Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Antibiotics thought

When I get the antibiotics for the toddler/preschooler from the pharmacy, the label gives you instruction on dosage and mentions - "Please discard the remainder at the end of 10 days"

I can't help smile at this one. As such it is quite a struggle getting the medicine down the throat of the preschooler! If one can manage to get the 1tbsp without spits and spills, that would be an achievement. Many times, due to this mess and non cooperation movement, I end up refilling the syringe. How can one be left with a surplus to be discarded?

P.S. Day by day, I see the resistance is less and now he does not put up a big fight as before. YEAH!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend Update

The winter arrived with some sick times for our family. With 3 out of 4 of us on antibiotics now, we are on the road to recovery.

Last weekend, was Nikhil's first ever dance performance - the group of kids trained by V from our community danced and sang. Here is the YouTube link my friend S sent out, if anyone is bored enough to look for my son in the 2nd row (boy with spects). The kids were excited, so were their parents. The event was the holiday party of our community - around 30 Indian families, I would guess. The evening was filled with fun, food and games. Santa arrived as a surprise and kids were super excited to sit on his lap and take pictures and receive their gifts. Very good job on the part of the organizers to arrange this all. It was 1 o clock by the time we came back home and went to bed.

Yesterday, we went to church after a long time and happened to join the Christmas carols in some homes. That was fun too. As much as it is about singing together and visiting homes, B and I also wondered if this is equally about food! Each home arranges some food/snack - one would be too full, but it too difficult to pass the Parippu Vadas, so we ended up eating more than they ever thought they could! I remembered what my uncle K says about all Hindu festivities - we make different kinds of foods/sweets and offer them to God and eat them ourselves. So any festival always has its own list of food items/snacks/savories associated with them.

It is so so COLD and FREEZING. I can't wait for the winter to wave bye! Long time to go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

E


Laksh had this post up which is a letter TAG. She asked Apar for a letter and got K - quite convenient, I say, to be able to list her husband's name as one. And when I asked for a letter she gave me E. Did I put too much salt in the dish I cooked for our potluck last weekend, for which she is taking revenge on me..I wondered! Just kidding,Laksh! My brain cells fished for words that begin with E . E for elumichampazham (lemon in Tamil), E for elephant..my God, this is going to be hard)

Rules are:You leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on.

You can leave a comment and not be assigned a letter if you want. Just let me know if you want a letter to keep this going.

So here I go.

1. Entertainment ( Movies, theatre, tamil dramas - I am all for entertainment)

2. Empire Hotel - The hotel in Brigade road, Bangalore is special in my memory. The parotta/stew and Appam/stew we had there 10 years ago still remains fresh in my taste buds. It was one of the places our friends gang used to hang out when we were earning bacherlors/spinsters.

3. Exton - The city in PA where we spend most of our time - library, mall and grocery. Can't think of moving too far from here!

4. Euphoria - The songs from this band were a hit when I was in Bangalore. I have watched their music vidoes over and over in SonyTV etc and loved them. My favorite is here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9u0PqnEhqI

5. Eating Out - I enjoy eating out in restaurants.

6. Eavesdropping - Don't get a chance to do this too much now. Long time ago, when I was travelling in city buses in Trivandrum, I used to find this an amusing pastime to eavesdrop on different conversations around me. Interesting to see different people and how they talk!

7. Exercise - refreshes my body and mind - whenever I take the time to do it.

8. Eye glasses - I really have to love these because I won't be able survive without them. One day, once I get my LASIK done, I probably can take this off the list. But I will forever be indebted to these for guiding me through these years.

9. Engineering - All I am today is because of this degree!

10. Ethics - One should never compromise on this! Hold on to the moral values and honesty. These values are what makes a person great! I love the values I hold on to.

Phew!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Jab We (Bloggers) Met!


Have you seen Kaathal Kottai? The movie in which Ajith and Devyani communicate through letters for a while and don't seen each other till the last scene. I could exactly imagine the 'dhak-dhak' that Devyani must have gone through when she set out to meet Ajith. Well, not exactly, in that sense, but somewhat close.

Laksh, UL and myself decided to meet each other with our families at my place on Sunday. We have been keeping in touch with each other through our blogs for the past year.
I have met Laksh before and I knew how the conversation will go. Laksh and UL are close friends from before. But I was meeting UL for the first time. And we three were meeting together for the first time. My thoughts revolved around which launguage will I be speaking - since it will be a mix of Tamil and Malayalam in the group when we meet. I have a mental picture of UL from her blog and her comments to my post. Will her real self match my mental picture? Can I be just myself or should I start with being polite, nice and cute (can I manage that?)

Here the door bell rings. UL and family arrives. We start in Malayalam. We talk of Mallu friends we have, trying to find common folks we know. Laksh and family arrives. I chat with her in Tamil. Before I knew, we were all comfortably chatting, cracking jokes and the husbands were laughing aloud.

When they left, I could feel how Devyani must have felt at the end - peaceful, happy and GLAD that we MET. GLAD THAT WE MET ONLINE!

P.S. Suman and Shy, we missed you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thinking Activities (pun intended!)

This week, it was extremely tough to get up every morning. Blame it on weekdays evenings that have been exhausting with activities that there is not even one evening where you could relax. One is always on the run - driving in the dark, rainy nights chasing fog off the headlights. Especially now that it turns dark so early!

Sometimes I wonder, these activities that I take my son to - are they becoming too much? Is it helpful in shaping his personality? It surely takes a toll on parents - driving around kids from one place to another. But it also feels risky not to have him do anything apart from school. We don't want him to feel out of place among a bunch of kids who do sports and other activities.

Sometimes, kids have all the energy and are ready to go for the activities - while I feel like I have none. It is his interest that pushes me to take him to karate. "Do you really want to go today?" "Yes, yes".Sometimes, it is our interests that pushes them - they are not really particular, but you believe it is good for them in the long run. And a little bit of push - you see him making progress and you tell yourself - 'See, I knew it!'.

In the mechanical run, there are moments we miss to smile on. The pranks the kids do, irritate us because we are hurrying to get them somewhere. One has to step aside, take a deep breath and remind oneself of this quote that comes flashing to my mind today -
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Party

When I got the invite to our office holiday party weeks ago, I was excited and very motivated to go with B. Problem is that kids are not allowed at all. Last year, we had B's parents at home so we left the kids home, dressed up in formal clothes and went. This year, I was not sure what to do. So eventually my enthusiasm drained out and I was looking for more reasons to skip it than to make it happen.

Yesterday was the party day and B and myself decided not to go. During the day, I made a call to my friend B who inspired me to attend it. R from work also tempted me to come. I thought let me give Miss. B (Nithin's babysitter) a call. If she says she can watch my kids for couple of hours that evening, I could probably go. I gave her a call and apologized for the last minute request. My mind was prepared to take the answer that comes in the right spirit. After all, I had not been keen in making arrangements in the beginning!

Miss B said a cool Yes! This is a first time for us - to leave the kids with a baby sitter for any event and go! I was both thrilled and nervous at the same time. The rest of the afternoon went by in going home and visiting the beauty parlor lady in our neighborhood for a clean-up (oh my God, it is so hard for women to dress up for a party, I tell you!). I did not want Nithin to spend a continuous 12 hours away from home, so we picked him up , brought him home for couple of hours. Then we dropped both the boys at the baby sitter.

We made it to the party. Kids were safe and there was peace of mind. We missed the first hour, but got to meet friends and have dinner. We started soon after dessert and headed to pick the boys up.

While we were driving back, I realized that more than the fun I had the party, I was more amazed about how quickly the kids adapted to the situation. When I saw Nikhil at home and started to prep him emotionally, he said 'I know. I know we are going to Miss B, and you both are going to an office party'. His dad had mentioned and he was just fine with it. Nithin became fine with it since big bro was with him. As we got the kids back, I felt a sense of accomplishment - having tried out leaving kids with a sitter for the first time in life!

This incident made me realize two things:
1. It is just a matter of making the start. Sometimes we hestiate so much for a thing, and we are surprised it was not that difficult after all.
2. Quoting my Appa - If something is destined for you, it will happen. I tried so much not to make this event happen, but, in the end, it did anyway. This is debatable but there is some thrill in quoting Appa's theory! Gives me a magical feeling about life!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nice break from the routine

The long weekend was extra long with the one vacation day I was able to take on last Wednesday.The plan was to spend the day one-one with Nikhil - just mom and son! Dad had work. As we dropped the younger one to the baby sitter, I went through my guilt pangs - my babysitter consoled me and asked me to have a great day with the older one.

So, stop 1 was a restaurant for breakfast. I ordered a veggie omelet and Nikhil was excited to see an item called Chocolate Chip Pancakes in the menu. He ordered that and was already on top of the world - with the powdered sugar, maple syrup, butter and cream. The atmosphere is really homely there and the waitresses are middle-aged ladies who are really friendly. I sipped my coffee and called B to give an update of where we were.

Step 2 was to catch the new kids movie 'Bolt', but when we reached the theater, we were too early. The doors had not been opened yet. So we had about 1 hour to kill and I called B again. "What do you think, can we catch a quick game of bowling before the movie begins" and he said that sounds possible. We drove fast to the bowling lanes nearby and paid for exactly 1 game and played just that. Mr.Niks was all excited and I too was. We compete with each other on Nintendo Wii and I occasionally win a bowling game or two in that. But real bowling was not that easy.
Anyway, Nikhil managed to beat me and was happy yet again.

It was time for the movie. I had no idea about the story, except that there was a dog with super powers. I went there only for my son's sake, but I ended up enjoying the movie so much so that my eyes were filled with tears!

After the movie, we headed home. We were tired by then and felt like being at home for an hour before heading to Nikhil's swimming class. It was a nice day spent with my boy! Would love to do that again!

Rest of the weekend - we went for two thanks giving get togethers - one with friends and one with family. We also watched the James Bond movie in theatre - all 4 of us! It was an adventure which went quite smoothly as Nithin slept on my lap. Sunday went by in preparing Idli/Sambar for the Xmas Carols folks who came after church. Carols was over and we were chitchatting with friends who stayed back. It was a great weekend and here we roll again!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Couple of things I like about thanksgiving:

1. It is one time of the year you spend with your extended family. Even if you are not the kind of person who takes time and effort to meet up with your distant cousins often, this occasion comes as an opportunity to meet all the uncles and cousins. What I said fully applies to only those who have lot of their family here, but I like the idea of meeting and catching up with folks of your kin.
Sometimes, friends are family! Having a thanksgiving meal with friends only shows how much they mean to us in this land away from home.

2. School is off: for my son, it is a whole week time off. Not only that gives the kids a nice break, I am also excited about the reduced traffic and the easier commute to work.

I was able to take one day off tomorrow, so it is so nice to think of the upcoming extra long weekend. I may or may not post anything in the coming days. Here is wishing all of you a wonderful thanksgiving weekend! Make the most of it and be happy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pizza talk


Ordering pizza and getting what you expected is really a matter of luck. So says my experience over the years! And I am supposed to be in charge of ordering them always. And something always happens that, in the end, I feel responsible for the goof up!

Couple of years back, we used to have a Donatos Pizza which served a unique Pizza called 'Mariachi'. I was a great fan of that spicy pizza and when I was pregnant, I used to go there super hungry and order that!

Ordering a 'veggie Mariachi' pizza only made them put veggies on top of a Mariachi pizza loaded with meat. When I opened the pizza box, I was disappointed and I returned it and I explained the requirement. And here comes another goofed up pizza as a result. The requirements were not understood right once again! Finally the third try worked. The shop ended up giving as 3 pizza pies to take home! B benefitted from the meat pizzas that we got as a gift!

From then onwards, I learnt to specifically name all the veggies I want as toppings, mention 'No meat' and then say 'add Mariachi spice on top of it'. Lesson learnt!

Anytime, we ordered over the phone, the instructions were misunderstood and something was bound to surprise or shock us. Yesterday something similar happened.

I called Dominoes and had a conversation about what deals they have. The talk fluctuated from medium to large pizzas with and without toppings. I swear I ordered 2 mediums and I put the phone down. The total he mentioned flashed in my mind and I said - this cannot be right, I bet they have 3 large pizzas in the order after all the talks. I called them back to find out, yep, that was what they had put in. I patted my own back on catching this at the right time. I fixed the order back to what I wanted. Phew!

Any interesting experiences from your side?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Forty

One of our friends turned 40 yesterday. And we almost missed the date. B met his wife at Nikhil's swimming class and she mentioned it to us. She had cake ready at home and we could visit them to watch S cut the cake and wish him a Happy Birthday!

B calls me frantically on the way back from swimming - 'Do you have a birthday card for him?'
I replied helplessly - 'How will I have a 40th birthday card in stock?'
He remarked - 'May be we should buy a bunch of them and keep them at home - looks we will need them often'.
And we LOL ed!
Yes, we have been hearing one or two friends turning 40 recently! This is certainly a milestone for them, it also leaves us with a feeling of 'Oh my God, we are also growing old!'.
This is the first time I am wishing a friend 'happy 40th'. The last time I wished anyone for 40th was my DEAR APPA - I gave him a birthday card and a watch ( I think it is a watch that I gave!).

And I chuckled - 'Ya, before we know it, may be will need one for ourselves'.

Well, there is some more time to go before that!

So at 8PM, as soon as kids finished dinner, we started out to visit them and give the birthday 'boy' a surprise. We stopped by at Giant to get a birthday card that had 40 written on it.
We cut the cake, took some pictures, sipped some wine and chatted a while.
Many many happy returns of the day to my friends who are turning forty soon!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Time for myself


Morning goes by making breakfast and making sure kids eat. Day goes by driving to work, work and driving back home. Evening time flies by with dinner and homework and Kumon with Nikhil. In between, there are tiny snippets of fun time with Nithin's pranks and him surprising us with newly learnt words (yesterday he said, correction - a term we use a lot with Nikhil's Kumon work and 'spelling test' pointing to Nikhil's weekly spelling sheet.). If there are more snippets of free time, loading/unloading dishwasher or folding laundry clothes eats them up.

I have been longing to do something for myself - I think of watching a very good movie! I think of picking up my old movie song jot down book and sing aloud! I think of picking up 'Oru Deshathinte Katha' - the Malayalam novel I brought from India and read it. I think of uploading those pictures which friends have been asking for, forever. I think of giving the elliptical a workout! Before I know, my mind wanders into the TODO list again, deviating from the quest for fun to the satisfaction of getting things done. It is always a battle between productive work and relaxation - when you go for relaxation, work piles up and stares at you - 'How could you..?'

And there at bed time, kids want me to lie down with them. Nikhil says it in words and Nithin too, in his own way and his cries. So here I lie down with both kids hugging me from both sides (should confess I love that!) - there is another battle going on at that point. My mind is fully awake and wants to do the things I listed above. My body weakens with each moment. I start yawning in a minute. We have some serious talks about life - Nikhil and me. He shares a secret or two occasionally. And soon he says, 'I want to sleep. No more talking'.

He is fast asleep - while Nithin takes some more time. Each minute in the bed weakens my determination to get up! After all, I am doing B a great favor by putting the kids to bed so he can study peacefully! And every night, I pass one moment where I know both the kids are now asleep, and I am slowly sinking into sleep. I know that if I get up that moment, I can probably enjoy some quiet time with my books/TV. I remember thinking of all this and I am already zzzzz..!

So, what you see in the picture is what I want now!
Tell me what is it that you like to do - to get that feeling that you took care of your mind?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekend update

At work, the past few months were enjoyable because I got to do what I know pretty well by now. So I enjoyed being in the comfort zone and checked off item after item in my TO DO List everyday.Even when I had to work late, I enjoyed doing it because I know I am able to deliver! I worked hard - I enjoy it and I do it and at the same time, I try to dismiss the thoughts like 'is it being appreciated, is it being noticed' as useless! I am happy and that is all matters, because I have no control over such matters.

Very soon, we will enter a lull period where I have to do things I am not used to. I will be looking for work to fill up my time sheets. And after that, arriving will be, a whole new era of learning a new product and trying to live with that.It is told to be better than the old product I am using. But I am apprehensive about all the changes and learning curve. Soon I will go to back to my 'should I quit my job' thoughts when I am out of my comfort zone.

Today morning, I dropped my cell phone for the nth time by accident. The battery and body broke into separate pieces which I gathered and put together. Keeping my fingers crossed, I switched it on again. Thank God, it came to life again. If not, I would be in deep trouble as this acts the on-call support number. I could not live without it.

A day with live support issues without much luck! That what this Friday is like for me!
Also my whole office is empty with most of my colleagues on travel. It is going to be so till next Thursday. I am OK with the loneliness, as long as it is quiet and calm on the work front.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ding Dong..

Today evening, the door bell is going to ring many times. As I washed and wiped the fancy looking glass bowl to place the treats for trick-or- treaters, I took a walk down the memory lane.

Halloween did not mean much to me until Nikhil was three. We were invited to go around a friends' community with her kid. He could barely talk and after a round of houses, I was surprised to see him babbling 'trick or treat' and asking for candy to strangers in their homes. I remember being excited about dressing him up in Barney costume and going around with a pumpkin basket.I also remember B getting him a Thomas costume online one Halloween when every other store had run out of it. It was expensive, but we wanted to put a smile on his face!

Over time, we learned to be smart - reuse the costume if we can! For the past two years, our kids are Spidermen! As long as they are ok, we don't plan to change it. Thanks to a family friend's hand-me-down, Nikhil is HULK this year! In the Halloween parade at school, he was showing off his muscles!!

Nithin is all excited to wear a Spiderman costume. I am not sure if he remembers any of the last years rounds. This will be his first active halloween, I think.

Within few hours, we will all be walking around the community with the baskets. In Malayalam, there is a word called 'Thendal'. This is real thendal - walk around with basket and ask for candy!
"Bhavathi candy dehi"!

Seems to be a warm sunny day - so I hope it does not get very cold soon in the evening!
Happy halloween to all of you! Happy weekend - I missed saying this last Friday!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rental Car experience

Last weekend, I went away from home to stay with a set of family friends leaving B alone. Me and Kids went with another family to NJ, spent the night there and returned back Sunday evening. This is the best gift I could give B - since he I know he would love to have the home in solitude and peace, so he can study for his upcoming test. All went well and here I come back on Sunday evening realizing that the next morning, I have to leave my vehicle for repair and take the rental car.

Little changes like these make me nervous - I worry about what if the rental car does not start up when I try to start it, what if the controls don't behave the way I expect them to, and before that...what if I cannot figure out where each control is etc. I was on my own, since B has to drop the kids off and go to work. I got the rental car and I sat inside - telling myself "it is only 3 days the repair will take, it should fly away"!

The next 20 minutes I took to get accustomed with the vehicle - contemplating on whether I should drive 40 min to work in this new car or not. I drove slowly in my area - the cold air would not stop, my feet were freezing, I pressed some buttons , hmm..no luck. OK, indicators work fine. It was a brand new all white BUICK LUCERNE. There could be nothing wrong with the car, but that itself made me nervous. It was like wearing a costly silk saree and not being able to enjoy it! The worry of harming the silk threads and tearing them off would prevent one from moving around freely!

My Camry is black with a dust coat on it (!), which I felt so comfortable squeezing into the narrow right turn lane even when a huge van stood to my left! I knew mine would squeeze in..but this new car, I can't take any risks with it!! As such, the rental company guy warned about the case when something happens to the car when I am driving it. 'Apashakunama pesathe da' - I felt like telling him ( meaning 'dont jinx it, man'!).

Day 2:
Next day, was my WAH day (work at home!), so I escaped from driving till evening kids-pick-up time.

Evening, I was kind of looking forward to driving it. The drive was smooth and by now, I had a feel for the car's size and I got used to driving it. When I unlocked the car from afar and it was getting dark, I was amused to see the headlights light up. Ithu kollalo! Little things I discovered made me appreciate the car!

Day 3:
Around evening, I got a call from the Auto Body shop that my Camry is ready for pick up.
I started at around 4 hoping to make the whole journey smooth and tension free. I looked for my sun glasses when I entered into the car. I had left it in the compartment to the right of the driver's seat. Where has it gone? I fished for deep into the compartment. I remember leaving it on a flat surface though. Hee..Hee..there was flat portion on the top of this compartment where I left my sunglasses and it had got joined with lid - so now I could hear the glasses move around within it, but could not see it. Oh God, how am I supposed to drive in the sun glare now? After shaking the top of the compartment like a mad girl (I know, you are asking, LIKE?) for 5 minutes, I looked calmly and found a way to open the latch...hurray..got the kannadi..what next now!

Oh, I need to fill gas to make it equal to 3/4 the total capacity - the way it was handed to me.
Of course, what I dreaded most happened. At the gas station, I opened the tiny door to the fueling portion (what do you call it! I don't know now!), but could not figure out how to open the knob. Again after 3 minutes of trying, I sought help from a gentleman who was fuelling his car. I was reminded so much of India where you could always find someone to help you out - where ever you go, you are not alone and it is so normal to approach people for help in public places!

The gentleman was nice and he did find out the way to open it after with it. OK, filled the gas, stopped it, checked the indicator, hmm, not enough..filled more and oops..overfilled it..well,. Whatever! As I drove to the rental place, I was worried about them closing the shop and going. I would be left stranded there coz I wont have a ride to my auto body shop. Thank God, I made it to the shop and returned the car.

The guy at the rental, talked like a recorded rebot. He drove me back to the Auto body shop talking to me about the sunny weather and asking me about how my car landed there etc. For my jokes, he laughed like a robot too. Was reminded of the airport ticketing officer girl who types non stop and smiles/talks like a machine in the movie 'Meet the Family'.

Signed the papers and paid the bill and got back the keys. When I opened the trunk of my Camry, and put my laptop bag in, I felt I was HOME. When I drove back home, I felt like that car is an extension of my body. I dont know if others are like me, I find comfort so much in the things I am used to. Well, there ends the story...thanks for driving with me..TATA!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun of sharing!



This post started as something else and morphed into what it is now. No, I am not talking about "sharing toys" that we preach to preschoolers. I am talking about the fun that we get in sharing and enjoying any form of art with someone.

Even as a school goer, my mind would be set on listening to songs from the movie I have watched recently. I enjoy doing that now also.I spent sometime yesterday evening in front of youtube. Kids and I enjoyed watching all songs from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Dasavathaaram - two movies whose songs have been playing now in our car. Watching it together with kids was a lot of fun.

Wanted to share some Malloo links that I am enjoying reading and laughing out loud.
Kodakarapuranam
Motham Chillara

I miss reading these aloud with my school mate S. When I read them, I was reminded of the good old school days when S would bring a comical article or book in Malayalam and we would Read it Out Aloud and laugh during lunch time. Not to forget the poetry we read and enjoyed (some our own) - that made us both feel like intellectuals (buddhi jeevis as we call in Malayalam!).

I was also reminded of the times when my Appa would read aloud the Backiam Ramasamy or Cho or Marina books and we would laugh out loudly. Somethings can only be shared with some people and it is hard to find a replacement for those people.

Now both S and Appa are in India and I can't really relive those times. Sigh!

That brings to memory all the S.Ve.Shekar's dramas I have listened in younger days. Whenever my cousin brother or any close relative comes home who is likely to enjoy it, my mind would be debating on which one to play and we can all enjoy listening to the drama together and laugh out aloud.

Another thing I really enjoy is watching "Akkarakkazhchakal" with B in youtube. The fun is doubled when there is someone who shares the same wavelength. Having such friendships/rapport is a blessing, right! I am also wondering at this moment - how many such new relations I developed after college years - very few!

Ok, end of sentimental blabbering session! All of you enjoy your weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The week that was

Monday evening, B called me and said Nikhil did a good job at his Kumon test and he was going to take Nikhil to a restaurant as a treat. So B, Nikhil and Nithin went to this cozy family restaurant near home called "Happy Days". It was Nikhil's pick. Dad and son had gone there a while ago and told me about it. My mind was for once, not set on going to an Indian restaurant because it was Nikhil's choice and I thought I should go with it today.

I raced the car to join them. I was hoping to get something vegetarian to eat. When I reached there, the waitress asked me "Are you here to join your family?". I was surpised ,felt important and said "yes". She escorted me to the table where the 3 wise (??!!) men were sitting. Nikhil was super surpised -"Amma, how did you come here!?".

Tortellini Alfredo was super yummy and loaded with cheese. I was happy because I really liked it rather than having to be satified with getting something to eat. We had a table on a secluded section of the restaurant that made us feel better. No need to be conscious about Nithin's acts.

After the dinner, dad and Nikhil drove back in their car.
And I took Daps with me and put his favorite "Chechi Song" from "Dasavatharam" CD.
(On a side note, the chechi song is the song where they introduce Mallika Sherawat in the movie. She is a club dancer and what not! I cannot help laughing to think that my son would be the only one who calls her Chechi!)

It will be a night to remember!

Wednesday: Grabbed a DVD of "Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na" from an Indian store and watched it successfully in one shot with kids falling asleep on me.

Review posted here:
http://anamikareviews.blogspot.com/2008/10/jaane-tu-ya-jaane-na.html

This is a weekend I am on call. Hoping it goes smooth!
Happy weekend to you all!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Party is over!

For the past few weeks, my mind was set on making the party arrangements for Nithin's birthday.
1. Calling Chuck-e-Cheese and booking the time slot
2. Creating an evite, collecting emails of folks with kids who will enjoy, managing the responses
3. Creating a spreadsheet where I maintain the guest list and store evite responses
4. Ordering cake
5. For 4-5 families have a dinner setup at home post Chuck e Cheese (what to order from outside? What to make at home?)

On Saturday, morning, B and I made some simple dishes at home and banked on the choices I made to order from outside to turn out good. I put Nithin down for his nap at around 1 o'clock calculating that he should be up by the time we should leave for Chuck-e-Cheese. Some days, things do work the way you want them to!

As dad went to get the cake, I woke up Nithin and got him dressed up. Handling a toddler who just woke up from his nap, and taking him to an event where you want him to behave nicely - is exactly like handling glassware! I think we managed that part well that day.

But at CC, Mr.Nithin wore his shy hat for quite sometime and gave a strange look to people who told 'Happy Birthday' to him. He was excited to see Chucky and give him Hi-Five!

I should share this funny moment with you - everyone is waiting for Chucky (someone dressed up as this mouse character) and you can see him from the far end of the room..and every one goes..chucky is here! Reminded me of the times when as a kid I waited in front on the temple, for the procession to get closer and everyone goes ' saami vanthachu..' (God is here, meaning the idol is near us!)! And all the kids go 'Chucky Chucky'! கன்னத்திலே போட்டுக்காத குறை தான்! (BTW, I decided to type whatever language comes to me when I think, since it is supported here. Please excuse the intrusion of a foreign language, it will be Tamil, Malayalam or Hindi!)

I hope the kids had fun, even though for adults it was really loud and noisy.

The second part of the party also went fine at home. Just couple of families and we had some relaxing time with chatter and laughter. On Sunday afternoon, after the church session, I felt a great satisfaction lingering that all the plans I made worked out. All are executed fine and the party is OVER. Phew!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Morning Flash news


B took off today to study for his exam tomorrow and set out to drop off the kids, while I took my shower to get ready to go to work. My cell phone rang, it was an unfamiliar phone number and quite hesitantly I picked it up. I was surprised to hear B's voice - he said "accident, come near XX" and named a development close by. First I thought he is trying to warn me of some accident caused traffic jam so that I can avoid taking that route. But when he said "it is our van", I thought I am not hearing correctly.

I rushed out to the spot. It is strange to now realize how I took it for granted that all are safe. Thank God, they were all safe. Which is the most important thing, of course. From my past accident experience, I had damage to the car alone, so when I got his call, I associated this whole incident with my experience. I got this notion from his voice that the kids were both safe with him and did not worry about them at all.

B had immediately put Nikhil on a school bus that came that way, before he delved into accident related discussions. Nice presence of mind, I thought! I took Daps in my hands and watched the scene. There was a police officer talking to B and the lady who hit our van.

"I hope we are not at fault" - is the immediate thought that came to me. I also wondered - the lady also must be thinking the same way. The ONE thing both the parties are trying to prove at that moment would be how they are NOT at fault! It was quite evident that it was her mistake.But..the after effects!

I looked at our van. The van was all smashed in the front side, the door would not close properly. The police officer declared both the vehicles unfit to be driven home. They were both towed away.
This incident would impact our lives considerably. How a small accident so close to the home changes your lives is amazing. We have phone numbers to call, get the claim sorted out and somehow get a rental car ASAP. It will be so hard to juggle with one car and make it to our works, kids day-cares and Nikhil's activities.

All these thoughts aside, B and I were joking and laughing at the whole situation. How he wanted to sit and study the whole day and how the turn of events had been!We dropped Nithin at his daycare and headed home to work from home (my manager approved it).

On the way, I could not help cursing my Doordarshan Chitrahaar days that reminded me of this song! "Accident ho gaya Rabba Rabba" - silly! Counting days when we will get our van back!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eyebrows

A girly topic this time!

वो जमाना गया जब हम मीलों दूर गाड़ी चला कर eyebrows कराने जाते थे!

Now we have a lady who lives in our own community who has a beauty parlor in her basement!
I am excited that I could walk to her home and get my face cleaned up and walk back home.

I remember all those days when I used to drag B and kids to accompany me to far away homes to get threading done. B must have cursed me so much, but I was never brave enough to explore new driving routes by myself. One has to keep a record of all beautician contact numbers, for you cannot always go with one person. If you go to one person regularly, that person may go to India for 4 months and you are doomed. They also can land medical emergencies and need to take time off from work. Then also you are in trouble.

Once upon a time in our part of Philly, there used to be only one girl who did threading, now there are a bunch of them - which gives us ample backup options. Always nice to have some choices/doors open, right!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nithin turns three!

Happy birthday to our dear Dappu (nickname for Mr.Nithin!)

From the tiny little infant to the naughty, shy boy that he has grown into now, the journey has been interesting and enjoyable. When he giggles aloud seeing his Chacha's (Achacha is big bro) funny pranks to make him laugh, all three of us are amused. When he screams at the top of his voice to show his protest, the bird toy from India chirps aloud unable to bear the decibels.

Saturday day evening, dad and big bro' went into Toys R Us to pick a toy that would amuse the birthday boy. Of course, we could not take him into the store - to avoid ruining the surprise and to avoid buying 5 toys which he points to. I killed time in ROSS with Nithin while they shopped. Then we hid the gifts in the basement without him seeing them.

Yesterday night, we made Mango Pie which is a favorite of both the boys. Today morning, we placed 3 candles on top of the mango pie and both the boys blew them together. Nithin got his Curious George toy in the morning and was excited. More excitement to follow in the evening!

Dad and me went down the memory lane thinking of the day of delivery, dropping Nikhil to D's house for a night's stay and heading to the hospital. The first time Nikhil ever stayed at a friend's place without us. But we could not have done without that help - we could focus on contractions, pain and the beautiful after effect. 3 years flew by!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend is here, again!

I managed to complete the movie Aaja Nachle over 3 nights with kids dancing and eating around me.

Aaja Nachle Review is at : http://anamikareviews.blogspot.com/2008/09/aaja-nachle.html

Then what else? Life is going on.
One more week buzzed by.

Busy times now.
B going to classes on some evenings.
Nikhil's homework and evening activities.
Nithin's naughty moments as well as occasional tantrums.
Work pressure slowly building up.

Looking forward to a nice weekend with our cousin's family from Virginia.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Come September!



Monday night was filled with enthusiasm and excitement getting ready for school. Nikhil packed his new backpack with school supplies. We realized he had to bring 3 items to symbolize things he did during summer for a special show n tell. We packed them and he was all excited. Nithin wanted to go to school also.

Tuesday morning, the bus stop was filled with kids and parents. Lot of new kindergarteners from our bus stop. Moms and dad with cameras. Lot of excitement. New K moms followed the bus to school. I remembered the anxiety we had when we went through that stage. The first time parting with Nikhil and wondering how to be reassured that he will be fine in that totally new environment? How will he know which bus to get on back from school? Will he eat lunch "properly"? Etc Etc.

They do fine, I guess. They adapt very quickly. Anyhow, all parents live through this excitement and anxiety on how their kids will survive in the new environment. I am past that stage for Nikhil, so I smiled and came back home after he got on to the bus.

However, I could feel so much love for him within me and I could sense the urge in me to give my life for him (don't know what that means really) , to make him a better PERSON in all ways. Make him a lovable, caring person like his dad (something for you dad!).

Hey, Hey,I guess the emotion in the air made me emotional too. Good luck, my second grader!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Long weekend, everyone

We are heading out with family friends for an outing at Ocean City, Maryland. This is the first time we will be staying over for a beach outing. We have rented a home for the next two days and I hope it will be an enjoyable experience for all of us. Here's wishing loads of fun for you all this long weekend..

Monday, August 25, 2008

Class Lists and Tooth Falling

Nikhil's front tooth which was wiggling for the past month or so was finally taken out yesterday by Dr.Daddy following the mini surgical procedure with a thread ( Dr.Daddy was trained by his Daddy). Nikhil was not only bold enough to face it, but was too excited about it. Now he tells us, "there is no such thing as tooth fairy. Only parents put the money under the pillow. So dont put money under mine!" . Ha Ha! And he looks so different without the front tooth..

He was also super excited coz his new class list comes out today morning. "I want to know who my new friends will be". I was too! The first thing we tried to do today morning was open his school website to load it. It wont come up! At work, as I hit the school web site and looked for the links to the class, I could not believe I am clicking on the link to 2nd grade list. Not Kindergarten, not 1st Grade anymore! Can't believe he is already in 2nd grade! Time is flying and my baby No.1 growing so fast!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

George Carlin quotes

In Tamil, there are two words I can use to lovingly describe what George Carlin's words symbolize. THIMIRU and LOLLU. Sometimes, his jokes cross the limit (that is limit in my dictionary, may not be for others), but I cant help bursting out with laughter hearing such remarks from him.

Some quotes I enjoyed:
  • If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
  • Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with.
  • I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.
  • I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away.
  • Why is the man (or woman) who invests all your money called a broker?
  • I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.
  • Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.
Sad to think that he is no more.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lay Offs

Three years back, it used to be a threat when we heard people at work talked about 'layoffs' and 'reduction of head count'. Eh, summa solraanga, appidi ellam onnum nadakkathu..that was my reaction to it. When you hear of an upcoming event like that, rumors float around and you pray to God. "Oh God, please not me. And not now". And one day, it did happen. Luckily I was not affected, but witnessing close friends pack their things and leaving the company within the notice of an hour or so, my heart ached.

I have seen that people who got laid off just got new jobs and are doing good now. It probably turned out good for them, in one way or the other.

And I heard of a similar layoff in my old company recently. I feel sad hearing the names of people I know, some close friends and some acquaintances.

It reminds me of the day I received the termination letter from the Indian consulting company I worked for. I was 7 months pregnant and my contract with the client ended due to the client's budget issues. And quite coolly, the company who employed us and processed our H1 visas let me go. This was within 1 year of our moving to US and we never had an idea of terminations/lay offs in India. This was the time when recession was at its peak. The company knew that if they keep me they will have to pay for my maternity benefits etc. Hmm, I cried a lot for some days. That is probably the first kind of rejection I am getting from any institution.

Over time, I consoled myself as it was so obvious that they did it for financial reasons and not because of my inability to perform. It suited my situation to be home with my baby then. And I eventually started working an year later.

It must be a painful moment when you hear the news. And you are shocked. Most people did not have a clue that their name could be in the list. Some of them were rated as exceeding expectations for performance reviews and yet were laid off. It used to be with great pride that we would say the name of the company we work for. There was a bond that was formed over time. But all of that could come to an end quite unexpectedly. It seems that it is better not to get too attached to anything ever. It is only practical that you don't fool yourself with such ideas as my company and my team. For people like me, it is hard to remember not to get attached.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Settling In

I felt much better driving to work today morning. Every time I am in distress, I cannot believe that this will get over some day/soon. I got frustrated and weak with the jet lag syndrome and after 2 consecutive nights of uninterrupted sleep, I am definitely feeling great!

Wanted to jot down some thoughts on India trip before I forget and fall into the mechanical groove again.

I was so worried about 3 weeks of time not being enough for an India trip. I feared about missing out on so many things due to the time restrictions. I was afraid that I will be disappointed in the end, with the loads of expectations and dreams I had when I started. I confess that I am overall happy and satisfied with the trip. Now I feel 3 weeks is JUST ENOUGH - not too less and not too more! We did everything one could possibly do on a 3 week trip covering 3 cities.

I am definitely a people person and I get so much happiness out of meeting old friends and relatives. One has to take some effort to first make contact, fix a time to meet and finally make it happen. One loses heart when the weather is hot and humid and the 2 boys are screaming at the top pof their voices when you would prefer a minute of calm. One is easily tempted to think, "Why am I doing this?" when I could be sitting somewhere relaxing, when we drive on horrible roads, literally shaking when your car is overtaking the vehicle in front and there are cars coming so close to you facing you.

All this pays off, when you meet them. Some you may be very close with, some you may be doing for the happiness of your parents. But it pays off when you see the smile/happiness on the faces of people you visited. Your efforts are very much appreciated and it gives you enormous satisfaction to relive old times in the talks.

There is always a debate on whether we should devote this much time on visiting people every time we go. Every time we determine not to do it, we end up not being able to say No to it. And I do ENJOY it for the most part. My only regrets about the time shortage is that I could not meet some old friends whom I planned to. I accepted the fact that it could become too much for me and kids if I try to do ALL that I want to do. There are some things you have to sacrifice or else you will go crazy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jet lag

"I wish Jet lag was never invented! "

This is the quote from my 7 year old son Nikhil. Poor boy could not sleep for two consecutive nights since the day we returned from India, however hard he tried. Nithin was fine right from day 1, thank Goodness! Obviously, my sleep got affected due to this and even otherwise, I have my own jet lag problems. I am uncontrollably sleepy during afternoon and evenings. Me and kids crashed to bed at 7.30 in the evening yesterday. When Nithin woke up and said 'Amma, I want something to eat, let us go downstairs' , I prayed to God and looked at the clock - fingers crossed, hoping it is not middle of the night AGAIN!

I was glad to see 5AM - this is so much better than yesterday!

The guy at the downstair deli at work said 'Welcome back'! He is the only friendly soul in the shop (others are too rude!) and I was glad he remembered I went on vacation and noticed that I am back! Isn't it strange that how totally unrelated people can brighten up your day by their acts?





Friday, August 1, 2008

Time Up, Bangalore!

The past week synopsis:

  • Traffic blocks and extremely frustrating wait periods at signals
  • Shopping mall visits with kids which were fun in the beginning and tiring after.
  • Pizzahut and McDonald everywhere wooing kids.
  • The one evening I watched 'Rang De Basanti' with my Appa on his big screen TV with Nikhil watching it nicely and Nithin troubling me to sleep with him.
  • Reunion with our CET Computer Science classmates' families at R and V's gorgeous apartment
  • Set Dosa at Sukh Sagar
  • Kesari Bath and Khara Bath and Adyar Anand Bhavan

Today night, we are leaving to Chennai to visit our relatives. My Appa will be with us in the trip, so it is not yet time to bid bye to him, but it is time already to wave bye to Bangalore, my home here and my mom! Until next time...adieu!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hello Bangalore!

The Jet Airways flight had friendly and polite crew members. But the flight was too bumpy and shaky. I detest that, but somehow got through it and reached the new international airport in Bangalore. The airport looks classy and seems to have all new facilities. When we walked outside, I could see my Appa waving at us. He has put on more weight than last time. I saw him 2 years back in person! He was excited to see the kids and Nithin was so excited to run around the airport pathway. It was not too bad a drive because it was not peak hours.

After seeing the traffic and erratic drivers in Kerala, we felt Bangalore is not that bad. The city brought back lot of old memories. The 3 years of working spinster life were awesome. Bangalore is Bangalore.

Watching movies in a theatre as a family is a tradition we love to follow. The movie we select for such family viewing always was a Tamil movie and mostly would be the latest one Kamal acted in. Yes, we went to see Dasavathaaram. I had no idea about the story except for the 10 roles concept. Hmm..it is not as great as his earlier movies, but I enjoyed it. Kamal's acting was awesome and some of the roles he played were really great. Some of them were artificial and would not gel well with the story. Nevertheless, I am glad I got the opportunity to watch a Kamal movie with family after so many years. Time is flying!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Arrived safely

We arrived safely in India early morning Tuesday. The longest flight from New York to Kuwait went as a breeze with our toddler sleeping through the most of it. But the next 4.5 hour flight was troublesome with him not sleeping AT ALL. And the landing took a long time with turbulent skies and Nithin giving us a hard time trying to get out of the seatbelt. Waited for the suitcases to arrive when Nithin was talking to the girls around and demonstrating his new learned sentence - "You understand"! The girls thought he was funny.

When we walked out, it was a magical moment when Nikhil came up to us and smiled shyly. He hugged Nithin and us and we were truly emotional and excited. It was a Kodak moment. At home, a wonderful breakfast awaited us, thanks to B's mom. We were all starved for his mom's cooking, to be frank. That was the beginning. The couple days flew by with shopping and fighting sleep during the daytime. During my Day 1 beauty parlor visit, I dozed off literally couple of times.

Reunion with B's older brother and family was the highlight of yesterday. We are now planning a houseboat stay in Kumarakom, for everybody who went to India already did this houseboat thing and is 'wow'ing it. Let see how it goes. Until then, all you gals who are reading this, Ciao!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Time to wave bye bye to home

Past week has been hectic with multiple trips to Target, Walmart and Giant. Thanks to B, all suitcases are packed, weighed and stacked in the back of our van. Just minutes to start the travel to airport. Thought of posting a quick bye bye to all my dear folks on the web. Will be back soon online, hopefully as soon as I reach India. Until then, ciao!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Akkarakazhchakal

It is tough to spell it in English, but once you learn to do it, you can enjoy this really funny Malayalam serial in Youtube. The title means the 'sights on the other side of the river'. It is telecast every Sunday on Kairali TV in India, showing the people in the Des how life is in the US, in a humorous way.

The serial paints a truly realistic picture of an average Malayali Christian family in the United States. Any average Indian living in the US can identify with the main character called George Thekkummoottil who owns an insurance business of his own and his wife a Nerse (nurse in Malloo way!). I burst out with laughter many times with the dialogues, coz they are so true and funny. I wait for it to come to youtube on every Tuesday. Somethings to expect from life and adding fun to it.

Of course, now I have the concern how long can they sustain the interest and pick juicy themes.Like all good things that lose their charm one day, the inevitable is going to happen.

Reminds me of waiting for the Super 10 Parody program in SUN TV every week. Every episode's every dialogue was juicy and full of humor. They were not afraid to ridicule any Super Star and mock even the most sentimental scene in a movie. But it lost its charm, the actors crew disintegrated and went to different channels, and the program is not funny anymore.

Scared that some day that might happen to Akkarakkazhchakal!
But as long as the quality lasts, let us enjoy it.

All the actors do a great job! They live the characters, to say the least.

I am just putting the link to a Random episode of Akkarakkazhchakal here. But it is a treat to watch each episode in order. Anyone who can understand Malayalam and is living in US, should not miss it for the fun of it.


Monday, July 14, 2008

The final lap

With suitcases scattered in our bedroom loaded with things being packed, it is busy time.

Time to update the India Trip XLS with things we have bought/to buy, things to do etc.
Time when I often daydream about how it will be.
Time when I also dread about what if I get disappointed with so many expectations in my mind.
Time when I think of the reunion with my 7 year old who is enjoying summer back in India.
Time when I feel ashamed of me not able to wait to fly away and escape from work.
Time when I fear I will miss packing something important.

I am not able to think of anything else to write on because this is what I have in mind now.
Catch you later!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Books I completed

It is a accomplishment from my perspective that I am completing a book. Two in a row is a big record. Both are by Amulya Malladi.

Mango Season:


The first one I finished reading last month was the Mango Season. I loved it for its simplicity and the so many Indian things I could relate to. The story is about an Indian girl who spent so many years in US goes to India to tell her parents about her non Indian boy friend with whom she has been living together.

The tiny little things that bring a smile on your face - like how the mom cuts plantain (vazhakka or some such vegetable) and puts it into water to prevent it from darkening. The mom daughter relation - you would resonate if you had such a relation with your mom. The heroine wonders how she is finding it hard to adjust to things which were part of her life for years together. All that was fine, but I could not stomach some arguments made by the girl. How could she become so modern and how come her marriage becomes her own business..she is torn between mixed feelings all right, but I felt she is too much! Anyway, a good read and I could not put the book down.

A Breath of Fresh Air



This made me pick another book of the same author Amulya Malladi - the first novel she wrote on a victim of Bhopal gas tragedy called "The Breath of Fresh Air". Again very simple language that captivates interest without having to look for a dictionary. Very suitable for me. Different chapters are being narrated by different characters and the sequence of past events is slowly unfolded in each one's perspective. I stayed up till 12 for past two nights to finish the book. The climax was touching. How one night of inhaling the poisonous gas changed the life of Anjali and her future is beautifully narrated.

Happy weekend all, if you dont see another post from me!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Yummy long weekend!

We enjoyed every bit of the trip to Pittsburgh. We stayed at S and R's place and they have a toddler same age as Nithin. This helped us all enjoy their mischief and also break our heads when they threw tantrums.

First day afternoon, B and I went to meet my old friend A- short and sweet visit.It was nice to see the kids play together while we caught up on how life is for each of us. Back home with S and R, we all set out to the S.V.Temple with his parents. This is a ritual every time we go to Pittsburgh. A trip to the temple and stop at the Udupi resturant on the way back.

Next day, July 4, we left to the zoo after a simple and satisfying home cooked meal. Kids were excited to see the animals. The weather was really gorgeous and it helped us enjoy the day without feeling exhausted. After the zoo, we went to watch the Regatta at the Erie Lake. So we officially took part in July 4 celebrations! The shore was filled with different kinds of people and it was nice to see families and couples savoring the moment.

Then we went to Mount Washington to get a nice view of the fireworks. The fireworks were enchanting and when we came back home, kids were asleep. We would sit down and talk till 1 AM in the night every day after the kids slept. It was fun.

The next day we went to Presue Isle State Park and the beach. The place itself was so beautiful with the many beaches. We went to 3 of them and it got better each time. Kids were super excited to get into water and would not want to come back. If this place was close by, we could have made weekend trips to it. It was not overcrowded and it is so spacious that you could find a private spot for your family somewhere for sure.

Back home, I feel refreshed from the nice break we had. Being away from home and the routine chores makes a difference. You feel inspired to begin a new chapter in life - get regular with gym and cook nice things from NOW ON. It is a different question whether I keep up with the resolutions I make when we drive back home, at least it inspired me to approach life as a new chapter! Only one and half week left to our India trip, my heart beat increases when I think about the suitcases we have not packed and things we are yet to purchase. Life is exciting!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Looking forward to the break

Slowly recovering from the mood swings of last week and crawling up from the pit of depression day by day, I took life one day at a time. It is going on smooth for now. And I am all set to take a long weekend break. We are heading off tonight to our classmate's home in Pittsburgh and we plan to go on an outing from there. Sometimes, staying away from home gives you a different perspective. A change is good for now. Time with friends we have known for more than 12 years is always fun. I am also hoping to catch up with another friend's family - have not met her since 5 years!
Have a nice long weekend, all of you, in advance! See you soon!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mood Swings of a Working mom


Some months back, I would have vehemently opposed the idea of quitting my job and staying at home. This week saw my mind think just the opposite. This is a curse for all working women, I suppose. The mental battle on whether to continue work, or take a break for sometime until the kids are grown up a bit, or quit job forever and morph into the ideal housewife/mom.

When I had to stay back late at work one evening, going through the tensions/pressure of programming something new that I am not used to, I was shaken. How long can I cope up with the pressure of the IT field? New technologies and new programming languages. Concepts are the same, but one has to tirelessly update knowledge and keep swimming in the ocean tirelessly. I feel tired and exhausted. I am not in a mood to swim anymore for now. I feel like giving up.

My boys are growing. May be, I could give them much more from my part if I stay home. I am sure they will love that. At home, I could try to be the ideal housewife, experimenting new dishes and keeping the house clean and all that.

Hmm...so easy to say, but once I quit my job, am I going to be happy?I am afraid I will regret the decision. I should not be taking drastic decisions when I am emotionally drained. That may not be the right decision. But I will never lean towards quitting a job and being home, in any other mood. So may be I should do it - when I am thinking what I never thought before.

My mind went in circles. I dreaded the start of each new day. I managed to live through them all, one day at a time. I survived the week and I am feeling better. These questions haunt my mind from time to time, but I recover from them and proceed with life, without making a change. These thoughts go to sleep for time being and rebound later. Will I ever make the big decision to change my life altogether and will I be happy with the change? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Long tag

Diffdrummer tagged me and this is the first time she is tagging me, so I want to respond. She is my old schoolmate and college mate! So here I go...

Last movie you saw in a theater - Taare Zameen Par

What book are you reading - "A breath of fresh air" by Amulya Malladi (about to start)

Favorite board game - Deflexion ( laser game)

Favorite smells - Manninte manam after rain

Favorite sound - when Nithin mimics a bird cooing

Worst feeling in the world - Depression, good-for-nothing feeling that tempts me to quit!

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up
Weekdays: What is the time now? Am I late?
Weekends: What to make for breakfast?

Favorite fast food place: Taco Bell

Future child's name: Neha or None

Finish this statement. "If I had a lot of money, I'd...." ...spend it all!

Do you drive fast - Nope

Do you sleep with a stuffed animal - No.

Storms - Cool or scary - Bit scary.

What was your first car - Maruti in India which I only drove once or twice. Toyota Camry here feels like the first one.

Favorite drink - Coffee, I am budding lightly (got it?)

Finish this statement. "If I had the time, I would..." make calls to all my old friends and talk.

Do you eat the stems on broccoli? Yummy! Yes! Especially if it is in biriyani.

If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice? - Burgundy?

Name all the different cities/towns you have lived in - Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Ashburn(Virginia) and Malvern,Philadelphia.

Favorite sports to watch: Used to be Tennis and Cricket (not any more)

One nice thing about the person who sent this to you - the strength and boldness in her words.

What's under your bed?
Balls or toys my kids dropped. May be a thomas train that is stuck there.

Would you like to be born as yourself again?
No, how about trying something else, you never know!


Morning person or night owl - Night , for sure!
Over easy or sunny side up : Not any of these. Omelette or scrambled works.

Favorite place to relax: In the basement (in front on TV).

Favorite pie: Pizza pie

Favorite ice cream flavor - Butterscotch in 'Icecreme' parlor during our college days

Of all the people you tagged this to, who is most likely to respond first?
Not tagging anyone. This tag has done its rounds too.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One year back..same day..kya hua..

In the beginning of last year, I started looking out for a change of job.

Some emotions I recollect are:
-Determination to do something about my life then.
-Apprehension about what my value will be in the job market.
-Attending calls/sending job related emails stealthily.
-Receiving the call that I am being offered the job was a Eureka moment, but I was keeping my reaction controlled!
-Worried about the long commute in the highways, B and I did some test drives.

Just a week before the joining date, I resigned the previous job and then went on the already planned cruise to Bermuda. Just B and me. Even when we were in the cruise, the tension of the new work place and the highway-fears peeked here and there.

I joined the present job EXACTLY one year back (June 18,2007) . (BTW, on a side note, B and I also completed 8 years in United States on June 13, 2008....time flies!)

I was absolutely having nothing much to do in the initial months.The transition from the desi atmosphere in my old job to the 'apne kaam se matlab rakho' (let us all mind our own businesses!) culture here was really tough for me. I felt alienated and isolated, but I learnt to live it the way everyone lives it here. Walks along the riverside with the cell phone hooked to my ears, I started finding my avenues.

One such avenue I discovered was the world of Blogs. Reading Laksh everyday, I was inspired to start my own and soon I did. I did have a website from before (Sujathaworld.com) , but I did not feel like changing anything there. What I was really in need of, is exactly this blog that you are reading now. Thanks for the inspiration, Laksh!

Then came the busy Fall season, and I had no time to breathe. Another period of lull in the winter and another crazy Spring work season. I really enjoy the work when I am busy. The job demands working through weekends and late nights, but now I know to look forward to the end of the season and chug through it.

Thanks, Laksh, UL, JustSomeOne, Suman, Akay, Anila, Noby, Achayan (my Mr.B) and my Appa for being the good e-Pals that you are. Your comments brighten my day and inspire me to write more. Writing by itself is enjoyable, but when I hear back from you, I am glad that I'm heard and I am connecting with you all.

In the tunes of old Hindi song, SAU SAAL PEHLE MUJHE TUMSE PYAR THA..I would like to sing the below lines!

ek saal pehle, mujhe blog se pyar hua...aaj bhi hai ....aur kal bhi rahega!

Athu s(h)ari, wonder how I connected my job anniversary to my blog career. You can tell I am waiting for some new task at work, right!! Ciao!

Monday, June 16, 2008

India Trip Planning Woes


Finalizing dates and airlines and booking tickets is already done. Now starts the planning for internal details of the big trip. I am going NUTS with this exercise now. I am sure some of you can surely identify with this.

We have to cover 3 cities in India in 3 weeks.
When to leave from City A to City B? Which flight? Numerous flight options.
How many days will we stay in City B?
When do we leave to City C? Flight? Train?
When do we go back to City A?
Will we have enough time to pack before we depart back to US?

This is the simple logistics part of the trip planning.

Then comes the fun trips options that are enticing and attractive.

"Last time, we went on the HouseBoat stay in Kumarakom in Kerela, it was great."
"My parents went to this resort. It is economical, not expensive as houseboat etc. And very relaxing"
There are resorts in City A and City B and City C. Equally tempting. Which one to book?

And the list of people I want to meet and things I want to do is endless.
I am a sucker for nostalgia. I probably value reliving memories more than anything else.
I want to meet all my old friends and classmates. Then there are relatives whom we get to meet only when we go like this. I want to visit my old school and college to relive memories and to show my 7 year old where I stood and sang school prayers and bore him with my 'veeragaathaa' (adventure stories).

How could I forget shopping clothes to expand my wardrobe for US Indian gatherings?

Not only do we have to meet with folks who live in India, but also there are close friends/relatives from US/elsewhere who will be vacationing in India at that SAME TIME. How nice is that..to be able to catch them there and spend sometime with them there. Yumm..tempting again!

The temptations are enticing and overwhelming. There is always the concern of whether we will get disappointed with the choices or decisions we made. It could easily turn fun to stress if we try to cram everything into the schedule. But what to give up? How do I set priorities? How do I say 'No' to some things?

Hmm..am I not enjoying this exercise, while I am cribbing? Daydreaming of doing this and that in India and planning for it - there is some thrill in this!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Break The Rules

Looks like B and I are really enjoying this time. Mr.Nikhil seems to be enjoying all the way at his grandparents' home in Trivandrum. Seeing him smile and laugh and talk to us on the phone tells us he is not terribly missing us. That means that we do not have to worry about his being unhappy for a while.

Going back to life with 1 kid is an interesting experience. When I am cooking, now, I can focus on just one kid's interests. Smaller quantities suffice. It is quiet period at work for both of us and B does not have any classes to take. No driving around for any child activities. It seems like we have plenty of time at hand in the evenings. So, even though, we have not verbally declared it,we have been breaking some family rules and taking it easy.

1. If you don't feel like cooking, don't. Can split a veggie pizza and be done with it. Can explore a new place to eat out, because we wont be doing a lot of this when school reopens.
2. If you are in the mood to drive around, just get up and go. Can be impulsive now as it wont affect a school-goer's schedule. No planning needed.
3. Watch movies every week day night and sleep really late.
4. No forced bedtime. Nithin hangs out with us watching movies and we don't put him to bed right on time. He enjoys the time with us.

It is good to break the rules, once in a while. Helps us to go easy on ourselves, now that the schedule permits it. We are enjoying it.

Side-effects: Nithin says 'Amma, let us go downstairs and watch a movie'. When the car takes the turn towards home, he says 'more shop' meaning 'I don't want to go home'.

Positive side effects: Some improvement on Nithin's potty training since we now have the patience to entice him into 'flushing' the toilet. Also, I have been able to read books to him and he is all thrilled to listen to me. I am now reading a book myself. Ages since I have attempted this.

See you tomorrow!

Book Tag

Laksh tagged me with this book tag last week and I am finally responding!

The rules are as under:

Pick up the nearest book.
Open to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you

The book that I am now reading, is The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi. I was inspired to try this book by reading Akay's post.


"She would tell me if she felt bad", Anand said, looking up at the sky. "See the Saptrishi? he asked, pointing at the constellation of seven starts shaped like a question mark. "For the longest time, I couldn't see Arundhati" he said.

I dont know who I can tag, all I know seem to have finished one round of this.
Thanks, Laksh, for tagging me!




Monday, June 9, 2008

Cold, laziness and Judging Music

Cannot remember how long ago was it, when both B and me fell sick at the same time. The cold I caught on Thursday reached its peak on Saturday. B's allergies reached the peak the same time. So here we were - coughing and sneezing and consuming Kleenex tissues every minute. Thank God, Nithin was Ok.

Leave alone, doing anything fancy for the weekend, we lazed around and did absolutely nothing.
In fact, I don't remember sleeping two afternoons consecutively in so many years. It looked like how much ever we rested and slept, it just did not seem too much.

Sunday morning, I was getting ready to be the judge of music competition for sunday school kids in our church. When I was asked if I can be the judge, several comical notions came to my mind. I sing and I have had a good relation with music in my life that would help me perform the duty. But I could not help chuckle at the thought of being the 'judge'. I was reminded me of Somayajulu in Shankarabharanam. I pictured myself criticizing the singers on shruti, laya and taala and what not. Also I visualized Nedumudi Venu saying' kutteee nirthi nirthi padoo' in Sargam, a Malayalam musical.

During my school days, I have been on the stage singing or making speeches, awaiting the verdict of the judges. It was ironical that now I am on the other side.

I enjoyed listening to the kids sing. We marked their scores in tabulation sheets and handed them over to the people who added the scores. During the whole exercise, the thought that kept coming to me was that

a) real talent will show itself. When someone is able to sing well, there is no need to debate over it and I am sure the talent wins the prize automatically. Same holds good for 'not so good' singers.

b) Participation is KEY. This is what I have believed very much all through my childhood. If you show the will and desire to take part, you deserve a reward. My point is - never refrain from taking part thinking of the success/failure. Do your job. Many times, you will see that the reward comes after you. Sometimes, you will be the only one to take part in some category and you win the prize! Heheh!

That was the weekend that was. How was yours?




Friday, June 6, 2008

Baseball game and me

I have little connection with sports. Ironically, this is my second consecutive year going to watch the Phillies game. Last year, we had a team outing to the game. A bunch of us walked to the train station nearby and took the train to go to Citizien's Bank park in Philly downtown. The first time I looked at the crowd and the stadium I was awed. It is an amazing feeling and a totally different experience. This year, when the whole company was going there for the summer outing and I signed up to be part of the event.

I carpooled with my colleague. She drove 3 of us to the stadium. The drive to the place was pretty smooth. The stadium did not look as crowded as last year. We were early there for our company lunch at McFadden's. The weather was good - not too hot. There were some others like me who did not care so much about the game and were interested in just talking. We ate lunch and chatted. The drink tickets were in high demand. I went in to our terrace deck and sat there for sometime. I got bored soon.

In the ballpark, it is all about drinking and eating. People were eating hot dogs, then icecream and carried glasses of beer all day. I walked out looking for some coffee and fries. Not that I was hungry, but you want to buy something when everyone else is doing that! I walked to a shop and bought some fries that looked good. And a bottle of water. I could not trust a coffee from that shop. I paid a ridiculous 10 dollars for this and tasted the fries. Hmm..No Good. I would have loved the McDonald's fries. Anyway, there were people in the group who liked the fries and finished it.

It was time to get out. Phillies won. We waited for a colleague and got out a little late only to get stuck in the traffic. We could not move the car for 15 minutes from the parking lot. Had a headache by the time we reached work. Since I knew what exactly to expect in the stadium, I should say I enjoyed the day. I reached home at the usual time and B and Nithin were not in yet.
I made some Puttu hoping to put a smile in both their faces when they walk in. It worked with Nithin, for sure!

P.S.
Check my review on Cassandra's Dream, the movie we finished watching yesterday night.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

VCR, DVD and Home remedies

I remember when I was in school and pre-degree, there were two things I yearned for. One was a phone at home and the other was a VCR. VCR was a luxury at that time. We had TV with Doordarshan, but somehow, my Appa did not feel the need for a VCR. And when something is not there, human mind really longs for it.

There was this custom at that time, that people rented video players and the cassettes from the shop. During my summer vacations to Pammal, Chennai, I have had the privilege to view a lot of Kamal's movies in video. They used to call a VCR a 'deck' for some reason. Renting a VCR was termed 'deck edukkarathu' (in Tamil) .Kamal fan cousin rented Kamal movies and Rajni fan cousin rented Rajni movies! Coming back home, I have seen people around our house, renting them and inviting me also to watch them. I remember I tried to convince dad to rent one and he seemingly agreed to it, and I was disappointed later to find he was not really convinced. He did not want to deal with the renting issues but wanted to buy one. And soon, we owned one.

And the problems that come with it! There were bad old tapes with fungus in them. The picture was not clear and you had to clean the VCR head. Remember the spray with a long red tube that sprayed the cleaning liquid..and the cleaning tape. What a relief to see Mohanlal's face clear after the cleaning session!

And then there was this trick called 'tuning' when the picture used to jump continuously! It was so annoying and irritating. A movie just began and then the picture jumps on and on. If you have experienced this, you will know what it exactly means. We would hope that it will get better after 5 minutes of playing. Sometimes I did, mostly it did not. Tuning helped stop the heroes from jumping and limping on the screen.

Then came the issue of camera prints. We will be all thrilled to see a new movie cassette in the store and would be easily tempted to rent it. And only when you put it, you knew that it is a camera print. You could see shadows of people standing before the screen and cloudy picture and loud volume. And the comment from mom follows - why did you take this camera print - as though you knew it is going to be this bad.

Then came the DVD and VCD era. Wow..clear picture and uninterrupted viewing of the movies! I never want to go back to the video tapes and their problems. I slip on the DVD from Indian Store in US. Hey, but wait! Why is this movie stuttering and stammering? It is a DVD and it played well so far..what happened? Guess, there are some scratches or is it dirt on it? I take it out, blow on it and wipe it well with a tissue..and that could get me to the climax of the movie.

I guess whatever advancements technology makes, there will be new kinds of problems and new home remedies! Life is never perfect.




Friday, May 30, 2008

Feels goooood

The pressure for the work season is finally over. It feels good to know the items I have to work on, but that I can take mytime to respond back on those. And there wont be blinking voice mails on my work phone for two totally unrelated projects at the same time requesting something right away.

We got up early this AM and Nithin did not give too much trouble in getting ready. His hobby is to pick some reason and cry, making us feel bad. Today we both were ready by 7.30 AM and dad had already gone to work.

He is into this pajama phase now. Never wants to take the spiderman pajama off his body. I put a shirt on top of it - and told Miss B to remove it and wash it. She is superb! And when she says, he would just remove the pajama and give it to her. She washes it and keeps it ready for us! Nikhil never had any such obsession as far as I can remember.

We have not fully recovered from all the exhaustion and tiredness from driving to NY on Sunday, packing for Nikhil and working late two nights earlier. Yesterday, I was sleepy all through, unable to enjoy the bright sunny day. Today is an even more bright day - much warmer! Hope to take Nithin out to cycling today. And to library! With just one kid to take care of, I am thinking of doing this and that with him.

When I have some free time, all the things in my mind's unwritten TO DO LIST flash one after one, tempting me to pick everything up and mark them all with a check mark and be DONE with them. I become so overwhelmed with this thought process that I collapse and get nothing done!

Happy Weekend, Guys!



Monday, May 26, 2008

Parting tears

When I stood at the airport gate, watching my 1st Grader walk away holding the hands of his friend, I struggled hard to prevent tears from rolling down. After all, our friends who were standing next to us, were also parting with their son and they were holding up pretty good.

Nikhil is going to India for a summer vacation. Flying for the first time without us. Of course, our friend D was going to take care of both Nikhil and G throughout the flight. Two boys whose eyes are always glued to their Nintendo DS. We teased D a lot saying the boys will have to take care of you. It was all fun. We lectured a lot to Nikhil from time to time. Dont run away here and there. Always stay with uncle. Blah Blah. But that is all you could do, once you have made a decision to send him for a totally new experience - a vacation with grandparents in India.

I am really amazed at his courage. Did he realize that he wont be able to meet his parents and his brother for 2 months? Does he know that he cannot come and hug us when he wanted? I think he knows, but he may be in for a surprise , when some emotions might strike.

As we drove back from JFK, with all the lights sparking on the Verrazano bridge, my mind was flying down the memory lane.

The 13 days NTSE Scholarship camp was the first time I was staying away from home that long. I was in Thrissur and my parents were in Trivandrum. We were staying in the dorm rooms of a school in Thrissur. I wrote a long letter to my Appa which was loaded with tears and worries. I missed home so BADLY. My letter gave him a shock and made him feel helpless. His reply came telling me not to worry and to enjoy the experience - which was the intention of sending me, according to him. I was worried that I may not pass the scholarship exam and felt bad that I will be failing to fulfill his dreams. I was so relieved to hear that he was not so particular about that part at all.

I was reminded of the Trivandrum railway station where I waved Bye to Appa when he left to Bangalore for work. I was in college then and he had moved the job there. Everytime, I step out of the Railway Platform after the Island Express leaves, I would be in tears while I walk to my Kinetic Honda.

Parting tears and the pain in the throat that accompanies when I try to suppress them. Wonder if my son is old enough to feel the feelings I have felt..and if so, I just hope he learns to recognize them and express them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rated P


One of the very few traits in me that can be termed adventurous or brave is that I love horror movies. I hate to sit on even very simple rides in theme parks, but am very eager to experience the thrill of watching a scary movie. When we stop at BlockBuster, I am in the horror movie row - but you know, there lies the problem - so many choices and not all of them are classy.

That is how we got tricked into watching two very yucky movies! One was called 'The Slither'. And the other 'The Mist' (better than the former).

A classy horror movie is one which does not resort to yucky animals or creatures in an attempt to horrify us. It should be able to thrill us with the storyline and screenplay and not just special effects. Having sat through these two movies, here are some elements that are part of such movies.
1. Tentacles - absolutely need tentacles to grab the attention of the viewer (pun intended)
2. Goo - some yucky liquid is secreted out of the dreary animals' body parts...yuck!
3. A man who is stung by the dreary creature is 'pregnant' with tiny baby Poochis and at one point his body bursts to release them all..which crawl in all seven directions quickly..Ayyo rama!

Hope you guys are not reading it while having lunch! Sorry, but I had to share this!

So my request to the censor officers is to add a new Rating for horror movies only. It will be called P and it will gives us an indication that it is 'that kind' of a horror movie. P for Poochi!
That means insects and creatures are the stars in the movie!

If you can share names of good horror movies that you liked, I'd be sure to check them out!