Friday, December 21, 2012

Stressed out!: Quotes from Isaacland

I have been attempting to increase Isaac's vocabulary by taking out new words, telling him what it means and introducing it into our conversations

Isaac and I are watching 'Bug's Life'. He has watched it so many time that he knows the dialogues. So Princess Dot  says ' Its not my fault she's so stressed out'

Me: ' Isaac you know what stressed out means  ... tired or angry'
Isaac gapes at me.

A few hours later Isaac is jumping all over me
Me: 'Isaac stop ... you are stressing me out'
Isaac: 'No I am stressing me out!'

So much for new words!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I say a little prayer for you

We had a bible study a few weeks back and the question was 'where, when, what , how ... do you pray'. I could write a whole separate blog about these questions. But one of them that weighs on my mind constantly is the 'what'.
What do I pray for? This is what I said ... Safety of my kids as they run and play around ... as they bump their heads ... safety of my husband as he puts on his helmet and rides his bicycle to work.
My heart still beats faster when I think about Sandy hook Elementary!

I was recently talking with Suresh about checking out some schools for Isaac for next year. I have moments when I want to completely give up the mere thought of homeschooling. It seems like every time I venture towards the thought of formal schooling ... someone says something ... somewhere something happens and I have to stop and rethink schooling.

You may  say .... 'oh no Sandy hook will never happen in India!' Really .... look around. Lots of people I know say ... 'oh its the culture in the US'. Really  see what our children are watching 'Hannah montana'!. What kind of video games are they playing? Everything techie we get in the US... we now get here in India too! We give our children guns during Diwali to break crackers .... I watched my nephew and his friends play with it while pointing it at each other and bursting crackers. Why for Isaac's third birthday someone presented him with a toy gun!  Suresh immediately picked it up and put it on top of the cupboard. When I suggested re-gifting he said ' I dont want it in my son's hands or anyone else's son's hands'

Another common thing I hear people here in India say ... 'oh they are reaping what they sow' ... really ... In my craziest nightmares I hope no one ever puts a blanket statement like that on me or my country. This being said India is currently reeling in the terror of a 23 year old girl abused! Being the mother of a 1 year old daughter ... I hope I never have to hear anyone say that 'they are reaping what they sow'. Not one of those 27 children's parents would like to hear it and so I beg those that think that way to reconsider and look at your families before you pass a statement.

Finally I think of the teacher who put herself in between the shooter and her class.
A few months ago we were at an outdoor restaurant that is infamous for friendly visitors - monkeys. While we  got our breakfast plates together one particular monkey actually jumped onto my plate and stole an 'idli'.  I shusshed him while holding Ziva. He hissed back and jumped onto my table. I could hear people around screaming 'Hold Ziva...' I was too terrified and put  my hands over my ears and started to scream. Some one brought a stick and got rid of the monkey. I turned to look at 6 month crying Ziva, who was untouched but terrified by all the screaming. I felt like a lousy mother ... I hear the story of this teacher and I wonder what she must have been thinking ....

"I Say A Little Prayer"

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little pray for you
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you

Forever and ever, you'll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever, we never will part
Oh, how I love you
Together, forever, that's how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

Yearly job performance review

We were at the pediatrician's office for Ziva's 15 month shots. As we got her weight and height checked, Isaac watched little sister get checked. I saw her chart and smiled ... gain in stats are always a pleasure. I smiled at Jagdeshwari (Ziva and Isaac's aunty) and told her Ziva had gained good weight.
She frowned at me ... 'Appadi onum cholla kuda de mam!' (Dont say things like this)
The common superstition is if you say that someone has put on weight ... especially kids ... they may lose it. This goes for anything good. So in general you are not allowed to say anything good ... 'She has put on weight' ...'She is eating well' ...'She looks healthy'...

The pediatricians walked in and looked  at the chart 'Good ... good she has picked up her weight since last time. She is within the chart range now. Good job feeding her'
I smiled 'All the effort from her aunty' I said and pointed at Jagdeshwari who was watching the nurses play with Ziva and get her shots ready.
She realised we were talking about her and looked up.
Pediatrician to Jagdeshwari 'Acha khaana kila rahe ho'
Me: 'Tamil ... no hindi'
Pediatrician: 'Ohh. Nala shapad potta kodakhadh. Kozindhi nalla irruku'
Jageshwari: 'Thanks Mam' ... with her thousand watt smile.

I am glad she didn't frown at the Pediatrician and I am glad she was there to share in the joy of knowing Ziva was doing well.
Yearly performance review of Jagdeshwari: 'Five star'.
Target achieved : Ziva has gotten into the 3rd percentile in weight
Goal for next year: Getting Ziva into the 25th percentile

Jagdeshwari : 'Adu da en vella'  ... 'That's my job' .. Her common response when you ask her to care for Isaac or Ziva ... any other household job takes a back seat .... doesn't matter if we live in absolute filth! Isaac and Ziva should be healthy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Three year old tantrums - Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding

I still remember some one at a ICF women's meeting say 'When we pray for our children, let us pray for 'understanding' for them over wisdom and knowledge'
I never quiet understood it! I thought wisdom was equally important. I guess in a way it is.

We as parents can be so foolish! Last Saturday we went for Bible study and in an effort to get to church in HSR layout spent 1.5 hours in the car. Twice the time it normally takes for us to get there. 7 pm Saturday evening turns out to be prime time in Bangalore as we have learnt from our second experience. We have decided it may not be worth it to venture out again on a Saturday evening. Isaac sat quietly in back seat for the entire 1 and 1/2 hr. We forgot to take something to entertain him with. But he did not whine at all in the car. We got off at church and the first thing he asked 'Amma I want animals on your phone' This is an android software that has the ABC's with some animal pictures. In my utter foolishness I just gave it to him. I wanted to listen to bible study. Isaac spent about an hour playing with the phone at the end of which the battery died!

Chaos broke lose and we were nowhere near the end of bible study. I looked desperately at Suresh. I knew he would be on the verge of disciplining Isaac had I not pleaded leniency the previous week for Isaac. Isaac does not seem to have much company or fun in church. While Ziva still being a toddler gets attention and played with, Isaac watches this and gets a little jealous. We also cannot expect a pre-schooler to sit for 1.5 hrs in a car and than another 1.5 hours in church with zero to nil entertainment while I am sure he rather be at the park playing with sand and his buddies. So I have pleaded with Suresh that while at church no 'vadi'. But try to put ourselves in his shoes and give him instruction to get out of his boredom and TANTRUM.

3 year old tantrums are hard. He started running in small circles around us and wailing pretty loudly. Suresh took him out once and tried to reason with his three year old brain. But it did not sink. So we picked up our bags and as failed parents quickly exited.

We drove home in silence. Isaac already seemed in a better mood and even ate an excellent dinner at 10:30 pm!
Suresh and I woke up early on Sunday morning and started to scheme a new parenting plan.
1. Fools: My foolishness had to be corrected. We vouched that we would not use our phones in church again. We have been using the bible on our phones and I bet Isaac has been watching us and imagining we are playing with his games! NO PHONES. No phones at the dining table or in the car or anywhere else. We cannot afford to have a 3 year old addicted to a phone software

2. Talk talk... talk: We prepped Isaac all Sunday morning on how church was about worship and songs and prayer. We told him he was not going to play with his friends. He seemed to have that expectation and when it was dashed by older kids who obviously had their own games that he could not be part of, he got annoyed at being left out. We talked to him about not crying. And we both prayed!

3. Listen listen ... listen: Isaac did very well at church. He sat next to Suresh as he played the drums. He did not cry or demand anything  (except my phone!). He went for Sunday school and came back very excited talking about Abraham! About 1/2 hr after church while we were having our conversations with other adults, Isaac said 'I want to go home'. Some 10 minutes later 'Appa, please I want to go home'. We picked up our bags and packed off. Children have a limit to and we cannot keep pushing them and except them to behave. I hope over time Isaac's time-limit will increase.

Wisdom to raise our children ...wisdom to not give into strange request such as the Phone!
Understanding to know their need for instruction!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Etiquette: Quotes from Isaacland

So we have done the whole 'Please','Sorry' bit. Isaac even says 'Thank you' without being reminded now. But here is one lesson that is backfiring

Isaac: Appa is this the dolphin song

Appa: 'Ya .. ya'

Isaac: Appa is this the dolphin song

Appa (exasperated): YA

Isaac: Appa dont say YA ... say YES!

I have got a few 'YA's' corrected

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Mini ... Isaac's mini ... and mini me!

I miss my Mini Cooper ... the other day we passed a tire shop and there was the mini cooper standing there  ... a real one  ... life size. Unlike the one Isaac walks around with. It was my dream car and while Suresh did drive it more than me ... I still enjoyed it. The seat warmer was probably what sold the car to me. I didnt know the engine was BMW when I bought it ... I didnt care! It just looked cute and I guess I had watched the 'Italian job'!
When we bought the car, it seemed too expensive. I was still a resident. Suresh had a fantastic job. But did we really need such a car? But Suresh made and excellent point ... 'We may never be able to ride around a car like that after a while' I guess he was assuming increasing family size!

When my dad got to know the cost of the car his exact words were ...'Is it bullet proof' . A few weeks/months later, he asked me 'So is that your dream car?' with a smile on his face that almost looked like he approved.

  Me and my mini

It was such a fantastic car that even held two car seats! Oh well! They say good things come in small packages ... so true. And for us better things came in even smaller packages making the Mini cooper a thing of the past and a mini-van a necessity of the future.

Isaac and his Mini Cooper

Mini Me

So cheers to the Mini --- my good friend I miss you.. ..

Hello to the Ertiga ... I am sure we will enjoy your ride!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Story time by Suresh Joel

So Suresh is reading 'The Frog Prince' to Isaac
The are right at happily ever after. So the frog has been turned into a handsome prince and this is how Suresh's next sentence turns out ...

'An evil witch turned me into a frog and said that I would only become a prince again when a beautiful princess dined with me ... slept with me  and kissed me!!!!!!!!!!!!'

Little faux pas there .... I think the prince meant  slept next to me ... not with me!!!

LOL .... way too many fairy tales for  Suresh Joel for one night!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Standing in line ... holding a seat

Ok ... So I am going to take a punch at it again... Child raising and basic etiquette in public places.

I am at A1 .... the most annoying super market in our 5 km radius. ... Oh wait ... it is the only super market in our 5 km radius. The only reason for going was  - my cook insisted on making Chicken biryani. I am still paranoid about the local slaughter houses and the wariness of the impending or passing Bird flu.

So I decided to visit this disorganized place called A1 Super market. I got my chicken and got a bit side tracked by the cold storage with ice cream bars in it. I thought I would pick up a couple for Isaac and Ziva. The cold storage's in India (Well some of them) are top loading. So I slid the door open and put my hand in to dig for some ice cream. This girl of 10/11 years comes along and decides her time is too precious and pushes open the other side of of the same cold storage. I pull out my hand right in time to not get it jammed. 'hiiiiiiiiiiii!' Exasperation on my face. Luckily her father came  to .... MY rescue. Yes I was shocked mostly we see parents who want the very best for their children letting go when it comes to things such as these i.e. standing first in line ... getting your way not matter what.

Father : 'Let aunty take her ice cream first'. Girl looks at me sulkily. I rummage a little bit more and don't find what I want.
Me: 'Thank you - I am done'
Girl still sulky stares at me!
I go over and pick a few more veggies and come to the billing counter. Almost as if there was 'fire emergency' this same Girl scoots past me and pushes her goods in front of the line. There is one more person who is ahead. For some reason she thinks it's OK to push her goods onto the billing table. Again her dad comes to the rescue and tries to call her to the back where he is standing. I really do not know what kind of hurry she was in but she shook her head indicating she was not planning to budge from there. Had my good friend Becky Kurikeshu been there this girl may have got a good 'Whooping'
Isaac's next memory verse is going to be ..
Mathew 20:16 : The last shall be first and the first shall be last.
Someone mentioned that the difference between homeschooled children and those that went to school was that those that went to school learned to stand in a line! I wonder!!!  I guess the order of the line just depends on their mood!

This second one: I am guilty of too ... holding a seat
We are at this famous eatery chain called Adayar .. where you have to sit next to absolute strangers or stand and eat. You get the best Masala Dosa there. We decided to visit last Saturday and as we walked in at lunch time it was rather crowded. I finally stood next to one chair where there was a family of 3. the fourth chair was empty and the fifth chair had some bags on it. I moved Isaac closer and said ' May I'. The mom in the family immediately pounced on the chair that had the bags
'Not this one ... only that one' Pointing at the empty chair.
Sure lady ... its not like I asked you to write me in your will or something. The finished off their meal in time and ours arrived. I was very thankful since we had 5 chairs to ourselves. I was kind of hoping that Ziva would sit on her own. Even though I was pretty sure that was way out there. I held on to four seat and let a lady sit with us. Someone came to take one of the chair's (Ziva's) and I quickly pounced on it saying ' My husband is coming'

Rohini George pleads guilty of 'SEAT HOGGING"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Australia: Quotes from Isaacland

So Suresh is trying to convince me to go out somewhere on a lazy Saturday morning.
Suresh: Where should we go? Cuban park, petting zoo ....
Me: I dont know ... where should we go?

Much like the vultures in Jungle book we push the question back and forth a bit.

Finally Suresh decides to ask Isaac
Suresh: Bumbalooosse where should we go?
Isaac: Australia!

Yes we leave all major decisions to the 3 year old!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A theme a year

Did you ever feel like you were living a theme. I was reflecting on some verses and began thinking of the past 3- 4 years of my life. It seems that every year has had theme ... a song that kept ringing in my head... or a verse from the word of God that keeps coming back. So here is me just sharing

2008: 2 Corinthians5:8 -- Absent inthe body ... present with the lord.
This verse gives me a hope that soon one day, I will meet my father again. My earthly father went to be with the Lord in February 2008.  I live with the hope that one day we will all meet again. During one Sunday service the pastor while talking about someone who had gone to be with the lord mentioned this verse. When Suresh and I watch Isaac play ... imitate people and come up with crazy things to say - we both often say our Appas (Suresh and mine) would have enjoyed watching this vboy. Alas the lord took my dad away too soon!
1 Corinthians 15:26 --- The last enemy to be destroyed will be death.

                                               Top my dad got before he passed away .. I got it after his death

2009: Habakkuk 3:17-19 ----- Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
In the beginning of this year we were still not sure whether we would have a child. We (Suresh and I) had been married for 6 years and I was slowly loosing home.
Song: 'I' m waiting on you Lord ' .........  Fireproof
And then suddenly all prayers answered ---- Blessings poured down and we awaited the arrival of our first little boy ---- Isaac
Pslam 127 :3 Children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward from him.
 Me with Isaac

2010: 2 Chronicles 20:15 --- The battle belongs to the lord
Our prayers  were not heard. Let me correct that our prayers were not answered in the way we wanted them to be answered. We did not get a yes ... instead my mother-in-law went to be with Lord on July 28 2010.
Psalm 46:1 --- A very present help in time of need
Between August 2010 and December 2010 ... we found ourselves alone, scared, hopeless and exhausted. I was working part-time and Suresh full-time. We decided against sending Isaac to day care in the hope that my mom would soon come back and help us with Isaac. But it was 5 months before she came back and at the end of it we were DONE.
We did get one good news during this time of hopelessness Ziva. She was our Good news ... the instigator of the India movement ... the realization that we had been far away  from home too long.
Song: Blessings

                                                                      Isaac July 2010

2011: Being pregnant and taking care of a toddler (1 year old to be specific) is not an easy task. I was constantly tired and there seemed to be a constant challenge on my being a mother since I had no energy to spend with a very energetic Isaac. I felt people all around me being judgmental.
This verse from Philomen by brother Bill Teubl was the best thing I had heard in a long time .. I wish more pastor/ elders were like Bro. Bill
Phil 1:7: because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

In February of this month I made one of the scariest decisions every. I quit my job! Even before Suresh got the job in GE ... I went in one day and told them that I would not be coming back to work once baby number 2 arrived. The main reason : They wanted me come back as a full time faculty. I thought it the most insane thing to do since I could not handle one kid and a part time job ... how was I to do two kids and full time work.
We did find the most wonderful neighbors! Didi and family on one side and Mitel and family on the other.
The only thing that kept me going was the move to India. I kept praying that life would suddenly improve when we reached India. But we had other issues to deal with. Taking a toddler and displacing him from his most secure place is not the easiest thing to do. While we worried about how our dogs would adjust we forgot that Isaac .... this little person 'Isaac' ...would take the move the hardest.  Tantrums ... missing dad ... and other fun stuff kept this song going in my head.
Song: Life is not a snapshot

 2012: Song: Give them all Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows .... are you tired of spinning round and round.
Have you heard this song. We heard it December last year at a church we visited.
Most probably because during any part of the day I felt myself being tired and many a days just wanting to give up. I also seem to keep questioning the Lord on whether 'this is what he wants me to do I.e. raising my children or whether this is  'where'  he wants me to be ... at home raising my children. This question normally comes to mind when I lose my temper with Isaac or it seems like I am constantly complaining about one of the kids to Suresh. As the song goes
'Give them all give them all ... give them all to Jesus. And he will turn your sorrows into joy.'


Good Boy : Quotes from Isaacland

We have been teaching Isaac a few basics of gender. Isaac is a boy, Ziva is a girl, Appa is a man, Amma is a woman, Grace chechy is a lady. The need arose when Isaac wanted to wear Ziva's earings!

So Ziva is being all fussy and whiny. The cook goes

Cook: Ziva bad girl, Isaac good girl
Isaac: Pathiamma ... Isaac good boy ... Ziva good girl ..... Isaac -- boy ... Ziva -- girl.

The boy is on a correction spree!

The ABC song: Quotes from Isaacland

Quotes from Isaacland

So I was singing the ABC song to Ziva

Me: ABCD ... EFG .....HIJKL ... MNOP......QRS ....
Brain freeze (or as my good friend John Spindler would say: Brain fart) and a few seconds later

Isaac: Amma not UVW
He has a look of exasperation on his face
Isaac: Its QRS .. TUV ... WX ...

Teaching Isaac ABC ... priceless
Getting corrected by him ... Mastercard!

Friday, November 16, 2012

35 going on 13

35 going on 13. My niece said this while we were jumping into our pool. I was doing all kinds of crazy stuff and not able to keep up with the 13 year old. But I had a blast with Grace.

Grace decided to come a week earlier than my sister and family because she wanted to travel on her own. I had planned lots of things ... a few worked out ... a few didn't. Baking class, lasagna, Thanksgiving dinner, movies and bowling. Of course a regular occurrence would be swimming. With the weather being so foul before she reached I was afraid that we would not be able to go swimming. But for the 10 days she was here ... it was bright and sunny ... well not warm  ... but swimable.

The day after she reached we went for a baking class at Lavonne ( and had a blast. Some one at the class asked us if we were sisters and we got a kick out of that too! We went for a course called 'breakfast pastries' and learned how to make croissants and doughnuts. I never thought we would make it after we reached home. But we tried it two times after that and had good success!

Grace and me 2012

We went for a movie leaving the kids with Suresh. 'Student of the year' was such a teen movie and it got me back to the day when I watched 'Kuch Kuch hota hai'. Super fun! At the interval I even asked her: 'What is the name of the ugly guy' and she said  'Which guy do you like?' Me:'The poor guy' She: 'Me too!' and we both squealed in laughter!  We both junked on chips, fries, chicken pop corn, ice tea and cold coffee.

We went swimming and jumped so many times in the water that towards the last day I had a backache and a headache.  My sister reminded me that I was 35!

We were watching this song from English Vinglish after Grace had left and Suresh said 'That girl is so cute ... she reminds me of Grace' (Sridevi's second niece in the movie). I realized it was not the girl that reminded him of Grace but the relationship we had with this13 year old that we could see ourselves dancing at her wedding!

Grace this song is for you ... I look forward to dancing at your wedding some day :). (Will also pray for the worlds best man for you!)

                                                          Grace my flower girl 2002

The gift of ...

Ephesians 4:11

11 He is the One who gave some the gift to be apostles. He gave some the gift to be prophets. He gave some the gift of preaching the good news. And he gave some the gift to be pastors and teachers.

Whenever I read this verse, I look for myself in there ....which one of these gifts do I have. Every time I leave the verse ... disappointed.  I feel like the little drummer boy who sang 'I have no gifts to bring... pa ra pa pum pum' 

Suresh clearly has the gift of teaching in addition to others that come and go. He is an amazing teacher whether the bible or any other subject. The most important thing is he never puts you down when he is teaching. I call that a sign of a good teacher. Encouraging.

Then one day it clicked me ... what has god gifted me with  .... I have the gift of ... Haggling! Yes.

Why do I say this. Well a couple of incidents to back my gift.

When we arrived back in India, I had clearly lost my skill for haggling. Any market I went to I just paid what they asked from me. So much so that once a vendor sold me a kilo of Taro (cheppankizhangu) for Rs. 40. I did feel a little cheated and my suspicions were confirmed when Suresh, the cook and the maid all yelled at me for not haggling. The next time I went to the market I looked at the fish asked the prices and directly reduced Rs. 200. I ended up getting it for the price I asked for and left a very annoyed fish vendor. I got him to smile when I said ... 'Arre ... at least smile when you take the money!' He did smile ... but now whenever he see me pull up I think he doubles his price.

Another story. We were searching for a water softener since the water at our place was causing my hair to fall. I called a couple of vendors and realised that the price was nowhere close to fixed. So I called two vendors home for a demo/site visit. I suited myself up in my 'haggling gear'. The first guy came and went and gave a quote. Then the next vendor came and the demo was the same old ... a couple brochures and showing me how 'hard' my water was etc etc. I was standing outside the house showing them the water tank and my cousin was walking around listening. Their demo was almost done when I pulled in the dialogue ' Well vendor X is giving me this price ... call you beat it ... there is no difference in your products'. My cousin had this look of disbelief on his face and then a slow grin that almost gave up the whole situation as I put on the look of  'I am dead serious'. As the vendor left ... my cousin said ' Good one Kuttu chechi!' The next four to five days were spent with phone calls where I kept getting the price reduced till one of them finally backed out!

Another story: We needed a few closets put in. So we looked around for a carpenter. Since we had already had one guy come put up a few things for us, we called him and showed him what we needed done. He said 'This plank ... that plank ... the other one  ... Rs 5000' My cook who was listening to the entire conversations yelped 'Rs 5000 ama ... ama'. The carpenter then took us to show some sample pieces of work he had done in another house. When I got the silent eye look from Suresh that this was the person who would do our work ... I started the haggling process. He quoted the price ... I reduced it by Rs 20000  without a calculation ... he did some calculation and quoted another price ... I increased Rs 5000 and got him to agree to to put up our curtain rods and picture frames as well. When we reached back home, the cook called Suresh and said 'Please dont mind me advising you and your wife ... but when these guys come to work for your and quote a price, please ask for less' Suresh smirked 'Amma you dont have to tell my wife that ... she is the queen at that art'

 There are several other stories .... but I wont bore you more. I think you got the point right. But to close up listen to this one conversation between Suresh and me.
 We were planning on buying a car. Suresh and I test drove a few and we were talking about accessories etc. I finally was not sure what I was talking about when it came to alloy wheels and other crazy stuff. So I told Suresh ' Please dont just agree to any price they quote ... please bargain a bit' Suresh's response 'Why dont we got to the showroom. I will point at the car I like and you get it for the best price' he winked!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I spy!

You know how you have these moments in parenthood that you feel so proud that either your head will explode or your chest feels like its going through a heart attack! Well I had one such moment this morning. Well it wasn't head exploding or heart attacking but it was very special.

I have been teaching Isaac this game of 'I spy'. This is a card game puzzle that comes in two pieces. One piece says 'I spy a horse and a choo choo train' and you have the find the matching card. The matching card normally has a lot of a object on it all cluttered together with no theme! There are about 12 such sets. It is for the age group of 3-6. I have shown Isaac this puzzle bit a couple of times and he never seem interested. He always got bored and walked away to something else.

This morning I ran through some phonics and numbers with Isaac and was trying to get him to sit down and write lines. He, however wanted to play with his trains. I decided to move on to some cleaning and started rearranging some boxes. He came to me about 5 minutes later and asked me to open the 'I spy' box. I opened and continued with my cleaning. 5 minutes later Isaac came to me with two sets of card joined. 'See amma ... see'. I thought he had just shoved random pieces together so I nodded. 'See amma the horse is on this card and on the other one'. I stopped ... that was how I taught him to put the sets together. I looked over and he had put two set together correct. I was super proud but I thought maybe beginners luck. So I went over the the other set and told Isaac 'Can you show me more Isaac?'. In a matter of a few minutes he had put all 12 set together all by himselves.  I just wanted to hug and squeeze him ... not because he had completed the 'I spy' game but because he had actually listened to all my instructions.  I guess perseverance does pay!

Next step ... getting Isaac to derive e=mc2       ;)
One super proud mom ... gloating! :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

The curious case of TATKAL!


The Indian railways offers a service called TATKAL BOOKING. There is nothing INSTANT about this booking. Here is my frustrating experience!

I was introduced to Tatkal by my wonderful cousin Aiju. When he showed me how to book a ticket online, it seemed like the easiest thing every. Then he showed me how if you didn’t book on time (i.e. 120 days ahead) you had the wonderful scheme of Tatkal. Somehow there seemed to be a lot of power in our hands. To be able to see all the train options. To be able to book a ticket at the click of the button. Yea right ... 'click' of ’a’ button.

One particular event was when my cousin (Aiju) wanted to go to Kerala. There is a catch to the whole Tatkal scheme. There is a two hour time slot in which you can book this ticket. I can be done only one day in advance. So it’s not like you can pack your bag and be ready or anything. Anyway, my cousin wanted to desperately go home. So he decided to go to the railway station to book a ticket. To double his chances he asked me if I could go online and try to book simultaneously. I agreed. He woke up at 5:30 am and went to the nearby railway station. I woke up at 7 am and turned on my computer. I logged into my account on a couple times to make sure it worked. I was all set. Tatkal booking started at 8 am and lasted for 2 hours.

At 7:58 I tried to enter the stations (destination and arrival)...... The website kicked me out. I tried to login.... error found. I was getting annoyed. I tried to login in again and.... incorrect username/password. Thanks.... could you tell me whether the username is incorrect of the password. I tried again and.... there was a long pause that seemed like infinity..... Connecting to  I think the entire 2 billion population of India were trying to log on to the website. 8:00 am. I was IN!
I entered the stations quickly and pressed 'find trains'. Another long pause.... and then the message. Login in timed out..... Yes you DODO... if you take so long to refresh ... of course I will get logged out. It was 8:02 am. I tried booking again and this time it instantly logged me in. Some fluke? I entered the stations and clicked on find trains. I clicked on the train that came up and clicked on 'book'. There were about 40 seats left. I was hopeful. I was going to call my cousin and tell him to come home. I entered his information, which included an id number which is needed for tatkal bookings. Yes because there isn’t enough stuff to enter already! I clicked on book. It took me to the payment website. I entered my credit card information and clicked ok. It told me it would be taking me to another website for security reasons. OK! Hurry already. I entered my password for security reason and heard my phone buzz to the sound of an SMS sent when money is taken from your credit card! Yes! I thought! I looked back at the website and it said ... 'waiting for'. WAITING ... I already paid you! What are you WAITING FOR?  And then the message 'Sorry session timed out'. I felt like I had just been diagnosed for some incurable disease. I tried to log in again. I went to the bookings page and entered the train destination and clicked ’Find trains’. I clicked on the train I wanted --- WL/133.... What! There were no seats left. I felt defeated.... by a website!
I sent an SMS to my cousin to ask him if he had any luck and telling him I had none. His message back to me was '40 sleepless jobless fools ahead of me waiting to book a ticket'. He hadn't even reached the ticket counter and was way behind in the line!

This was just one experience. You normal learn from experiences ... well I didn't I repeated it like 4/5 times. There was one time when we (me and my cousin Aiju) logged on simultaneously from different computers and to book tickets for him tickets. Unfortunately ... both of us booked! Two tickets one traveler same day... it really doesn't help. But we were very proud that day. We had waged war against the system and won!  I now tell people who invite me to functions and do not give sufficient notice ... well if you book the tatkal ticket for me (I will pay you for it ... I just cannot book it) I will come!

Here is a funny picture my cousin tagged me on Facebook. I do feel like that when I get off the website! CREDIT to

Tatkal picture

Time off

It was my first job interview. I had interviewed before for my residency position. But those positions had very few negotiations to make. It was my first real job. I had worked as a student, a researcher and a resident. Now I was going to be a faculty. The 5 digit salary was going to make a whooping jump to 6 digits. All who advised me around told me to ask for 'this' amount and to include a bit extra since I was going to be ABR certified in a matter of months etc. I had only one question in my mind
Me: How much time do we get off?
Dr. Yu: What?
He sounded like he did not understand my question. I repeated
Me: Vacation time. How much time do University of Maryland faculty get every year?
Dr. Yu: I thinks 2 or 3 weeks. But I will have to ask HR.
It should have been a good hint for him not to hire me. I was planning on a vacation before I was hired. I remember going to HR often to find out how much time I had left. I even remember telling someone in HR ... I think I work so I can get time off. I never had anyone complain that I was taking too much time off. Or that I would use up all my vacation for a year. The rest of the hardworking crew accumulated vacation time with an aim to get cash from it.

Now I am no longer an employee. Taking time off is not longer fun! I still get to hang out with my best buddies Monday thru Sunday

Now I am an employers. I have two employees. I see that my role has reversed. My attitude has
changed for the worse. While I enjoyed my time off... I do not seem so tolerant to my employees need for a break.

Both the maid and the cook work seven days a week. They rarely take a day off. Once in a while they come in late or call and say they wont be coming. But in the past one year I can count on my fingers the number of days they have taken off.
There was a time that I would beg of them to take time off. I felt like a slave driver. My only condition to them is that 'please' call me and tell me when you are planning not to come or come late. After all I rely on you! That is where the problem arises. Dependence!

Two weeks ago I completely lost my cool with the cook. She promised me she would come cook for me and then decided last minute that she wasn't going to come. I had depended on her and kept fish out to be cooked. My aunt was in town and she loved fish. When at 5:30 the cook did not arrive I knew I was on my own. I called her and she said ...' I wont be coming today'. I was so mad at her for not calling to let me know. She came the next day and told me that she had mentioned over the weekend - which was in the midst of Isaac's birthday --- that she would not be coming. She was mad. I was mad and I realized that yelling was not the solution. I decided it was cold war time. So for the next few days I would go to her, tell her what she needed to make and leave the kitchen. I was so mad with her that when she made some Biryani rice, I did not want to send some home with her. I knew how much she loved Biryani. Just to be spiteful I ran upstairs right about the time she was getting ready to leave so I wouldn't have to make eye contact while she left empty handed.

As I walked up I suddenly remembered the numerous days I had taken off from work. I remembered the numerous times I had been late to work. My salary had never been cut. My benefits (i.e. Biryani rice) had never been reduced. Here I was mad for one day she took off in many many months.
I felt very small.  I quickly ran downstairs to see her still frying pappdams.
She: I remembered you like pappadam with your Biryani so I was frying a few.

What a blessing! I think as employers we forget the days when we were employees and love just being so tough! Like we have doctors day, therapist day, physicist day... we need a day for the maid and the cook ... So they can have a day off without having to call and give and excuse!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dressing like a BUM!

I ran out to my cycle ... it was a little past 7 am. I knew I had about 15 minutes before the kids woke up. A quick ride around would be really good if I could get out before they woke up. I almost got on my cycle when I turned around to see my neighbor walking out for aerobics class. Mridula smiled and said 'Going for a ride' I smiled back. 'Yes'. She looked prim and proper in her Capri tracks. Her hair was neatly tied back in a ponytail and she had her mat under her arm. Her sports shoes completed her look. She was going for a workout!
I was wearing a black, red and white (in case there were not enough colors) dhoti pajamas, an out of shape dirty black T-shirt and blue bathroom slippers! I felt like a complete bum!
I ran upstairs, and put on tracks. I could not find any t-shirts so I rummaged in the laundry basket. Dirty clothes ... oh well I was going to be sweating anyway. I pulled out a blue T-shirt and put in on. In less than 5 seconds I pulled it right off. It stinks!
I quietly slipped back in the room and found a grey long sleeved T-shirt and pulled it on. Kids were still asleep.
I ran out and made the effort to open the shoe closet and find my sneakers.

It was 7:10 am. I guess it was not so much time to spend to look like less of BUM! My new motto in life is to look like less of a bum - at least outside the house. Thanks Mridula!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ahha my 5000 readers!

5000 may not seems like an enormous number to some of you bloggers out there. But to me it's extremely special today. 5000 people chose to read my blog since I first wrote in 2011. To me these 5000 people make me joyful since I was endlessly beaten up during my PhD for my article writing skills.
I still see a large need for grammatical improvement, since I still overlook commas and full stops where they are necessary.
So for the next 5000 readers, I promise to make the extra effort of make my writing a bit more grammatically precise. I hope to keep it fascinating and entertaining. I hope to touch your soul at times, hope to get you chuckling at times and hope that you will just say ... I can relate to that!

For my 8 followers... thank you very much for reading and thank you for following! Seeing your pretty faces when I open my blog keeps me going!