Monday, May 23, 2016

People of colour

Xena - Mama, look!

Me - Oh wow. Nicely coloured. Tell me something though... why do Snow White and the prince have green and yellow faces?

Xena - Because it was their wedding party and there was a face painter.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Monkey talk

I work on a science magazine for school-going children, and by 'school', I don't mean preschool, which is why, I find it very amusing when I see Xena taking such great interest in my work. Sometimes, she even asks me questions as if she's my boss. Actually, even my boss doesn't ask me the kind of questions she does. Sample these (and imagine her saying all this with a serious face): Is the next issue's cover ready? Can I see it today? Have you finished checking all the proofs?

Whoa whoa whoa.

She also loves to flip through past issues and if she finds something interesting, she brings it to me and then I have to explain to her what's going on. Some times, it's simple enough to be explained to her ("Banana slugs are named so because they are slugs that look like bananas.") but sometimes, I struggle because she's too young to understand some of the things.

Today, she found an infographic showing the evolution of man and then she wanted to know 'why the monkey had turned into a man'. I tried to break it down for her, but as I found out, it's really, really hard to explain evolution to a 5-year-old. Their distorted understanding and follow-up questions will drive you insane.

In the evening, she had her swim lesson. Her coach has got to be the most patient man on earth because she interrupts him some 3458957847 times with random facts and incidents and he listens and nods in mid-water. I sit by the poolside and I can hear every word of their conversation.

Today's conversation:

Coach - Okay Xena, head under water... blow bubbles...
Xena - Coach, did you know that you were a monkey?
Coach - Haaaa?!
Xena - All the monkeys became people.
Coach - ...
Xena - Everyone was a monkey.
Coach (not knowing what else to say) - We are all monkeys. Okay Xena, head under water... blow bubbles...

All right, time to go google 'How to explain evolution to a preschooler' before she calls her coach a monkey again.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A labour of love

Usually, I finish all my office work by the time Xena wakes up from her nap, so that there is nothing coming between us and our late-afternoon funky/goofy time. But this day was a little different. A big deadline was hanging over my head and when she woke up, I was still hard at work.

"Give me 20 minutes, baby?" I asked.

"Ok Mama, I will sit here and write something."

"Sounds great."

I turned back to work, while she fetched a sheet of paper and a pen and started writing.

"Mama, how do I spell 'don't know'?" She asked.

"D-O-N-T-K-N-O-W". I quickly said. The apostrophe would have to be mentioned and explained another day.

She didn't disturb me anymore after that. She was bent over her sheet, busy writing away.

"Okay! I'm done!" I said after 20 minutes.

She looked up from the book that she was now reading and came to me, holding the sheet of paper.

I took one look at it and... I could literally feel my heart melting away.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Flying colours

Hello bewdas and bewdis,

Too many of you have asked how Xena and I made the elephant artwork featured in the previous post. Since good things must be shared, here are the details.

What you need: 
- A blank mounted canvas
- Scissors
- Black paper
- Crayons
- Glue
- A hair dryer

Step 1: Think of a concept you want to make a picture out of. Xena was given the following three options, but you can do almost anything actually. 

Step 2: Cut out the desired shape (e.g. the elephant's head) on the black paper. Fortunately for us, the cut-outs had already been made by the hosts, so we just needed to pick one. 

Step 3: Select the crayons you want to use (we chose rainbow colours) and break them into thirds. 

Step 4: Place the black cut-out on the canvas (do not stick it yet) and stick the crayons on the canvas with glue. 

Step 5: After the glue has dried, use a hair dryer and melt away! Tilt the canvas to control where the flowing wax goes. I don't have a picture of us using the hair dryer on our picture, but here's another kid using the hair dryer on her picture. This should give you an idea of what to do. 

Step 6: Stick the black cut-out over the melted and dried wax. Ta-da!

Xena used some fluffy beads to decorate her artwork. To be honest, I'd have preferred not to have them at all (I feel it looked classier without), but she really really wanted them... that too, all over the painting. Yikes. So we negotiated and reached a compromise -- we would have the beads, but they would match their background. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Art attack

"Ok this is very eerie, in light of what I recently blogged about."

These were my first thoughts when I saw it.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So last weekend, Xena and I attended an art-themed birthday party. The birthday girl's dad is an amazing artist, and I say 'amazing' because I've seen his portrait of his wife and it actually looks like his wife.

At the party, each kid was handed a mounted blank canvas and some crayons. So my immediate thought was, "Oh, they're gonna get the kids to scribble on the canvas." and because the average age of the kids at the party was five, my next thought was, "Oh dear, what a waste of the nice mounted canvas..."

But I was in for a big surprise.

The artist gave everyone step by step instructions on what to do, and because the steps involved scissors, glue and a hairdryer (to melt down the crayons, no less!), I pitched in to help Xena.

Before we'd started, she had been shown three 'sample paintings' and she had to pick one to mimic. I had absolutely no say in which painting she'd picked, but look at what we had made at the end of the day!

My head is still reeling a little bit.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A bromantic rendezvous

"Having dinner with my buddy." said Viv's WhatsApp message to me.

From time to time, I get updates from both him and his dad on what they're up to during the road trip. But this message made me sit up.

My buddy??

Viv referring to his dad as his buddy was just tooooooo much. It was not possible at all, in spite of the fact that they have been road-tripping for a week.

So I asked, "Which buddy??"

And then he sent me a photo of him... and S! I almost fell off my chair.

Yes, S - one of the original 'hum paanch', S - whose brainchild it was to kidnap Viv to Malaysia on his birthday, S - who is married to one of my bestest friends Shub. S of the grand S2 wedding fame. S, who used to live in Singapore once upon a time, but has moved back to India now and taken my Shub with him! Grrrr.

Shub and I used to be so amused at the bromance between S and Viv. They clicked from day one, bonding mainly over cars and bikes and racing and running. I always used to tease Viv that he should be thankful that I blog because that's how I met Shub, leading him to meet S.

Viv doesn't say much, but I know he does miss his buddy. Every time he goes racing or go-karting anywhere in the world, he always remembers S and says, "Need to come back here with S."

So I was really amazed at this sudden rendezvous in the middle of a road trip on the other side of the world. It turns out that Viv went for a run (he has a target of 600 km to run in 2016, so he runs even when he's on holiday), and the Runkeeper app notified S about it. S sent him a message asking him if he really was running in Fremont, as he had just landed in SFO on work! The rest, as they say, is history.

It's so heartwarming to see technology bringing people together. :)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for zonked

Yeh kahaaaaaaaannnnnn aa gaye hum.... 

To the end of the A-Z marathon 2016!

I'm zonked out all right.

And as I wrap up for the month, a few thoughts crop up in my head.
  • Yaaaahooooooo it's over! :D
  • Oh no, it's over... :(
  • Why is it that I can effortlessly (well, most of the time) write 26 posts in a month, and yet I struggle to write like 26 more in the remaining 11 months? That is a seriously sad statistic.
  • My search history this month is full of 'words that start with...'
  • This is my third year doing the A-Z marathon. Compared to the last two years, I definitely had fewer panic attacks this time. However, it was not like I breezed through all the letters. At times, I'd be cutting it too close. (In my world, cutting it too close means sitting at the comp at 10 am and not knowing what to write for the day.)
  • My sis-in-law keeps pointing out how unfair it is that I have a great source of posts in Xena, and so such blogathons are so easy for me. I won't deny that. A lot of the posts are indeed outsourced to Xena. So I have advised my sis-in-law to promptly make arrangements for procuring a child. (This has to be the best reason to have a kid, yeah? The A-Z blog marathon.)
  • At times, panic-inducing (and rather embarrassing) questions would pop up in my head in the middle of the night, such as "Errr... did I write W today? Wait, W does come after V right? Riiiiight????"
  • There were times when I would be out of ideas and would go through all possible words starting with a particular letter. Take 'T for transformer', for example. However, I had nothing beyond the title. I have a picture of Xena with her transformer, but I possibly couldn't write a post that went, "This is my kid. She is playing with her transformer. It is not a doll dressed in pink. The sight of this makes me happy. Kthxbai." Or when I thought of 'P for pani puri', the post would have been something like this. "I love pani puri. As I've mentioned 83984739875 times on my blog. Kthxbai." 
  • The list of posts that never got written is rather long. Some are just heart-breaking. Sample this. There was a pigeon's nest right outside Xena's bathroom window, but it was too out of the way for her to see it. So I used to climb on a stool, extend my hand out of the window, reach as far as I could with my phone and take daily photos of the nest to show Xena. I photographed the nest over months, from the time it was being built to the time two little eggs popped up to the time they hatched and two little pigeon chicks made their appearance. I observed them getting fed by their parents, growing, huddling when it rained, hopping out of the nest closer and closer to the ledge but not really having the courage to take the plunge. It was the sweetest little project Xena and I were doing together, and I thought once the chicks flew away, maybe I'd write a photo post - 'P for pigeon' or 'N for nest'. However, tragedy struck. Another pigeon couple wanted to take over the nest and viciously attacked the chicks, until they were bleeding from their heads. The parents tried to defend the chicks for a while, but soon, they gave up. It was horrible. I would spray water to make the attackers go away, but when I'd come back from Xena's school, I'd see fresh injuries. One day, the smaller chick simply disappeared. I try to tell myself that it flew away, but deep in my heart, I know it wasn't ready. It was probably pushed off. A few days later, the other chick disappeared too. I was so put off by the whole thing I decided not to do the photo post. How on earth do you end a post like that?
  • I hope readers will forgive the (sometimes horrendous) typos and mistakes in several of the posts. I can't even blame autocorrect. It's me. Sometimes, my thoughts tumble out of my head onto my keyboard so rapidly that there simply isn't enough bandwidth for pausing and reading. And after you've written a Mahabharata of a post, its sheer length is so daunting that proofreading goes out of the window. 
  • Of course, I had the usual doubts about some of the posts. Gosh, I'm gonna get mega-judged for this post. Gosh, does this photo post have too many photos? Gosh, is the quiz too easy? Gosh, what if everyone hates Fan and never ever trusts my reviews? Was I objective enough or did I let my love for SRK get the better of me? (I suspect it's the latter.) 
  • But then there were also instances when after I typed something out, my head felt clearer. I was very impressed by the Konmari book all right, but only after writing the K post, the motivation to Konmari the heck out of my place really shot up. Similarly, after writing the O post where I talked about how I want to judge less and rant less about ranters, I feel myself making a conscious move towards achieving these goals. 
Thank you, bewdas and bewdis, for being there with me again this year. I have finished replying to all your emails, and over the next few days, will be replying to all the comments on the posts. And after that, I (and the bar) will go into deep hibernation.

Only for a while, I hope.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for you

Yes, you, my dear readers, my dear bewdas and bewdis!

A big 'Aao thakur!' to those of you who have been frequenting the bar for years (some for almost a decade even) as well as those who are relatively new.

You guys get a lot of info about me from my posts, but I don't know much about you, unless you reveal it through a comment or an email. But as I discovered last year through my 'T is for traffic' post, my blog stats are a good way for me to find out a little bit about you.

Where do you live?

All time (Who is reading from Ukraine??)

This month (Close race between the desis and the Amreekans)

How did you get here?

All time

This month

Which posts did you read the most?

All time (Veshtiman surfaces again...)

This month (omg my gyaan beat Konmari's!)

What were you searching for when you landed on my blog?

All time (the veshti wins the bronze!)

This month (Emraan Hashmi does look good in specs, hehe! In fact, ten years ago, I'd written a whole post about it. Yikes!)

So there -- all your little secrets are out! You can delete your search history all you want, but you and I will always know that you were googling stuff like 'veshti' and 'Emraan Hashmi' when you landed on my blog. Muahahahaha!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for xièxie nĭ

"Lăoshī, even I know the song now! I can sing almost half of it!" I proudly told Xena's Chinese teacher.

We were in the middle of a school excursion at the Botanical Gardens. She stopped in her tracks, gave Xena a suspicious look and asked, "What song?"

"The latest one. She sings it all day! The one that goes... (and I actually started singing) 'Mummy mummy, xièxie nĭ'..." [Mummy, mummy, thank you...]

"WHAT?" She looked distraught.

Then she turned to Xena.

"Xenaaaaaaa..." She exclaimed. "Why did you tell herrrr???"

"Tell me what? What's going on?" I was lost.

"It was supposed to be a Mother's Day surprise. We have been rehearsing for days. I had told the kids not to tell their mommies that they were learning this song." She looked crestfallen.

I didn't know how to console her. I could not un-know what I knew. So, erm, we went our ways.

Much later, perhaps having realised the gravity of her actions, Xena turned to me and said rather seriously, "Mama, there is another surprise Mother's Day song. But I can't tell you what it is, ok?"

"Ok." I said thoroughly amused. "But why not?" I teased, expecting to hear, "Because it's a surprise!"

"Because I don't know it yet. We will learn it next week."

I controlled my laughter with much difficulty and not knowing what else to say, gave her a big hug.

Xièxie nĭ, my baby, for always telling me everything.

Pliss to be continuing such behaviour in the future too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for wit

When the three of us are having a meal together, no devices such as phones/iPad/laptop are allowed at the table. That's a time for conversations and catch-ups only.

The other day, I was in the kitchen, making uttappams for breakfast, while Viv was at the table with Xena, trying to coax her to finish her milk. (It usually takes her about half an hour to finish a cup of milk.)

Suddenly I heard unmistakable cricket-ground sounds.

"What's happening?" I asked from the kitchen.

"Mama, Daddy is watching cricket. He's not supposed to, but he just wants to watch and watch and watch!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. He's a watchman."