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July 14, 2014

Lawyered!

Me: Ashu, please go and fold your blankets on the bed. Yours and Antus.
Ashu: Ok amma.

5 minutes later, I pass the room and see that Ashus blanket is neatly folded while Antus blanket is not. 

Me: Ashu, why have nt you folded Antus blanket?
Ashu: Because she said she ll do it herself.

Me: Antu, why did nt you fold your blanket then?
Antu: I did nt tell her I will fold it. 
Me: Well?
Ashu: She said that amma. 
Antu: I did NOT!
Me: What exactly did she say Ashu?
Ashu: She said "I can do everything by myself. I don't need your help."

Me: *light bulb glows* And WHEN did she say this?
Ashu: She said it yesterday.
Me: Yesterday? When?
Ashu: When I asked her if I can help her with the puzzle and she said she can do everything by herself!
Me: !!!!

July 11, 2014

Bye Bye, Third Grade & KG 1.

What a school year this has been! Every year, I tell myself that time flies and things work out and I should nt worry too much. But I worry! Will the girls be happy in school? Will they make friends? Will the teacher be nice? Will my German ever improve? And most importantly, will there be English speaking moms I can befriend?  :) But as always, things worked out. 

Antu had a fantastic year and made loads of friends and loves her teacher. She will be in KG 2 from August with the same teacher and friends, so she's looking forward to it and to boss around the new KG 1 kids! :) She invited 8 girls from her class for her birthday party this year and more than all the planning I had to do for the party, I was stressed about understanding Swiss German!! (which is different from the High German!) The kids start with High German only from Grade 1 and speak only in Swiss German in KG. My German failed me when faced with little girls fighting over a red balloon, I tell you!! 

Ashu had a much better year than last year. Made more friends, was happier and her German is so much better too! She did not even want a birthday party last year but had school friends over and had a bollywood themed party this time. :) She had lots more home work, projects and reports this year and she managed to do everything without any major help from us except a big project at the end of the year for which parents were supposed to help out. It was a lot of work for all of us and she did a great job and I am so proud of her! Their class had a sleepover in the school on Tuesday and they had loads of fun and said bye to their teacher of three years! 

And yes, I managed to find a group of English speaking moms! :) Have a great summer, everyone! 

June 27, 2014

27.06.2014

Dear Antu,

My heart weighs a tonne as I write this and its not only because I have to start buying train and bus tickets, swimming pool and other miscellanious entry tickets now that you are six and they are not free anymore! Well that too! But mainly because you are SIX! The first thing you did today after waking up was to go and stand against the height chart and see how much taller you have got now that you are six! :) You have had the most exciting year but then being Antu is always exciting! You are always singing or dancing or living in your fancy pretend world! We are all mere servants who exist to fulfill your every little wish! A simple "no" from me will make you cry buckets and declare "You don't even like me!" and stomp off! Your dad though is a big fan of your extreme drama and laughs at the most inopportune moment making you even more mad! Will the man ever learn, you think?


First year of Kindergarten is almost done and you are in love with your school, your teacher and friends. You walk to school and back on your own and so very responsible with your things. You notice everything thats happening around you and come home and tell me everything! You have started reading a lot and progressed to chapter books now and its heartening to see you follow your sister in this regard. I found you reading while walking to the car the other day and I had to ask you to stop doing that but not without a secret smile in my face! :) Its so sweet to hear you talk in German to your friends and please forgive me for taking secret videos of you doing that! Almost every video begins with you asking me "Are you taking a video?" and me lying "Of course not!" I know. I am awful like that!



You have a birthday party tomorrow at home with a few friends from school and you have planned every last detail! Your excitement is infectious and even Ashu, who could nt care two hoots about her own party, is planning stuff for you! But then having seen how awesome you were to Ashu on her birthday and the multiple birthday parties she had this year, its not surprising. Got to give it you for being so fair! You make everyone around you feel special and make sure everyone treats you special too! You even demand it! Which is something I can learn from you! At heart, you are a total daddy's girl but include me once in a while so that I don't feel hurt. Its the same with the Thathas, Perippa and Maama too! You have figured out that men are lot less complicated and most of all, they don't tell you what to do which is all you ever want!



You have a beautiful singing voice and know all the "Frozen" songs by heart and keep singing all the time. You love puzzles and origami and playing dolls. You love to dress up. You are cycling and roller blading already and go to swimming and ballet classes. You have said you want to learn the Piano and not Violin! You are Miss.Chatter box! Whenever we talk about moving out of Switzerland, you say "no way" and are almost in tears. Its touching how connected you feel to this place and the people. After all, this is the only home you have ever had. Today your aunt called and I was faking to cry on the phone and you were quick to tell your Perimma "Amma is crying because I am not a baby anymore!" Well you will always be my baby and no number can change that ever, got it? I love you loads my little baby and have a great birthday!

Love,
அம்மா.

June 19, 2014

Friends, Romans, countrymen,...

It was our 14th wedding anniversary on June 5th. It happened to fall on a long weekend, so packed our bags and went to Rome and Naples for 4 days. Was a fun trip. The girls had a blast eating Pizza in the birthplace of Pizza. The two days in Naples, we hunted down the oldest pizzeria, the best pizzeria, the famous pizzeria and ate pizza like it was going out of fashion! According to Antu, the best trip ever! And we also got two rooms with a connecting door in our Hotel which was the highlight of the trip for Ashu! She would nt let me use even the bathroom in their room!!! :)



For me, the highlight was Mt.Vesuvius and Pompeii. Man, Pompeii was amazing! A city which was destroyed by the volcano 2000 years back and then discovered intact 200 years back! Its like The Mummy meets Tomb Raider! We went to the Mt.Vesuvius first and walked along the rim of the crater and Ashu was all "we are walking on a volcano! which is active! which is very dangerous!" And in the afternoon, we went to Pompeii. Ashu had read a Magic Tree House book on Ancient Rome and Pompeii so she was fully prepared! We saw the houses, ovens, baths, port, temples, ... even the chariot marks on the roads! Water fountains, scribbles on the walls, frescoes, plastered dead bodies, pots, furniture, Forum, Amphitheatre,... Even a Brothel! I took a candid photo of Hd coming out it and have threatened to use this evidence against him! ;)

We also went to the Capri Island from Naples and it was so beautiful! We went quite late though so could nt go to the Blue Grotto which is supposed to be amazing! Next time, perhaps! Since Hd and I have been to Rome before, we did not do much except walking, walking and more walking and showing the sites to the girls! Poor things cooperated well without complaining too much. There was always the Gelato break whenever we were too tired or or making Ashu tell some trivia about the ancient Romans and traumatize Antu! (Did you know that they washed their clothes in urine, they ate Flamingos, etc... ) I, for my part, traumatized Ashu by describing the battles in the Colosseum and she just could nt understand how people can watch people getting killed and be entertained! ( Did you know that sometimes the Romans flooded the Colloseum and had boat battles?!)

Italy has become truly out favorite destination! So much to see and so much to do. Relatively cheaper, great food. Its hot and dirty and but the place is alive! I guess its a lot like India! :)

June 08, 2014

"People who create their own drama deserve their own Karma".

What goes around, comes around! Nothing makes you believe in Karma like when one becomes a parent! Today around 2 pm, Ashu gets a call from her friend, Az asking if she wants to go to the pool with her. Ashu looks at me and I nod my head and she excitedly says yes to her friend, packs her bag and leaves the house. To the pool which is 5 mins walk from our house. At least thats where I assumed they were going and thats what Ashu told me as well. Cut to 5.30 pm - no sign of Ashu. At 6 pm, I am worried. Hd who was watching Nadal making history was worried enough to take his eyes off the TV and look at me. He then walked to the pool to see if she was there or in the nearby park but the pool was closed already and no one in the park. Then I started calling Az's home number, her parents mobile number but no answer. So I walk to Az's house which is 2 mins walk from our house. No ones home. I call three more of Ashus friends who are all in the neighborhood asking if they know where Az and Ashu went but no one knows. At 7.30 pm, my sister calls and asks if Ashu is home because I told her at 5.30 that she's not home yet. Now she's worried too! I knew Ashu would be fine and she would come home soon and safe but the not knowing where she was, was driving me crazy. And the fact that the girl did not think to call from her friends moms phone and tell me where she is and when she will be coming back. Not to mention the guilt trips I was taking. "I am an irresponsible parent! I should have checked with Az's mother. I should have told Ashu to call me if theres any change. " sigh. Anyway, Ashu got back at 8 pm. She had gone to another pool which is a 10 minutes drive away.  "I did nt know you will be worried, Amma. I was having so much fun that I did nt know it got so late. I did nt have my watch." Simple. And she got so upset that we were all worried for her. Sigh. 

The entire 2 hours when I was worried and looking out of the window every 5 minutes, there was only one thing I was thinking about. My Thatha. My Paternal Grandfather. I was 20 years old and in college. Usually I would be home around 5 pm. But on the day I would come late, I would find him standing outside the house, near the gate looking into the direction I would come from. If it was after 6.30 pm, then I can bet on my life that he would be standing there waiting for me. Sandhikaalam (dusk) was the curfew time according to him and in the morning when I left home, he would say "sandhikaalathukulla vandhudu" (Come back before dusk) and that was his way of saying good bye. Even when my parents did nt care, I knew Thatha would be waiting for me. And the most interesting part is that when I arrived late, he would see me and smile and walk back inside without asking me even a single question. I do not think I made him wait every other day but I do remember that in a span of 18 months, at least once a week I would momentarily forget about him because I was busy talking to the boys (what else!!) and would get home late and there I would see him in his white veshti and a mel thundu, waiting near the gate. And I don't remember he ever asking me why I was late. Not even once. And the next day, he would see me off with his usual send off. 

In those 2 hours, I was thinking about Thatha and his unconditional love and support and how patient he was with me and wowed to be the same way with Ashu. You give your child all the freedom they need and hope they are responsible with it. Thats all one can expect. And after all the careful planning on what to tell her and how to handle myself, I failed miserably! Guess one has to be a grandparent to achieve that kind of Zenness and a mere parent just won't do. In other words, Thatha did not slap me in my face because he knew Karma would! 

April 27, 2014

27.04.2014

Dear Ashu,

 You do not like too much attention to yourself and I don't know what you will make of all these birthday posts I write every year. May be these letters are just for me even though they are addressed to you. I look at the photos and letters from previous years and my eyes brim over with tears. How time flies and how fast a child grows! Sigh! This year has surely gone by in a hurry. You have always been very matured for your age and as years go by, the changes in you shock me more and more. "Are you Happy, Ashu?" is the question I ask you a lot these days because you seem to be in a "Why am I here?" mode most of the time. You have such simple needs and I learn a lot from you every day. I want to be you when I grow up! :) 




You are the queen of moderation. You like to dress up but you don't care about it too much. You like to eat sweets and watch tv but can also go days without asking for these. You have friends but not many. You talk to people but not too much. Of course, when it comes to reading, its a different story all together. The other day I was cleaning your room and was putting away some stuff to give away and was asking you and Antu what you need and what you don't. You said, "You can give anything away, Amma. Except my books!" You have high expectations for yourself and when you think you have nt met them, you get extremely upset. I make the situation worse by commenting on it which in turn makes you turn nasty to me which makes me lose my temper and the cycle goes on! I wish I were calm and collected and all zen because you deserve a mother like that. Better luck next time, kiddo!



As always, you are doing fine in school, making new friends and keeping in touch with old friends. When your best friend G dropped in on a surprise visit two weeks back to see you, you were so happy! Even though it has been a year since she left the country, you both started giggling as soon as you met and closed the door on us and talked for hours! Which is saying a lot for a child like you. Its heart warming to see you in that mode, Ashu and I wish you have many, many more people like these in your life. This year, we are in the US and you are celebrating your birthday with your uncle and aunt. Its so special for you. Also a bit sad that this is the first birthday you are away from your father and both of you are missing each other a lot. But my very dear cousin and his wife came to visit and theres a big party waiting for you in a few hours so I hope that makes up for it. Try to enjoy all the attention, please!



Antu and you! Sigh! Where do I begin? Lets just 
say planets were nt aligned well for sisters this year and leave it at that. Im gritting my teeth and telling myself that its a phase and you both will grow out of it and I hope it happens really soon for my own sake! I have been saying the exact same dialogues to you girls which my mom used to say to us and I don't even have to rehearse the lines. They automatically pop out of my mouth when the need arises. One would think that two kids who share their mom and dad with each other would have no problem sharing a lousy pencil or a piece of paper between them but NO! Apparently its too much to ask! I hope nine is the magic number and you become the doting sister you were once again. That said, you are very protective of her and ever since we lost Antu in Disneyland for half a minute three years back, you watch her like a hawk every time we are in crowded places. You know every little thing about her. Which is sometimes good and at time, very BAD!


India, Austria, Morocco, USA trips happened this year and you are a happy traveller. We visited Universal studios and Sea World the last couple of days with two sets of uncles and aunts and you had a blast! When almost every child was walking around with souvenirs and stuffed toys, I was the mean mom who would nt buy anything for you two. At the end of the trip, when I relented and let you girls choose one thing, Antu chose the little girl with a unicorn and you wanted all the three girls from the Despicable Me movie. When I said one, you said that the three girls are together and you can't choose just one and you were ok not buying them rather than buying just one. Even though its just a silly movie, it makes me proud that you care about people. I am little proud of myself that I did nt give into the marketing scam! Happy 9th Birthday my little big Girl! Its double digits from next year and I hope to cherish this special year as much as I can and hold on to this nine year old you for ever!


Love,
அம்மா.

April 03, 2014

Walk in the woods with "Aagasatha..."


I have been hearing good reviews about the songs from the Tamil movie "Cuckoo" and about the movie too. But I have not watched the movie and heard the songs only last week. I had just downloaded the songs in my ipod and took it with me when I went for a walk this week. I was exploring a new path in the woods near our house and this song "Aagasatha..." came on and before I know, tears were trickling down my face and I kept walking and crying and towards the end of the song, I started sobbing uncontrollably. I was not feeling sad or upset though. I don't know if it was the music, the lyrics, if knowing that its a love song between two blind people, if it was the silent woods, the sky, the trees, the sun,.. May be it was a bit of everything but it was such a magical moment. One of those "Whats the point of this life" moment. Sigh!

March 02, 2014

Winter Sports.

The arrival of winter meant that our weekend was also snatched by the kids. They have ice skating bang in the middle of the afternoon on Saturdays and Skiing on Sundays which takes up at least 4 hours of the day. Hd is in charge of weekends but still the cooking, cleaning, getting the kids and the husband ready and throwing them out of the house in time takes such a toll on me! Hd also conveniently went off to India for a week during the kids Ski break which meant I had to take Antu almost every day skiing on my own. 




Ashu, thankfully, agreed to go to a ski camp again this year. So she was gone from 8.30 to 4.30 every day for five days. She had fun, got a medal but swore she is done with skiing and will never ever ski again. This was two weeks back. She went skiing again today of course! :) Antu had started skiing last year and hated it. But she warmed up to it this year and also had her best friend for company so that went well. She moved up a level and took the T bar and skied in a beginner slope today which was a big deal for her and made for a proud dad! :)



The skating show was yesterday and Ashu had fun even though she complained shes in the babies group and they just have to go in circles! :) Some of the girls who did solo performances were amazing! Made me wonder how much much more dedicated and hard working the olympians would be! Antu agreed to ice skate this year but she said no to participate in the show! "Because I am not good at it, Amma", she said! While Ashu is the exact opposite. So Ashu had to take a test to move up a level in Ice skating and she was desperate to pass the test because she thought she was too old to be in that group with 5 and 6 year olds! So the doting dad signed her up for a few private lessons so that she gets individual attention. I took her for a few lessons and she enjoyed them immensely. The day before the test, she asked when the next private lesson will be and I told her that there will be no more private lessons and she better focus on the tips and pass the test if she wants to move up. So she says "Its ok if I dont pass the test. I loved the lessons and I would like to do more. I just want to keep learning, Amma."

"Naan karai eritten. Neenga innum karai eraama nikkarele?"* moment!


* Slap in the face

January 03, 2014

Morocco.

We were in Morocco for a week from Xmas eve to New years eve and had a fantastic time. It was a great escape at least for a week from the bitter cold here although the evenings were quite chilly and the nights were freezing there too. We landed in Marrakech and roamed around the city for 2 days visiting museums, madrasas and mosques and shopping like crazy in the souks and drinking mint tea by gallons! Then through a tour operator went around the country up to Sahara and back the rest of the 5 days. Another family also joined us from here and their 7 year old son and Ashu were quite a company for each other and a sick/throwing up/starving/low energy Antu was quite a company for us!! But of course everything was worth it when we saw the sand dunes! The camel ride and the hike to the sand dunes, the sunset, the sand,.... everything was mind-blowiningly beautiful! We camped in the desert for a night and slept it in a tent in the freezing weather under many, many blankets and the starry night sky was too beautiful to describe. Ashu and Antu have never seen that many stars in their lives and were totally blown away! The winding, curvy roads through the High Atlas mountain range and the landscapes and the gorges and valleys were straight out of a hollywood road movie!

Our Bedouin driver for 5 days was a sweet guy and kept calling the girls Fatima and nagged us to play bollywood music in the car and I am proud to say that I  introduced him to Ilayaraja music! :) Everyone in Morocco knows Shah Rukh Khan! And at the end of a week, I kept saying Insha Allah after every sentence! Its very infectious, I tell you. We saw many, many cats. Marrakech was like 80s and 90s small town India and it was like going back in time. The people are extremely nice and polite and the Riads (tradtional Moroccon houses turned into hotels) we stayed were awesome! I might go back just to stay in these Riads. From the outside, there is this small door in a dark alley but inside its like an Alibaba cave! With huge courtyards and spacious rooms and so unique and charming. And beautiful terraces. And the staff bend backwards to make you comfortable. The last day we stayed at a mountain retreat in the High Atlas and that place was amazing too and the location was fantastic. But the access road was pathetic!



Vegetarian food was a little hard to get especially at the remote restaurants we stopped for lunch but breakfasts and dinners made up for it. At least Hd eats omelettes. I ordered a salad and stuffed them inside the bread and had to make my own sandwich everyday! Ashu survived on bits of bread and salad and the junky snacks I carried with me while Antu went on a hunger strike for her right to starve! :) The five day road trip was a bit much for the kids and us too but when the destination is Sahara, theres no other way, I guess. Now back home and fondly remembering the desert. I think if I give a good shake to our sneakers, I might still find some sand and it would be a sight to the sore eyes!


Happy New Year folks! Hope 2014 brings you all the things you wish for! Insha Allah! :)

December 09, 2013

Of Music and Dance.

November and December were again that time of the year where I was busy coaching the girls group for a dance program and Ashu's violin recital. Both went well this year. And Antu too joined the dance this time and since she was the youngest in the group, she was the cutest too! :) They danced to "Bawre", a fun song from the movie Luck by Chance.  There were 10 girls this time and though it was loads of fun practicing and choreographing, it was a nightmare to organize a day and time which would suit everyone! As always, we managed somehow and pulled it off. Not to mention it was a good workout for me as well! :)


The violin Recital was last Monday and Ashu played two solo pieces and a group recital. This is her third year and shes enjoying playing now and its a joy to listen to her these days. I try really hard to suppress my inner tiger mom avatar and let her be! :)



Here's one of the pieces she played. Bach's "Aus der Bauernkantate".