Monday, April 29, 2013

For everything there is a season - Ecclesiastes 3

It indeed is true. A season for everything.

Right now it is the mango season. Here in India you don't get a fruit all through the year. In the US, I have noticed that mangoes were there in COSTCO all year round. They may not have been good all year round. But they were there on the shelf.

In India however - fruits are available only in their season. And the arrival and departure of these fruits are distinct. For instance we saw the strawberries come into Bangalore around December/January. They were being sold everywhere, all the big shops and even the small guys on the carts at the street corners had boxes lined up of those pretty red fruits. Isaac's favorite fruit! Strawberry!

But as the months turned into April and the thermometer reached its highest in Bangalore  (38 degrees celcius), the pretty red fruits made their exit and the king of fruits arrived. Ahhhh they are so beautiful. You walk past a store and you will know its time to buy some mangoes by the scent in the air. And then there are the varieties : Alphonso, Baganapalli, Malgova, Mallika, Sindhri ... and many more. I always felt there was not really that much of a difference but the price. But when you start buying for your kids, you start to see the difference. Especially in the speed at which Malgova and Alphonso are gobbled up over the rest.

Our cook suggest that the best way to get them really sweet (even though they are already ... she insists they will be yummier) is to store them in a box of uncooked rice. So now I have a box of uncooked rice that smells like mangoes. Boy does that box smell yummy.

Talking about seasons, in a few weeks its going to start raining. That's how the weather will cool down to bring in the pleasant nights of July. Come the rains and its the season for snakes.
Snakes have a season ? Yes they do! We have been in Bangalore for about 18 months now and the maximum incidents of snakes I have seen and heard about are between the June and July. I always felt safe knowing that the snakes were outside and I was in my house. But this year I have Miss. Curious in the house with me. Ziva loves roaming around the garage area and walking close to bushes. Every time I see her venture into those damp areas, I start to hyperventilate. Time to keep a very close eye on this girl... at least till August comes around and time to pray more for the safety of the kids!

A season for prayer?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I hate luv stories!

I recently watched a bunch of completely nonsensical hindi movies. I mean they were completely ridiculous. But I enjoyed it. Every time Suresh walked in and I was watching one of these movies, I had this look on my face of peace and bliss. He would smirk and say 'Hindi Move?' At the end of the movie I did feel I wasted time but never depressed and disturbed.
Suresh on the other hand loves movies that are 'real'. Real = disturbing or depressing. He will not agree. For instance I have watched almost all of Aamir Khan's movies -- even the useless Ghajini. But Suresh has been ranting for months now on how I need to watch Dhobi Ghat because it is brilliant. Brilliant in Suresh's lingo = disturbing.

In all the arguments we have had of how useless hindi movies are, Suresh has always won. But there was this one time that I gave him a good lecture and it actually sunk into his most elaborate brains on why people probably watch 'this crap'.

The movie was 'Fanaa'. The year was 2006. In our little U.S. town of Richmond, the release of Hindi movies was very rare. And so when Fanaa came to the Byrd theatre, I just had to go watch it. I was known to be a crazy hindi movie buff and so my American friends soon heard about the awesome movie that was to be released within a 5 mile distance. I convinced a couple we met often to come watch the movie with us (Robert and Rachel Everely ... thanks for enduring the torture).
The movie was lousy. About 1.5 hrs into the movie there was the familiar stopping point of 'INTERMISSION'. Rachel turned to me in disbelief - 'There's an intermission!'
Suresh was rolling in laughter and very pleased that there would be a few more people that evening at dinner who would be ridiculing Hindi cinema. I was just mesmerized at seeing Aamir Khan on big screen after a really long time.
After the movie the plan was to meet at a restaurant for dinner. As we sat in the car, I had this satisfied look on my face and Suresh was still amused. A few minutes into our ride and I said
 'This is what I miss the most about being in India'
Suresh 'What this hindi crap?'
I lost my cool
Me: 'What would rather have - boy meets girl - they have sex and then romance blossoms! Typical English movie. Where is the wooing of the girl? Where is the winning of the heart? Where is courtship?'
Suresh was silent for a little while. Then he said ' That is true!'
I thought he was pulling my leg again and turned to give him a few more lines when I saw that he had actually meant it.
Hindi Cinema - 1         Suresh Philosophy - 0

Of course my statements didn't stick very long in 'Suresh Town' since we watched a few more really bad movies and he finally gave up. I decided to watch movies on my own. But that night was a big night for Indian Cinema - when I got Suresh Joel to think of how special those songs and dances have made our Indian Cinema. I mean if you can watch Beauty and the Beast dance to 'Tale as good as time' ... well then you can watch Aamir khan dance to Zoobi Doobi!

Bombay talkies is a new movie coming to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema ... and I got a feeling Suresh is going to be watching it with me. Thanks Indian Cinema for letting us live in an imaginary land for 3 hrs every so often!

The title of the blog was inspired from one of Imran Khan's movies. Terrible movie. I was watching another yet another movie on evening and Suresh walked in and asked me what I was watching 'Mere Brother Ki Dulhan'. He rolled his eyes. Few days later he ask's me ' How was the movie .... what was the name --- mere biwi ki dulhan!'
There's a new title of a movie I will never be watching!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Closing those doors!

I think today being March 23 2013 (It took me one month to write this blog -- today is in fact April 26th) and the official school year starting on June 4 2013, we have officially made our decision for Isaac  for the year 2013-2014.
Isaac will technically, according to his age, be in Nursery or Pre-K. And he will be homeschooled!
Yes after visiting 6 schools and weighing our options and even with the slight chance of me loosing my mind - we have decided on homeschooling our boy. We have also prayerfully decided that we will take one year at a time (Thanks to Shanthi and Faith for making me see that this was an option) and will revisit our decision next year and see if this is in fact the best thing for Isaac, Ziva and me.
How did all this happen? Well we started our school visits at the beginning of January. We visited 6 schools

Inventure Academy: This was a fantastic place and frankly if we lived closer, we would have sent Isaac here. But sending a 4 year old this far (17 km) seemed unfair to us. Maybe he will get used to it. Maybe we are hyper-ventilating a bit too much. But the distance to the school and a long day (8-3 pm) ruled it off our list. But I think if Isaac is going to school next year, it will be a no brainer pick of Inventure

Indus Early Learning center: I loved the place. Suresh did not. What I loved was the amount of creativity we saw in our 1/2 hour tour. Children were playing with hay and sand and having so much fun! But the fees were exorbitant which would probably be fine till Ziva was to got to school as well. Sending both of them to Indus would mean I would have to go back to work. Since Suresh did not like the place anyway, it was checked off our list.

Viha: This tiny place was not much to talk about. Just felt like any other small school/ day care facility. But the principle/ owner/ teacher was one dynamic lady. I was very impressed with her confidence in what she was doing and more importantly realized she was a no-nonsense person. In addition I had a brief view of her love for teaching. As we walked past the classes, I had seen her sitting on the floor, her back close to the black board with three kids sitting around her. She was teaching them phonics and you could see the passion in just the way she was pointing at the vowels and creating three letter words. The facilities at Viha were a little poorly maintained and after seeing places that are all yuppy, you wonder! So Viha got checked off our list.

Canadian Maple bear: This place seemed an O.K. Nice play structure. Nice class rooms. But two things put us off. One Isaac had a complete meltdown and would not calm down. To make matters worse the teachers and helps were overly nice. While I like nice people, I do not like people who encourage tantrums of 3 year old's by being overly nice! Another thing I noticed on our tour was a teacher grasping (probably gently) the wrists of a 4 year old. The child was not paying attention. I had a mental picture in my head of that child being Isaac a year later. I could not get my picture out of my head. I am allowed to hold my son's wrist and shake him to get his attention  ... but I do not give that right to anyone else. Canadian became a choice we would take if we had /must send Isaac to school and was slowly pushed to the bottom of our list.

Klay Schools:  We received an excellent review about this place and were all excited about a school we were almost sure we were going to send Isaac. But I realized that you like a place and approve it based on the person who takes you around. Unfortunately for us, the center co-ordinator was in-charge of showing us the facilities. She first told us to come at 1 pm and then called at 12:30 and changed the time to 2 pm. By this point I was already half way through and decided to pick Suresh up and then wait outside the school till 1:45. At 1:45 we slowly parked the car and picked a sleeping Isaac and walked into lobby. It was another 45 minutes before our conversations with the center coordinator began. I was pissed by this point since I was to be home by 3 pm to relieve the maid and take over Ziva. To add some further fume to the fury, the center coordinator was completely unprofessional. With a checked shirt rolled up past her elbows and leaning back and rocking her chair, she gave me the impression that she was sitting at a coffee shop across her college buddies. While I loved the facilities and what they were doing, I was completely put off by our point of contact. Another thing that made us uneasy was the lack of secular environment. While looking through the calendar I noticed that in January they had decided to celebrate Sankranti instead of Republic day. I mentioned that it was odd since I would think school would give more priority to patriotism than religion. I am of the firm belief that faith and religion should be things taught at home so it matches the environment you grow up in. The coordinator casually said that they choose one holiday in a month and celebrated it large scale (I understand choosing 'one', since India has so many holidays and festivals). She continued to says 'Well in March we will be celebrating Maha shivrathri. I asked how they celebrated it.
Her response: Well the kids do a pooja.
I was a little shocked - what do kids know about a pooja. I again had a mental image of Isaac chanting something he did not understand. She probably recognized the confusion in my face and quickly added 'In April, we are celebrating Easter'. Big mistake! I do not want Isaac thinking Easter is about Easter Eggs or bunny rabbits!


At this point Suresh and I had this long conversation and the key phrase that I will keep in my head is Suresh's line 'What must I do to so you will homeschool Isaac?'
I think Suresh had realized that a major reason for me even thinking about school was the lack of appreciation within the home and the fear of ridicule from outside.
At the end of two or three days of conversation, we had almost decided on homeschooling Isaac for one more year. But we had one last school left to go see. I did not have much hope since most schools close admissions by January of the academic year. We were in the mid of March. But we had put in our admission forms and decided to go for the tour.

Neev: Neev was  wonderful, small little place but used up so well. Lots of light and lots of arts and crafts. We felt comfortable with the place. One important happening at Neev were the other kids. Isaac was on the play structure and we were in the midst of our tour when the kids were let free for play time. One of the girls came up behind him on the play structure, probably about 2 years older than Isaac and asked him his name. As usual Isaac shied away. Then a couple more kids came and decided to be friendly and I responded for him 'His name is Isaac' All of them started squealing with joy. 'Like Isaac Newton'! For the first time Suresh and I both liked the place. Suresh made sure there were no religious celebrations that required participation (observation is fine is what he said) and he was assured that harvest festivals were the only things that were celebrated. Cultural knowledge is fine.

We seemed to have found a place and yet there was no peace! I seemed to have this feeling in my heart that something was being pulled out of me and taken away. Suresh just kept saying 'I have no peace'

That evening at family prayer Suresh prayed this way 'Lord close the doors that need to be closed!'

Had Isaac been rejected or denied admission from Neev, I would have been very upset. Instead the following day afternoon we received an email from Neev. 'Isaac has been wait-listed' Which meant he could probably get a chance to go to Neev mid-way through the year.
Doors closed!

I have never seen Suresh so elated. We were both afraid of the decision we would have to take if Isaac had been accepted. I think as parents we are always second guessing ourselves on what is good for our child. I thank God for closing those doors! (for this year at least)
Now to start praying for peace, patience, perseverance and joy in teaching Isaac and Ziva.

A few days ago (April 4th 2013) we got a mail from Neev saying they had a seat available. Suresh and I politely declined. I ended my phone conversation with the sweet lady across the line saying 'Maybe next year'
I don't want to try and open something God has closed. I don't want to challenge the peace I felt when those are closed and the peace I feel right now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A bike ride

I have started going for bike rides again. Bike=bicycle. I had stopped in the middle due to winter and cold winds causing colds and headaches. But clearly summer is here and the cycle needs to be ridden and hopefully weight will be lost :).
I prefer riding the bike outside the community gate since if I take a round near the park, both my kids will climb on the bike seats fitted on, giving a feel and look of an auto-rickshaw.
My biggest problem with riding the outside the community is other drivers. Other truck/tempo/car/motorbike/bicycle driver/riders. Truck and tempo driver find it very interesting to push me off the road, car drivers don't think it necessary to make a little space for the bicyclist by driving on their side on the road and motorbike and other bicyclist border line on annoying me with stares and wild eye gaping.
Now you may say 'Why don't you ride off the road?' I used to.  But it seems like they are planning to extend the road and in the 'planning' stage, they have decided to fill the side of the roads with concrete pebbles that form for the pebble bumpy rides.

While I can handle truck and tempo riders by getting off the road and giving them the benefit that they are not educated hence not much should be really expected from them, I am really annoyed with guys in fashionable cars who don't have the simple courtesy to keep to their side of the road. Among the things I want to do is flag them down and ask them which school they went to - obviously one that did not teach them road safety or road manners.
I detest even more the motorbike and other bicyclist who come really close to overtake. Come on people we are in the same category show your fellow cyclist a little respect. To top it, I occasionally get a whistle or a cat call. I normally just let in pass. But in my head I have been preparing several statements in hindi and Tamil like
Ghar mein maa, behein nahi hai kya? (Dont you have a mother or sister at home?)
Veethil akka amma illa?
I am even thinking of learning these statements in Kannada and Telugu which forms a majority of people in the neighborhood.

Today I was riding the bike. I reached the main road road and turned around around to head home. A car comes really close and honks. I move a little to my side but not off the road. The car continues to honk and follows me. I am thinking in my head. 'Hi move on buddy'
More honking and my anger has suddenly turned into a smile .... because I recognize the honk. I slow down and let the car come by my side. The driver rolls his window down.
Me: Ghar mein biwi nahi hai kya? (Don't you have a wife at home)

A very amused Suresh .... bursts into laughter ... more an amused giggle.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Isaac's family - Quotes from Isaacland

So we have a new book called Wild Cats. Today Isaac and I take a peek in. I start
Me: You know Isaac the lion is part of the cat family.
Isaac (mesmerized by the pictures): hmmm
Me: You know Isaac the cat family is called feline
Isaac: hmmm
Me: The dog family is called canine. Can you tell me the name of a canine that starts with D.
After a long thought
Isaac: Dingo
Me: And another one that starts with W and makes a sound oooooo. (me imitating howling)
Isaac: Wolf
Me: Do you cows are in the bovine family. Can tell me an animal that looks like the cow that starts with O ?
Isaac: Ox
Me: Can you tell me an animal that starts with Y that is in the bovine family and looks like a cow
Isaac: Yak
Me: And another bovine that is the national animal of America?
Isaac: Bison

I am all excited - it seems like families idea has sunk into Isaac
Me: Isaac what family does Danny belong to?

Isaac: Isaac's family

For those of you who don't know, Danny is the name of our 8 year old dog.

!!!!!!!! I love this guy!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Vegetarian or Herbivorous: Quotes from Isaacland

The best way to get Isaac to learn something is to associate it with an animal. For instance names of countries and their locations on the map is being learnt a lot quicker when he knows the national animal/bird of that country!

So we are trying a few words with Isaac and we got into what he was eating and how it was different from a few friends.
Me: Isaac you are a non-vegetarian because you eat fish and chicken. Dhruv is a vegetarian because he does not
Isaac has a blank look on his face

A couple days into trying this and no improvement to the blank face and I decided to change strategy.
Me: Isaac, the giraffe eats tree leave, panda bear eats Bamboo and so they are herbivorous ... Cheetah eats gazelle and Lion eats zebra so they are carnivorous.
A change in the look!
A few days later
Me: Isaac is eating fish - so Isaac is a non-vegetarian. Dhruv does not eat fish and chicken, so Dhruv is ....
Long pause
Isaac: 'Herbivorous?'

A few days later, Ziva is happily stuffing her face with egg.
Isaac squeals: ' Ziva is eating egg. Ziva is a non-vegetarian!'
I could hear 'hallelujah' 's in my head