Taking the ABCD Approach

“Amma! How can you say that? Three is a very important age!” says the daughter riled up and agitated. I now recognize that tone of voice as the one she uses when she is standing up for someone or something. There is a sincerity to it that is refreshing. Maybe, one day that voice will help her lend her energy and actions to more noble causes than celebrating the third birthday party for her brother, but for now, I appreciate the thought.

“Really? Tell me all about your third birthday party dear.” I ask her. I can see her tumbling about in her brain with a look on her face like she is rattling a box of metal keys to look for the key to the treasure chest.

“There was a .. a cake?!” she says hesitantly.

“Nice try. What else?”

“Amma, see all I am saying is that I will take care of everything for the party. All you need is A.B.C.D and we are set.”

I was gearing up for a small party among his friends in his day-care and much singing of the birthday song, but the daughter wanted to have some of her own fun in our house with a larger group of her friends and her brother’s on the occasion. Hence the discussion.

“What is A B C D?”

She picks up a marker and heads to the white board in true Teacher’s-grand-daughter fashion and writes:

A: Apartment/House

B: Buddies

C: Cake

D: Decorations

“We already have A, I’ll invite all the Bs, you order the C and I’ll take care of the D too. I’ll even clean up before the party. “

She ignores my question about cleaning up after the party.

So, I am settling down to the myriad tasks that come with pulling off a birthday party at the last minute. None of this is helped by the fact that my sister sitting half a moon away is pinging me on progress. The daughter has looped her in for support I see.

Lightning McQueen Cars Cake
Lightning McQueen Cars Cake (Image from Safeway)

The little brother, in the meanwhile, is basking in all the attention. When people wish him a Happy Birthday, he glows and wishes them Happy Birthday too. Sigh.

Jean Karma

My grandfather seems to have understood early on in the journey to parenthood that naming a child was a huge responsibility. He understood clearly that while naming a child, one must choose a name one likes, for one cannot get around the fact that the name shall be bellowed out by the parent in desperation, exasperation, and god-knows-what-a-ration. He was also a pious man. Consequently, his children were named after various gods and goddesses of his fancy. Every time, my grandmother blew a fuse or bust her gasket with tension at her progeny, he would calmly tell her that she was accumulating good karma points by invoking the names of the Gods. I am not sure what my grandmother invoked against her husband in retort to this (some things were hushed up during story telling). Anyway, here is a post on some naming strategies the older generation seems to have used.


A few days ago, I volunteered at the daughter’s school to be a parent chaperone on a field trip to a Science Exploratorium. I strapped myself up with a large bag of goodies, knick knacks and water bottles and hurtled off to take charge of my wards for the trip. I was in-charge of the daughter plus four others. We chatted easily and I did my best to memorize their facial features (it was not helped by the fact that one of them kept tying and untying her hair, one put on her glasses on or not at will. One child I thought I had nailed in the identification department with a mole on her cheek, only to find halfway through the trip that it was a chocolate smudge that was promptly wiped on a white t-shirt). Anyway, the journey to the exploratorium was unremarkable enough.  Things only heated up nicely once inside.

You see, we walked in and saw that it being an Exploratorium, the children were meant to be let loose to explore. There was no point in saying, “Stand behind me in line and every child gets 2 seconds to explore the sound gong wave magnetometer.” That simply would not do, but the problem was not an easy one to solve. It was like taking a couple of butterflies to a meadow swarming with butterflies and saying, “Remember, you are in charge of the yellow butterfly, the blue one and the orange one with red stripes, and of course the rainbow-colored one.” My knees were knobbly. Within minutes, our butterflies had flown to different flower patches and I had no idea how to keep them together.


I turned around in desperation only to find that my fellow chaperones were in a similar state. It was then that one of them had an idea, she plopped herself on a chair in the middle of Area A and took her wards’ snack packs. She proclaimed that was going to be home base and the children would just gather around her every few minutes so she can keep an eye on them. That seemed like a brilliant idea and before you knew it, I had asked everyone to deposit their snack boxes at our feet and let them loose. I was still meandering around them, keeping an eye on them for I am paranoid that way.

It was easy enough to scoop them back and head to the next area. I had asked them all to come to our home base around lunchtime and was waiting patiently for them to come, when I realized one of my butterflies named Jean was not coming. She was mesmerized by some exhibit no doubt and her friends and I went looking for her : JEAN! JEAN! Jean …

We had used the Jean-you-come-here-right-now-young-lady tone

We had used the Jean-honey-please-come-now tone

WE had used the Jean-we-are-really-hungry tone

Jean-where-are-you? Jean-do-you-hear-me? JEAN! JEAN!

Any inflection of Jean you can imagine, we had used. Finally I saw Jean sticking her head into a gong-like thing and hitting the outside to listen to reverberating sounds that echoed through her head. She looked like she had a bubble around her head and was enjoying the experience too. She had spent the past half an hour inside that infernal gong and did not hear 50000 decibel worth of her name being shouted out. Oh well!

I rounded up my remaining butterflies and headed out to lunch, only to find Jean had frittered off to a play structure by herself. When I started calling for Jean again, one lady came up to me and clutched my arm. She was a kindly old thing with a warm, round face and greying curls. “Dear, how many times you have called me today! Every time, I turned to answer you, you were gone. I am Jean. Nice to meet you.”

My grandfather would agree that I attained positive Jean-Karma.

Honk, Pip or Beep: Listening is the Key

To fully chalk up my story of honking, I must take my readers back about 15 years. In those days, I was a proud owner of a two-wheeler: a slender, sleek thing maroon in color. Imagine a maroon banana slug with wheels and you have my Hero Puch. The father had his own bulky, husky two-wheeler that he unleashed noisily on the streets ( you may read our two-wheeler chronicles here) . He thinks he has not done his duty of conscientious driving if he does not honk every few minutes. Obviously, it was a lesson he sought to teach us all. Every time I remembered his advice on the two-wheeler, I would honk and redeem myself as the good daughter in his eyes.

One time, he took my Hero Puch for servicing and had the horn changed on it. He told me over dinner that day, and I nodded absent mindedly. The next day, I started off on my Hero Puch looking like a weasel on a banana, and made off.


I was nearing a bend where everybody honked and thinking that I better do my duty too, I honked. What happened next surprised me so much, I almost fell off my own vehicle, and I caused a number of folks in front of to trip over themselves too, and they cleared enough space for a bus to pass through. The honk that the banana-shaped slip of a thing emitted was that belonging to a truck. A long, loud trumpet of a sound signaling a mammoth tusker on a high speed monster truck. I still remember folks giving me an annoyed smirk on what they clearly thought was a low trick. I must say I was rattled too. There is, of course, a story behind the horn change. Something to do with the-father-trusting-the-mechanic. (The last time he trusted a painter, this happened: https://nourishncherish.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/the-colourful-house-by-the-daughter-of-the-colour-blind-father-2/)

The point is, in the intervening years, I have not used the horn as much.  Sometimes, I fumble to see where it is when I do have to use it on the person backing out without seeing me. Imagine then, that of all the new experiences that I got to enjoy in Hawaii, honking was one of them. There are many road trips in this beautiful place that have one lane paths and turns.  I read a blog post that warned us about sharp curves,  and many places in which it is prudent to let fellow drivers know that you are coming. This is one of the places in the US where you can lean out the car window, wave enthusiastically to your fellow drivers, and give them a thumbs up sign and honk and let them know you are coming on the bridge. I was one enthusiastic but not very effective let-them-know-er. Gone are the years of my ambitious honking, what is left now is an apologetic honker. I go h-h-ho-honk and a pip of a honk emanates from the car. You need to have the honking attitude and I had lost it.

I was telling the husband and kids all about this and my dear Puny Puch sounding like Superman while driving along merrily peering into some canyons on the way.


Up ahead, was one of those infernal turns again. My head full of my Puny Puch’s horn, I honked to let folks know I was making my way through and kept going. I had my windows rolled up and wondered why it sounded like the bull-horn my Hero Puch let out all those years before. Funny how the memory of a thing can bring so vivid a recollection huh?

I rounded the corner and only just had the sense to step on the brakes like my life depended on it (well it did).  There I was face-to-face with a bull-dozer sized bus on a ribbon bridge. The problem was that I had thought so much of letting others know, I had not taken the trouble of listening to the bus driver’s honk.

That big honk was the one belonging to the hulk of a bus. Valuable lesson learnt: Honk, Pip or Beep, the key is to listen.

Who says there is no joy in honking? Sigh. Continue reading “Honk, Pip or Beep: Listening is the Key”

The Meditative Glaze

The lark does let me win sometimes. I can’t deny that I love the early morning snooze in. I am not one of those birds who sit up in bed chirping happily. I like to squirm about the nest and cheep rather groggily before nudging in to my day. Yet, there are days when I get up before dawn cracks over the horizon and those days, I don’t like to waste indoors. I want to boast to the world that I am up, I am embracing the day. Most days in Hawaii during our recent vacation, I was up to welcome my day with a smile and a walk. It was our first day in Kauai, the Garden Island. While there, our apartment had a partial ocean view. What that means is, that if you are tall enough and know how to crane your neck in a Z-shaped angle, you will be able to see the ocean. Early on our first morning, I went a-walking. I inhaled the fresh sea air, I looked up at the lightening sky and admired the hues. I thought of how an artist would capture that moment, and how despite the many, many paintings of a tropical beach, there are few that can truly capture the essence of being there. How do you make a painting breathe? How do you make a photograph scent the salted air, or listen to the crashing sound of waves. I found that I could not stand still, I needed to do something, and so I did. I walked. I must have walked quite a bit for the sun had risen and I decided that no matter how lax peoples’ standards are in the dressing department in Hawaii, I could not pass off my nightie as formal wear for too long into the morning. So, I headed back to our apartment.

If there is a fault with my early morning walks, it is that it puts me in a loquacious mood. I want to share my energy and relive the scenery and all that boot. As I headed back home, I remembered that the husband rashly took it upon himself to meditate first thing in the morning, so maybe I will find him quietly contemplating the wonders of the world.

Aha! Just as I thought: I turned the corner to see the husband there on the porch in our apartment. I was dying to share the exhilaration of the morning air, and waved to him at the rate of 38 mph in the clockwise direction and 32 mph in the anti-clockwise direction . At first, I thought he did not notice me. For there was no reaction from him, though he clearly had his face turned towards me. It must be the meditative glaze. So, I hollered my best “HI!” – I modulated the pitch so that it could be heard over the sound of the waves and simultaneously broke into a run to better conquer the lawn between self and the porch.

If there was an Indian movie director at the time, he could have gotten the perfect shot of a less-than-glamourous, slightly disheveled heroine running in slow motion through the lifting mists, and plugged it into any of his movies. Obviously one expects the hero to do his share. I mean, one doesn’t expect him to stand around while the heroine does all the work right?

You could have thrown a blade of grass at me and knocked me down at what happened next. The man turned and scuttled off inside like he had never seen me before. The nerve!


But, I must not be too harsh on the poor man, for it turns out that he had never seen me before. I was rushing through the wrong lawns and waving and Hi-ing to  the man of the house at Building 2N when I should have been hollering at the man in Building 1N. I forgave the man his impudence and went on with a dignified gait to see the man I loved at Building 1N. I needn’t have worried. My man was there neatly tucked in bed, transcending that beautiful world of dreams and dreaming of meditating while looking at that ocean. Or maybe, the meditation had sent him to his dreams again.

Whatever it was, the world was in its right place and I marched out again to sip a cup of water before the household awoke.

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