The questions kids ask…


We wake up on most days without an inkling of what our dreams were. However, once in a while, we remember with the greatest clarity the vivid kaleidoscope of our dreams; dreams that switch scenes rather abruptly, the appearance of characters from our lives, who have been hiding in the grey folds of our memories, and other absurdities that can never, ever happen in waking life.

I woke up this morning with amazing clarity about the dream I had last night. I was very excited by the funny things that had happened and the swift changes of scene that had made the experience so exciting. I narrated it to my husband and children at the breakfast table. It went something like this –

“I come back home from a holiday to find that my house has a new wing added. I open the door to the new wing to find that the entire furniture from my grandmom’s house has been arranged here.  I look up to find one of my uncles walking up and down the hall. My mom suddenly announces that the banquet is ready. Soon, people are scurrying about, and there is a feast.

And suddenly, I am in bed, in a deep sleep. Both of you (my children) are sitting on either side. A lady with short hair is talking to both of you and you are responding…”

At this point in my narration my son interrupts, “Mom, I have a question?”

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Credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

I ask, “What?”

He says, “If you were asleep in your dream too, how did you know what was happening?”

All of us laugh. If one is asleep in one’s own dream, how can one remember what happened!

Hmmm…the questions kids ask. Not that I had any answers.

Data vision


I am stretched out on the recliner and want to listen to some music. I connect my phone through the bluetooth to my sound bar.  Soon, melodious music surrounds me.

I can feel it, every fine nuance. I start thinking about the quality of speakers we have these days, and wireless technology. 

A strange thought strikes me. What if I could actually see the data travelling in space to the speaker. What would it look like.

I laugh aloud, because if we had ‘data vision’, we would probably be shocked by the zillions of zeros and ones, bits and bytes swamping us.

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    Courtesy – http://www.dailygenius.com

Since all messages and texts and music get to where they should, maybe the scene would look organized rather than  chaotic.

What if we could see this data, and just stood and shook all these bits and bytes. What would happen to them?

Music or photos, jokes or videos – they are but millions of tiny fellows marching towards a particular destination, with a clear focus and purpose.

These data bits have to be wonderful team players, since they have to reach their destination together, sometimes in a nice sequence.

I switch back to reality. The music envelopes me again. Hidden bits and bytes working their own special magic.

Why moms need buffer time!


I look at the clock. It is time to wake the kids up. In my sweetest voice, I tell them to wake up.

No movement, not even a flicker.  My heart melts as I see their innocent faces, lost in a far away land.

I raise my voice just a little – there is an answering grunt from one and a rustle of sheets from the other.

I announce that I will be back in 5 minutes. I get back to my chores. Five minutes later, I go back.

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          Courtesy – http://www.pinterest.com

My voice is louder. Now I introduce the shake. I shake their feet to goad them into waking up.

The two stretch now, wishing both the morning, and me, away.  I issue a warning that I will not be coming back again.

I go back to my chores. From the eyes in the back of my head I can see two forms ambling about.

One comes into the kitchen for a hug. The other is sprawled lizard-like, on the couch. Hmmmm.

I call out to the one on the couch, and head to the bedroom to pick up something, and find that the hugger is spread-eagled on the bed. I sigh….and mutter.

“Just 10 seconds, mom? Please?” says a voice.

I walk back and decide to stop being the walking, wake-up alarm. I can see the couch lizard heading to the bathroom.

Soon two voices can be heard, alert and ready to take on the day, and to stake their claim on the bathroom.

Business as usual.

Coffee Corner


Coffee!

A word that needs to be spoken with reverence (all you coffee lovers out there, you should know what I mean).

The perfect cup of coffee in the morning is so many things – it deliciously kick-starts the day, it provides ample room for contemplation, it just lets you be yourself for those few moments.

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          Courtesy – en.wikipedia.org

Every coffee drinker has a ‘Coffee Corner’ or a ‘Coffee Ambience’.  A perfect corner in the house, where you are most comfortable; maybe sitting by the window and watching the trees or the road. Maybe sitting in your garden with nature’s magic exploding around you, and the fresh air of the morning invigorating you.

Maybe you share your ‘Coffee Ambience’ with your spouse, maybe you prepare breakfast and take delicious sips of your coffee in-between.

My Coffee Corner is by the balcony, on my easy chair, looking at the traffic and morning joggers, the orioles and the mynas, the green trees and my book shelf.

All is right with the world.

What’s your Coffee Corner or Coffee Ambience? Would love to know!

Butter biscuits


This afternoon, I was out to do my grocery shopping, when my eyes fell on a box of butter biscuits, neatly packaged and branded.

While I mulled over whether the kids would enjoy the biscuits, my mind raced back to my Grandma’s home.

Back then, we lived in a joint family. Most savouries and Indian sweets were made at home by my Grandma, my mom and my aunt.

However, we did not have an oven at my Grandma’s.   We were nine people at home, and most items were cooked or prepared in large quantities. 

Once every two months, my Grandma would walk down to a small bakery that was located close to the local race course.  She would buy baking flour, sugar, butter and other ingredients, and take it to the baker’s.  She would place  an order for a large quantity of butter biscuits.

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   Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

In addition to the ingredients, she would also pass on a steel container that had a lid and a handle, which we called ‘steel thooku’, which means steel carrier. The order was usually ready the next day.

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Courtesy – http://www.trade.indiamart.com

On their way back from work, my dad or uncle would pick up the steel thooku filled with butter biscuits.

The moment the ‘thooku’ reached home, the children were called. The steel carrier was opened with fanfare. Perfectly formed golden, cream butter biscuits, nestled snugly between layers of butter-paper. The aroma that wafted out made our mouths water.

Each golden treat was a slice of bliss.The biscuits usually lasted only a week or slightly more. But while they lasted, we enjoyed every crumb and waited for the next lot!!

Mrs & Mr. Myna


It is about to rain. The skies are about to open up. Time seems to have slowed down. A cool breeze sweeps into the house giving us a heads-up about the rain that will soon follow.

The trees are swaying and whispering. I am sitting on the couch, between chores. The house is dark, with the sudden grey enveloping us. Outside, the green of the trees contrasts beautifully with the deep grey of the sky.

It is at this specific moment that two myna birds land on my balcony. They are quite vocal. Looks like they are husband and wife, and for sure, they seem to be arguing.

One of the mynas pecks at a wooden twig from my white orchid plant, and says something loudly to the other myna. They go back and forth, debating the merits of a certain twig, or a certain tree to build their nest in. They are oblivious to the breeze, and the grey, heavy clouds.

Their eyes and beaks flit constantly – possibly evaluating the strength of my orchid twigs. All through, they keep up their banter, now loud, now soft, now raucous.

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  Courtesy – http://www.wunderground.com

As the first heavy drops begin to plop down, the pair jump on to the balcony railings and swoop down into one of the trees. They are now beautifully camouflaged, probably continuing their conversation about where they can set up a stable and cozy home to welcome their little ones into the world.

Maybe, if the twig from my orchid plant passes muster, they will come back again.

The rain lashes on.

The Anatomy of a Ladies Trip


We are in Chennai. A bustling metropolis. Four women, who have travelled to this city to attend the dance debut of one of our mutual friends’ daughters.

All of us arrive the night before, from different places. The excitement of meeting like this – without husbands, children, work and everyday mundanities is potent.

We are staying with another dear friend. We wake up lazily, indulge in hot cups of aromatic filter coffee, gossip and sip more coffee. We laze about, finding this strange abundance of time so refreshing; where work, chores and children seem unreal. We catch up and discuss our lives.

When the sun hangs directly above our heads, we decide that we are famished. We are food-sisters, if you could call it that. We love food and enjoy eating out. So, the ubiquitous South Indian Thali gets our vote.

The four of us wait to hail autorickshaws for the short ride. We think we may need two autos to accommodate our frames. All the autos seem to be busy. Finally, one stops for us. The auto-driver bravely agrees to take the four of us. We squeeze in, with one of us spilling onto the side bar. Amidst a lot of giggling, we get dropped off at the restaurant.

The server asks us if we want the ‘limited’ or ‘unlimited’ Thali? The vote is unanimous for the Unlimited Thali, meaning you get more of any item you like.

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The delectable Vegetarian Thali with its tantalizing aroma, and vibrant colours, is placed before each of us. We tuck into the delicious food, mixing the gravies with rice, crushing the papads, tasting the tangy pickle. The eating process is made more enjoyable as we tease each other, and continue to be amazed at our appetites. We finish all the courses and wait for the dessert of hot gulab jamuns with icecream. Pure bliss!

We walk out into the afternoon, content with ourselves, and living in the moment, our busy lives temporarily erased.

We amble back, to burn off some of those calories. We then laze about discussing our wardrobes and what each is going to wear to the dance debut. We catch a few winks.

After another hot cup of coffee to revive  ourselves, we start getting ready. We leave for the function, enjoy it and head back to change into our everyday clothes. Back to airports, train stations and bus stations. Back to the routine.

It is so wonderful to be back home with the children and husband. The trip feels like a dream now.

My Social Skill Set


Whether I like it or not, social media has become an integral part of who I am. In addition to all the ID cards I have, I now take great effort to maintain my online ‘social identity’.  Maintaining a social connect is not as easy as it seems. It calls for a skill set that would put top-notch resumes to shame!

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Picture courtesy – http://www.dailygenius.com

So what are the skills?

It calls for a certain type of skill to read, like and comment on forwards and articles. It calls for a strong memory to remember which jokes have already been received and which jokes are to be forwarded, and to whom?

It calls for round-the-clock alertness. It calls for enormous amounts of self-control to stop refreshing messages. It calls for a calm mind to stop reacting each time you hear a ping.

It calls for the ability to take quizzes about your personality, your IQ and your vision. It tests your skills as a farmer, as a ninja, as a catapult expert, as a word builder, as a selfie-taker, and many more.

Social network forwards play on your emotions. You suddenly find yourself reading about missing children, and raising money for surgeries. How do you verify the authenticity of these posts?

While you worry about these little kids, there is one article that claims coffee can burn all your fat. As you scroll down in happiness sipping your coffee, you read another article which says coffee will make you put on weight. Phew!

Some articles make you guilty, some make you laugh. You read about the holidays people are taking, the movies people are watching, and add your own to this space.

Even if you go on a social media detox program, it will lure you back – back into a world where everything is virtually real.

Sibling Wars


The school day begins. I am in the kitchen grappling with cooking. I hear loud screaming and yelling. My children are doing what they do best – squabbling.

Sibling wars. One can actually write a thesis on this, and still not understand the dynamics of this phenomenon.

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           Courtesy – http://www.babyart.org

My children have study tables that are at right angles – when both move their chairs backwards and if, by chance, the chairs crash into each other, a war erupts.

You would think that a six seater dining table would have enough room for four people. Apparently not! Both children want the same chair, every day, for every meal. TV shows are a bone of contention, the bathroom is a warzone. The bedroom is the missile room, armed as it is with pillows.

There are unspoken symbols and codes of conduct. There are lists of ‘what you dids’ on both sides, which resurface every day. They cannot agree on food or TV, computer games or books, studying in the same room or sharing resources. Each time they get in the car they clamour for the same seat. They draw invisible divider lines on the car seat, like animals marking their territory, pushing away even the other’s shadow if it crosses this line.

They look daggers at each other,  don’t give way when they cross the doorway simultaneously, hide each others’ things and smile secret smiles of victory.

I watch this sibling-war and remember such battles with my sisters. Watching them as a mom, however,  is aggravating. The best way to handle this constant bickering is to go passive. They get no reaction from me at all. I am blamed for both taking, and not taking sides.

The warring siblings leave for school –  one takes the stairs and the other takes the lift.  The storm has passed and the house becomes blissfully quiet.

In a few hours, two happy faces will come home, freshen up and look at each other, and off they’ll go again.

But the funny part is, if one goes on a school field trip or weekend camp, the other soon starts pining!

Sibling logic baffles me☺☺.

Digital simplicity


Last year, one of my treasured possessions – a hard disk with my complete digital photo archive – crashed.  I do have backups, but this was the ‘Mother HDD’, with every file slotted, tagged and organized by date, time, folder. When it comes to my digital archive I suffer from a serious case of OCD, and then some.

I was miserable but was lucky enough to be able to retrieve most of the data – over 9 GB worth of photographs.  But sadly, when I opened the new hard disk, I realized that I had to reorganize, re-tag and re-slot every single file.  Most names and references to date and time were gone though some files were untouched.  It’s been a long year. Phew!

However, through this entire archival journey, I got to relive some of the best moments in my life –  working life, marriage, children and friends.  When I look back, I realize how many wonderful moments life has thrown at me, and the many lessons I have learned along the way.

Thankfully, I am on the last leg of this arduous re-archival journey.  Very soon, I will let out a whoop of joy and probably weep tears of sheer relief from the monotony of this task, that has bitten-off huge chunks of my free time.

This afternoon, as I sifted through the last 2000 files, I chanced upon these photos.  These are photos of my son’s Grade 1 school notebook.  The teacher seems to have rewarded my son with  ‘smileys’ for his efforts in writing.  My son has converted the teacher’s smileys into a couple of cute animals, with ears and tails.  Sharing these photos with you.

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My digital drill seems to have been worth it.  After all, such simple moments are the ones that need capturing.  These are the moments that make up the mosaic of our lives. Simple moments of love, joy and innocence, captured for posterity.