience these moments, without of course, the doctor’s needles!  That’s the first thing that concerns the mention of the doctor. 

“Am I going to get a shot?”, holds the most weight.  If they were given a choice, that should decide if they need to go to the doctor.

So next time, they plan to be sick in a way that doesn’t need a doctor’s visit but, that could give them a break for a day or two from school.

Keep trying!!  I think. Each of these episode equips this mom, better to deal with the sickness and get them back to school quicker!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are my kids turning deaf?


Luckily No!! It just turns out they are trying to experiment with their new found worldly knowledge of how big kids are supposed to behave. They are realizing the thrill of turning a deaf ear to their parents, already! They are enjoying the bliss of enlightenment they’ve recently attained, that parents get worked up, when they are brushed off or ignored by their kids, (I think!)

Today N asks me, “If I were deaf and dumb from birth, then I wouldn’t know a word of any language right, Mama? “ and I answer “Yes, probably!”. not knowing any better since, I have had no acquaintance of a deaf and dumb human being, unless I start to count my kids among them.

As soon as I answered, it got me thinking. That, if the triplets were fine, then why were they unable to understand a word of what I talk to them,recently?  I had tried English…Hindi and even Telugu. That was 3 of the languages they’ve already been exposed to. I had not tried Spanish since I wasn’t exposed to that except frantically yell  “corta, corta” to my lawn mowing contractor pointing to the grass and later, thank him saying “Gracias” appreciating his effort to understand my peculiar speech pattern.

Or, the words “Vamanos”, or  “abre” or “salta” that Dora seems to repeat at the drop of a dime. None of these words had anything to do with what I wanted to convey to my kids. So, you can understand my reluctance to try Spanish.

All this thinking, an exercise so rare but nonetheless exciting,  brought to my realization, that nothing I speak to my kids these days, seem to evoke a reasonable response from them. Nothing, we ask of them..gets them to follow directions or take notice of the speaker, the shouter..the yeller!, ME!  It doesn’t seem to bring their attention to me at all!  I might as well be an invisible something..during such moments and it wouldn’t make a difference. Or, I could very well even have a conversation with the wall around.  Maybe, my faith in the walls around was stronger, and would surely get them to answer me.  It would be another story to recount in that case, of devils and ghosts etc…

Still, in spite of all this..I refused to believe that my kids were turning deaf, because, some thing else happens when I start to talk to them. They find many more attractive things around them..which they wouldn’t have paid a heed to in a million years, had I not turned on my speech. They seem to find all those much more interesting, than, to decipher words falling out of my mouth..

Why?! I dont know but, consider this.

I had dropped by the triplets school, to pick them up for a doctor’s appointment the other day. They were taking their own sweet time waltzing around the corridors before they reached me at the office. It was a once in a life time opportunity, right!! That, an elementary school kid gets to walk across the corridors of their school, peeping into the other classrooms, with nobody to report back to because, she’s already been signed off, right?!  So, while they are trying to use that to the fullest extent…I managed to spot them. This mean eyed creature spotted them. 

We were supposed to be on our way to the doctor’s office at that moment. Considering, if we gave ourselves about, 15-20 minutes for the drive, I had reached their school 40 minutes ahead of the appointment.  Little did I know, my kids love to walk the corridors of their school. Even stopping by to admire the periodic bare walls, taking more than 20 mins to reach the spot where I could look at them. I had already lost 20 mins, and we were no where close to the car, parked outside.  Without giving a care, I had almost yelled across the serenely quite corridors, asking them to walk faster…instead of a response that one would expect to see..P had stopped to watch something on the way.  

Was she able to understand or hear me right, I had thought.

Let me illustrate another episode, this time it was K’s turn to exhibit this idiosyncratic behavior pattern.

K was taking her sweet time eating her breakfast just as she has always done since the day she took the first bite of food. I had asked her to eat faster just as I always have done since the day she took the first bite. But, instead of remembering to continue chewing on her food, she stops, her hand stopped in mid air, her mouth staying open..she looks at me, and everything freezes.. as if I had commanded her to Freeze.  I had to remind her again

“K, I didn’t ask you to freeze. I had asked you to eat faster”, I repeated it this time, showing with action.

That got her to continue eating without even any change in her speed at all! My talk had just caused a pause for a few minutes, instead of the expected response of eating faster.

Was she able to understand me or even hear me, I had thought.

Now it was N’s turn to display this weird behavior pattern that had put me into a stressful mode.

Between the 4 of them..they use more than 40 pair of socks a week. Sometimes, changing more than 2 pairs in a day.  When they remove them, they just turn the sock over to get it off their feet. When its time for laundry, It takes me as much time to sort the laundry and turn the socks to the right side, as much time it would take the wash cycle to complete. So, I had requested the kids to turn the socks to the right side when they get it off their feet. When it wasn’t acknowledged, I had demanded that of them.  Still, no response!  Now, it was time to threaten them….. 

When I go over to sort the laundry, what do I find. There are still a few pair of socks that have not been turned inside out. Whose socks were they?  They were N’s. It had continued to be so for a few days.

Was she able to understand me or even hear me right, I had thought.

If I look at how they have changed from toddlers to the present..I know its only going to get worse. Today I got to be in my Mom’s shoes and felt as she had felt years ago, helpless and exposed, not knowing who to turn to, for direction, for consultation, for tips on parenting on the topic:

How to deal with a kid who loves to ignore?

But, the only difference is, I have the advantage of the internet today. I could turn to my friends for advice.

“Anybody has any pearls of wisdom for me??? “

“Anybody has any similar experiences, they’ve had and dealt with???”  other than telling me..

“Its a phase, and its going to pass”!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The pain of being the first generation immigrant.

Every time the phone rings at odd hours, or if the caller ID showed a number from India or even an “Out of Area”…Hubby and me get nervous when we take the call.  Holding our hearts in our mouth, we wait to hear a happy sound come from the other end of the phone. Our parents, live alone in India. Its such a difficult situation that we have no way to resolve. They are staying where they are, by choice. They don’t feel at home living with us, in another country, away from their place of birth and comfort. They are happy to be in their own neighborhood, even if it means staying away from family across oceans.  I’m sure, they wish to be with their children and grandchildren but, we first generation immigrants have no choice but to endure this truth of our lives.

Our parents had wished us to have a good life and a successful career. They had seen great prospect in their children’s life when they had sent us here to achieve bigger goals, to reach higher. We had done our part of achieving and had settled down in our careers as we created our family here. But, in that time..even they had grown the point that its not feasible for them to take care of themselves now. Completely engrossed in our careers and working hard to make our family’s function, we live with this discomforting, nagging feeling in our hearts..reminding us that our parents are alone back home.

It is during this time that they need our company and support more than any time of their lives. Most times..with no family around, and their bodies not as strong as it used to be even a few years, I know, is difficult for them. The only silver lining for Hubby and Me, is that they have close relatives who live around them, who we could turn to, in case they would need emergency care.

In the community we live, most of us neighbors are in the stage of life..where, every now and then..we find somebody mourning the lose of a parent or, have to make emergency trips to India, to be at the side of an ailing parent. Such moments, as difficult as they are…need immediate decisions to be made. When a parent gets ill, or, has been so for sometime, and the condition takes a turn for the worse..its not like we have the luxury to take off from work and family, for long periods of time to be there for our parents, for their support, to be with them, in this last stage of their life.

Even the rest of the family suffers. The kids miss the parent as he/she has to decide to leave home to be there for their parents.  When I had made the decision to go to India, I was a working mom with triplet toddlers.  I knew that my father health was in a bad state. That he wouldn’t be able to survive his condition further. But, I didn’t know for how long. Each passing day, that I didn’t leave could become a reason that I don’t get to see him or talk to him forever.

Just to even tell him that I loved him so much..maybe just for one last time. To let him know, how proud I was of being his daughter..that, he’d been such a great father, such a motivation for everything I did.  I am sure he had felt very much to meet me too.  He had been sick for some time and his condition had only gotten worse everyday. 

At the time,  luckily, my brother got the benefit, to temporarily change his work center to Hyd, where my parents lived. Still, he had his wife and kids, living in another city, who could not move temporarily because of all the things that tie us to a place, the home, the schools the kids attend, the timing and lot more situations that make themselves known, only when faced with it.

I know, it had been a very tough time for him and his family and my parents too.  He, torn between being absent from his home and also, be there for my parents. For my parents, scared of his absence during the weekends, when he left to be with his family in Bengaluru. 

By the time I made up my mind and left to India, to meet him…he had already passed away the night before I reached my home. I never got to even hold his hand and give him the comfort of my presence. He had known, that I was coming.  When I saw him,  I saw him lying in a freezer, the very thing he had detested..that cold feeling. He had hated it.  He had hated feeling cold.   But, it was a decision that was made so that all his kids could be with him to take him on his final voyage.

From my mom’s accounts, it had been the most painful day of their lives. It had been a weekend, my brother had left to be with his family and my father’s condition took a turn for the worse…my father writhing in pain from his condition and my mom helpless, unable to provide him any relief and not having anybody to turn to for help.  When his condition got worse, as he groaned in pain..she called the hospital for help. It was the dead of night. I had still taken them 2 hours to reach the hospital.

By morning, he had passed away. The hospital, so callous and reckless, didn’t even consider it necessary to inform my waiting mom that he was no more.  This is how much empathy one can expect from the people working in a hospital in India. They see all this pain and suffering, so much everyday that they have become immune to such feelings, I think. The hospitals are always so full, there is no time for anybody to work on the empathy part, to encourage or demand their employees to show some basic respect to the patients family. They had not even cared to close his eyes…when my mom walked inside the room, to check what’s happening to him..since nobody was interested in answering to her about his condition.

As I read in a leading daily today….that if an adult kid is around 40 and/or the parent around 70, then it was time to start the Mom, Dad talk.  The talk that most parents hate to hear and we kids feel so awkward to suggest, to  take residence in an old age home.  This is the way of life here in the USA, where we now reside. Mostly children are packed off once they reach college to fend for themselves and in turn, when children have grown up to have their own jobs, become married and have their own families, the parents never consider living with their kids..They would surely visit them on family gatherings, if they are mobile enough.

Coming from an Indian culture, this way of life is not the way we are used to. Its always had been the practice that the parents were part of their son’s family and continue to stay with them till they depart from this world. Some homes even follow the custom of passing every big decision by their parents for their consent.  So, in India, old age homes are not as prevalent as in this country. Even, during the recent times..when so many people are coming to the USA, or moving to other places within the country,  in the hope of seeing their career’s flourish.  They are leaving behind,  a big population of old helpless parents, to fend for themselves without a support system that would take care of their old parents.  Even provide them with the facility of providing maids to clean their homes, cook their meals, and medical and nursing facility, if they need help.

As I thought about my Hubby’s parents and my Mom, I was shocked, as well as pleased, to hear the triplets mention their concern for their grandparents. How much they missed being with them and having them around. How much they worried for their grandparents safety and health. 

This talk then, led me to recount my escapades with my grandma.  That she was blind and used to feel me from top to bottom with her hands touching me at odd spots sometimes,…even to the point of putting her fingers into my nostrils and my mouth and ears etc…to know how big my ears were, or, how wide my nostril had become, or, how many more teeth I have grown and how I was changing physically, as I grew up.

My triplets, had loved to hear about her.  They had wanted to know more about her and wanted me to continue talking about her. Then they asked to see her picture, if I had any. I luckily found the only picture I had of my grandma…and as soon as I found it..P took it away. Today, She took it with her, to school to proudly showed off her blind great grandma to her friends at school.


my grandma_0001

There she is in the center, flanked by her grandkids and daughter in laws. Never let us kids even feel bad for her condition.  She was so natural and content in spite of her condition. Posed for pictures very proudly.

The first thing my kids said when they saw this pic was,

“What’s with that funny hair mama?”

I let them know, that I didn’t have the luxury to own lengthy hair..until we were big enough to maintain it well. A rule, I’m so lenient with them…A privilege I so willingly give them.