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Sandhya tagged me in her post Facing My Fears. I had to

-List five of my fears.
-Link my post to the person who tagged me
-Link this post with a book. (I have more than one book, I am afraid.)
-Tag five people.

(1)The school my children attend has a big hand in shaping them. There are a lot of idealistic lessons imparted practiced. While I am thankful for the influence of the school and try following the same at home, there is this nagging feeling at the back of my mind. At times I am not sure if the children are living in a bubble, shielded away from reality. Often I wonder what their response would be to, what I consider based on MY experiences, the real world. When they grow up will this generation be different and hence my girls will have experience different from mine? Or their current experience help them to stay positive and deal with what they face in the future? Or will they feel cheated? Only time can tell.

TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD by Harper Lee addresses this issue to the point. Jem and Scout are being constantly told by Atticus Finch that essentially all people are good. In spite of his personal experiences, Atticus shows through modeling that irrespective of negative experiences, one must never loose faith in people. The character of Atticus Finch has been a great inspiration to me.

(2)Perhaps the greatest struggle of humanity is the battle between the good and the bad. I am no exception. I have at times experienced a inner conflict – should I do the right thing or do the thing that is right for me. I struggle constantly finding the balance between these two states. There is guilt, drama and fear.

In the Harry Potter series Albus Dumbledore tells Harry that one cannot have pure thoughts all the time. Finally what one choose to do is what matters.

(3)Growing up in a country like India, I do not need introduction to poverty. But Grisham’s Street Lawyer took me to a different level in my understanding of poverty. Before this book, poverty to me was just a state of living. Something that can be changed with education, right chances etc. After this book, I understand clearly that poverty is capable of making people desperate, a state that can make people do morbid things.

(4)Since this is virtual world, I feel that I must list one fear pertaining to the virtual world. I am afraid of tagging people. To be specific, I am afraid that people will not take it up if I tag them. It is silly and I don’t think I can find deep philosophy in any book to address this.

(5)Last but not the least, in fact the greatest fear is my children suffering and me not being able to do anything about it. I think I signed up for this the minute I became a parent and no amount of reading can alleviate this fear.

I am tagging YaadaYaada, Boo, PV, Narad and Uma. See, I am working of fear#4 already.  :)

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  • Does Gender Define Me?

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    Sandhya tagged me for unwomanly behavior.

    Does gender define me?

    Yes. Big time. Right from childhood if I think back. I am the only girl child born to parents who had clear expectations who married in to a family which had crystal clear expectations of me and my role. I must say that I haven’t done much to send shock waves through the family.

    I have always been dolled up. My mother loves to choose clothes for me. Even yesterday, she picked out what I wore. Occasionally my MIL/SIL does it for me. I love to dress up. I loved the chutti, nathu, pullakku, false hair, flowers decoration, kasu malai, ottiyanam traditional ensemble  I was in for my wedding. I loved it so much that I felt bad that if I try doing that any time any where again it will be over the top. I jumped with joy that I could do a repeat of it for my seemandham, without making people roll their eyes and enjoyed every moment of it. I like beauty parlours and such. Not much the make up part, I just like the idea of being pampered. My favorite colors turquoise blue and baby pink, in that order, in the whole wide world.

    The role of gender has always intrigued me and made me write this post three years back. I think that we are all ardhanaris basically, with varying degrees depending on nurture and exposure.

    My actions, at this point in my life are divided in to

    -comes naturally to me

    -love to do, so I will put my life on hold to do it.

    -hate it/tolerate it, but do it anyway because life has to go on.

    -will NEVER do it, no matter what.

    The best part is, R is the same way too. So there are no major combats at home.

    I love to make things, be it crafting or building furniture or dishing out fancy stuff from my kitchen. All the furniture in my house are assembled by me. Of course they come with instructions, but when I open a box of furniture, things kind of click and snap in my mind. Once to calm down, I locked myself in the girls room and spent two hours assembling the two newly bought chest of drawers. When I came out of the room, I was Buddha(for five whole minutes adds R :) ).

    I painted the inside of my house. This was three years back with a 1 year old and a 2.5 year old. Picked colors, spent couple of hours every night prepping the room, covering furniture, get up next day, cooked for the day, painted like there is no tomorrow and packed up by the end of the day. Four days like this. I partly cribbed but mostly loved what I did.

    I made the inside of two of our bedroom closets. There was provision for just hanging clothes and I wanted some kind of system where I can get more storage within the limited space and a tight budget. So I bought 12 feet wire shelves, hack-sawed it in Home Depot parking lot, loaded it in to the car, drilled and  hammered till the shelves were done.

    I get vague ideas for a display shelf or a picture frame. I take my sketch to Home Depot early the next day(6.30AM – 7.30AM on Sat mornings works best) and consult with the guys to implement my idea effectively. Not all the ideas were super hits, but I like the adrenaline rush involved in the whole process. I probably would be wearing pink shoes, pink sweats, waving my pink cellphone and sporting a pink hand bag during the entire process. But who cares?

    Planned an almost around the world trip from US to Tanzania to India and back to the US. Realized first hand how painful it is to make cost effective safari and hiking arrangements in a distant continent. All along there was this uncertainty if the tour operator is legitimate. When we landed in Tanzania and my tour operator did show up, I hugged him and almost cried.

    While in Tanzania, we roughed it out on the mountain for five days, without shower or a bathroom. Perfectly cool with pit stops. Without any hesitation, will drop everything including the kids to do the hike again.

    I have a record of  fighting with my teachers. In school, I once told my PT teacher that she was wrong, I was right and asked her to apologize to me. This was in the assembly hall, in front of an audience. I did not get apology, but got pure hell over the next few months I was in that school. While in college, while in an association meeting, asked the professor in charge to put his cigarette down. Proceeded to tell him that he is killing himself. Four words, ‘Did not go well’. Two years back, I fought for my grades with my Childhood and Culture course professor. We had different opinions, she made me redo one midterm and two research papers and then while arguing about the final paper, she said, ‘Something something a B grade is not bad. Something something all Asians are very sensitive about their grade. Think about it.’ I said, that I do not want to think about B because, I am A material. Not because I am Asian, but because I work hard for it and I deserve it. Proceeded to give her a mini lecture. Yes, I did get an A in that course.

    Except for people, I kill all living things under my care. None of the house plants have survived past a month. They sense my presence and commit slow painful suicide.

    I am horrible taking care of sick people, even my own kids. I am okay the first two days, then I undergo sudden transformation from Florence Nightingale to grinding teeth.

    I have high tolerance for physical pain.

    I cannot sing, dance, handle a needle, do kolam, string flowers even to save my life. Absolutely don’t planning on doing any of the above. I am the spiritual one, but not always religious and regular about lighting lamps and saying my daily prayers. Of late I am developing a strong aversion to anything domestic – cooking, dish washing, cloth washing and the likes of it. May be it is a phase, may be it will pass, but I don’t know.

    Meanwhile R is there watering my house plants, secretly suffering his long spells of cold, giving tylenol to kids in the middle of the night, toiling in the garden, taking care of the fish and whatever pet I drag home, washing dishes and cooking an occasional dinner while I am buried in my end of the term papers, dressing up the girls for social engagements in pattu pavdai+matching jewellery+color coordinated bindhis(the girls are very particular, so I know how tough it is) while I am busy attending my weekend language development workshops, supporting my friday fasts,  and picking up loose ends, if any. All this without making fuss about roles and with only the girls(three including me :) ) in mind.

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    Behind every dream is a dreamer!

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    Tagged by Aargee and Mnamma.

    I am the mistress of dreams. I have elaborate dreams that would put even the greatest director/story teller to shame. Well, I get the dreaming gene from my mother. The amazing thing is she remembers her dreams very well for a very long time and she takes her dreams very seriously. “I dreamed about this in the early morning. If it had been in the night, it would have been okay. Since it is early morning I am worried.”* Now a days her frequent dreams** are – I am 2 years old and I am sitting in my paternal grand parents house. She walks from the kitchen and sees me playing peacefully. She sits down next to me and I suddenly morph in to Chula, then all of a sudden I turn in to Chula and Mieja.

    At times Chula wakes up in the middle of the crying or she would just toss and turn in her sleep mumbling something or those days she wakes up in the morning and would tell me something totally bizarre like, “Aammmmaaa why did you jump like that. I said no in the sand pit but you went to the swing”, I wonder if dream gene has been successfully passed on.

    I remember some of my dreams. Some I don’t even know I have had them. Some I forget as soon as I wake up. But there are five significant dreams.

    (1)I am sleeping and suddenly I remember that I have one more engineering exam that I haven’t taken. Getting my degree completion certificate totally depends on it. It is either the ‘Probability and random variables’ paper or ‘Communications’ paper or even worse, both. I panic because its been so long since I had attended the classes. I don’t have text books, class notes or study materials. Even with all those I used to stumble and depend on luck, now what am I going to do. It is a choking, constricting, fearful feeling that almost makes me cry. Then I wake up and find that it was a mean, bad, rotten dream and go back to sleep relieved.

    (2)The venue is always the same. My college, just behind the main building, on the way to the Electronics department, right in front of the mechanical department. It is 10.10 AM, every one is in class, I am all by myself and realize that in my hurry to get to class, I had forgotten to wear clothes. I have to run back to the hostel to get dressed. But I am trying to figure out how to do it without any one seeing me. Then the worst thing happens, the class bell sounds, students of all years, of all departments are pouring out of all the buildings and they are all headed my way. I am surrounded, but no one has seen me yet, they are busy discussing among themselves. I am contemplating if I must hide myself behind the three inch thick tree(??) trunk that is on my right. What about the my rump? Nothing to hide that(as if the three inch trunk would hide my full frontal nudity, imagine the logic in that!). Or may be I must pretend that every thing is normal and casually walk to the Electronics department, nodding to a few friends, with a puzzled look about all the excitement. Then I wake up.

    (3)I am sleeping and suddenly there is this uncomfortable void in my mouth. I open my mouth to feel the void and all my teeth fall out of my mouth. I am shocked but console myself that technology has improved so much that I can have false teeth and no one will know the difference.

    A variation of the dream is, I am at a party. I feel an ache in one of my teeth. So I touch the aching point and ‘phat’ the stupid thing falls off. I feel another tooth pretty loose, so I touch the loose tooth and it falls too. Pretty soon i am standing in the party with a plate full of freshly harvested teeth.

    (4)I am walking down the stairs. The stairs is something in a palace, it curves up to the top floor, there is a huge dome on the ceiling, the banisters are made of highly polished oak wood. The steps are of white marble with a rich velvety red carpet. I am wearing something nice and feel on the top of the world. There are a bunch of well dressed people standing and socializing at the foot of the stairs. They notice that I am coming down the stairs and start smiling warmly and talking something nice about me among themselves. I am smiling, waving, nodding, feeling welcome, proud and I am almost at the foot of the stairs, I put my foot down on what I think was a step, but there is nothing there. So I miss my balance and fall down.

    The variation of this is I am walking off a cliff and forget that I am already over the edge. So I stop in mid air, realize my stupidity and ploink down. Just like in cartoons.

    (5) The whole village is flooded, there is a absolute mayhem. I am standing on some piece of land and watching the water rush by and sounds of water and the cries of people and domestic animals is overwhelming. I see our temple priest rowing a makeshift boat. After a few minutes there is a big tree branch that floats by and there is a big serpent coiled in the tree branch.

    The first four dreams I have had since I was in college. I have been clear of these dreams in the past three years. A dream interpreter would say that these dreams signify shame, vulnerability, fear of being exposed, insecurity, doubts about transition.

    The fifth dream – I have had it only a couple of times – the fourth week of my pregnancy. It was the exact same dream when I had conceived Chula and it was a replay when I had conceived Mieja. I don’t know about dream interpreter, but one of my dear friends made a bunch of PJ’s out of the dream :) My MIL swears that every time there is a birth announcement in the family she dreams of a snake!

    These are just the night time dreams. Day dreams are a completely different story :) I would start off thinking how nice it would be if there is a small breakfast nook in the kitchen -> sometime in the not so distant future, the kids could sit and do their homework and I could keep an eye on them while getting dinner ready -> what if we knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining area and add a island with bar stools around it -> then a set of recesses lights would look great -> may be we could knock down the wall on the left hand side of the house, open office room and make it the formal dining area -> while we are at it, we might add an extra room, loft and kids room upstairs and get the whole house up to shape………. Mind races at the speed of light sometimes even faster :)

    Good news, yay! I am done with all my tags.

    * It is a belief that early morning dreams come true.
    ** Now a days she wakes up with this dream every single morning! Then she spends an hour looking at my baby pictures, Chula and Mieja’s pictures and videos. This is pretty much her suprabatham.

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  • My Quirks

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    Quirks tag from Choxbox.

    (1)You can call me a digital circuit. I am either ‘1’ or ‘0’. There is absolutely no in between. Every day, every minute I swing from extreme to extreme.

    By the frequency of my posts(which is sometimes up to 3/day or once in three weeks J) most of you must have guessed this already.

    I either spend every waking moment cleaning the house or let it rot for days together. I either cook 30+ dishes a day or can’t stand the thought of cooking for weeks.

    I have either taken care of my body very carefully(regular exercise, regular yoga, no fat, no sugar, just fruits and veggies, low carb, high protein diet to the extent of having power goos and Odwalla protein shakes for a meal) or have dined on a couple of boxes of chocolates.

    I either fold clothes with a precise method to the extent of being called obsessive compulsive or leave piles of clean laundry all over the guest bedroom.

    You can find me sitting on our couch, sprouting roots, refusing to step out of the house to even look at our own backyard or hiking the Grand Canyon or the Kilimanjaro.

    I am either perfectly(purely perspective :) ) groomed or like the whole of last week, walk around with different earrings – a dolphin in my right earand a fish inmy left ear. What started out as an honest mistake, turned in to laziness which made me convince myself that I was making a statement.

    I used to remember the most itty bitty details and now, I can’t even remember which is my tooth brush and which is hubby’s brush. Every morning I stare at the brushes for a few minutes and work out a little color coding memory strategy(Red starts with ‘R’, so does R’s name. So Red is R’s brush, therefore yellow is mine. ) If hubby gets a new brush, I am in soup. Soon will come a day when I will have tatoos on my body to remember trivial details like this and you can call me Ghajini.

    (2)I have zero money managing skills. My only concept of saving = not spending + having a big wad of money in a purse + looking/counting it from time to time. Every month I put the spare nickels and quarters in a ziplock and think that I am saving a H.U.G.E amount of money. I can’t keep track of the checking, savings, IRA, roth, 401K, retirement, NRI, NRE, custodial accounts. The more the money is split in to multiple accounts, I think they are being lost in the system. I prefer them to be at one place, if possible under my roof, right in front of my eyes. So one fine day if you read about “the crazy lady who kept all her life savings under her bed and counted it every day…” in the newspapers, look no further friends, you have found me!

    (3)I love to organize. Even to arrange books on my bookshelf, I make a flow chart of my organizational pattern, then add sub categories, put sub-sub categories, add a child to every sub-sub category……finally end up confused, frustrated and unorganized. But I don’t give up, I start from scratch and can do this for years!.

    (4)I can’t say ‘I Love You’ to any one except my children. I feel absolutely funny doing that. I can put it in writing, but I can’t speak those words J:) friend of my father, a dear dear man, 70 years old, lives in the east coast, calls me every month with immense fatherly affection and he always finishes his call with the words, ‘I love you sweetie pie’. I just dread that moment because I go blank, then deliver an embarrassed chuckle and say, ‘Bye uncle, take care’.

    (5)I don’t like to tag people. I have done it a couple of times, but eventually stopped doing it because sometimes I feel like I am obligating people! Another reason is, I do my tags after an eternity and by that time every one else in the blogging world is tagged and the tag would have gone stale!

    (6)Okay, you all know me pretty well, always shooting for an extra point :) When I give the girls their bath(yes, yes, yes. I switched them from AM baths to PM baths so that I can do it.) I tell them to close their eyes while I apply ‘payatham maavu*’ and inadvertently I close my eyes tightly.

    * payatham maavu – Powdered whole moong daal. Usually mixed with turmeric powder and is used bathe little kids.

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  • Middle name tag

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    I was tagged by Poppin and Noon….and here is my post before any one else tags me for it :)
    I do not have a middle name(who in India does?), so here is something for each letter of Chula dn Mieja’s name. Also I am not tagging any one, don’t beat me up :)

    The three rules to be followed are:
    a) The rules must be mentioned in the beginning of the tag.
    b) You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
    c) At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


    C-Chocolate cake hmmmm….yummmm. She takes a bite, smiles so wide that her eyes are all crinckled, rubs her tummy in a circular motion and says ‘hmmmm…yummmm’.

    H- Hates it if I am pouting(either because I am focusing on something/making mental plans/my patience is being tested by the two kids ) this is what she does. Makes me sit, sits on my lap, gives me a hug, holds my face in both her hands, pulls the corner of my lips stretching my lips to a smile and says, ‘You be happy amma. You do like this only amma.’

    U-Understands Tamil very well, but refuses to speak Tamil.

    L-Loves to read books. If there are words/letters printed on a sheet of paper, you have her attention. Does not matter whether it is a children’s book or an uninteresting advertisement flier. She loves to lie down next to me with a book, pull the comforter all over herself. She starts the routine by telling me, ‘(pointing to her book)This is my project, (pointing to my book)this is amma’s project.’ She would read(from memory) her book from cover to cover, toss it aside and cuddle up to me asking, ‘Othay, now what are you doing? How is your project coming? Is this Barty book?(I was reading the Bartimaeus trilogy by J Stroud) Tell me all about it.’

    A- Always slow to warm up. But once she settles in to the groove, she wants the fun to not end.


    M – Master of mischief.

    I – Independence is her middle name. This one wants to eat by herself and I am fighting her because I am scared of the mess. But I am loosing.

    E – Easily wakes up from sleep. She is a light sleeper. Even a small noise, she immediately wakes up, stands holding the crib railing, says ‘Ayyo'(her version of Hello) and fishes for a reply. I pull the comforter over my head and pretend that I didn’t hear the ayyo.

    J – Jumps(without taking feet from the ground!) and shakes her lil’ tush and dances for the song ‘Vaadi vaadi’ from Tamil movie Sachin. In the middle of the song, the female voice says “Speed eethu mamu”(meaning dance fast), so she has some fast and sassy moves for that particular bit.

    A – A shower calms her down pretty quickly. Chula used to be, and still is, a screamer. I have to invent new strategies to get her to shower. But little Mieja is a water person. When she was a new born, she would fall asleep on my/my mother’s legs in the middle of her shower. We used to get very scared, stop and check if she is still breathing. My mom and I were very used to Chula’s screaming that a quite child made our imaginations run wild!

    Updated to add: Anitha had also tagged me for this. If any one else had tagged me and I had forgotten to mention, please holler and let me know :)

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  • Chula’s Quirks

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    Okay, now to Chula’s quirks, tagged by Tharini. I made a list, like I always do for anything and everything and the quirks went on and on and on. I have short listed five.

    1. She prefers that my thali(mangal sutra) does not show. In the early mornings, just after I have woken up or if I am rough housing with the children and my thali is outside my shirt, she come to me and says, ‘Amma, you do like this(putting my thali in my shirt). Here, you have your chain like this only. Okay?’.

    2. She has a fixed bed time routine.
    *Brushing teeth,
    *Washing face,
    *Diapering(diapers only during night, she says, ‘This is my thoochi thaachi(meaning sleep time) diaper amma. No underpants.’),
    *Climbing in to the crib by herself,
    *Check if the ABCD flat sheet is in the crib, lie down and hug red teddy bear, covered with safari animals quilt(the animals must face out and the quilt HAS to be upside down), Then be covered with her favorite pink blankie (‘now you put pinkie like this amma’),
    *Me singing ‘I love you love me’ song from Barney, me singing ‘a laa thee, you laa thee’ (the same I love you Barney song, the way Mieja sings it),
    *Kiss on the face,
    *Sing songs for Mieja, kiss mieja goodnight(even if I had already done this for Mieja or if Mieja is already fast asleep, I still have to do a repeat performance),
    *Me saying ‘Good night sleep____’, she chimes in ‘tight. Don’t let the beb bugs bite.’,
    *Me walking out saying ‘Hasta Manyana’(see you tomorrow in spanish),
    She chimes ‘bye amma’.

    *waiting to catch my breath*.

    If one small thing in the above mentioned routine changes, then hell hath no fury like a little Chula scorned!

    3. She hates it if some one leaves. She has almost never said goodbyes to people. But as far as things and places go, she has to say bye-bye otherwise there is no closure. She says ‘bye-bye zoo’, ‘bye-bye park’, ‘bye-bye paste’(She has to say this to her empty tube of paste and has to throw the paste in to garbage container herself. Otherwise she will be rolling on the floor crying ‘I want yellow paste. I no want pink paste. Pink paste is for Mieja. I want yellow duckie paste’)

    4. She associates lots of things with their color instead of what the thing actually is. My white crib, Mieja’s brown crib, appa’s orange car, amma’s white car, orange Montessori school (I have no idea why the school is orange), white straw, brown cake. Sometimes if she does not know the object then it is just ‘I want purple’ and by the time I figure out what purple things she is requesting->asking->demanding->rolling-on-the-floor-crying….God help me!

    5. After she saw her friend A (the Fremont A twin), wearing a bandaid on his boo-boo, she demands a bandaid on her real, imaginary and likely boo-boos. I obliged for a few days and then laid down the ultimatum that there will be band aids no more. So she treasures the very last band aid she got, which was 10 days back! It is on her knee, she takes good care of it and gives me precise instructions. When I am pulling a pair of pants on her, it is ‘You do it carefully amma, no pants on band aid. You do slowly and safely like this, okay?’. When I am giving her oil massage/applying cream/giving her bath it is, ‘No, no, no. Not on my band aid, okay? You put oil like this and then you do jump on band aid like this and do like this, okay?( rubbing her thighs, then taking her hands from her legs, placing hands below knee and rubbing from below knee to ankle)’. What is with kids and bandaid?

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  • A rose by any other name….

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    This is nick names tag by the wonderful Tharini.

    From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594:

    ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
    What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
    Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
    Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
    So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
    And for that name which is no part of thee
    Take all myself.

    Google reveals that, this is Shakespeare’s ‘yidakkaradakkal’.
    YI-DA-K-KA-RA-DA-K-KAL, tamil grammer term which signifies the situations when you are pulling some one’s leg by talking highly of them and viceversa. Typical example that was quoted to me in my eigth standard: A king(K1) who is fairly inexperienced in war has recently declared war against a king(K2) who is a war veteran. A Tamil poet, after inspecting K1’s infantry tells him, “Wow, your weapons are all shiny and new, where as K2’s weapons are all coated with blood and mud from the hundreds of wars he has participated in”. K1 gets the hint and decides to go for a diplomatic settlement. The poet points out K1’s lack of experience by sweet words and K2’s chivalry by putting him down.

    How much ever my roses smell, believe me they can get unbelievably offensive, all the nicks they have is purely out of love! Most of them are common for both my roses.

    Mottai, mottai boss(Both the kids were called this by hubby when we had shaved their head)
    Kanna(Hubby, my father, my mother for both the kids)
    Pattu, Pattu chellam (My MIL for both the kids)
    Chinni pattu, Pattamma, pattani, chinna pattani
    Kutti, kuttani, kuttamma
    Kannu, kannamma
    Kanne, maniye, karpagakiliye
    Annakili (Out of the blue called Chula this when she was born and my mom tells me that my great grandma used to call me by this nick!)
    Chinaani, chamathaani

    Weird it may seem, purely out of 100% love I swear :)

    Erumai maadu, silly girl (Exclusivley for Chula)
    Pettai rowdy, Pisaasu, loose kutti (Mieja special)

    The songs are mostly on-the-spot kind of things. Mieja says ‘Agooo’ and I sart singing ‘Agooni, kuttani, woonda pattani’ to the tune of the nursery rhyme that happens to jump to my mind.

    Now, the interesting part. Chula has some nick for us.
    She used to say ‘Appa, you are a princess’. The poor man tried to make her understand that he is no princess….may be a hulk…. a warrior…. a MAN…something with an ‘Arrrgh’, some one who has no ‘foo-foo’ in him. But she kept persisting that he is a princess. His essense would just revolt every time she called him ‘princess’. After days of struggle one fine night, as he was putting Chula to bed, she said, ‘Appa, you are a princess’ and the poor soul accepted defeat and said, ‘Yes baby. I am a princess. Whatever.’ Now she calls him princess no more! She now calls him ‘Appa-boy!’. Re-enactment of no-boy, arrrgh-man scene takes place every no and then.

    Chula calls me ‘kitty cat’. The cool cat I am, it sits well with me. She also calls me ‘Amma-boy’, ‘Amma-girl’ and ‘Silly amma'(especially when I am doing some silly dance for/with her).

    Chula calls Mieja as Mieja. She hugs her little sister and goes, ‘Oh, she is such a cute baby sister’.

    Mieja does her own share of name calling. Out of pure frustration, especially at the times when I am trying to shovel food in to her mouth, calls me by my name and says ‘NO’. She does not stop with that, she also pushes me away from her, and hold her little palm in my face, just in case I didn’t get the message! Mieja would suddenly drop whatever she is playing with and run to Chula and hug her. Such suddenly surges of affection is accompanied by ‘Assshu daaayaing huhchumaadul’ and the likes of such, which I am sure translates to ‘Oh, you are such a cute big sister’.

    But whatever silly name we are called by, we always answer to the call, even if we don’t always agree with the names. :)

    Updated to add: Memory is still poor, how could I have forgotten this??!
    Mieja is also called
    ‘Vaalu'(Literal translation ‘tail’, means the naughty one ). Even Chula says, ‘Nee seriyana vaalu’.
    Kutti monkey
    Kozhukattai(means dumpling, owing to her chubbiness)

    Both kids have been called chappai mooku(meaning ‘flat nose’. God, it took almost 6 months for their nose to raise!)
    Both were called ‘Achunoo’ by my first SIL.

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    Okay, its raining tags, home works and colds (Runny nose and colds have started even before winter has set in. Nothing depresses me more than seeing the days get shorter.) in the UTBT household. Since I cannot do much about the latter two (except to complain, which I do a LOT to hubby. I act absolutely cool and matter-of-factly to others!), I decided to take action on the first one. For your information, my writing wheels are just not turning. If I had been writing on a piece of paper, there will be zillions of crumpled papers around me. But since technology offers me with the convenience of ‘Undo typing’ and ‘Delete’ I still end up with a blank document after lots of clicks on the key board->undo->type->delete. Booo hooo, a blank document gives me the idea of inaction; vs crumpled papers would give the impression of work in progress :(

    Judgemental tag by Swati

    At first I thought I would apologize to Swati and excuse myself from doing the tag for a couple of reasons. First one being, God this is complicated and I don’t know how to get about it, I judge being judgemental. I know, full of contradictions, feel free to comment on it. I haven’t worked this one out myself, so comments might clear it up! The second one is, it would bring the ugly side of me. I kept going back and forth and finally decided to do it.

    As a rule I do not judge other mothers/their parenting skills/philosophies. My motto is ‘whatever works’. Just because I do not like/want/do things a certain way, it does not mean that it is the only way. After long and hard thought there are two things that I am REALLY REALLY judgemental about.

    Some people give unsolicited advice about adoption. Here you are going through (either personally or indirectly), the hardships to have a baby and some people have the nerve to suggest adoption. No, no, I do not have anything against adoption. It is just that the couples have to through the steps and finally decide for themselves what they want to do. You cannot put the adoption idea in to some one’s head, it has to come to them! When I am talking about my personal pains, my longing to feel that small kick in my belly, at the end of the day sit on the couch with my feet up and my hands on my pregnant tummy, huff and puff for walking even a small distance, throw up every morning, feel like eating idli 24×7 I just want you to listen. All I am looking for is a shoulder to lean on. Please do not tell me ‘You are being selfish. Adpot, there are so many needy children.’ When I am out of denial and the whole emotional catastrophe, I will decide if I want to adopt. Also, the adoption advice really does not sit well when you have a litter of children of your own. Makes me think, that you talk the talk but cannot walk the walk.

    Wow, that came out really strong. Lot of pent up feelings there huh?! The next one that drives me mad is when people tell me that they are busy. I admit every one is so wrapped in what they do. But the truth is it all boils to priorities. We have a relative living around the area where we live. But we do not know their address, phone number or any contact details. We heard from common sources (this relative’s parents, grand parent, uncle with whom we are in touch) that this couple moved here. I was initially okay with the fact that the couple do not want to keep in touch with us. Just because we are related in some complicated way and we have met once, you don’t have to find space from me in your life. But what gets me is this, every time we talk to the couple’s parents or grandparent or uncle they all say the same thing, ‘Oh, they are soooo busy’. I loose it completely. One day I wish I can work up the guts to tell these people, ‘Stop making excuses. I am here juggling a family, two children, part time work, part time school, part time my own business. At this point of time, there is no way your son and daughter-in-law can be busier than me.’ Till then I keep fuming to hubby that if I happen to walk up on them in a restaurant or grocery shop, I would play it cool and walk away pretending that I do not know them. Hmmmmhp, can I be any more pathetic???! :)

    Okay, one down. Nick names tag, Chula’s quirks and my quirks coming up shortly.

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  • 1, 2, 3 Mike Testing…

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    This is Mieja speaking to you all for the first time. A special thanks to Kodi’s mom for tagging me. K’s mom, I must mail you a packet of sweets for pointing out that we second born children get sidelined. Truer words were never spoken. My amma, is so smitten with my older sister. Chula is all nice and interesting, I like her too. What I can’t understand is my amma’s obsession with her. May be its because amma thinks that Chula does lots more interesting things or may be Chula is in ‘that phase’, has a few meltdowns* under her belt that she needs a little bit more attention. But, to my defense, I do interesting things too! For instance last week, I ate a dead snail** (Tasted just like chicken – with a crunch of course. Not that I have ever eaten chicken, but that’s what they say in the movies when they eat weird meat). And an impartial jury can vouch that I throw my share of tantrums. Hope amma changes, mean while I am counting on all of you for support.

    I decided to copy Moppet and Ashu*** write the post by myself, because I don’t want amma to put her Zen in to my simple pleasures†. I had been trying so hard for the past one week to do this post. But amma, on the pretext of doing her homework, was hogging the laptop 24×7††.

    I love ‘I scream’ – No that is not ice cream. It is ‘I SCREAM’. I have been doing this for the past 10 days and I have to admit, I am very kicked about it. Amma and my day care provider(M) are quite confused where I picked it from. Amma secretly thinks that I picked it from day care and M thinks I picked it from home. But I am having a ball. I just let out a shrill, loud, ear piercing, glass shattering, operatic scream every now and then. Amma complains to every one that she is going deaf from round-the-clock-screaming. Well, that is not true. I don’t scream when I am sleeping. Only when I am angry, happy, frustrated, want to make a point, get attention, want something, sleepy, tired, bored, hurt, sad and hungry.

    Hair Affair – Everyone, who knows me, has been comparing me with Chula and say that my hair is sparse. Amma also makes fun, ‘Naathu natta madhiri yirukku’(Meaning: Farmers when transplanting the plants to the field, plant them far apart to increase their chances of survival. Amma says that my hair is planted really far apart, just like the plants! I get the hair gene from amma). So I have decided to take matters in to my own hands. Since I am not a big fan of eating food, I have decided to apply the nourishment my hair needs, directly to my hair. So what ever I see, be it fruits/veggies/porridge/vadai/yogurt/sand/diaper wipes/water/idli, I pick up with both my hands, squeeze, rub my hands together and then rub it on my head. I am quite pleased with the result.

    Although amma thinks that my hair is to short to embellish it with clips and hair bands, I honestly think I am ready for it. What does the woman know, she let me eat dead snails for the love of God! So I pick up clips, hair bands, headbands and books (at times), place them on my head and walk around the house. I still haven’t figured out if the accessories stick to the hair or it is just a matter of balancing them? I try my best to balance them, but no luck. I can’t seem to keep the stuff on my head for more than two feet.

    Reading and Writing: I generally prefer not to read. I strongly believe that by hearing you remember things for a few hours, by reading you remember for a few days, by seeing you remember for a few years, but by doing you remember for a lifetime. In our house I am the doer and Chula is the reader. Those rare moments I pick up a book, I always insist that I hold it upside down. Amma does not understand that I am trying to do ‘thalai keezh paadam’(meaning: reading it thoroughly from top to bottom and viz. ) and keeps turning the book right side up. I reprimand her with one of my screams and turn the book my way. Same way I am obsessed that pencil and paper are a pair, one cannot exist without the other, not that I write on the paper with a pencil. I simply like to wave the paper and hear it rustling when I am munching the pencil’s graphite tip or when I am scribbling on the wall.

    Laughing: I like to laugh my heart out. Amma thinks that I laugh like P.S.Veerappa. Never mind her, we have already established that she does not know much. The most hilarious moments are those when I pull some one’s hair. It is so funny, I cannot help it. In my day care, during nap time, after all the kids go to sleep, I get out of my crib and go around pulling all their hair and I do the laugh. All the other kids being older than I, I don’t dare to attempt it when they are awake, because they would chase me away or swat me like a fly.

    Folding my hands: When I am seriously observing someone doing something, I strike a humble pose by crossing my arms and observing them intently.

    Folding clothes:I know I am supposed to write only 5 quirks, but cosidering how difficult it is for me to get to the computer, I want to add one more. I love to see my amma folding clothes, one reason is that it is so rare. I am more used to seeing piles of laundered clothes lying around for eternity. So when she does fold the clothes, I don’t want the fun to end. She folds the clothes and puts them in different piles on the center table. When she is not looking I pick the folded cloth, shake it open and throw them back in to the laundry basket. The last time I did this, she wasn’t too happy and asked me crossly for how long I had been at it. “Lady, come on, don’t you know how many pairs of dark blue jeans you own? You must have realized what was happening when you folded the same pair twice.If it took you a while and folding the same jeans three times (or four, who is keeping count?) to figure it out what can I do?”

    *God, whats with all that tears??? Sheer waste of energy. I can get amma, appa and the rest of the world dance to my tune without out shedding a single drop of tear. Now that is an effective tantrum. Chula, you can learn a thing or two from me.

    ** Pun from my amma’s friend’s husband – “UTBT you told Mieja ‘naan vegetarian’ (meaning: I am vegetarian) and she must have heard it as non-vegetarian”

    ***Copying is the deepest form of flattery, my amma says.

    I was just playing peek-a-boo. What does it have to do with trees? Next she will be associating my bodily releases with global warming. The woman simply thinks too much.

    ††It was literally 24×7, I checked. Day before yesterday I woke up at 12 midnight, 1.30AM and 2.00AM and she was sitting in the couch with the laptop glued to her, no prices for guessing, lap.

    PS: I have learnt to say ‘oh-oh’. I realized that I have to say that when I drop something. Since people find it too cute I have decided to keep them happy by dropping things on purpose and say ‘oh-oh’.

    Signing off with my motto: “Who says terrible twos start only at two. Two, three and four are mere numbers……”

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  • My Indian Authors – Part II

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    Continued from My Indian Authors – Part I

    I can list my favorite Indian authors with reasons, but each author will become a post by itself. This I don’t want to do for the fear of loosing you all. So here is my list:

    Kalki: I own and have read every written work by Kalki. Ponniyin Selvan, of course, is the top of my list. Short stories, contemporary novels, historic novels – Kalki, according to me, is ‘THE KING’. He’s got humor, he’s got style, he’s got class, he’s got panache, he’s got guts.

    T.Janakiraman: He was very advanced for his time. Nearly every story by T.J has a thread of what you could call, adultery going on. But he some how manages to portray it elegantly!

    Devan : He is the genius who created Thupariyum Saambu (Detective Saambu). I personally think that Pink Panther is a knock off of my dear Saambu. This abishtu(nincompoop) brahmanan(brahmin), who has a massive tube light instead of a brain, decides to quit his job as a bank clerk and becomes a professional private detective. Lady luck makes things happen for Saambu and he ends up as the most sought after detective. Every week our Saambu gets his feet in to a different case, but he perseveres! Unfortunately, for me, I have not read any other works of Devan.

    Saavi: The only work of Saavi I have read is Washington-il Thirumanam(A wedding in Washington). I remember reading this when I was about 9 years old. This was my first introduction to USA!

    Vaasanthi: The sole reason I read Vaasanthi is because she is my mother’s favorite. There are some books of Vaasanthi I have enjoyed, but again there have been some which have eluded my simple mind! Most of her subjects are beautiful, intelligent women who belong to upper middle class, who have it all. But they start wondering if they really have it all. They tread a fine line between liberation and running wild. My description might sound very chavunistic-putting-the-women-in-her-place kind of writing, but it is not. Vaasanthi has delicately balanced real women’s liberation and the perception of women’s liberation in her books. If I am not mistaken, Kuruthu is by Vasaanthi, which talks about communal issues. It fudn it very touching. (It was a while ago, so if Kuruthu is not by Vaasanthi, some one please let me know.)

    Thirukural: In school, I was prepared to cut off my limbs for escaping the Thirukural memorization. But with time, I am beginning to appreciate this book. Every time I read it, I am surprised by the management philosophies that are so relevant and so precisely expressed!

    Sujatha: Can’t get enough of his Ganesh and Vasanth! He introduced me to world of sci-fi. He is master story teller, literary genius, versatile writer with a strong urge to use sexual insinuations! There are few of his works (may be Katradhum Petradhum) without double meaning dialogues. I recently found that, he was chief of the team that designed the Electronic Voting Machines that we use in India now! How cool is that?!

    Ramani Chandran: This one I have a love hate relationship. Just a silly romance story, with strong male characters, who are always the masters of the relationship, sensitive women, who have to listen to the men irrespective of how sensible they are, strong insinuations of the gender pecking order of the society are characteristics of her works ! Once a few years, I read a Ramani Chnadran to get my romance dosage. Thats it for me, any more than that, I pull my hair out. Her works are a necessary evil in my life:)

    R.K.Narayan: I can go on an on about him, but I don’t have to, because I know that he is close to all our hearts. Again, I own most of his books. For the amount of humor in his work, it is sad that his life has been pretty lonely. Thiswas very touching.

    Other than R.K.N, I haven’t read too many english books by Indian authors. A few that have struck to my memory are Train to Pakistan by Kushwant Singh (I cannot forget this one for the rest of my life ), Difficult Daughters – Manju Kapur(I remember it for the sole reason that the novel made my blood boil, because the so-called hero, a married man, goes after another woman whom he considers his intellectual counterpart. He so easily reasons out that his present wife is for his family and social obligations and the second wife is to interact with him on HIS LEVEL. **Grinding teeth**). Twentieth Wife – Indu Sundaresan(I thought this was a very decent first attempt, but towards the last 3-4 chapters, I was loosing patience. Indu does show lots of potential.) The Glass Palace by Amitav Gosh – sorry folks, not for me. I did enjoy Inscrutable Americans – Anurag Mathur, when I was fresh off the boat in USA. But if I read it now, I am not sure if I would like it that much. Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – didn’t get most of the layers and the underlying meanings, so didn’t like it very much.

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