SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year is in!

New year is in!

You know I am this nostalgia freak, so here I go again!

New year eve, was a blast when growing up. We either went to someone's house, or we had people home, or if my father could not get people home because they were doing things at their home, then the family gathered together and that crowd is enough to fill a mini bus, I assure you.

He would catch all cousins and relatives passing through, invite them over and make it an occasion! Regardless of that fact that slightly grown up occupants in the house would like to make other in my Uncles or myself for that matter!! He would pout...and we would all tow the line, oblige him by pulling ourselves over to the drawing room for a fun filled New Year Bash.

This Bash , ran along the same lines almost every year!!

( I am going to be pulled up for this post!! But hey, I realised today, Jan 1st 2011, that I have some more white hairs and that entails me to a bit more honesty!)

Food...from my mothers fragrant kitchen ( many times potluck, as my aunts pitched in)

Nostalgia...from everyone's lips,as you will be aware by now, my father's friends and family were usually old( ok, so I get it from there!)

Music...was live; as all those who could sing, would not sing, could not sing, did sing, did not sing, did not want to sing were made to sing!!

Dance...accompanied the singing, usually this was lead by a contigent of the tiny tots in the house.

Stories abounded, bonding abounded!

Now lets cut to after wards....

The first new year after marriage was great.....we slept in!

Over the years depending on my mood, or the place we are living in at that time, we either join a group, or we don't.
Left to my partner; we don't, and left to me; we do!

This year my daughter wanted to bake a cake, and I did it for her. In spite of a splitting headache and a reluctant hand. I was not the epitome of happiness when I did it. And she knew that. Yet she was patient and gentle with me.
The cake came out well, well...she liked it, or did she say that to make me happy? I wonder.

Any occasion, is very well that. These days and dates are reminders to us to apply that break. To take a look at the past, present and future. To reorient ourselves to reality and future possibilities. We can do it on any day, why you can do it on Jan 5th and make it the New year...

Yet the message in this is that we take a day for ourselves to assess, evaluate and assimilate be with ourselves and our dream new possibilities and opportunities for reinvent a new way of living for ourselves... every New Year....

Start afresh with new hopes....
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sibling Bonding

"Amma, he is putting his foot in my mouth!"

"Amma, he is not letting me into the bathroom"!

"Amma, he is kicking me"

"Amma he has taken my pencil"

"Amma he is trying to remove my panties!!!!!"

"Amma she is calling me cheeky( as in chubby cheeks!!)!"

"Amma she is staring at me"

"Amma she is teasing me"

"Amma she is irritating me"

"Amma he is an idiot, pig, I hate him"

"Amma ask her to get out of the house...."

Hullo.....What do we have here??!

They torment and trouble each other, they fuss and fight, they argue and crib...they are a circus pantomime with-all-the-sound-effects act.

I wonder how and where we are heading with this. I am ineffectual as you can see. Poor disciplinarian. I am either pacifying one or the other. Or at other times, just plain give up and ask them to please take a knife and kill each other...

Ok...I know that's rotten and not to be said at any given time....but I go berserk at times...and so you know where they get it from...and so on and so forth...and the vicious cycle goes on....

Yet there is hope...
(Isn't my blog about that always??!!)

I see the two finally in bed.

"Amma story, story", says the younger brat.

"Not today, I am not happy with your behaviour " I say, in my best supercilious tone.

"Ok, then U will tell me"

Hey hold on, what's going on here??!...


He just turns to the most hated occupant of the house and asks her to tell a story...( I don't even hear a please, or maybe the tone has it).

And she does.

It's tata-bye bye mommy and happy times for the twosome.

Wow, they can do a turnabout I think.

Here is another...

Somewhere in the middle of the day, He actually serves her with a bowl of sweets, and she says...hold your breathe...
"Love u da"

Whoa, that's a bombshell in my ears....

Happy and delighted...sure, definitely!!

Then, what is that other rigmarole all about??

Sibling Bonding??

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

deep anguish

The pathos and anguish in his voice will wring your heart. The depth of the loss is so heartfelt...
How can a man show so much it natural?

I am touched and moved..
Nothing has moved him so...ateast I have not seen such deep set emotion in the man

I am bewildered...

"Is it real?" I ask him.

"Are you capable of such emotion, can anything move you so?"

"Oh, yes" came the reply, from nearly tear filled eyes and choked throat....

"India lost the match"

( I know India won the match against South Africa, but this display was for the previous one we lost!!!!!!!!!!!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sepia thoughts

I am on the other side of 35 now. Past 36 as well....
Darn, and I don't know what happened the past 15 years!!
So here I go looking back, the very thing many, many people tell you Not to do.

Don't live in the past. Be in the present...Now! Is what they say.

But hold on...memories are sweet to savour.

Take me to those sweet moments with my Thatha and Paati.

Paati (grandmum) who would tell me time and time again. "You are very good girl S, but you are very short tempered. You have to do something about that!"

So after Art of Living and Landmark Forum, finally at this ripe old age I can say I am nearing that desire of controlling my temper. ( Near and Dear ones may beg to differ...still the sceptics know not what I have in store for them!)

Thatha who would be waiting for me to come home after roaming the streets and visiting many possible friends, would be glad to see how many restrictions I impose on my off springs now that I am in the same position!

As I was writing this post, my mother sends me a bunch of old photographs that she has cleared from her cupboard....that now is all set to fill up mine!

There is a resistance in me to see the pictures, a reluctance to go through the past yet again.

No mistakes here, I had a terrific childhood and as my friend delicately put it, a "spoilt one"!! I completely accept the terminology and I can definitely assure you it was so! Those were really fun days, of irresponsibilities, freedom, routine, and a total dedication to living in the isn't that life!

My children are fascinated with some of the earliest and I am glad the photos are serving their purpose. I failed to mention that the reason for so many photos of the decade and half of my initial years was due to the over enthusiastic parent and his passion for photography. (He still has his first camera, a box shaped one!).

There are so many pictures as I enter my teen, I cringe to look at! Over sized spectacles, boot black face( I was in NCC), clothes, for the life of me I cannot understand why I wore them!! So there comes my reluctance.

I can remember most of the places I see on the photographs. Yet some remain vague memories of events that have insignificantly passed on.

There is one of all the cousins; a rare one indeed.

There is one of old, old friends. Friends who I remember but never thought we had on print!

Events and celebrations, people there and not there. I look for the ones missing and wonder why I never captured them. I realise that many people who were important have diminished and vanished from my life, while others who were diminished have significantly come back again. They are captured in my mind's eye only and occupy no other space.

I remember the emotions, reflected on the faces that look at me from the pictures.

I understand the space that I was in when I look at the pictures.

I recapture the distance I have travelled from those captured moments.

I sit on my newly acquired rocking chair, like the old Momma that I am, and wonder at the wonders that we create in this life that we travel.
The people that we meet, hold or let go...and the people we are yet to meet
The places we visit, revisit...and wish to visit
The things that we collect or reject...and hope to collect

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Books For the Carnival!

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(click on collage for enlarged view)

Yes, finally got to put this post up!!

It was carnival time at SSK, and I have been canvassing Pratham books for some time here. So decided to get a stall and sell the books!!

I was so excited; so much so that when I sold 5 sets of books at one go, I got the addition all wrong! ( typical if I say so myself!!)

The folks at Pratham Books were very sweet, not only did they support my eccentricity they had done a great job too. The books arrived all packed in sets of 5 to 6 books, costing 100 to 115 only! Thanks Sanjay!

I really believe the low cost books are amazing in their simplicity of story, and classy in terms of paper quality. Ideal for children who are first time readers/learners of the English language.

I also found a friend in need! Rajini, a Librarian with many years of experience and many more years of passion for books, sat with me at the stall. She too volunteers at the school as the resource room in charge (perfect don't you think?!. That's her in the picture. Terrific saleswoman too, asking and yelling to all sundry to buy Books this Christmas!

We had a blast!

Hope to trumpet Pratham Books at every given opportunity...
Here's to putting a book in every child's hand...
...and here's to spreading the Joy of Reading...

Friday, December 24, 2010

where do i belong?

where do i belong?
a soulless heart

hanging in between
i am neither here nor there

the illusion around
creates my reality

a soul in search
of dreams and destinies

paralleling streams
flowing somewhere

they dare not meet
except nowhere

thoughts reach anywhere
swirling spirals of self,

eddies from the past
cascade into the future

time's fool
un-determine your self

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Game Time Folks

We play games.
Thanks to the path breaking book authored by Dr.Eric Berne by the same name “Games People Play”, all of us, or at least most of us have some awareness of this.
The blame game is one
The victim game another.
The martyr game is another.
The high judge is another.

So now that you have started thinking on these lines. I am sure you are telling yourself,
“No way, I don’t play any game”.
Or you could be saying “Ok I blame at times, but I am not a victim”
Or you could be saying “Hey every one plays games”

Oh Yes, we play games. And no matter what, these games run (and ruin) our lives and our thoughts.

It is only that we don’t or can’t recognize the games that we play.

Ok, so this is what happened.

My daughter is in her preteens! She is the sweetest, mildest and most tolerant soul in the world. But she has her pet peeves and triggers (don’t we all?!). That’s where the father and daughter clash (I have different clashes with her!!).

He openly mocks her, and pulls her leg, and teases her for her different irksome behaviors. That ranges from not eating her lunch fast enough, not wearing enough clothes (so typically male, if you ask me), answering back…..

She tried telling him (doesn’t seem to work), because her telling him always ends in whining or crying (hers), and his continued unabashed mocking/ teasing.
She tried telling me. I am stuck trying to remain balanced between the two. Sometimes telling one to back off, and sometimes telling the other.
(No help at all, she decided.)

Well its Game time folks.

And she hit where it would needle dad the most. Pointing out he is eating too much, or asking him to leave some for the others, or asking him why he needs to eat so much!!

This is tough for me to write, as you can see and I can see how nasty and low, and mean this is becoming. What seems like a low down, mean behaviour is nothing but the game this young one has learnt to play, because….because she does not know any other way to handle this.

Many times I refrain from interfering with these father and daughter dialogues or repartees. Yet this time I did.
I have freshly returned for my sessions with the Landmark Forum, and one of the basic exercises we do, (which I believe I knew what with my psychology background, but I never used or applied it effectively in my life) is to see how and what games we, as people play with each other.
And here it was; a wonderful display. A fantastic game of criticizing and being criticized going on between 2 really nice people.

My point here is that we don’t even know we are playing games. When this escalates I know it will lead to a lot of bitterness, and anger. The only way to snip this is to make them see the game they are playing, and ask them to Stop!

If you would really like to read up about Eric Berne and his work which lead to the development of Transactional Analysis, then click on the link below.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My little helper

His favourite place is by my side. Peeping over my shoulders, peering from a gap betwixt my arms.
How much?
What next?
What do I add now?
Amma, Amma, Amma…

Questions and queries are fired at me.
Yes. He is my little helper!
The kitchen is where he likes to be… with me. Giving me a helping hand whether I want it or not! He pulls up a stool and places it right where I need to stand near the stove!

“Can we place this to the left a bit?” I ask politely.
“Ammmmma…I can’t see then” he whines.
I roll my eyes in exasperation, as I try to move the furniture to a spot mutually agreeable by us!

Then the instructions start.
You have to tell me what you want. I will bring it for you is his reasonable request. Which I promptly forget as I reach out for this or that. Not that my kitchen is so large I can’t just put my hand out or up, and get it for myself. But I must heed the little boss.

Cut up with me, he upbraids me.

“I want to get it for you, I want to get it for you” he repeats his litany.
“Ok, Ok, get me the turmeric” I say.
“What’s that?” he asks
“The yellow powder, manjal”, I explain. And wait tapping my right slippered foot in impatience!

So now he clambers from the stool onto the narrow counter and reaches for the neatly lined containers trying to identify the turmeric. I watch with trepidation as this is too close to the stove for me to relax.

“This is red” he says.
“Careful, that’s chili powder” I say, and he jumps back as if I have just told him it is a live snake! It’s quite funny to watch him quickly pass his hands onto the next!

“This is a funny colour Amma, but it smells nice”.
“That’s Jeera powder”.
“What’s Jeera?” is his next question.
So jeera seeds (cumin) have to be produced now, and he runs his hands through them. Examining and noting!

"This says r...a...s...a...m", as he reads the label on the next container.
"Rasam powder K"

"Achoo, Achoo", he follows up with two sneezes as the rasam powder wiggles its way up his nose!

Every container needs to be inspected and questioned. And to his delight there are so many available there for research!

So you ask me did I get that turmeric off the shelf, and did I get my cooking done?

Oh yes! But it takes a while, double time, every time!
I try to be patient, not watch the clock and not shoo him away. But at times I have to and he goes with a disappointed look and an offended tone.
I can’t but help smile at his retreating back, and promise myself, next time. Next time I will let him hang on a few more minutes is what I tell myself. Yet I know its quite a task (multi task!) to do my cooking while he quenches his curiosity.

My little helper.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Light show: albeit a small one...karthigai

I was browsing for some stories about Karthigai, and found a very nice blog. Unfortunately I cant seem to leave comments on blogs which have disabled author verification. Can anyone tell me why and what I must do for that?
Here is the link

Here is another blog, that shares the story of Karthigai

So to my understanding the general consensus is that Shiva took the form of a fire column, in order to show Brahma and Vishnu that God is limitless.

Here is my question...
Then Why do Vaishnavaites( followers of the Protector God/ Vishnu) celebrate this event as well?

This is purely an academic question and does not reflect my religious or spiritual standing. I want to know the stories that Vaishnavaites are telling. All I know is that Shaivites and Vaishnavites light the lamp on 2 different days, and the first is called Annamalai Deepam and the second is Vishnu Deepam.

If any body has a link/ story please do tell.

Interestingly this festival is not only unique to Tamilnadu, where people light lamps on the the first full moon day which falls in the month of Karthigai, there are other communities that celebrate the most holy of all months( apparently)
* Bengali/Oriya do the Kartik puja, a five day celebration to Lord Shiva
* The Pushkar Mela ends on Karthik purnima
* Killing of Tripurasura by Lord Shiva
* Birth of Karthikeya or Murugan ( not quick gun, but the worshipped God!)
* Birth of the Matsya Avatar ( a new story for me!)
* Birth day of Vrinda, a form of Tulsi ( elsewhere a story associates this day with the marriage of Tulsi with the Shaligrama( ammonite fossil stone) form of Vishnu!
* This day also marks the day when Lord Krishna danced the rasa with Radha.
* The sikhs celebrate Guru Purab in this month ( Guru Nanak Jayanthi)
* Jains too consider this a holy month and go on a tirth yatra to Palitana( in Gujarat)

Finally what I liked best was that one link told me the first day is called "Appa Karthigai) because Appams ( the sweet round varieties) are made on that day, and the second day is called "Vadai karthigai" ( Vadai's are crispy deep fried lentil preparations). That so appeals to the foodie in me!!

Since I made appams yesterday, I am contemplating the vadai angle today!!

But one thing is apparent to me after all this research,Humans are such seekers of celebrations, nothing derogatory please...just that we can and do find reasons to make our lives a big festivity!!

here are some pictures from my light show:

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whats your Weekend story?!

Weekends are my favouritest!!
1) Most Saturday's Husband is at home;). Though children go to school, I love to have that extra person at home...told you I am a people's person.

2) I schedule most of my story telling on weekends...that's when most children are free you see

3) We eat out at least once, its become a norm now.

4) Its the time I plan all creative, fun, out of the house things.

5) I clean the house. I don't know why I do this. Not that I work a full job on week days but I tend to keep my big cleaning for weekends, a habit I have from when I needed extra help and that would be available, I guess, only over the weekend!

6)Catch up with family. All long distance calls!

7) Make that new dish I've been wanting to for some time! Of course I tend to skip this when we eat that meal out!

8)Read the newspaper in a leisurely way. A lot of exchange of articles happen, as I point out what interests me and He points out his. Usually there is a pattern here, as he points out some major issues happening in the world, while I point out some tiny quirky thing happening in some corner of the world!

9)The children have full freedom to bicker, fight and make up with their weekend parent (Dad). Every weekend we have an episode. Father swears he doesn't know how/where the children have picked up some habits, and so applies himself to it's correction. Which usually ends in a lot of drama and dialogue. So Mother has to intervene with all good intentions of appeasement, only to realise, things would be well ( very well) without this other dimension!

10) I en cash on the partner's availability and keep all my discussion, thinking for these two days, as He can only exist in these 2 zones (Home and Office) independently and not together! So week ends are Home time and so our Boat sails smoothly on!

So share with me your Weekend Stories. The mundane and the exciting...the normal and the abnormal...what makes your weekend?!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

More conversations...

Here are some more words that I carry with me...

Very few thoughts spring from self produced data, much less self produced preferences. The mind is filled with reactive thought- thoughts that spring from the experience of others.

For example ( he says, and I love this) is our root thought about money. That it is bad ( it's great to have money, how can you not benefit from it?!). So we run around and lie to ourself and tell yourself we don't like money which becomes rooted in our thoughts.Which in turn prevents us from honestly reaching for it.

From early childhood I remember these words echoed in my ears and the negativity associated with money. Frankly money is not the root of any problem it is only how we use it that can cause problems.
Unfortunately these very thoughts about money makes it difficult for me to turn into an entrepreneur and I have to deal with many internal issues when it comes to charging clients/people for my sessions.
You see; we are raised thinking, asking money ( albeit for a good cause )is wrong. This may seem a little atavistic to the modern reader, but it surely exists in me as a conditioned learning. So reading here, words to effect that say we need to recreate new thinking about money and its presence/ value in our lives, is a tremendously liberating idea. One that is congruent with the questions that I have been asking myself.

A small point that I make here is that personally having chosen to walk an uncommon path, that is Special Education when I was 21, again it was assumed that I was in it for my highly developed sense of social responsibility and altruism.
Not at all, I always wanted to make money from whatever profession I chose, yet the struggle was doubly difficult as the challenges in India to make these jobs lucrative is very high. Unless one also supplements with house calls and tutoring on the side.
Yet now having moved on and found my calling and passion in Stories, I am faced with similar challenges as people assume that a job that gives me so much of happiness must be shared free of cost!
Asking and taking money for something that you love to do and that which you do very well is very much your fundamental right!
(I am not there yet....will get there!!)

So now you see how I have been blown up and away by a sea storm of words, a conversation that echoes its wisdom in my ears.

I now view my relationships, my core values, and my being self with greater regard than I ever did before.
An awakening you may say.
A period of restlessness and questioning.

With that I sum up my review, albeit a hotch potch, a haphazard statement of thoughts and words. The essence of the book I believe is here in 3 pieces for you to savour, while the main dish awaits you in any book shop.
There are 2 more conversations, but I believe I am not yet ready to pick up a sequel, it may mar the feel that I have for the first.

Well like I said before...I will wait for it to find me.....!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Say More: Conversations....


Never do anything in a relationship out of a sense of obligation. Do whatever you do out of a sense of the glorious opportunity your relationship affords you to decide, and to be, Who You really Are.

Can you feel the impact of these words?
When we don a martyr role, or for that matter victim role, we are constantly telling ourselves we have no choice.
But we do. We have a choice to Be, to Do and to Say, and in the saying being Understood.
The reality in this is changing the want to a have. Take what you want from the world, don't leave it at a wanting, Have it!

Thought- word- deed . You create a thought, express it and follow it up in action.
Oh! How difficult this appears to be for me! Most of the time I have a thought, and I cant find the words to express it let alone follow it through with an action.
Now the author says this is not the only way to do things. Another way is to commit the act, then say the words that you want to have new thoughts about.

Sounds complicated?
Personally this is my greatest challenge. I usually keep my thoughts to myself, especially if I know it is not congruent with what my partner thinks or does. I don't have the same problem when I operate with children, but in most of my adult relationships I have this auto shut down, which keeps what I think to myself.
Now as I start expressing my thoughts, in the manner in which I feel is congruent with my true self. I feel at peace....yet I know this new me does not rest easy with others who see me say and do things, in a way that I have not done before!

I can say I love to celebrate, have fun and party!
I can say I love to be with people!
I can say I am crazy, irrational, emotional!
I can say I have a flaming temper!
I can say I love to blow steam and then bask in its aftermath, to think why or what made me behave in that way.
I can say I don't like to be calm and measured all the time!
I can say I am Peace and Chaos rolled in one!
I can say I love arguments and irrational logic...that's fun to work with. That's why children are fun!
I love the love/hate we have in a relationship! Especially with children....
I love negativity as much as positivity, for in both there is learning. Yet I want to be with positive thoughts always.
I love to have my thinking challenged.
I love to rethink all my thoughts and not rest on any old thought! To reinvent and recreate new thinking every day!

I know that all this to translate into a functional world is my greatest dream and challenge!

Conversations with God

Ok, I've never done a book review before. Only shared my stories and thoughts.
A book review you would or could point out is also a story, but, with the undiluted author in it.
I am a questioner and most of my learning happens when I question, discuss, argue, express, debate, discuss. Yet I can clam up if I find my co-debater is not interested, has no opinion or is just not that type.
That's when I go look for a book.

I don't go much for self help books. There is a bit of a hypocrite in me. Its not that books don't have answers for me. Not at all, in fact as I have mentioned before I go to books for a lot of my inner wranglings. Yet I find it difficult to pick up a book under the "self help" category and stick through with it.

Men are from Mars was one, Monk who sold his Ferrari(I did go back to this book recently and actually read it, back to back).

That makes me understand myself and my reading habits:
a) The books I read or I stick with is greatly dependent on my frame of mind at that particular period in time.
To elaborate, it simply means I have to really want or feel the need for a book and if I read it then, I can internalise what it says.

b) I read fiction in 24 hours.

c) I am still not ready for non fiction. Husband is prodding me to read Black Swan.

d) I can read 2 or even 3 books at the same time ( I have a cousin who did this when we were in college and I used to scoff at her attention deficit!). But now I find this a very engaging way to move between different thought worlds.

So now I am here to share with you the fact that I am paralleling between Eat Pray Love and Conversations with God.

The first is a very new age Self Help /Autobiographical read, while the second is is a book with its first edition in 1995!

Yet the message from both is so uniquely same and relevant to me, that I was picking up one book for a day, dumping it, then the other for a day and dumping that....Finally Conversations won and I finished it like a swimmer who holds his breathe for the last lap and presses forward for the win.

It is unique to say the least.

I am now a convert in terms of my Thinking. I go around telling myself "I have" and "I am" and try desperately to wipe away the "I want" phrases. If you cannot understand what I am saying then go for it. If you cannot identify with what's written, at least you will appreciate the manner, the style and the conversational, chatty tone.

Neale Donald Walsch is truly a gifted writer having a way with words. An uncommon dialogue indeed.

The book in fact has been lying around our house from 2006, and once again I can only say this, I always feel a book finds me and not the other way around.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Children's Day Special

Children's Day
The best time for storytellers!

I got super busy doing back to back telling sessions for kids. Sunday and Monday were packed with 3 story sessions and a workshop!

Telling a story where there is no defined space is a little tough. I feel a little vulnerable as I cannot guess or get a feel of who is watching me. Other wise it was great telling at the Bangalore Book Fair for Pratham books.The story was a lovely one about a Himalayan Bear called Bhabhloo Bear's Adventure.
Check out the write up on the Pratham Blog

My other super session was at an orphanage for which I was invited/sponsored by a friend who runs a library. Kannada not being my language for telling, I was not so sure, but my friend had done her homework well and it turned out the children could understand English very well. The children have switched to English medium just last year but I can tell you their understanding was excellent. It was a story called Mohini and Bhasmasura. A wonderful tale of courage and fearlessness shown by a young girl of 10.
I felt quite honoured to do this session for a group who really enjoyed the story and the message behind. I wound up that session by giving all the children a book mark with courage and confidence as the message on it.

Tolkein and Rowling tell stories with magic but for me Telling stories is magic!!

Check out the photos.





Friday, November 5, 2010

Phew! Thanks!!

It was PTA time and my daughter had prepared me well.

I know that Spellings and Handwriting are her nemesis. I keep telling myself, I need to work on her spellings.
...well...not done anything about that actively yet!

I land up at school and march into her class. All the parents too are seated at the desks waiting like school children for their report card!

I take my seat like a good Mom and start chatting with a fellow parent and friend. The usual cribs and complaints are exchanged and I wait expectantly to be called for (my) report card!

Yes! My number is called, and I hop, leap and jump to take the report.
A's and A+ flash at me. I smile and shake my head indulgently at the spellings and handwriting column.

That is when the teacher points out a section of the card that needs to be filled out. A box that asks for strengths and achievements.

Achievements; hmm...I contemplate on that. Children nowadays are Mini Achievers. Awards, Certificates, Prizes. Is that how I can feel proud of my child, or make the school proud?

As far as I am concerned my daughter is an achiever, she participates in every possible competition that comes her way, whether she gets a prize or not. That's not something I have taught her, that's who she is, and add to that the fact that she really doesn't care if she wins or not. She can come away and tell me"I had fun". ( Ok...truthfully...sometimes I do fret, that attitude is never going to get her a prize!...but that's the Type A in me!!)

Strengths; hmm...again I stare at her. There have been many occasions when I have drawn strength from her. Her unconditional and amazing display of affection and love for me keeps me going. I have wondered and asked her "Why" many times. She gives me a beautiful smile and says "Because"!! A word with infinite meaning and no meaning at the same time! That's her.

So what do I write about her strengths?

She is looking over my shoulder.

I feel a little apprehensive and time seems to slow down as both of us look at each other. She expectantly and me nervously. I am not joking.

Beads of perspiration form on my upper lip and I stare once again at the paper. I know what I am going to write will have a tremendous impact on her and this is a moment in her childhood that I am never going to forget.

What do I write?

I tentatively write; "Team Spirited".

She looks at me with a question on her face.

Then I quickly pen the words "Independent Thinker".

She breaks out into a smile.

I sigh with relief!

I know it is/was impossible to write my thoughts in that minuscule space given. Choosing the apt words is the most difficult task and then choosing the words that reflect her best.

Phew! I came away feeling grateful for this experience. Grateful that in such moments, a divine power literally guides our hand!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

In the Manner of Thinking...

Have you ever been there?

When your mind is in panic and your thoughts are washing over you in one negative wave after another, when it seems as if the world is suffocating you, when every breathe is like a coiled snake around your chest, and that very chest will burst, explode with grief and pain?

If you have, then I understand you and so read on...

If you have not, then to understand read on...

At these moments of pain and anger, or pain and despair, get out.

Go out of the house, put some distance between you and that which is causing this reaction in you.
and take yourself to a....bookshop...
Yes a bookshop...

Browse, look around, then pick up the first book that catches your attention, flip through it, stop at a page, read it...
In all probability you will find the answer you are looking for...


Try it.

This is not the first time I have done it...but I must confess this is the first time I have noticed how I reach to books for solace. I noticed how the answers we are looking for are within our sub conscious, and it is probably that which guides us to look for reassurances from the outside world.

By answers I don't mean solutions, not at all. Yet these lines and words that we do automatically reach out to, illuminate our path to understanding.

In all of this I feel as if there is a power beyond us, or is it within us(?), which is showing us...reflecting ourselves to us.

I don't remember the book I picked up, nor the author, but it told me that when expectations are not met, when we find that the other person is completely unmoved by your point of view, then replace the Anger that you feel with Dismay, and feel the changes that this thinking brings into your self, and how you handle the situation.

Anger and Dismay for me, are the flip side of the same coin.

With anger I react...many times irrationally, emotionally
but by changing it to dismay...I find the emotion is responsive and rational.

Why does the word make a difference?

Anger is telling you, You are right and they are Wrong, and the ego finds that processing this is hurtful , so reactive/ emotional.


Dismay is telling you You are right but they have not understood, and the ego finds ways and means to communicate this!

Simple?...Now Sceptical...?

Do try this with yourself and need to believe in this, as is true with any thing in life.
Also remember you need to go with a question...but believe me even without questions, many times the words that I pick out from a book seems to reflect my thoughts for that moment.

Changing the way we think after all is the most positive way to tackle situations, isn't it?

Since this post is very close to me, please do leave your thoughts....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Who is not a Storyteller?

* Storytelling is a human universal, and common themes appear in tales throughout history and all over the the world.
* These characteristics of stories, and our natural affinity toward them, reveal clues about our evolutionary history and the roots of emotion and empathy in the mind.
* By studying narrative’s power to influence beliefs, researchers are discovering how we analyze information and accept new ideas.

I have reached a stage in life when I run from definitions and formulae. Do I want to define anything? Do I have formulas for anything?

What does this have to do with the link and the points I have copied above?

On the surface they may not be related, but to me while I run away from such boundaries and lines, I am still searching internally for a common thread that binds my scientific side to my irrational side.

That's where I find storytelling.

I find when we tell stories we can fuse facts with fiction, and the merger is primarily what constitutes most of Evolutionary History and Scientific Inquiry.

Scientists fantasise about their theories, corroborating them with facts they tell us a story.
Historians collect facts and then place the people and emotions within a context to tell us a story.
Psychologists gather human emotions, thoughts and feelings to place them in scientific patterns and make their stories.
Physicist and Mathematicians by far are the most fascinating storytellers, as they delve into abstract worlds of numbers and concepts, to understand which we need to garner amazing amounts of imagination!
Biologists tell us stories of Evolution.
You get the point.....

Who is Not a story teller you tell me?

Nowadays when I listen to people talk, I hear stories.
I hear the source of their stories, I hear the context of their stories, I feel the characters, I feel their emotions, I see their narrative!

I believe it is a world I never want to leave...where facts and fiction fuse into a sensual world of words.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A story~~The Treasure we Hold~~

Thich Nhat Hahn

A beautiful book called A pebble for my Pocket by Thich Nhat Hahn.
It holds some valuable thoughts and stories that we can share with our children. In fact it is meant to be read by kids. As it explores mindfulness and meditation. It also helps children observe the world around them and experience the gift that nature bestows on us.

I picked out a story from this book, for our Ladies club event( a farewell once again!).

A rich man is in despair with his lazy son. He tries to tell him to change his ways and also tells him to hone a talent to help him in his life. Yet the son does not heed his father's word. The father is not one to let things rest, after much thought he calls his tailor and asks him to stitch a coat lined with fur for his son. Once ready, he hands this coat to his son and says that whatever is lost or taken away from him the son should ensure that he does not loose nor give away this coat. The son is amused but accepts his father's request.
As expected the father passes on, and the son is not mindful of his wealth, squanders it away and so looses all his possessions and friends. Destitute and desolate he wanders from place to place, not knowing which way to go or what to do. One night he reaches the brink of despair and lying under a tree he contemplates death. Tossing and turning he is not comfortable as he feels something poking his rib cage. He looks around, clears the ground; yet, that something keeps poking him.
He feels inside his fur lined coat. Yes! the same coat his father had asked him to preserve and the only possession he had retained. To his amazement he tears the coat to find a shining gem in his hands. A treasure that he now vows to safe guard and cherish and not squander. He then goes on to use the gem and live his life wisely and compassionately.

This gem stands for all the treasures we hold in our hands and that surround us. In Buddhism they perceive a world studded with gems, called Darmakaya. It tells and shows us the jewel studded world around us, the beautiful blue sky, the green grass and the deep waters.
The story asks us to acknowledge and be mindful of what we have and not despair at what is lost.
I see it this way too: Why did the son find the jewel when he hit rock bottom and not before? Surely it is when we experience the very lows that we seek ways to come up.Life has cycles of Up and Down, do not deny the lows, but use it to find ways to rediscover the treasures in your life.

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed reading it and sharing it with you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Salut le Raconteur!


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Went to meet this very warm and prolific story teller at a library called Hippocampus.
What was memorable for me was the way she shared her involvement with story telling.
Most tellers are passionate about what they do. Yet developing a unique technique and style is also the toughest part.
This French Storyteller spoke with such ease in a language that she does Not use for story telling; English! That fascinated me.
The other was the fact that she feels comfortable telling stories of Caucasian origin, from Russia. Yet she has no connection with this country. She also went on to say that when she first landed in Russia ( I dont remember which city she mentioned), she felt she knew the place before. That is the connection and identification that goes with story telling.
One can travel to so many different worlds through a story. Isn't it amazing?!

Her prolific collection of stories are gathered from every part of the world. The stories themselves published in French are organised for every day of the year. "365 stories" is how she presents it, and one can go to lets say 7th July and if it happens to be your birthday then there is a story to read or share on your special day!I thought that was very creative!

She also collects musical instruments, and you can see one at the left corner, from Brazil. How one would use a musical instrument or for that matter any aid/prop is completely up to the teller.

Storytelling in our country is not viewed in the same way as in European or American society. I believe our own story tellers are so rooted in tradition in vernacular and in religiosity, it is difficult thinking of Story telling in the contemporary way that other societies perceive it.

Of course there is no need to follow the west! Keeping the traditional method, we can tell a modern tale. Now that is a thought I am going to work on!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Story Time


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Here is my reason for not bringing you stories of my Navarathri. I was telling them!!

Got to do both the stories this Navarathri at the same activity centre.
Mahishasuramardini, this time was accompanied by some music and a cute introduction with my friend and favourite puppet; Sukhi.
You know that makes me wonder why I have never told you about my pal Sukhi...I will surely dedicate one post to out for it!

But the craziness was in preparing a story in 2 days. I had to plan and make my visuals(props) for Ramayana in that time. I tell you it was crazy. Where to begin, and how to make it worth listening to?
Most Indian children have all the facts of the story, so I knew it has to be something different and interactive and fun.
So we made a bridge!
The Vanara Sena or Monkey brigade with their monkey masks( yes I made that too from scratch!), made stones and boulders with newspaper and then constructed a bridge on the ocean( a blue Dupatta), and finally having reached Lanka, vanquished Raavan with bows and arrows!
If you notice in the photograph, there are some faces on sticks lying beside Raavan, well those are his heads. 10 children held those heads on sticks, and succumbed to the arrows shot at them. The final arrow was then shot at his navel, and the children went off, holding their masks and thrilled to bits at having defeated Raavan!

It was an amazing time for me. As I understood how much I could push myself if I wanted to. Yet as I am not very artistic, I think it takes me more time and effort to draw and cut out my characters.

Its a great feeling to make an experience out of a story for a child or for that matter an adult too.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sequel-Navrathri 2010




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Here is my sequel.

3 steps as usual, with a small display on the side.

The story U selected was so spontaneously done that I was quite impressed with her.

It is the story of Narada, and his little pride! Narada asks Lord Vishnu to point out the most truthful devotee, expecting the Lord to acknowledge him as one. But Lord Vishnu points out a hard working and poor farmer, who takes the lord's name every morning and night. Narada is offended, as he believes he utters the Lord's name every second!
Lord Vishnu then asks Narada to carry a cup of oil around the world without spilling a drop. Narada does so and is proud to return with not a drop spilt.
Yet, when the Lord asks him, how many times he took His name, Narada was then able to see the truth behind His words!
The farmer, in spite of all his troubles and worries could think of the Lord, but when employed in a similar manner Narada completely forgot to take His name.

For me this story is significant, not because of my piety, but because I believe in the power of prayer and surely by choosing this story my daughter somehow touched a chord.

Hope you enjoyed the story.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Navrathri 2010

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Ok! folks!
Its on! I know.
Its time for Golu, Sundal, Sweets, Vethilai, Paaku, Gifts, Kumkum, Girls in pretty Pavadais, Maami's in Kanjeevaram silks,Diamonds and gold, Heaven on earth Jasmine, Agarbathis and Dhoop, Dolls and Stories, Creativity and Kolams, Carnatic music and Gossip, and not to miss out Wry faced husbands who find their pockets emptying fast!!

I wonder how my mother and before her, my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandmother had the enthusiasm to do this year after year with unflagging happiness and joi de vivre?!

Mine is almost non existent, blame it on the transfer I say!

How long am I going to use this excuse....till new year I guess.

From August onwards, Hindus take a nose dive into functions/festivals and general happiness. Starting from Ganesh Chathurthi till it hits Karthigai (karthik poornima)in the month of December, we are constantly challenging ourselves in the cullinary way, and every other way! Trying not to give up on age old and much loved rituals and practices and at the same time trying to balance career, home, children's school, dance and music practice( add any sport of yr choice) for our modern day offspring!

Phew, what a life sir jee?!!!

Yet I remember my mother and grandmother doing this and much more with equanimity( I think) and zest year after year...except for the odd year when a bereavement would force the family into mourning.

This year my mother did not set up her usual Golu, for the above reason, and though mine is up, with the first instalment of photos here for you to see, I question my commitment to the cause, primarily as I struggle from post transfer fatigue( still recovering) and of course minimal maid help( got one to do the mopping and sweeping...yes!). I also view with envy at the wonderful Golu set up by dear ones...check this one out on my friend Anu's blog...done by her Mom. I wish mine looked like that...please imagine it does...till I do post the finished version, tomorrow...

BTW, Navrathri is well on its way, and I have not yet bought the gifts, vethilai pakku, and nor have I invited my ladies over.... so you see how this boat sails....

Yet the best part for me would be the very nice story my daughter suggested we put up, and which got done just last night...

Check it out on my next post....!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bangalore Green Walk

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Sunday Morning: Imagine lazing in bed...time just rolls by...breakfast merges into lunch.....
Sunday Morning: Alarm blasts into your ears. You spring up with a smile on your face, brush and bathe. Not to beat your pace, even the kids are all excited. Brushed and bathed, jackets,walking shoes and water bottles ready.

Yes, I decided to go on the Bangalore Walk with the family last Sunday. Luckily and Happily, my family too shares the same enthusiasm that I have to soak in flora and fauna early morning!

We reached the huge megalithic rock that dominates Lal Bagh, to meet Mr.V. History, dates and facts poured out of him and we lapped it up like kittens.

The megalithic stone is estimated to be at least half the age of the earth!
Hyder Ali who started the Spruce and Cypress garden here, did so on an arid, barren land.
Tipu Sultan was instrumental in importing many new species from all over the world.
The diverse species of trees and plants grow here with no special intervention, and one can find Chinese trees rubbing cheeks with their kin from North America

These are just a few bare facts that I mention here.Many more wonderful observations, stories and facts were thrown into the morning as we walked around Lal Bagh. Looking at trees and plants in a way we have never before.

Mr.V has been doing this on every Sunday for the past 5 years. Fantastic!

The break in between saw us all having some packaged buttermilk/orange juice, Chikki( peanuts in jaggery}, sesame balls rolled in palm sugar and dried figs.

But the finale was break fast at MTR, with their sinful Ghee roast dosa/ masala dosa, Rava idli. Chandrakala and Gulab Jamun for your sweet tooth, and top it up with some degree Kaapi(coffee)!

Tired but replete we returned home to sleep off the Sunday.

Another Storytelling expedition that makes me happy to be one!

Check out Bangalore Walks

Friday, October 1, 2010


Vaguely having heard of this word, Dastangoi, and with a faint idea that it was related to story telling and oral tradition, I booked myself for the show at Chowdiah Memorial Hall.

For those who have not lived in Bangalore, this hall at Malleswaram, Bangalore was and is the cultural hub of traditional art forms. Shaped like a violin, it is named after the erstwhile doyen of violin music, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Mysore T.Chowdiah.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I went alone.
Feeling quite liberated! This has nothing to do with any hang ups about traveling alone or going out at night alone…none at all. This is all what I had been doing before marriage.
Yet there is that childish need to share every thing with the spouse, do things together….well other than watching TV (News /HBO) or having dinner/lunch together, my partner would never budge!!

What I expected was storytellers and telling of course, so it was a moment of sheepishness when I realized I was going to spend the evening in the company of classical Urdu and courtly Hindi!!
A sense of serendipity seized me, as you know I have freshly embarked from the soils of Hindi heartland.
Yet an experience well worth it.

Though I cannot or did not absorb the entire depth of the words, the fascinating stage performance and body language kept me engrossed.
Simple, minimalist décor and white clad storytellers, after all the audience needs to feel he/she has entered a Mehfil.
The Dastan is an epic tale that is told by a Dastango who performs the Dasatngoi.
Tilism-e Hoshruba was the name of the Dastan that was performed on that day. I distinctly remember the Dastango/ director of that day’s Dastan saying that they have finally captured the story into 16 volumes of 1000 pages each. Making it the longest story ever told!

Completely extempore, the Dastango initiates the audience into the storytelling process. The verbosity, the fluency and connect he establishes with the audience was truly inspiring. As true story tellers do he infused some contemporary humour into the story.
I was impressed with the sheer volume of words that poured out of the tellers.
Urdu couplets and dialogues, were interspersed with Hindi explanations, even an illiterate as me could understand and enjoy the imagery of the words and the creativity of the story.
It is the passion that I went to absorb, and so I got. To see creative expression such as this makes me value human spirit, intellect and curiosity.

An art form worth reviving!

Those interested can check out the performance on You tube

and read about their performance at Hyderabad

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Self suffecient

It is interesting that after a long hiatus, I choose this topic to start my second spell.
Well it is none other than the ubiquitous maid/ paid help scenario….

Boring…C’mon…Don’t you have better things to write about?
In Tamil we have a phrase; aracha maavu…to indicate a topic that has gone through the wet grinder of thought processes and has been pulverized infinitesimally!!
I don’t intend to grind the same stone, but hope to show you another perspective.

As all story tellers like to do, I now take you on a trip back to nostalgia. I vividly remember my childhood days in our sprawling suburban house, with its scarcity of neighbours. To maintain such a house, my mother surely needed help, and my earliest memories are of this family of 3 who stayed in the small outhouse that went with our house.
Mother, father and a grown son, were employed. They came right out of the village, and I know for sure they disliked living in the city and the disconnect they felt with the job they were required to do.
What used to fascinate me was the food they would eat, and the manner in which it was cooked. I remember peering into their quarters to take a peak at the wood stove that was all black and burned and would have some soot covered vessel bubbling on it. To watch the Son eating was an event by itself. Huge mounds of rice would be heaped onto a plate, then sambar would be generously poured on top, and this mini volcano would be consumed by the robust, village bred son of the soil!
They moved on and another came. Her story too stands out in my mind, as is true with most women who turn to domestic labor for their income. Abusive husband, suicide attempt, and 2 children is hers in a nutshell. Scars ran down one side of her face, burn marks.
We also got to play with her son, naughty chap who covered himself with tar once. His mother had to painstakingly remove it with the help of kerosene.
Many more followed, paid help are as whimsical as the cotton tufts floating in the breeze; work here, work there, and gone somewhere!

Freshly married, we actually enjoyed sharing chores. Weekends saw us brooming and moping, so no hired help there. Then with additions to the family, I decided it was way too stressful to try to do this alone, what with help available though at a price.
I remember each one of them, as they not only worked for us but also left some indelible quirk, for us to talk about later.
There was one who we called "tak tak", the reason was this hilariously irritating way she had of knocking on our front door for us to open it. The door bell was too passe, and I think she believed it would disturb us, so that loud banging of the door latch to attract our attention.
Much later, we had one who would delicately wipe our floor with a mopping technique that i believe she invented! The mop cloth would be folded over a bathroom swipe and then she would expertly drag this around our house.I was slightly in awe of her as I felt she had more grace and pizzazz than I could ever have.

Finally, I have left an adorable helper in Kanpur who encouraged me to spend lazy afternoons lolling in bed as she cleaned and chopped and even acted as my companion on those dreary days I would despair I had nothing to do.

Coming over to Bangalore, the inability to find hired help and the exorbitant cost of things, once again sees us managing things on our own.I am not complaining. In fact this brings me to the point. I feel liberated in terms of doing things on my own time, and not having this person to wait for. Independence is a value I cherish, and looking back, I have not felt happier!!
Will this wear me out in the long run? I dont know.
But I do know that self sufficiency is a virtue we Indians need to ingrain in ourselves; deeper and faster. As the world is moving ahead, technology assisted independence is the absolute way to go.

Yet....I still need some one to mop and sweep...its tiring to do that though....

Monday, August 16, 2010


Every episode leaves an impression in our lives. Some of these we cherish as they are, while some we wish we could reach back and change that moment.
Kanpur leaves some memories with me
The hot sultry summer when we landed here from a cooler clime was an unbearable ordeal in my mind...I remember sleeping, sleeping and sleeping and wondering what's wrong with me...Its the same this summer as far as the sleep is concerned, but I do feel I am better prepared...the air conditioner seems to be on constantly...I know I feel a wee bit guilty about contributing to global warming!

Winter was lovely...though I was worried how we would get through the cold and not to disappoint, Kanpur saw some extremely low temperatures last winter. It is that winter when I had to fill in as substitute for a friend in her school. Boy, was that a challenge! Saree being compulsory, I struggled through thermals/ sweater/ jacket and scarf over and above the saree! Battling the steep stairs, holding on to pallu and pleats, literally racing through the windy corridors to reach the safety of my class. I would still find myself chilled to the bone by the time it was second period! (Makes me wonder for all my love for traveling, whether I can actually travel to colder climes after this experience!)

Yet, what I take back from all this is the wonderful transition that nature makes. Hot, humid, sultry, sweaty, smelly, draining summer, makes way for torrential, incessant, cool, dreamy, peacock dancing monsoon, which soon melts into a cool, chill and then bone chilling cold of winter which again is followed by a beautiful, intoxicating, vibrant burst of colours, as spring sees flowers of all hues enchanting our senses. I have been charmingly sensitized to the change of season, as one does get, living in the North!

I will remember my resident lovely lawn, that I failed to water many times in summer and would get a look of disapproval from my gardener...drives up and down the shady avenues in our campus dropping and picking up children from school...

Memories of filth and squalor, just a step outside our campus...

But I don't want to dwell on negatives.
I now carry the positives with me...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bon appetite!

This post like an entree, short and crisp.

Another pet peeve of mine is regarding food.
I love my rajma, chole, paratha, paneer, and peas pulao. I can unabashedly partake of such a meal, especially one that is the home cooked version. crib is why is this the only menu on the table when one is invited for dinner?
Menu planning in my house, I mean in the house I grew up, was done by my father much to my mother's dislike. Yet over the years she resigned herself to this, and inspite of her disapproval of some item on the menu she would make it with no compromise on quality.
Ah, coming to the menu; well, my father would neatly balance couple of South Indian items with couple of North Indian ones, and throw in a Continental item number too ( a baked veggie, if he felt like it)!
Complete in my mind...creative and loads of room for learning.

But nowadays when we are invited to eat, be it a person from the South or the North, I find the chole/paneer/paratha platter glaringly boring.
Come on I wonder, why can't the Malayali serve us some yum Idiyappam/Appam and stew/
Why can't the Kannadiga serve us some Bisi Bele Huli Anna?
Why cant the Andhraite serve us some Peserattu?( Ok this one would be slightly cumbersome on the tummy, especially at night.)
But I guess you get my point by now.

Yes, what with our posting order out, we are doing the rounds. Farewell dinner invites are pouring in left, right and center...thankfully over the weekend only.
I know it is pretty nasty of me to be gorging on freebie dinners and passing snide remarks on my blog!
But ladies lets make the most of our country's rich and varied heritage.
The next time you throw a party, sneak in an item number from your Mother's cook book and see how the guests come salivating for more.
Bon Appetite!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Au Revoir

It's that time again, to move on....

Having a partner whose job entails a migratory shift every 2 or 3 years, sounds fun, especially if you like me, enjoy traveling...but I can assure you fun is something I have stopped associating with this any more.

Yes, its time for us to move again...we have been recalled back by the same unit where my spouse was, one year and 3 months back, whose location is my second home, Bangalore.

Happy ...Yes...
Thrilled in fact...I attribute this entirely to 'Rhonda'esque thought waves that have been streaming forth from the time I landed here in Kanpur.
( For those who have not heard or read Rhonda Byron and her book Secrets...I can only say, read it/ listen to it....the audio book is worth listening to, as she huskily whispers her secret to you, making me wonder why make such a hoo-ha over it if in fact it is a secret.
No, thats not the point, the point is that she says when we start thinking positive thoughts, then we surround ourselves with positive energy, which actually materializes what we want or wish...interesting...
Nothing new, but well said, because we all wish and want so many things and hope that we can get it. Well in my case I can vouch that I did "secretly" have thoughts of going back to Bangalore and presto; we are...
Feel like some magician is there in me....good feeling...going to use this Power more often now!)

Well coming to our move...
Its been a very interesting One year and 3 months. Personally I was able to make a lot of changes within place, so literally a make over, a face change (yep, I got my hair cut!!)
...Involved myself socially. Having a partner who enjoys himself and his own company...I have finally forced myself to see that..."hey, that doesn't work for me", so here's to company and most guilty feelings!!

No more cribbing about their school...hopefully we see a better KV at Bangalore.

The best part of our stay here, is definitely that I managed to visit Khajuraho...that was a great trip, 2 women and 4 kids. My sister and I had a ball traveling alone, hoping to plan more such ones....
A trip to Ayodhya and Lucknow, with my parents...again, thoroughly enjoyed that one...
And to round it off, finally I got to travel with the partner and kids to Agra, to drink in the grandeur of the Taj...intoxicating...

Now throw in participating in 2 dances, directing the Christmas play, Ladies Club secretary, filling in as substitute teacher for 3 weeks...and finally picking up a job in KV as a Spoken English teacher ( for a short spell of 1 and half months...)

Well this stay has been eventful,so I now look forward to filling in more events into my calendar in the near future!

The piece de resistance was the fun farewell party that was hosted for my husband by his unit. If you have pre-conceived notions of how Air force parties are, then take it from me that they can be pretty boring and clichéd.
We gather, every one greets every body (at least tries to), not missing out on seniority, hierarchy is sacrosanct. Drinks and snacks are served. There is a group game, which you are forced to participate, dance and then the formal vote of thanks. By which time kids are sleepy and hungry and I am wishing they would just get it over with, and why I came in the first place!
Well, it was not the case on our farewell day. They got the formal part over in the beginning, that was great, as we actually listened to the CO and his speech (touching that it was).
Then they shoved us on to the dance floor, and well here comes the best started raining!
All of a sudden we had buckets of water pouring over us, and we find every one of us on the dance floor, dancing to some fantastic music!!
Yes my husband included!!
For the first time he allowed himself to dance in public ( he does a lot of private dancing, him and kids only!!), so it was fun for me too to let go!
The best time I have had in a long time....and the clincher for me was when my daughter ran up and said, "Amma I know why it rained today, it's because Appa is dancing in the party!!"
For that I have only one thing to say...Husband's do the darnest things when you least expect it!
That's the way this life goes: unexpected surprises, twists, and down right "I cant believe it is happening to me"!!
Looking forward to more such moments in my life...

Kanpur...Veni, Vidi, Vici....and I move on
Au revoir

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Mother is 60!!

My Mother is what does that make me....
Yep...thats got it...OLD!!!

Now this is not about me, it's about her all the way.

As I flash back, I remember many incidents...some funny, some sad, some thrilling, some mundane, and mostly that she was always there....

Most of my memories of my mother is of her diligently working at something or the other, either at the kitchen, or in the garden, or in our rooms. No wonder she could maintain our spacious house single handedly!
I remember our first house, a huge sprawling one, with an even bigger garden. That's probably why she developed a passion for plants, perforce having to tend to such a big garden, the natural nurturer in her took over!

I remember the wallop my sister and I got when we got wet in the rain one afternoon!! Now I have to constantly remind myself that, when my son insists on running into the rain....

I remember how my mother took one look at my brother and the hanging arm, broken while imitating spiderman (or was that superman?), quickly pushed it back into place..yes very much like she had some training from Puttur (a place famous for repairing broken bones in Tamilnadu!!) and slinging it neatly with a towel. The doctor was so impressed, he simply had to x-ray and place the plaster!

I remember her encounters with snakes, the way she handled them would put the Korava community to shame! ( Probably teach Greg Martin a lesson or two!). The curry leaf plant harbours green tree snakes ( harmless apparently) and if you are not careful you could pluck it along with a whole branch of leaves too. Which she did.
Luckily she spotted it as it was trying to slither its way out and into our dining room, while I sat frozen in time, with my second born on my lap, about 2 feet away from all this action. She held on for dear life...yes she actually was holding the snake....superwoman....and finally managed to push it into a polythene bag!
What still stands out for me is that at this point is that the only male available (why do we look for a male?!!...dont ask me why... its a conditioning!) was our dhobi (ironwallah ), who happened to be at the door. He actually refused to hold the bag with the snake, and it took my mother and me quite a bit of convincing to make him take the bag and discard its content in some far off place!!

I remember the many, many meals she has cooked, and still keeps cooking for us based solely on our desire to eat it, or our preference. Every time I am amazed at this, this enthusiasm to feed us never wanes!!

I remember the many talks and chats we have had, much to my father's jealousy!! As I donned different roles, the relationship with her too gained different shades. Sometimes the empathy was rewarding, sometimes the criticism was irritating. Yet her presence and her opinion, which I take for granted many times, always has a bearing on my actions. As I try to balance the values given to me by her with my own individual identity.

Motherhood is never understood until one lives through it. Perspective, time and maturity are great educators.

I remember...that motherhood is how I will always remember my mother.

Happy Healthy Life Mom!
Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another Story teller

Elif Shafak

What a powerful speaker, sensuous, inspiring, and so rooted. The message she gives us is that of breaking barriers within our minds.
Please do watch the entire presentation. It is mind blowing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The smile

A few words spoken in consolation, a reassuring hand is all that I can extend. A stranger facing an extraneous situation.
I observe the reddened eyes, misty with tears that refuse to fall. Head bowed down, a tremulous smile....

A smile on the face...I look closer. How does one smile through what she has borne?

She left with Him on a holiday, but returned with only memories of Him. Like in a dream...or a nightmare...
Heart Attack they said. They had barely boarded the train when he laid down in unease, never to open his eyes.

Youth and age has no mercy with death. The inevitable hand does strike us as and when it pleases.

The young boy who smiles shyly from the couch knows... yet does not know what has befell him. Does one really understand at any age?

When age and time is sufficiently endured, the death knell doesn't sound so ominous. But what does one do when the youthful are snatched away?

We see the pain in their loved ones.

The smile on her face and her ready words, comforted us in so many ways.
"Dont remind me of the loss", she gently reminded us
"Tell me what you are all doing for the inspection team".
We tripped and slid over our inadequate tongues and gratefully took her cue to make simple conversation. Even joke and smile and pass comments on our lives....

With trepidation we came here to console, but who consoled whom?

The smile I carry with me in my mind and thoughts, to hold for those moments in life when I feel an inadequacy, a loss.

Surely a smile makes a difference to the living, no matter if it is to hide pain.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Woman amaze me!

We must look good. We need to stand out. We need to be seen. We need to be different. Our clothes must be unique for the occasion, matching accessories.
This doesn't "suit me", that outfit is not to "my taste".
Stripes or vertical lines...("Oh, stripes make me look fat, vertical are so out of fashion...")
I cant possibly wear "studs", I can only wear danglers.

Looking Good...
Feeling Good...

Being woman is so complicated. It's a serious occupation! And you realise that much more here in the forces.
Every gathering is taken seriously and each person adds her bit in terms of quality and detailing.

We have to do the back drop for the stage: there is some one who points out and insists that the banner should be lined with silver...??!! That makes it stand out you see.
We need to decide on accessory: Round earrings are rejected as they "dont suit", but danglers will interfere with the dance, so what do we wear?...The argument still continues...and our programme is on Tuesday!....
Hair down or up?...Pony doesn't suit me....(Thank God I cut my hair...very short,and don't really need to mull on this)
Saree colours have to be matched....(why cant we wear suits?)...can't tell you in this sweltering Kanpur heat, wearing a saree is like jumping into a hot tub with your clothes on...

Seriously we are so complicated. We look into so many details, and aspects of appearance. It amazes me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Re-debut....donning my dancing shoes....errr...payals?!!

I realised today how much I miss dancing.

Flash back:
Five years old...or six, I don't remember exactly but that's the time we, my sister (who is a year and a half older to me) and I started our formal training in dance. I have vague memories of this time. But I remember going to class, sometimes dad would drop us with mom in tow. Yet mostly we would walk to class that was a good 2/3km walk those days. Come to think of it, I really amaze at the ease with which we used to get every where by walk or by cycle, while now my car and I are inseparable (in-spite of the lectures I give my children on global warming...hmmmm that's another story!). I remember getting there on cycle, chauffeured by our all in one helper...Ramasamy, if I am not mistaken...
We used to spend quite a lot of time in class. That was also because our teacher was a friend of my parents and she also really liked girls....having two boys herself. It was our second home. Sometimes we would even have our lunch or dinner at "Teacher's" house, as we waited for Dad to pick us up.
Their house also had a wonderful West Indies Berry tree, that gave us some wonderful red, juicy and slurpicious fruits in season, which we would happily pluck and horde and gorge with joy.
We danced and danced and enjoyed those sweaty hours spent in class, star students that we were. I don't know if I cribbed too much about going to class, but we danced through 12 years of class!!

So what happened in the interim was a slow withdrawal, that happens after marriage and childbirth. Not necessary but inevitable in my case as I stopped practice and slowly went into a self imposed exile brought on by lack of opportunity and confidence.
Yet now I vow to grab opportunity whenever I can. So here I am practicing for a group dance that we are doing for the arrival of a VIP in the station. The heady joy of practice sessions, hurrying through chores to get there with player, CD and dupatta!
Absorbing the "Taal" the beat, the "Sur" the music and getting into the rhythm. Such sweet pleasure.
The enthusiasm, interest, sincerity, and involvement of the ladies, takes me back to my college days where we lived on stage.(Like pub hopping; at college we would fling ourselves into "Cultural" frenzy, dancing here, singing there, auditioning here and winning there!!)
Discussing costume and jewelery, hair do and coordination. It is indeed with nostalgia I write these words, waiting for the day of my re-debut on stage after 15 long years....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

random thoughts

The unexpected happens unexpectedly!!
We go through some parts of life thinking that some things are quite impossible or improbable, and then life goes right ahead and proves that anything can happen at any time, and we are not as much in control as we think.
Mind waves or thought waves have immense power to change or alter the process of life.

I may appear to be saying two completely different things.
One talks about Indian attitude of fate/karma and inevitability of events and the other a Western attitude of ownership and accountability and the power in us to effect change.

In my mind they co-exist. Many aspects of living doesn't occur on a unidimensional plane of activity. Every thing is a culmination or amalgam of different processes and life and living is about an individual effecting change in his environment consciously while at the same time investing immense unconscious energy as well.

A unique spiral dimension where energies from within and without interact dynamically to create our existence.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tulika Blog4....put your hands together...

This is surely an eye catching Blog theme,
Tulika is looking for rhymes/songs in other languages for its 4th blogathon.

Its interesting that I do things only when pushed...
Yes..this galvanised me to ask my Father-in-law for some songs and rhymes that he has been chanting to the children from when they were small.

This is one of his favourites...and the obvious reason for this partiality is the moral tone of the song! (what else!!)
So I made him explain the entire song and its implication to me, and here goes:

In a forest bordering a village lived some monkeys and birds. The two constantly argue with each other
Birds Sing:
Kurangare Oh Kurangare (2 times)
Kudi Irukka Idam Illayo?
Manidarai Pol Umakku
Kai kaal Irundum Payan Illaiye?

(Monkey oh Monkey
Do you not have a house to live in?
Inspite of having hands and legs like man
They are of no use to yu?)

The monkeys taunted by the birds, tear the birds nest apart...
Birds Sing:
Ada-da arpa Payale endru
Kattina kootai Pirithitru
Kadari oditru Kuruvi Kunju

Oh No! you petty being(boy)
You have torn away my nest
So saying the bird (sparrow)
ran away(flew) crying pitifully

and in chorus the birds sing:
Moorgarukku Nalbudhiyai
Ohdittal Payanillaiye

(Is there any point in trying to preach good thoughts to a foolish person?)

Well the last line was his clincher and the reason why my FIL loved to sing this song to us. To tell us that he was constantly trying to Tell/ Teach Good thoughts..and if we are foolish then we will only destroy the thought!!

Well here's another favourite of his, which my daughter actually sang for a programe on Sun TV, a tamil channel.

There are some real neat Mango songs in's one (again my FIL's version):

Inda Mambazham Iniya Jadiyaal
Vella Kathiyaal Seevavendume...2 times

Mael Irukkum thol Kasakkum Adalaal
Vella Kathiyaal Seevavendume...2 times

Ull irukkum thol Inikkum Adalaal
Mella Mella Naam Unna vendume...2 times

(This Mango is of a sweet variety
So slice it with a clean knife

The outer skin may be bitter
So slice it with a clean knife

The inner skin is sweet to taste
Slowly slowly let us eat it!)

The last one for the road! Here is a fun rhyme:

Baffoon Vandanam, Amma,
Salute Vandanam
Naan Irukkum Jorukku
Nee Irukkum Stylekkum
Baffoon Vandanam

Amma, Salute Vandanam!

This cannot be literally translated..but here goes..
Let us salute to the Baffoon(clown)
To his energy
To his Style
Let s Salute to the Baffoon!!

I hope yu all enjoy these lines as much as I did asking my FIL and getting him all excited. He actually sang and danced all 3 of these songs like there was an audience of 10 in front of him!

I am sure every house has such wonderful tellers, that makes me think I must write about them too...isnt it?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Vacations ...the end is near...part 2!

(So if you did not catch the previous post, do check it out as this is the sequel!)

Going on a vacation was not defined the way it is nowadays. My dad being a business man, taking off was a rarity. He kept travelling, so all he (probably!) wanted to do was pack us all off so that my mum would get some respite!.
Packing us off meant that we headed either to Bombay ( yes i'd rather say that, as I have visited Bombay but never seen Mumbai!!), where his sister and youngest brother lived along with my grandparents. Or to Hyderabad where his other brother lived. But the crucial factor was where my grandparents were positioned at that time...they were the quintessential parents, moving from one offsprings house to another, depending on where their services were needed, but predominantly using their elder son's place(my dad's) in Chennai as their base camp.

Travelling always excited me, it still does, and it probably goes back to those magical days.

Train was the obvious mode of travel. So all the preperations for the journey would start a week in advance. All kinds of things would be packed, like nothing can be got in Bombay and every thing has to be taken from Madras!
Coffee powder, pooja items, like kumkum, turmeric, sandal, loads of vadam (dried Popodam for frying).
Food...glorious food. Pulikaichal would be made, a tangy spicy concoction made with tamarind paste, with a delicate seasoning of peanuts and curry leaves. This would be mixed with rice and stuffed into the lower most container of a "tiffin carrier" (ahhh, the multilayered stainless steel convenience, that has been replaced by tupperware and plastic!).
Idlis (steamed rice/lentil cakes) undoubtedly would be packed in humungous quantities. No chutney, as that would perish in no time, but 'gun powder', a mixture of dry roasted lentils and red chillies, mixed with oil for the adults, and sugar for the kids!
No food was bought at the stations as they were considerd too unhygenic, and any food from the platform other than coffee or tea, was frowned upon by the elders.
Not that it stopped my father from buying chilli bajjis, or vadais from a passing vendor, which was surreptitiously shared by the adults while we children scratched our heads at the hypocrisy!!
...Surprisingly, we never questioned them, such were the children of yore, unlike now, who pull us up like medieval judges if we do any action that is contrary to what we have spoken!
Somehow our baggage would be monumental. Food, clothes and gifts squeezed into many, many bags and that meant reaching the station early so that we could find adequate space to fit them all in. Inspite of that we would have bags all around us and would find ourselves sitting on something, and being scolded for crushing it!

The train would leave the platform with a gentle hoot and a tug, and the butterflies in my stomach would explode into million warm feelings. Excitment, happiness, curiosity, sheer delight and anticipation, would see us running from one window to another, not wanting to miss the scene on the platform ( we travelled only by 2nd class sleeper back then).
Craning our necks to see the stalls rush by, waving to every stranger on the platform, just so that they dont miss the fact that we were going...away...on holiday!!
Literally my mother would let herself loose, all the worries and responsibilities, daily chores and hassles to be left behind. Just looking forward to 36 hours of eating sleeping, and watching the world go by. Bliss, I'm sure, for a much harassed mother of 3!
We never gave a thought to clean/unclean toilets, or the soot that covered us from the spuming engines. Mum did her job from time to time, handing over food, distributing goodies, that we had not even noticed being packed.
Playing cards, watching the scenary, chatting with the co passengers,time stood still...yet chugged its way ahead!
To see the train as it took the bend, seeing the bogies snaking its way like a gigantic multi segmented beast on the track was a thrill. This would surely be followed by a mini tussle with the sibling as she too craned and pushed to see what the other was seeing!
We happily talked to strangers, no fear here. I remember many trips that I have travelled on a complete strangers lap, just because that was the only way to get to a window seat. No paranoia, no apprehensions, just some friendly camaraderie as the grown ups shared food, general views and embarassing family details!!

Travel to Bombay: the landscape rushes by, telephone poles zoom past. Miniscule farmers toil away in far off fields of rice.
Plain lands give way to mountains, creaking and groaning the engines pull us through and into the caverns.
We strain to see the tunnels approach, and as we whooooosh into them, the defeaning roar frightens us. Each time...every time. We close our eyes and ears. Then when daylight bursts in through our closed palms, we run back to the windows to catch a glimpse of the sheer walls on one side and the deep valley on the other.
Then again closing our eyes and ears as we thunder through another tunnel.
I can still feel it in me!!

36 hours later as the train chugs into it's destination, Bombay Victoria Terminus, we are grimy, soot laden, tired and...hungry! Can't wait to get into the taxi, and reach home where grandparents waited with equal anticipation, love and most importantly loads of hot food!

The adults have still to check and count the luggage, bargain with the coolie and taxi wallah, load the car and the kids. Yet there is relief at having reached with no untoward incident, safe and secure.

Mostly my parents would accompany us, stay for a week and then push off back, while we children stayed back to enjoy the holidays with grandparents.

What we did during those days is another story isnt it?

You can wait for the sequel to this too...!!