Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Our Diwali

A little late in the day on our Diwali. But with the continuing excitement in our wait for Santa and Christmas, realised the spirit of celebration is way too high this time of the year. Diwali to Christmas is one super-thrill roller coaster ride.

Build up for Diwali started with the visit of Gmama who came to spend the week with us.
A much smaller Sia with Gmama outside Capital One, Trivandrum. Gmama and Sia share an incredible spirit of being totally chaotic. Gmama's visits are always activity filled. Visit to Gmama is also filled with similar thrills.

This Diwali was participatory, interrogative and alive.

Participatory since Sia joined in the buildup leading to the festivities. We did a streamer from the potato wedge painting done at school.

The 'L' for Lantern prop also done at school, very beautifully gelled into the whole atmosphere. It adorned along with the glow of diyas outside our home door.

These diyas were carefully selected for home and as gifts for each friend to share the Diwali spirit.

Lights were put up with Dada and Aditi. Diyas were lit and flower decorations were made. Though we missed out on the rangoli in all the hyperness and excitement. Sia got the most lovely Diwali present from her friend Aditi. An instant handmade diya greeting and a painted diya.

We read the stories of Hanuman and Rama. Ravana and Lanka. In the journey of understanding and knowing more about Diwali. Questions could give the huge size of Hanuman a chase of his lifetime. But yes...mythology was introduced. Stories were so interestingly heard and memorised. Each bed time story back then was Why did Hanuman chase the sun?

Sharing mithai and diyas with our neighbours, was nostalgic for me. To see my baby begin the same journey was fulfilling. Very few crackers we burst compared to the noisy, loud and really, really fun times I had growing up. But yes, tradition of lighting fireworks was complete. The evening sky for the two Diwali days was a canvas of varied patterns being formed by lights, which we enthusiastically watched from the gallery, revisiting stories from the Ramayan.

Chirstmas is almost here. Santa has already arrived in the form of stories, pop-up books and pretend play with Aditi. Santa and his reindeers Dasher and Dancer, Vixen and Prancer, Cupid and Comet and Donder and Blitzen have already begun their journey from the North Pole - straight to A302.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Being mama!!

I haven't been like mama in a while. Which has me a little lost.

It was as if my fairy was watching over and listening...she sprinkled her pixie dust and revitalised my being...I was transformed all over again. Everything was all mama-baby again. All has been mama-baby since.....

I, more than anyone else had to celebrate. Simply cooked up a celebratory meal for my baby to rejoice my lost power and energy. Little did she know the reason for the special menu. Though I could see her wonderment and confusion when I was unlike mama.

Special meal served on her favourite plate: baby pooris, strawberry jam and natural flavoured yoghurt. All things that my 5 starred baby loves.

What an awe-inspiring and all powerful feeling it was. What a humbling feeling it is - being mama.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Its the beginning of winters

Winter has slowly started creeping in our city. It surely is reflecting in our home.
Winter blast is evident in our balcony. A misty morning transpiring into a sun bright, clear sky. A wonderful canvas filled with multi colours painted by flowers. Touch of green coming from home grown fresh spinach. The pleasure of plucking a few leaves to make a salad or a quick paratha for my little rascal gives a total high. The most nicest thing however are the chirping birds interplaying with a few odd butterflies. Each time a bird chirps and lands in our balcony, Sia believes its building a nest which will have a few eggs. Which is promptly followed by the unfolding of a million stories. Living in an apartment does not seem to be that bad when you see Sia enjoy the morning winter sun muching away her biscuits...

All in all...a perfect winter has just begun. With fesitivities kicking in..cannot wait to enjoy the winter chills.

Couple of our kitchen recipes using home grown spinach or palak:
Palak raita (goes best with biryani)
Wash the palak leaves. Slice them into thin fine strips.
Heat oil. Add to this some grains of Urad Dal and 2-3 dry red chillies.
When coated with oil and well done, add the sliced palak.
Give it a mix and add a pinch of sugar and salt as per taste.
Saute on high flame for a couple of minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Add this mixture of palak to well whipped curd or yoghurt.

Palak paratha (ideal quick lunch)
Finely chop palak, onions, ginger and green chillies.
Mix well and knead into dough with salt as per taste.
(Hint: you could add a teaspoon of warm oil while kneading to the dough to make the parathas softer)
Make parathas as you know best!

Recipe courtesy: Pema maai (Sia's eldest aunt and my eldest sister)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

One of the 'Durga'

This Dusshera had more substance for Sia. She was one of the 'Kanya' or 'Balika' at a co-resident's Balika Pujan done during 'Navratri'.

Associated with the Durga Puja, this puja is performed only by married women. The 'Kanya' or 'Balika' is considered a reincarnation of Goddess Durga who personifies knowledge and wisdom for the entire universe. Worshipping young girls (caste no bar with this one) is held in high esteem in Hindu scriptures and the place of such a worship is believed to be sanctified.

My brief awareness and knowledge of this custom began 'n ended with this basic awareness, that the puja is performed on the ninth day of Dusshera. No other significance was known to me till now. Why do I then want to know more now?

In this stage of life with parenting, I want to Sia to become aware and realise the magnificient festivals and their celebrations we have - only because we are INDIANS. Yes, she knows we live in a country called India and we are called Indians. So why not begin this festive season by 'inducting' her into an entire world of joy, happiness, colours, sparkles, mithai and all that is just so WOW!!

So...I read up as well as gathered information from my fellow resident on the significance of why Sia was one of the Durgas? The puja is essentially performed for the Goddess to bless you with happiness and prosperity. One of the information thread mentions each of the nine days has its own significance in terms of rituals, puja, offering (prasad) and gifts for the Balika.

On the ninth day, the day Sia was invited, the puja for 9 Durgas was performed. It started with washing of feet, applying the teeka, seeking blessings (by touching the feet of the young girls. This had another young Durga rightly question the reverse of what is happening being taught: of younger people touching the feet of elders) giving a dakshina (in cash), a dupatta, a silk bag with fruits and serving the traditional bhog consisting of puri (dough kneaded with milk), kala chana, kheer (made with rice and milk) and dry fruits. This puja marks the end of nine days of puja and signifies the custom of seeing off the Goddess back to her home as a young girl.

Sia taking the Durga avatar seriously before the puja and an excited little balika after the puja with her goodies.

While all this was being thoroughly enjoyed by a highly enthusiastic and involved Sia, it made me realise that I have unlocked the next level of being a mother. A level wherein the need to belong becomes supreme. A need to belong and be part of something - be it a culture, family, activist group, friend circle, music band, library, anything - anything which defines who we are and gives us an outlook. I am taking the course of culture this time, to give Sia an experience which will not just give her nostalgic memories, but will also give her the foundation to belong.

I believe in the spirit of every festive season. This spirit translates itself to joy within oneself and smiles everywhere you see. Being a by-product of cross-religion marriage, Sia and the likes of Sia have those many more options to know more and celebrate much more than I did.

Now begins the wait for Diwali...another story to be unfolded.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A lots been happening

Unexpected discipline has hit us all here.

"School hours" have settled in as part of weekly schedules. Dedicated "park hours" have come in. So have "mama work hours".

A lots been happening since the last time I wrote for myself - in my time, in my space and lived my thoughts. While this post might just be a photologue with a few captions trying to bring out the experiences, I am thinking, should I OR shouldn't I write? But eventually I am....

First stop, finally saw Beauty and the Beast, 30th Anniversary 3D at a multiplex. Thankfully the glasses fitted this time and most of the movie was seen with glasses on! My little miss critic rated it as "the best-est scariest movie ever". It was true in a way. What a lovely tale to teach your child about the "not-so-good" things about being "bad". Without much time-loss, I used the story and its message to settle down a few unacceptable behaviours. It has been working. And "Beast" still rules on the mind.

Amongst all the other things, Sia touched a milestone age: 3.6 years. Wow!!! Can I hold her back for a while longer. Please. But the joy of "becoming big", "growing tall", "see I can put on my pants by myself" are so lovely...that I cannot seem to stop those from happening as well. Its a "helplessness" position of being a mama. How I don't seem to like it. We had a home picnic to celebrate the occasion with two inseparable friends - Adu and Aditi with some puffs and cakes. The munchkins of course, were unaware of the celebration.

All this growing up comes with the "big-school-admission-mania". Too many options. Even more opinions. Not to mention hearing horror stories like one parent having spent Rs. 10,000/- on school admission forms. Each school charges on an average Rs. 500/- for an application. One can calculate how many forms the parent would have picked up. Call us optimistic or just confident or even silly parents....we have a short list of 5 schools and we are doing the needed. Now its wait 'n watch with which school we will get through.

It is first "big" holiday break since Small World started in June. It is Dassera time. Sia is doing her first vacation co-curricular programme on Multiple Intelligence at another school called "Genie Kids". The programme aims to expose all the eight levels of intelligence - visual, musical, social, logical, verbal, intrapersonal, naturalist and bodyily kinesthetic intelligences in a child (http://geniekids.com/holidayprog/intelligence-camp). She seems to be enjoying this complex sounding programme with unmatched ease, making new friends and looking forward to school reopening.

With a two-wheeler scooter coming in, our aimless wandering is only going to be on the rise. Looking forward to doing more outdoor adventures within the city. The most awesomest reaction to the bike was creating a song which is an anthem of sorts that goes like this,
Me and my mommy, riding on the bike-y, riding on the bike-y all day!!
Me and my mommy, riding on the bike-y, riding all over the town!!
Next on the agenda is to christen the two-wheeler.

Continuing the momentum of "the happenings", looking forward to Diwali. This year surely promises to be eventful. With Gmama coming over during the festivities, the celebrations will be cracker-filled.

Friday, 3 September 2010

We are growing up. And real fast!

Cannot believe, Sia is now an older child. Cannot believe, we are senior parents. We now have a few junior parents friends and Sia has smaller babus to look after. Already?? We have changed our status? Already?? Really??

"Mama, dada look at me, I am growing bigger and taller."
Do I want to listen and respond to this dialogue with the same zeal and enthusiasm? Do I find it super thrilling? Honestly, cross my heart...no!! Logically...that's life - real-time.

My most painful acceptance of Sia growing up, is leaving behind all these moments, which are slowly converting into memories. I am not ready yet, to have these moments as memories. This is THE LIFE that I have known for the last 3 years, 5 months and 8 days (can you see how crankily precise I can get?) I cannot see her as a little girl or a teen or a young woman. We are speaking of another distant era. It is not even in a near future, to imagine and romance.

Another thing about growing up is the mania of SCHOOL ADMISSIONS. We are in the race right now of school hunt, admission forms, fees, distance, CBSE, ICSE and some other terms which didn't figure in my life. I don't get the frenzy. Why is it a big deal? Why do we need to have a drop down list of schools to apply to? Why is it that birth month and date of my child suddenly a deciding factor of her life? Why is it that where we live, an issue for the school? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? And we think only a child can question and bug you with their innumberable and lethal "whys?" I don't think any logical answer will calm me.

These related issues come with growing up. It is nice to know Sia is still unaware of these while she is on her way to becoming a big girl. But soon she will be there. Cos we are growing up. And it is real fast. Add to it, the pure joy of self acknowledgment that "I am a big girl now...I am growing up real fast.." While I don't want to take away the high coming from this sense of self guarantee....all I want to say is, "slow down a bit my gugu baby...I am not ready to grow up as a mama to my little baby."

Thursday, 2 September 2010


Ok...so I am a 'not-so-nice' mama at times. And I don't want to hide that either. I have my bad moods and temper which get complemented with equally bad, if not worse reactions to my child's 'unacceptable' behaviour.

Last evening after another episode of 'unacceptable' behaviour from my child, I realised that I had confronted the truth of not necessarily being the 'always-happy', 'always-bumming-around' mama who can be walked all over without much thought. Mind you, I quite like that position. I chose to get to the zenith of it. But, it was absolutely necessary for me to rock my own boat. That I am also the 'not-so-nice' mama! I could finally say it to myself and accept it more to myself than necessarily to my child, to her dada or to the world. Let me reveal...I felt wonderful. It was like a whiff of fresh air.

The new morning dawned today. My child didn't show any signs of recalling the episodic tantrum or its side-effects. But I had slightly carried it forward to the morning. Not feeling nice about it, especially since I could not touch the essence or purpose of my life, I pondered. Till I hit upon the definition of my core emotion...'it is OK to be not-so-nice'. There is nothing more or nothing less about that statement. It is just that! Its parallel existence and realisation is what is necessary for me personally to groom myself to grow into a mama my daughter will be happy to have around.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Me a recycle junkie!!

I am recycle junkie!!! I have realised. And I intend to pass on the tradition to my child as well. I am very happy to see streaks of it already present in her, from the seed that has been sown by doing art and craft with biscuit cartons, wrappers, unused side of a printed paper, straws, tissue roll....name it - we have tried it, used it and enjoyed it.

Got some lovely orange carrots the other day. My instant reaction was to make some yummy carrot milkshake. One of my favourite drinks growing up. It is one of the 'firsts' I learned to make all by myself. Now I make it for Sia. She enjoys it too. Thank god for that!

The recycle story begins as I start to make the carrot milkshake. As I peeled the carrots, I realised the peels went into a separate bin - where we collect our "daily wet waste" for our community organic compost. I kept aside the carrot heads to reuse and sow. Perhaps I can harvest some home-balcony-grown-carrots. I am sure Sia would love to recreate the Hundred Acre Wood in her own home. I recycled yogurt cups to sow the carrot heads and some spinach. It feels wonderful to be giving back an ounce to nature, which is just a speck in the magnitude of what she has always been giving us.

Going back to the carrot milkshake...I have always believed in the essentials of breaking the monotonous diet routine of my child. Imagine having plain milk or milk stirred with Bournvita, Complan, Boost or even sugar all the time. Why don't parents "have-a-go" with such mindless routines? Try simple variations. Here is what is cooking in our kitchen today.

For carrot milkshake you will need,
6 medium sized carrots
Sugar as per taste
1/2 litre milk
2 pods of cardamom
Some scoops of Vanilla ice-cream (do-able even if not available. I have some in the freezer. Ideal compliment for my recycling mood)

To make,
Peel carrots. Cut into thick round slices.
Pressure cook with 2 pods of cardamom and little water to slightly immerse the carrot slices. Cook to make the carrots soft.
Once cooled, put it in a blender. Add sugar, milk and give it a nice mix, till all the carrot pieces have blended with the milk.
Add Vanilla ice-cream and give it another mix to give it a thickness.
Serve chilled.

Try even other alternates with banana, papaya and mango of course!!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Some afternoons are more busy than the others...

You seem to assume of a child's energy levels.

Afternoon naps are 'a thing' of the past. A past that is not that distant.

Now afternoons are the most busiest among all the waking hours. With full tummies. Revitalised energies. Creative juices over flowing most of the time.

Here's a glimpse of what's been happening over the few afternoons gone by.

A quick make-shift tent. A space that was called "my home". Cooking toys. Cycle. Dogs. A complete set-up.

Some mind-filled and brain users: learning numbers and counting with jig-saw cards from Mickey Mouse Club House format.

How can art and craft be left out? Since Sia is so obssessed by the spelling of her name and knew to spell it out as S-I-A, even actually before she knew anything about alphabets or phonetics, we made this name dangler. Shapes were being instrumental at this phase in everything we did. So we incorporated it in the design. She was learning to string beads and I insisted on it to build a tad of patience in my child. The dangler had an out-and-out Sia feel.

We used: waste drawing paper, water colours, glitters, string of beads and the sun and air to dry up the paints.

Many more makings are in the way....and ideas seem to pour out. However the afternoon pace seems to have slowed down a bit, especially since Sia has discovered the joy of being with a friend and spending time with play and companionship.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Childhood :: Flashback

"Mama...tell me five children names in your school?" asked back my 3.4 year old, when asked the same question as part of her weekly home assignment. I promptly answered with five top of mind names from my childhood. These were names of my friends, with whom I am still closely connected and bonded. The question has been repeated several times over the weekend....and I have run short of names. Not just because she does not want to hear the same names. It is because...I sadly do not remember any more names.

I have always, always been the impatient, anxious "parent-in-wait", especially when it was with my daughter starting school. Because, here was my chance to relive my childhood and revisit my memories - all over again. But I guess, I wasn't all this prepared to take in the heart-break. While it is the names that I didn't remember, what troubled me most, unfortunately there were no faces either I could think of. So, I decided to re-sketch my last classroom seating. Realised, it was perhaps the worst crime I ever did to my memory.

Thankfully, social networking sites are coming to my rescue. I have been looking for my childhood friends and classmates. Trying to reconnect and recreate the magic of our childhood. To have a blast with the past. Like the other day, my friend from college mentioned, "it was wonderful chatting on Facebook - and, let's keep it alive!" Obviously we have rediscovered ourselves. I realised the medium has helped kill all inhibitions and even look at pain-filled memories, with a smile. More importantly I know I have grown-up.

So, while I still look forward to doing my daughter's assignments, I wonder what my revisits have in store for me?

Friday, 30 July 2010

Vertical living

This is the place I am glad I am living in, during this phase of my life.

I am talking about the community where we live. An apartment complex of two blocks with about 100 flats. My co-residents and we have been branded "quiet and dull" by a new occupant who, my friend brands in return as "beer-earning, champagne-drinking".

This is my first apartment, "vertical" living experience. At the start of it, over 4 years ago, I was the most apprehensive to live in an apartment. I have gradually learnt to appreciate such living. It is the best way-of-life, especially when you have a child.

Here though each day is stereotyped, there is pure joy and warmth in the pattern it follows. I don't see much of the mornings since I am not an early riser. But I know there is the walking, exercise-conscious, yoga doing folks. Of course no to mention, the li'l souls who wake up earlier than me and chirp me up just with their voice (I am not adding "already loud") on their way to catch a school bus. The officer goers...I belonged to that bunch till some time ago. The maids, security, house-keeping...yes, yes...all same-to-same...nothing different.

Just like all things you put your seal on, has to be the "best" or at least competing to get there, I think so too about my community. True to myself, I know I have learnt to respect, love and feel belonged with a fast growing sense of responsibility for this community only of late. And I already have memories by the dozen.

Like most things that get co-related these days and find a way to reach my baby...I have to zoom in on my child and my community. We have piles of children here. My child is one among them. She has literally grown among all the children. Having her favourites at different points in her life. Because of this, she now has friends from all ages. This is the perhaps the awesomest thing that could have happened to a child this young. If anything that can beat this sensation, every child treats her - his/ her age appropriate. Not the other way round. This has enhanced my child's thinking calibre a great deal. This has introduced her to sharpening her social skills.

The openess of accepting people as they are is what I have seen and learnt to practice from this community. My child today spends most of the evening hours at a friend's place. This is after park-time. She has had every dinner at her friend's all of last week. This is something that I did when I was little. I never thought it would be possible in tall, monsterous, urban spaces. Now my child's friend's mother even knows her likes and dislikes along with her own child's. I simply cannot resist the high with circle of life forming all over again.

I look forward to each day with the same eagerness as my child does. She longs to come back home after school or any outing. I think this is a precious feeling. This is the place where my child has her treasure trove of memories. So it really doesn't matter if as grown-up we are "quiet and dull" my new fellow resident...the joys that my child unravels each time she heads to the park, is more brighter than a kaleidoscope of colours.