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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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New year wishes..

Things have been crazy since we have been back from India. For one thing, the mom part of me has completely taken over my life. I just don't get any time for myself, so the blog has sadly been neglected. I have all these ideas I want to write about, but I never ever get the time. When I do have a few free moments, I'd rather laze around rather than start typing. Poor Sunny hasn't even had a post of her own yet. And there are so many things happening each day and I am regretting not noting down each and every thing like I did with Snugli. But I am determined to get back to writing soon. Meanwhile, I feel frustrated, angry and stressed out most days. There are bright days now and then, but all the other days are passing in a haze and I don't even know what to about it. I feel like taking a break, but there is no break for a mom from her children and ain't that the truth!

Well, its sad that I couldn't even jot down a post on Snugli's birthday. We didn't celebrate it very grandly this time. She did have a party at school and we did take her to an indoor kids play area (where she enjoyed to the maximum) and her favourite restaurant for dinner. But I just didn't have it in me, to plan another party outside and arrange things. I still feel a little guilty over that, but she had fun and thats that. Oh man, she's 4 already and I wish all the time that I had a pause button to life, sigh.

On a sad note, one of my good friends passed away last week and so the past week has been depressing for me. She was sick with a rare disease and suffered a lot in the past month, but we never expected that it would take her life. I was fortunate enough to spend a weekend with her in September when she came to visit us here. I keep remembering little things about her and it keeps getting to me now and then. We expect death at ages lot older than ours and imagine that we'll have all our friends till the ends of our own lives, so it becomes very difficult to accept it that she died at 32, she had a lot of spirit and lot more in her. I hope she's in a much better place and is happy and at rest finally. You know what I have realized from all this? Her life is no more, but our lives go on, they have to go on..

To put a positive end to this post, I did get my macro lens finally - Canon 100mm f2.8 macro and I'm glad that I haven't let go of photography completely, despite all my "troubles". Have some pics uploaded on my facebook photography page in case you are interested. Here's a recent one:

And so, to summarize, 2011 brought me a dear daughter and took away a good friend. It also brought me my first silver hair ;-) (sounds better than gray or white and I'm sticking with it :-p). The year has been a mix of gains and losses, easy and tough times, tears and laughter, basically life going on in all its glory. There's still much more to see, many more things to do and hope 2012 has ample opportunities :-).

The end of the world is coming folks ;-) :-D. 2012 is here! Wish you and your loved ones a very happy and prosperous new year :-).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The facade..

The facade...

Days beckon with
infinite drive.
Nights sink tired;
Crash dive.

The body dances
the daily grind..
The mind droops,
feeling confined..

The inside me wants
to cut and run..
The outside me has
worries none.

Uncertainty questions
"Am I really needed?"
Confidence prevails,
all doubts receded.

Behind a joyous mask
sadness taunts..
Behind a brave facade
vulnerability haunts..

Friday, November 04, 2011

Its all about the money!

Sorry to have vanished from the face of earth for more than a month, but as you can guess things have been crazy busy for me. What you cannot guess is that we had been to India for a 5 week "vacation" :-D. We obviously celebrated Sunny's Naamakarana and Annapraashana there, so there were the usual functions, get-togethers and travels to and fro amidst ill-healths that spread from one person to another. Right now we are back in US and I am getting adjusted to a routine with 2 kids. Snugli will be off to school from next week, so things should be a lot more easier. I have so much to write but the stories will have to unfold quite slowly. Meanwhile to tide things over, its Snugli story time :).

While we were in India, Snugli was introduced to a concept she was quite unaware of here in the US - MONEY, thanks to all the relatives who gave rupee notes to her as gifts (she knew "cents" because thats what makes her favourite machine horse run, but not about notes).


It all started when Snugli's great-grand mother (Sri's mother's mother) gave her Rs 500. She immediately grabbed it claiming it to be "my money".

Sri somehow convinced her to give it to him, but the next day she went and asked him for "her money". Since he had already spent it on something, he thought he could con her with a Rs.10 note. Her response?

"This note says 10. My note said five zero zero. This is not my money. Give me my money!"

Baap re!


She soon got used to getting these 500s. After a get-together in Bangalore, we were looking at all the gifts when she claimed that one of the money envelopes was hers. She opened it to discover a Rs.100 note. She says -

"Ellaru 500 rupees kottaru, ivaru yaake 100 kottiddaare?" ("Everyone gave 500 rupees, why have these people given 100?")

God! I'm very thankful that that particular person was nowhere near to hear that statement!


One day we were invited to an arshina-kumkuma, to which I took Sunny and Snugli along. Since they saw Sunny for the first time, as usually is the custom, they gave her a Rs.100 note. Snugli immediately cries -

"Where is my money!!!"

I could only shut her up by handing over the note that they had given Sunny. I wonder what will happen when Sunny becomes aware of "money" - I can already imagine a tug-of-war over a 100 rupee note :-D.


There were many times where she wanted to hold her money while we were in India. While all the above instances were sort of embarrassing for us, what happened today was sweet to the extreme. Since we have been back, Snugli has very obviously been missing her grandparents and Bangalore as such. Today she saw a plane and this conversation happened -

Snugli: "Lets catch a flight and go to Bangalore"
Me: "Sorry we can't sweetheart. We'll go there next year"
Snugli: "Why?"
Me: "Because we don't have so much money to spend."
Snugli: "Don't worry. I have lots of money. Many 500 rupees to buy tickets."

Wish we could honey, wish we could :-\.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh joy!

Oh joy!

In the earth so green,
That it hurts the eye.
In the deep blue wrap
Shrouding the silky sky..

In wings that fly outside,
Chirping and singing..
In children that play inside,
Their giggles ringing..

In the melliferous voice
Riding the radio waves..
In gurgling waterfalls,
Tall mountains, cold caves..

In colours of flowers
Be it bluebells or daffodils..
In colours of dawn or dusk..
In warmths and in chills..

In the crimson sun,
that bids stars goodbyes..
In the velvety night's
Soft whispers and sighs

Happiness lurks
At every corner and nook.
All you have to know
Is just where to look.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The peace..

Spent early morning sitting on a park bench near a misty pond, surrounded by ducks of all shapes, sizes and colours with fresh dew on the grass under my feet and quacks ringing loudly in my ears. It was peaceful :).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The duck that turned 31..

This duck is 31 years old today. But as the years pass, is there any change in the wisdom at all? The duck has certainly changed from what it was, say 10 years ago. It has obviously grown older physically and there's a lot of change in ideas too. Has all the change been for the good? Or is the word "good" also an illusion?

In the past year, the duck has had a baby duck added to its family. It also lost a grandma duck to death. It has faced high and low tides. There were some mind numbing lulls where nothing happened and then there were waves of excitement. There were a few storms that felt like hurricanes and tsunamis (they probably weren't THAT bad), but the duck has survived it all. It cannot really claim that it hasn't been chafed some, life, after all, is all about the downs too. The duck still believes its lucky to have what it has.

Many a times the duck wonders if the other beings in this world even realize what it is all about. Some beings expect too much of it - if it brings and shares a lot of fish, they think that its nothing taxing as the part of the sea the duck lives in has plenty of fish. They actually blame it and criticize it whenever it gets tired of sharing. Then there are others who think this duck is a good duck and don't seem to realize that this "good" duck has its bad moments and bad days too. They complain "you were not like this earlier", but somehow forget that they in the past were not like what they are today either. And maybe the duck actually has evolved into an unknown being. Or maybe what they assumed the duck to be in the past was actually wayyyyyyy different from what the duck actually was. Maybe they never knew the duck. At all.

One thing the duck has realized in the past year is that man, it has a temper. When it quacks several times and is not heard, the quacks turn into screeches and screams and the duck literally throws a tantrum. Maybe it should learn to gather all the algae/seaweed around it and stuff them into its hugggggge ears, so that it doesn't hear half the things that make it mad. What is a better idea is to stuff the sea weed into its mouth (which is wayyyyyyyyyyyy bigger than its ears), so that no quack comes out ;-).

The duck sometimes finds itself torn between what should be and what is. It doesn't understand what is expected of it sometimes. Torn between complaints and consolations. Torn between taunts and praise. Torn between blasé and insinuations. Torn between accusations and agreements. The duck is thankful for the steady rock that its partner is and somehow they hope to figure things together. The future will only bring with it more expectations, more challenges and whatever the duck may have faced before, its all nothing compared to whats ahead. The duck will surely face it head on :).

The duck is in a very poignant mood today and hence will not be putting up the usual Garfield birthday comics. The duck is also sorry to have confused many beings with this post and shamelessly admits to being thoroughly confused too :-p.

A very happy birthday to the duck and super cheers to all that it actually is :).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The truth :-D

Pardo's First Postulate to Murphy's law: "Anything good in life is either illegal, immoral, or fattening."
Arnold's Addendum: "Anything not fitting into these categories causes cancer in

Sad, but true :-p.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The punishment :-D

Snugli is the featured student for 2 weeks at her school and hence this is my punishment ;-) :-D - a poster featuring her and everything she loves :).

The things parents need to to when their kids are in school!!!

I don't really like this type of manipulating from the schools. How does it make me a good mom/parent if I am concentrating more on the poster than the kids? We were out of town on the weekend and the teacher suddenly dumped this on us on Monday (no warnings at all and it was needed "right now"). Moreover Sri, God bless him, doesn't have a single artistic bone in his body, so I came up with the concept, designed the template, got the photo printouts, cut them all out, glued everything together literally in 24 hours all with a cranky baby and an extremely inquisitive pre-schooler around. All this to please a few teachers because Snugli hardly paid any attention to it and I'm sure her classmates would have been the same :-p. I could have done a shabby job, but the perfectionist in me had to get it right :-p. Basically, I think it becomes a matter of pride for the parents.

I'm already ruing the day when Sunny will be all grown up. Proud of myself though :).

Friday, July 15, 2011

The concern :)

This happened about 3 weeks back, you know why I haven't been able to put it up ;-).

One day while I am feeding Sunny, Snugli comes and sits right next to me.

Snugli: "Amma, puttu baby amma hotteinda bantha?" ("Mom, did the baby come from mom's stomach?")
Me: "Huun." ("Yes.")

(Whenever she troubled me too much, I told her that since the baby came from my stomach, I had aches and pains all over and so she asks)

Snugli: "Amma, ninge hotte abbi idya?" ("Mom, does your stomach hurt?")
Me: "Huun."
Snugli: "Amma, ninge bennu abbi idya?" ("Mom, does your back hurt?")
Me: "Huun."
Snugli: "Amma, ninge kai kaalu abbi idya?" ("Mom, do your arms and legs hurt?")
Me: "Huun."
Snugli: "Amma, naanu Walgreens hogi medicine tharthene. Ninge abbi ella hothade." ("Mom, I'll go to Walgreens and get some medicine for you. All your pains will be gone."). Walgreens is a pharmacy store here.


On a side note, typing a post on iPhone, moreover by left hand is HARD :-p.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The audacity!

Some people are so full of themselves! (Another huge rant in progress, consider yourself warned :-p)

Today morning I get this message from a person saying "don't u answer u'r freinds e mails". Now this person was my best friend in childhood and we have been touch for many years thanks to my efforts and absolutely no thanks to her (my calling her "person" instead of "friend" shows you how angry I am). We lost touch a couple of years back thanks to her constant changing of phone numbers. No, I can't even say we lost touch because I have her email and kept mailing her on her special days - her birthday, anniversary, her kids' birthdays and so on. And she never replied a single thanks. Plus I have told you how fond I am of sending photos to friends and relatives once or several times a month (:-p), she is in my mailing list and again, she never ever, not once, got back on whether she even saw the photos.

Out of the blue last week, I get a message from her giving her yet-another-changed-phone-number and asking me for my contact details (this is despite the fact that my phone numbers haven't changed since 6 years, from the time I came to US). Thanks to a 1.5 month old that was born to me and that I'm quite busy caring for (which again I had informed her through a mail), I haven't been able to keep up with all the communication. So I didn't, make that couldn't, reply. And I get this message from her today! I am so outraged, just what do people think of themselves? And how much do they expect of me? The more I do, the more I'm expected to do.

There have been many days in the past when I've gotten sick and tired of the whole thing and think I'll just quit putting in the effort. This is one of those days. But then again, I take a deep breath, tell myself that just because some people are atrocious, it doesn't mean that I should give up what I am and then make the effort again to keep in touch. But seriously, this was like I was literally stabbed with a long sharp knife. I wrote a blistering reply to her and being the goody-two-shoes that I am, I should have regretted it by now, but I haven't. One big part of me is very very very angry with her while another small part of me is actually sad - it feels like I have literally lost a friend. Or maybe I lost her years ago, have been deluding myself all these years with my puny efforts and am realizing it only now :(. How dumb I must be!

Update: She replied saying that she was busy with her household and kids for all this time and that she took liberties with me as she was "eager" to get back in touch with me. Oh well, I didn't know "eagerness" can translate to years and you know me, I am a free spirit without households and kids :-p. Anyways, enough of this subject, lets move on :).

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The unoriginals!

Whats with Indian music directors these days? I'm so sick and tired of listening to old songs remixed and changed these days. Yeah there were remixes earlier in pop albums, but you didn't really have to listen to them unless you wanted to. These days the songs are in the movies and whenever I watch one, I end up being really mad. Is coming up with an original tune so difficult?

I especially become angry when I hear a favourite tune all jumbled up and made weird by these weirdos. The last straw was hearing "Ravivarmana kunchada" (originally sung by the great PB Srinivas) made all so-called modern (meaning destroyed) in the movie Buddhivantha (I know I'm late in pointing this out but bear with me since I caught up with the movie only now). If you can't come up with something nice, atleast please stop spoiling what was good. Is there no thing called copyright for these things?

Friday, July 01, 2011

The reality..

As the title states, this is what happens at our house at nights these days..

* Snugli falls asleep
* Sri falls sorta asleep..
* I feed Sunny and put her to sleep.
* Sri and I start to cuddle.
* Snugli wants to go potty and Sri takes her..
* Sri and I start to cuddle.
* Sunny starts crying, I console her and put her back to sleep.
* Sri and I start to cuddle.
* Sunny cries again, Sri changes her diaper, I swaddle her and put her back to sleep.
* Sri and I start to cuddle.
* Snugli starts sucking her thumb. One of us gets up, removes the thumb :-p.
So on and so forth until both of us are so exhausted that we fall asleep as soon as we hit the sack - the cuddling all forgotten :-p.

Its as if they ... {horror music}... Its as if they KNOW! ;-) :-D

Friday, June 17, 2011

Burptime story :-D

One thing moms with infants know is how difficult it is to burp babies. So whenever I get a successful burp out of Sunny these days, I involuntarily exclaim "Good job!".

I don't really have to tell you what happened next right?

One day Snugli after finishing her lunch comes to me, burps loudly and says "Look mom, I burped!" :-D.

Hehehee :))).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The best laid plans :-p

Two things before I start off on the birth story this time. One, thanks to all those who left their wishes on Sunny's birth. Things have been so hectic around here that its been difficult to even leave a comment and I'm sorry for that. But right now, we are adjusting to a whole new routine and you know that takes time :). Secondly, as I said this is the birth story, so those who don't want to read the "gory" details, please leave now, or you know you'll regret it later ;-) :-p. Also, all of the definitions in Snugli's birth story hold good for this post as well. So please feel free to refer to that anytime :-p.

They say, the second time things will be much faster. They say that the delivery usually happens a lot earlier than the first time. They say the contractions become frequent, regular and painful sooner. They say you won't have time to get to the hospital, so you better leave early and so on and so forth. But well, "they" were all wrong in my case. 39 weeks and I wasn't even having proper contractions - they were still in the Braxton-Hicks mode. They were in no way painful (and believe me, I'm glad about that :-p), but things weren't progressing as I expected them to. I had felt heavy throughout this pregnancy so was expecting the baby to appear sooner and nothing was happening. I was already out of patience..

On May 20th, I had an appointment with my gynec, in which I was told that she was worried about my weight and she was thinking that the baby might be on the heavy side. I was told to get an ultrasound weight measurement and warned of the possibility that the baby may be heavier than 10 pounds. If so, then we'd have to seriously consider a C-section. I wasn't really worried about the so-called surgery (though I did run a scenario in my mind where I'd be wheeled to the operation theatre and holding Sri's hand, would say to him "Agar mujhe kuch hogaya toh khudka aur humaare bachchon ka khayaal rakhna" :-D) but C-section has several consequences - breastfeeding is tougher, recovery takes time and all that, so was a bit worried about that. But obviously we would follow the gynec's advice, 'cause thats what ensured the safety of the little one.

Well, the Ultrasound was scheduled on Wednesday, May 25th and the day came. We couldn't really make out anything in the pics as such as the baby was grown, but at the end of it, we were told that the baby was measuring 9 pounds and 7 ounces. There was a 10% margin of error and we were hoping that it'd be on the lower side ;-). My gynec suggested that since there'd be a weekly growth of half a pound for the baby, there was simply no point in waiting (as the 10 pound threshold would be crossed) and the best thing would be induction. The induction had some risks of suddenly becoming a C-section, but since we were looking at the same thing if we waited, it wasn't really a risk as such :-\. So it was decided that I'd get admitted to the hospital the next night and they'd start the induction process. The initial procedure would take the night and in the morning, the process would speeden up and the baby was expected to be born at around May 27th afternoon.

The next day, May 26th, everything went according to plan, meaning nothing happened for me to rush to the hospital ;-) :-D, so we went and got admitted in the hospital at around 8 PM in the night. I had told Snugli several times about how I had to go to the hospital and stay for a while there, but wasn't sure how she'd take to both me and Sri being missing for hours together. So I asked him to go back home with her and keep her bedtime schedule as normal as possible (meaning wait till she falls asleep) and then come back to the hospital. I had also asked my parents to sleep in our room, so that they can keep an eye on her. So once everyone left, the nurse asked me a 100 questions about medical history (as usual) and placed the baby heartbeat and the contraction monitoring devices on my abdomen. She also set up an IV in my arm. Since my cervix hadn't dilated to even 1 cm, the first process would be cervical ripening.

Cervical ripening refers to the softening of the cervix into a dilated opening. The agent they used in my case is called Cytotec which is inserted vaginally to start the ripening. After 3 hours, I was checked again (this time the cervix was about 1.5 cm) and administered a second dose. I was hardly able to sleep since the baby was moving all the time and the nurses kept coming in to change the position of the baby heartbeat monitor :-p. At about 3:45 AM, the actual contractions started - they were not very painful, but just enough to wake me and keep me awake. At 6 AM in the morning, the next stage of induction started. The nurse added Pitocin to my IV to kick off the contractions in full mode. And mad, did they! In about half an hour, the contractions had speedened up and by 7 AM I was screaming at the top of my lungs for the epidural :-D. I can grin at it now, but the pain was crazy, it felt worse than the time I had Snugli, but seriously I don't even remember enough to compare.

The nurse checked my cervix and it had dilated to about 5 cm by then. Epidural, as I have said in the earlier birth story, takes its own sweet time :-p. Since epidural lowers the blood pressure of the mom, the mom is first given fluids through the IV and only then the epidural is administered. So yeah, I was screaming for another hour before I was given the damn thing. The good part is that my water broke somewhere within that hour, so that water-breaking part was avoided. All this time, Sri was holding my hand and trying to encourage me to breathe. Half the time, I was crying because of the pain and he'd ask me to stop crying since it'd make me lose my breathing pattern. I think, at one point I literally shouted at him that I couldn't help but cry and that he could shut it :-D. At the end of the hour, I called the nurseline and shouted for the anesthesiologist. Thankfully he was on his way and what seemed like many contractions later, I was sitting up and the epidural needle was finally piercing my back into my spinal chord. Man, I can still taste that relief. Later I told my mom that she was great for going through 2 deliveries without epidural and "nanna doDDa namaskaara" to all such women ("my big salutation" :-D). I have to marvel at the pain-suffering capability of women and am glad to have born in this world which has epidural :-p.

Anyways, after epidural, it was bliss for 2 hours in which time my parents, Darsh and Snugli came to the hospital to see how I was. Dad, Snugli and Darsh soon left to wait at the waiting area which even had a play area for Snugli. Then the nurse came in, checked me and declared that I had dilated to 10 cm. She called my gynec for the labour and got everything else ready. Soon, my gynec was there and I was pushing with all my strength (which I had to gather again and again). After several of these pushes, nothing happened :-\. The baby's heartbeat was falling and I was given an oxygen mask to breathe through and ease that. 2 more pushes later, still the baby wasn't making an appearance, so the doc decided to perform an episiotomy and pull the baby out with the help of a vacuum. And so, Sunny came into this world on May 27th 2011 at 11:22 AM EST.

I was crying again, mainly because of relief and the baby was again placed on my belly and Sri was asked to cut the umbilical cord. Sunny was taken to the warmer and checked for the apgar. The baby weighed 10 pounds and 7 ounces! Baap re! I don't even know how they got her out! I was told that they would be checking her sugar levels since bigger babies usually have lower sugar levels. But she was fine :). Her pediatrician later said that she was surprised to have been brought into this world suddenly so there were some problems with her breathing patterns but everything else was fine. She even has a small bump on her head thanks to the vacuum, but the doc says that'll soon be alright.

This time, we had the camera with us, so were able to take photos once my family joined us :).

Here's Sri with the newborn..

Me with my 2 darlings :).

Here's Snugli with Sunny :).

And here are my parents:

And there's Darsh who was really afraid to hold the minutes-old baby, but soon was behaving like a pro :-D.

And here's the 3-day old Sunny :).

So what else has happened in the past 2 weeks?

1) I have realized that a few more things you never forget once you learn how to do them (other than swimming) are swaddling and diaper changing :-p. Or Maybe you should ask me when I am a grandmom :-D.

2) Unlike Snugli, Sunny didn't have a jaundice problem. She did have high bilirubin levels in the hospital and we were asked to go to the pediatrician for a follow-up, but the levels, thankfully, remained low. But I do have a major rant. Usually babies lose weight for a while after they are born until the mom's milk starts. And the particular pediatrician we saw raised concern about it and insisted that either I have to pump and supplement her or feed her extra formula. I remember the same guy doing the same thing for Snugli too (he must be the organization's formula marketing fellow :-p). Sometimes even though you know its not necessary, you have to follow what the doctor says. So I pumped, 2 times, when I faced the engorgement monster. Man, I was so mad at that stupid doctor. I must have cursed that man a 100 times :-D >:-). I stopped pumping after that and never gave Sunny any formula. Next day when we went for the follow-up checkup, she had actually gained weight (we saw another doc, had we seen the same doc, I'd have given him a piece of my mind grrrrrr).

3) Snugli absolutely loves little Sunny. She wants to hold her and carry her and what not. Sadly, during the first week, Snugli had a bout of cough and cold and we had to keep her away. But now that she's alright, whenever she sees Sunny, she shouts "Saani" and cleans her hands with a sanitizer (her dad's insistent rule :-D), then runs to her side to hug and kiss her :). She is curious about everything - the diaper changing where she insists on helping (God save us :-D), the swaddling and even the feeding (much to my discomfort :-D). On the flip side, her behaviour with us has turned to a worse phase. She doesn't listen to anything we say, doesn't obey a bit and usually listens only when we threaten her with spankings. She was pretty okay during the 2 days we were away at the hospital, though she asked for me whenever she got up at nights. But after that, she has been quite unbearable. Some of it might be due to her grandparents' pampering ;-) :-D, and some might be because she didn't go to school for the first week, but the rest of it, the pediatrician says, might be just to get attention (he says "if not good attention, then bad attention" :-D). Hopefully things should be back on track soon.

Thats about it for now, I still have loads to write - want to write about Sunny's thottilushaastra, and about the baaNanthana thats going on (have been wanting to write about that since Snugli was born, better late than never :-p) and many more things. But don't really know when I'll get the time to post, sigh :-\.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Its a girl!! (.....again :-D)

Our new latest diamond is all polished, lustrous and ready to be set.

Please join us in welcoming our second bundle of joy Saanidhya into this world.

1. Proximity
2. Closeness
3. Affectionate
4. Togetherness

Delivery: Normal
Birth Date: 27-May-2011
Time: 11:22 AM EST
Weight: 10.7 lbs!!!! (yeah poor mom :-D)

The mom is a bit tired (to say the least) from all the pounds on the baby and the baby still a bit surprised to be dragged out unexpectedly (induced because of the weight anticipated). But both are doing well and will be home in a couple of days. The dad is a professional diaper changer already and the new big sister is all excited about the little one :). Photos will be up shortly :).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Snugli the big sis to be :).

Today I complete 9 months date wise, the due date is still a week away and I have no end in sight :(. I am running out of patience and though I pull my tired body along, its like c'mon little one, its time :-p. I feel like a dullard half the time (not that I can claim to know "what" a dullard feels :-p), tired and achy all the other times. The only good thing is that I am able to go ahead and cook a few specialties of my own for my dearest family who are all here (before you jump on me for that, let me specify that I'm not straining myself too much). Its wonderful to have dad back here, but whats better than that is having Darsh. Last time he couldn't be here and this time he already has a couple of plans in place to visit his friends. Yet, its very nice to be with him whenever we do get the time. The best part is that he has never seen me pregnant before, so he keeps eyeing my stomach as if it has an alien inside :-D. Even refers to it as a basketball (yeah my stomach texture actually feels like that - all rubbery and strong). Kinda brings back my first pregnancy memories :-D.

Anyways that certainly wasn't why I'm writing this post. I have been meaning to write this one and a couple of other ones before delivery, but I'm not sure whether I can deal with the 2 other posts I planned. So glad to be able to put up this one atleast. This pregnancy as I have told you has been full of weird times. Where there were some really tiring times, there have been crazy times like me running around in my 6th month :-D. Don't worry, I was running in the swimming pool for exercize inbetween swimming sessions :-D. There have been astonishing moments other than these, especially thanks to having Snugli around. So lets wrap up the incidents.


I think I have mentioned this before, but we decided to inform her the news as soon as the doctor confirmed. I was really insistent on that because I didn't want the news coming to her from others, even grandparents for that matter. 3 year olds aren't really supposed to have lasting memories, but you never know what impacts where :-p. So the first person we informed after the doc's appointment was Snugli :). I don't even think she understood, because there wasn't much of a reaction at all. After I repeated the news a couple of times her response was -

"Puttu baby bandre naanu hello heLthini" ("If little one arrives, then I'll say Hello" :-D).

Hehehee :).


One of the things parents are worried about is the dreaded question - why? It happened once and thankfully I was able to escape without giving away the technical details ;-).

Me: "Amma hotteli puttu baby ideyalla" ("There is a little one inside mom's stomach.")
Snugli: "Yaake?" ("Why?")
Me: "Maththe nin jothe aaDlikke yaaradru bekalla ninge?" ("You need someone to play with you right?")
Snugli: "Huun" ("Yes" happily).

Phew, beeso doNNe tapthu (I escaped the swinging bat :-D).


Once the little one started kicking, I tried to get Snugli to feel the kicks. But thats easier said than done with a hyperactive 3 year old :-p. Whenever I would feel movements, I'd call her and tell her to "Shshsh" with my finger on my mouth sign and try to keep her still. Her response?

"Amma enu sound keLtha illa" (Mom, I can't hear any sound")

I had to convince her each time that there's no sound with the kicks :-p.

Once she has been able to feel a few flutters, other questions (obviously) have risen :-p.

Snugli: "Amma, puttu baby yaake kick kick maadtha ide?" ("Mom, why is the small baby kicking?")
Me: "Puttu baby ge hotteli jaaga illa alwa, adhikke." ("The small baby doesn't have much space in mom's stomach, thats why."



I keep reminding Snugli that she needs to share her old rattles/toys with the little one and she has always seemed happy to (don't know what the reality will be :-p). One day, she suddenly comes to me with a big smile and a rattle in hand. She says:

"Amma, ee rattle puttu baby ge. Naanu puttu baby ge rattle shake shake maadthini, puttu baby ha ha ha antha nagthade" ("Mom, this rattle is for the small baby. I'll shake the rattle in front of the baby and the baby will laugh ha ha ha")



Now that she's aware that the little one either sleeps or kicks inside the stomach, this is something that happens regularly at our house :-D. One morning,

Snugli: "Amma, puttu baby enu maadhta ide?" ("Mom whats the small baby doing?")
Me: "Jojo maadtha ide." ("Its sleeping.")
Snugli: "Good morning aaithu, innu yaake jojo maadtha ide?" ("Its good morning, why is it still sleeping?")
Me: "Hotteli kitaki illwalla, puttu baby ge good morning antha goththagolla. Addrinda jojo maadtha ide." ("There are no windows in mom's stomach, so small baby doesn't know its good morning, which is why its sleeping").

Yeah, it hasn't been easy to have a quick reply ready :-p.


One day I was eating some adike (arekanut), when Snugli madam wanted to know what I was eating. Since I wanted to avoid giving her adike, I gave her some jeerige mithai and told her I was eating the same. She immediately retorts - "Open your mouth and show me"!! Madam wants proof, hehehe :)).

Yet another day when I took her to the library, I parked the car in a different section than I usually do as the usual one was almost full. Her retort - "Why didn't you park there? There are still 2 spots open!", pointing to the empty spots available.

God! Most of the times, it feels like I have a grandma around who is always criticizing everything I do and proof-checking things. I told her that she was "nammane ajji" ("Our home's grandma") and her reaction?

"Naanu ajji alla. Naanu akka aagthene puttu baby ge." ("I'm not a grandma, I will be a big sister to the little baby.")

There's no outsmarting the little one, not anymore :-p.


One evening, I was sitting with Snugli next to me when the baby inside kicked.
Me: "Hi baby, how are you?" to the little one inside (in English).
Snugli: "Amma, puttu baby 'Fine, thank you' heLlilla" ("Mom, small baby is not saying 'Fine, thank you' back") with a sad puzzled face.

I had a tough time convincing her that the baby is not going to be saying anything anytime soon :-D.


Since about more than a month, she has become extremely adamant. Despite threats and bribes and severe consequences, hardly listens to us. Even her teacher was complaining that she doesn't even respond when her name is called. After my mom came along and now that my dad and Darsh are here, things have only gone downhill. Even if we scold her a little, she cries at the top of her voice and makes a big fuss with heavy drops of ears in her eyes. And you can imagine how grandparents are :-D. So yeah, we have tough times ahead ;-).

I have started preparing her for my hospital trip - saying that I'll be gone for a couple of days and that she has to be with her grandparents for that time. And though she can come and visit me, she'll not be allowed to stay there and so on. She nods as if she understands, but I know there's going to be a fuss. I hope it'll all be minimal. Plus one of Sri's cousins gave me this idea of the older sibling exchanging a gift with the new arrival - a ritual that kind of makes the older kid comfortable ;-) :-D. I thought that there would be no harm in trying it and so I went with her to shop for a small gift for the little one. We both wrapped it up today and had a good time decorating it :-D. Meanwhile, I have a secret gift ready for her (from the newly arriving baby :-D) which is something she has been asking for and hope she loves it :-D. So the gifts are all set to be passed to and fro :-D.

I'd be lying if I say I'm not worried about the whole transition. She still calls out to me for certain things, so I plan to make it a point to be there for those, but I know it can get a lot tighter with the various chores and stuff. I only hope I have the strength (I know I have ample support :-D) to manage it and cross everything in a smooth way. Lets see :).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The one-sided conversation :-p

16th May 2011, Monday night:

Me: Just wished happy journey to Dad and Darsh who are taking a flight here :). I'm so excited! But man, oh man, I forgot to tell them that there'll be only..

The baby kicks.

Me: Uh, where was I? Yeah, there'll be only one customs form issued per family. I didn't even ask what they were doing about..

The baby kicks.

Me: If you keep interrupting my thought flow with your kicks, how am I supposed to think? :-p. Now what was I thinking about? Umm, immigration. I hope they..

Another kick.

Me: Man, I give up!

(I guess this little one is not even as patient as Snugli was when she was in my womb - she'd atleast listen to her mom's weird thoughts before proceeding with her timely kicks ;-) :-D, hehehe).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The thinking corner: The questions to life..

I know this might be a wrong time to start a new set of posts as I may not really get the time to follow up on it for quite sometime, but have been meaning to do this for quite a while now. My brain keeps running with some serious thoughts sometimes and I feel like putting them up in a post, but somehow they become too many and then I don't feel like writing anymore. Recently, I joined a group on Facebook and managed to post a set of thoughts there. Thats when I got the idea of doing this on my blog - a themed set of posts where I ponder seriously about something that takes over my brain. Hence, presenting the "Thinking corner". I don't want to push this any more, so lets start off without delay :).

There are many times when I wonder why we are here. Why are we born? Why do we live? Why do we die? Are we just specks of dust that are aware that they exist? Or do our lives really make a difference anywhere in this vast universe?

We all know that our lives affect atleast a few. Imagine concentric circles with the centre point being you. Your spouse or significant other is the first circle. Your parents, children, in-laws make up the second one. Your best friends form the third, first set of relatives the fourth, so on and so forth until your acquaintances make up the last circle. Most of the time, your life affects only these concentric circles and never ventures beyond the acquaintances circle. Yes, people in public lives like authors, celebrities or politicians go beyond these circles and affect the lives of strangers. But for a normal human being, the acquaintance circle is the end of it. And the nearer the circle to the center, the more the effect of your life, meaning the effect of our lives decrease as the circles become bigger. So who does my life impact most? Me.

My life belongs to me the most. Your life belongs to you the most. My life makes a difference, to me. We have all heard of reincarnations (life beyond the current life), souls and ghosts. Its all good to hear, but we don't have solid proof for any of it. Death might be the complete stop for everything we know. So for all we know, this might be the only life we have. We may not get another chance like this. I do not believe in past lives, I may have had them, but I don't remember them anyways. And so it goes for future lives as well. I have been extremely lucky in getting the sort of life I have now and I may not be so lucky even if there are future lives. Hence I believe in taking full advantage of the only life I have, in living as much as I can in the short duration we have in this world. We don't know what tomorrow holds for us. The question you have to ask yourself is this "If tomorrow is the end of your world, would you have regrets?". If so, then you need to make changes so that you don't.

We all know that we have to compromise and make adjustments for things in our lives to go smooth. But if the compromises and adjustments you make are causing you unhappiness, then are they really worth it? At the risk of sounding extremely selfish, there is a limit to everything, even personal sacrifice. If you are the only one making compromises and nobody else is even putting in the effort, then its bound to cause regrets at a later point in life when you look back and see what you have been through. There is just no point in bending to everything and everyone and later complain about how you have sacrificed all your life. Sometimes, to live your life, you have to be assertive (not aggressive) and let people know what you expect in a clear manner.

Though some of the following might sound like cliché, I have seen people never expressing what they feel to their family members, not showing they love them; People not taking vacations despite being able to do so financially, not spending enough moments with their spouses or have spare time for their children; People whose aim is only to make money and not really spending it for a worthy cause; People who don't help others in need or contrastingly do help, but only to show off; People making promises they never keep; People who are total hypocrites, preaching something while they do something totally opposite. Is this really how we want our one and only life to be? Ultimately, we are the ones living our lives, we are the ones making all the decisions. Live in the moment and try and make a difference.

All this being said, I don't have answers for any of the questions I asked in the first paragraph of this post. The fact is we may never have the answers. Everybody doesn't have the privilege of searching for answers, many don't have the financial circumstances for it and many others don't have the interest. Still others go for religious and spiritual guidance to look for answers. Yet others have pondered the questions, have decided that they probably will never know the answers and are satisfied with that. There are all kinds of people in this world. What works for someone need not work for you and what works for you need not be the solution for someone else. Whatever makes you happy is the key to life. Live and let live.

"The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42"- by Douglas Adams in " The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

"So if your life flashed before you,
What would you wish you would've done?

Yeah, we gotta start
Looking at the hands of the time we've been given
If this is all we got and we gotta start thinking
If every second counts on a clock that's ticking
Gotta live like we're dying

We only got 86,400 seconds in a day to
Turn it all around or to throw it all away
We gotta tell them that we love them
While we got the chance to say
Gotta live like we're dying"
- Kris Allen in the song "Live Like We're Dying".

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Saas bahu oh no!

One of Sri's technological projects as of now, is getting Indian cable channels here in the US over the internet without paying the outrageous dollar prices they charge here for the packages. Since I have never been really into it so far, you'll have to head to his blog for the technical details :-p. But what basically it is, is a kind of modem that connects to the Tata Sky modem in India and relays the transmission over the internet. The best part is that it can be accessed from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection - on a laptop, desktop or even the iPhone, the limit being that it can be accessed only once (once the player is switched on on any device, it can't be accessed from any other). There are still kinks being ironed out but its been working great so far and I'm impressed :).

Anyways the whole thing started because my parents were heading here and believe me when I say mom loves having it :). But you know the equation when it comes to moms,

Mom + Indian TV = Saas-bahu serials.

I have completely stopped seeing any of them since the time I moved to the US (I can download the episodes off the net, but have never had the slightest inclination to :-p) and I guess my aversion has turned into something of a drastic nature. A couple of the serials mom is into have been bearable so far, but mom wanted to watch this new serial that started recently called "Sasural Simar ka". Well, one day I ended up watching half an hour of it and I'm pretty sure thats the reason half of my hair is gone (I must have torn them out of sheer frustration :-p). From the silly plot to the constant focusing on faces, from the over-dramatized dialogues to the over acting, man, was it pure torture! I wonder whether this can be classified under enhanced interrogation techniques and whether hard-core criminals can be subjected to it. I'm sure they'll give up all kinds of information in just under 5 minutes :-p. And I wonder who comes up with the ideas for such serials, such people should be subjected to non-stop marathons of their own idiotic serials!

Anyways, I have decided to turn and walk out of the room if I ever even see a glimpse of this serial again. Thats the only way for my poor remaining hair to survive :-D.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The pregnancy diaries mk II :-D.

Well, where there is the first version for the first child, there has to be a second one for the second right? Its only fair methinks :-D. Plus today is the day I complete 36 weeks, so the bun in the oven is officially full-term and ready to pop :-D. But I'm hoping it'll stay snug and tight in there for 3 more weeks atleast mainly because my dad and Darsh are heading over here in 2 weeks (I can't wait!! After a long time we'll all be together as a family for a solid 2.5 months!). But on the other side, there's the fact that I suffer from heartburn and swollen legs everyday without fail (my legs are swollen but my BP is completely normal, go figure!) and I'm literally tired of being so tired ;-). The doc asks me to sleep with my legs up to help with the swollen leg syndrome and asks me to raise my upper body for the heartburn. I don't know how I'm supposed to sleep with only my stomach lowered and upper and lower body raised :-p. I keep muttering to myself "just one more month to go", but am well aware of the reality that the only thing thats going to change is that one kind of trouble is going to be transformed into another kind ;-) :-p.

Anyways lets get on with what we are here for the pregnancy this time around :).

  • The day I took my pregnancy test and it turned out to be positive. Even though it was for the second time, there was lot of happiness because we had been trying for sometime before striking the lottery :-D. Since I wanted to announce it to both families as soon as possible, I took a doctor's appointment immediately. When the doctors confirmed the news, there was excitement, maybe not as much as the first time, but lots nevertheless. The worry about how we are going to manage has not been as bad as I had last time, basically because we have been through so much with Snugli and are sure of our abilities. But there have been times when I have wondered whether 2 kids are going to be a bit too much to handle :).

  • The day I had my first ultrasound. This time around the first ultrasound was done at about 7 weeks to make sure the baby was ok and its heart was beating properly. The experience was emotional, because after 3 years it felt good to be back seeing the baby in its earliest form. Yeah it wasn't as overwhelming as the first time (yeah yeah I know I'm comparing everything, but I wanted to record the changes in me ;-) :-D). In some ways it was different, but in others we were back to being first time parents - We could see just a finger-sized clump on the monitor with a heart beating, literally jumping out of the tiny body. Again we were relieved that there was only one ;-). Just 4 weeks later, when 3 nurses weren't able to find the heartbeat using the Doppler (which got me totally tense, as you can imagine), I had a second ultrasound, just to make sure the baby was doing fine. And it was :).

  • The day I completed 3 months. As I have said in earlier posts, this time I had morning sickness every day in mornings and evenings. Thankfully I wasn't vomiting anything. So I was really looking forward to the completion of 3 months not only for the end of first trimester safety issue, but mainly because people generally say the 2nd trimester is the time when a pregnant woman feels her best. Sadly, that wasn't the case. The nausea continued and so did the tiredness. Despite these, I was subjected to the usual blood tests (taking out 3 test tubes of blood from me and checking it for everything from the Rh-factor to HIV) :-p. Everything was normal this time too :).

  • The day of my third detailed ultrasound. This time the detailed ultrasound took place in my 19th week (it became the third one since I had the unexpected 2nd one). They checked whether the major organs/systems of the baby are developing/working properly and like the previous time, this was a major highlight of the pregnancy. The scan encompassed the brain and heart measurements (which we were able to make out), the spinal cord check and then the kidneys (which I wasn't able to recognize at all :-p). The best part was when the little rascal decided to yawn and opened its mouth wide - the technician even managed to snap a shot of the same :-D. Moreover the baby even put its thumb into the mouth and started sucking just like its elder sister :-D. We did find out the baby's gender this time too, but lets leave the story until after delivery ;-) :).

  • The day I felt the baby's first big movement. It is said that after the first pregnancy, in any subsequent pregnancy, everything will be exaggerated. As in the woman will feel movements sooner, expand more and is basically sensitive to changes. So I was expecting the movements to be much much sooner, but that wasn't really the case. The first time I had felt the movements first time at around 22 weeks, whereas this time it was around the 20th week. It was as exciting as the first time. I feel that for women, the baby becomes real to us when the first big movement happens. Thats when it strikes us that oh wow, I really am carrying another human being inside me and the love for the baby starts there and then. Whereas for men, its usually only after the baby is born. Anyways, the major difference between the first time and now has been that this baby feels more active than Snugli. With Snugli, there were days when she used to be totally silent and I literally would be scared and these days, this little one moves so much that I literally feel like a washer/drier (the rumbles and tumbles in my stomach feel like that :-D).

  • The day I had my gestational diabetes test and it turned out to be normal. As I said in my last post, the gestational diabetes test happened in the first week of March and thankfully it was normal this time too (I had a tiny nagging worry about it). But as I said unlike last time, this time the hemoglobin levels were a bit low and I was prescribed iron tablets. They checked it again after a month, the levels had raised a bit, but still low, so I was asked to continue the tablets. I am sick and tired of the damn things, since I'm supposed to take them on an empty stomach and not mix them with milk. Plus have the prenatal vitamins as usual :( and the iron tablets don't go with them either (have to take them with a gap). Hopefully the next time they check, the levels will be up and I'll be rid of those damn tablets :-p.

What else? Yeah I have had the leg spasms like last time where I get up crying and Sri ends up rubbing my calf muscles like crazy until the pain subsides. I have been feeling painless contractions (Braxton-Hicks) a lot earlier as well - have been feeling these for more than 2 months now and I have atleast one each day. Its not very painful, but damn uncomfortable. But one of the worse things has been the stretch of the stomach ligaments. This time I did expand more as the doctors had mentioned. By the end of 6th month I was feeling like I was in my 9th! I felt heavy and huggggggggge. But the stomach didn't show any signs of slowing down at all :-p. When I had the flu, it got worse, whenever I coughed, it was literally as if somebody was tearing out my stomach ligaments and the pain was horrible. But this pain has been popping in now and then other times too. Whenever I sit, stand, or do anything for that matter, my stomach stretches and the pain is literally like pulling the skin. Sometimes oil helps, other times calamine did and yet other times nothing does, but it has been a big experience this time.

Well, just one more month to go, just one more month to go, just one more month to go, take a deep breath and repeat 100 times :-D.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring sprung and is no more..

Things have been varyingly hectic (I mean, hectic due to different reasons) in my household. Have lots to write, but just don't seem to have the energy to sit in front of the computer and type these days. I can always use the pregnancy excuse, but somehow feel like its the easy way out. No matter what, I wish I had an assistant to type out whatever I wanted. Wait a minute! Sri............ :-D.

Anyways as I said, various things have happened to me over the past month (yup it has been a month since my last post in case you didn't notice :-p). After I wrote the last post, the very next check-up I went to was the Gestational diabetes + Anemia check milestone one. My gestational diabetes was fine, err I mean it doesn't exist :-D, but hemoglobin wasn't. It was low by a couple of points and so I was suggested iron tablets to bring it up. Well, now we know the reason for my tiredness. I also found out that the antacids I have been guLuming for my heartburn aren't very helpful when it comes to iron absorption - it seems they coat the stomach wall and don't let the iron be absorbed easily :-p.

Just when I was getting used to the iron tablets (just a week later), one day I woke up with a sore throat. It turned into a cold and cough next day and that very night I woke up with chills. Next morning checked my temperature and found it to be a 101.7. Now I had to get to the doctor, right? Took an appointment and after several tests found out that it was the dreaded flu - flu is supposedly very bad for pregnant women. Immediately was prescribed an anti-flu medication and thankfully the symptoms were gone in 2 days (otherwise my gynec had threatened to have me hospitalized :-p). But for 2 days, the household was literally in shambles as I couldn't even get up for the minutest chores. Thank God I have Sri, he took over everything! Even cooking (to my horror :-D).

After some sad few weeks, April 2nd week was one of the happiest with my mom heading here on April 11th. She was a bit ill the previous week and was travelling alone again, but this time I was pretty calm about the whole thing since she has travelled here already and I was confident in her abilities. Until the day she left India. I had told her I'd call her after her check-in formalities and every time I called, she still was in one of the lines with the plane leaving in an hour or so! So the headache was back in full measure :-D. Later I did find out that she climbed aboard the plane which was a relief. Then the whole 24 hours wait began - the first flight was from Bangalore to London, 2nd from London to Chicago, then the immigration and customs in Chicago and a 3rd flight from Chicago to Cincinnati. We picked her up at almost midnight in Cincinnati. She had a bad headache in the first flight and was okay in the 2nd. But the Chicago immigration line was really crazy with about a 300 people and though she had 3 hours layover, it was 2 hours by the time she got through immigration and customs. Well, she safely reached Lexington and that was a major relief. I had packed a couple of paratas for her just in case she was hungry and guess what Snugli's first dialogue to her ammamma was? "Ammamma, mammu tandiddivi nimge." ("Ammamma, we have brought you food") :-D. From then on she has been her ammamma's shadow, making even me jealous some days, hehehe :-D.

Phew, after mom came here, we have been eating all the goodies she bought us and they are all almost gone ;-). Dad and Darsh will be here next month, now thats going to be lots of fun :). Meanwhile, we have been enjoying walks around with mom enjoying the remaining flowers of spring. But before she came here, I did take some photos of spring flowers in and around my neighbourhood. They are all up on my photography page on Facebook - Through Deepthi's Eyes photography. The below picture reminded me of a thoraNa and click on it to see the Spring glory :-D.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I did not know that about songs..

One of the things that I constantly accept these days is that most of the Hindi film songs that I fall in love with are usually blatantly plagiarized from some unknown foreign country band. I mean, I can't believe that some of the Indian music composers are so dumb that they think the people wouldn't have listened to the original in these much much global internet times ;-). For example "Kya Mujhe pyar hai" from the film "Woh Lamhe" - I really loved the song when I first heard it, but felt a little bit letdown after finding out that its a copy of the song "Tak Bisakah" by an Indonesian band called Peterpan. I still love the song, but yeah it has lost its charm ;-). Another song is "Kaho na kaho" from the movie Murder which is the note-to-note copy of an Arabic song called "Tamally Maak" by Amr Diab. I prefer the Arabic one not only because of the voice, but because of the unmentionable actors in the Hindi version ;-) :-D.

Hence recent songs, unless by some exceptional music directors, can be written off as a copy from some corner of the world or another :-p. So its not a very big deal (more examples are "Dil mera churaya kyu" from "Akele Hum akele tum" which is a copy of "Last Christmas" by George Michael, "Nazare mili" from "Raja" which is a copy of "Come September" and so on). But now when it comes to olden melodies, we still respect many of the directors and composers as true masters and all of their songs are held to the utmost devotion. Yes, there were many songs there too "inspired" by western compositions, one major example (atleast for me its a major one because I love the song so much :-D), is "Itna na mujhse tu pyar bada" from the movie Chhaya which is very much inspired by Mozart's much admired "Symphony No. 40". Another inspired song I came to know about as I was writing this post was "Babuji Dheere chalna" from the movie Aar Paar, inspired by a spanish song "quizás, quizás, quizás", though it has only about 2 notes in common :-p. I'm sure there are many other olden goldies whose notes were influenced from the then famous music from around the world.

But what led me to this post was the song "Kaun hai jo sapno me aaya" from the movie "Jhuk gaya aasmaan" sung by Rafi.

As I have said a couple of times before, Rafi is my most favourite Hindi singer and this song has been one of my favourites for a long time. Well, you don't have to imagine my shock when I learnt the song was a copy of "Marguerita" by another of my all time favourite singers Elvis Presley!

I love Elvis's voice and I have a couple of songs by him I absolutely adore ("Love me tender", "Can't help falling in love with you", "Its now or never" etc :-D), but I hadn't heard of this one until I read about the plagiarism part :-p. The initial part is obviously a copy, but even the stanzas seem a lot similar :-p. Well the shock did wear off after a couple of days and now I have 2 similar songs that I love basically because of the singers - I cannot let go of either Rafi or Elvis ;-).

Do let me know if you know of more such "inspired songs" :-D.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A blogger's best friend..

Thats what my blog has become in 6 years to me. Thats right, today is exactly 6 years since I started writing my blog. That certainly means that there have been atleast 6 posts including this one, talking about how much my blog has come to mean to me. Good excuse to write a post at the least :-D.

Seriously though, I cannot believe that I'm still writing. I mean, ideally I did think and do think that I will be writing all my life, but the situations in life don't really give you that kind of a comfort level or that kind of a time. I've seen blogs and the associated bloggers disappear without a word suddenly because of life pressures and I don't really blame them. When I had Snugli, there were many points in time when I did wonder whether I was 'neglecting' her by dedicating a bit of time to my activities (especially blogging). But there's my duties as a mother to her, as a wife to my husband, as a daughter to my parents and then there is a duty to myself. To do the things I love to do :).

And I do love to write. The posts have been slow for the past couple of months, due to the little one that I'm carrying. Call it fatigue or maybe laziness, but to be honest, I don't mean to give up on the blog yet. Have no idea how tough it'll be after the delivery, but right now, I plan to make some time somehow :). So hopefully there will be a post next year celebrating the 7th birthday of the blog if it goes as well as it is going right now. And to add, I don't really have that many commentators pestering me to write, so that must prove that this is purely for myself and few of my family/friends who are regular visitors :).

Another hindrance to blogging is the evolution of day-to-day social networks like twitter and facebook. I'm still not on twitter, thank God (cannot afford to update yet another one), but I am on facebook and I have to admit that its easier to put up daily thoughts there, than create a post for it on the blog. Obviously there is no detail-oriented stuff as it is here in this blog, but its good for a quick quote or a quick link pointing to a news I thought was interesting. Yet for me personally, that can never take the place of this blog - even though for some people apparently it does. I have seen people update 10-20 status messages per day, upload irritating photos of what they cook daily or see daily or do every second of every minute of every hour of every day and people updating the damn thing when they are attending weddings (right now while attending someone else's wedding, but I'm sure the day will come when they'll be updating during their own as well :-p), or watching cricket or doing anything. And everytime I see this I feel like shouting at them to stop and to enjoy what's happening in actuality rather than striving to keep strangers "updated" (sadly some even consider strangers as very good friends :-p). But oh well, its their life, their choices.

Anyways, a very happy 6th birthday to my beloved blog. Hope you continue to exist as long as I do :).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Craving and caving in..

I figured that I owe you all a pregnancy post after that abrupt update :). First of all, thanks to all who bothered to leave a comment and wish me, and to all who thought of leaving a comment but were too busy to do so (:-p). No thanks if you said "Meh" and walked off :-p.

The decision to have a second baby was for us, a combination of many reasons. For one thing, we both have siblings ourselves and we, especially I, wanted Snugli to have that experience, that particular companionship. Secondly we felt it kinda was the right time. We didn't want it too early (needed time to recover from the first one :-p, :-D) and didn't want it to be too late, when a second one will be more of an intrusion than a welcome. Thirdly, we had started to go through this terrible nostalgia about Snugli, hehehe. I mean the first year was full of frustrations, but it has been our lives' highlight to watch Snugli grow up (I think its any parent's life's highlight :-D) and we did want a repeat of that. Yeah, nostalgia, half the time ends up helping you make the craziest decisions :-p.

What I'm saying is that the second time pregnancy hasn't been as smooth for me as the first one was. Yup, the comparison begins now with the second baby still inside my womb :-p. While carrying Snugli, I literally had no pregnancy symptoms except for heartburn in the last couple of months. But this time around, man, has it been a wild ride! I have seen it all. First trimester (the first 3 months), I had morning sickness the entire day, every day. So well, "morning sickness" definition wasn't really suitable to what I had :-p. Thankfully I wasn't vomiting at all, but would feel queasy the entire day. Plus I used to feel tired. The tiredness was so bad that I would drop off to sleep in the evenings while sitting on the sofa! I was waiting for the 2nd trimester relief, but there wasn't any. The queasiness continued and so did the tiredness. No break. As of now I'm in my 7th month and I still have the morning sickness (it is thankfully limited to the mornings these days) and the tiredness - yeah you'll still find me nodding off in front of the TV some evenings :-D.

Plus heartburn made its appearance in the 2nd trimester end - so guess this little one will be born with a head-full of hair like Snugli did ;-). Thats not an old wives tale btw - John Hopkins actually did a research on that and proved that excess of estrogen causes heartburn in mothers and more hair in babies :-D. Jokes apart, the heartburn seems worse this time, sometimes I start feeling it even when I taste something while I cook! So yeah queasiness+tiredness+heartburn implies this baby is a troublesome one already :-p. My gynec says that the tiredness is basically due to the fact that I have a toddler to run behind and she insists that even the littlest things I do for Snugli contribute towards the strain. But honestly speaking, Sri has taken over most of the chores and it feels like all I do is laze around :-p. And did I mention how glad I am to have him as my partner? ;-) :-D.

And then there were the cravings. This is the good part, believe me ;-). I never had a single craving when I carried Snugli. My mom always would talk about the cravings she had when she was pregnant with me - it seems she ate a whole box of jalebis once and so on :-p. My parents weren't that well off then, so I would tease her that cravings were just excuses to eat whatever she wanted during that time, hehehe :-D. Well, this time, I found out how wrong I was. My cravings started with a simple McDonalds icecream cone (the 49 cents one which is like a version of our Bangalore Softy) and I think it was sometime in November. If you haven't tried it, believe me when I say, its not all that good. Its okay, a bit different from any icecream that you get. But craving a softy in winter was a surprise ;-).

But I didn't really know how worse it'd get until I started craving the Garlic bread from Pizza hut. Now, I regularly have frozen Texas toast garlic bread in my freezer (you just have to heat it up in the conventional oven for sometime and its ready to eat), but I didn't want that. I wanted the salty Pizza hut one and nothing else. After thinking (and drooling :-p) about it for about 3 days, I finally asked Sri to get that and a pizza from Pizza hut one night. There is a hitch in the Pizza hut garlic bread, the thing is that all locations don't serve them, a couple have them and a couple don't. The one that Sri went to didn't and the guy coolly calls me up and says that they don't have it and hence he is getting bread sticks. To excuse the poor guy, this has happened a couple of times earlier and I've always been quite okay with it. But nah, not this time. I literally burst into tears over the phone, shouted at him, slammed the phone and hung up on him. God!! I have never behaved that atrociously in my life ever. The poor guy went all the way to another Pizza hut location to get his crazy pregnant wife the garlic bread she wanted :-D. Moreover we always get 4 pieces, this time he got 8 and I ate 5 of them!

Phew, that particular craving was done after I had garlic bread a couple of more times. Today, if you ask me, I don't even feel like looking at the damn things :-p. After that there was gobhi bajji (cauliflower fritters) which I literally kept dreaming about for 2 consecutive nights! Then finally the third day I made them myself and ate to my heart's content :-D. After that, there have been jalebis (available in Indian stores here, but not very good ones), pakodas (made them myself twice) and little things like that. I keep teasing Sri that he should be thankful that I have been craving only inexpensive foods, otherwise he'd have been a goner ;-). I think he is more thankful that the raging maniac he encountered hasn't made a reappearance, hehehee :))).

So thats it, the journey so far. I have to be thankful that things have been pretty normal and it has been a low risk pregnancy. More will be up whenever my brain keeps recovering from the shutdowns it has been facing on and off, then and again ;-).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy 34!

Someone in the house is turning 34. Its not me and its certainly not Snugli ;-). Now, who's remaining? :-D.

Happy birthday to a wonderful husband and an even more wonderful father :). May your life be filled with more joy and more irritating people :-p.
Love ya, Sri :).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snugster is backkkkkkkkkkkkkk!

I cannot believe that its been more than an year since I pestered you guys. Well, I am a busy baby going to school these days, so I have absolutely no time to hack into mom's blog. I hope you understand. In case you still don't know who I am, I am Snugster {evil laugh}, hehehehe >:-).

I thought since mom has been slacking so much in keeping the blog updated, there's nothing like some photos of me to keep you guys interested :). How else to trouble you guys? Oh yeah, I'll also be listing a set of rules that people have to follow around me. Hope that keeps you satisfied until mom pops in (don't tell her I've been helping her, its not good for my reputation, ;-) :-D).

So whats up with me? Early December, I had a Christmas party organized by my school. I had a good time singing "Jingle bells" and "We wish you a merry Christmas" at the top of my voice. Mom keeps saying I was the most enthusiastic one out there :-D. Here's me with Santa Claus :).

As you know I celebrated my birthday in December. Yeah I was a bit ill, but I can't let a meagre illness spoil my troublesome nature now, can I?

I had a good time at both my parties (one for our friends in Lexington and the other for my friends at school).

Then January was the time for Sankranthi and bhogi pallu, so here I am getting hit with blueberries, chickpeas, flowers and coins :-D.

I have to admit that I joined in the fun - I threw some at myself too ;-).

What else? One fine snowy day, when mom and I both weren't sick in any way, we went out and had a good time playing in the snow..

We made this snow man errrrrr snow alien :-p.

Mom built her snow sculpture of the year - this caterpillar. I did help with some of the sticks :-p.

What else? Toys, toys and more toys :-D.

Got this laptop as a birthday gift from a friend and I love it. I love irritating mom with its sounds obviously :-p. Then there are the Lego blocks. I am always creating new architectures, but mom and dad always want me to clean up later. How am I supposed to be the next big architect then? :-p.

I have a set of vehicles which I usually take all around the house and "park" them. The parking lots can be anywhere from next to a door to under a chair. And no, I don't want to park them in the toy box, thank you very much :-p.

I also got a play dough set which mom doesn't really let me use when she isn't around - you know her reasons why :-p. We made these turtles the other day..

Last but not the least are the wooden puzzles mom got me. I cannot do this on my own (I hate to admit this but have to tell the truth sometimes ;-) :-D), so mom has to help me leaving all her work whenever I order her to :). And I usually say "Ta-Da" when I finish one :).

Thats it for the new toys. I promised you Snugster's laws, didn't I? So here goes -

1) I only operate on bribes or threats - so if you expect me to listen, then be ready with either. I prefer bribes btw :-D. For eg the days I eat on my own, I get a sticker. And the days I don't listen, I get threatened with everything from "no going out" to "giving away toys". But these people aren't very great at implementing threats :-p.
2) When I am talking, everyone else should be silent. If anyone tries to interrupt, then I have the right of saying "Shshshshshsh", "Silence" or "Don't talk back!" to anyone :-p.
3) All matters are important to me - so all words should be spoken clearly. If not I can ask questions anytime.
4) Actually, I get to ask any questions anytime anywhere :-p.
5) If anyone doesn't know how to play with any of my toys, they are to consult me and no one else :-D.
6) If I order someone to sing songs (yeah I'm looking at you mom), they should comply immediately - especially when they are bothering me by combing my hair. BTW here's a hair joke from my household -

Dad: "If you don't wear your hair in a pony tail, you won't be going out with us!"
Me: "But dad, you are not wearing one either"..
Hehehee :)).

Had enough of the laws? Ok gotta go now. Why am I feeling like I'm forgetting something? Oh right! I am going to be a big sister soon! I don't really know what that means, but mom keeps telling me that there's a little baby inside her stomach and the baby will come to our house by May 30th. I have generously offered to share my old rattles and other baby toys with the baby, but I can't promise anything else :-p. Mom will tell you more stories about me and my questions about the new baby soon. Bye bye and hearty congrats to mom and dad :).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The ice collection..

Sorry that I haven't been around much - my brain seems half shutdown these days, the reason for which will be up soon somewhere in the next post :-D.

Meanwhile, just putting up a photography post to tide things along. As I've been saying, things have been pretty bad around where I live, snow, ice, cold and sicknesses, we have had it all. And I just had to capture some of the ice around with my other eye - my camera. So they are all up on my photography page on Facebook. - Through Deepthi's Eyes photography. The below picture reminded me of a diamond ring (yeah, yeah whats with girls and diamonds :-p) and click on it to see the Icy album :-D.

Friday, February 04, 2011

6 barson ki he dil ki kahaani :).

6 years! ಆರು ವರ್ಷ! छह वर्ष! Cannot believe its 6 years since we said "I do" :-D.

Sometimes I wonder where all the time went, but other times I know that its time well spent. Every day has been a new adventure and as I have said many times here in my blog (and will say it lots more times in the future :-D), I am blessed to have the life that I have and the life-partner to go with it :). I always wondered (and even now I wonder) how I'll feel as the time goes by and the years pass - I have to admit, there has never been a dull moment so far or a moment of regret. Instead, even though every moment hasn't been exciting or happy, most moments have been promising and satisfying :).

Sometimes I wonder whether I appreciate him enough and other times I know he is my world. I know that there are many women with husbands who don't help them out enough or complain all the while even when helping. And then there are those who mistreat their women treating them like mindless slaves. Still more who don't consider women as equals or disregard their opinions. Its not that I don't thank my lucky stars that I have him, but maybe sometimes, just maybe I complain too much or expect more of him. Well, if you are used to good things, its natural to expect more good things :-D.

Sometimes I worry that I take him for granted, but other times I know he doesn't really mind it ;-). Again its not that I'm not grateful, but there are times when I think that some other woman is lucky, because their husbands ooze poetry about them or are very open about the love they have for them. Sri is not very expressive when it comes to some things and not very "romantic" in the word's true sense. Yeah I take the love he has for me granted too many times :). So here's another sappy, catchy song I've been in love with for quite sometime (its one of the tunes in my zumba dance class), especially for Sri :). The song's called "Say Hey" by Michael Franti :).

Thanks to MichaelFrantiVEVO for the video.

Just love this part from the song..

I've been to a lot of places all around the way
I've seen a lot of joy and I've seen a lot of pain
But I don't want to write a love song for the world,
I just want to write a song about a boy and a girl

and ofcourse this part :).

It seems like everywhere I go
The more I see, the less I know
But I know one thing that I love you
I love you, I love you, I love you.

And so the journey of a lifetime goes on :).

Monday, January 31, 2011

The ignorant..

Wanted to post one incident from the Vegas trip, but forgot. Anyways this deserves a tweet of its own :).

We were walking through one of Vegas's casinos when we were approached by a man from a beauty shop.

He: "Hey! Are you guys from India?"
We: "Yes."
He: "Cool. Let me ask you one thing. What is the best thing you have for skin problems in India?"

Just as I am about to answer "Sandalwood", Sri replies "Turmeric".

He: "Did you know that it contains artificial components and chemicals?"

We both burst out laughing and didn't even stop to listen to what he had to say further :-D.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What happens in Vegas..

Will end up in this post :-p. I have been wanting to write this post for months now. But these days with my photography experiments going in full josh, the editing of photos takes a lot of time (its a digital era and since we take 100s of photos, editing and deleting repeats and blurred photos is always a good idea). Plus as I have mentioned before, I don't like to upload the same photos multiple times, so had to wait for the single complete upload I do :). The intro over and done with, lets get on with the post, shall we?

Las Vegas and Grand Canyon were one of the final must-see items for me in the US (yeah I'm almost done :-D) and I have been pestering Sri for quite a while regarding this. But Sri, having lived for a while in Phoenix, Arizona before we got married and having seen all of it, wasn't too keen. We finally made a decision to head there in the Thanksgiving weekend of November 2010, since we didn't really have plans of much shopping anyways ;-) :-D. We thought that since it'd be winter, we didn't really have to face the harsh desert summer there. But well, the story turned out to be quite the opposite.

On Thursday, November 25th 2010, we left Lexington at around 6 AM in the morning and caught a flight to Houston, Texas and from there onwards to Las Vegas, Nevada. The trip map was something like this from there onwards:

We reached Vegas (Point A/E) at about noon local time. Our plan was to have lunch there, see Hoover dam and start driving to Grand Canyon that day staying at Williams, Arizona (Point B) for the night. If you enlarge the map, you can see the Colorado river at Boulder city and thats where the Hoover dam is.

The Hoover dam is supposedly the 6th largest dam in the US and one of the most famous ones ;-). It is built across the Colorado river and has the Arizona-Nevada state border inbetween.

Thats the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Here are Sri and Snugli in front of the dam :).

And here's the state border between Arizona and Nevada :).

Laughing at borders :-D.

I knew there was a sky view of the Hoover dam from somewhere (later found out that it was from the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) but we missed the entry point for that thinking that it was only a memorial. Since Hoover dam is only about an hour away from Vegas, we decided to get back to it later and were off on our way to Canyon. Stopped at Williams, AZ for the night - the room there wasn't really very comfy in the beginning with only a slow oil heater for what was a very cold environment (thankfully we did carry coats since we found out what the weather was likely to be before we left Lexington - it was in single digits to freezing temperatures). We knew that the town didn't have many restaurants and so carried some microwavable ready-to-eat food with us.

Next morning we left for Grand Canyon. We had to drive about 1.5 hours from Williams to get there, so when we saw the precipice, we could hardly wait to get down and see it :). This was our first view ;-).

And here's us :).

The Grand Canyon is a very steep canyon basically carved by the Colorado river. The Wikipedia entry says that its 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and over 1 mile deep. The depth was what was fascinating to me. Imagine people travelling around in the olden days - if its dark and you cannot see whats in front you, they certainly didn't have a chance if they were around the canyon. The Canyon can be seen from any side but its south rim is the most visited part - since it has most of the sight-seeing points.

Since I first came to know of the canyon, I have always wanted to hike down the canyon and go to the Native American settlements thats somewhere below (summers are really hot down there and people have died due to the heat, so winter time is better for the trek). But when you have a toddler, any kind of trek/hike is out of the picture :-D. So maybe some other time :).

Another part we did think of visiting was the West rim Grand Canyon sky walk. It is a glass bottom observation deck directly over the edge of the Grand Canyon from which you can actually feel the depth of the canyon. But we decided not to go there mainly mainly due to 3 reasons - the first being there is no proper road to reach there - there's a stretch of 12 mile mud road which wasn't a good idea on a rented car. Second, the tickets are really expensive and thirdly, cameras aren't allowed on the skywalk (actually no objects are allowed, the reason being that if you drop anything on the glass, the glass may get damaged). The third reason was a major no-no for me :-D. Later I didn't even have any regrets about not going since after seeing the canyon from a few view points, it all started to look the same :-p.

One major addition to my photography equipment is the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM lens with Canon hood which is basically a wide angle lens and considered very good for landscape photography. I wanted to fully utilize the same for the trip. Plus another idea I wanted to experiment on is called HDR imaging (High Dynamic Range) which basically translates to taking the same image in different exposures (basically on a tripod to keep it constant) and merging them all together to get the perfect luminance. My plan was to take several images this way and try to achieve a HDR panorama. It was a lot of work - taking about 7 exposures manually of each image, merging them to get the HDR image and then lining up several (about 3-4) HDR images to get the panorama, but I was able to do it :). Learnt a lot about photoshop toning of the pictures and the experience has been very positive overall :).

Here's a HDR image from another viewpoint called the Yavapai point :).

And here's a HDR panorama I created (its literally is made up of 21 images from the camera :-D).

Click on both the above pics to see a slightly enlarged version :).

Here's us at the Yavapai point:

From there, we decided to catch a bus (the Hermits rest route) which would take us to several other view points. We had to wait a bit at a place near to one of the lodges in the Grand Canyon village called the Bright Angel Lodge. The view was great as expected :).

The route from the Bright Angel lodge to Hermits rest is about 7 miles, but takes some time because of the forests and wildlife around. Plus it has snowed a couple of days ago and the roads were slippery, so the buses were being extra careful. Since it was going to take a long time to see everything on the way, we decided to stop at a couple of points where we knew for sure that we could see glimpses of the Colorado river. The first point we stopped at was the Hopi point where I took another HDR panorama (this one consists of 28 images in total). Again click to see a slightly bigger version.

The Colorado river is in the left above the orange coloured platform..

The next point was the Mohave point where you can see the Colorado river 2 places..

As I said earlier, by this time, it all had started to look the same. I mean, maybe I was overlooking the nuances between the view points, but after sometime it wasn't as fascinating as it initially was. I still admire the grand canyon, but the different view points don't really offer different points of view ;-). So we decided to turn back and have lunch. We went into the Bright Angel Lodge's restaurant to have lunch. We had packed a couple of ready-to-eats in the morning because we didn't really hear of good vegetarian food in the Grand Canyon village as such when researched on the internet. And usually such famous places hardly have good food - all vegetarians get is a slice of cheese pizza. But this place actually had a lot of choices for vegetarians (they had different cuisines in the food court, so there were a couple of options to chose from), albeit expensive. They did have a microwave, so we were able to heat up what we took and eat it without too much of a hassle, but all that worry about packing food could have been avoided ;-).

After lunch, I still wanted to visit one more view point called the Desert View which is famous for its historic watchtower built more than 75 years ago which has Native American art and crafts. The view from the tower is pretty good, but again feels a bit same-old :-D. But the view of the tower and the canyon together was good :).

By that time it was already 5 PM and almost time for sunset and I had heard about another view point called Lipan point where the sunset views are pretty good. Since it was our supposedly last view of the canyon, we thought we'd see that too. But when we got there, the sun had already set, but the canyon was certainly looking a bit misty and mysterious :). So here's a last one of the canyon..

And so we said bye to the Grand Canyon. Our plan that day was to drive to Page, Arizona and halt for the night. On the way, after it was dark, I told Sri that I wanted to stop and get some shots of the Milky way if possible, so we did stop at a deserted side-road. I spent about an hour getting most of what I wanted but poor Sri and Snugli had to sit tight in the car (it was brrrrrrrrrrrrrr cold) listening to music for all that time :). I am just putting up one photo here (I have taken about 25 exposures to be stacked, but haven't really edited any of them as an astrophotograph is supposed to be, but am planning to get into learning all about it and implementing techniques soon). Its a larger photo than usual and if you hover your mouse over the photo, you can see where the Andromeda galaxy, the various constellations and clusters are :). So hope you like it..

My back broke drawing all the details on the photo :-p. You can click the photo to see the enlarged version, but no drawn details on that photo, I'm afraid :). I also tried to do some star trails, but the once-in-a-while cars on the road nearby made long exposures impossible. Some other time..

The next day our plan was to visit the Antelope Canyons, which is what Page is famous for. There are 2 canyons - the Lower Antelope Canyon and the Upper Antelope canyon. Both the canyons are managed by the Navajo tribe - the local native American tribe and you need to take a guided tour to see them. Before we talked to the tour company, my idea was that we'll see the lower antelope canyon and then I alone would take up the Upper Antelope canyon photographers' tour (I read on the internet that its about at 11:30 AM) - since Snugli would probably be a hindrance as such. But well, the winter timings were completely different from those on the internet and the photographer's tour at 9:30 AM was already full by the time we asked (at around 8:30 AM).

And so things changed. We found out that the tour for the lower canyon was offered at the entrance of the canyon and there was a normal tour to the Upper Canyon after 1 PM in the noon. We decided that all of us would go on both the tours. We were at the entrance of the Lower canyon by 9 AM, heard that it'll be opened by 9:30 AM and so we waited. The Lower Antelope canyon is literally a hugggggggggge crack in the earth. You have to step into the crack, wiggle down and then climb down to the floor of the canyon. Plus the passages are very narrow and usually steep down. So yeah, this is not a good idea when you have a toddler :-D. Here's how it looks from above the earth, this is not the actual entrance to the canyon though..

Here's the entrance and you can see people getting into it..

And this one shows exactly how deep it is at the entrance itself..

One of the reasons we went to the Antelope canyons was for me to try some photography there. Since we went in winter, the light is a bit less, as you can see from the above picture. So the photography becomes trickier and basically requires longer exposures. Low light photography requires a tripod and having a remote control is a plus (the remote will usually have a click button that'll not vibrate the camera like the one on the camera does - so you can use the remote trigger or use a 2-sec timer so that the camera stops vibrating before the photo is captured). So yeah, while Sri was lugging around Snugli (who naturally had a difficult time climbing down narrow stairs etc), I was lugging around the camera with the remote shutter control and the tripod around the very same stairs. But yeah got a couple of beautiful HDRs which made it all worth. Here are a couple of HDRs:

The sandstone layers were amazing! It was really fun to see the play of light everywhere and even some shapes in the stones (which are considered sacred by the Native tribes). Here's an eagle:

And here's us in the canyon:

The climb up was really really steep. Sri went ahead with Snugli and I still don't know how she managed it. Sri later told me that she was fully enthusiastic and that it wasn't a problem at all. We were totally tired by the time we got back to the car. I repeat, this is not really a good place to visit if you have younger kids (well, unless you are adventurous :-D).

We had time only for lunch and then had to get back to the Upper Canyon tour. The tour in this case, started in the town where we had to climb some all-terrain vehicles - the Upper canyon is off-road and personal vehicles aren't allowed at all. The upper canyon, luckily, is like a cave in a hill with open ceilings, broader passages and flat floor surface. But since the surface has sand, we couldn't really take a stroller for Snugli with us and she, it being afternoon, fell promptly asleep and wouldn't get up no matter how hard we tried. So well, that turned out to be the major difficulty. As Sri had to carry her around (we couldn't obviously leave her in the car), I had to carry the camera, tripod, accessories and a backpack in plus. Poor Sri had a really bad time since I had to stop to get the photos I wanted, but well, we realized that the canyons were simply a mistake with a kid once again.

But oh well, there we were and we did manage to see the entire thing. Here's the entrance to the Upper Antelope Canyon.

There was an elephant shaped rock right inside and I was joking that had this been in India, we'd have a Ganesha temple around it by now :-D.

Again the light play and the colours were amazing - here's a HDR to prove it ;-).

The Upper canyon is most famous for its light beams - in summer since the sun is directly overhead, you have light beams that light up the canyon in a very beautiful way. But again, we went in winter and missed it. Well, good reason for a trip in summer ;-). The canyon opens up at another place since the hill ends and here's us at the "exit".

We had to walk all the way back to the entrance and that was that. Page is also the home for another famous photography place - the Horseshoe bend, where the Colorado river takes a U-turn :). It was pretty near from where we were, but there was about a 3/4 mile to and 3/4mile fro hike involved and we were just too tired for that. Plus we had to get back to Vegas that night, so we simply gave up. Another good reason for another trip ;-).

We reached Vegas by about 8 PM, I think and to watch the city lights as we approached the city was fabulous :). We headed straight to our hotel room at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. We didn't really do anything that day, simply had dinner at the hotel buffet (the desserts were wonderful, but as for the rest, it was so-so) and retired for the day. This was the view from our room window at night:

Thats the New York New York casino and there is a roller coaster around it which Snugli just loved watching :). The antelope canyon tour took a real bad toll on us, so we hardly did anything the next day till evening - just went to an Indian restaurant for lunch. Evening we went back to the Hoover dam to see the view from the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Sri and Snugli sat in the car while I climbed up about 3 floors to see the view. Sadly it had already crossed 4:30 PM and the sun had set, but the Hoover dam night lights view was pretty impressive :).

After returning, we went on the Casino rounds at the Vegas strip. The strip is about a 4 mile stretch of land where the major casinos of Las Vegas are all located. The Excalibur is at the south end of the strip, so we started the tour there and caught a tram to see the Mandalay Bay and later the Luxor. The sight of enormous rooms full of slot machines is something else ;-). It all feels so surreal. Plus different casinos have different themes and its all wonderful to see.

From there we went to the MGM Grand which has a white lion exhibit, but sadly that was closed. So we took a bus to the Bellagio in front of which is a fountain show every hour in the evening and every half an hour after about 6 PM in the evening. But it was very windy and extremely cold outside. As long as we were inside the casinos it was fine, but otherwise, man, it was terrible. But we were there to see around right? So literally wrapped ourselves up and saw what needed to be seen. Here's the Bellagio fountain show:

The fountain show was good, but I personally think that the Mysore KRS one is better :-D. From there on, we walked into the Bellagio and here's the view of the street from there..

We went into the Bellagio hoping for a good buffet, but it was really expensive and mainly non-vegetarian. So we moved into the cold again and headed to the Planet Hollywood casino hoping again for foooooooooood :-D. The buffet there was a bit on the expensive side, but Snugli was already sleepy and so we didn't want to run around in the cold looking for something else. Again there were a lot of cuisines and lot of options, but most cuisines, I am sad to say, are pretty bland for people like us who are used to spices and heat in our food. I did manage to devour the desserts though :-D. And then we caught a bus back to our hotel and ended the day :).

The next morning our plan was to head to Death Valley. When we actually planned the trip, we didn't really have a plan to go there. But once we went to Vegas and Sri mentioned hearing about it, I thought that it'd be a good idea. I mean, there's not much to do in Vegas unless you have millions to throw away ;-) :-D. And it'd be good to cover something Sri hadn't seen :). So well, we decided to go and finish it in about an afternoon. Death valley is a desert situated actually in California, but only about 2 hours drive from Vegas. It has sand dunes and its especially famous for Badwater, which is the lowest elevation in North America - which is 282 feet below sea level.

It was a beautiful drive to the valley, but as you get to the valley, you start to see the bare hills and barely there vegetation. Death valley is also famous for the highest temperature in the western hemisphere - so summers are an absolute torture (the temperatures are so high that its literally hot as hell and hence the name). The winters are the best time to visit - it was actually lot warmer than Vegas and pleasant :). We got to the Badwater basin by about 10 AM.

The Badwater basin is so named because its home to a small pool of water which is completely salty and undrinkable :-D. Supposedly the whole valley had the ocean here and due to the continental movement, the seas got drained to where they are today. But the salt remained. And when the basin fills up some of the salt dissolves and when the heat evaporates all the water, the salt is deposited as crystals and pushed into hexagonal honeycomb shapes. Here's the walk to the salt deposits..

The basin has what seems like miles and miles of the hexagonal deposits..

Here's us at the deposits :).

I like Snugli the Ninja :-D. Well, now that we have a compact Canon point and shoot camera, whenever Snugli sees it, she insists of taking a photo and here it is..

God, I never knew a 3 year old can take a photo like this. One part of me is again upset that she's growing up so fast and another part of me is really happy to have this photo with Sri (its been a long time since we have been able to take a photo of just the two of us ;-) :-D). Oh well, the good part is better :-D.

I really wanted to see the dunes because I have never seen sand dunes till now. But we found out at Badwater that the dunes would be another 3 hours to and fro drive which didn't make sense since we had to get back. So much to my disappointment, we canceled that part and headed back. But something else happened to make us really really late getting there. Sri has been wanting to make some changes to his bank account and sadly, the bank has no branches near Lexington and "near" means in all of the neighbouring states :-p. We found a branch in a small town on the way back to Vegas and stopped to the get the work done. Lets just say the small work took a long long long long time :-p. There were more of long unwanted conversations about everything including Snugli rather than the work that was needed to be done :-p. Well, small towns, what can you do about them?

We finally got back to Vegas hoping that we wouldn't miss the MGM Grand lion exhibit and thankfully we didn't. They have the white lions in a glass enclosure and Snugli really enjoyed seeing them. We next went to the Flamingos casino which has a free Flamingo and fish exhibit for kids. It was a bit dark and the Flamingos were all hiding their faces, but Snugli really loved them, the ducks and the fishes around. Next we went to the Mirage where they have a volcano fountain show in front and that was a ton of fun too..

It was a mixture of water and fire show and a good one at that :).

From there, we went to the Stratosphere casino which is actually a tall tower and has a view of the entire Las Vegas strip at the top. But once we went up, the view wasn't that good and it just wasn't as impressive as I had imagined it to be :-p.

You can see the strip between Snugli and the wall and as I said, its not a very good sight :-\. We got down and went to the Riviera casino which had an Indian fast food place :). Loved the food there - simple and tasty, I felt that was the best of the lot we had tried. Sometimes simple Indian food beats the most expensive buffet and ain't that the truth :-\. And to add there weren't any desserts, none at all ;-).

The next day we had to catch our flight back and just before we left the hotel we took this snap at our hotel room with the window view :).

And that was it, caught a flight back to Houston and then to Lexington and reached home thanks to a delayed flight only at 12 midnight :-p.

What about gambling you ask? We weren't really goody-two-shoes when it came to that. One night, we sat at the slots with a sleeping Snugli on the stroller and were told that children weren't allowed at the gambling floor at all unless simply passing through. So well, we took turns, I blew some money one night and the next night Sri did. We did go a bit beyond our budget for the same and never won anything (I guess sensible people like us rarely do :-D). But I can understand why people are so addicted to gambling - its like you keep hoping to win the next one and play and play and guess what, nothing comes back ;-). It was a lot of fun anyways - though a bit of a guilty fun :-D.

So another trip done and 40 photos on this post :-D, don't even know where we would want to go next. I do want to go to Alaska sometime, maybe Hawaii and want to take on a cruise sometime to the Caribbean, but none of them are I-have-to-see-this kind of a trip. I would prefer to go to Europe instead :-D.

Anyways, just wanted to add that for more HDR images and panoramas of Grand Canyon, and various images of Antelope Canyon, the Las Vegas Casinos and the Death Valley, visit my facebook page - Through Deepthi's eyes photography :).