A truly long distance call…


A mobile phone has been around from time immemorial. That is, according to the teeny weeny kids you see today. Just hang around a mall or any public place and you’ll notice an adult engaging a child with a mobile phone. Why are mobiles such a hit with kids today? Well, I digress!

A world without mobiles is in-conceivable to my son Vyas. Like a bird without wings. And his baby brother is very faithful to his ‘anna’ and is already eyeing the mobiles with lust. But when technology and mythology juxtapose or super-impose, its a concocted heady mix. The ‘anna’ is smitten with mythology and lets his imaginations run riot.

An innocent question from him like, ‘Ma, is your dad in heaven or hell?’, is deceivingly simple, and almost always lands me in a soup. My obvious answer to the question was ‘Heaven of course’. I should have stopped there. But no, the nice mom that I am, I ask ‘Why do you ask?’. That is it. Inference No.1 from my answer: “So, thatha must’ve seen Indra in the Devaloka. I want to know if his throne is like that of a real King’s. I plead ignorance.. “Umm.. so he must also have seen the other Devas – Vayu, Agni, Varuna … and are they still fighting the asuras?” he continues . “C’mon, why worry about all that now. I do not know how to explain. You’ll understand ‘how things work’ in the netherworld and other world when you are a little older..'” I say. A small pause. And he asks, “Ma, when will you go to heaven?” ! “Me? Not any time soon. Maybe in another 50 years from now?” And again I ask my trademark question, “Why?”. He says, “Remember to take you mobile phone along. I’ll call you to find out how Indra is and how heaven in general is.. Sad that thatha did not have one on his person” An idea! Really!!

\Call to heaven\

Do share such interesting uses for future mobile phones. Maybe, a collective list can be sent to Nokia or the likes as ‘feature requests’!!

Problems in the life of a 7 year-old..


I found my son Vyas, making a lot of fuss to wake-up early and get ready for school in-time. I found this strange because he enjoys school, has a lot of friends, performs well, and the teachers have a good word to say about him. But for his (in)famous handwriting of course!

Last week, I really got worked up and was almost on the verge of delivering a tight slap. Better sense prevailed and I counseled myself saying, ‘this too shall pass’ ! And decided that I must have a one-to-one ‘sitting’ with him after getting back from work. Cannot allow the mornings to be ruined by fretting over his attitude.

It was evening, and I was back from work. Called the little man saying I wanted to have some serious chat with him. He sulked as expected, but knew there wasn’t a choice, and he came and here’s the conversation without any tinkering:

Me: Kanna, am very disappointed with your behavior. Am also feeling very very sad about the tantrums you threw this morning.

Son: Tchh…. Okay… now what? (which implied that he was open for discussion:-))

Me: Do you have any problems? I mean why do you find it difficult to get ready to school. Don’t you like school?

Son: I feel lazy to get up (Children now know to express themselves clearly).

Me: Is that all or do you have any problems?

Son: Yes, I have (nodding his head like an adult about to make a serious confession).

Me: What is it (appalled)?

Son: There is so much writing to do. I hate to write that much.

Me: (This is easy i think) Which subjects do you find tough to write?

Son: Hindi. I don’t like it. So much to write. Meanings, words and all that. And homework too (which by the way is just once or twice in a week).

Me: Oh! Okay. Other subjects or problems?

Son: Yeah, Tamil too is tough. So much to learn.

Me: Ummm… Okay, what about English, EVS, Math etc?

Son: EVS too is tough. There is lots and lots to write. Not much in English and Math. I like Computers lab very much.

Me: That is all? What about your teachers? Do you have any problems talking to them, understanding what they say etc? Do they hit?

(You can actually erect temples for the teachers in his school!)

Son: No, no problem. But there is just one more thing (says with a serious be-spectacled face made more serious by that frown and a big gap in his mouth yet to be filled by the new front teeth).

Me: What is it (glad that the list was coming to an end)?

Son: Classroom in the 2nd floor. Have to climb 2 floors and there are thousands of steps. So difficult! That’s it.

Me: Okay. Am sorry I did not know you had so many problems. You should have told me instead of creating a scene every morning. Now I know what to do. Am talking to your teacher the 1st thing on Monday morning about the classroom. I’ll request her to seat you in the ground floor, either alone or with the pre-kg children. You’ll not find it tiring. So, that problem is solved.

Son: (Hastily) Hey, don’t do that. I can’t sit with the smaller children! No way!

Me: No Kanna. That is the only solution. I don’t want you to suffer, you see? Your teacher will gladly agree.

Son: No, please don’t.

Me: Okay, so agree to climb 2 floors without a fuss? That is no longer a problem?

Son: Not a problem.

Me: Okay, I’ll talk to your Hindi and Tamil Teachers.

Son: What will you tell them?

Me: That they should not give you any writing work. They can just stop with vowels and consonants. No words, sentences, meanings. No tests, no grades, no marks, nothing. The rest of the class can move on without you. You need not learn anything if you cannot write. Very simple. Teachers will agree.

Son: No, don’t do that.

Me: No, I must do something about it. I cannot put up with your indifference every morning. The teachers will not mind and there is nothing wrong in not wanting to learn. Appa and I will not mind it as long as you do not have any problems.

Son: Okay okay. I’ll get ready without a fuss. Alright?

Me: Sure? Will you hop out of the bed as soon as I call you?

Son: Will you let me roll over in the bed for 5 mins atleast after I wake up?

Me: Done. Take 10 mins. The next time you behave like this, I’ll not waste my time yelling at you because I know your ‘problems’. I’ll approach your teacher straight.

Son: Ufff!! (shrugs his shoulders, almost conveying how impossible his mom is and moves off relieved).

Started without much ado this morning and a happy mom am I! Err… did I say it too soon?

Friend


Festivals usher-in a lot of cheer and good will and the world around you looks all so positive, progressive, and more beautiful. And reminds us all of a good friend lurking inside us whose existence we often forget..

Hear your friend speak:

I come.

When the tides rise high
Drawing that mighty line,

When the chill wind blows
Piercing your cheeks,

When the Sun is high
Sweating your energy,

When there are loud thunders
Deafening your ears,

When there is a mighty pour
Drenching your soul,

When the night gets darker
Darkening your ‘dare’,

When the daylight is too bright
Burning your eyes,

When dark clouds hover above
Glooming your mind,

When it snows madly
Coloring your face white,

When the two of you quarrel
Tearing each other’s love

When ridden with sickness
Spelling the doom,

When ‘people’ leave you
Deserting forever,

When borrowers quit
Leaving you in debt

When the world breaks loose,
Making you helpless,

I come!
I’m your Friend!
I’m HOPE!

Wish you all a happy, safe and colorful Diwali!

A letter in earnest…


. ..by Vyas to POGO TV , requesting to telecast the much adored program, Thomas the Tank Engine, which incidentally is an all-time favorite of his parents and grand-parents… Next in-line is Noddy and the Toy Town, and a couple of other programs.

This letter was written over an year ago and I sent it to the channel. The channel telecast the program a few weeks following this. Not sure if it was in response to the letter, or they had scheduled it already, but the joy was ours:-)  However, looks like the program has disappeared again.  Have been hunting for a DVD version but could not find one.

letter_to_pogo

Just an year later, my little fellow frowns at the draft and shrugs. Maybe the incorrigible hand-writing or the grammar or both. A nice one to preserve nonetheless:-) And it is here for you all to see.

Is Chennai safe for Women?


I do not know really! You see crowd all around you, and yet there are times when you feel that you are alone on that stretch and there is a shadow or two lurking somewhere close! Am sure this must be true of other cities too. Here’s an experience I encountered a few days back.

It was around 7.30 PM (not very late by Chennai standards I guess. Or is it?) and I was returning home from work. Its barely a few minutes walk from the bus stop to my house. Rain in chennai is a rare treat and I dare not complain about the bad roads due to the rains. Its okay as long as it rains. It had rained during the day and naturally the road I had to take was messy. Thanks to the Chennai corporation folks who have dug that road for the 4th time in less that 2 yrs, which made it even more worse.

There were’nt many people on the road and I was trying to stick to the pavement as far as possible to avoid the slime and sludge on the road. Had barely walked a few yards when I had this creepy feeling of someone closely toeing. Was hesitant to turn around and look and so continued walking a little faster which was difficult given the road condition. Now I was sure that someone was walking right behind me and was trying to keep pace with me too! Without turning around I just looked ahead to see if there was any help within reach. A new eat-out is coming up on that road and I could spot 2 or 3 heads near that building, a little distance from where I was. I had to get a little more closer for any of those men to hear me if I yelled. I walked faster to get into a hearing distance of that group.

When I was confident that I could be heard, I turned around to see a man, very small-built and shady-looking, barely 2 feet behind me. I raised my voice and threateningly asked him why he was following me and what he wanted. I was sure the people outside the building heard me and I saw this man eyeing them. He hurriedly said ‘ille, onnum ille (no, nothing)’ and darted off to the other side of the road and disappeared. And  then realised that my knees were shaking!! I stepped into the middle of the road (to hell with the sludge!) and walked home. I couldn’t care less for any cars or bikes coming at me!!

Whether the intent was theft or physical abuse, I do not know. But it leaves that bitter taste and depresses you because even today women cannot walk home freely without having to worry about the physical safety. Free India my foot!

Cabbage Urpindi (Thogayal)


Come!  Break the monotony. Try this dish instead of the regular cabbage subji or dhal.  Am sure you’ll like it.  Do post any variations you try..

Ingredients:  Cabbage leaves, red chillies 2, green chilli 1, LG 1 piece, Urud dhal 1 tbps, gingely oid, salt, coriander leaves,tamarind pulp (from 1/2 lemon sized tamarind)

Method:

1. Wash and chop cabbage – 1 cup
2. Fry red chillies, urud dhal, LG,green chilli in 2 tsps gingely oil till the dhal turns reddish brown. keep aside
3. Saute the cabbage in t tsp oil for a minute.
4. Grind all of these together with tamarind pulp and washed coriander leaves and salt.

You can eat it with rice, or as side dish for idly/dosai/adai etc.

As a variation of the above recipe,  you can add one raw tomato (green) instead of tamarind, or one big whole gooseberry de-seeded.

Tomato and Paruppu rasam


Here comes my fav rasam.  Serves 6 (appx). Don’t forget to try and post the results- good, bad, funny..

Ingredients: Two ripe tomatoes, toor dhal,  asafoetida- a small piece,  rasam powder,  coriander, salt, tamarind

1. Soak tamarind- (size of half a lemon) in warm water for 10 mins.

2. Squeeze and extract pulp.

3.  Slighly mash tomatoes with hand and add to the extract with 3 glasses of water.

4. Add salt and asafoetida and boil

5. Add 2 full spoons of rasam powder and allow it to boil for 2 more mins.

6. Take 3 tsps of boiled toor-dhal and mash. Pour the remaining water and add it to rasam.

7. Its time to remove from flame when you see rich yellow froth on top.  Add 2 strings of curry leaves and coriander after you remove from flame.

8. Season with mustard and zeera in a tsp full ghee and keep it closed at least for 10 mins before you serve..

Drink hot or eat with hot cooked rice.

Did you like it?

Recipe time starts with Rasam Powder


I love to eat. I like to cook. I like to flaunt my cooking skills.  You’ve got to do yourself that favor (self-proclaiming) when there are’nt many appreciating your cooking effort.

For those of you fishing for a simple rasam powder recipe, here it goes! Let me know if it helped.  Recipes to make varieties of rasams will follow..  Have already shared this with a few of my friends and is working well:-) And if you want to know why I start with rasam powder, well, the beginning of all things must be small and simple you see!!

(betw, how do i copyright my recipes?)

Rasam Powder

Ing:  1 cup toor dhal, 1 cup long red chillies, 2 cups dhania, 50 gms pepper, 100 gms jeera, curry leaves, coriander leaves, turmeric powder,LG powder

  1. Fry all these items in 1tsp ghee on low flame for 7-8 mins except turmeric powder.
  2. Make sure  you wash the curry/dhania leaves before adding.
  3. Add 2 full scoops turmeric powder and 1 full tsp LG powder and remove from flame.
  4. Allow it to cool and finely powder using a mixer-grinder.

Tips: The round-ripe nattu (country) tomatoes and asofoetida bar adds flavor and fragrance to rasam and IS AUTHENTIC.  Big no to the hybrid, oblong, b’lore tomato varieties!

Family history shared in a bus


Bus travel is an experience. But never knew that it can be so very interesting. Come to think of it, the conversations we overhear (this is not intentional mind you!) are excellent bloggable materials. And am sure this deserves a special section in the blogs and am going to add special tags.

The travel time last evening from work to home was just over 35 mins. Between, ‘time’ is a tricky thing and I have a feeling it customizes itself according to people’s mood, place, or circumstance. Otherwise how could I have learnt the family history of 3 families spanning over 3 decades in about 30 mins? Many such conversations have made it to our lunch table discussions and then forgotten. They are worthy of being recorded for posterity. Precisely why am going to jot them down here!

Claimer 1: All characters, names, incidents, events cited below are real and have not been distorted.

Claimer 2: Hey you all women reading this. Don’t you ever believe when the guys say that they do not gossip or indulge in small-talk. They do it big time. There will be few smart guys who will attribute that gossip also to the presence of a girl or two in the group!

Disclaimer: Am not sure of the authenticity of the tales spun (err.. facts discussed) by the characters though.. And I mean no offence to you guys who traveled, if you chance upon this blog. Which I doubt..

Disclaimer: There might be mix-ups of conversations of B and Mani. Read on to see who they are..

A girl and two guys, all in their 2nd yr Engineering, were occupying the last seat and D70 is the bus route (in Chennai). They got to ‘know’ each other a little recently (this is my inference from the conversation that followed). For convenience, let me call the girl G and one of the boys B (for I did not figure out their names). The other boy is Manikandan and is brilliant. He himself made that claim and B vouched for his academic brilliance.

(Starts from where I picked up)

B ( to G): What’s the model number of your mobile?

G: Not sure da. Don’t remember actually. I shelled out 7K though.

B and Mani: Too bad you don’t know! Ok, what songs do you have?

G: Eei,check the file storage. My brother only knows da. He listens to the songs as I have pain in my ears when I plug the ear-phones in.

Mani: Why?

G: Don’t know. Must visit the ENT.

Mani: I mean, why don’t you know which songs are available?

G: Oh that! (giggles..) I told you I don’t use it. My brother does.

B: You have two brothers right?

G: I have a younger brother and 3 cousin brothers who are older than me. But they are as good as my own brother and are very fond of me.

B or Mani: Do you fight?

G: Yeah, we fight and forget soon too.

B: Yeah, that’s the way to be. I and my elder brother fight too. We are still close.

G: Do you both have sisters?

B: We both have an elder brother. Do you know something. My brother’s name is Karthik and so is Mani’s (it was at this junction that I got to know that Mani is Mani). And both did IT in Jerusalem college.

G: Same class?

Mani: No, my brother is studying while his brother is [some year]-passout.

G: So nice no?!! Do your brothers take care of you (unga annanga ungale nalla pathikkuvangala?).

B: Yeah. I told you we also fight.

G: You know, my brother takes his studies too lightly. He feels that he should have been born a year later.

B or Mani: Why?

G: No exams for 10th std from next year. That is why. He is in 10th now.

B or Mani: I heard that the exam ban is in effect from this year?

G: No No. I do not think so.

G to Mani in particular: I heard that you study very well?

Mani: See, I just listen in the class. I don’t spend hours studying like how others portray. But somehow, I manage to score well. Just listening in class matters.

G: I don’t know about that. I can’t make sense of half the things taught. Who do you think teaches that well? Most of them (i guess it is the faculty) are recent pass-outs!

B & Mani: Yeah yeah, you are right….

B: But what this guy says is true. I’ve never seen him with books at home. He is either watching TV or playing cricket or talking to me or other friends. His brother is even more brilliant. He was the District 7 (or similar rank, don’t remember) in 12th.

G: Wow! Your parents must have been very happy.

Mani: Yes, specially my dad. You know, my dad has struggled quite a lot when he was young. Very much!

B: Hey tell her about how your dad started da!

Mani: He (the dad) started working in a bakery at Red Hills when he was just 7. His dad ditched him after his (the dad’s) mom’s death and married someone else. He has struggled his way up since then.

B: His (mani’s) mom’s a great support. You know, their’s was a love marriage.

Mani: Yeah, my mom is very broad-minded. My parents still have not been accepted by my grand-parents (must be the mom’s side- my brilliant inference).

G: Sad na?! But it is nice that your dad has made it and has also managed to educate both his sons in professional colleges!

B /Mani : True, true! Really great.

G (laughs): Mani, I then don’t see any objections from your parents when the time comes…

Mani: Yes. They are very open to it.

G: I sometimes tell my mom that I’m going to find my own match. And my mom is too easy on that too. She says she’ll happily save the money to be spent on 50 sovereigns gold and dowry if i elope (laughs again)!

B: Hey what photo is this? (presumably the one in G’s mobile)

G: This is our college symposium. And this is when I went to Coimbatore for [something to do with college].

Mani: We should plan an outing with all our friends. Maybe Ooty or some place. It will be fun.

G: No way. My parents will not allow for more than a day or two at max. Maybe beach or ..

It was time for me to alight while their interesting journey must’ve continued. While the three-some discussed their families so loudly in so public a place like a local transport, what was heartening was to hear them speak highly of their family and there wasn’t a trace of vulgarity!

Life sometimes doesn’t seem complex at all. It can be run as a 30 mins slideshow…

Inspired by ‘The Famous Five’


Yet another moment that indicated Vyas is ‘really’ the big brother was his graduating from comic-reading to short novels, his favorites being The Famous Five and The Secret Seven (Enid Blyton).

Well, like everything else in life, his book reading habit has brought its own share of positives and ‘not-so-positive’ consequences (no negatives though!). He is thoroughly enjoying the adventures of the famous five and he too wants to be a part of such adventures and claims to be as courageous as the super kid, Julian. But visiting the bathroom alone after 7.00 PM has nothing to do with courage. So someone has to stand guard! He has the bathroom door closed of course! Acquainting himself with strangers and being at ease is not important either. One just needs the knack of identifying the ‘wrong-doer’ and the ability to deliver a kick in the villian’s butt and claims he is that material:-)

I understand how such things inspire kids. But what I was not prepared for was this. He suddenly announced one day that he has wished God for another sibling and this time it must be a girl! I simply asked him to ‘un-wish’ and put such wishes to rest and literally threatened him to never ever wish for more and that the two of them were ‘blessings’ enough! Tough nut that he is, he wouldn’t budge. He insisted that I ‘listen patiently’, while his wish still had me in a stupor and thoroughly shaken! He wished for a sister to create a famous five team here. He is Julian, his little brother is Dick, and the girl-to-come will be Anne! I asked him how the team will be complete without Georgina. He had the plan well chartered out. He has wished for a girl to be born to his uncle. Wait, the wish does not end there. That girl, his cousin, should desire to be like a boy and she must also rear a dog and call it Timothy!!! UUfff!!! Now its my turn to pray and wish. Wish that Anne part of the wish goes unheard and Georgina part comes true. Not worried about Timothy yet. That’s for his uncle, aunt, and George to figure out!!

Awaiting more surprise packages from my ‘dreamer-son’ and totally clue-less about what to expect from the 7 month old toddler-sweetheart who at the moment is vying for attention… Looonng lovely way to go..