Friday, November 2, 2012

Karva Chauth – looking back!


This year I celebrate my 15th  Karva Chauth and somehow to both of us…the romance of this day hasn’t diminished in all these years.  The day holds the same feel to us, as the first time we observed it as newly weds.  It had been so exciting the first year..I had to constantly remind myself that I’m a married woman now! And, I’m getting to observe all the rituals a married woman does! 

You know for the first a woman, you realize, how much your spouse means to you..and, it just takes a fast to keep him safe??!! Sure, Naïve!! But, which newly wed would not fall for that! Smile

To a man..its very flattering. Yeah! sure your mom and dad are always praying everyday for your safety..but when a women, your lover, your spouse, expresses the same..

The feeling becomes heady!!

I still remember the initial years … without information to Google on the internet…I had depended on the limited knowledge of Mommy dear on the phone(who wasn’t a Punjabi by birth but became one by marriage) and the movies, of course!


(PHOTO: My last minute effort to salvage some mehendi on my palms!!)

As I look back nostalgically on those years when I had waited till late night without breaking the fast, for the moon to show up, I love them, I miss them!  Today, I would just Google the moon rise information, to confirm, that the moon has actually risen… and break my fast even on a cloudy day, looking in the direction of the moon…

There also had been a year, when I hadn’t eaten all night, because the night turned out cloudy and I couldn’t see the moon. How naïve I had been?!

It had made Hubby dear feel so guilty.  The fast wasn’t as enervating as much as the thrill of seeing the guilt on Hubby dear’s face Smile, the onus of the situation written all over him.

There had been years when I observed the fast on a wrong day and ended up observing it again on the right day!

All those years here in US, when..I hadn’t met a fellow women/colleague who was also observing the fast. Even if I would have never occurred to me, that we could get together to observe the day together.  All those years when I hadn’t done a Puja ritual that meant having to listen to the story of “Veerawati” while sitting with a group of women, passing the Puja Thali among us, as we listened to her story saying…

“Goli si so Rani hui,  Rani si so Goli hui”! 

I had done it my innocent way..earnestly, with whatever I had thought was the way to do.

As I try to recollect through most of the early years of marriage, young Hubby and me, had put all that youthful energy into work and night schools. We both had been busy and up to our noses in work and study.

We had never had the chance to spend the day together in each other’s company during any of the Karva Chauths..but, all the day..I knew, I was in Hubby dear’s thoughts as much as he was in mine, through all those office meetings and gossips with our colleagues, the only thing that had remained constant during the day between us, was us thinking of each other.  There had been years when the moon would indeed show up in decent time but, Hubby dear would have night school to attend…(those were the days when he was busy with his MBA from Stern School of Business, NYU. Long days … Long long nights!!)

The fast that everybody makes a big deal of, only felt like something that accompanied the event, like it was part of the package of the day, and didn’t overtake what we felt for each other on the day..

This day almost felt like a second wedding anniversary in the year.. to us! My parents calling in on us…My mom checking on me to see, if I’m dressed enough to kill a bride in the room!  It had felt so romantic. Philmy romantic!!

We might as well have been Shah Rukh and Kajol in DDLJ, or KKHH, in some parallel universe playing their parts like it was our own life. 

Then during my pregnancy years and the years when I was nursing my I had consciously taken the liberty to make sure I’m hydrated, with enough calories to sustain through the day, so, I could keep my children fed! Eating or drinking during those years had not made me feel guilty or taken the sanctity of the event away from me! In the had to feel comfortable in your own mind…of what you want to do and what you don’t.

With years..I came to meet lots of women, friends, neighbors, who observed this day. Some women, who went out of the way to share this joy with me, I also came across women who were stiff enough not to !!  I even came across temples and gatherings that observed this event and helped women gather around to share these moments with each other. 

Today I’m surely much more wiser..but, when it comes to Karva Chauth, Hubby and me are the same hopelessly romantic newly weds, who love observing this event and revel in it.  Actually, we even get teased by our girls!!

“Oh! you two love birds!!”

How they love watching me observe the day..paying attention to all the details…checking out, with how much care..I dress Smile  It’s going to be a lot of fun now..sharing this event with my children, as they grow.

Happy Karva Chauth to all the religious, the romantics..and the cynics…ALIKE! Smile

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some things don’t need the thought that people give them!!


A serious photographer..usually prides on making a picture rather than taking one..A lot of decisions happen in that fraction of a second..before that magic button is pressed..

The depth of field decision, or shutter speed manipulation, if its an action shot.., decision to bracket the shot...decision to manually focus..or use the AF.  Maybe the scene is too dark for AF to function,..or we may have pre-focused on a spot.  Move the spot where the camera needs to meter and focus in case of spot metering and focus…, compose the scene, decide if the scene called for a polarizer or a graduated filter, to set the colors of the sky versus the rest of the scene right, if they need to fill flash,…

Decide on the color space setting in the camera. Remember, if they reset the self timer setting that was previously set, if the ISO settings that was changed for an interior shot has been reset.

A lot of thought goes through the mind, before and through the click .. sometimes it’s a failed shot and they repeat..and most experienced photographer has nailed the shot.

And many times..this photographer’s work happens to get scrutinized! Not by experts..but, by laymen in the field photography. Laymen?!!…I mean people with zero knowledge about what photography is all about. People who just know that photography is as easy as pressing the button on a point and shoot camera and the shot is the best ever.

So imagine the plight of such people (the laymen clan!)…when you, the photographer, return from the very place they had been to, a couple of years ago, with your ton of pictures.. and your pictures paint a different picture of the place..It looked colorful..vivid with tonal ranges..previously seen only on TV programs…or movies maybe..or taken by some “professional” photographer!

The place looked totally different from what they were able to recall…because, all the memory of the place they have left is from the pictures they shot when they were there.  And, those flat and bland snapshots, washed out and ill composed shots become the level of comparison.

They had been very proud of those pictures until they had seen these colorful pictures with such clear tonal variations, and difference in depth of field..

Well, these pictures can’t be true!! Can they?! They’d surely have to been faked!! So, they shoot out a well deserved comment to this well researched..experienced photographer friend…They say..

“The pictures look fake!”

The same scenario that happened to me over the weekend last.

And instead of ignoring such unsolicited stupid comments..I start to explain to them the concept of neutral density filters and graduated filters, polarizers and exposures…the power of shooting pictures in raw with state of the art camera bodies and glasses, the power of a camera with 95000 metering sensors on it vs a camera with 1-9 max sensor points!!!

The concept of using wider gamut color spaces and color caliberation,  etc…the power of you being in charge of processing your pictures..rather than let the camera decide what the green or blue should look like…which, by the way, is what happens when you shoot pictures in JPEG format, the camera is the one doing your processing!!

I knew as I was explaining.. too much too fast, and it seemed all greek and latin to the person..the only truth, he was convinced of in his mind … was.. maybe, I painted the picture?!!

He asked me..

“Did you do anything to the pictures…? They look fake!”

Well..the only memories of the place they have now is from the pictures they shot there with that tiny point and shoot cameras and then uploaded it directly to the web. Surely, those washed out pictures are not like the ones I presented….how can mine seem truthful?! They must be faked..! Right?!

But, I’m yet to understand…what he meant by saying “faked”…What could I have done?!  Put in some extra geysers here and there or added a few hot springs here and there?!!!  Because, making skies look bluer, or red or make colors more vivid and warm..are camera tactics that a knowledgeable photographer will know to set…or achieve by using proper gear!

But, maybe the vividness of the colors was too good to be true for him. He couldn’t shoot a picture like that….he couldn’t post process his pictures,  to clean the noise and handle the sharpness, set the black points and white points in the image, that gives the punch to the pictures..the action that, automatically sets the other colors in the pictures..No! what was all that about?! 

He didn’t think that one needs to crop pictures to fix a composition, right?…Would he even have heard of the two third’s rule or the Golden ratio or the Golden spiral?!


But, he thought he had the knowledge of the subject enough to judge another person’s work..whose knowledge by far outruns his..on the subject. silly as I am..spent a few sleepless nights trying to understand what made him feel that way!..Trying to deal with that hurt that I felt inside of me…

Yeah!!..that comment hurt me…and serves me well..because instead of ignoring or brushing it off as some unintelligent, irresponsible remark..I delved on it…

The following Calvin perfectly explains my foolishness.

never thought about butt muscles before

So true….”Some things don’t need the thought that people give them!”

and yet so difficult to do!

I had put together the scenes of my Yellowstone visit into a slideshow that you can watch here!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Yellowstone National Park


I’ve written/shown so much already about this trip that we managed to take this summer, on my Facebook fan page.  I went with no expectations and didn’t know why people were so excited when I mentioned … I’m going to Yellowstone!  I came back with a ton of clicks, my jaw hanging down .. mesmerized, and a whole lot of knowledge about the earth itself…

You can follow some write up and pictures I had posted on my facebook fan page to get a insight into what I am talking about here.  I am already pointing my children to get any information about Yellowstone to that page, for the Yellowstone project they are doing…with pictures provided by “Gayatri Palle Photography” Smile

I put together a couple hundred frames…of scenes I captured at Yellowstone and created a video slideshow of the trip…Trust me all… the place is as amazing as the pictures show them to be..

It’s a photographer’s paradise.  The wonders one gets to watch there…no where on earth .. one can find that many geothermal features.. It feels as eerie to be there as it feels amazing. The geysers, fumaroles, mud pots, fuming streams..and water features, hot springs, the sulfide smells, the extremophiles that inhabit the scalding waters..the colors around influenced by these extremophiles or thermophiles. Every thing seems so not belonging to this planet.

So, of’s THE place that astro biologists and other scientists go to, to  understand life beyond earth. Because, they believe that if they indeed find life on other planets..its going to be life that happens in such extreme conditions.

The temperatures of the hot springs are above boiling and still there are millions of micro organisms that thrive in these waters and they are trying to understand how this happens. It has already yielded answers on how to amplify DNA  that has helped in criminal investigations.  These microorganisms have been supposed to been on the earth since some 3 billions years now.

A very nice insight into what Yellowstone offers to the scientists in understanding our planet and beyond is been summarized here very well.

The wildlife refuge to so many animals and species.  The wolves were killed and eliminated in the previous century has been re introduced to this area. WE didn’t spot any bears or grizzlies for which we would have to do more research and scouting..obviously not a possibility with kids. Would surely want to go back to the spot..although the next time I visit I will try to go in autumn.  The area is definitely much more beautiful with autumn colors and the migration of the wildlife that happens during autumn.

I hope I am doing justice to this spot in my pictures…

Enjoy the video here!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First day of School


Last week..I packed ALL my children, yeah!!! including Richa, into a Big yellow bus and sent them to a place that they feel is as good as home, infact better...It is SCHOOL, people!!  Its back to school time!


I felt thrilled about it as much as they did.  Just as the bus left, I stopped clicking. I had wanted to celebrate the moment. I wanted to run inside the home, close my eyes and feel the quite of the home, sink into my head.

The kids felt no different. It was obvious from their excitement when they came back from school. Each of them shouting at the top of their voices to tell me all the fun they had and all the fun that was in store for them.

We were both happy. They were happy, for getting back to their routines, without which they seem lost. Happy about getting back with their friends and I, was happy for regaining my freedom!!

I had been happy when the summer holidays had taken off. Even the kids couldn’t wait for it..but, a week into it, reality hit us both.  I had realized what an important part of my everyday was taken away from me....the quite, the independence to decide when I can cook, the ability to hop out any moment and go anywhere, the liberty to give them money and say

“Go buy lunch, today!!”

Now, I was tied down. I had to think logistics..the kids, the situation, in case I needed to step out, find someone to take care of them in case I couldn’t lug them along. Always make sure there is something for them to eat.

Those sweet moments of quite and serenity that I had taken for granted, were lost to cacophony and mindless sibling brawls.  Even the onus of keeping their minds engaged had fallen back on me which I never succeeded in engaging anyways!

Sitting in the steam room today, joined by other mom’s in the same situation..we had been getting our skins unclogged, our minds distressed after that strenuous workout..which actually didn’t feel so. Maybe it was the joy…and we couldn’t help but gloat at our new found independence, our new found peace!!

Freedom from child care, from cooking 3 meals a day, all that mess, from everything that comes with having kids around us…

One of the moms was so happy to be free from those frequent reminders..

“Mom! its 11.00am….what’s for lunch?!”

She said…she was able to give cash to her kid and say..

“Go dear!! Buy lunch!”

Wow! Life was getting exciting again.  I have been guilty of all these too, although I have to acknowledge that as much as I hated my freedom taken away….my peace of mind robbed with the constant jarring unmelodious sounds of their quarrels…We did end up enjoying each other’s company..after all.

This summer, I had introduced my girls, to the art of house keeping ..or let me just put it plain as it is “the pain of house keeping”. They helped me fold laundry that by the end of summer…it had become more than a fun activity, it had turned into their responsibility.

Ah! now you know why they were so excited to get back to school!…Reminds me of the quote from Calvin and Hobbes..

Trust me, they were all set to design a robot to fold the laundry coz, they were so tired of it..

They had enjoyed, heating up their own Rotis, spreading Dosa batter on the pan, unloading and loading the dishwasher (I guess, I’ll just skip the part where they spread water everywhere around the sink and the kitchen floor, while doing it!).

They sorted and fixed up rooms, folding and putting away laundry (again! the part where we could never find our clothes because they were all misplaced can be left out…especially when Papa shirts didn’t fit right and mine didn’t either, or when I couldn’t find my undergarments and I knew very well..I had stocked up on them. That was really puzzling!!) …

On a side note..I wonder why such faux pas by your kids..don’t seem to irk us, moms, the same way as when your spouse does those same goof ups.

Trust me! they do that on purpose!! That’s my take Smile

I remember cooking for my Dad one time, during my teen years..when my mom was away visiting her Dad…I remember making upma with idli rava.  And he didn’t crib an ounce. He just ate it like he enjoyed each bite.  This coming from a person who was so fussy about how his food tasted.

I also remember cutting okra and soaking them in water,just like we do with other veggies in Indian cooking…and what a shock it was for my mom who had javascript:;just come back from work.  She helped me fix it..without a word!

I’d been one of those kids who had wanted to impress my parents trying to cook some new dish, when they returned from work..and most times I had ended up with the first time I tried to make Medu vada batter.  Everytime, they smiled and fixed the situation and I got a little more wiser.

Now, I find myself in my parents shoes as I watch my kids trying to do their part of chores.  It had been a team work for them. It was such a joy to watch all the three of them folding away that mountain high pile of laundry while I sat and worked on my computer!  I’m going to miss all that pampering.

Richa did notice all this imbalance and couldn’t help containing it inside of her..She said..

“Mama…You sure do put the clothes in the washer but, Didi’s  fold and put them away.  What other work do you do?”

She was the loudest one..when she came back from school, today! No, it wasn’t preschool that she had returned from!!

This year, my youngest and the most rambunctious child, stepped into the public school system and boy! wasn’t she glad she did?!  She seemed to be on cloud nine.  She had seen off her Didi’s to the Yellow bus for some many years…  Well, almost all her life!!

Her turn to be on that bus never seemed to come…

At last, she was on that bus, today!


What a was, Today! A momentous day in her life. What a joyous day of her life it had been. She was really proud of this achievement.

She never came across any moments of nervousness or butterflies. That, she’d be going to that big building they called elementary school. That, she’d have to find her way to her classroom…what if she got lost?! None of these thoughts even crossed her mind. 

She was prepped with the personality of her teacher, to the dot!  How her classroom would look like. About the big school bus in her class. How her teacher would appear and what are her teacher’s routines,  by her Didis. of them had Mrs C, for their teacher in kindergarten too, you see!!

I call this, getting the scoop of Insider information..kindergarten style!!!

Well, we parents are guilty of this deed too, aren’t we?! As soon as the announcement of the teachers happen, a swarm of emails float around..between us parents, asking each other if they know such and such teacher. Everyone of us, wants some insight into her/his personality…what to expect for their children for this year!  Like as though, our story of the school year needs a prologue.

The kids jump into this info gathering effort..too, by looking up to the elder ones for any insider scoop on their newly assigned teachers..any insider information that would put them on a higher pedestal than their classmates.

The elder kids brainwash the younger ones with any knowledge they have about the respective teachers. Richa was fortified too!

“Mrs C is very nice…”…they told her.

“She lets you sit in the school bus (human sized replica in her class) if you are good and lets you read a book in it”

I had my own input too. I told Richa..

Mrs C … gets mad if you don’t brush your teeth..

Mrs C … gets mad if you don’t do your homework..

Mrs C … gets mad …….

Mrs C … gets mad…….

Well, for the time being, this seems to work for me because Richa desperately wants to impress Mrs C. I am going to use this to my advantage, for as long as I can get away with it. 

So, when Richa returned from school on the first day…she gave the verdict…

She loves TC elementary and she loves Mrs.C  because she took her to the library and met with Mrs H. 

She suddenly feels grown, she feels she can measure up with the other kids who used to brag around her..about being able to get on the school bus and go to school, talk about all the fun they seemed to have at school.

She’s one among them, now! Suddenly, her voice is louder, its bold, confident! Now, she will have her own stories from school to share about friends, about activities, about goof ups and makeups and breakups.

Although her school is technically only for 2.5 hours, and she still spends the rest of her school day in pre-school, it doesn’t matter to her. She has earned the right to ride the school bus just like all the kids in her neighborhood do.

She is one of the youngest among the kids around her home so, you can understand her angst! …

Here’s to wishing my sweetie pies a very fruitful school year and wishing them their dreams come true..although..if you listen to them say “I wish..I could..” I would be scared to say “I wish all your dreams come true”!

I had put together a video of pictures of what I clicked as she got into the school bus on the first day of school.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Culture Gap or What?!


We’ve all faced the ubiquitous Generation Gap. We took pleasure in throwing the phrase around whenever our thoughts didn’t concur with that of our parent’s or that of the conservative elders.

Now, with most of our generation, dislocated from our roots, settled in foreign lands…comes another universal gap, the Culture Gap.

We don’t even need to be dealing with people outside our homes, with your neighbors or people at the store. Everyday dealings with our own enough to remind us that we in the midst of an enraging Culture Gap. The effects of which will only get exponential with your kid’s age.

I thought I had done enough to reduce this gap by embracing the different foods, music, and even tried to accept another foreign language.

Last night, Richa didn’t want to sleep. She was murmuring something to herself and I heard her exclaim.. “Yeah! Now I know why!”

She turned to me and said…

“Mama..60+16 is 12!”

I tried to remind her when 2 numbers are joined, the answer is always greater than both the numbers.

She said..”But Mama, 6+6 is 12”

I lost the funda she tried to explain to me .. Blame it on Generation Gap, in another words..decline of the grey cells.

Trying to save face, I told her..

“Its too late, Richa. You need to sleep”.

But, she said she wanted to learn why she is wrong.

For that, first off.. I would need to get into the concept of “Carrying Over” .. Remember what I mean?!

Well, we in India did our addition this way , right?! We carried over the ten’s digit, the extra digit, we had called it,  to the next number (I’m sure u know what that is!)  We’d written it over the number like the trade mark thingy.

Here, they add numbers using something called “Addition with Re-grouping”. (I’m sure they must have changed to this back home too!)

Getting to this concept of Addition with or without re-grouping, seemed unattainable to this teacher, in the next few minutes.

So, I drove her towards counting by tens..only we did this by real addition. I mean, we wrote them down as addition problems.

She had gotten a paper to do that on…As she struggled to write on the flimsy paper..she looked for a book to keep under that..

“You need a fix that paper on a would be easier to write”, I said.

“Pad!  What is that?”

“You know .. the ones that PNK have..Its red, orange and green. It has a clip where you can fix your paper tightly”, I said

“I don’t know what that is”, Richa replied.

“Come on! Lets’ go and find it”, I said.

As we entered her Didi’s room, Richa said.

“They must’ve lost it Mama! They loose all their stuff!”

“Really?!  Here, Look! I found one”, I said.

Showing her the PAD, I told her how she could fix her paper under the clip…to be held sturdy.

She took it from my hand and replied,

“Right! This is a Clipboard!”

“Right!”, I remembered, “That’s a clipboard!”

Why then did the word “Pad” come to mind that we’d called it as kids. Everybody around had referred to it as Pad, Examination Pad.

I may or may not be teaching her more about addition without regrouping and/or addition with regrouping, but, I’ve got a lot of learning to do .. to fit in to her culture. Her culture of calling things by their right names.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Clicking away

Have you sat beside your child when she was busy .. engaged in what ever she/he was doing..oblivious that you are watching her every expression and movement.

I find myself doing that so much that the kids aren’t even aware that I’m watching them..I mean its so natural to them that they don’t even notice that I’m clicking away at them while they are busy in their own agenda.

I don’t know if that’s good or bad..but, when I’m with my camera around them…(maybe without the camera too!!) I’m as good as a moving furniture. They just ignore me .. giving me all the freedom to catch some very candid shots.

These clicks were from one such afternoon. Richa had her “tiny” tv, set to play her favorite DVD and she was engrossed in that. She had brought a bottle of cream and had rubbed some cream on herself and was tossing around as she watched her favorite show.

There were a range of expressions that I captured as she watched her portable DVD player. Sometimes she looked so serious..sometimes smiling at the TV screen and sometimes doing some kind of acrobats as she watched on.

All these clicks make for a good compilation.


I created this photo template in Photoshop and put the images in it.  Maybe you can take up this project today for yourself. Many friends had written to me asking what is the recipe for taking good pictures. My answer is “Practice”. And what better subject than your own kids, your family members, or your pet…

If you want to know how to make this template…let me know, and I can post a tutorial on this.  You will need Photoshop for this, though.

Happy Clicking!

For those of you wondering why this mom isn’t posting a lot now-a-days…

Please hop over to my business/fan page on facebook and click “like” if you like what you see there.

There are loads of pictures, of flora and people. Portrait shots and vacation shots. Event slideshows set to fun music.

Its spring time now and I’m going berserk clicking away at the flowers in my garden..Its Iris bloom time now..and they are in FULL bloom. My cover photo should tell the Iris story. Smile

Monday, May 14, 2012

I did it! I tied the knot..

No! I’m not referring to the wedding knot..  Way past that now, I am just referring to mommy stuff, here?! Indeed! I was referring to the loopty loop knot! Can you hear Richa running around screaming “I did it! I tied the knot!”

Remember the song..from Little Bill?!

"One little loop,
What do you do?
Wrap the lace around,
And pull it through.
Now you have a bow,
And you've tied your shoe!"

An exciting moment for a kid that I guess only they understand how much it is, they deserve the applause. Almost defining the big kid milestone in their lives. I’m a proud mommy of another child who has tied the knot!!  Hopefully, I’ll be saying the same again only after they’ve finished college and settled into maturity..I’m so glad, I have time for that.

Suddenly everything had fallen into place like the parts of a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle and she wondered, which piece was the one that evaded her, all this time.  All that going around and coming back up..left to right..making the loop and pulling, had felt unusually difficult.

Her hope that this time when she pulls the loops, that elusive knot is going to show up like magic, only to see the whole thing fall apart…She lets out this cry of exasperation..of desperation.

Its equally frustrating to the parent as it is to the kid, to watch their kid wrestle through this..desire, to be able to TIE A KNOT, isn’t it?!

I’ve seen four of my kids go through this struggle.  Richa has become the the last to join our home club, bestowed with people, skilled enough to be able to tie a knot!

Almost feels like, I want to scream “I did it!”.

As a mom, the learning moments had made me nervous. Deprived of patience... instead of helping Richa in her struggle..I had connived on how I could get her off this endeavor so I can save us both, some mental energy.

The first time that Richa realized the role of this skill in her life was when she saw her kindergartener friends doing it. It was almost a status symbol to them. Not knowing how to tie a knot, had put her at the lower level of the worthy friend pyramid. She came home with the determination that she would get it done with. That this is not going to mar her reputation among her friend circles.

She had asked me how to do that. As I explained to her the hows and the hows..I saw her cry out in the 10th time, the knot came untied.

She had made the loops and placed them one on other and looked for that hole where she’s supposed to pull a loop through..but, unable to find..She had followed my directions of pushing it through somewhere, someplace. does she move her fingers?!  She looks at if asking me..ever heard of an intriguing jigsaw puzzle that even needs motor skills?!

Fully aware of the outcome for that evening and save her from further disappointment ..I had told her in advance that it takes 21 days for a kid, to be able to tie a knot. That it would take 21 days for her fingers to grow longer to be able to do it, like her fingers would morph into long spindly things in 21 days like the caterpillar changes into a butterfly or the seed germinates into this long shoot.

Every preschooler and elementary scholar, I know, does a project on Metamorphosis and Germination. Coming to think of it..doesn’t this project also define “patience” to the child..At this point of the child’s life..their most important sentence of the day, everyday, is

“It takes for ever!”

“Richa! You can have it in the morning!”

“Morning is so far away!  It takes for ever!”

“Richa! Give me two minutes!”

“Mama..count 2 and move!”

I wasn’t able to deter her from her resolution, that evening. She knew she had the whole weekend to keep trying. Realizing what a pessimist her mom was..she eventually told me to go away, that she would give it a try herself. She promised me that she would stay calm.

Imagine the kid’s dilemma.  They seem to have the strings in the right place and as they let go of it to hold the loop ends, to make the final pull..everything falls out.  Just doesn’t make sense to them. Like some ghost around is playing some tricks to trouble them.

Richa has freed herself from this situation now..well! At least with regards to “Tying the Knot”.

Today, as I walk around my home, I see knots displayed proudly like some art decorating the spindles of the stairs or the chairs. And, it didn’t vex me .. that I’ve to clear them out. Coz, I’m one proud mama now.

She also insists on shoes with long laces to school. Gone are all those shoes with Velcro, even if they have blinking diamond crystals studded on to them. Those very shoes she had created a ruckus to own, are now obsolete. So 60’s..or 70’ 90’s!


Welcome! “I’m a big girl”  Here’s a video I had made of Richa when she lost her first tooth.

Thursday, April 26, 2012



N was thrilled .. Mom was going to come to chaperone her and her friends on their field trip.. She had always complained that I had never accompanied her on any field trips.  She counted all the field trips I’d been to and they weren’t her’s. The other siblings were thrilled for her too. The count down had started days ahead..

Everyday she would come and hug me and say…

“I’m so happy you’re my mom..I’m so happy you’re coming on the field trip with me”.

I’m sure she also wanted to show off her mom to her friends. So surprising .. with 6 classes going together on this trip..none of my triplet’s classes had their trips together.

It was 3 separate days of trips. Each of them had wanted me to accompany them. They had used their spin to ask mom to come with them too. It was difficult to refuse. I had no heart for it but, K and P understood my difficulties as their dates were on the days I had other engagements.  So, accepting the situation, they had been happy for N that finally, Mama would accompany her, on her field trip.

The day came..we contacted friends for favors and of I went to spend this day with my daughter and her friends.

We arrived at our destination with all excitement. The N’s friends confirmed with me, all the things that N had promised them that I would provide Smile

Then started our day long foot work. We had our maps and decided our spots to visit and timed everything. But, as the afternoon started to move to late afternoon and then still later, the girls weren’t tired. They wanted to visit some more and some more places

“You don’t walk this much?  Do you?!”, asked one. She recounted her vacation stories through our walk and know rejuvenated me. This little girl made me forget my pains with her stories…

As soon as she stopped, my shoes had started to bite. I had been lugging my camera and all of my little friend’s water bottles and coats and it started so show effects. I had started to feel my shoulders pain and my knees and my fingers inside my shoes..

“Oh! why didn’t I cut my nails?!”

OMG! I don’t think I’ll be able to take another step, I thought, trying hard to move the fingers inside my shoes. It was almost getting to the end of the day. As the girls visited the shopping store for their souvenirs and deciding on their purchase, asking me for opinions and then..deciding on something else and then asking me for an opinion..and the cycle continued.

“I know why things are so expensive here!  The sales tax is 8% here. In NJ its 7%. They are taking 8cents for every dollar. No wonder, I’m not able to buy anything”, one friend said..

Whatever reason, this kid wasn’t buying ..she sure knew her numbers. Not sure if I would’ve noticed them though..The only way to save my sorry a— was by telling myself

“ didn’t buy anything so, how would you know…?!”

“My mom asked me to bring back some change!”, she said.

“I’m just going to buy a book mark”, she said again.

N wasn’t interested in getting anything. She’d already bought something that morning. A copy of the “Declaration of Independence”, which I found later was one of the hot buys among these kids.

Unable to take it any longer I came to the door of the store and sat down on the bare ground. Who cared now if the dust was going to make an outline of my butt!

Then, came the rest of the chaperones and started to collect around me. It almost felt like we were all feeling the end of the day, when one of my little friend said..

“Let me go and see what is there. I love collecting pamphlets. Can you come?”,

At this point..I had to let the kid know that I wasn’t going to move now. She asked me if she could go.

“Ok, stay in my visibility”, I said.

All the kids in my group joined her and off they ran..They didn’t care..if they were visible to me or not. I’m sure they didn’t even hear me say that!

There …I go!!

I got up and walked to them. They were speaking to an officer of the Park Service finding out about the quiz book that if they answer would earn them a medal.  The Park Ranger handed me the medals asking me to give it to them once, they’re done with their quiz.

Persistence eh!

I felt the same persistence to get on the bus back home too. I was so glad when the bus arrived and I had to get into it. My day wasn’t over. I was to return to pick my other kids and cook dinner for us.

I was thinking..”OH! I’m so glad I didn’t offer this chaperone services to N

s siblings too”!!!

But knowing me,  when the time comes for another trip..I’m sure I will gladly hop along, because now, I know what a fun day is really like!

Energetic and lively.

I’m so glad I went with my daughter on her field trip.

Here’s a video I created of the trip.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ah! That elusive cuppa brew!


I’m sure everyone reading this post would have experienced this at least once when they find that their cup of tea or coffee, that elixir,  that potion of sanity, that nectar that the likes of us,  expect to be greeted with every morning to keep our lives going…DISAPPEAR!!  Poof! Just like magic..One minute it was in your hands and the next … its a phantom, a figment of your imagination.

It happens to me everyday.

Taking some liberty to digress a bit, you know, as your kids friend had rightly, reminded me once..the liabilities that you once faced as a parent of a toddler, decreases…The kids start to take on some accountability for themselves....In fact, take on the onus of some of yours as well.

Well, at least, for a brief period of time, only to see this issue, come back with a vengeance when they approach teenage years…

I am in that phase of indebtedness now, as a parent of triplets. Every morning, I am greeted with a reminder posted by my children, to the right side of the stove..on the side of the refrigerator as I turn to it..

Comical, how I went all out to buy a refrigerator that has a non-magnetic metallic front..only to realize, I miss it..and then take heart that..the sides of it are magnetic..after all. Ah! Panacea for all those reminders that needs to be posted, in a parent’s life. So, my refrigerator has all the stickers on its sides!!!

Mama.. remember to

1. Take your coffee out of the microwave

2. Watch out for burning rice too!

Everyday I diligently read it and vow to follow it..and somehow in the next second, that thought gets swiped away from my mind. I didn’t realize, when and how, I developed this skill to be so good at it..and consistently so!

A few mornings, I’ve opened the microwave with the intention to make myself that very heavenly drink.., that placebo which is going to raise my soul from the dead..make me feel human again, so, I can carry on with my day’s work..only to find the other cuppa tea that I was unable to find from last evening.. THERE! Starring back at me!

“Hah! There you are..U elusive little cup..”, I exclaim in surprise.

That’s another knack I learnt over the years…to amaze myself with the littlest every idiosyncratic way… I know..I am looking to handle less and less of my sanity and with the coming years…

But, Today was going to be different. It was going to be the day of the renaissance.

The day that was going to be remembered in time, as the revolt of the Caffeine Deprived Triplet Mom. The day she awoke to claim what was rightfully hers to have all along!

I was going to claim that chimerical cuppa coffee that had managed to wriggle free from me everyday!!!  That evading, slimy..dubious and yet so therapeutic cup-of-coffee!

No! Not today! There’s no escaping today, Little Cup!

As I put the cup I found in the microwave..away for wash, I recalled with resignation, my intention to reheat that cup of tea from last evening   I looked to the reminder again..

“Mama!! Remember to remove your coffee from the microwave!!”

Enough to recharge my resolution.

After the kids walked out the door to their school bus,  I approached that cuppa coffee that had gone cold, left by hubby dear that morning for me.. Just as the microwave starts to buzz..I remember, that the clothes from the washer needs to be switched to the drier..So, I walk there…and start to do that.  But, the clothes from the drier had to be moved too..I take them upstairs. And as I fold them..I realize..

“Ah! My elusive cuppa coffee was in the microwave!”..

I run back downstairs to get that..and remember, I had forgotten put the clothes in the dryer. So, I walk to the laundry room with my cuppa coffee..I place it gently on the washer and start to move the clothes from the the dryer..As, I finished,

Oh! Didn’t I leave the clothes to fold upstairs..I walk back up..and as I start to fold..I realize

“Ah! My elusive cuppa coffee was left in the laundry room!”

So, I walk back downstairs to bring it back..only to find it gone cold! It goes back into the microwave again..I was not going to give up..

As the microwave starts to buzz again…I notice my daughter’s library books, that she was supposed to take back to school that morning, lying on the kitchen counter top.. (Uh! talk about accountability!!)  Annoyed … I carry it upstairs..only after I had remembered to pick my cuppa coffee, from the microwave.

I walk upstairs to the kids place her book only to find their tables a big mess..I place my cup of this melting life extract on the table before I start to fix their table. As I fix that..I remember, I left the clothes from the dryer … unfolded!

I move to the clothes and as I folded them away..wasn’t that mind of mine working?! I am struck with this idea that I need to put down on paper before I could bid goodbye to the thought.  As I am getting done…I realize..I need to rush to my swim..if I’m to make it in time to pick my daughter R.  As I rush out..I look for that spooky cuppa coffee that I could sip as I drove, but,…unable to find it..I walk out.

As the kids walk in from school, I am busy making a cuppa tea for myself. Just as I had poured myself a fresh cup..K, my daughter brings to me…that “elusive” cuppa coffee..

“Mama! This was lying on my table!”

“Ah! that elusive cuppa coffee!” , I exclaim in surprise it was the first time…

Exhausted..I turn to continue with the cooking that I was engaged with..  totally oblivious that the cuppa tea I just poured was getting cold too!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alarm Clock!


Last Month..the triplets asked Papa to set an alarm for them so they can wake themselves up in the morning.  Wow! I thought. They are getting responsible and want to impress mom…

Well, It would’ve been ok if they had just said that much..But, That wasn’t how they had put it.

“Papa!  can you set an alarm clock for us, so Mama need not come inside and scream at us in the morning, to wake us up?!”

Scream?! Whatever that means?! Can you imagine that Puss in the Boots look on me. Can you?! Trust me, I’m as innocent as that look.

Is that how they had taken my “Wake up Songs”. So many of them that I created, just for their wake up entertainment. Most, on the spur! My creative energy at its best…Some even were rhythmic claps. My inspiration coming from a CD I used to play for them when they were toddlers.

Poof! What a disappointment. Why had they not mentioned it to me ever before?  Why are such things so easy for them to tell Papa?!

No wonder, they had gotten up at the first 2 lines of the song.  Never got to enhance my music ccccomposing skills further…

Thinking back, maybe, I had sometimes, called out a little loud, but,  I have to wake 3 see!   That itself is one gargantuan task. And, don’t they take almost 45 minutes of brushing and washing that doesn’t even include getting their eyes wet, or, cleaning up after themselves!!

I had wanted them to be able to finish their breakfast and remember to pack their lunch and brush their hair, before they would be running outside, with their shoes and coats in their hands, to the bus.

Was that so bad an idea?!

So, Papa, as sweet as he is to the kids..complied. Why wouldn’t he?! Somebody had seconded him. Mom does have a very loud voice. He didn’t even consider questioning them, reprimanding them at the way they had portrayed their mom!  They had made him happy for the evening.

I remember calling him at work..we had been talking on the phone for a few minutes and he tells me

“Why are you shouting?!”

“Me shouting?! NO!!  I’m just talking normally”, I reply, a bit louder this time..irked at that constant reminder..that’s as true as winter is here to stay for another 6 weeks.

Did I shout? I ask myself.

Back in my school days, I’ve always been known to be this soft spoken person. How can I convince Hubby dear that I was indeed using my talking voice?!

“You’ve got a very sensitive earphone!”, I reply..

“If I keep it away from my ears..everybody will be able to hear you talk”, comes the reply..

“I’m using my ears to stop your voice from spilling out of the earpiece!”, he continues…”blah blah..”

“ah! he’s just trying to paint me as a loud mouth”, I think..ignoring his remarks as I finished with the call.

After I’m done with the call…I start to ponder on this thing about why everybody seems to think, I Shout!

As I am pondering on this issue, the kids just walk in from school throwing their bags on the floor.

“Pick up your bags and put them away, PNK”

Nothing happens. They are busy with what they were talking among each other. After a couple times of repeating that..

PUT YOUR BAGS AWAY, PNK!!!!” , I yell..

It had felt like magic.  It had worked like a charm. Everything was cleared in a jiffy.

Well you can see the pattern, I told myself.  If you’ve to be talking like this everyday..isn’t this supposed to be their hearing voice .. and your talking voice?! Everyone seems to be responding well to this voice. Otherwise, You might as well be talking to the walls and nobody would know..there’s a crazy person who talks to the PNK residence.

Even if Hubby dear minds..I forgive myself for using my inner voice to get things done…and its already night time..

The next morning, I had just walked into the kids room, to wake them up, and what do I find?!

The kids had already brushed. The alarm clock had woken them up. Just as I was about to ask them, if the alarm sounds too loud…P says..

“Mama, is there a way you can tape your voice onto this clock,  saying WAKE UP!!!”

Almost saying it out with a shrieking voice..

I wasn’t sure if she was making fun of me or she really wanted that…

P.S: Since she was really making fun of me..the alarm clock has been punishing ringing at odd hours..that they’ve hidden that piece somewhere … in the bottom of the earth .. where no humans will be able to hear it ever…and, I’ve got my job of composing morning music…back!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What’s in a name?!!!


You know the biggest downside of having more than 3 kids….or lets just stick to the common number in an Indian community…more than 2 kids?!

No! its not the financial state or Mommy time, Daddy time that we need to divide among our kids, or, parenting problems which accompany with more personalities to deal with…I was going to say:

Its too much of a hassle, for your friends and acquaintances to call each of your kid by their names?!

Its uncommon to find Indian households with more than 2 kids, right?! Some “Brave” ones , as they are normally called, on their have 3! You know, if you are in my shoes, people say “Very Brave” to your face, but are actually muttering “Are you Crazy?” under their breath. 

For various reasons, ranging from financial independence to emotional independence, parents these days prefer to have just 2 kids.

I had the same plan as I grew, through college, as I waited for Mr.Hubby to knock on my door. I was going to have 2 kids, maybe 3..Hopefully a girl and a boy…And I had the lines on my fist to confirm that story about the number of kids I would have, from college. It was exciting.

Anyways, Fine..coz, that wasn’t the point…I’m writing about?! my case..the situation ended up a little more compounded. Not only did I have 4 children, 3 of them are of the same age and sex…and to top that..2 of them are identical too!  A big conundrum for people in our circles to comprehend.  Quite Understandably!

Really! It is intimidating for people to face “3 same looking” ..ok!..averaging that out..”3 almost same looking girls” and know who from who..right?! 

So, most parents and children in the neighborhood, and other extended circles, refer to our children as “The Triplets” or, “The Triplet sisters”. I can’t remember anybody referring to them as “The Palle Girls”, “The Palle Sisters”…I guess, its just me who uses those phrases in my blog sometimes, and in the pictures on my facebook.  It does sound very respectable to me…when I address them by their last name.

(Hopefully, friends of the kids around home or at school are not addressing them as “Triplets” on their face..that would give a feeling of unfamiliarity..although I can’t see that happening in school..because PNK have different teachers and classmates.)

If  I’ve to list out the names of all my children in every line I refer to them, on my blogs, wouldn’t that get a bit repetitive and wordy?! So, most times I even refer to them as “The Palle Girls”, “The Palle Sisters” or just “PNKR” on my blogs. PNKR! acronym I formed, using the first initial of each of our daughter.

By doing this..did I project the idea that they are an entity..I mean..did I compromise with their individuality anyway?!

At birth.. it surely felt, same birthday, same growth charts, inoculations, doctor visits. They even had their food, bath times, hair cuts, diaper changes, everything, together as babies. They were happy at the same time and cranky at the same time. (They must’ve peed in their diapers, at the same time too, Right?! Who knows?!)

But now..they are each growing up into 3 beautiful, sensible, sensitive and talented girls. That means 3 different dispositions, temperaments, styles, traits…sizes..habits..They could’ve just been born out of 3 different pregnancies and would still be as different as they are now. Isn’t it?

P is so..focused. She is so much of a 10% effort to get 90% done kind-of a girl..just like her dad. She appears so bold on the face, but, she’s such a softy inside...She can hide the fact that she may have lost her gloves at school, and can confidently convince the other 2 siblings, that it was they who lost theirs and what she is wearing today is indeed her’s!!

N is the epitome of perseverance. Self driven and so sensitive that she can break down at the drop of a pin..She could just start to cry at the thought that mom thinks that it was she who lost the gloves, not that mom has.  She’s is the 100% effort to get 110% done kind-of a girl.

She is in some ways trying hard to copy mom whom she has secretly taken as her mentor. To that end..she wants to have her hand in every jar that is visible…just like mom..with a difference. She wants to be good in them. Suddenly, she’s found a new job..she’s writing fiction stories of late.  Her sensitivity..actually may help her being sensitive and passionate is the big plus of an artists life!

K is such a fun loving shy kid with strong opinions. So many times..she’s already made up her mind about a situation..and very difficult to get her to change her mind….just like her Mom!! She loves to take life easy. A very self satisfied child. She understands people…personalities very well for her age. Doesn’t’ let herself trust people easily.

She’s the type who may actually not loose her glove but, wouldn’t tell that to mom coz, as mom is busy babbling, a lecture about safe keeping to her..while she’s thinking .. “How do I convince wasn’t me..or, was it?!”

Each ones voice has such a distinct characteristic to it and yet, each of their voices are equally melodious. P has such a strong weight in her voice, while N can take her voice easily through different frequencies. K’s voice is like that of a cuckoo’s call. I can go on like this..specifying each of the 3’s distinct personas.

So,  clearly,they are 3 different personalities to me..Its obvious to us parents and to some of our friends and neighbors.. Luckily, my family, Extended and Close..had taken this treatment of their individualities..with a lot of grace and interest. Well, they ought to! Its family , one expects that from family, right?!

There are a few friends and their children who refer to the girls by their names…Some kids call me…

“PNK’s mom!”  (I just wrote PNK for brevity..they do say each of the names!)

and some who don’t. They just refer to them collectively as “The Triplets”, “The Palle Sisters”, instead of calling them PNK, and I respect their choice.  Because that’s what my children are, they happen to be triplets and they are the Palles! 

Again, this issue adds a whole new dimension to this topic,

“What’s in a Name?”. 

Isn’t it important for your friends to know you by your name?! Another delicate matter, that can be explored in another blog by itself…

But, the other day, I learnt that this collective reference to my kids has been taken to another level. Actually, It had taken a turn for the worse?!

A friend..very frivolously told me that they refer to my children as "The Flamingos". OMG! Why?!  And since she was saying that to my face..I knew there wasn’t any bad intention. She was not even trying to mock..or, Was she?!

Flamingos have always been associated with awkwardness and clumsiness!  There are lot other connotations of this society..Its associated with wealth too..but, in a vulgar way. This metaphor accentuates..shallowness, vulgar ostentation.

When someone’s yard is flocked with flamingos, they’ve been chosen for social derision…they’ve been picked out to be ridiculed!   Although this bird does look beautiful, The Pink Flamingo has been used to showcase, American’s materialistic culture in some economic essays.

And what about the flock mentality of a Flamingo..just mindlessly following each other without much thought as to why!  On a recent vacation trip, I had for the first time, seen first hand, this behavior of the flamingos at a bird, you could understand this mom’s anguish..  I wondered, were my children perceived with such a mentality?

As I described earlier..these, were 3 individuals, with minds of their own, trying to explore the world in their own way..they don’t repeat what their sibling did! Nor feel the compulsion to. They behave or follow each other just like any other sibling in another family would?!  Normal 9 year would say.

You know all that effort we put in, choosing the right names for them…at the hospital..out of that long list we had made…making sure their names are not going to be mispronounced or sound  close to any word that could sound ridiculous…and we end up with this situation.

We’d also enlisted the help of an very nice Indian intern who was well aware of how Indian names could get contorted causing anguish to the kid.. in school.

So, maybe this friend had made an honest mistake in the choice of a metaphor... And I did sincerely try to look it that way, that, she had meant to tell kids are beautiful..but, its hard to ignore what u know!

Imagine saying this!

“Oh look!  The Flamingos are playing outside!”  about my children.  Even if you keep the tone of mockery aside..does it even sound nice to address children so?

On the same note..if one said..

“Oh look! The Palle kids are playing outside!”

“Oh look! PNK are playing outside!”

I wondered, why would anybody go through this effort of choosing Metaphors, or Names, to call my kids differently?!  Were they nameless?!

Aren’t P….., N…, K….. pretty names? And easy for an Indian to learn too? 

Even the term “Triplets” would do!


It also reminded me of the casino by that name..or a similar situation where the girls at the playboys mansion were referred to as "The Bunnies!"  Would they have named my children so…if the kids had hopped around cutely?!

Names are a big agree or not..statistics have shown it.

It reminded me of this thing from “Freakenomics”. It was about a women who named her daughter “Temptress”. And one day Temptress, was a woman and she stood in front of a judge for a crime she had committed..The judge questioned her mom..”Is she keeping up to the reputation of her name..Is that what you had in mind, when you named her so?”

I know I am overreacting at this point.

Got me thinking of the point … I made at the beginning.

You know what’s the biggest downside of having more than 2 kidsIt’s too much of a hassle, for your friends to know each of your kid by their name?!

Most of them are too intimidated by this situation of being exposed to children born together. They are unable to distinguish one from the other. they are too bewildered of how they could handle this gracefully....I am not in their shoes to understand their position, just like they aren't in my shoes to understand mine. So, maybe that’s the issue?!

PNK  do look similar just like most normal 9 year old sisters do, they mostly wear similar clothes(The reason for which, can surely wait to be explored in a different blog entry!), they know the same stuff that a 9 year old would know, they are similarly talented..they attend the same activities, as toddlers , they liked the same things, like barbies and tea parties, their anxieties are similar to any 9 year old’s, they have same neighbors, and their parents have the same expectations from them as any parent would expect of 9 year olds... Even their teacher...

So, maybe,all this similarity is intimidating.

Suddenly, for the first time I genuinely appreciated why they've been placed in different classes...since kindergarten.

I remember during the year they had joined kindergarten...there was a piece of me that felt sad because from then on...these three children of mine, are never going to be able to share a class together. I had told myself that it was all for good but, couldn't get my heart to agree with my mind, with the situation.

If I had been given a choice, I would have tried to keep my children together for another year..because they had found comfort in each other's company since their birth..That was the only way they knew to be and it would be taken away from them..suddenly, one fine day of September?! Just didn't seem right, fair, at that point.

But, in the end, it sure was for good. It had helped them develop into different personalities altogether. They each have different friends now, and different best friends. They each have their own rapport they display with them, they each have the attention of a different teacher..(If placed together in a classroom, can you imagine the teacher referring to them in class as "Triplets" or "Palle Sisters" ?!) or, getting confused and marking one's grade to another or taking the lower mean of the grades of PNK together, and assigning that to each of them?!

Endless possibilities one can conceive of this situation!

So, I guess readers, what I’m trying to mention here is I understand the enigma my friends face, and respect that they refer to our children collectively, but, I personally would never refer to any child by any metaphors, or, call them by a name other than their own. however beautiful, No!..Fauna?! No!! 

Doesn’t feel right to me. It disrespects the kid’s individuality. That which the kids at this point is struggling to build. To disparage them by calling them by another name?!...Especially, something as ridiculous as Flamingo?! Every parent tries to choose the best name for their child..and we need to respect that..and teach our kids to respect it too.

Do my readers feel the same too?! Do you feel like I am overreacting?!..I would surely like to know your opinion.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Humans and Men!


A while ago..a morning, Rica, my younger daughter got a genuine doubt..

Why did you say “Woman”, Mama?! Who is that?, she asked taken by surprise at this new word that she heard, passed off as something that everybody should be knowing.

Rica, you are a girl, right?!, Mama asks.

And N (refering to a little boy!) is a boy, right?!

Same way..Mama is a “Woman” and Dad is a “Man”,  Mama explains to her..

She just stared at me for sometime trying to decipher what I told her….

Another way to call Mom’s and Dad’s, I must’ve led her to think…I thought!. But, thinking she was. I could see that gaze, she was giving to the wall, her mind was running... !

After all that explanation… the next night..she let me know why she had to think so hard after what I had explained. She didn’t agree with my version.

She told me

“Mama!  Mama’s are Humans and Dad’s are Men. felt good to know that even a small kid thinks Mama’s are Humans and Dad’s are not! Smile

Friday, January 27, 2012

Practice makes perfect or bugs perfect?!


Doesn’t every parent want to think that their kid is the smartest kid on the planet?  I am guilty of that thought too! Actually, if you come to think .. aren’t the kids all really?! In their own different way…but, sure! Some of them so adventurous, new languages.., new ways of thinking, new approach, with no fear of being dismissed, no fear of failure, while some, so comfortable in their own zone,  but too good in what ever they do..None of these to me, mean that one is better than the other. It just means some of them are risk takers and some of them like to play it safe. 

Some kids, very good thinkers, able to make profound statements, think deep, and some who love to be the happy go lucky kind. Some very artistically inclined and some multilingual. Some very good at articulating their feelings while some who prefer to not express as much.  Some clumsy at social skills but so good at motor skills..and vice versa.

Some hate to be put in limelight but, would love to get that much more attention from their family nonetheless. Some accept the fact that they like to be in limelight and don’t miss any opportunity to snatch one. Some so curious and some like taking things the “bindas” way. In the end its all their personality and I don't have a dearth in dealing with different personalities here in our home.

Sure they are all girls but, with personalities so varied and yet in a way all of these personalities are in some kind of a celestial sync with the other.

As best as we parents think we need to take them along a path, we would work best only as guides. Sure, we have the advantage of being experienced in life but, haven’t we also built up prejudices along the way. I remember there were so many opinions that I had as a youngster, influenced by my upbringing or the society I lived in, today those opinions have changed, some vanished and some totally opposite from what I was then. My experiences have added value to my opinions. (In my opinion, that is!)

In my view, these young minds are best left to explore themselves as they grow. We parents, sure should be available to guide them if they get stuck.. We should be there to warn them of any impeding dangers with knowledge we've gained from our past experiences  (or,  bias we’ve formed due to these very experiences)…what ever the case, in the end it is the kids who have to make a choice..which dream to follow or how. 

Ah!! so logical, so right.. all this sounds..and yet, I find it so difficult to practice..too theoretical for me!  I’m sure by the time I finish’re going to tell me…. your ways are so contrary to your opinion! Just like most of you parents, faced with this dilemma called, How to be the best parent?!

Even the tiniest tot has dreams. Aren’t you bombarded with the “I wish I could do …” ,  “I wish I could have….”, type-a things from you toddler or preschooler?!

Sure, Richa’s wishes change everyday but, this preschooler does have dreams too and to that end..she will try to achieve them in the best ways she knows.  The triplets now big kids..much aware than before, steer clear of making I want to be a ------, when I grow up.  P is too confused. She seems to find herself among the smart .. and yet she feels, if she continues in that direction, will it take a toll on her artistic skills? And would her pursuing her musical talent confuse the footing even more?!

“So, what should we do when we grow up,Mama, what should we become?!” , they have asked sometimes feeling too bewildered by this placement.

Suddenly, it dawned on them, this whole aspect of what they want to become when they grow up is much more complicated than they had anticipated. It had been so simple after graduating from pre-school, when N had wanted to be a cleaning lady when she grew up..and P had wanted to be a married woman while K wanted to a computer engineer. 

“It sure will be for you to decide when you grow up..the field of study, you desire the most”, we say (clearly setting expectations) but, with a lot of disclaimers, adding some more commotion to their already disturbed minds, that, I end up making stop obscuring the situation further.

Sometimes they get amazed by their own capabilities because they aren’t able to see a bigger picture, as we parents are able to.  N is amazed at the rate she’s writing paper after paper in the quest to get her article selected for some magazine.  The other day..she says..self complacently..

“Isn’t it amazing that I’m reading up all these books?!”, Modesty has no place in her room! But, her sisters bring her back to reality with what else they know. And with a Dad who’s such a voracious reader himself..she has no dearth of getting the best selections.

Sometimes as parents we need to make them aware of their talents to foster their confidence, and yet sometimes, its important to make them realize that being smart is not a means to an end.  It take 5% genius but 95% perseverance to achieve a goal.

Thus stressing on the importance of practice because, in the end what will get them to succeed is perseverance alone.  They get to hear the “P” word everyday…and it does bug them..because it takes away every free moment of their life, that they plan to have..but, they have no clue what they would do with those free moments if they had been left with it. 

In such a situation, if they don’t find themselves chatting with their friends on the internet, (Speaking of which…I’m amazed how or when, these kids pick up these tools so fast.. The other day I found N meddling with the “History” tab on the browser!!)  it wouldn’t take 10 minutes for them to get into an argument with each other, in that shrill escalated voice…

“N!!!! you are disturbing me when you ….”

“How would you feel..if I did it…”
”K!!!! did you listen to me .. when I complained last?!!!!”

A busy schedule for them saves them from all these squabbles and a voice tired Mom from shouting across the Palle hallways..

“Now…Cut it out!!! “  “You have 5 secs to stop that ruckus..!”

Not that I have a plan for after the 5 secs, that would be better than shouting..but, I don’t shy from using this tool anyways..

As much as I thought that we were overdoing this “practice” thing with our kids, the other day at school .. after their musical recital at the winter concert…their school Principal made a statement that made me think..they’re being given these lectures at school too!

She referred to this eminent Psychologist and Scholar  Anders Ericsson’s 10000 Hour Rule that says..It takes approximately 10000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill, to becoming an expert at a skill.   Which means that it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject.

The kids have been made aware of the importance of practice.  The triplets feel that they master the Ragas so easily they don’t need to sit down to practice for even 2, half hour sessions a week.  Their Dad’s usual statement to the kids..

“You know kidos, I don’t have the talent to produce a note in the way its supposed to be heard..but, with determination I can make progress. If I had even a fraction of your talent..I would’ve been a rock star by now!” ,

That, he’s made this statement so many times,  it won’t surprise me if  the kids are just going to snap back “100th time Papa!”, the next time he utters it..

And I don’t miss any opportunity to emphasize this myself. About,  the importance of practicing. Exercising the voice muscle! that’s what I call it!

“Its all muscle memory that’s going to help you make all the gyrations in the voice, that you see your Guru do.. Same thing with the instruments too. “ If your fingers have to get adept at moving smoothly..”P” is the key, I try to enforce.

It was like this Principal had spoken my mind and provided enough support to hammer this thought even more into my kids. She also set the ground for me to perfectly answer their question of

“What do we do when we grow up?!”

For something you genuinely enjoy doing for its own sake, stick with it, keep learning more about it, and after a decade or so, you can't help but get good at it and feel proud of yourself.

Talent is just the 95% thing that does it for somebody, its that 5% part, where you struggle to put in time and effort into practice, what people call perseverance that would take you that extra mile….is my constant mantra to my kids, be it academics or talent!  I plan to stick to this, until they will form a Union among themselves to boycott me if I repeated that again!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to break up?! Testing 1, 2, 3


Last night’s interesting conversation at the dinner table

P: “Mama, I broke up with R today!”

Insider: R is a Girl!

Mama: Last night..both of you were hugging each other and today you broke up?!

P: Yeah! I broke up with her because V is my new beast best friend. Then I came home and sent her a sorry email…

Insider: V is a girl too!!!

N: But she said she would delete P from her email listing.

Mama: You delete her too two times…. (trying to sound jocular!)

Mama: Anyways P! can you explain me how you break up?! What do you have to do…to be able to “Break Up”.

P: You shout at each other like “I can’t be with you anymore!” and walk away in the opposite direction…

Trying to illustrate the scene…

P: This is how we do it…You know Mama, V actually tested it out….She stood across the hallway and looked at …

At this point Mama couldn’t help expose her poker face and burst out in a belly wrenching laughter…

The opportunities for these internet generation kids to break up and patch up…are 24x7 now.  They could just not be able to sleep through the night of a break up and just decide to send an instant message to patch up, thanks to smart phones and really generous parents who offer them the gadgets and the unlimited plan options the wireless firms offer. Really amazing, the generation we are bringing up..Are we capable of this? It made me think.

Having been trained a teacher..and with the software development experience I realize the importance of both visual aids and testing…but, this new internet generation kids have taken these concepts to a new level that’s beyond our stone age upbringing. 

I didn’t realize they had visualized breaking up to be such a visual act.   And what if the act of breaking up doesn’t create the impact its supposed to..?!  What if the process of delivering the break up routine turns out to be an “Epic Failure”, like P had described her break up test..

Now we’ll soon have ISO 9005..or , CMM level 10 certified breaking  up routines and how about certified patching up routines too. That makes more sense to me..Patching up! Undo a break up!. OMG!  Thinking about does!

See…P wasn’t able to patch up with her friend R, inspite of the sorry email. There sure must be a fail safe way or maybe it depends on the personality.. Different styles for different personalities,  Fit to your size patch up routines…or one size fits all type-of routines. All tried and tested routines. Facebook or smart phone facilitate that!

My! What age do I belong to?!!! Such endless possibilities.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An amateur photographer’s take.


A big part to my experiences as a mom, I love capturing my mommy moments on camera! That’s how I have always journeyed, since the day the triplets were born … by pictures, until one fine day I found the beauty that words a picture, and started to write.. Nothing says better,  than pictures, if you can show it!

I’ve spent a great deal of my time in the last year learning the technicals behind making a better picture.  I feel like I want to be in a professional’s shoes as soon as possible and learn all their tricks in a day’s time.  Its not like the student days anymore..where all the time available was yours to have … to spend on learning something you want. You are a parent and kids need your attention! Thanks to Hubby dear who makes it possible for me to explore more and more of my dreams even as a parent.

Its true, it take a lot of practice to really know what to shoot and how. There are a myriad set of options there to control..and so less time to fiddle with your camera.  Your presence of mind should be with you too…to help you towards that endeavor..Even that takes practice!

The more you get your camera out and shoot scenes that may seem uninteresting..the more you will start to find a story in it. I am lucky…in that respect like most other moms. I didn’t need to think much, I could always see a story when I see my children.  I’m always like a director with those squared hands pointing my camera at my family....That’s how I’m always watching them.…through the lens.


Now, come on! don’t start to picture me standing like that and deal with my kids ..because its just a dramatized version of my thoughts!

The equipment plays a big part in your realization towards your goal. From a financial point of view, if there was a choice to blog using words to pictures..words would win hands down. ( I know, I know, I can see Hubby dear frantically flailing his hands on the table to second that thought..!!! Just to clarify Dear, that was just a passing thought! Doesn’t mean much) 

I love the thrill of creating a picture I have in mind..myself! Its a high..A melodious feeling. Its the most satisfying of all.  I’m sure there’s a lot of pictures available on the internet to emulate a feel but, nothing provides the peace in my heart if it was created by me!


No wonder we admire all those professional photogs in the field who spend hours/days/months/years on getting that shot ..

Everyday I wake up with a feeling, I want to get that level of photography and I want to do it at rocket speed. I’ve learnt over time..buyign an expensive camera does buy you more options in the camera but, doesn’t buy you the skill to expose correct!

Using the camera is a skill, even if we are good at composing or seeing things artistically…it takes so much practice to be able to turn all those dials and buttons so fast to catch the moment and most times the moment escapes the camera. 

Since I’m not sure what I can write to educate on photography in laymen terms because I myself am still an amateur..Let me just start of by talking about my camera settings.

Almost 100% of the time I find myself shooting in the Manual mode.  I had written previously, about the different modes available in a DSLR, the point and shoot mode, the aperture mode, the shutter priority mode etc.. There’s one I had not talked about and it was the Manual mode, “M” mode on the Nikon DSLR.

In this mode, we need to set the aperture value and shutter speed ourselves. I always have the ISO set to the minimum and don’t usually change it except in low light situations to bump up the brightness a bit.. 90% of the time, it’s set to 200 on my D90 Nikon, or the D700 Nikon.

The next setting that’s important to me in my camera is the metering mode. Most DSLRs have focus points. I’ve used ones that came with 11 focus points, 21 focus points and 51 focus points. These are the circles that light up on your view finder when you focus. The Nikon D5100 has 11 focus points and various metering modes. The D700 has 51 focus points which I’ve set to use only 21 points on my camera.

In a point and shoot mode, to decide the exposure, the camera has an internal light meter, that measures the light its getting exposed to. The light meters in the new DSLRs are supposedly too good to decide the exact exposure to make, in a point and shoot mode or any other semi-auto modes. Still, there are situations that can fool the meters to over expose or under expose. 

Suppose your camera focuses on a very bright spot in the frame..then, the camera tends to underexpose the whole picture to overcome that brightness..and in case you end up focusing on a darker the frame..then, the camera tends to over expose for the rest of the frame. So, most times..I’m unhappy with the exposure I get in the aperture mode so, I end up in the manual mode “M” where I can control the exposure myself  in conjunction with the spot metering in the camera.

Many people have tried to explain this concept of metering in the camera in so many ways, confusing interpretations between Canon and Nikon..Here I am going to stick only to the Nikon’s version of metering since I have no exposure to  Canon DSLRs.

Some blogs on metering, I totally disagree with for sure…Here is my take. There are 3 metering modes in the Nikon.

The spot metering mode that meters for a spot in the frame, the center weighted metering that is self explanatory, it place more weight to the center of the frame and then we have the matrix metering.

The matrix metering in laymen terms is the automatic metering.  In other words, the camera is guessing what is your subject, what you are focusing on…which point of your frame needs to be the sharpest, which for me has never been satisfactory enough although kenrockwell…swears by this. Maybe it is a good metering mode to choose when you use point and shoot or when you shoot landscapes with higher aperture values.

In cases where you make blurry backgrounds, that is, when you use lower aperture values…because of the shallow depth of becomes all important to be able to choose the exact spot on the frame that needs to be exposed correctly and stay sharp in focus.

In case of portraits or people pictures, even animals with blurring surroundings..its very important to get their eyes sharp and properly exposed.  If the eyes are not sharp..there is no point of the photo itself.

So, most times I found myself switching to spot metering  and move the focus circle to where the eye is showing in the frame. For eg,

_DSC8040 as Smart Object-6 test

This was a picture I clicked of my daughter on her Birthday.. Here, the surroundings was blurred out to make the picture appear dreamy.  Because of low light I had the aperture wide open at 1.4. Further, I had to lower the shutter speed to 45, and had bumped the ISO a bit too 800 and the EV was set to +5.  ( I had tried using the flash..but wasn’t happy with the picture. I just love natural light being used in photography.)

This aperture value makes the picture have a very very shallow depth of field.  Therefore, it became very important to make Richa’s eyes the focus point in the picture. So, while shooting I had the focus point move to the top left of the frame. I didn’t care for the rest of the frame..Even if Richa’s body would have blurred a was OK..but, her eyes needed to be in focus or the picture would loose its value.

It is for such situations, I find myself in the spot metering mode 100% of the time I am shooting people.

My Aperture values in Manual Mode:

Depends on the light in the day.. If I want blurry backgrounds and my subjec to pop out a bit…making sure the environment is bright enough,..I’m mostly fixed between 2.8 to 5.6.   Most cameras are supposed to have a sweet point in the aperture value.when the pictures are the sharpest. Most Nikon pros have pointed out that 5.6 is the magic number for them, while making a nicely blurred background.

My Shutter Speed settings in Manual Mode:

I start off with setting it around 1/125 for a bright day and raise or lower it depending on the outcome of the first clicks.  If the image is brighter than I want..I raise this number..(In other words I’m increasing the speed at which the shutter clicks thereby, reducing the light entering the camera)…

If the image is coming darker..I lower the shutter speed some more and keep doing that..until close to the focal length of the lens..after that, I evaluate if the aperture value can be turned down some more..say to 4….and then some more. For, if you are clicking your pictures hand held…shutter speed settings below the focal length of your lens, may give you blurs unless your hands are as steady as a tripod! That is…if your lens is an 85mm focal length..then, a shutter speed of less than 1/85 will most probably give you a blur…

Also realize that every time you stop down the aperture by 1 stop .. the light entering the camera is surely going to be doubled..but the depth of field is also going to get shallower. Is that what you want?!

Sometimes, raising the ISO … on cloudy days to about 400..helps too! I’ve used higher ISOs in low light situations upto 1100, 1600 and don’t see any noise in the picture.  The new camera sensors have improved a lot in that respect.

Image Format settings:

Most DSLR camera’s support image formats. Raw and JPEG.  In my camera, I always set the format to RAW+basic JPEG.

The basic JPEG file gives you an immediate preview of the image taken. Raw files are huge and take up lots of memory.  Now, what is this raw file?

It’s the complete lossless, uncompressed image data as recorded by the camera’s sensor. The files structure is unreadable and proprietary to the the camera manufacturer. One needs software to convert this raw file to jpeg.  Nothing sounds nice, right?!  It has no feel washed out and is not sharp.  Can’t print and can’t see. Needs to be processed on the computer!!!

But, it has every bit of information that you can collect of the scene you just captured. 

On the other hand… a JPEG is a standard readable image format. It has a standard 8 bits per color size..that gives a range of 16.8 million colors. Its compressed and hence a very lossy format. So, we have smaller file sizes. Doesn’t have big dynamic range of colors but, the image is sharper, contrasty, printable…..and all this is possible because the image has been processed by the camera internally.

When you click, the camera’s internal software will take the information off of the sensor and process it before it saves the image to your card. It renders all that colors it thinks is the closest to the scene and throws out all the other shades of colors that fall out of the gamut of those 16.8 million colors because it doesn’t recognize them.   So, color information is lost and images are more noisy than a raw version. Still the quality of JPEGs in most DSLR’s are good.  To me..this is a very lossy format.  To experiment, try this..

You click a picture vertical and check its size before you flip it.. Now change its orientation from landscape to portrait, and check the image size.. A few pixels of data are lost in the process. You will find the file size smaller than before.  Most JPEGs don’t need any edits but, if you do edit, make sure you don’t edit the image a number of times because every time you open a JPEG file and save it..information is lost, pixel information is thrown away!

Now, if image quality is of atmost importance to you and the file size is a non issue then, you should be shooting in RAW. In the case of RAW.. all that in camera processing that happens automatically inside your camera is now done on the computer by YOU, in your DIGITAL DARKROOM!

You are in total control of how you render colors to the image,  how bright, or dark you want to make the image, add contrast or remove highlights or reduce noise ..decide the white balance etc.  There are a lot of software s that process Raw images. I use the Camera Raw which is part of the Photoshop software package. Nikon also provides software to convert the raw images to JPEG.

Picture Control settings:

How effective do you want the colors to show. If you want stronger saturations in your pictures..You can set this to vivid. If not , you can leave it at the “standard” setting.  I have it set to “Vivid”.

White Balance settings.

I leave this in the auto mode because the newer DSLRs are so good with automatically selecting the right white balance..its worth trusting the camera on this.  But, this topic of white balance is such a tricky one, leads to a lot of other information like using 18% grays cards, color cards..color profiles, and color management in general. To big a topic to even explore when thinking basic photography….

These are some of the basic settings I deal with everyday…while shooting in natural light.