Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It Takes a Village

If it came down to a single book, a single book that transformed my reading experience, I'd pick Anita Desai's riveting 'The Village by the Sea.'

Many years ago, this book did it for me. When I spotted the book in the Page One bookstore at Vivocity, I was tempted to look for the buyer to congratulate him/her on their excellent taste.

There were two copies. I bought one. This year, Aneesha gets it as her Christmas gift. It might not change everything for her instantly but I know someday, she'll have to thank Anita Desai for it. Should this form of communication still exist, perhaps this note might end up being that useful reminder.

Dream A Little Dream

For 8 years she believed it.

You clean up the house, scrub your room, say your prayers, be kind to everyone, then wish upon a dream.

Like Lakshmi for Diwali, there was Santa for Christmas.

It was a lovely little dream.

On 24th December, they prayed just a little too hard.

The eyes would be wide shut, the prayers that note louder. It was the night of the presents. Windows would be opened.

"We have to make it easy for Santa and his helpers. He has to go and visit many children," Aneesha would remind her brother.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, I'd hurry on with the presents, change my straight writing to a slanting one, write in the cards and sign them off Yours Santa.

Each year as I set the presents side by side - one for Dhruv, one for Aneesha, I'd wonder if this would spell the end of the Santa myth.

Last night, it felt this year would be it.

It all started with Dhruv's hot wheels.

"How did Santa know?"

He can read your mind, I offered.

"But you went back to Vivocity last night, Dhruv showed you the Hot Wheels. Are you Santa."

I hmmmed and haaawed and in that instant it was over.

"All these years, you and Daddy were Santa! Why didn't you tell us? I love you."

In that instant all the secrecy, the hiding of the presents, the myth of Santa, it all made our little cat and mouse game well worth it.

Next year, I hope we still have a little room left for Santa.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Taking My Word Literally

They do end up with a book after sleep....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007


"Let's not read a story today, let's use our imagination."
"Yes, Imagination."
"I can't use Ee-mah-gee-nation today, I can only use it on Friday."
"Why's that?"
"Coz story time in school is on Friday and teacher tells us we must Ee-mah-gin."
"Ok, then let's Imagine today is Friday."
"Ok, I'm Ee-mah-gin-ing it's Friday."
"You tell me the story."
"No, let's tell it together."

It happened last night, a night of infinite fun.

I had a dog named Grumpallow, Dhruv imagined and created a boy named Groovie Droovie (that's what I call him often) and we began.....

Groovie Droovie lived in a little house on the hill.

The little house had very little room.

Groovie Droovie had too many toy cars that his mother always told him to pack up.

He loved his cars but he also loved dogs.

One day Groovie Droovie asked his mother if he could get a dog.

"A dog is not a stuffed toy or a car," his mother told him.

"Yes, Mamma," he said, "a dog needs to eat, a dog needs love just like me."

"If you can promise, you will give that to your dog, you will be kind to him, you'll love him forever, we'll look for one."

"Yes, I will," Groovie Droovie said.

Mamma promised to take him to a pet shop to look for a dog.

When they went there, Groovie Droovie was confused.

There were so many of them. Big dogs, small dogs, happy dogs, angry dogs.

And one really grumpy dog.

Groovie Droovie looked at the grumpy dog and started making his funny faces.

The grumpy dog didn't respond.

Groovie Droovie didn't stop.

"Mamma if we called him something, would he be happy?"

"We could try," Mamma said.

"Let's call this grumpy fella - Grumpallow."

"Yeah, Grumpallow," an excited Groovie Droovie said.

"Good Morning Grumpallow," he said.


"How are you?"


"Would you like to come and see my home?"


"I have lots of cars."


"Eeem, I have lots of juice you can share."


"What about carrots? I love carrots or I can give you some cheese."


"Do you really want him?" Mamma asked again.

"Yes, yes, yes," Groovie Droovie said before breaking into a little song and dance.

They took Grumpallow home.

Groovie Droovie made a little bed for him with his favourite teddy bear quilt.

He gave Grumpallow his favourite teddy bear.

Then he helped Mamma make some dog food for Grumpallo.

The next morning Grumpallow woke up and gave Groovie Droovie the first of many smiles.


(I would love to take credit for this but I've had nothing to do with it. I'm pretty certain it's all the wonderful sessions Dhruv attended with his sis Aneesha at the Ubud Writers Festival that helped. And I can see a lot of Jin Pyn's undying love for animals showing up in this tale. There are touches of Kirsty Murray. Even though Dhruv didn't make it for that workshop, his sis has been heavily into character building since. And all those puppets keep springing to life with or without a tale. The thing about lit fests - their stories speak for themselves.)

Attempting to pen a tale or more?

At the Festival Opening

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy, Happy, Happy

All it takes is another birthday and a party to make us feel this a way.....
We aren't too sure about Dad though....


We were very, very busy at Ubud.

I had my sessions, the kids had their workshops. And there were plenty.

In a telling statement, Aneesha said "I need a break" and took a day off during the festival only to emerge re-energised for Kirsty's session.

There she created a character all of 10, a journalist who read a lot of books, who sounded a lot like me albeit with long black hair.

When I asked if I was her inspiration, if not her guide, she responded:
"No, your hair is brown, orange and white."

Considering it was uttered in the presence of an award-winning author, I can already see the line travel.

There were several other Aneesha moments, which found their way to my sessions. It was great fun all round.

Dhruv made it to record books by repeating family history by burning his leg courtesy the motor-bike silencer. Since Nick was missing this time round, he kept his clothes on. Though, we never did get another invite from Dirty Duck. No, we didn't mind the slight, we soaked in all of Casa Luna's nuggets and drank all the orange juice we could. And before we packed our bags, we did what good tourists do - take the stroll down Monkey Forest Road, shop at the Pasar, hang out at Casa Luna and return with more than a bagful of tales. Interested?

Dhruv & I

In our Mac glory....
so Aneesha says....

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

How Did You Know?

It was a Rush of Red.

The bottle looked the same, it was positioned right there the way it should be on the dresser. Not an angle misplaced. Yet the whiff was there.

I asked if she'd been tinkering with it.

"No," she said, "see nothing has moved."

I could see that, I told her.

She moved away, forgetting she'd soon have to walk back again. There it was, another Rush.

Then she told me, she'd a little spray.

How did you know, she wondered more than a little amazed.

Facts would have worked, yet fact-ion sounds better.

Mothers, I reminded her have eyes. When you don't eat, they know it. When you haven't finished your homework, they know it. When you've been naughty, they know it. When your grades are slipping, they know it. When you are hungry, they know exactly what you want. They can read your mind all the time. They are like your second skin. Often you don't even notice them till they are gone.

"Really?" she asked her eyes opening in wondrous excitement.

"Mothers are like skin. Do they get hurt when we do?"

Yes, they can feel those stitches bringing your lashes closer, they feel that graze on your knee, they hurt when you bleed.

"Then why do mothers like to scold children all the time?"

Not all the time. Mothers are strict, they have to be, they only want the best for you.

"Did your mother scold you?"

Scolding was nothing. Caning it was for us.

"But you don't cane us."

Never will, never can for a moment. It was years ago, yet I can still feel the pain. I'd much rather spare the rod and hopefully not scar my child.

Splish, Splash

She wanted a splash at 8, a splash was what she got.

All coloured, all enticing, urging you to quickly bite into it. It was looked like the cake was meant for two and the presence of her best pal, sure made it seem that way. When it comes to friends, a thank you just isn't enough. So the pictures will have to do....

What Was She Thinking?

On the day she turned 8....
A cake....
Some candles....
Some prezzies....
Some friends....
Some fun-filled bubbles....
Some blocks and crosses....
Or was it mere thoughts of stepping into another year?
Clip Art holds some answers....

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Clouds, Sand & Sea

There was a time, long, long, long ago, when the thought of Goa would see us head out for a rail journey, with a stop in Bombay thrown in for good measure. Then we'd try to get some bus tickets, pleading for the dates we needed. When we finally got those, we'd head out for a leg cramping vacation by the sea.

Often, we've been tempted to relive those moments. Well, not the leg cramping bits. We came this close to it, when airline routes to the enticing destination were announced earlier this year. We'd mentally packed our bags. As that thing goes, about best laid plans.

Then this arrived. And I thought yet again of Goa - sand, surf, clouds. Glad, my lovely sis-in-law Jaya could squeeze in a holiday even though we couldn't.

Guess, what it does take to get there are pictures of perfection.....

On Racial Harmony Day

He grins and wears it.
He likes the feel of the soft silk.
It's nice, he tells me.
His teacher loves it, so he says.
As do his friends, so I believe.
When it's time to head sleep, he still wants to feel like the little emperor that he is.
I knew there was something to it....

Click & Away

You coo into their ears....
Baba, look, look there....
Baba, see the camera is there....

You get one happy one to do a little dance....
They end up dancing in the wrong spot....

The eyes are fixed....
For a moment you think you have the shot....
That's when they choose to look away....

Thank goodness for perfect frames...

PS: It is moment like these that I shall treasure the most. It's turning out to be a year when some of my closest pals are packing their bags for greener/greyer/colder/better shores. I view these moments with more than the usual tinge of regret. As I've often said, it gets harder to make friends as you age. But when you've got to go, you've got go. So, here's wishing our dear pals Adity, Vineet and our kids' dear pals Arnaav and Viraj, the very best. Do I even need to say it - you shall all be missed.

The Company of Friends

Makes every moment special....
Whether it is playing....
Or even indulging in simple pleasures, like eating....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Mamma, you remember the shark?

Remember in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka? You only played on the beach there.

Ahhhh, Ummmm, not Sri Lanka?
Not Sri Lanka?

Then where?
Australia, I think, maybe Byron Bay.

Yes, Ozztraylia.
Didn't you see whales there?

No, no it was a shark. A very big one. See my hand. Like this.

Not a whale?

No, shark, shark, big shark.
What did it do?

It jumped like this, then like that.

Then it jumped over our ship.
Ship? Wasn't it a boat?

No, it was a ship.
Ok, it was a ship, then what did it do?

It jumped and jumped, then turned our ship.
Goodness, you fell into the water. Did you?

Then what happened?

Then we started swimming.
But you can barely float.

I was swimming, Daddy was swimming, Diddi was swimming.

Then the ambulance came. The shark was behind us.
The shark was behind you and the ambulance in front, what happened?

The shark opened the big, big mouth then we were inside it.
Oh no, I am so scared!

Then the doctor came, he opened the shark's mouth.

He opened the mouth, then he pulled us out, we were inside ambulance and we went to hospital.
And then you were alright?
Yes, Mamma see me now, I can swim the sharks.

Dhruv, did it really happen, now?
Yes, Mamma, shall I tell you again?


There was a time long, long ago when text made it to your sleep.

You studied in your thoughts, you studied in your sleep.

I walked with my books to knock off sleep. They tell me I walked till I slept book in hand, resting my shoulder against the pillar that was behind the statue that blessed us all before the exams.

My lovely little sis made me spicy sauce ki namkin (a hostel special) to ensure hunger pangs didn't strike when studying mattered most.

The nuns, brought us our warm glasses of milk on the dot - 9:30pm. A little bit more to go, they gently reminded us as we crammed our heads with History, Geography, Literature, Science, Hindi and a whole lot more.

You know the exams were upon you, when you looked at all the sleep deprived eyes around you, when the desperate prayers of help began, when the girl on the bed next to yours started talking text in her sleep.

You never imagined that life would come full circle and the deprived sleep pattern would be back again. Last night, as we put the final touches to Aneesha's exam bags, which took no longer than five minutes in the room next door, we came back to see Dhruv crashed on the table and there was something going on his sleep.....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Get Ready For The Boys

What about the boys, you say.

They cut a pretty picture too, in their own special way. They like to grab those seats, shout out loud, do a jungle dance when they see each other and pine for each other's cars.

Aashish has that effect on Dhruv, which is why this shot taken at his fourth birthday should come as no surprise:

Which is why, it's important to get the birthday boy back into the frame. Luckily for us, McDonald's knew chairs like these should have space for two.....

They've Got The Look

There's something about those ringlets, that gorgeous smile, the amazing manners.
Each time Vashti walks my way, Aneesha seems to emerge a couple of years younger.
Maybe its true, all lovely little girls are made that way.

Bust That Stress

There was a time when they goo-ed and gaa-ed.....
A time before the words arrived....
The wheres, whys, wherefores followed....
The fights began....
They learnt to eat....
Also to leap....
Before you knew it they were gone from infancy into childhood.

I miss those days, I really do. Days when they were snug in your arm, when they let out those grand burps after their feeds, when all they did was lie down, laugh, cry, ask for more or wait to be changed.

That's partly why the arrival of each new one is greeted with such fan fare.

Viraj, is the new kid on our block. One we all love. He smiles, his wonderful smile, each time you lift him up. He's one happy baba. He lifts my spirits whenever I'm down. He's dying to grow up, eat stuff, he shouldn't even be attempting to read right now.

He's downright adorable, these pictures are proof.....

Pix Credits: The first one's powered by Nokia N73, the gadget doesn't cease to amaze me. The second one by the proud parents - Adity and Vineet.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dhruv Eats Car

Speaking of the N73, you can even insert text like this, saving yourself the caption step. Change it into black, sepia or whatever effect pleases your fancy. Push buttons can't get any easier.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Watch the Words

I've mentioned the perils of the over-use of the Queen's English before. Don't know what it is about big words that draws the young ones in. The issue seems even more complex when you think of the energy you've putting in to crack C-A-T - Cat, M-A-T - Mat, B-A-T - Bat.

One day, after Dhruv had finished his fist fight with Aneesha and left an awful scratch on her shoulder, I told him:

Dhruv I am disappointed.

That was just the kind of word he needed for the day.

Everyone he met, heard it a couple of times, if not more:

Aneesha, I am disappointed.
Masi, I am disappointed.
Nani, I am disappointed.
Manju, I am disappointed.
Mamma, I am disappointed.
Rickshaw wallah, I am disappointed.
Bobby, I am disappointed.

There's got to be something about Ds.

Role Reversal

Bala to Aneesha:
How are you Aneesha?
Who is your friend?
What did you eat today?
What did you play?
Did you watch TV?
How long did you watch it?
Did you sleep in the afternoon?
Did you study?
Do you like homework?
Do you like playing tennis?
Do you like swimming?

A couple of patient replies later, an extremely harried Aneesha responds:
Daddy, can you stop asking questions.

There, she almost sounds like us!
Things do come full circle, if only you try.

Say Cheese

He not be minding his Ps & Qs.
Or for that matter his A, B, Cs...
But he's getting fairly adept at using all my cameras....
What say you, about this Dhruv click?

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Water Babies Are Back

And geared for the big plunge....

Looking for Adventure

After getting back to Singapore.....

Wait, don't go anywhere without me....

See, isn't my million dollar look worth the wait?