At EIGHT…


… you are still a handful. Your dramas continue. Between your last birthday and this, you’ve bested the art of negotiation. Your aspirations and ambitions are unique and keep changing every birthday! Let me just record your eight-ness here, shall I?:

At the moment, you’ve decided that you want to be a Youtuber! You are convinced that because you know to sing, you need not take up music classes. You discovered Alan Walker through your friend and can sing ‘Where are you now’ to match every note and nuance in there!

You read and pick your books well. But for a mom who has grown up on a generous dose of Enid Blytons, it’s hard to understand your rejection of Famous Fives and Secret Sevens 😦 “Very kiddish”, you say. I agree to disagree!

You have a very weird sense of timing and a weird knack of picking up and throwing vocabulary. Like this once when you said you’ve learnt a new ‘F’ word. Your bro and I almost choked on our dinner and before we could shut your mouth, you uttered ‘FAMISHED’! Priceless moment. You actually seemed to enjoy the suspense and I’m still not sure if you pulled a fast one there.. And very recently, you came to me with a sad face and said that you will not read ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ anymore because you were learning a lot of ‘bad words’ and particularly a ‘J’ word. You wanted to know if you are allowed to use it:

img_2817Me: What word is that now?
You: You must not scold me.
Me: I won’t. But I may stop you from using it if it is inappropriate.
You: Alright.’Jerk’.

At this point, I was only hoping you were not watching Silicon Valley!

Me: Okay!
You: Can I use it?
Me: No.
You: Why? What does it mean?
Me: Ummm.. It has several meanings..
You: But in the book, it is ‘name-calling’.
Me: !!! Well, it means.. a cheat?
You: Oh, so I can call anna a jerk when he cheats?
Me: I’d rather you don’t.
You: But he does cheat sometimes. If I get really angry, I’m going to call him a jerk!

Whatever!

In school, you continue to be that disciplined, cooperative, and quiet student. I’m sure there is mistake and re-confirm with the teacher but she stands by her feedback. You have told her about the stories you’ve been scribbling away based on all the weird games you’ve been playing on my mobile! You are not far behind your bro in sharing the love stories from your class. The novelty of every generation thinking that it was the first to discover love at 7 or 8, does not seem to wear off :)) Keep the stories coming da. And tell me about your crushes too, okay?

You are a happy, loving big bro now to your adorable new-born twin cousin sisters. And it is just in the past couple of months that it has dawned on me that my little baby has really grown up! It is an endearing sight to watch you hold your baby sisters gently on your lap one at a time, speak softly in that baby-speak, touch their faces gently, enjoy the feeling of their tiny palms grasping your beeeg fingers, include them in all your shopping plans, generally exercise caution around them and being responsible! You make as awesome an anna as you make the bestest thambi to your bro! Your anna is your rock. Despite all the fights and arguments, you always take his side. You are always quick to defend him when dad or I are having ‘the talk’ with him!

One of the best moments that I think defined you as a boy that understands what it is to be kind, fair, and shun prejudice,

is when you came back home from an after-school activity class and said you don’t want to continue going. The reason you gave was that you did not like the way that aunty treated her help. “She is unnecessarily rude, unkind, and disrespectful to her”, you said. “No one deserves to be treated badly like that”. You are absolutely right, darling!

So baby, continue to be that cuddle-able, naughty, talking nighteen-to-the-dozen, funny, funnily-angry, tactfully-negotiating, kind, lovable, bright and shiny light in our lives! Love you loads!! Wish you a beautiful, happy, healthy 8th!

Varunisms- May’16


Deep conversations and some.. Most of our ‘serious’ conversations these days seem to start with him saying, ‘Listen, I want to tell you somethin..’. No typo there. The fellow has an acquired accent, dunno from where!

Varun: Ma, N is very bad.
Me: Why? He seems nice. He’s a star cricketer too..
Varun: I want to tell you something. (pause)
Me: Well?
Varun: Getting a grade or being a star is not important.
Me: Okay!
Varun: Really. I’m tellin you.
Me: So, what is important.
Varun: Behaviour.
Me: Oh?!!
Varun. Really. I mean, in school. At home we can be how we want.
Me: Right!

——————-

Me: You know how to fry vadams? (rice crispies if I can call it that)
Varun: Yes, I know.
Me: Tell me.
Varun: Light the gas with the firing machine and fry the vadams in fire.

Was not aware that my boy looked at a gas lighter as a firing machine;) It must be the commando games.

——————-

To confirm or make sure I heard what he said, this is how he asks:

Varun: Ma, do you copy?

[or]

Varun: Ma, do you read?

According to him, he is an FBI/CIA/Commando in the making

——————–

And this one takes the cake..

Me: Varun, it’s 11.00 PM and you are still not asleep :/
Varun: (Jumping on the bed even with the light switched off. yeah, my monkey!)
Me: You are going to get one tight spank.
Varun: (Silence for 10 seconds. He then gathers his pillow and sheet, bundles them under his arms and heads out of the room).
Me: What do you think you are doing.
Varun: I’m going to grandma’s room.
Me: Why?
Varun: Listen, I wanna tell you somethin..
Me: Listening..
Varun: I hate you.
Me: And why is that?
Varun: Because you are strict.
Me: Is that wrong now? You don’t listen if I’m not.
Varun: Be kind. Try telling kindly.
Me: Kindly how?
Varun: Try saying, “Varun, please stop playing and go to bed”.
Me: And you’ll listen?
Varun: Try me.
Me: Ok, let me get this straight. All I need to do to get you to listen is, say kindly?
Varun: Yes.
Me: Okay.

And the kindness worked for 6 days. We now go back and forth between our old and new ways 🙂 As always, never a dull moment, I tell ya!

Fourteen!


Kanna,
I remember wondering how you’d be at 14 when you were 4. And I wonder how you’d be at 24 now. I also imagine myself being a difficult mom at times and a fun mom mostly and also that special person who’ll be privy to some of your secrets 🙂 Who am I kidding!

At 14, you remind me of my teenage self- argumentative, assertive, but mostly fun. You are an awesome big-brother and here is a tiny convo with the little imp that I’d stored on my notes:

Me: Isn’t your bro a makku (meaning – a nutcase) FullSizeRender
Varun: No! Anna is a cool bro!

He is quick to come to your defense these days and for some reason thinks you know better than his parents, no matter what it is about. But there are times when he lets us in on all the TV shows you’ve been watching and he seems to know most of them. Here are some for the record- Jimmy Kimmel Live, Quantico, Mentalist, Shark Tank, Friends, Impractical Jokers, Seinfeld, Late Show with Stephen Colbert. This is the list your little bro rattles off :/ Other than Friends, I have no clue what the rest are and when you watch them. Brats!

It was also your ‘report card’ day in school today. You made us all proud by getting a certificate for good conduct and that comes before any other achievement, academic or otherwise!

On this birthday, there are a couple of things I’d like to reiterate baby, things that I’ve been talking to you about more often the last couple of years. I’d like to say it again:

  • Be that adorable anna your little bro can look up to, and be available for him always.
  • You have an enviable zest for reading, gathering information, and learning (this does not include academics ;)). Keep at it.
  • Nurture that funny bone in you. All your friends like that humorous streak in you 🙂
  • Travel all you can. Reading and travel make for organic learning and teach more than what any school or person can hope to teach. It makes you a more rounded person and heightens your sense of right and wrong. And when you know, please choose what is right.
  • Please understand when someone says, ‘NO’. It doesn’t mean anything other than NO. It could be a girl or a boy you know, a stranger, your family and friends, or someone you dearly love.
  • Just like how you appreciate when someone says NO, you be firm and say NO when you have to.
  • Put the people first, and your ego last. It might mean a compromise. It might mean you are relenting. But then, it also means you are stronger. Because, people are worth putting first, and ego is worthless.
  • Know that you are loved and dear to not only your bro, me, or appa, but the entire extended maternal and paternal family, and that makes you really, really rich 🙂

Live it up my big baby. Have fun on your 14th and all the years to come. May your Manhattan-apartment, Honda job, and several other dreams come true;) Will love you always!

6-Pack


Dear Mochakottai*

My first worry when I discovered that I was expecting you was that I’d not have a berth to myself on a train for the next 5 years..  It’s been a year since you have your own berth on a train and you love it! The feeling of relief is mutual and we high-fived that! I love that I’m the only one that gets to kiss your lips and gets kissed in return, the ONLY recipient of a rare honour. Will gladly give that up when the lucky damsel walks into your life 😉

At six, you are still called by several names – Pattu, vandu, vaandu, vaalu, mochakottai, mottai, chellam, vadhun, pattani, kutti rowdy and some more.  Every name becomes you 🙂 You however would like to be called John, Jakk (that is how you spell Jack!), Django, Anand (Your 20 yr old friend living next door), or Apram (your anna’s friend whom you adore). 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou are still that drama king and know how to wield your magic on everyone. Your anna hopelessly relents to all the unfair demands and on most occasions is caught in that ‘older sibling’ trap, getting an earful from amma for a ruckus you create. Brat!, but a huggable, squeezable one at that! Even your anna can’t stop giving you that kiss which he thinks we haven’t noticed 🙂 You chase him around the house and like to be chased, you ask him to tickle you and squeal until the roof comes down, ask a share of everything he plays with and share yours only when you are in the mood. You do pushups right after dinner and insist on counting to 100 yourself. You don’t let us dissuade you from working out right after a meal :/ My yoga mat suffers your stunts, including the fake meditative stance that you pull off so well without budging at our attempts at distracting you. You have everyone at home wrapped around your tiny fingers!

Your demands are something. You call me when I’m at work and ask me very nicely if I can get you a mango-shot AND a choco-shot from CCD. The less-than-a-minute conversation, mostly one-sided, for this one demand has about thirty ‘pleases’ and ten ’thankyous’ in it. You again call to remind me to get you a dozen oil pastels and more drawing note books. You call your chitti and ask for night suits, call your atthai and ask an ‘Ironman’ watch, call your chittappa and demand toys, nudge another chithappa into let you play San Andreas on his computer and get any of them to treat you to some yummy stuff at Milky way or Pizza Hut.  Being the youngest among a bunch of kids has its advantages. But so much?!!

You have many avatars and the one you enjoy sporting the most is being a cowboy. Do you remember what a tantrum you threw during our trip to the USA, insisting that we buy a horse, a real gun, and cowboy boots your size? You said you’d convince the airport authorities to let the horse in without a passport and visa 🙂

You are a child with love for many things beautiful. You love colors, you love to draw, you love to imagine, you love dreams, you love to care, you love playing, you love music, you love to recite, you love narrating stories, you love listening to them. You love lazing around, you love to team up with anna, you equally love fighting with him, you love to argue, you love to rest on my lap and listen to a story, you love being cuddled, you love to lie down on your papa’s back, and you love him chasing you, you love thatha, you love sharing his bed, you love oranges, you love sambhaar, and you love good food 🙂 You love showing off your 6-pack (which you quickly correct and call it 24 pack) which comprises a show of ribs and a vein here or there 😉 You are also a bluff master and no one can tell a truth from a tale.. For now, I’d call even that a talent.

Thanks for the beautiful 6-pack you are da kutta. You have given anna his status as a ‘big bro’ which he so enjoys and sometimes over does just like how you over do your bit about being ‘the thambi’ 🙂 You have added yet another beautiful layer of colors to our lives. On this birthday, among all the beautiful, wonderful things I wish for my laddu, I also want to wish that you and your adorable anna make the best of companions and that you are always available for each other. Happy sixth birthday day da vaandu and may you be blessed with a good, healthy and happy long life!

Bangalore days and some more..


Deepavali back then meant my paternal grandma’s formula ‘legiyam’ or ‘lehyam’, my mom’s Mysore pak , rangolies, crackers, and tailored dress for the sis and I from the same cloth or at least of the same design but with different colors on them! The biggest work item assigned to us on this day would be to distribute sweets to all our neighbors in our colony, and that we did happily .

A few of my friends from our colony and I would collect empty ‘Waterbury’s Compound Red Label’ bottles and stash them away in a secret place to be used during Diwali. The open playground outside our row of houses used to be heaven. I was notorious back then too and have had very close misses with the abuse of crackers. My favorite prank was to snuff the narrow mouth of the Waterbury’s bottle’s with the rockets and pull just the wick out. The cracker would snugly fit in the mouth like a cork. The bottle would explode to pieces when the cracker burst.  I must’ve been pretty lucky because there were no accidents except once when a piece flew straight at me and tore my forearm slightly the last Diwali we were in Bangalore. Of course my parents were not aware that it was me and were busy heaping curses on some random rowdy kids resorting to such deadly pranks. I’d go mute too and so would all the partners in crime! Life since Bangalore days seems fast-forwarded!

Diwali makes me all nostalgic. Somehow, no Diwali after Bangalore ones have been the same. I guess growing up makes you all boring and serious at times J Crackers are not interesting anymore. New clothes are fine, but yeah, it is available more easily as opposed to the days when birthdays used to be the only other occasion that commanded the same respect. Sweets and savories are consumed with a touch of guilt too. Again, these are not restricted any more to occasions like Diwali or wedding. There are more special occasions now than the normal days, so much so that normal days start feeling special and you feel the need to celebrate!

But then, growing up also hurls you into another phase where you realize you are fortunate to be where you are, to be surrounded by your loved ones, to know that the other dear ones are just a call or email away and they’d be thinking and talking about you just the way you do about them, that you are free to be who you are than to be what the others expect of you, that you can fight tooth and nail to defend your thoughts and actions and not be judged for it, that you are blessed with a sense to accept your loved ones with all the dents, fractures, plasters, and their beautiful hearts just like how you are accepted..

Growing up also makes us (ok, at least me!) sentimental! Happy Diwali to you, all the wonderful people I’ve known. May this Diwali and every other Diwali light up your lives with good health, positive thoughts, and abundant joy. Always.

Love(ly) letter


So, it’s been decades since I received a cute love letter. Here is the one I got from my champ last week. And make sure you look at the trademark signature on the right bottom corner in the first pic- a tiny GUN! On the left corner, according to him, are some cowboy symbols. The ‘CBLand’ in the from address is short for Cowboy Land of course! Hail Cowboys! Especially the pint sized ones.

IMG_20140909_203609IMG_20140909_203704 IMG_20140909_204355

Kids, cars, ads..


Did I tell you that Vyas is into automobiles lately? He is also a beeeeg fan of Honda and has even been defending their recent recall of some cars due to defective inflators. He tells everyone that he is going to become an automobile engineer and will join Honda. You’d think he already has an offer letter from the company! Well, that is some change of plan considering he originally wanted to become a ‘garbage collector’.

Vyas’s favorite magazine now is Autocar India. He doesn’t miss a word, starting from the title to the copyright information at the end of the book, every month. Will never be bored of talking for hours together on the auto-specs to any random person walking this planet. It doesn’t matter even if the listener is not interested.

The big brother’s influence rubs onto the little fella too. Varun though seems to prefer style over substance. His favorite car (he says), is the Lamborghini Murcielago. Next fav. is the Bugatti Veyron. BMW comes third and last is Honda. The other vendors are not in the reckoning at all. He can keep gawking at the various pics of the various sporty cars in the various car mags and books at home!

Car-craze plus commercials does something to kids. Here’s is a sample..

The other day, Varun was watching a BMW ad. He turned to his dad and said,

Varun: “Appa, shall we buy a BMW”

Dad V: “I don’t have the money to buy one”

Varun: “Listen pa. It is easy. Call Quikr. They’ll give more money for our Honda City.”

Mommy/daddy- *facepalm*

Vyas: Hey, Honda is the best. Appa, you retain the Honda. Buy us a BMW.

Dad V: Ok, will check if it available at Connexions tomorrow.

Told you. Vs are like that only!

Gift of the gab


Varun: What?! U.K.G means going to school every day?! No way!

Me: Err… ummm.. It is not like….

Vyas (interrupting my defence): No da Varun.. You don’t have to go everyday. UKG means, 5 days school and 2 days holidays. And the process repeats. Again 5 days school and 2 days holidays and so on. After a few cycles like that, you’ll get about 50 days holidays and you’ll be in the 1st grade!

Varun is convinced. Only, I don’t know why!

Dear Dad..


Can’t believe that I have made it without you for the last twelve years! Life was a roller coaster with you around and it still is without you. We have had the bitterest of fights and have said the meanest of things to each other. We have disagreed on several issues concerning life styles, relationships, friendships, marriage, trusts and beliefs, religion, career and more. Though I can still replay scene-by-scene the toughest days of our relationship as a father-daughter, what I’d want to remember and cherish are the most important lessons of life that the sis and I got to imbibe from you. We are what we are today ONLY because of you.

Am sure it required a lot of guts for you to refuse when our nearest family offered to take care of your daughters soon after mom passed away. For this, we are still grateful. Not that we’d have been in bad hands. I know that they meant well. But they were not YOU.

That we three made it accepting each other with all our follies, and were open to each other, says a lot about the amount of trust you placed in us.

You were a man proud of having two daughters and not once did you sigh or sulk and say, ‘oh, how am I going to raise the two daughters’. It really is a big deal daddy. It was simply awesome of you to tell me just a week before my wedding that, just because I chose my match, it didn’t mean that I should put up with things that don’t go well with me, and that your doors would always be open, and that I’ll not have to take any blame if things did not work out. But, you also hinted that every relationship involved a certain amount of adjustments and a few compromises here and there and like everything else in life, I’d need to give the new relationships my best shot. You know you needn’t have worried appa. Not only because of the earthly family am married into, but also because you know that I’d hold my own. Yes, that is your arrogant daughter for you, a trait passed on to me straight from you. Still, your assurance meant a lot.

I don’t remember a day where you really got busy ‘saving’ to get your daughters married. You were honest and realistic and said that you’d educate us and that will be the only wealth you’ll really give us. That, you did. Thank you Pa. It is the most valuable of our ‘assets’ and this is exactly what your daughters are telling your grand-kids.

You always encouraged us to make more friends and ‘stay’ friends forever. Remember the days, specially the weekends when our home would be like a ladies hostel with our friends over, and you’d go in for a night shift for work. Friends, another of our valuable ‘assets’. They were with us then, they are with us even now. You knew each of our friends like your own kids, and they used to enjoy your company so much! All your Physics, Chemistry, Math, Tamizh quizzes, your flawless rendering of ‘Abu Ben Adhem’ with all the expressions in place, your regaling us with stories from your best and worst days as a child, your singing ‘thaaye yeshodha undhan’ or ‘thirupaar kadalil’, or ‘paavana guru pavana guru’, or Rafi’s’ Baharon phool barsao’, ‘chaudvin ka chaand ho’, ‘suhani raath dal chuki’ or theri pyaari pyaari soorath mein, ‘(something that the two of us failed to inherit!), cricket, so much…

You taught us never to fear. The worst outcome of any situation is death. Which anyway is inevitable. That is what you said. You were never worried about our heading home late from work, you never worried about our traveling alone, or staying home alone. Nothing. To you, fear meant doom.

You taught us to cook! The kitchen counter top used to look so neat after you finished cooking. On the days I did, it looked like a battle field and you hated it 🙂 I must say I have made a decent progress here, though not as perfect as you 🙂 You hated wasting food too.

You never let us infringe your space, something we have learnt to appreciate in retrospect. You were clear about what gave you peace and insisted that we don’t try and crawl all over in the name of ‘concern’ and a funny misplaced notion of ‘responsibility’. You respected our space as well.

Your gift of the gab. Well, what do I say! I haven’t met another person as articulate as you, specially in English. You’d reserve the best to be unleashed when you suffer your famous temper, and boy! What a temper! Which again is something your daughters too have inherited! I remember how fascinated I was when I first heard you use the word ‘unwarranted’ and shamelessly parroted the idiom – call a spade a spade! Your favourite quote, which you never failed to cite exactly when we needed to hear- Perform thy duty. Fruit is not thy concern! Haven’t really got there, but have really been trying Pa.

Miss you so much Pa. Am not able to summon the courage to think how life would have been now, if you were with us. So, will settle for another of your favourite lessons- All for good.

Rowdy fella!


The two boys are living out the phase of ‘extremes’ now where they are either veeerrrryyy loving and look out for each other, or are ready to tear each other’s hair apart. Varun triggers off the battle mostly.

Daddy V was preparing Varun for his bath. A weekday, but Vyas had the day off (study holiday!). Varun had to go to school and the dad and I had to get back to work. Grandma was away and Grandpa- the one man army, had to manage the two brats. The conversation went something like this:

Dad V– Grandpa is alone, so behave.

Vyas & Varun– [Silence]

Dad V to Varun – If Varun causes trouble, Vyas will tell grandpa. Grandpa will smack him. If Vyas troubles, Varun will let grandpa know and Grandpa will smack Vyas. Is that clear?

Varun (without batting an eyelid) – If Grandpa is the cause of trouble, who will punish him? Varun will.