Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Do You Have Common Sense?

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I am not asking you my genteel reader.
But this is a game the children play, quite so often. It goes:
Child: Amma, lets play a game. Okay? Do you have common sense?
Child: What is your favorite color?
Me: Blue.
Child: What is your favorite animal?
Me: Monkey.
Child: Tell me a number.
Me: 7
Child: Ha-ha! You don’t have common sense. A monkey is not blue and does not have 7 legs. No common sense. No common sense.

There is no secret message or life lesson, but I would like to pick people I encounter on daily basis and ask them this question, ‘Dude do you have common sense?’ along with more questions like, ‘Do you have sense?’, ‘Do you have grace and courtesy?’, ‘Do you have any ethics?’, ‘Can you spell etiquette?’, ‘Do you have a brain?’ and more importantly, ‘Do you have a heart?’
If only I could! Sigh!

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  • The Summer Vacation Bug

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    We are completing one successful week of summer vacation.

    I am still alive.

    So are the children.

    Our day is like this:

    They go to a neighbor’s house for 2 hrs. A paid summer camp kind of thing. They do quilling, paper craft, basic sewing and knitting.

    So between lunch and 3.00PM……

    <I am at work>: 25 phone calls in 90 min, ‘Amma, when are you coming?’ is running in loop.

    <I come back home>: ‘Yay! Amma!’

    Amma can we eat chocolate?


    Can we eat chocolate biscuit?


    Can we eat regular biscuit?


    Can we go out and eat dinner?


    Can you make special dinner?


    Can we call out friends over?

    If you finish your snack, we can go and play in the park/pool with all your friends. Lets clean up before that.

    No(note role reversal)

    Finish your lassi.


    Finish your fruit.


    Get you hair combed.


    After a serious glaring from me, child #2 asks me, ‘Amma, even if we make you mad, why can’t you keep smiling?’

    The answer to this complicated question can be unlocked only when she has children, me thinks.

    But all this aside, its the vocabulary that drives me nuts… *rolling eyes*

    “Amma I finished the book full-to-full” =>completed reading.

    “Amma, in teacher’s class I did stitching full-to-full” => the whole time

    “Amma I ate full-to-full and I am full ” =>  finished what was put on their plate.

    Note how ‘appa’ is no where in the picture, thank you very much.

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  • Vishwaroopam

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    As news of Vishawaroopam comes out, what I am hearing is, ‘Sad, but he deserves it no?’.

    Translates to, “Kamal has been arrogant in the past, now he is humbled and humiliated.”

    Just like one loosely comments, ‘She was raped? Well what did she do?’

    Do we congratulate ourselves that we are impartial to men and women when it comes to victim blaming?
    Must we be shocked at our spiraling speed towards intolerance?
    Must we work on objectivity and empathy?
    Must we be ashamed that we are so malleable that any one can pull us in to a political farce and manipulate us to their advantage?

    Where does this victim blaming come from?

    Does it come from India’s spiritual core that believes in Karma – one suffers by his own actions.

    Is it our way of developing resilience?

    Or is it our way of burying our head like an ostrich and say, ‘Even if I had done something this would have happened because of his karma. So I don’t have to do anything. This is not MY problem.’

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  • Filed under: Culture Kotudhu
  • Images In My Head

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    A classroom.


    A white bus.





    Mostly sadness.


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  • Filed under: General
  • Culture Kotudhu 5

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    Many many things are going on, just no time to update. But this I can’t resist!

    Last Sunday was Surasamharam, the last day of war between Lord Karthikeya and the demon Soorapadman.

    Since I wasn’t showing any signs of educating the children on this, R decided to step in. Youtubeducation took place while I was busy at work.

    He showed them Kandhan Karunai(Tamil movie 1967) in which Shivaji(Veeravahu) is stealing Sivakumar’s(Murugan) thunder with his thundering thighs, that are strategically exposed by the mini skirt he is wearing. Lets just say that the costume designer was well ahead of his time. More over, Shivaji’s over acting bordering on inappropriate conduct is best left unsaid. By itself, the movie would have given the children a warped sense of culture. But the key mistake on the husband’s part is that he showed Thiruvilayadal(Tamil movie, 1965) in the morning followed by KK in the evening.

    Now the girls are completely confused why Shiva traded his tiger skin for mini skirt(Shivaji is Shiva in AM movie and he is Veeravaahu in PM movie).

    Parvathi is played by Savitri in both movies. But she is green in AM movie and ‘regular’ in PM movie. So the question about ‘where did green Parvathi’ go? kept popping up every now and then.

    Gemini being Shiva in PM movie with the same actress as Parvati in both movies did not help one bit.

    Having KPS as Avviyaar in both the movies just added to the confusion.They can’t take the fact that KPS is universal Avviyaar and that she majored in ‘Avviyaar’ in her acting course.

    They simply believe that both movies are the same with  something gone wrong with Shiva and Parvathi!

    I can’t wait for Karthigai Deepam and the following culture education!


    Guess The Book

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    Here is the quiz for Aug 2012.

    – Guess the complete TITLE and AUTHOR of this book.

    – Quiz closes Mon, Aug 6th. 4.00PM IST.

    – Results will be announced Wed, Aug 8th.

    – Instead of picking the first person to respond with the right answer, I am doing a random number generation of the right answers to pick the winner.

    – The prize is a book. I want to choose a book appropriate for you/your child. So will announce the title of the book after I announce the winner.

    -Comment moderation is on.

    – Clipart credit various sources from Google.

    Your picture clue is


    Edited to add


    Four of you answered right and the winner is

    AA_MOM. Entered answers in chronological order and then did a random number generation through Mac Numbers. Will send you an email AA_MOM.


    Would you like some bread with that book and other instances of literary love by Veena Venugopal is a book-o-graphy…… No, it is not a word, but you all just have to live with it. I did think of coining book+journey =  book-urney. Now book-o-graphy seems quite acceptable I am sure…… Ok…where was I?! The book. It is Veena’s love for books slotted in to chapters, each narrated in a humorous way.

    After reading Jango Unchained on Live Mint, the book went on the wish list. When the book arrived, I read the back cover. As a person who spent more time choosing books to read during the African Safari than training for the Kilimanjaro trek, I knew that I was going to identify with Veena a lot.

    I see my 7 year old daughter patiently reading the English translation of Sivakamiyin Sabatham 3 – 4 times, without understanding any of the nuances. But I know she will get there, just like Veena ‘got’, To Kill A Mocking Bird.

    Every time I look at my book shelf(ves), there is an overwhelming urge to rearrange, organize or to just stand back, admire and take pictures.

    While I was young an happening, I used to read during every bus ride. Now old age is making me motion sick. But I carry a book around all the time(handbags are bought with the ‘must be big enough to fit at least one book’ criteria in mind) to make sure that I am best prepared to meet  my reading in the park, reading in the zoo, reading on the beach, reading on a house boat, reading on a hammock, reading next to the pool, reading listening to music, reading on a hill station sipping hot chai fantasies.

    When I visit a house, I tend to check out the person through their books ….. this and many more!

    I have to say I am throughly jealous of Veena. Purely for the fact that the she remembers so many details from the books she reads. I simply don’t. Not any more. As a reader I have changed from a detailed, stop and absorb every word, form mental pictures for everything reader to I-have-to-finish-this-book-in-three-minutes-or-the-book-is-going-to-self-destruct reader and, like many things in my life, the children take the blame.

    I have an image of her in my mind. In order to preserve it, I am going to stop with lurking on her FB checking her pictures and not make any friend requests etc.

    Do pick up the book folks, I am sure you will love it.

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    That Silly Over Worked Tooth Fairy

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    Its been a long time since I did back to back posts on the same day. But this is an incident to be recorded here.

    We are late bloomers when it comes to teething. I, as a child started speaking and then cut my first at 14 months. For the milk teeth to fall ….. it took for ever.

    Chula and Meija took after me. They cut first tooth at after their first birthday. Chula is now 7.5. Ever since she read Gooney Bird Greene and the character Felicia Ann, she has been looking forward to be walking around showing off her missing teeth. Felicia Ann has two missing front teeth and cannot pronounce her S and F. Clearly that is the star attraction.

    Slowly all of Chula’s friends lost their milk teeth, but our heroine was desolate, she waited for almost two years. By now, even Meija’s friends started losing the milk teeth. The child was found in front of the mirror violently shaking her teeth at every available moment.

    Finally this Feb I found two buds behind the lower front incisors. Her permanents were cutting out. The wait got intense. There was more pushing, prodding, shaking and inspection. But the milk teeth stayed put. Finally the dentist announced that the milk teeth need to be extracted. The child was terrified, but calmed down the instant the dentist mentioned that she can get ice cream. The I-word  made her warm up to the extraction so much that she even offered to trade each of her pearls for an ice cream. Some how, the mention of extraction sent shivers down my spine and I was dragging my feet.

    While this drama was happening and the lower  incisors were getting all the attention, the top two incisors were getting lose. It progressed so much so soon, (well, in a month, but that is quite fast in our standards) that yesterday one finally fell out. We were in a restaurant, there was a bloody mess, but it came out. Now the child is sporting a empty spot and making sentences that are alliterations beginning with S and F.

    She slept with the tooth under her blanket, expecting money in exchange for her tooth. But this silly tooth fairy forgot her duties completely. Chula came out with a sullen face, almost ready to cry saying, ‘Amma, the tooth fairy…..’ and couldn’t complete her sentence. I sent her to brush her teeth saying that the tooth fairy is playing treasure hunt game with her and if she looked around the house carefully she will find her money. Before the child finished her morning ablutions, the tooth fairy was whipped in to shape and the money deposited in a secret but easy to guess spot.

    When Chula found the money, this is how the conversation went:

    Chula: Gasp! Amma, the tooth fairy IS real. When I found nothing under the pillow I thought either there is no tooth fairy or the tooth fairy didn’t want my tooth. But it is real. See, see I have the proof. She left me money AND let me keep my tooth!!!

    Mieja: (Half awake and from the bed) Nope. It is like A says. There is no tooth fairy. It is the parents who put the money under the pillow and fool the children. Ask amma if she forgot and is making up something last minute.

    This from the genius who thinks she can make diamonds at home. As I often say, this child will be the death of me.


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    Culture Kotudhu 4

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    Dinner table conversation.

    I am telling a story, Meija is complaining that I am asking her to eat food. Chula is doing good.

    [IN THE STORY]….. the carpenter was sad because he couldn’t find a wife. “No one wants to marry a carpenter” he said.

    Chula: What about you amma?

    Me: WHAT about me?

    Chula: Do you like carpenters?

    Me: To come on time and finish the work in the house, yes. But I am not looking to marry any one.

    Chula: Because you have two naughty children and don’t want any more?

    Me: No, because I already have a husband and don’t want any more.

    Chula: (bursts laughing), then you will be one wife and two husbands.

    Me: And who would want that torture?

    Meija: Panchali, she had five husbands.

    Chula: Meija. Panchali was an exception. Usually it is one man marrying many women. But usually women marry just one man.

    Me: Eh?!

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    “Children live through their senses. Sensory experiences link the child’s exterior world with their interior, hidden, affective world. Since the natural environment is the principal source of sensory stimulation, freedom to explore and play with the outdoor environment through the senses in their own space and time is essential for healthy development of an interior life…. This type of self-activated, autonomous interaction is what we call free play. Individual children test themselves by interacting with their environment, activating their potential and reconstructing human culture. The content of the environment is a critical factor in this process. A rich, open environment will continuously present alternative choices for creative engagement. A rigid, bland environment will limit healthy growth and development of the individual or the group.”

    — Richard Louv in THE LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS

    Rich natural environment = sand pit or water table.
    Rigid bland environment = ipad, TV.

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    Culture Kotudhu 3

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    Chula: Amma can you get me Vivel soap?

    Me: Eh-What?! What soap?

    Chula: Vivel amma. Remember we saw it in an advertisement in S patti’s house?

    Me: Why?

    Chula: So that I can become fair.

    Me: You are lovely as is. Why do you need to be fair? Fairness is no indication of a healthy mind or body. It is overrated.

    Chula: It is easy for you to say amma. You are fair. I am not. You won’t understand.

    The way she said it and walked away, truly killed me.

    At this point I have to add that that we are an ‘almost zero TV’ home. In the past one year the children would have watched less than 10 hours of TV and that too they were ad free PBS programs that we carried back from the USA.

    We had a follow up conversation about how ‘fair skin’ is relative. We are all different shades of brown. All advertisements lie, if Vivel truly works, then there will not be one single dark skin person in India. This got her thinking a bit. Atleast about Vivel may not be the solution, but she still thinks that dark skin is a problem.

    I would say that this started as early as her preschool where she was the minority Indian kid and was surrounded by Caucasian children. At least the head teacher would address this problem and talk to the circle about how different they all are and that is what makes them unique. But this part is sorely lacking in India. There is a craze on fair skin and it gets reiterated explicitly and subtly.

    Isn’t it an irony that fair skinned people are desperately getting tanned while we are frantically bleaching ourselves?! I am sure the Unilevers and P&Gs are having afield day. I think they are the true beneficiaries of this perception they are creating.

    One hour of prime time TV carries, on the average 6 fairness cream ads and 4 anti-aging cream ads. Apart from this there are four ads/hour telling women that their hair sucks, four ads/hour for men in which perfect bodied women are sprinkled liberally. That is, every 3.5 min some one trying to make you better by selling you something. Welcome to the macro culture of Des.


    Some one explain this ad. Does she really say ‘I did a skin analysis and was shocked. There was anti-aging.’ Well….. if anti-aging is what they are going ga-ga about, isn’t it good news that that damn thing, what ever it is, already there even before using the product?

    To all the girls out there, aging is not that scary. You need to hit 30 to understand what ‘being in control’ means.

    And what in the world is this? ‘GO SLEEVELESS ON HIM’? Is this the best tag line they can come with? I am thinking even if I have to-die-for underarms, how unnatural will it be to constantly show them off? Get a reality check people.


    PPS: Edited to add Preeti’s comment

    “Oh and btw… in that ad, she says ” I did a skin analysis and was shocked. There were signs of aging….”

    Looks like my signs of aging-> not able to hear properly. On the bright side, may be they have a cream for that!

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    Guess The Book

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