smittenbyu: (Sketch)
While the world is watching Olympics, I am binging on MacGyver!!!! OMG!!! How awesome a show it still is! I hear they are bringing it back with a female character - awesome! But MacGyver taught me French & Italian!! ;) My first time watching the show was in Rome and it was dubbed into Italian and at school once every three weeks we would have a TV hour in French class and that's what we watched. Along with Full House & Saved by the Bell in Italian and French!!

For a pre-teen, MacGyver was just drool-worthy and made physics so much fun (a subject I absolutely found dreadful)!! If I get my silly creative ideas, it's from him! There's nothing that is impossible! That's him who taught me. It was an all round good show! And I see at school and otherwise, children are able to do their own things that are MacGyver worthy!! How awesome!!
smittenbyu: (Sketch)
Another ad (Google India ad - promoting digital literacy among women). Another trigger. Another memory.

[The daughter as she says bye to her mother, asks if she remembers everything and when her mother says yes, they say their byes and she heads out. The daughter outside hear's the school's bell ring and children heading out to class. It triggers her memory of her first day in school how her mom took care of all the details, gave her strength and encouragement as daughter was going to be away for THREE hours. Daughter wonders if that was harder for the mother than her. Today, the roles reversed and she is teaching and giving her mom the encouragement.]

Back to fall 1996. I was 18 years old. First semester in college. Over 2,000 miles away from parents. First time. Alone. On my own. The hardest part was not being able to talk and share everything with mom whenever I wanted to. Well, we tried. We called just to say hello. We called for recipes. We called so I could vent. And we called to talk. In the family, dad and sis were the quieter ones. Mom and I were the talkers. And it must have been harder for mom as at least I was distracted with life. Each minute to Singapore costed well over $1.50/minute. So, you do the math. I couldn't legally work unless on campus and the waitlist for jobs there was a mile long.

Dad had to play the bad guy and stop the calls. We had a computer at our home since 1995. But it wasn't connected to anything. So, finally internet came home and I signed on AOL and once they had the $19.95 unlimited life got easier. We emailed long emails. Mom who never touched a computer before learnt. We did call each other to teach her a few things. Dad and sis are not as patient a teacher.

Back then mom amongst her friends and peers was a pioneer. My close friend who was a computer geek and helped me learn to build my own computer, was so jealous as his mother refused to even touch the computer. His mom was also in Malaysia.

Today, so many of us take the internet and communication tools for granted. But the internet at one time was a lifeline that kept us close even when we were oceans apart. Mom, since a decade now, has been running yahoo! groups, Google Groups! And is not timid of learning something new. It truly gave her such confidence and such meaning!

Now we have Vonage, offering free calls to so many places including India. It makes being so far away a little easier. 
smittenbyu: (B&W)
Every once in a while I find myself feeling young-er again! Tonight is one of those nights. And of course, am wasting away on the internet. I finished clearing the kitchen in the evening. N cleaned up the apartment. I finished a load of laundry. All in anticipation that we will have another dragged out night of getting D to bed. But she slept off an hour ago, without a fight. N took in-laws to an IMAX movie way over by the airport. And I am actually home alone with all quiet and peace.... really stumped about what to do. Sure I could read my book. But really oh so tempting to do something silly....... he he hehe...

It reminds me of days of yester-decades, when dad would travel and it was a mini-vacation for mom. The rules relaxed and sis and I would watch TV shows you know blasphemous shows like Friends, and Beverly Hills 90210 (!!!),  when mom was awake whereas we would stay up after dad slept off to watch TV! OH yes, we were BIG troublemakers!! As if dad couldn't hear us or something in the next room - he was a light sleeper and had insomnia!!! Our curfew would be a little later as sis and I promised to be together and be back together. Silly things really... And every time here in adulthood, when I get those moments alone, it takes me back to those times.

I miss my sister. I wish she was here and we would sneak in some TV, for good times sake!! But I am adult, and I will be catching up on work I couldn't get done today as we were visiting school, etc. sigh. adult-hood. why did we create such a world?! (No complaints though... I do enjoy my work! But you know...the apartment is QUIET!)
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
I have always been sharing how food is a big battle with my daughter. Apparently compared to me at the same ages, she is eating up a ton more! This girl is strong. She can hold on to things if she really wants it and catches people completely by surprise. I on the other hand would fall over if given a little push. ha!

So, anyway, a little walk down memory lane, as I have been thinking of this the last several days and can't stop giggling. I was 3-4 years old at the time. My mom would take naps too or would be doing other errands while I napped. She would leave some fruit on the dining table for me to help myself when I get up.

One afternoon, my mom was in the kitchen and she heard a wail from me from the dining room. She didn't understand why or what had happened. All she heard was, "I am not going to eat! wahhhH!"

Mom was puzzled, she turned around and saw there were TWO whole watermelons on the dining table! She had to spend so much time reassuring me that was not meant for me. And am sure my dad got his head bitten off! :P
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
oh this has to be the best Buzzfeed list so far! Spot on - 60 Things That Defined Your Childhood in India

Each and every item we did! oh what fun!!

Although have to say we never caught #3 around our house! Only tried those at friends' birthday parties. And never a fan of Thumbs Up but a Fanta & Limca fan!! mmm...

I have to say, never tried those "fake" candy cigarettes… see what a good girl I was?! :) 
smittenbyu: (Sketch)
Sunday, April 28

This was the most exciting day for both MIL & myself! We were going to meet our friends!! MIL was going to meet her pen friend from France (she and her husband came up just to meet us). They "met" as pen friends when MIL was a senior in high school. My MIL is from Pondicherry (a former French colony and so French was/is widely spoken. So they were writing for MIL to practice French and Francoise to practice writing English). They stayed in touch a few years and lost touch almost 25 years ago! 2 or 3 years ago, Francoise through her daughter's Facebook account randomly looked up MIL to find her!!!! So, they have reconnected and when she found out we will be there, they planned to be there!

So, we took the Thames Clipper (a commuter boat) to Greenwich village.


So, why Greenwich? Well, I was going to meet my two very best friends from college who live in London there too!! They have three kids under 5 years of age and figured D could also use a day of just running in a park!! Oh it was such a happy day! I didn't care about actually seeing the Prime Meridien. I was so happy to see Thomas & Moon!
Read more... )
smittenbyu: (Default)
Sometime ago [ profile] echomyst had asked in my response to one of her posts, what books I had grown up with that have left an impression on me. As we are looking around for books that a toddler would be interested in, there are so many books that D enjoys. At the same time, I have also been looking for books in Telugu, my mother tongue for her to glance through and grow up with. When I asked my parents/family for some ideas they just drew a blank. 

D now can identify alphabets in the English language. I want her to also pick up the Telugu alphabets and I still am not able to find in book format (there are so many website for it, but we limit computer usage - actually she gets no time at the computer!!) for her to do so. 

They mostly laughed when they caught me reading to D from when she was 2-3 months (well, then it was just reading whatever I wanted to read that I would read aloud). And when she was 5-6 months old, I started bringing books home, since that's what we as good parents are encouraged to do by so many voices of authority. It's to help create an interest in reading, to help develop vocabulary. There's one study after another showing such to be the case. 

It made me look into how my interest in reading developed. We never attended story times at the library. In fact, we didn't even know what a library was. I wonder if there even was one where we grew up. We lived on the campus of my dad's institute. The library there was for big people who understood agricultural science. So, the image of library growing up was also a far-off place that we don't go to! 

But I grew up surrounded in books - none of which I could "read". But I constantly saw my dad reading 3-4 books at a time. I saw my mom reading too and writing poetry, essays as a hobby. It was when I was 4-5 years old when there were books I could read!

Most of the stories we were told that taught us lessons in life came out of the three epic stories - the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and mostly the Bhagavat Gita and the many historic figures such as Jhansi ki Rani (my favorite heroine growing up), Mahatma Gandhi, King Ashoka, etc. And they were often were told orally by grandparents and granduncles/aunts! This was wonderful when you still lived in extended families. However, by our generations, we were living more in nuclear families and so often would only hear stories during our summer vacations when we would visit our grandparents or they would come visit us! 

So, for us, the Amar Chitra Katha was the best thing that could happen to any young Indian kid in those days! I have yet to meet any Indian my age who doesn't oohhh--ahhhh over their series! Just writing this is getting me all excited! OMGEXCITED! I don't even know how to pick a favorite!!

Amar Chitra Katha took the many stories from the three epics and made it into comics and stories that were kid-friendly! We would eagerly wait for every copy that arrived to read from page one to the end and reread them with such great interest! I think though out of all I love Tenali Rama stories - he was such a witty character! His poems were such fun!

The other books was the Panchatantra - that taught various life lessons! My paternal grandmother though was the best storyteller of this! 

And of course, our life was not complete without the world of Mandrake the magician, Phantom and other comics - which we read for fun!

N and I have begun collecting the above books for D. The only thing is they are all in English! I didn't realize till recently that while we were living in India, my parents brought me up in an English household! It wasn't till we left India and moved to Italy that our household language switched to Telugu! Funny, huh?! I think now they are coming up with books in Telugu and various Indian languages. 

It wasn't until I was 12 and was in Rome, that I discovered the wonderful world of libraries! I pretty much lived in it and submerged myself into the books of Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew!! I remember my English lit teacher got me to read Little Women and I abhorred the whole "girly" books I had labelled them as!! 

What a contrasting life D is living in. She has been to the library since she was 3 months old. She is surrounded with books with stuff she can relate to! No matter what the studies say, I believe the best way to get children interested in books is to model the behavior. For me reading was not a hobby, it was part of my daily life like brushing teeth and combing hair. It was a normal thing to do. I hope that's one thing in the world of books I could pass on to little D.
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
Yesterday evening I took D out to the lawn next to the pool area for her to hang out. She sits nicely on grass and pulls them all out. Thankfully she doesn't put any of it in her mouth. Only leaves. For some reason she differentiates discriminates between them! It was still a hot evening. The temperature was somewhere still at 90F (33C) at 7:30PM! I saw a bunch of our residents, all young ones probably in their 20s, hanging out in the pool. They were there all day. Baking and soaking. I was feeling a little aghast. But I thought back to when I was a kid...

Summers were/are hot in Hyderabad. It's not uncommon for temperatures to go beyond 40C. There were no AC units back then. Although, our houses where we lived came with one in the living room. It was a huge box that we had to water to get it to work continuously. We were privileged to have this because we lived on campus of an international institute. But we hardly used it. We were hardly home.

Summer vacations were the best! The campus where I grew up had around 20-30 families. All around the same age group. So, almost every home had children of different ages. Because campus was a secured area, our parents hardly ever worried about our safety. We would run all about the playground all over the institute grounds (1,390ha). It's an agricultural institute so there was/is a huge diversity of crops, trees, etc. Oh what fun it was! 

Even before moms and dads got up, we would have been up by 6am, brushed our teeths, got dressed and would run out the door to meet with other kids and take a long walk around the grounds. We would come back only around 8:30-9am, because we would be hungry. Have some thing to eat and then we would be out again. Most of the time, we would be at the swimming pool. If not the swimming pool, we would by the playground or just play whatever games. We would be out for another few hours. Around 11ish we would head home. Take baths. Have lunch. And rest at home in the afternoon. Usually my paternal grandmother would be staying with us. So she would tell us stories. If maternal grandpa and grandma were there, grandpa would give us some English or math lessons. Tata (grandpa in Telugu) also would teach us Telugu. Around 4 or 5pm, we would all go out again.

This time to the sandbox - yes, the one where you would practice long/short jumps. We didn't know that it was for that. For us, it was a patch of beach that transformed into castles with moats and rivers and mountains. A completely different world! Or we would play a game of dodgeball on the parking lot - a cemented road. We would use our shoes/sandals/slippers to form the boundaries. Of course, when any mom came out, we would all run to wear our shoes/sandals/slippers. 

Some days we would go pick fruits off of trees. Mostly mango trees, which is not allowed by the institute. So, it was always done under strict conditions. One would keep a lookout for the security, and the others would throw their slippers at the targeted fruit. Most of the time the slipper would get stuck on the branch and so someone had to climb the tree to collect it. And often picked and dropped the mangos from the branch. If the security came by, we would be found to be picking mangos that fell to the ground - completely acceptable! :D 

As the evening came, dads would come home from work. The "namaste uncles" would begin. And slowly mothers would venture out and the "namaste aunties" would commence. Uncles and aunties would go on their long evening walks, while we continued play. As the sun would set and they would return it would be time for us to head home too. But most of us didn't.

Around 7:00pm, all you would hear around campus are the moms in all different Indian languages, saying the same thing, "come home now!" and slowly leading to, "come home now or else!"

Once we were home, all washed up, it was time for dinner. Maybe half an hour of TV and time for bed.

That was our typical summer day. Once in a while my cousins would be over. But we would do the same thing with them. And on weekends, the exciting thing to do was go on a car ride!! and on the occasional Saturday or Sunday, we watched a movie! But otherwise it would be a lot of storytelling, lot of board games, lot of laughs. Good times!

I don't think D will have such an active lifestyle but hope she has one filled with warm and happy memories!
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
I am dreaming for Toe independence! I am so sick of wearing shoes/boots that it's making me very restless and frustrated. I am yearning for the warm day where I can walk about in my sandals again. Let the toes wiggle free and get plenty of air. I was never a shoes person. 

We grew up on a campus where we often used slippers to create boundaries for the various sport activities, be it dodge ball or whatever other games we came up with or to get that mango from the tree without having to climb the tree! We played on concrete/cemented parking areas. Occasionally we braved the grassy areas, but they were too filled with thorns and it became a bit painful.

Our mothers cringed of course. So, if any time our parents came out, we would make a dash to the slippers and play again! Even when the sun was raging at 90F-100F. I remember my soles being so thick and rough! 

But my feet enjoyed the independence too much and dreaded school days when we were forced to wear socks and shoes, even in the blistering sun in India. At least in Rome and Singapore we were free to wear whatever shoe wear. And Hawaii, well, you can guess. True paradise for the ever independent feet.

I did own one pair of close-toe shoes for office wear in KL. But I wore that exclusively when we went to meet clients, etc. So that pair stayed in the car or in my bag. No, I don't enjoy shoes at all.

It gets so frustrating that after a while I can't focus on anything until I let my toes out free! And hence, for this reason, I can't wait for spring time! 

But they are predicting snow starting tomorrow and continuing into Friday. sigh.


Dec. 18th, 2009 09:48 pm
smittenbyu: (fun fun)
It's started to snow! The flakes look more like dust particles at the moment! Started earlier than forecasted! But if it snows as forecasted we will get a foot of snow by tomorrow night and that will be my first "big" snow! The last time I saw snow was 8 inches in Tulsa, Oklahoma (where the userpic was taken).

It was a US Jaycees national convention. It was February 2002. My first time to Tulsa, where they were holding the national convention. Apparently we brought in the cold front. The temperatures were somewhere in the 60s (around 16C)  the week before! The convention brought delegates from every corner of the country. As we walked into the hotel lobby where the conference was to be held, everyone knew the Hawai'i delegation was in the house! I guess the Asian ethnicity and the tans gave it all away (for some reason at the national level, Asians were somewhat a minority nationwide). Well, anyway so we thought. But what really gave it away was that in 60F weather we were all bundled up in jackets, gloves, and mufflers!! 

The following morning we woke up to nearly 8 inches of snow - apparently a record high for Tulsa as well! So, we ditched the morning sessions and the whole Hawai'i delegation was out in the snow playing! We were kids again! I remember fondly a delegate from Kansas who just looked at us so baffled enjoying the snow. She didn't like snow much. She feels it's nothing but trouble! hmmm... we played and we played for nearly two hours - maybe more. By then our gloves were drenched and we were beginning to feel the chill.

We also remembered that some of us had shopping plans - going to Bath & Body Works (a store Hawai'i didn't have then)! Important things. By evening we all hated the cold and couldn't wait to get on the plane home! Luckily we were leaving the following morning. It was freezing. We all rushed into the van that took us to the airport. I always looked forward to returning to Hawai'i. I always missed it and always felt it calling me when away. But this time, it was felt even much more!

We landed in Hawai'i that was also hit with a cold front with highs of 73F (23C)!! For us we were in heaven. We nearly fell to the ground and kissed it! But we figured that would look too strange. For the rest of the week, we truly enjoyed 73F "cold"!! Other local friends thought we were mad.

Oh yeah, that following week, University of Hawaii was in Tulsa playing, I think basketball (or maybe Football?). The sportscaster was in his Aloha shirt enjoying a nice 75F weather in Tulsa OK!! Go figure!

And yes, we are spoiled in Hawai'i! It's truly a paradise that I miss so very much! 
smittenbyu: (fun fun)
Wal-Mart is a place for savings. It conjures up crowds walking about the stores with kids running all over the place, the staff looking forever dazed; you just want to get out of there as soon as possible. But the last few weeks, it has brought back some very pleasant memories of yesteryears. Their new ad for cosmetics. I wish I could find a clip online but we all have enough of ads on TV to put it here on LJ. oh wait, there also ads here on LJ nowadays. hmmm...

Anyway, I digress.

They use the jingle from Bye Bye Birdie's song, How Lovely to be a woman in the backdrop and a bunch of happy women in different phases of life being all happy and dandy putting on various cosmetics singing the song.

Of course, where do you get the best deals for cosmetics? I still don't know but the song has sent me back to days of Middle School, when we performed Bye Bye Birdie during the annual December recital. Of course, our scriptwriters changed the plot line to be something completely different. In our story, the US Space station was coming to completion and soon people were moving in. Hugo's parents were also moving and so everyone was sad. Hugo's girlfriend Kim was devastated. Conrad the high school trouble maker gives them the idea to run away. And so the story went. I think at the end the US space station had some trouble and so they didn't leave or the parents changed their minds and stayed back together. I forget now.

But we took the songs, The Telephone Hour,How Lovely To Be a Woman, Put On A Happy Face, One Boy, Kids and made it our own. Our teachers also reworded the songs here and there, shortened it, modernized it, and had us singing it. I had kept the scripts for the longest of times. But when I went to college and our parents were moving from Singapore to Malaysia it was time to say goodbye to that.

We also had costumes to boot. We had mothers sew up poodle skirts with the poodle design on it for the girls! I forget now what the boys had. I had kept the skirt as well for a long time - not that I actually ever wore it off stage.

So I find myself humming:
How Lovely To Be A Woman,
The Wait Was Well Worth While;
How Lovely To Wear Mascara
And Smile A Woman's Smile.
How Lovely To Have A Figure,
That's Round Instead Of Flat;
Whenever You Hear Boys Whistle,
You're What They're Whistling At.

It's Wonderful To Feel
The Way A Woman Feels;
It Gives You Such A Glow, Just To Know
You're Wearing Lipstick And Heels!

They were fun times! I didn't play any of the main roles, but I always got the roles that cracked a joke or two. It was fun!

The funny thing is, I have never actually seen the original movie! Should rent it out one of these days.
smittenbyu: (fun fun)
Maybe it’s the “dating” phase of the relationship.  But it’s the little things that have always made me happy; actually ecstatic.  I get a happy tingle that lasts for several hours and no matter what news hits that joy in my heart still flutters. Mom has always pointed that out about me.

The story she would share with me dated back to when I was three years old. I have heard this story many times. And it’s one I like to hear again and again and again. I was very sick with stomach flu or something for several days. I was continuously throwing up and was completely down and out. Upon my third or fourth throw-up in the day, my mom had just finished washing me up and finding something to change me into. She described the look I had on my face. I looked, it seems, completely drained out of energy, with no motivation to go on. She found a little dress and put it on me.

That mood changed instantly. Suddenly she saw the biggest smile on my face and that flicker of joy in my eyes. Mom couldn’t comprehend that change and it made her smile as well. What made my mood change so dramatically? My dress had pockets. It seems I had a thing for pockets. I liked them a lot and at that moment pockets made my life worth living for and I was happy. Who cares if I hadn’t had food for three days and really was down and out. My dress had pockets! Mom didn’t know whether to laugh with me or cry! (I still have a thing for pockets! :))

So what made me happy this morning? N had to go in my direction today for a seminar and I had to come to office earlier than usual for a program. So, we rode the train together. I was glowing. Yes, I was looking like the happiest woman on earth. Just his company on the morning commute made me feel so giddy and good. So, I of course suggested he do this every time I need to go into office! For some odd reason he thought it wasn’t a practical one.


Jan. 23rd, 2008 11:15 am
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
After 19 years of living in apartments, my parents were looking forward to be living in a house on the ground floor with a garden. They were so keen on having a garden that they even built an indoor one for the wintry cold days (well, wintry for Bangalore standards). But the attachment to gardens roots back to the garden we grew up with in Hyderabad. Dad was the gardener. We had two gardens in fact on either side of the house. So one side grew the vegetables & fruits - kitchen garden and the other, where we spent most of our time grew all the pretty flowers. Here grew the love for roses; as we had one in almost every color. We had bougainvillea, hibiscus, jasmine, papaya, banana, pomegranate. Our favorite though was the guava tree. Actually we liked our neighbor's guava tree as it grew into our side and ours grew into theirs. Theirs produced big juicy guavas, that grew to double the size of a tennis ball. Ours was smaller than the tennis ball.

There would be days mom would make us stay home. In times like those we were in the garden. We would climb up the guava tree and get up on the wall, where we would meet the neighboring kids and have a nice chat. Yes, atop the walls. Our neighbor behind, their kids would walk on over and also join in the fun. We technically didn't leave home! ;)

The garden had a deck made of concrete slabs. Where we kept a few chairs to sit on. This was where during the summer our aunts would seat us down and feed us lunch while telling us stories. It was where grand mom would comb her hair after a bath and chant some prayers in the morning. Summer also brought a lot of heat. Temperatures would rise into the late 30s CENTIGRADE (late 80s F) and occasionally to 41-43C (100-110 F). Sister and I would get so excited when we were asked to spray some water on the concrete slabs to get a cooling effect. We would enjoy watching the steam rise up when the water hit the slabs. And yes, we both would run around barefoot. Our soles were quite thick and rough back then.

Such carefree days were spent in that garden. Anytime I see a garden it fills me with so much joy for this very reason. Good memories, good times.



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