On my guard


So, my left ankle is slowly getting better and I am able to walk around, albeit with a pronounced limp. After my fall, my knee seems to have a problem with the ankle’s movement and for the last few days, I have had to wear a knee guard to keep the knee from buckling.

Both my children have been so very very helpful over the last ten days, making cards, running errands, spending time with me and generally giving me oodles of love.

They are quite relieved that I am mobile now.

Yesterday, when my son got back from school, he heard me talking on the phone with a friend, who had called to enquire about my leg. I mentioned to her that I was wearing a knee guard.

After the call, my son asked me if I was really wearing a knee guard and if yes,   could he see it?

I told him I was wearing a knee guard, but that it would be difficult to show it to him, as the jeans could not move up till my knee.

Strangely though, he persisted and wouldn’t let go.  I finally showed it to him.

“Phew! he said.

“What?” I asked.

Pat came the reply, “I thought you had borrowed my sports knee guards, and I was worried about how I would attend my training this week.”

I laughed out aloud and assured him that these were my own.

Really, the things that kids worry about!

The Mystery of the Missing Shoes


A few years ago, my friend and her family stayed with us during the summer holidays.

One day, we planned to take the children to the zoo.  Just when we were about to leave, my friend discovered that she couldn’t find her daughter’s shoes.

My friend’s daughter was 3 years old, and my kids’ slippers were much too big for her. So, we launched a massive shoe-hunt, we emptied the shoe cupboard, my friend emptied all her suitcases and bags. We looked under the sofa and cots, we checked outside the house. There was no sign of the missing shoes.

We wondered if we could just carry the child and pick up new shoes on the way.

Suddenly, the little girl said, “Papa, I know where shoe.”

All of us watched her as she ran to the balcony and pointed downwards.  We went to check. There they were, a pair of pink shoes, fallen seven floors below, on the roof of the building’s porch. We wondered when she had thrown them!

We brought out the ladder and took it down to the porch. My friend’s husband had to do a bit of a Spiderman type of jump. As we watched, he waved his hands victoriously to show us that he had managed to get the shoes.

When the little girl saw her shoes,  she clapped in glee, and when we saw her, all of us burst out laughing.

Oops…too many seeds


We had guests for dinner over the weekend. My carefully planned menu turned out rather well.

There was one rice dish, which had a number of seeds – mustard, cumin, cardamom, peppercorn and star anise, in addition to various vegetables.

There were enough leftovers to last us till lunch the next day.

After eating the leftovers the next day, my son asked me why I hadn’t cooked anything new. I promised him that I would cook something that he liked for dinner, as I did not want to waste food.

He readily agreed and ran away to play. When he came home he sniffed the air appreciatively, and asked me what was for dinner.

When I told him, he let out a whoop of joy, and then said, “I was so scared that I would have to eat that ‘seedy’ rice again!!!

I laughed and told him the meaning of ‘seedy’!

Boomeranged


‘Mom, children and food’ – one could write books, and more books on this topic.

“Chew slowly, don’t swallow without chewing, don’t place your book where your plate should be, vegetables cannot be scattered around the plate with the claim that you’ve finished your food. Don’t do this and don’t do that.”

From baby food to mashed vegetables to staple Indian food, my children have now reached a stage, where they ask for food, yummy food, all the time. So, I am happily learning new recipes.

With my new found happiness, I am glad to note that the children’s taste buds are ready to try and explore different cuisines.

So my husband and I have decided to take the children out to sample different cuisines whenever we can.

Mom’s observation – It is very difficult to stop a child from speaking out what is in his or her mind.

We start with Indian food, but from a different part of the sub-continent. It is a fine dining restaurant and I hiss warnings till we are seated. I keep telling them the dos and don’ts. I also tell them, “If there is a dish that you taste and do not like, do not make a face or say that you don’t like it. Instead, say, “This is interesting”, and I will understand.”

The children took my tips to heart and as we moved from starters and soup, to the main course, both kids would look at us and rate each dish – this is very good, hmmm this is interesting, and sometimes THIS IS VERY VERY INTERESTING (the ones they didn’t like at all).

We had fun and I came back satisfied. At least they had tried something new.

A few days later, I had friends over for dinner. The table was set.

One of my friends asked my son, “What has your mom prepared?”

My son peeked into each dish and gave his rating – this potato fry is very good, this stuffed bittergourd curry is very very interesting don’t try it, the starters are excellent, again, the stir-fried veggies, that’s interesting, skip it if you want.

And as my friends looked puzzled, I explained the ‘interesting story’ that had so beautifully boomeranged on me.

Of toothpaste and butter


When we were growing up, we watched commercials on television with the same fervour as we did the shows, and then nagged our parents to buy us all those lovely things that were so beautifully presented, with their catchy tunes and visuals. The commercials were full of promise, and wonderful treats.

Advertising has come a long way since then, what with all the digital sprucing-up and visual effects.  Their appeal to children has only increased.

I remember two funny incidents about how television commercials influenced children.

A few years ago, a new gel tooth paste was introduced in the market. The TV commercial showed a young lad, who brushes his teeth with the gel tooth paste, and suddenly finds himself energized by fresh breath. He is then surrounded by a glowing blue spiral that spins & glows around him, to enhance the message.

One of my nephews was very taken with the commercial and had his parents buy the tooth paste for him. Very excitedly, he went in to brush his teeth. A few minutes later he came running out crying, asking all of us why there was no gel spiral around him.

The other incident happened with my son. A few years ago, he was watching a commercial for Amul Butter, whose tag line was ‘The Taste of  India’.

Many days later, when we were in the supermarket, my son came running down the aisle whooping for joy, saying loudly, “Mom, I found the taste of India. Can I taste India, now, please?”

Whether it’s a simple tooth paste or every day butter, a great commercial can truly impact little minds!

What do we truly own?


Many years ago, when my daughter was around four, one of my cousins had come to visit us, with her son, who was the same age as my daughter.

The children eyed each other and then slowly left the comfort of their moms’ presence and decided to play and explore the house together.

We lived in an apartment complex, on the 20th floor. The view was fantastic and my daughter pointed out the beach and the trees to her cousin. Then she pointed to the garden below (belonging to the complex) and said proudly, “See that’s my garden.”

Her cousin was not to be outdone. He said, “No, this is my garden.”

“No, mine”, said my daughter firmly.

The boy was tough as nails, “IT IS MINE”, he screamed.

“Miiiiiinnnnnnneeeeee”, my daughter shouted right back.

Stamping feet and tears threatened. Both kids pitifully pointed out to the garden below and claimed possession. It was a question of toddler egos now, both stood firm, eyes blazing with indignation writ large on their faces.

As moms, we knew they would quickly come to blows! We quickly separated and consoled them, each of us assuring our child that the garden belonged to him or her.

I laugh at the memory now. But seriously, this set me thinking.

What are the things that are truly ours? When we live we covet, possess, buy and own. We hoard, we stack, we trash and we buy more.

When we leave this world, we take nothing with us. Every single thing that we possessed would have become like the garden in the apartment complex, belonging to some one else.

What we will probably truly own is space in the hearts of people we loved and who loved us back, the wishes of people whom we may have helped, the sunshine we brought to somebody’s life maybe!

We will never truly own anything else.

Another Day Begins


I am on my morning walk.  I enjoy the cool air as it envelopes my face.  The Sun is still an orange tinge on the horizon.

I see other joggers and walkers.  Some are techie-joggers, they have devices strapped to their arms and their wrists, measuring various parameters.  They are on a mission, say their serious faces, burn, calorie, burn.

Cute little dogs are on their morning walks too, pausing here, sniffing there, enjoying the smells of dawn.  Their owners stretch themselves, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting with their pets.

The drone of vehicles has started on the main road, as I leave our building. Early morning office-goers, trim and proper, in their formal attire, well groomed and ready to take on the day, with their laptops and papers and smartphones.

School-going children waiting at the bus stops for their buses. Teens listening to music, the younger ones chattering away, some other ones still half-asleep, clinging to their moms.

The last-minute breakfast-munchers, quickly biting into a sandwich, as they get ready to take on their day.

One set of people going into the tube station, one set coming out, both sets in a hurry, smoking, eating, talking into their phones, but hurrying.

The newspaper vendor, doing brisk business, as everybody wants to know what’s happened in the world, while they slept on.

The caffeine-lovers, who sip large-size take-away coffees, as they walk.  I want my coffee too, but I have to finish my morning beat.

When I reach the stadium, all these thoughts vanish, as I watch people whizzing past, walking at alarming speeds, jogging and some even sprinting.  A few stretch, a few curl, a few twist, a few climb, a few hang….on the exercise bars.

I join the ‘serious‘ now. Meeting my fitness goals for the day. The Sun is up and about.  I finish. I guzzle water.

I head back home.  The frantic office-goers are now replaced by older folk, who are on their morning walk; men and women walk back, swinging their tennis or badminton rackets, after energetic games.

The vehicles are noisier, the Sun is warmer, the trees are greener, the wind is warm.  I reach home. I measure, I note.

I turn my attention to the rest of my day.

Whistle-blower


I recently read an article about a whistleblower and was reminded of a funny incident that happened a few years ago, with a totally different whistle-blower.

It was a normal working day and I was working from home, as my daughter’s nanny was unwell and couldn’t come to work.  As luck would have it, the moment I booted my laptop, it crashed. There was no choice but to go to my workplace and send it to the IT support team.  I decided to take my 2.5 year old daughter along, equipped with her box of colours, colouring books and her favourite stuffed tiger.

I got my little one settled with her colours and paper and told her I would be back in two minutes.  Everybody was busy at work and only the sound of people’s taps on their keyboards could be heard.

Just when I was about five metres from my desk, heading towards the IT support desk, a shrill piercing whistle shrieked through the office. Heads popped out of work cubicles. Murmurs broke out and I turned around, only to see my daughter fully concentrating her energies on blowing into a small plastic whistle.  Embarrassed beyond measure and smiling sheepishly, I quickly ran to her and took it out of her mouth.

I asked her where she had found the whistle. She replied, “Me find in colour box.”

After my initial embarrassment wore off my co-workers & I had a good laugh.

My little whistle-blower coloured on, totally oblivious.

Childhood Treasures


It is cleaning time at home. Today I attack the children’s room.  There is a box labeled ‘to be sorted later’, which has art and other school projects that the children have worked on, over the years.  The idea is to make a scrapbook (digital or physical) of these ‘great pieces of art’ that have been instrumental in moulding the children’s personalities.  Today, I decide to get started on this task with fervour.  Setting a deadline of three hours, within which to get a broad sorting done, I plunge into the task.
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Soon, I see the first drawing my daughter ever made of a small girl with curly hair.

I see a green parrot with a red beak.

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I see my son playing weather man, when he actually  made a weather report for the week, after studying the topic ‘weather’ at school. He predicted rain on Thursday!!

I see the world through their eyes, Dad & Mom stick figures with red hearts filled with such innocent and pure love.

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I see mom’s day cards with the pure and innocent love that only children can give unselfishly; I have been given a ‘ruby’, which is somehow more precious to my son than a ‘diamond’, as he has made a special mention of this fact.

I see their simple sketches of a  girl taking her dog out for a walk on a warm sunny day. I see three chickens hatching from Easter eggs.Slide14Slide2

I see their interpretation of a green meadow, with clumps of grass across the page.  I see rainbow coloured elephants and a happy rabbit bounding in a jungle with beautiful butterflies for company.

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I see a desert scene with camels and the Sphinx, I see walruses with two ‘tusksksk’ (not sure of the spelling here), I see ‘dizines’ of flowers and a ‘rangoli’ crafted out of paper.

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I see the repetition of a ‘mom’ & ‘dad’ pattern.

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I see three simple sketches of a hen, corn and the Sun, with labels.

I also see a multi-coloured rooster with an equally vibrant worm on a farm

rooster& a grass hopper in green grass.

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I see a Happy Diwali card and a perfectly juicy summery water-melon; I see a bird guarding her nest, a half-completed fire-spewing dragon, and simple sketches of lions.

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I try to go back in time to see what those afternoons or evenings were like, when the children expressed their creativity through these drawings.  Some I remember, most I don’t.  Did a story that they hear in school cause them to draw what they did? Where did these vibrant colours come from, where did these concepts come from?

When I show it them now, they laugh and giggle as they see each of their drawings.  My son says, “Did we really do that?  Was that actually my very first drawing?”

My daughter is very happy that I have saved all these.  The Easter Eggs were her pre-nursery project, nearly a decade ago.  How time has flown. I am so glad I saved these drawings, so glad I could share it with the children and show them how unique and creative both of them are, and encourage them to spend more time expressing their creativity.

Now, I am ready to scan these pictures.  As I pick up the drawings and move towards the scanner, a small paper flies out of the pile.  I stop to pick it up and then my eyes mist over.  It is a cut-out of my son’s palm…I presume that the topic assigned was, ‘Write a few things about hands’.

With all his innocence my son has written these three sentences about ‘hands’.

“Just like our fingerprints, we are different too.”

“Lend a helping hand for people who need it.”Presentation2

“Our hands are some of the body parts that help us bond with others.”

Needless to say, my 3 hours stretched to almost the whole afternoon and early evening.  I carry these new treasures to digitize them and relive my children’s childhoods.

                      nimi naren, 29 Jan 2015

Coffee, me, myself Part II – Enter the dragon


I have to warn you that if you want to drop by at our home between 7 am and 8 am on a weekday morning, you may not meet me but a fire-spewing dragon.

I am a night owl, and when the Sun actually rises, it is still midnight in night owl world.  Imagine being forced to wake up at midnight every morning to send your children to school.Featured image

The strong filter coffee jolts me awake. With my hair tied up in a grim knot, I am ready to take on this mad hour in my kitchen. My brain is processing four completely asymptotic threads of activity.  Within the next 60 minutes I have to process six different lunch & snack boxes in various combinations to meet individual requirements. The four burners on my hob are working full steam, now cooking, now boiling, now frying.  I am like an octopus, my hands moving with precision, stirring the contents of one pan &  tossing another. All it takes is one moment of inattention and the dosa is burnt, sugar goes in where salt should have gone….you get the picture?

Sounds from elsewhere in the house indicate that the children are awake and fighting over that most precious morning resource – the bathroom. Suddenly the tenor of those voices change….there is a full blown pillow fight. I reduce the flame to simmer on all burners and run to play referee. I moderate and resolve. I am rewarded with two titles simultaneously, ‘mean mom’ and ‘best mom’. The burning smell from the kitchen has me sprinting…not too much damage, thankfully.

Breakfast, lunch and snack items are produced and stacked on the kitchen counter.  I carefully check if I have colour coordinated the hand towels with the right boxes. No pinks and girly colours for my boy.The kitchen looks like a gale just blew through it. Water bottles are filled and I look at the clock. 7.55 am….Phew!

My son walks in at that precise moment with a wail, “Mom, I need 10 pictures of vehicles for a class project.”

I yell at no one in particular, “This is the icing on the cake”. 


I shoot off prints and cut the pictures & hand them to my son. My body is now emitting steam. 

The children start their breakfast. My son positions his book where his plate should be; his hand moves at a weird angle to shove food into his mouth. My daughter’s hand has paused midway to her mouth as her eyes devour the book she is reading. I let out another volley of ‘mom-pletives’ and the pace of breakfast consumption improves. This is followed by another round of yelling to ensure that the kids have remembered to take all their stuff.  In all this chaos, my husband remains calm, focused on the newspaper, totally oblivious to the mad household erupting all around him.  Finally everybody is ready. I let out a huge sigh of steam as each member leaves the house.


 I have the feeling of having completed a high-intensity cardio workout. Wonder why the weighing scale shows no change ?