Trysts with ants and random things..

A baby is just an extension of the mommy till it learns to turn over. Life is fairly a simple affair the first few months where all the baby needs to do is let out a small cry. The mommy knows if its a hunger call, a tummy pain, sleep, or well, a wet diaper! How do the babies grow so fast?!!

Time never ceases to amaze me! It seems like it was just a few days back that he attempted to turn on his tummy and failed! And like Ghazni, succeeded after several attempts! He is turning 9 months old next week and is all set to take on the world, which by the way is a small one for now. His world now comprises of his doting brother, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, the maid, the telephone, anna’s small chair, grandpa’s spectacles, and big black ants among other things!

Doors and door-stoppers fascinate Varun. He drags himself on his tummy at a lightning speed, turns around to see if anyone is catching him in action, and makes one big dive at the stopper and thrusts it into his mouth. We dare not rush up to him to stop because he still has an eye on us and moves even faster and bangs himself on the door. We device a strategy not to notice him and casually walk-up to him and pick him up! This goes on in a loop until we are tired of distracting. But he seems to have his goals clear!

The phone rings, and you see him making an about turn with the eyes lit like a 1000 watts bulb!. And makes a dash at the person picking the receiver! And insists on holding the receiver and licking it, or holding it at his ears and smiling at no one in particular! The person most affected here is the grandpa, who is a person on a trapeze balancing Varun on one side, the receiver on the other while also trying to save his dear spectacles. His spectacles make a crash-land at least 2 dozen times a day. He is seriously considering switching to contact lenses!

The yellow-colored Winnie-the-Phooh on the red wooden chair is his dear friend. He’s still not got his acts of sitting right, but crawls up to the chair and manages to hold and stand. While he manages to get on his feet with other support systems like us, or other furniture etc, this chair is special. He can be at it for an hour at a stretch or maybe more, trying to lift his feet off the ground, going around it, pulling it down, falling on it, tapping Winnie et all!

But the game he best enjoys is chasing the big black ants, which for some reason seem to be breeding too fast this season! Like a cheetah on a prowl, he spots the ants going about their business, and makes a dash at the one nearest. His anna is going mad with his little brother’s trysts with these giant ants because he has taken it upon himself to chase like crazy and smash the ants, lest it gets to taste his baby brother. The other day, tired of hunting down the ants, Vyas desperately tried driving sense into the 9-month old head, telling him how dangerous the ants are, only to find his cheeky brother holding 2 ants in his hand! Enjoy baby. You will soon know what it is to be ‘licked’ by an ant that size. If you are lucky, the season will pass through and the ants will mysteriously disappear. So what’s the next on agenda?!!

The Tea-maker..

Often, at around 3.30 PM on a Saturday or Sunday, you will find a little man perched on a little chair, handing out instructions to his dad. The place of action is the kitchen and if you are wondering what’s cooking, it is the little man brewing tea for his mom & dad. The dad is only too happy to play an ‘assistant’ to his son, and happier still because he is spared the effort of having to make it. Vyas is very obliging when his dear mummy or daddy request a cuppa tea!

“Appa! Come, let us make tea”, he says and drags his small wooden chair to the kitchen. Appa has to play along and ‘help’ him with a few things. He picks the right vessel to make tea and fills out the water required to make exactly 2 cups of tea. “Appa, light the stove”, and appa readily helps. “Bring that tea dust, yes, the one in that dubba”. He adds the tea powder neatly and casually adds another small pinch like how his amma does, and hands back the dabba. “Now, sugar” he tells his dad. Adds sugar when he sees the tea boiling. “Pour out milk in this cup for me” he requests, and is quick to add “podhum, podhum (enough, enough)”. Waits for the tea to boil till the aroma tickles his nose and then carefully adds the milk. And gestures ‘wait’ at his dad with one hand, with his other hand on the hip, looking all serious and supervising the tea-in-making.

Last weekend, he insisted on making ‘adhrak’ tea to surprise the dad. So, he conspired with his mom and got her to pound a little adhrak (ginger) to make tea. So, I swapped places with his dad and heeded to his instructions! Once done, he announces proudly, “Dad, your tea is ready. Can you guess what I’ve added?”. Dad of course has to pretend ignorance and let the son reveal the secret. A nice ‘kadak’ (strong) chat-pata chai it was.

Tastes heavenly, specially if you don’t have to make your own tea! Right? He in return gets squeezed into a tight hug with a kiss and a huge THANKS! The little busy-body Varun looks on in wonderment, and these days he gets to taste the tea too. He approves strongly.. Wait baby, just a little more time, and you’ll team up with anna and bestow this favor on your dear appa and amma!


When we were expecting Vibha,

Varun came. As is usual with any household that wants the second child to be of the opposite sex.

In a family where Vyas’s aunts and uncles all had a boy and a girl each, it was kind of assumed that we’ll follow the pattern! Everyone around us ‘saw’ signs of Vibha coming, what with so many old wives tales to support their theories. But nay! The little one marked his arrival by proving every single person in the house wrong and had already taken sides with his Anna who wanted only a brother!

Our immediate concern though was not whether it’d be Vibha or Varun, but to get Vyas used to the idea that he’d have to share his amma, appa, paatti, and thatha with another tiny being. In a society where you commonly find people generously advising the elder child not to go anywhere near amma, to sleep away from her, and tease the child saying that they will take away the baby when it comes, or predict that the sibling will be a boy when he wishes for a girl, or that it will be a girl when he wishes for a boy, etc, my husband, parents-in-law, and I made conscious efforts to let him know that all will be fine.

Vyas and I had a one-to-one talk and here are a few things I discussed with him so that he does not have any bad surprises.

1. That I’d have to be in the hospital for 2 or 3 days and the stay may extend by a couple of days if needed.. that is, if any medical intervention was needed for the baby or me… it might be something simple like a vaccine, or a routine observation.

2. He’ll be able to visit me only for an hour or two as long as am in the hospital. And that either dad, grandma, or grandpa will be with him all the time.

3. He must not believe or get provoked when anyone annoys him by saying that they will take the baby away. They are just trying to tease him.

4. He will continue to sleep on the same bed and that he will not be displaced. Just that the baby will also share it now..

5. He must not feel bad about any color differences cited by anyone, be it a family member or any acquaintance. Does not matter if the baby shares the same skin color, or is a shade fairer or darker. (Undue importance is attached to the ‘color’ factor in our society! And this must be the last thing to haunt a 6.5 yr old.)

6. I might feel stressed and therefore experience bouts of bad temper and he should not mind, but forgive me.

7. He might have a lot of questions to ask once the baby arrives which he must ask me and not generally discuss with random people.

8. Not to pay much attention when anyone tells him that a competition has arrived. What is to arrive will be a great companion for life.

Among few other things….

Am happy to say he’z held the fort well and is still putting up with his mom’s mood swings. And what’s more, our little Varun has been an adorable darling and his eyes follow the brother like that cute puppy in the old Hutch ad and he glues on to the mom when back from work, licking all over the face, tugging at the hair and refusing to let go…. And that is all this mommy seeks…

Peace of mind…

An exchange of ghyan on what everyone in this world is after- P. E . A . C . E.

Vyas: Ma, we must have a lot of peace. We don’t need anything else.

Me: What piece?

Vyas: Ayyo, i mean peace of mind (makes a meditative gesture, drawing in some breath).

Me: (little skeptical) Absolutely right. But, do you know what it means?

Vyas: Of course I do! Its, its, its a calm…

Me: Wow boy! You are right again. From where did you learn about ‘peace’? (i was already impressed)

: (Ignores my question and proceeds with his) Ma, who are Buddhists?

Me: They are followers of Gautama Buddha. Why? (I ask intrigued)

: So, are they Bodhisattvas?

Me: Well.. yes, yes.. (recollecting that he read a short story book on the life of Gautama Buddha)

Vyas: I want to be a Buddhist.

Me: What!?? Why?

Vyas: They have a lot of peace. I read an Amar Chitra Katha about the Bodhisattvas (using the word repeatedly to sound grown-up).

Me: You need not be a Buddhist to find peace. Everyone can find peace with a little effort (I reason). Why should you be a Buddhist for that?

Vyas: They always sleep. And so they are peaceful!!

Me: No, they don’t. They work.

Vyas: No, they always close their eyes and meditate and mostly sleep, and seek alms.

So much for the illustrations in the story book he picked up….. At the end of a hard evening trying to explain ‘peace’, we finally made peace and dropped the subject with a resolution to discuss this much later in life….

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?

A letter in earnest…

. 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.


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.

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..

The Big Brother Moment

Good to be back after a really loooonng break! Time flies.

As I was wheeled out of the labour room, my 7 yr old son walked along. An expression indecipherable. I should say, a mixture of anger, anxiety, confusion, a little happiness and a little loneliness. I wanted to hold him in a tight hug to show him that all was well but he would not inch closer.

He was angry because I left to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning when he was fast asleep. I did not want to disturb him and also was not sure how long it was going to take for the new baby to make an entry. The anxiety and confusion was because of the ‘wait-time’ and me being wheeled out on a stretcher like a sick patient! Yet he was happy to see me again. With so many people attending on his mom and the baby, it was not easy for him to hide the sudden loneliness. It was a ‘yeah, i’ll have to share my life with him’ kind of a moment for him. After a little coaxing, he came closer and I apologized for having left to the hospital without him. He was acting sullen for some more time but I knew that he had forgiven his dear mom and was comfortable again.

The next few days were a breeze and I saw my elder son grow into a responsible brother and establish his position as the elder son, and an adorable one! And very defining moments they have been! The best part of my hospital stay was, he made the evening Horlicks for me for the next few days and I emptied it to the last drop!

Will come back with more on this wonderful transition.

Challenge of story-telling

Story telling is at once a mixture of pain, joy, and revelation! I have been sincerely ‘story-telling’ for almost the last 6 yrs to my 6.5 yr old. And I’m the one feeling challenged at the end of it!

From small-time stories, the lill fellow has graduated to more serious stories of epic proportions- yeah you guessed it.. The Ramayana, Mahabharata et all.. Having buried all these in the remote recesses of memory which is atleast a couple of decades old, I find this exercise of going-over the stories which my grandma passed on to me and my sis, very refreshing and satisfying. There are a couple of notable differences though! One, my grandma never read from a book, and two, I never questioned the authenticity or intent of the characters or rather the supersonic characters that abound in our mythology.

So, when my grandma said that Dhritharashtra had 100 sons and a daughter, it was a fact. When i read the same to my son, pat comes the chain of questions- “Ma, were there really a hundred sons? what are all their names? did they all sleep in the same room? so lot of food will be cooked?” Yes, tough situation really!!It should have operated like a star hotel! The fact that Gandhari- the mother of the Kaurava princes- blind-folded herself because of her love and duty (or whatever)towards Dhritharashtra, came across to him as ‘plain stupid’. When asked why, he as a matter of fact said that she could have helped her husband better with her eyes open instead! And, “How come Parashurama features in both, Ramayana and the Mahabharata? Are the people from the same time period then?”. Now I have to find this out, and its my weekend homework. (A serious doubt indeed because Krishna, Rama, and Parasurama, the 3 avatars of Vishnu must have co-existed… Well, will try and post my find. Or you guys help with answers if you know..)

And darling son, the next time i decide to read something from our mythology, i’ll make sure to read the significance of the actions too and then try. Or better still, I’ll leave it to you to figure it out yourselves as you grow up and ‘enlighten’ me too! For now, i just wanted you to get acquainted with the various super-human characters in our mythology so that they all sound familiar to you when your grand-ma and grand-pa are performing their daily pooja, when all other people around you are making casual references to the 10 avatars of Vishnu, to the Mahabharatha battle, or to Rama and Ravana… Now, you may treat that as a disclaimer.. I as a child, simply enjoyed them as stories and do not expect anything more from you either:-)) You have but little choice dear… You have to put up with your well-meaning mom!!