Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Once upon a Snugli :).

As usual I have a hugggggggggge backlog of Snugli stories (they keep piling up since something happens everyday :-D, sometimes even twice/thrice a day), so I thought why not put some of them up for her birthday :-D. She imitates us day-to-day in mannerisms, words and gestures and its simply confounding :-D. For example, a few months ago, she kept repeating the phrase "Enu samachaara illa" ("there is no news") whenever she spoke to both sets of grandparents (which amused them to no end and hence they kept asking for more :-D). I'm certain she learnt it from one or either of us :-D. Whenever I would do something with my camera, she used to make a mock-camera with her Lego blocks (loves them and is always constructing "buildings" :-D) and would pretend to take pics. Now a days we have another point and shoot in place, which she demands to handle and I'm very proud to say, has taken several snaps of us with :). I usually have a habit of kissing her Good morning while waking her up. The days I missed, she'd demand "Kiss Kodu" ("Give me a kiss") :-D. She sings so many rhymes whenever we don't ask her to and becomes awfully quiet whenever we do :-p.

These days she likes making a big fuss out of small hurts - for example, she falls down and cries loudly at the top of her voice, just to be cuddled by me. And no matter that its me who yells at her and spanks her, she always comes to me with kisses and hugs. Sri is the softer one and he hardly gets anything :-D. I guess thats the bond between a mother and a child :).

Now lets get on with the stories :).


One day, a couple of months ago, we were both having bread for breakfast. I don't really like eating plain bread while she does. So I put some pickle (Indian red chilly pickle not vinegar stuff they call pickle here) inbetween 2 slices and she immediately wants to know what I've put in it. I show her the pickle and her comment in English is -

"Mmmmm that is nicccce!"

Don't know till now where she learnt it from :-D.


Summertime, as I've said before, we'd head to the playground now and then. But if Sri or me were too tired, we couldn't really say the word "park" aloud too much. because once she hears the word, then she would insist on going. So we would spell it out P-A-R-K. Guess what, she soon learnt to associate the spelling with the word and soon started saying "P-A-R-K hogona" herself :-D. We had to change the word to Udhyanavana, park in Kannada, which I'm pretty sure will be understood in the next summer :).


Whenever Sri and I try to hide something from her oh-so-sensitive ears and talk softly, she comes and shouts at us "Hmmmm? Enuuuuuuuuuu? Enande?" ("Hmmm? What? What did you say?"). Hehehee, grandma wants all the details :-D.


One day, I had made avalakki oggarane (a breakfast item with flattened rice - thick poha). I have a habit of using lots of veggies in my cooking and usually have carrots, peppers and edamaame (soya beans) in that particular item. I was feeding her, when suddenly she pointed to an edamaame and said "Edamaame Snigdha na nodthide" ("Edamaame is seeing Snigdha"). When I laughed, she ate the edamaame and said "Edamaame gulum maadbitte" ("I swallowed that edamaame") and grinned :-D.


When we get out of the house, she knows most of the time, the general direction of where we need to go. There is an intersection about a mile from our house, where we go straight to get to her library and take a right for most other places. You can take a right and get to the library, but it'll obviously be a longer route. I did that one day and was promptly reminded by her highness that to get to the library I had to go straight and not take a right :-p.

Most of the times, when we are going for our weekly shopping or any of our eating expeditions, one of the regular questions we get asked when we reach that intersection is "Naana, straight hogbeka? Right hogbeka" ("Dad, do we need to go straight? Or do we need to go right?")!! Moreover if we go right, she knows that we approach a particular road (which is a freeway ring road around the city) and asks "New circle road hogbeka?" ("Do we take the New circle road?"). God!! Plus she can point to where her doc office and another library are once we are on the New circle road (you can't see the buildings from the road as such, but she knows the particular exits!).

Past couple of days, because of the slick icy roads, we took a different route while coming home (went straight instead of right at an intersection) and got to see lots of Christmas lights. Just today when we were coming home, Sri took our normal route of turning right and she says "Naana, straight hogu, Christmas lights nodbeku" ("Dad, go straight! I want to see the Christmas lights!"). They are becoming more and more brilliant, I tell you!


While we are on the road, another thing she knows about are the traffic lights. We have taught her that red says stop and green means go. But you know that traffic rules aren't that simple. Here in the US, most intersections have free rights albeit you have to yield to the vehicles who have right of way (like free left turn in India - since its opposite lane driving here). So yeah, when we do take a free right, with the traffic light showing red, you can guess her question - "Amma, yaake hogtha iddiya? Red ide" ("Mom, why are you going? Its red!").

Similarly, if there is no green arrow but a normal green light, you have to yield to the vehicles in the opposite direction before you take a left turn (yielding means wait until there are no vehicles in the opposite direction. If you have a green arrow, then you have the right of way and don't need to wait for anyone). So yeah, you can guess again, when its green and I am not going but waiting, she literally shouts "Hogu, yaake hogtha illa? Green ide!" ("Go, why aren't you going? Its green!"). Hehehee, I still can't explain the road rules to her - I just say we need to wait, until the vehicles coming in front pass. But sometimes it can be stressful to say the least ;-).


We have video calls with her grand parents every weekend (one set Saturday and one set Sunday). One day when we were connected to Sri's parents, they asked her whether she had her milk and when she answered affirmatively, her thaatha, paternal grandfather, asked her "What about some milk for me?". She replies instantly - "Thanthange naanamma ready maadthaare" ("Naanamma will prepare some for thaatha") :-D. Ensured several rounds of laughter around :).


One good thing about Snugli (there are several good things about her :-D), is that whenever she takes something and plays with it, she usually remembers where she left it last. Once I was searching for Sri's mobile and knew she had been playing with it last. Not finding it, I asked her where it was and she told me it was on the table. I again searched and later learned that it was under a hat on the table ;-).

Well, one day, we went shopping and when Sri took out his wallet to pay, he found his driver's license missing. He asked me to take over the driving (since we didn't want to get caught at the wrong time and I had my DL with me) and once we reached home, searched at all the usual places in no vain. Remembering that Snugli was last seen playing with it, he thought of asking her about it, but didn't know whether she'd know the word for it. So he showed her my DL and asked where his was. She doesn't hesitate the least, goes straight to the computer table, climbs up and pulls it out of one of the floppy nooks! If she hadn't remembered, we wouldn't have found it for a long long time, maybe months together!


Now that she goes to school, she is slowly, step by step, learning to speak English, especially with an accent. Most of times, she just speaks some accented gibberish but yeah, there are some times, when she really scares me that she's turning into a little Miss American :-D. Several examples:

1) Sri pretends to be ill around her just to hear her ask "Naana, what happened? Are you okay?" in perfect American accent :-D.
2) One day she asked me if I saw her toy and when I said I didn't (in Kannada), she says "I didn't see it either". I was shocked to hear her use "either" :-D.
3) One day, the DVD player remote was nowhere to be found. Since she is usually the one playing with it, we asked her where it was. Her response? "DVD remote? I don't know!" with the accent, the gestures, everything :).
4) There was a time, she would say "Oh my Gosh!" for everything. Don't know whether she learnt it from school or one of the TV shows :).

These are very small examples. She usually pronounces normal English words with accent, words which she couldn't possibly hear in school. Which makes me think that they learn the syllable accent, rather than the words themselves :). My in-laws are already worried that they'll not understand her anymore after a few months. Well, I have to admit to that worry myself :-D. Which is why I have started to insist that she speak either Kannada or Telugu at home..


Talking of school, she knows most of her classmates (she calls all of them her friends) by name. I have heard her mention more than 12 children by name and she has about 18 classmates. Plus she tells stories about how one boy was naughty and was given a time-out, or about the cartoons they watched, or how they went to the playground and she fell or how she played "burger party" with a girl. I love hearing these day-to-day reports :-D.

Plus she loves school - we sent her only for half-day the Friday this week and she asked me about 10 times why she wasn't going to school and how much she wants to go there :-\. Even if she's ill, she wants to go. I'm very happy to see her enthusiasm for school, but a cynical part of me does wonder how long this is going to last :-D.


The days she is at home, she's literally hyper active. I have to keep a continuous eye on her no matter what I'm doing. One minute, she's pulling a stool to wash dishes in the kitchen sink (or try and drink water from the dirty dishes!), the other minute, she's drawing on the walls. The next minute she's up on a chair trying to access something she can't and the very next she's jumping either on the sofa or on the table. One day, she locked a bathroom door and jumped up and down till I opened it, only to dump some toys in the sink and try to wash them! She loves the bathroom sink, insists on washing her hands herself and usually this hand-washing business lasts for many minutes until one of us shouts at her to come out of the bathroom :-D. Another day, a package arrived for Sri and she insisted on it being opened. I told her to wait until her dad came home (because I wasn't really interested in one of his technical toys :-D) and turned away for a moment. The next moment I see her trying to cut open the package herself with scissors! When I warned her, she put away the scissors, but turned the package up and down wondering whats in it. The moment Sri was inside the house, she brought the package to him and asked him to open it, the curious kitten. So you can see how exciting it is to have her at home :-D.


Another thing I have seen her do in recent times, is pretend. Her imaginations is growing leaps and bounds and its fun to see her implement that with her toys. For example, I saw her take one of her teddy bears to potty the other day and say good job :-D (I immediately insisted that she do so with the toilet lid closed, because I was afraid of her dunking a stuffed toy in the toilet :-p). I have seen her give timeouts to her toys. The other day, she made her stuffed toy sit in her high chair, fed it some food from an utensil, made it drink water with her water bottle, wiped its face and got it down with a good job :-D. Whats more, I have even seen her giving bath to her stuffed cat toy in the bathroom sink (it was half wet by the time I found out). Fun times :).


Snugli loves books. I still take her to the library twice a week and we make it a point to read atleast 2 books twice a week. If she's been very naughty, sometimes she gets a choice in punishments - either a timeout (sometimes replaced with 2 spankings) or no reading that day. She usually insists on the timeout or the spanking instead of the no reading :-D. Plus, recently I have even see her go through the books once I have read to her and go over some of the phrases or expressions herself - generally telling the story in her own few words :).


Lastly, another thing these days she has an increased awareness of, is time. She usually associates the morning with sunrise (whenever Sri tries to wake her up in the morning and she can't see the sun yet, she literally shouts at him to leave her alone and that Good morning hasn't happened yet :-D) and the nights with sunset (which might not be too accurate since in winters the sun sets by 5PM here :-p). But thats not what I'm talking about.

Remember that she can't read a clock yet. Just 2 days back, she woke up after a nap of just 1 hour - slept at 1 PM and woke up at around 2PM. She was lying down for quite sometime and later played for a long time while I was watching something. Suddenly at about 4:30 PM she comes and tells me "Naanange call maadu. Kelsa idya antha keLU. 4:30 aaithu yaake bandilla innu?" ("Call dad. Ask him whether he has work. Its 4:30, why hasn't he come home yet?"). I called Sri and passed the phone to her, just so that she can pester him with the very same words I generally use ;-) (he's usually back home by 4:30 Pm or 5PM in the evening, and if he gets late, I usually call him).

I still don't know how she found out the time. There are digital clocks in the kitchen on the conventional and microwave ovens, but I don't think it was that. It was more of a body clock thing where she realized it was evening. But the "4:30" might have come from imitating me, because when it crosses 4:30 PM in the evening and Sri hasn't come home yet, I can usually be found muttering the very same thing she said :-D.


And so the stories go on..

My fierce little warrior has been ill for sometime now. High fever on and off for 4 days got us worried and yesterday, we took her to the doctor and found out that she has some ear infection which is causing the ups and downs. Hopefully she should be alright today, but it has been sad to see her ill during her birthday week as such. Not at all the way we were expecting to celebrate her third birthday.

I keep repeating myself, but I can't believe she is 3 years old today. They grow up oh-so-fast. We are just hanging on, trying not to miss all the "moments" - the good times and the bad, the fun times and the sad, the frustrating times and the glad :). There have been lots of those and I know there'll be many more in the future. And thats what keeps me from looking back and makes me look forward :).

"Happy birthday and loads of love to my not-so-little-anymore Snoogli bear :)."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The update..

Things have been hectic in the Deeps household to say the least. I know it has been quite sometime since my last post and I do have things to write but these days I simply seem to have an aversion to the computer, of all things! (Nice excuse, don't you think? :-D). First of all, we went on this hugggggge trip to Grand Canyon and Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend, so there is a huge travelogue to be written. Around that time, I somehow lost touch with my computer :-D, and somehow didn't have the urge to get back once we did get back. At first I thought it was a good thing (I am finally over my addiction to Mafia wars - a game on facebook I have been avidly playing for an year!), but now its getting in the way of my filtering/editing the photos, writing blog etc. Hopefully will get my enthu back, starting with this post.

Secondly, things have been crazy around Lexington since we got back. Its been snowing almost continuously, so its chilly, cold and cheerless :-p. Plus lucky us got an ice storm a couple of days ago, so every single thing around is frozen. There were these window-pane like ice panels frozen on the car, which I had fun breaking apart today - until one almost fell on my feet and brought me to my senses (most of these are sharp and you could get easily hurt). Plus every sidewalk is slippery - its almost like skating/skiing when you are trying to walk :-p. The temperature went as below as -1 degree Fahrenheit one night which is about -18 degree Celsius :-p. Good times :-p.

Thirdly, Snugli's 3rd birthday is coming up - so we, err I have been running around in preparations for that. Invites, bookings, stocking up on decorations, ordering cakes (yeah plural because she has a party at school) and what not! Plus there was a Christmas party at her school yesterday - in which she and her friends sang a couple of songs (she was totally the enthusiastic one of the troupe :-D, goes after her mom in that :-D), so there were some things needed for that. Sunday is her birthday and her birthday party for our friends here. Today was supposedly her party at school, but since her teacher and about 10 of her friends didn't show up, we postponed it to Monday (this despite my running around to get the cake and balloons for today :-\). Plus Snugli has a doc checkup coming up on Tuesday next week. So next week is all crazy now :-D.

Finally, above all this, Snugli has fallen ill. Poor thing, she has a cough and a fever and has generously passed some of it to Sri and me :-p :-D. She is lots better today, but I'm afraid that its not looking so good for the rest of the household. Hopefully we'll be able to hold it together for the parties ;-). Things just can't get better, can they? :-D.

I'll surely have a post up for Snugli's birthday, so see ya then :).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The fall collection :).

A glimpse of fall colours taken around where I live is up on my facebook page - Through Deepthi's Eyes photography. Fall is my favourite season basically because there is so much to see and appreciate in every direction. Every colour competes to be eye-catching and sometimes its such a pleasure especially during the golden hours (a couple of hours before sunset). Tried to capture some of it (click the pic to see them) :).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Realization dawns..

I have realized that you cannot take anything for granted - not even things that have already happened. Just when you are thinking that everything is going well, life suddenly throws a curve ball and the very next day things might be the total opposite of yesterday.

"Life has a funny way of sneaking upon you when you think everything's okay and everything's going right" - Alanis Morisette in the song "Ironic".

I have realized that pessimism can actually be a good thing sometimes, though this fact is painful to admit for an inherently optimistic person like me. When you are totally optimistic, if things don't go your way, you'll obviously be disappointed. But being pessimistic, the hurt will be much less and if things do work out, the happiness will obviously be more ;-). Well, its not easy to change this intrinsic quality :).

I have realized that some things take time (take their own sweet time actually), no matter how much you pray, you wish or you worry. Bribing Gods only goes so far. Sometimes things happen without even trying and other times, no matter how much your effort is, the return is just not equivalent. This is especially true if you are wishing for something good to happen to someone else other than you. If you are praying and the other person is not really making decisions for the good, then tell me, what can God do to help? If you yourself don't do anything and keep pointing the finger at everyone else, then sorry to say, things will just not go your way..

I have realized that everyone is addicted to something or another. Need not be bad always. People generally hear of the bad addictions like smoking, drinking, drugs etc. But sometimes even religion (as in God), culture (as in not-meaningful-anymore rituals) or even self-obsession can be an addiction. For an example, I'm addicted to travelling, I just cannot sit at home for more than 3 months. I just long to go somewhere and see something. I also cannot do anything half-way. If I get into a new activity and I like it, its usually like building a resume - I have to go deeper into the thing almost to a semi-professional level, if not totally professional. Glad that Sri does understand and support this addiction of mine :).

I have realized that there is no point in arguing with someone with a different point of view, even though you are right in the logic. Some people stick to their opinions like they have been plastered to them with the most potent glue. And just because you fight/argue with them or write lengthy mails explaining it all, things aren't suddenly going to change. Just because you obsess over the right things to say and question your decisions of the mile-long explanations, it doesn't mean that they are doing the same thing or will have regrets about their behavior or apologize to people that have been hurt by their attitudes. Such people exist and though they are totally against the beliefs you have grown up with, you just have to deal with it and accept them.

I have realized that being young is getting to be more difficult these days. It was probably never that easy to begin with, but these days, with all the social networking, nothing you do is private anymore. When I met Sri, I wasn't on Orkut and hadn't heard of Facebook. But these days even though youngsters are subjected to arranged marriages, you can find their profile here or there. And most are public with their friends posting their photos (which can be awkward or embarrassing) or revealing messages. You can even see if you have common friends and find out more. It might be actually good when it comes to potential partners, but I kinda feel that it may lead to judging that person before actually meeting him/her which can sometimes be harmful, when all that he/she has been upto is harmless fun. Its like they cannot catch a break ;-).

I have realized that moms are the same every where :). The languages are different, sometimes even the generations are different, but the concern, care and the attitudes regarding the children are the same (of course there are extreme exceptions to this). The librarian of the library I take Snugli to daily said this to me the other day - "Sometimes when Snugli gets too excited, I have heard you say things to her. Half the time I don't understand what you say to her, but I know the voice. Its the mom voice" :-D. I have also heard moms here speaking to their kids and admonishing them when they touch certain things or do certain things, and hug them when they hurt just like I'd with Snugli :). Its a great feeling of comradeship :).

I have realized that no matter how much you try to convince them, some people living in India believe that living in the US means making loads of money. Though we do earn in dollars, these very same people seem to forget that we also spend in dollars. I know there are probably many people residing in the US who are actually here for that very purpose of making money. But sometimes the people in India just don't understand about not generalizing. Yes, personally speaking, we do have some savings. But our main purpose of being here is family life - Sri gets to be around us everyday, certainly more than a regular software engineer in India (this is what makes me okay with the fact that I don't really have a career these days). He doesn't have to leave early in the morning or stay very late in the evenings or work on weekends. In fact he comes home for lunch. I have seen some cousins/friends in India with zero family life and am grateful to have this while we do. Plus we travel a lot and go to India atleast once every 1.5 years (and carry gifts for everyone around) which doesn't come free. The only way we'll make money is if we win a lottery :-p.

I have realized that a person is as busy as he/she wants to be. Though I don't work, as a mom, I'm pretty busy. But I try and make it a point to blog, put up pictures, make calls, mail friends, wish people on their happy days whenever possible. Its not that I have time to spare, but I make the time, because I don't want to get lost in my day-to-day life. I have always thought that I shouldn't be like others, even though they might not keep me updated with everything, I have always tried to keep them in touch. But recently I have been getting very much irritated at friends/relatives who just don't reciprocate. When I put in the effort of uploading 100s of snaps and writing captions for them, atleast reply and let me know you have seen them, dammit! I know I make sure to keep you updated, but it would be nice to receive a "Hi, how are you?", just a single line mail from you. I am tired of hearing excuses of "Oh I'm too busy". How can anyone be busy to reply a single line or like a photo I put up, I'll never understand. Just how long does it take to type a single line comment? As a friend/relative, can't you spare a few seconds out of your life for me? People with kids keep telling me that they show Snugli's photos to their kids as if thats a consolation. Don't you get it that while you all know Snugli, Snugli doesn't know anyone of you because you don't bother to keep us updated?

I have realized that I'm using this post to clear out a few cob-webs in my head that have been bothering me recently and I'm certainly glad to have ;-) :-D.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Through Deepthi's eyes..

Finally I did it. Presenting the facebook page for my photographic reflections - "Through Deepthi's eyes photography" (or as Sri quips Through-D photography :-D). I hope this encourages me into experimenting more and learn more :).

Click on the pic to see it :).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nannavane (my man)..

Today is the day Sri and I met 6 years ago. Wanted to do something special for that and thought of writing a poem. But when it comes to Sri, I have written so many poems that its very difficult to think of a non-repeating matter :-D. So well, I decided to write in Kannada this time. Its been a long time since I wrote a Kannada poem (probably more than 10-12 years back) and I have never written one for my blog, somehow never wanted to. Well, better late than never. I tried my level best to translate it into English but the feelings weren't being expressed as good, so this one is specially for the Kannada knowing readers of my blog :). You know who it is dedicated to :).


ಕನಸಿನ ನಾನಾ ಗೋಜಲುಗಳಿಂದ
ನನಸಾಗಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಂದವನೆ.
ಮನಸಿನ ಕವಿತೆಯಲಿ ಬೆರೆತು ಅರಿತು
ಬಯಕೆ ಹೂಗುಚ್ಛವ ತಂದವನೆ.

ಮೆಲ್ಲನೆ ಮಾತಲಿ ಎಳೆದು ಸೆಳೆದು
ಹೃದಯದ ಬಾಗಿಲ ತೆರೆದವನೆ.
ಸಲ್ಲದ ನಾಚಿಕೆಯ ಬಂಧವ ಕಡಿದು
ಕೈಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೈ ಹಿಡಿದು ಮೆರೆದವನೆ.

ಆತಂಕ ಆವೇಶಗಳ ಬಡೆದೋಡಿಸಿ
ನನ್ನೆದೆಯಲಿ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಹಡೆದವನೆ.
ಸಂತಸ ದುಃಖಗಳ ಸಪ್ತಪದಿಯನ್ನು
ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಗೆ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಇಟ್ಟು ನಡೆದವನೆ.

ನೋವು ನಲಿವಲ್ಲಿ ಬಾಳ ಸಂಗಾತಿಯಾದ
ಪ್ರಾಣ ಸ್ನೇಹಿತನು ನೀನವನೆ.
ಜೀವನದ ಅನೇಕ ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯಗಳಲಿ
ನನ್ನ ಪಾಲಿನ ವಿಸ್ಮಯ ನನ್ನವನೆ.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The grand past..

Some children are fortunate enough have both their sets of grandparents and get to see the love and affection between the pairs, but I have never been one of those. Since I was born, I had only my grandfather on my dad's side (I called him "Ajja") and my grandmother on my mom's who I called Ammamma. Ajja was there for 15 years of my life when he succumbed to a heart attack (I was studying 10th std then and it happened right before my final exams) leaving us in shock. The only grandparent I had left, my Ammamma, passed away more than 12 days ago on 27th October 2010.

Neither of the grandparents I had, could ever be termed as affectionate, though I do remember Ajja being loving towards Darsh. But it was certainly not what you see in happy movies - grandparents giving hugs and kisses and sweetmeats to the children around. I am not saying this with any regret, because I know what they were, were because of the way they spent their lives - life certainly never was easy on them. And I have a tremendous respect for who they were for basically how my parents are and how in turn they have influenced me and Darsh.

Ajja was a hotelier, though not as grand as the word sounds. He had successful hotels and total failures, the fail part more often than the success part. He would open a hotel in one part of Andhra Pradesh and continue there as long as it was a success. If things were good, he'd sell that one in profit and move on to another place. Same thing with losses, if the hotel turned out to be a loss, there'd be no choice, he'd have to move on. So my dad and his 4 siblings lived all over Andhra. Ajja was mostly a workaholic because he had to feed his family and it didn't help matters when he lost his wife. Dad did get his education, but he had to work all mornings (grinding idli/dosa batter and chutneys) and once he came back from school as a waiter. I remember him telling me that they couldn't even afford oil lamps at home and that he studied under street lamps. When things were good, he got money to watch cinemas, but until he was about 16 or 18 (I think), he didn't even have footwear. But being the son of a Udupi hotel owner, he atleast had enough to eat. My mom didn't.

BharaNi nakashatra-davaru onda dharaNi aaLthaare athwa beraNi thaTthaare.

Meaning "The people born under the BharaNi star either rule the earth or make cow-dung patties" (implying either they'll be either very rich or very poor). My mom always uses this quote about Ammamma adding that she saw both. Ammamma was born to a very rich and very orthodox family. She was married off at a very young age and mom tells me that she was sent to her in-laws in a Chinnada pallakki (gold carriage). Her in-laws were very well-off too, but her husband was a different case. My maternal grandfather was a total gambler - the only 2 accomplishments I can list of his are gambling and making babies. He drank away all of the riches and died leaving Ammamma with 5 children (she also had a couple of miscarriages) and thankfully, a house to live in. She had some cows, so she sold the milk and earned some money. But it wasn't enough when it came to feeding her children. I think she even cooked and helped out in houses, but she hardly had anything to eat. She sent away my mom to her mother's place for some years and later to her elder daughter's place (my doDDamma was married and with her family then) for some more years. Staying with her grandparents and then her elder sister, mom was a bit better off, but it didn't mean that she wallowed in luxury, the opposite in fact. Things were difficult there too and to this day mom says that she'd have preferred to live with her family than anywhere else (which is why she never entertained the idea of sending me or Darsh away anytime). Even later, when she came back home, things weren't better. Ammamma would make sure all the kids got food, but for herself, she'd walk miles to the Udupi maTa (where they serve food for the poor) to get a belly-full food once a day, bearing all insults and evil eyes around.

Things didn't get any better for a few more years until my parents found jobs - my dad did his bachelors in Science and got a job, while my mom applied right after her 2nd PUC and got one (she completed her bachelors in arts degree later through correspondence). My mom was able to request her boss into considering her brother for a job and from then on, there was a lot of improvement in that house. Ajja didn't give up on his ventures until my parents got married and even after coming to stay with his eldest son, he still wanted to be independent and had a shop running for quite sometime (oh yeah that reminds me, he'd get me candies from his shop - so there was bit of sweetmeats :-D). From then on Ajja was quite happy living with us. Being a hotelier, he would interfere in the kitchen and cause some amount of irritation to mom, so there were the usual bickering now and then (but I think my mom learnt a lot about cooking either from him or due to the competition :-D and to this day according to me, she is one of the best cooks around). But things were getting better by the day - all his children were pretty much settled and his death, when he passed away was very much unexpected. He was one of the healthiest people around and had gone on one of his trips to Mysore - when he saw the Nanjangud temple after many years and we don't know what happened, his heart simply gave out that night. He was at my cousin's place and by the time we drove there (I still remember dad driving like a maniac that night), he had had a 2nd massive heart attack and was gone.

Today I still picture Ajja sometimes - he'll always be this old man in a white panche to me, very fond of his nashya dabba (snuff powder box) and talking a lot and making yummy khaara mixtures and gulab jaamun at home (for the mixture he'd make 5 to 6 different things and we'd keep running to the kitchen to sneak stuff, obviously getting scoldings in return :-D). I remember him at every happy occasion at home, when my dad bought a house, when I got a job, when I got married and later when I had Snugli. Every time I wish he was there to see and enjoy the occasion with us.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Ammamma was doing well - taking care of the birth of grandchildren and basically taking care of the grandchildren themselves. She has taken care of some of us when we were ill, when our parents couldn't attend to us and so on and so forth. As we grew up, she grew into this old lady who lived with one of her sons but travelled to our place often (once a year atleast for 3 months) and we grand kids would love to tease her. But recently as she grew to her 80s, she had become quite weak and travelling had become difficult for her. She was not really in a good shape when she came to Snugli's namakarNa, but I was glad that she was able to make it.

Last year, she fell ill pretty badly and I was very worried about her. So in our India trip, I made it a point to make a quick trip to Udupi to see her (which now I am very glad I did) - it was literally a flying visit. She had some memory problems then - she's ask the same questions again and again, forget that she had just eaten etc, but she was looking well. But after we came back here, things got a lot worse. Her health deteriorated and she even had a fall which resulted in a brain stroke. After that she didn't recognize anyone. My cousin who grew up under her care got married there just about a month back and she didn't recognize her own children and grandchildren. She didn't talk much, had incontinence and later even got bed-sores which resulted in her getting admitted to a hospital. Mom was inconsolable, but Ammamma couldn't even talk about what she was going through and how she was suffering. It was a miserable time for everyone. Just about 20 days back, she had even stopped eating and was being given liquids through a food pipe. We actually had started praying for her suffering to end..

Yet when I heard the news of her passing away, it still somehow came as a shock. One part of me was glad - she didn't have to suffer any longer, while the other was very sad - I lost the only grandparent I had, my future child if any, will never even have the opportunity of interacting with her like Snugli did. I have a photo of hers with Snugli on a wall and I find myself going to it and wishing she is in a good place. Ammamma also had a heart attack and she was almost 90. The most clear memory I have of her is of her sitting on her cot at nights, eating adike (arekanuts) which she was very fond of and powdering karpura (camphor) to put in the eyes and cool them. I remember her voice and some of the things we'd make fun of. Some part of me still cannot believe she's not around anymore, but I'm glad we had her until now.

One of the reasons why I admire my parents so much is because they are products of their past (I wasn't always in awe of them, when I was in my teen years I thought the whole world was conspiring against me, but I digress :-D). They didn't have everything on their side, everything going for them, yet they made something of themselves. Theirs is one of the personal success stories that I've seen and though neither I nor Darsh have had difficult circumstances while growing up, we were taught to appreciate where they came from. I see people day to day blaming everything from their parents, to their past, to their circumstances, i.e everything except themselves for what they are today and I get really irritated at them. Yes your past matters to some extent, but you can always overcome it. If you insist on not doing anything and keep finding someone or the other to place the blame on, your situation is not going to get any better. My parents never gave up and neither did my grandparents.

I can only hope that I have inherited a little bit of the persistence, the strength and the resolve to go on, no matter how bad the circumstances, how dire the consequences and how hard the times are. I can only hope that I can bring up my child(ren) how my parents have brought us up and teach them to appreciate the sacrifices and the hard work of their grandparents. I can only hope that my grandparents are in a happy place and will be watching over us for time to come. I can only hope..

Sunday, October 17, 2010

To swim against the tide :)

It all started a long time back when I was about 12 years old. It was summertime, Darsh and I were attending a swimming summer-camp for about 30 days. It was all good until about 15 days. I had been taught the front stroke and was in the process of getting to know diving. That was when the incident happened :-D.

I remember only bits and pieces, not the entire thing (it has been more than 18 years!). We had these 2 kids living in the house right in front of ours then and we used to play together a lot :). I remember we were playing one of our games, probably some kind of a run and catch game when it happened. I fell and my right knee got scraped pretty bad. It wasn't really a scrape, it was as if all the flesh on my knee had been cut open (I don't know to this day what I fell upon to cause it to rupture like that but the speculation is that it was a part of dad's scooter :-D). There was some white visible stuff underneath all the blood (this is what Darsh keeps insisting scarred him for life :-D. Again don't know whether they were some kind of nerves or bones exposed!)). Thankfully dad was at home and immediately took me to the nearest physician, who was also our family doctor.

Well, the first concern was not really a scar, but to close the opening as soon as possible. The doc could have suggested me to be taken to a hospital, but he decided to stitch me up himself. I was given a tetanus shot and stitched up. Don't know the number of stitches, but I know it was pretty bad, because that opening was certainly bigger than my forehead one. My leg was bandaged and I was told to keep it as straight as possible (not to fold it) and keep it dry. There went my dream of becoming a swimming star :-D. To be honest, I never had that dream, but really wanted to learn swimming, so was very much disappointed. Imagine sitting at home with a stiff leg for 21 days while Darsh went swimming and being told enough stories to get me all jealous :-p.

After the 21 days I did recover and my leg has been okay (except for this ugly scar on my knee :-D). I did go swimming now and then, to practice the only stroke I knew how - the front crawl. I wasn't very good at it, but somehow never tried to take a class again. Indian swimming pools, to be very honest, aren't the most comfortable places for women as such and I would feel extremely conscious whenever I did go. But knowing what I know now, I wish I could have taken a class and improved my swimming lots earlier. Better late than never I guess :).

After I came to the US, I went swimming lots of times and took water fitness classes. I always had this idea running on the back of my mind that I should take classes and polish (to put it very lightly :-D) my skills. But I was somehow very embarrassed. Had so many "what ifs" running through my mind. I mean I had been told all my life that swimming is learnt best when you are young (same with cycling). What if I was too old to learn? What if everyone else in the class is young and I stand out? What if I was would waste away the money without results? So in the 4 years I had been here, I just went to and fro and never ventured into it.

I don't know what changed in November 2009. But something did. I think it might have been that we were thinking of enrolling Snugli into a swimming class and I wanted to be proficient around her :-D. I mean, I had seen parents guiding their children in deep water and I wanted to be that parent :). One day, I finally said "What the heck! Lets do it and think later" and registered for the class. I am a member of the local YMCA so it cost just an additional $26 for 8 classes which was not too bad. In the first class, I was relieved to a huge extent - I was the only one taking that class (2 classes later I was joined by another student who actually had hydrophobia and I was in total awe of her for even getting into water, but the first 2 classes were exclusively mine) and that my teacher was a young lady (very much younger than me :-D). The latter part turned out to be inspirational rather than disheartening because it was good to have a younger teacher who swims so well. The best thing was that she understood exactly what I wanted.

My front crawl, though I was able to swim a couple of laps, wasn't refined at all. I had practiced what I remembered from my summer camp (which wasn't much to go on) and I would always be out of breath at the end of half a lap. Which certainly implied that I was doing it all wrong. First of all I wanted to get that corrected and then learn all the different strokes (I could float on my back, but always failed when I tried doing the back stroke. The other strokes, I hadn't even tried till then). Another major thing for me was that I had never learned to keep myself afloat in the deep end, so though I wasn't really scared of the water, I was very much afraid of the deep end. I mean though I would go out to the deep end, I would always be afraid that if I lose breath somewhere in the middle, I have nowhere to go. So there was lots to learn in mere 8 classes :-D.

As I mentioned, the teacher immediately started pointing out the flaws in my front crawl and giving me tips on how to improve the moves. One of the first things she mentioned was to get a good pair of goggles (they let you see where you are going which help the confidence level, plus keep the chlorine out of your eyes). I hadn't bought anything as of then, so that was fine. She also suggested I don't buy nose plugs because once you get used to them, its difficult to swim without them. As far as the front stroke went, first of all I wasn't keeping my body straight and as much afloat in the water as possible. Secondly when reaching out for the next stroke, my arms weren't as out of water as they should be and hence they were slowing me down. Other than this, my breathing technique wasn't really proper (I wasn't breathing out inside the water and instead was trying to do it all - breathe out and in when I came up for air) which was tiring me out majorly.

Obviously I couldn't make all the changes in one go. If I concentrated on the breathing, I would forget about the arms. If I concentrated on the leg movement, I would forget the breathing. So the first couple of classes were tough on me. I had only one class per week, but I went twice a week to practice all I was told to. I also made it a point to pin-point my doubts and ask the teacher those particular queries. By the third class, my teacher actually said that she could see a conscious improvement (I didn't really believe her, yet :-D). Thats when she decided to teach me the breaststroke. Now that redefined "difficult" for me :-D.

The breaststroke has totally different moves compared to the front crawl. The arm movement is different, the leg movement is different, the breathing is different, basically just about everything is different :-D. For a person who has just been doing the front stroke for a long long time, it was like a different reality. The arm movement pushes the water outwards horizontally while the legs push the water out vertically. I kinda got the arm movement pretty fast, but the leg movement - I would simply forget and switch to the front stroke related leg movement, which certainly wasn't helping :-D. The arm and leg movement in a stroke obviously work together to propel the swimmer forward. So mix and match hardly ever works :-D. I still don't know how I got through that one, only that it required tremendous amounts of concentration. Now the breaststroke is one of the easiest strokes for me and I love it :).

I think it was in the 4th class that my teacher noticed that when asked to swim a lap, I would stop at the spot where I can still reach the ground and come back. Thats when I told her that I was a wee bit afraid that mid-way through the deep end, I would struggle and would have to be "rescued" :-D. So her method was simple, she asked me to get to the deep water, convinced me that even if I go down, it was hardly 12 feet, so I could come up very easily (I knew it but sometimes fear doesn't have logic :-D). And she showed me a move to keep myself afloat. It was a softer version of the breast stroke, standing up in the water rather than laying on the stomach. One point she stressed was that each person will have a point of balance on which they can do the movement and the trick was to find that point. In the subsequent practices on my own, I would force myself to go to the deep end and try different ways to keep myself afloat. I lost the so-called fear of deep end in the 4th class itself and started enjoying being there where my legs just can't reach the ground :).

I was also taught the backstroke in the 4th class. Yup, lots of things going on simultaneously :-D. As I said before I knew how to float on my back and it was only a matter of learning how to kick the legs out and the arm strokes backwards. The difficulty lies in the aspect that whenever you are getting the arms out of the water or putting them in, any splash of water can straight hit your face and in turn your nose, causing panic :). So the trick is to soften those 2 moves (for each arm, so total 4 times per each complete stroke) - when the arm is coming out of the water, use the thumb and when going in, use the side of the palm (rather than the palm itself which can result in an unwanted splash of water) :). So to learn the stroke itself wasn't that difficult, but these little tips were (again needed a lot of concentration).

The teacher did miss out one week in between the 4th and the 5th (and later b/w the 5th and the 6th), so it did give me lots of classes inbetween to practice :). The 5th class (again seeing my improvement), she taught me the butterfly stroke. Now this is the most difficult, the grand-daddy of them all :-D. The main problem of the stroke is that it uses the entire body, so there is no part of the body that is not exercized. And since it requires all of the body parts, it also needs lot of concentration, plus lots of stamina. In addition, its THE stroke for abdominal exercise, because it uses the core as the strength. The leg movement is the key (called the dolphin kick), coupled with the body movement, that give the swimmer the ability to actually push the upper body out of the water. Also there is a very tiny breathing window (actually a breath every other stroke is suggested, but I still have to take a breath every stroke ;-) :-D). Needless to say, I still haven't got this one perfect till now. I do try to do atleast 2 laps each time I swim, but every half-a-lap I have to stop for breath. My kicks aren't yet synchronized with the arm movement (there are 2 kicks to each stroke), so lots of practice ahead.

I did go the 6th week, to gather more little details and tips to make it all better. By this time December end had arrived and we had to leave for our India trip. The teacher and I decided to take it up once I was back, but you knew what happened after I came back - with my not keeping well and later the incident :-D. Even later when I wanted to, the teacher had some exams going on (she is still a student in our local university), so it got postponed again. So to this day, we haven't got a chance to get back to the 2 remaining classes. I want to improve my butterfly, learn flip turn (a great help in lapping without stopping - tried it a couple of times, but its been a long time since I have done any paltis, so my head reeled :-D) and learn on-the-spot diving (tried it, but my ears ring, so I'm sure there must be a trick to it :-D). Well, its been almost an year, so maybe I'll actually take further classes some other time.

Right now, I swim twice a week (thinking of making it thrice a week from next week onwards :-D). I have come a long way from someone who used to swim about 4 to 6 laps in an hour. Now-a-days I swim minimum 12 laps in half an hour including warm-up and inbetween flexibility exercizes. The routine is usually 2 front crawls, 2 breaststrokes, 1 butterfly and 1 backstroke, 2 times. Plus another 2 laps in the end as relaxation laps where its a lazy swim :). I love breaststroke and enjoy frolicking in the deep end. As for the rest, I am still practicing keeping my legs up in the front crawl (which I've heard improves the speed), keeping my concentration in the backstroke (lying on my back tends to get me wool-gathering and I forget the tricks until I get a splash on my nose :-D) and trying to improve everything about my butterfly. I've been complimented a couple of times on my swimming (which I cannot believe as I still feel very incompetent sometimes :-\) and I am very proud of what I have achieved :). I have been trying to convince Sri to take up some classes (he knows swimming, but he is not comfy with any strokes other than the front crawl just like I was an year ago), but well, he is still dilly-dallying :-D.

I still cannot believe that one year ago I even had the hesitation. One thing the whole experience has taught me is that a person is never too old to try something new. I mean, yes there maybe a hesitation, there maybe embarrassment, but believe me, its all worth it. It helped me prove to myself that this old dog can learn new tricks and oh man, is there a lot more to learn :).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

'Destin'ations old and new :)

Oh man, its been a month since the trip to Florida already and I still haven't put it up. Well, I did have to edit/filter out the photos (which was awaiting the month end), plus upload them before I wrote this post, so that I don't have to upload them twice :-p. Excuses, excuses. Per kya kare? I have so much to write and literally very little time. Wonder what would have happened had I actually been working?

Anyways, we went to Destin, Florida, the Gulf coast, on the Labour day weekend. We had been to the same place about 3 years back before Snugli was born and para-sailed there. Though it was cold when we went that time, we loved the clear waters and white sand beaches and wanted to go there again. Well, the time was now :-D.

Sri did suggest camping at a lake around 2.5 hours south of us and trying some adventures there, but Destin seemed more attractive. The only thing we were worried about was the much talked about oil spill and the impact there. But after much research it seemed like that was alright. And so we packed the 3rd September 2010 day and headed out afternoon on the drive. I'm not going to put up the route map again, its pretty much same as the previous one (except that we didn't go to Pensacola at all this time).

Driving with an almost 3-year old Snugli is much easier these days. I mean I hardly need to pack any food except for snacks, because she's not fussy about eating stuff on road - loves pizza, pasta and tacobell chalupas (and one of these can be found almost any place :-D). I did take some toys and books for her, but again she enjoys seeing stuff on road (points to every damn thing from water tanks to power lines). She recognizes hotel rooms, gas stations (petrol bunks) and various restaurants, points them out and shouts until we make a response. For eg:

"Amma McDonald's. McDonald's. McDonald's! Amma Kelsitha? McDonald's" (Kelsitha means "did you hear?")

That can be a bit frustrating, to say the least :-D. But it does have it uses ;-). Also she loves music of any kind - so basically its easy to keep her occupied on the road :-D. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is going to be so for a while :).

As we generally do, we drove halfway to a town in Alabama (having dinner on the way at Woodlands, Nashville, TN - vegetarian South Indian food, yummmmmm :-D) to stay for the night (the time from then onwards in central standard time, so an hour early compared to home). The view outside the hotel the next morn before we left:

We drove all morning and it was after lunch that we reached our hotel in Destin. The order of business for the day first? Jet-skiing!!

We were worried about Snugli's reaction to the entire thing. But well, at first she sat in the front and fiddled with the controls, wreaking havoc on an already bothered Sri (he wasn't really getting the hang of it, plus was worried about losing control and dunking all of us in the deep ocean :-p). After sometime we had to transfer her in between us (she switched the jet-ski off when it was moving pretty fast causing Sri to panic :-p). Sri, free of her, was able to be more confident and things had just started to get interesting when Snugli, safely cocooned by my arms, promptly fell asleep on the speeding jet-ski! I was amazed! We are brave, but she is the ultimate :-D. After that, we were able to speed to our heart's content for more than half an hour and the girl didn't stir an ounce :-p. I wanted to get in the driver's seat, but well, didn't want to go into that circus with her asleep :-p. Here's us after the "ordeal" :-D.

After that, since we were already drenched, we just went to stroll on a beach :).

Night after dinner, we again went to a beach to enjoy the waves and the breeze in the dark. I did take some night photos, but nothing worthy putting up (Damn! I really need a wide angle lens ;-) :-D).

The next morning, the agenda was to head to a beach and do some kayaking if possible. One thing about the area is that you just have a single lane road most places and the place can get crowded very easily. I mean, everyone wants to go somewhere, especially to the beach :-D. Is is any wonder when the beaches look like this?

We did ask about the oil spill (worried after seeing some dark stuff on the beach, which turned out to be algae :-D) and found out that the spill reached Pensacola, but not Destin and no, they weren't affected that much.

We took a chair and umbrella rental for the day and settled down to enjoy the water. People were swimming, tanning, kayaking and jet-skiing. I call this - "The hare and the tortoise" :-D.

I took some photos, then stashed away the DSLR safely and set out to enjoy the water :).

(the above snaps were taken from a cheap point and shoot)

Snugli had a wonderful time playing in the water (as you can see) and then playing with the sand.

She would gather the sand up and go to the edge of the water to generously donate it all to the ocean (Kereya neeranu kerege chelli :-D), hehehe. Later she even collaborated with a boy to build a tunnel :-D. Sri picked up lunch from a nearby tacobell and we made a picnic of it on the beach. Relaxing under an umbrella on a hot day at the beach is something else :).

Sometime later, we rented out a kayak and went kayaking for about 45 min.

It was a lot of fun (though rowing is a bit of a hard work), but the sun was pretty harsh. So we didn't linger a lot. Sri did do some solo kayaking later for about 10 min or so.

We stayed for some more time, but then had to get back to hotel for a shower and a cleanup. We had a sunset cruise planned for the evening, so after resting a while, we headed to the pier to catch the boat (named "Kokomo" of Destin Snorkel sunset, dolphin and fireworks cruises).

The cruise started out pretty fun. The sunset views were pretty fabulous plus there was a flight show bonus :).

Here's us :).

One more sunset view :).

Form then onwards it all started going bad :-\. The dolphin part of the cruise started after sunset, so you can imagine the disappointment. We did see a couple of dolphins, but they weren't really in the mood to play, they were on their way somewhere. So that whole part wasn't really as much fun as we hoped it to be. Plus after that there was a long wait (more than an hour) for the fireworks and guess what, there was no cruising. The owner simply took the boat around in a no-wake area (means idle speed) and showed buildings ("Hello, we can see those from the car" :-p) for about 15 min.

After that he halted at a place where fireworks were supposed to start and then nothing for an hour! He had drinks available for everyone, but the cruise is advertised as a family cruise and there was literally nothing for the children (we had taken some snacks but it was almost dinner time). Plus there were singles and couples on the boat who thought nothing of smoking around the children (had we known, we wouldn't even have booked the cruise). There were a couple more families like us, but I felt it was a singles/couples cruise rather than a family one. So yeah, if you are planning to go on one of these cruises, please make sure about these stuff :).

Finally got to see the fireworks at about 9PM..

Had dinner at a Pizza hut and called it a day :).

The next morning the plan was to go to another of the beaches, stay a while and then head back on our way. So thats what we did..

It was hotter and sultrier than the previous day and Snugli just wanted to get into the water (which we didn't really plan on :-D).

So yeah, taking photos turned out to be a struggle, because she just didn't want to :-D.

Anyways, soon we said our byes to the place and were on our way out. We took turns driving for more than 8 hours and got to Nashville for dinner (yeah woodlands again, yummmm :-D) and stay for the night. We had to get up at around 4 AM the next morn (since its 5 AM at Lexington) since Sri had to go to work and took turns driving back home :). Reached home by 8 AM, back to normal chores and life :).

This was a very nostalgic trip. Most of the places we recognized, even remembered our hotel from last time. Plus it was wayyyyyy better in September than April when it was chilly and uncomfortable. We'll probably go there again if we get a chance :-D. Sometimes it feels good to revisit memories and make a second version :).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Of mouse and girl :).

Lots of things going on with and around me these days, but I just don't have the time (more like patience :-p) to sit and even write it down. But today's story, I just have to post :).

I've mentioned before that we don't really allow Snugli to use the computer. One main reason for this, according to me personally, is that I don't want her to "grow up too fast". I mean these days, parents seem hell bent on proving that their kids are geniuses that the kids have access to everything, and hence I somehow feel that it takes away the simple enjoyments of childhood. Moreover I want her to spend time with her toys rather than stare at a computer screen or a TV screen for that matter.

The exception to this rule was today. As usual we headed to the library and reached there pretty early. The children section has some computer consoles and I wanted to see what kind of games they have and switched one on. Found a simple game on Disney (a connect-the-dots-by-knowing-numbers) and told her to spot the numbers while I scroll with the mouse and click. She grabs the mouse, spots the numbers and moves the mouse and clicks them herself! I was stunned, stunned stunned!

Believe me, we have never taught her how to use the mouse (and its certainly not easy for a beginner to control it). Once we came back home for lunch, I put the game at home and demonstrated the entire "action" to Sri. I can still see the look of amazement he had on his face! We both were like, "a mini software engineer in the making" :-D. My God! Where do these kids learn this from? It shows how much she observes each and everything we do. It now feels like she wants to grow up fast and I'm holding her back :-\. From now on, I've decided to allow her 1 or 2 games per day, after all she has earned it ;-) :-D.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The war...

The war

Tumultuous waves bombard the very cores
Of inert rocks and long forgotten shores..

Incessant rain erodes the broken earth
Insensitive of the damage to home and hearth..

A strong wind turns into a hurricane gale
Crushing the spirits of trees, already frail..

Fires rage south and north, west and east
Scorching on their way, all man and beast..

Thoughts harass, pester and never retreat
Until the battered heart admits absolute defeat.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Camp rocks :)

Since I have already given you a clue about this in my last post, I don't think I have to mention that no, this post is not going to be about the teen movie :-p. After 3 years, we went on a camping trip. It was obviously Snugli's first camping trip, unless you count the fact that the last time we went I was pregnant ;-).

Well, the story happened on 13th August, Friday, that too pretty late in the day. We have been planning to go camping right since the start of summer, but something always came up (its funny how things always come up in summers and there's absolutely nothing to do in winters :-p). That day we faced a tug of war between going and not going. The weather was predicted to have rains in the night and camping is certainly not fun with thunderstorms (well, I disagree, but I digress :-D). When we checked at about 6Pm in the evening, the weather prediction had miraculously (yup, I am being sarcastic :-p) changed to clear skies :-D. After a little bit of to and fro, we simply decided to get going.

Packed up all we needed, bought the rest and got to the Lake Kincaid park (where we camped 3 years ago). We liked having the lake right next to the camping sites and thought that with Snugli around, the place would be a known devil scenario :-D. Plus the place has proper restrooms (albeit a bit far from the camping site). We were able to find a site (without advance booking) and started setting up stuff. Everything was smooth except that there were clouds near the horizon and it got dark pretty fast.

It was amazing how we put the tent together in a matter of minutes (another thing you never forget once you learn how :-p).

It was a little too dark to get stuff ready for cooking in the fire, but that part was manageable. The parts that weren't were the heat (it wasn't pleasant in any way) and Snugli's bewilderment. She was not really scared, just that being outside in almost total darkness with the sweltering heat was a strange experience for her. There were a few times when she hung onto me and refused to let go. But I did manage to distract her with the stars (that was one of the reasons we went - for me to try and photograph stuff ;-) :-D) and chirpy cricket sounds :-D. We somehow managed to eat up our usual camp diet of roasted corn, roasted veggies, roasted panneer and roasted burgers in the dark (we made a note of lanterns as things to buy for the next camp trip :-D). Later pumped up the bed and settled down for the night.

Or Sri and Snugli did ;-). I got up at around 2 AM to first catch some more meteors if possible (I saw around 25 meteors on the previous night, but no photos since I don't really have a lens wide enough top cover the entire sky :-\) and photograph the dark non-light-polluted skies. I did catch about 5 meteors, but again no snaps. It was literally Murphy's law :-p. So presenting the Deepthi's corollary to Murphy's law -

"If your camera is pointed to a specific part of the night sky, then the probability of meteors appearing in that particular area is much much much lower (almost close to 0) than that in the rest of the sky".

Sad, but true :(. Anyways I did manage to capture some pretty pics including this one of the Pleiades star cluster and emerging dawn (click to enlarge) :).

And one of Jupiter, the biggest "star" in the pic below (Before you jump to correct me, I know its a planet :-p).

I did take lots and lots of snaps (I think I was up for more than 2.5 hours! But the thing is without a tracking mount (which is helpful in contradicting earth's rotation), the only way to take good pics is by taking multiple short exposure photos (minimum 25 of each object!). I still haven't gotten to the post processing of images, so maybe will get back once I do :).

Went back to bed and got up after 8:30 AM :). After finishing our morning ablutions, Snugli got to play in the playground for a while..

And then we had breakfast at camp (yeah, I took the photo with a timer, had to run to and fro from the tripod :-p)..

Snugli enjoyed the morning camp much much more than the earlier evening (she surprisingly slept well and didn't fuss at all in the night). Here's her posing from the tent..

We then proceeded to dismantle the camp and head home :). All in all the trip was pretty much a success. It was great that the adventure lamp is still burning brightly within us and Snugli enjoying most of it was a bonus :). And photographically, it was another successful experiment :). Here are 2 daytime snaps I am pretty proud of :).

Very much looking forward to camping once again before winter sets in :).

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Snoogli bear, off to school!

Have a load of posts to shed ;-), but somehow time keeps slipping away from me, like this quote I heard recently -

"Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug." - John Lithgow.

One of the huggggge reasons for me not being aware of the time is that we finally started sending Snugli to a daycare/school since about 3 weeks back. Its more of a daycare than a school, I'm planning to search for a proper pre-school once she completes 3. Right now she is going thrice a week for only 3 hours each day. But the hours are from 8 AM to 11 AM and hence its been pretty bad for me as such. We changed our schedule to fit in with her school needs a week earlier - so we finish breakfast and all our baths by 8AM. Her school's lunch timings are 11 AM to 12 PM, so incase we plan to put her there for the entire day, we are also having lunch at 11:30 AM now. Which is all well and good except for the fact that my mornings are hectic to say the least. Yes I do get time for myself when she is away, but half of the time goes in cooking. And the morning work takes such a toll that all I want to do in the noon is lie down. I hope that as I get adjusted to the routine, things will be a lot better :).

Sending her to school hasn't been easy, it was pretty bad the first 2 weeks. Now she has adjusted to it, so things are a lot more smoother. So as I was saying, Monday August 16th 2010 turned out to be her 1st day of school :). The obsessive parents we are, we both went to drop her off at 8AM. She said bye and everything was fine till about 10 AM when her teacher tried taking her to potty and it somehow triggered something off (maybe because she isn't used to going with anyone other than us). She started crying for us and didn't stop until I got there (the place is just 5 min away from home). At first she just wanted to get out of there, but later she slowly confesses that "School chennagithu" ("School was nice") :-D.

Yet, the 2nd day, the hesitation started at the school door itself. She wouldn't let me say bye to her, so I had to sit in her class for half an hour (each time I got up to say bye, she'd come running and tell me - "Lets go" :-D). Then finally I convinced her that I had work to do and had to go. She did say bye, but later the teacher told me that she cried for me for a while and then forgot all about it. She did stay for the entire 3 hours that day (though she didn't go to potty :-D) which was certainly an improvement.

The 3rd day was the worse. She started crying while taking her bath and wouldn't stop. We tried not reminding her of the school, but she'd remember and tear up. Her big eyes would fill up with tears and her lips would start trembling. God, it was a struggle from bathing to feeding her breakfast. I stayed in the class again for a while, then got out. While I was signing out, she opened the door of her classroom and was bawling her heart out. I felt very bad leaving her when she was crying like that :(. I was totally upset the entire 3 hours and was wondering whether sending her at 2.5 years was even the right thing to do, basically second-guessing the decision. But guess what I find when I go back to pick her up? She was playing happily and her teacher said that she was fine just after 5 min (while I was stewing away at home :-p). She was even taken to the park to play and the children had a wonderful time playing with bubbles! That was it, I asked Sri to drop her off from then on (her school is on his way to office) :-D.

The 2nd week, once she started going with Sri, there was a 5 min crying period just before he left her there, but it was a lot better. On the 2nd week, 3rd day she had a cough and so we didn't send her to school. Despite Sri's protests, I told her that she wasn't going to school because she wasn't well. Come this week Monday, I tell her she has to go to school and guess what? She coughs dramatically (like the overacting old men in our old Hindi movies :-D) and says in a pretend-tight-throat voice -

"Cough bartha ide. School beda" ("I have cough, so no school")

My God! How fast they learn :-D. Sometimes she is so brilliant that I wonder whether all 2.5 year olds are this smart :-D. Anyways things have been a lot better this week, she even went to the restroom in the school with the help of a teacher. As for me, I somehow miss her quite a bit when she's not around. I keep listening for the sound of her anklets behind me and find myself wondering what she's doing (well, she misses me too as evident by the tight hugs she bestows upon me after coming home :-D). A part of me is obviously proud of her for adjusting so well so soon, but another part is saddened by the fact that I'm back to being alone (I've hardly been alone at home after Snugli came into our lives). I know I know that its only for a few hours, but well, there's no convincing the heart right? :).

Anyways, I have a camping trip post coming up (its been 2 weeks already since we went) and then we are out on another of our long drive trips for the long weekend. Lots and lots to write and don't know when I'll get to it. For the umpteenth time, where's a mind-reading blogger when you need one? :-p.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

3x10=30, your face is dirty :-D

Not too dignified of me, I know :). I'm 30! 30! 30! 30! Somebody stop me :-D.

Heyy, I'm not that old! Not yet anyway :).

Seriously speaking (says she who's been acting like a spoilt child for quite a while now :-D), as I mentioned earlier, I am very happy to be where I am today. One of the things I always wished and wish to do is to live my life without any regrets. Yes, there are a couple of regrets about a few lost friendships, but other than those, I have no regrets whatsoever. Which is pretty good for a 30-year lifetime, hehehe :).

Another thing I always wanted to do, is to try and see most of what there is to see and to do most of what there is to do. And as you have seen on my blog, I think I'm doing a pretty good job in this, to be very modest :-D. Its been a great journey so far and man, there is lots lots more to do! There are so many things in this world that one mere lifetime is not enough to see and do everything. I hope I get a chance to do a little more, see a little more, day-by-day and thats it.

So what do you get for a person who wants everything? :-D.

Mmmmm everything? Hehehehe :). By the way, my over-smart hubby has conveniently claimed the DSLR to be his special gift in advance :-p (I actually had thought of it as my special gift to myself, but oh well, who cares as long as I have got the camera :-D). I can't ask for anything more now, can I? He just knows how to shut me up ;-) :-D. But that doesn't really stop me from hankering for a cake :-D.

One thing I have to mention is what Sri said the other day - he is 33 this time, I am 30 and Snugli will be "03" in December, so our ages are all combinations of '3' and '0' :-D. If not anything, it saves us from buying more number-shaped candles, hehehe :-D.

And so as I stand on the 30 year peak of my life, looking forward to more helpings of what I have already and trying not to be too greedy about it ;-) :-D, I realize that I am very fortunate to be here, for there are many many people who are not and every day I thank God for having it so good. Before I get too emotional, I just have another thing to say on this day:

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happpppppppppppy birthththththththdayyyyyyyyyyy to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Happy birthday toooooooooooooo meeeeeee

(BTW this is Snugli's favourite song and I'm looking forward to hearing it on a continuous loop today, hehehee).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tomorrow never dies..

Well, certainly today it doesn't. Yup, tomorrow is the big that I turn thirrrrrrrr, thirrrrrrrrrrr, thirty, there I said it :-p. Sri, have you ordered my cake yet? :-D.

A cake doesn't seem to be very dignified, does it? :-p. Maybe I should celebrate it in a more subdued manner ;-).

Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Get the cake, pronto!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Yet another countdown post ;-). I know I know even I'm getting tired of these. But only one more I promise and one actual birthday post. Its actually one too many, but a "30" year tag deserves atleast so much :-p.

So whats the plan after 30? Oh man, where do I start?

Lots of things to do, LOTS! But you'll see them here as they happen, don't want to spoil the surprises :-D.

Cannot believe the D-day is only 3 days to go :-p.

My feelings are all mish-mashed these days. One part of me is happy that I'm truly becoming an "adult" now (20s are still childish according to me whereas 30s are more dignified :-D), while another thinks what the heck is the difference anyways (because I'm suddenly not going to morph into a dignified adult, hehehee :-D), while yet another is feeling kinda despondent that the years are rolling away like this (and I'm still nowhere close to being a dignified adult, hehehehe :-D).

This countdown is sure accomplishing atleast 2 things -

1) Boring the few remaining readers off my blog ;-) :-D.
2) Keeping an account of my feelings as the actual birthday is nearing :).

See ya soon with more :) (if you are still here, that is :-D).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Fair"y tales :-D.

I've been meaning to write something other than a "birthday countdown" post for what seems like days. But have been busy - hopefully will get to one such post in a couple of days. Meanwhile thought of putting up a couple of pics of the local fair we get here annually (I wrote about it last year). Last year Snugli was a bit too young to enjoy all the bits and pieces and I wrote how it'd be different this year :-D. Well, yeah, it was different as in suddenly we were pushed into the role of spectators and she was the adventurer.

We made it 2 times to the fair this year and this post is mostly about the 1st time (the 2nd time my camera was already poof and the iPhone taken photos don't really count :-p). The first time we did take passes for all of us, because we thought she might create a fuss and its better to ride with her. But she was totally at home :-D.

That was her first ride on her own, ever :) (well, the boy eventually did sit beside her, so on her own as in without us :-\).

We did go on the caterpillar roller coaster ride together (same as last year :-D)..

And the giant wheel (or the Ferris wheel as its called here) later..

I don't really like rides which go round and round, so Sri went with her whenever required (yeah I conveniently dumped the honours on him, hehehee).

And then there was a helicopter ride..

A dinosaur ride..

A bike ride..

The standard merry-go-around..

And a racing car ride which was her "favourite" (she says its so to this day ;-) :-D).

There was also a plane ride (no good pics to speak of) and this dragon roller coaster which she loved.

Phew! I think she enjoyed 12 rides in all. Seeing her enjoyment, I "absolutely" "had-to" take her there once more and hence the 2nd time (I pestered Sri until we went :-D). The 2nd time, we didn't even buy passes for ourselves and bought one for her, thats it. I was ready to run out and get one in case she panicked, but well, our little girl is truly growing up. She went on 12 to 14 rides without even giving us a second glance. I cannot be more proud, believe me, but some part of me was actually sad to see her be so independent. It was difficult for me to let go.

Its not like she's totally independent, but that day brought home the fact that time is slipping away. And no matter how hard we try to hold on, time always gets the better of us. Fortunately or unfortunately, there's nothing you and me can do about it..

P.S: On a totally different note, the Perseid meteor showers are this week, supposedly peaking on Aug 12th night and 13th early morning. I have already seen a couple of meteors in my pursuits of Astrophotography (thats the post I have been meaning to put up, so will be up soon) in the past week and I will be up on Thursday with my camera trying to photograph the pesky things :-D. Oughta be fun :).