Carwaas Saar Carwaas Carwaas!

I got into a friend’s car and they both apologized for the mess in the car and removed one toy from the seat. I cringed. Everything else about the car was spotless. No rubber-bands and dried leaves on the floor, no spare jackets on the seats, no books peeping out of every pocket – not even a chocolate wrapper on the floor and they apologized for the mess. I made a mental note to compose something proportionate when I gave them a lift. I don’t think mere words are enough. The cars interiors and exteriors have led to intense arguments about what is a reasonable mess quotient for a car in our family. Ever the sensible voice in the family, the daughter suggested that we take an adventure of sorts and get the car cleaned by going to that fun car wash down the street. So, off we went jibber-jabbering the whole way.

The automatic carwash is the one thing that had my eyes positively popping out in all directions when I first came to the US. Perhaps I have told readers about my brother and his love for vehicles on wheels. For refreshers, please hop on over to his blogpost – if that doesn’t convince you about his love for vehicles, I don’t know what will

Point is that as long as I was with him, I had to just take my vehicle and go wherever I was going. He’d have it cleaned, he’d fill the petrol tank (except on one occasion that I shall blog about soon), turn on the ignition and hand over the vehicle to me with a longing in his eyes. I would then get on and simply move-it with a wave to the dear fellow. Moving to the US has altered all that. There is no brother at hand to take care of my car for me. The car needs washing, I wash it. Sigh! From the opening paragraph it is all too clear that I am not doing a stellar job at it either.

The daughter and I enjoyed the carwash and on our way back I couldn’t help telling her about how I felt when I went for my first carwash in the US.

“You mean – you have never seen an automatic carwash till you came to the US? You’re kidding right?” she said incredulity dripping out of every syllable. I then explained car washes to her as done in India.

A carwash in India has as many flavors as the spices and the industry thrives on a number of best practices. Only none of them are documented.

The marketing slogan used is:

Saar Saaar Saar Saar – carwaas saar carwaas saar carwaas


Adjusted to traffic and surroundings. Decibel levels should allow for marketing slogan to be heard inside rolled up car windows.


Some places I know have “saloon caarwaas”, “jest fast carwaas” and regular deals. The saloon carwashes are the ones done with foaming soap and water. While this is done with a regular service, the owner has the option of sipping tea (hand-delivered with a finger in your cup) or leaving the car there. Best done with reliable dealers or mechanics, for we all know that spare parts are hard to come by.

As for the Jest Fast carwaas variety, I’ve seen them done in minutes while waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. A bunch of guys throw some water on the car and another bunch climb on with towels and scrub clean. One time the signal turned green and the guy on the front windscreen was not done yet. He kept wiping while the impatient mistress honked to let him know. This guy should be identified and recruited by any organization worth its salts, I have always maintained. For Rs. 5, he simply wouldn’t let a bird dropping go. He scrubbed and scrubbed. He screamed to the driver – “Madam – keep moving! I will scrub and then jump off at the next signal. Don’t worry!”

So, the lady drove gingerly with this guy squatting on the hood and scrubbing the windscreen with all his might. It is a pity I hadn’t a cell-phone to snap a picture with me right away, but I shall always, always carry that image with me.

As expected the daughter guffawed at the whole story and said she preferred the automatic variety. I was not so sure.

The Best Laid Plans of the Brave & Hopeful

She was 3 and 1/2 years old when we first sat and watched a movie together in a movie theatre. The movie was Ratatouille. That was the daughter and that is if you don’t count one failed attempt. I don’t count that because I placed it on the record that she was not ready for a movie at 8 months. A Baby Einstein airing – possibly, but a Tamil movie definitely not. The husband, mother-in-law both insisted that she would fall asleep within seconds of the movie starting. Of course, nobody listens to the mother, who was not interested in the movie in the first place, and off we went. I hear the movie was good. I was there for the title sequence and then for one song that she liked to shake her bum and dance to. The rest was spent in the corridor next to the tea and coffee vending machines on the floor. One vendor felt so sorry for me; he actually came and offered me a free samosa. He started it. After that, there was no stopping me. In regular intervals, I went for samosas, tea, coffee and ice-cream and still the crowd did not come pouring out of the theatre. Which was when I thought of a topic that would immensely help Tamil movie makers – Brevity. The movie wore on for 3 hours and not a moment of background music time was wasted. I wasn’t even in the theatre and I had a head-ache.

Given the scar of events past, one would think I would hesitate to brave a movie with Tucky clocking in at a year old. I did hesitate. But Disney Pixar’s pull is far too great. After considerable thought, we selected the 10:15 p.m. show of ‘Brave’. With a one year old, sleep times are unpredictable at best. So, I hung onto his eyelids from early evening onwards and made sure he did not sleep. Then gave him a warm bath laced with sweet vapors to soothe and soothe like no man has ever been soothed before. Never one to leave anything to chance, I played him some Mozart as well. I must admit Mozart makes me incredibly sleepy too. So, I was yawning football sized yawns by the time the movie started, but little Tucky was fast asleep and I was hopeful.

I wonder whether you have seen great strategists in action. I have heard of them. Now, I mustn’t boast, but we certainly gave the best of them a run for their money at that theatre. We took in a bulky carseat because I wasn’t going to tickle a sleeping dragon just when ‘Brave’ was starting. I had with me to use at a moment’s notice the following:

1) Thermos Flask with warm milk

2) Blanket to tuck and pat

3) I couldn’t really use the Mozart music as people might have noticed the difference in sound tracks in the theatre.

Finally, no tumbling into the best seats for us. I carefully selected an aisle seat ready to take flight to the corridors at the slightest whimper. (We are extremely conscious of people’s experience of a movie and don’t want to spoil their shows with crying babies)

So, there we were – trailer after trailer came on and just when I popped off to sleep myself, the movie started. I wonder why – but just before the movie starts, they give you an eerie minute of silence that completely ruins the plans of the parents of sleeping babies in carseats. See – the constant drone of noise is the trick. Just keep up with the trailers and the music and the baby sleeps on. Why introduce a moment of suspense before the movie?. Then, the slightest noise seems jarring. No one consults me while doing these things – sigh! After all those hours of Mozart and sweetening soothing almond oil showers, he stirred when the movie started after this tense moment of silence.

Without hope there is no life. I continued hoping that he’d fall back to sleep, but he gave a great chuckle and an energetic giggle at a horse on the screen and settled down to watch. I exchanged a meaningful glance at the husband and we agreed to stay as long as he kept quiet. I must say, the dear was absolutely charming. He watched it like he understood the storyline perfectly. Clapped when people cheered, laughed when people laughed.

Towards the very end, he grew a bit antsy at which point a warm milk bottle was shoved into his mouth and he watched with interest again after that. It helps that the movie was only 90 minutes long. That was the story of his first movie.


Dads At Disney: DAD

There is a dull resignation when you mention Disneyland to the husband. A few years earlier, he would protest vehemently when you broach the topic of another trip. The reaction has watered down over the years. Initially, he was only up against me, the Disney lover. Then, the daughter joined the Disney lovers’ group of the family circle. I am glad to say that we added another member on our most recent trip to Disneyland. The son loved gawking at the sights and dancing to the music. He gulped in the sights and clapped even when he had to fight sleep to do so or get up in between to clap.

The children were lucky enough to spend Father’s Day at Disneyland with their beloved father. There we were, ride after ride, attraction after attraction on a hot summer’s day. I must say that after the initial resistance to Disneyland, the husband rises to the occasion. Disney spins its magic and wraps him round. He transforms into a strategizing monster when it comes to Disneyland.

We had been to Disneyland with the visiting neices and the Fathers were caught catching a quick rest! The poor men had spent the bulk of the day pushing their children around on strollers, running from one place to another, buying ice-cream after ice-cream and of course carrying the little ones in turn.

Disneyland on Father’s Day was amazing. We had fathers’ wearing hilarious t-shirts.
One said DADD: Dads Against Daughters Dating.
Another family had planned their clothing to say:
Dad: Father of all Things
Mom: Mother of all Things
They had three children who wore t-shirts:
Thing 1
Thing 2
Thing 3
They looked so wonderful posing for pictures.

We had what we call an efficient trip. We attacked more attractions than we thought possible with 4 young children in tow. But the day was hot and we looked forward to winding down to watch the fireworks at night. There we were, standing in front of the Castle waiting for the magic to begin when the daughter asked her father if she could sit on his shoulder and watch the fireworks. I took her aside and told her that she was getting a little too tall for that. The husband had not the heart to tell her that and he complied. I don’t know which is better – watching the fireworks or watching the reflection of the fireworks in the eyes of the children. She was so thrilled. She made a wish every time a wishing star fire cracker flew past. She glowed in the joy of the moment and was so happy to be there – with her loved ones at the happiest place on Earth. As the fireworks wound down, she kissed her father on the cheek and said,”I love you Appa. Happy Father’s Day!”

The next time, it will probably be Tucky’s turn at the old shoulders, but this time was hers…

What the Well Dressed Man is Wearing

After my recent appearance at the first birthday of my son, I am now qualified to submit a piece on ‘What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing’ or rather what the woman is wearing. I posed for photographs, like my lead fashion designer said, “Red carpet style”. I can see some of you tutting and asking me where my humility is.

Allow me to explain. But before I start, tell me whether you have ever worn a curtain before.

In my chronicles so far, I have mentioned some talents about the mother. She is an amazing cook, excellent teacher at Maths and impressive with solving calculus problems while stirring the sambhar. (There have been times when I would ask her about a particular problem that I was having difficulty with, and she would nod and say she will help me out later. All the while making chappatis with speed and efficiency machines would kill for. Then a few minutes later, she pipes out the answer. She’d have tackled the problem in her mind. That in Algebra or even Trigonometry is okay, but in Integration & Differentiation is another ball-game) I digress.

Point is she has another hobby – sewing. We were often at the receiving end of her experiments with cloth. It goes with the free calculus package.

I still remember the time I went visiting the sister in college. There she was, out in the big, bad world by herself. (The big, bag world had barbed wires on the fences and on the tongues of the nuns overseeing the place, but still) I traipsed into her room wearing a skirt stitched by my mother, and hugged her friends who had come up to our home in the Nilgiri Hills a few weeks back. They pampered me (the little sister) like they always did, but they kept looking at me with quizzical expressions on their faces. It was a few minutes before one of them made the connection. Never one to hold back, she piped, ‘So that’s where I’ve seen it before. Isn’t this the curtain in your living room?’ I was aghast. I was shocked. I told her in a loud, firm voice that the curtains were still in the living room, and she was welcome to come and see them. And in a smaller voice acknowledged that the remaining cloth had been put to use by the mother. You see I tried my best to not wear that skirt at home when the pattern matching algorithm is blatantly simple, but I never thought someone would remember the cursed things a 100 miles away.

I am still a little scarred with complimenting people on their choice of curtains. I do it of course, if the curtains really lift the mood of the room, but with a little twinge of fear that gnaws at the corner of my heart.

So that is my claim to fame in the fashion department. I’ve worn a curtain. Have you? From there to wearing a dress that has the world turning their heads is bound to get to anyone’s head what? Anyway, here is the algorithm to ‘What the Well-dressed Woman is Wearing’

Step1: Get a brother-in-law who is not as fashion demented as yourself and your husband.
Step2: Get the brother-in-law to marry a girl who is not as fashion d as yourself and your h.
Step3: Leave the rest to them.

That is what I did and I must tell you the awesome twosome have done a wonderful job thus far on making us look as little like curtains and bedsheets as possible. The clothes are always stunning, and this time came with a best present of all (the gift of their time and presence.) They are here a-visiting and that is one among the many reasons I have been dawdling on the post frequency.

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