Serendipitous Ukiah

We were planning a short week-end trip into the woods to enjoy some greenery: away from the punishing effect of not having the shade of a tree fall on you while you walk through the rain-parched and barren hills around our area. What we craved for, was the green of a forest so thick that you find some places where the sun’s rays have not hit the ground. We went away for a week-end to the Avenue of the Giants redwood forest area. Not wanting to do the 5 hour drive on Saturday morning, we randomly zoomed down on an area that looked about midway through and settled on Ukiah. There was a comfortable enough hotel (with free breakfast), willing to put us up for the night and off we went, fully expecting it to be no more than a stop-over town.

The next day after a lovely breakfast, the husband went over to the lady at the reception and asked her whether there was any place worth visiting near by. She said no. Never one to give up, the husband needled on, ‘There must be some place that locals like to go to, it doesn’t have to be a fancy place.”

“Well, I do like going to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas’ said the lady.

That is how we found ourselves in a Buddhist monastery surrounded by peacocks, peahens, squirrels and buddha statues. The temple inside has Buddha statues of all sizes on the walls, ceiling, pedestals, everywhere. As you enter, there is a feeling of peace that permeates the surroundings. This was also how we found ourselves surrounded by peacocks spreading their feathers beautifully and dancing. A dance so graceful I have only heard about it in poems and then you realize that nothing prepares you for the real thing. It is everything all the writers and poets say: Beautiful, charming, graceful,  but it also fills your heart with joy. It makes you want to shake your neck too and dance. It makes you smile as you look into its eyes. Never mind that other folks looking at you shaking your necks think you are cuckoo. You think you are peacock, and that is what matters. A peahen on the premise stopped to gape at us for a few seconds. Distractions must be a menace for the peacock, although I could have assured the peahen that the peacock was a worthier companion for her. In any case, thanks to that distracted peahen, the peacock put up a splendid, long performance.  

Dance like a peacock
Dance like a peacock

By the time we left for the forests, I felt like I had stepped back in time to a place where cell-phones and laptops were not intruding into my every experience, where nature taps you on the shoulder and takes you for a spin. Feeling the presence of it all. It makes you want to dance. Dance like no one is watching. And sing: sing like no one is listening.

That is Serendipity, and it set the tone for the rest of the glorious weekend.

The Doodling Circle

The son walked into his new preschool talking like a man in control of his emotions. He yapped and clacked nervously telling us all what he can do in the school. His doting elder sister had told him of all the fun things that a school provides – friends, play areas, play doh, blocks, story time, circle time, the works. There was no denying the fact that he was excited. The poor fellow asked us repeatedly whether we will be coming to school with him. I assured him that on the first day, we would. We will walk him to his chair and then say ‘Bye’ and leave. He was not very happy with that, but I told him that the school was only for children and therefore, we would leave. His face fell a bit, but not much. I swelled with pride that my little boy was being a brave boy after all. He chatted happily as we made our way into the school classroom, we settled him in and turned to leave. It was only then that he realized that his sister was not going to be with him in class either, and she would leave too. He started to cry: silent, heaving sobs clinging on to his sister’s hands. He thought that when I said school was for children I meant his sister and he could stay.

Long story short, the fellow started preschool this week, and brought home his first piece of “work”.  The work is (un)helpfully labelled ‘I can draw a Circle’. In my opinion, they need not have done that. Because they said ‘Circle’ I was forced to look for one in the doodle that my son produced, and it was a daunting task.


A word about his lineage might be appropriate here. The son is the grandson of two Maths teachers, and when asked to draw a circle, he sees whether can he draw two and two square and two cube circles. He experiments with Venn diagrams. He experiments with non-linear curves without curvature. He tests the hyperbolic strength of a loosely held pencil. Or he just doesn’t know what a circle is and produces the hapless picture above.

First Work of Art

The d.sister took it and stuck it up on the wall proudly as his first art work. All fine so far. That is what a family does. They save the embarrassing first works of Art to show it to them when they unleash their creative works on you later in life as adults and show them the long path they have traversed and then smile proudly. What I was not prepared for was this.

Apparently, this study studies the first art work of children and then produces a moderate correlation to their abilities as teens. Luckily the article is as vague and under-researched and steers off clarity as a lot of articles on the Internet, and I am assured that the first piece of Art is nothing more than that. A Doodle.

Doodling does have its uses:

Happy Schooling and Doodling Dear Son.

Fist Bump

Our little fellow is methodical. For example, if you find that he has done something good, like putting away his toys (read: moving his cars from high foot traffic area to under the sofa), we sometimes give him a high-five. Then, his sister taught him low-five. So, his ritual became high-five, low-five.  A few days later, the ritual included a high-five, low-five and a fist bump. Even if you only wanted to give a high-five, you had to do that high-five, low-five, fist bump routine or not at all.

Well, recently, that schedule has increased some more to include a high-five, low-five, fist bump and ting-ting-ting (that is a spot on either cheek with the middle-ting being for the nose). 

Even the ting-ting-ting seemed okay till I heard that the fist bump is fast replacing the handshake as it is cleaner.

The fist bump has evolved Darwinian style – going from being perceived as an aggressive gesture to a acceptable, even sweet one

What if the ting-ting-ting becomes a thing too? I am not sure I am up to having random people ting me on my nose. It is precious to me.

Oh well.

I am a Bison with a Daisy

I was wearing a flowery top as I walked down the hallway. A black one with petite white flowers on it. In a few minutes, I was hailed by a person I recognized. A serious looking man with keen powers of observation, a booming voice,  and when he decided to bestow his smile on you, a warm one it was. Obviously, I stopped to say hello. He looked into the cornea of my eyes after a minute or two.  I felt like the monster in the deep waiting and waiting for the fog horn to give a call. It did. “So, you look like a Daisy. Are you one?” he bellowed. Teacups a few furlongs away shook with the impact.

I must say I was taken aback a little. I have been called a lot of things, but a Daisy is not one of them. I wracked the brain a bit. It didn’t take long. The truth dawned on me. “Oh! Are these flowers daisies? They are rather nice looking flowers, especially on this top isn’t it?” I said by way of clarification. His large, round face looked puzzled and a little alarmed. Maybe I was off my rocker. He looked concerned and said in what he thought was a low voice. Teacups a furlong away shook, but those two furlongs away stood their ground. “No, no. I am not talking about that. I meant you are a Daisy right? You look like a Daisy.”

I have seen daisies. I have seen myself. I don’t look like them.

“Maybe you have my accent wrong. I always say Shalom to Daisies.”  he continued with that look of utmost sincerity.

I swear I had no idea what he was talking about. The conv. went on in this vein for a couple of minutes. It hovered over the Middle East and landed in Iran.

Daisies in a desert area, but in beautiful Iran with Shaloms. That should be enough even for me to figure out. I did. He meant ‘Desis’ (people of Indian origin) and he meant ‘Salaam’. I taught him to say ‘Namaste’  instead and saved a generation of Indian Americans flower-isms and cackled my way back thinking of poor Mr Mishra and his Bison Center.

Mr Mishra was a Hindi teacher in our school nestled in the hills of South India where the dialects of Hindi are scarce. He liked my father and kept telling him that he must visit North India and when he does, he must let him know, for the father’s abysmal Hindi was a thing of local legend.  And so, it was that having learned that my father was planning a trip to Allahabad for the Winter, Mr. Mishra walked a mile up a steep hill to congratulate us on the upcoming trip and offer his help when we arrived at Allahabad. “You know Sir? Elahabad is a big city.” (He said waving his arms about – Hindi teachers from North India somehow did this even when they spoke to my father in English. I suppose they had it so deeply ingrained in their blood that this man was not going to understand Hindi, that they made it a habit.)

“Elahabad has good things to see, good food also.” (He was now rubbing his belly and looking content at the thought.) I was a silent spectator in this room till this point, but at this, I started giggling. Mr Mishra bestowed a benign smile on me, pointed at me and then said, “Sir, Elahabad is the Bison Center of India, did you know that?”

“Bisons in Allahabad? You mean buffaloes?” said the father, always quick on the uptake.

“No sir. Bisons. Like your daughter likes Bisons.”

The father cracked. All this was too much for him. He had heard folks referring to me and several animals in the same vein: rabbits, deer, peacocks, kangaroos even, but never a bison. He looked at me closely and said, “Bison eh?”

Bison With a Daisy
Bison With a Daisy

“Yes. Nobody believes me. But Elahabad is the biggest Bison center in India. “ he said and pointed at me again. There was only so much I could take, I excused myself. I mean, I am sure there are very nice Bisons in the forests and I have nothing against them, but I did not like this repeated reference to myself and bisons. The father was looking at me queerly and thinking, “Well. Well. Well. I would have never thought of a bison for this sprightly child. I must find out the characteristics of bisons and see how they match her character.” Then he said out loud to Mr Mishra, “There is so much to learn isn’t there Mr. Mishra? I never knew that Bisons were to be found in Allahabad. Is there a good wildlife sanctuary nearby?”

I ducked into the next room with a dignified face, or as dignified a face as bisons could muster, only to find my brother doubling over in laughter. Watching him there made me laugh too, but he sobered me up saying Bisons did not laugh, only hyenas did. I could have gored him.

Mr Mishra, in the meanwhile, was carrying on, “No Sir. Elahabad is a city. A big city. No forests there. Only bisons. Girls – pretty girls. Even Bombay learns its bisons from Elahabad. Many shops with beautiful bisons.”

I understood and went to spare my father further trauma. “Oh sir, you mean fashions? Allahabad is the Fashion Center of India?”

“Yes. Yes! That is it. Very good girl your daughter.” said Mr. Mishra beaming at me.

I am a Bison with a Daisy. I’d like to see anyone trump that title.


Getting the folks in our family to laugh is easy. Most times, a lame joke about three-men-in-a-boat type of joke is enough, and there we are,  rolling on the floor. But the occasion demanded something sterner, that is the reason three generations of women were seen tickling each other on the street after a hearty meal and laughing hard, while an amused son looked on trying to figure out what was going on. Tickle parties are fun and tickle parties are necessary he seemed to say earnestly.

Resist direnkahkaha

A Turkish minister has a protest on his hands that has people laughing their heads off, after a remark at his Ramadan speech. He said, “A woman should be chaste. She should know the difference between public and private. She should not laugh in public.” He says that his remarks were taken out of context, but if it gives people a moment to stop in their day and laugh, why not?

The Harry Potter star and newly named Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women is just one of thousands of women who have been protesting the politician’s remarks and even included the hashtag #direnkahkaha, which translates to “resist laughter.” Thousands of women have posted pictures of themselves cracking up with laughter.

Enough people have joined in on the backlash against Arinc’s remarks that both the hashtags ‎#direnkahkaha and #direnkadin (“resist woman”) have become trending topics on Twitter.

Laugh on folks!

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