The light of the world

Here’s wishing all of you a warm and happy Diwali. It was particularly touching that kids around us all swore off firecrackers for a variety of reasons – pollution, the noise and disturbance to old folks, babies and animals, and finally, child labour in Sivakasi. And with all that effort we woke up to a fairly clear and clean day. Impressive.

We met some people who were surprised that kids were aware of such things. Lets not burden them with issues they have no understanding of, let them enjoy themselves, they said.

I smiled and said nothing. Yes, apparently I am growing old. *ugh*

We burden our kids by informing them early about their caste, community and the notion of an omniscient God (and I really haven’t met too many adults with an understanding of God), but we don’t believe they have the capacity to understand that little children like themselves are sitting in a dirty factory making crackers that are harmful to their health? Why is it hard to tell our children that animals are terrified of the loud sounds, when we don’t think twice about telling them that it’s wrong to pull a dog’s tail? Why is it hard to point out that we’re just burning up money instead of doing some good with it? Why can’t they have memories of drawing rangolis, making sweets, lighting diyas and stringing up garlands of marigold? Who decreed that fire crackers are de rigueur? We had a lovely time last night with friends, family, good food, laughter and light. I hope you did too.

A few glimpses of our home done up for the festival of lights

I love this malevolent frog!

Laying the table for a traditional Diwali dinner cooked by the OA

Merry Christmas – 25.12.2006

I had planned to go chronologically with the posts from Ye Olde Bloge but it seemed like a good time to pull out this old post – actually I was over enthu and had three posts up on X’mas in 2006. We were in Allahabad and this was Pre-Bean. Do you remember a time before the Bean? I don’t. It seems like I’ve just always been her mother. I present the X’mas season posts that week. Have a great X’mas and a Happy New Year you all. If you don’t hear from me in the next week – it’s because I’m busy travelling. Catch you on the other side.

But where is the X’mas tree?

This year since I am going to my parents’ home I decided not to put up an X’mas tree… it would gather dust while I was away and my son would pull it to pieces when I got back… So I just put up a twig with red and gold baubles and filled the vase that holds it with red and gold star and heart shaped baubles… It’s nice… but oh to have put up my very own tree!
Maybe next year when the Brat is older…. oh damn.. that is when the next one will be swinging on the branches….I think my tree is going to stay wrapped up in bubble wrap and tucked away for a few years yet…

Rocking around the X’mas tree

For those who are wondering why I haven’t blogged in a while… this is the reason why… I am at my parents’ home for X’mas and have just been too lazy to get on to the www…. I have been lying on a rug in front of the fire place, watching the flames for hours on end, sipping hot cups of tea and listening to music while my son sits on his haunches and methodically takes decorations off the X’mas tree and rearranges them… Sorry if I gave you guys a scare…

Last night I was dancing with him in my lap and in the mirror I saw another mother and child…. with almost identical features dancing to the very same X’mas carols, cheek to cheek, around the grand piano almost 25 years ago…Thanks for some beautiful memories, ma…

is what the OA and I have been most of this vacation on a rug in front of the fireplace…

For those who knew we were going away to a wildlife reserve for a few days, well that got cancelled. All that eating rich food and partying late finally got to me and I am laid up with some amoebic infection and surviving on toast and tea… Bah. Merry X’mas indeed!


Compliments of the season from the little drummer boy

…who only opened his gifts on X’mas morning..

began opening gifts at 2 am, when we returned from church after the midnight service…. shall soon show pictures of all my loot!

Father and son

…..have spent plenty of time bonding this vacation and I don’t know how my son will deal with the lack of space and lack of company once we get back to Delhi…playschool, here we come.

Sugar and spice and everything nice…

If you glow it’s a boy they say, some turn the theory around and say you glow if you are carrying a girl. If you carry to the front it’s a boy, but if you gain weight all around, it’s a girl. We even tried my wedding band on a chain and then on a strand of my hair to see what I am carrying. Old wives tales abound and women have for centuries tried every trick in the book to find out whether they are carrying a girl or boy. Friends and older family members want to know why I am so keen to know the gender of the baby.

Well, right from reasons like asking my brother to buy me cute baby stuff from abroad to picking the colour of the bassinet, there are a dozen reasons…. but the biggest reason? Well I don’t know about others, but I am eager to know just like so many women over the last few centuries… There is a life growing inside of me and I am not willing to be just a blank vessel!! I am eating healthy and taking every precaution to make sure that little life is nurtured and cared for. And I would like to know as much about it as possible. I am signed up for four different baby mails a week and I can tell you which body part is developing this week and how big baby is… and after all this surely it comes as no surprise that I am eager to know the gender.

My brother did buy stuff from abroad for baby bean…Baby bean’s first X’mas gifts..even before she has arrived…..Merry X’mas my little angel… Only God and my blogging friends know how badly I want a daughter!!!

My parents who have a vague grasp of blogging were very aprehensive about me posting this entry. What if it turns out to be a boy after all, they ask. Well, I will be disappointed for a while, but I will grow to love the little fellow anyway. And he will have to wear pink for the first few months because that is all the poor Mad Sibling could get, no gender neutral colours available. And as for those who read my blog…. I think they will understand my disapointment more than anyone else and be my greatest strength. For now, thank you all those who prayed for a little girl…Now all we need is a healthy pregnancy or what remains of it… and a healthy baby.

Happy Holi

…in advance. This is something I got as a forward and I figured I’d pass it on to all of you who want to play with safe colours. If there are mistakes or typos, please excuse them – haven’t had a chance to sub it!

The legend from which the tradition of playing colours started is full of colours in itself. The story goes that the very colourful god, Lord Krishna was jealous of his soul mate Radha’s fair complexion, since he himself was very dark.
Naughty young Krishna complained to his mother Yashoda about this injustice of nature. To placate the child, doting mother asked Krishna to apply colour on Radha’s face and change her complexion according to his choice.
Playful and mischievous Krishna appreciated the idea and implemented it. The game of applying colours thus gained so much popularity that it became a tradition and later it turned out to be a full fledged festival.
Till date, lovers desired to colour and be coloured by their mates. The application of colours has in a way become an expression of love.A great way to play holi is with colour.but in order to avoid chemicals in the readily available ones in the market,here are some natural substitutes;

1. Green-use henna powder, separately or mixed with flour. Also finely powder the leaves of the Gulmohur for a green colour or crush the tender leaves of the wheat plant to obtain a natural safe green Holi colour.

2. Yellow– Use turmeric powder with double quantity of besan (gram flour) Flowers like), Yellow Chrysanthemums, Black Babul yield different shades of yellow. Dry the petals of these flowers in shade and crush them to obtain a fine powder.

3. Red – Red sandalwood powder or dry red hibiscus flowers in shade and powder to make a lovely red colour. Red colour can also be obtained from juice of tomatoes and carrots. This can be diluted with sufficient quantity of water to remove the stickiness.

4. Blue – The Jacaranda flowers can be dried in the shade and ground to obtain a beautiful blue powder also crush the berries (fruits) of the Indigo plant and add to water for desired colour strength

5. Magenta -Slice or grate one Beet root. Soak in 1 litre of water for a wonderful magenta or boil the peels of 10 – 15 pink onions in half litre of water for an orangish-pink colour. Remove the peels before using to remove the smell.

6. Saffron– Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder in one litre of water for an instant, beautiful and fragrant saffron colour or soak a few stalks of saffron/kesar in 2 tablespoons of water. Leave for few hours and grind to make a fine paste. Dilute with water for desired colour strength.

7. Brown – Kattha ,the one eaten in pan, when mixed with water will give a brownish colour or boil tea or coffee leaves in water. Cool and use.

8.Black – Boil dried fruits of Amla / Indian Gooseberry in an iron vessel and leave overnight. Dilute with water and use. Extract juice of black grapes and dilute with sufficient quantity of water to remove stickiness.

Have a safe and happy holi!

Life after X’mas sucks

… because there are no more heaps of presents to look forward to or for the Brat to play guessing games with …

… because the Bean will have nothing to spend hours arranging… and re-arranging

…Because Tambi Maama will go back to the States and give his endless patience to some other baby…

… and come up with a million ways to entertain someone else’s brats….

…. And no one will lift up the Bean to grab hold of Banyan roots…

… and there’ll be no one to partner Dada as he tosses the Brat back and forth

.. because Dada will no longer hang from bars with a brat dangling off his legs… and there will be no corresponding Maami hanging from the bar with Tambi Maama holding her up…

Because there will be no G’pa who makes afternoon naps fun by sleeping out on the sunny balcony with a Brat and a Bean – and there will be no sneaking away after he dozes off to slide down on the poor unsuspecting gentleman..

And because there will be no Maami to brush their teeth, make their hair, cuddle them to sleep, whisk them away before they get a yell from Mamma for something naughty, make meal times fun and generally threaten to rob and put into her suitcase and smuggle back to the US.

Way before the mad sibling got married, dated or even knew the pretty woman who is now his wife, I was a hysterical pregnant woman who called up her sibling in the middle of the night to say, “Okay, I know it’s a little too late to have plan Bs, but if the OA and I die, will you keep my baby? And love him or her as your own?”

An understandably shocked mad sibling reassured his hysterical, pregnant sister that he would do all of that. And then proceeded to yell at her for thinking terrible thoughts.

But there was always a niggling doubt –  wondering if the woman he married would love my children as her own. Wondering if even he would be able to love my babies as his own.

I think this visit put all those fears to rest when my children within 36 hours of meeting their Maama-Maami got on to a train with them willingly and trustingly, waved me a cheerful goodbye and chugged off into the distance. I knew then that if the OA and I decided to jump off a building (what do you mean why would we do that?! Just go with the flow, will ya?!)  – they’d be happy, they’d be safe, they’d be loved and never know want. And yes, I often say that no one can love you more than your parents can. Except maybe your parents’ siblings. What say?

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

… and no I don’t need pennies in my hat.

We put up our X’mas tree a few days ago and it’s been such fun. The kids were squabbling early on about who gets to put the angel on the top of the tree. Fortunately X’mas already came to us once earlier this year when my parents came back from the US. They paid excess baggage and errr… about 50 kilos of it was for us. Anyhow, one of the many things I got was another angel for the top of the tree. It simplified life for us this last weekend because each of the kids got to hang one and our tree is burdened with its load of heavenly beings!

The OA, babies and Cousin K set up the tree.

Leave it to the kids and all the baubles as well as the angel make it to a lower corner of the tree.

The TWO angels guarding the top of our tree!

Some of the other Christmassy stuff I have out.

The Brat tickling the Bean … She’s wearing a hairband that has two jiggly reindeer on it and sings Jingle Bells.

Eventually they both fell asleep with all the excitement of the day.

After we were done putting up the tree and were ready to wrap the lights around the decorated tree, Cousin K came up with his brainwave – lets wrap the lights around the tree trunk, on the inside of the tree. The OA glared at him and looked for something heavy to throw at him – “What? Now? After we’ve set the entire thing up? Couldn’t you have thought of this 3 hours ago? And anyway, I don’t think its possible.”

At this, Cousin K quietly got to work and the OA and I drifted off, leaving him to figure a way around the problem. The boy crawled under and into the inner recesses of the tree and I heard some banging, smelled some burning and saw much activity, but stayed out of it.

He did it. And it looked brilliant.

It was also a subtle reminder that we’re already ‘the next generation’. At 19 he has better and brighter ideas, more enthusiasm and a lot more energy than I do at 31. I’m not really old in my head, but then something like this happens and I have to remind myself not to grow into one of those cranky old women who insist on doing X, Y or Z because its tradition and its always been that way.

People tend to be crankier and more rigid in matters of festivals and religion and those perhaps are precisely the things we need to be more willing to experiment with.

A little later Cousin K stood back to admire his work and then said to me, ‘Next year we’ll get only red and gold ornaments for the tree… or another two colours and create a theme.’

And thats the only thing I disagreed with. Our tree is a mish mash of stuff because every year a friend adds on an ornament or two. Everytime we travel we pick up something new. It’s not just a Christmas tree to me, its a tree full of memories and loaded with love.

Here are some of the ornaments I’ve got over the last two years from kind friends and guess what – some of them are desi ornaments! Thank you all of you.

And here’s wishing you compliments of the season. In case you don’t hear from me for a week or two, you’ll know I’m busy doing the Christmas thing – eating, drinking, making merry, singing loudly around a bonfire, cherishing family and cuddling the babies.

These two are from a friend who has wickedly said I can’t blog about her. So err… well, she knows. And she knows I love and appreciate them.

This lovely Kashmiri one from this friend. 

Penguin and Snowman photoframes for the tree from Kuns, with old pics of the Brat and the Bean.

And of course a Jagannath given by Art last year.