Sunday, December 30, 2007

When Chocolate does the trick

Yesterday I was having a rather difficult day, my son was sick with viral fever, we all had 2 consecutive sleepless nights as we had to keep checking his temperature & then give medicines, & to add to all this I was nervous because the last time Aadi had viral fever he also had a Febrile Seizure; so every time the thermometer showed a rise in temperature my heart went racing.
I tried to remain calm, but I knew that inside I was fighting my own devils. So yesterday Aadi was a bit better, no fever, was cheerful as CS & his nephew were here so he had company to play. But when they went off site seeing, Aadi was in a bad mood & Amol was also not at home & to top it all I was experiencing palpitations as though a super fast train was racing inside me!! I was restless, my body aching at the same time with zero energy. Fortunately Aadi went to sleep but sleep was miles away from me...I could not even get myself to shut my eyes as my hand was always going towards Aadi to check him for fever. Finally after some four hours Amol was home & I held up my hands in complete defeat, I declared I needed rest & Amol helped me keep an eye on Aadi while I rested. I lay down with a book, but could not concentrate on the words...I tried shutting my eyes but again I could not sleep coz I could hear my heart racing & thumping!! I got up went to my buffet near the dining table & pick up that bar of chocolate that had been sitting there for a long time. I took it in my room, opened it & slowly chomped off the entire thing....what followed was complete bliss !! peacefulness came over me, I was cheerful again, the train inside me had reached its destination & was no longer chugging. I think I managed to sleep for some time after all this & then in the evening we went to my favourite place: KLCC. We sat down near the fountains while CS & Anirban (his nephew) took pictures. I took in all the soothing sounds of the fountains, it healed me. I enjoyed the sights of the ever changing designs of the numerous water jets rise & fall in wonderful synchronisation. Aadi & I also went close enough to the fountains so that when the wind blew some super fine jets of cold water blew towards us. (If I was to say this in Marathi I would say: thanda panyache halke halke tushar amchyawar padle.)
My day ended on a high note with a dinner of extra hot Peri-Peri chicken & Mexican rice from my favourite Nando's.
So ladies, when your spirits take a dive, please plunge into some dark sweet gooey chocolate!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Books for babies & toddlers

Reading to our kids is a very important thing. This way we introduce them to the beautiful world of books & improve their vocabulary. Reading also helps develop concepts of numbers, letters, colors, shapes. Children learn to listen, reading also helps develop their memory; most importantly we are giving them lots of information about the world around them.
I read to my toddler from a very early age, but for us it is not a bed-time activity, we read in the afternoon or when ever we want a bit of rest after some activity, this way I found that Aadi takes more interest & is alert when something new comes up. His favourite are the Clifford books, I also read to him some Marathi books (Marathi is our mother tongue). Over time Aadi has taken a huge liking for books & picks up some book from his shelf & sits down to browse & comes to me with all his questions!!

This is a recommended reading list from Oprah.com for infants to age 2:

Hug by Jez Alborough - A tiny chimp invokes the universal language, uniting his friends in a group hug to end all group hugs.
Max's Bedtime by Rosemary Wells - Max's rubber elephant is lost. Ruby tosses him her bear, but Max still can't sleep. So many toys get piled on his bed that he falls off -- and there's the elephant! Good night!
Shanna's Princess Show by Jean Marzollo - "Shanna is a whole series and it's great for African American kids to see some black faces in story books like this one." — Oprah
Counting Kisses by Karen Katz - How many Kisses does it take to say goodnight?
When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Sinelli - No other bedtime book addresses working families as effectively as When Mama Comes Home Tonight.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. - A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Combined with Martin's sing-song text, Carle's boldly colored collages create unforgettable images of these endearing animals
Duck Is Dirty by Satoshi Kitamura - What starts out as a pleasant stroll becomes one catastrophe after another for Duck, our hapless lovable hero.
Snoozers by Sandra Boynton - By using the colorful picture tabs on this collection of seven bedtime stories, kids can easily find the story they want to hear. Snoozers is the perfect bedtime book for children and parents.
Baby Dance by Ann Taylor - A rhythmic poem by 19th-century poet Ann Taylor makes a delightful board book perfect for baby and parent to share.
Time for Bed by Mem Fox - At the end of the day, darkness is falling and little ones are getting sleepy, feeling cozy and being tucked into bed.
The Adventures of Max the Minnow by William Boniface - A small fish sets off to become the biggest fish of all, only to learn to appreciate himself as he is.
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley - It empowers a child to scare of the monster, one of the fears a lot of kids have at this age." — Oprah
No, David! by David Shannon - When Award-winning writer and illustrator David Shannon was five years old, he wrote and illustrated his first book. On every page were these words: "No, David!" ...and a picture of David doing things he was not supposed to do. Now David is all grown up. But some things never change.
Little White Duck by Walt Whippo - "This is a book you can sing or read." — Oprah


Here are some more timeless books for toddlers:
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. About a little bunny who before falling asleep, wishes all that he loves in his room goodnight. A poetic classic that gently lulls a child to dreamland.
Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. An infinitely mischievous yet engaging (and not at all frightening) tale that will delight every young one and every one young at heart. Also see other books in the trilogy: In The Night Kitchen and Outside Over There.
Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram. With over 12 million copies in distribution worldwide, this beautifully-illustrated book about whether you can measure love is as popular as it is touching.
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?, by Karen Katz.Arguably the cutest lift-the-flap book that will get your little one laughing himself/ herself to sleep. Helps little ones learn about eyes, lips, hands and other parts of the body.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. Beautiful pictures and adorable storyline aside, this book serves as an ideal introduction to math and life-science concepts. It’s actually used in some preschools to explain a butterfly’s intriguing life cycle! Also look for The Very Busy Spider by the same author.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas


Christmas day, always bring back memories of my earliest Christmas celebrations. In my school in Pune, which is a Convent school, we celebrated Christmas with much aplomb. The last day of school preceding the Christmas vacations was the 'Christmas Party'. Each class in the school had to decorate the class with the Christmas theme, cotton was used to depict snow. The good old babool tree came into use as the Christmas tree. The desks & chairs were shifted from their usual rows & placed at the back of the class. All windows decorated with the brightest colored paper, mistletoes were cut out & painted. I also remember that the four house-boards (the ones that were at the top of the central staircase that started from in front of the office) between class 7 & 8 were also decorated according to the holiday season.
We also had the Christmas story enacted by us, and when I was in class 2 or 3 I was one of the shepherds. Dressed in a house gown, black poster paint in place of a beard, a cloth covering the head & a stick procured from I don't know where...There was baby Jesus, Mother Mary, Joseph, the three kings, pleanty of farm animals & not forgetting the little mule that carried Mother Mary. Wow as I write this the entire thing just swam across my eyes!!
After school, Christmas was only a holiday in the regular student life, no real involvement with anything Christmassy.
When I had left India 4 years back, the mall-culture had only begun & thus the typical Christmas theme Malls were not there. But at the same time the highly developed mall scenario took me by storm here. I was delighted to see all the malls decked up as per the festival of the season; be it Deepawali, Eid, Christmas, the malls were always there to remind me what festival was approaching.
Now that my son is growing up I want to do something Christmassy so that he understands & respects the entire purpose of Christmas. Well not just Christmas, I would like to make every festival in every faith a special day in order to let him grow into a person who respects all religions & has full knowledge of the traditions, customs of each faith.
One thing that I remember very well from my school days is that my Principal Sister Mark, would say that it is not correct to mention Christmas as 'Xmas' because Christmas is there because of Christ, & if we use an 'X' instead of 'Christ' you are cutting out Christ from Christmas. So I do not use the short form & always use Christmas in full.
Merry Christmas to you all !!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pre-school hunt update

The update is long overdue, as I had decided to finalise the pre-school on Wednesday itself. My luck seems to be running out as it is the year-end!! I'll tell you why I am saying this:
Wednesday I set off for Gymboree & decided to ditch the music class there & instead take the taxi around to look at the schools & Aadi is sleepy & hungry after the class. As I discussed my plans with Sebastien uncle, he gave me a worried look & told me that he has a pick up scheduled, so he will complete that & then take me around. He promised he'll be back in 20 minutes. So anyways the music class was gone, so I took a stroll in Bangsar village; and spent 31 RM on a single curtain holder!! Gosh by the time I went to pay for it, I was too embarrassed to return it, so I managed to say that if it does not fit my curtain I'll return it & get something else in place. That was another example of luck running out. To top this, uncle comes a good hour later instead of the promised 20!! reason being - traffic jam.
OK finally we set off, & first headed for Taska Jaunty Montessori along Jalan Ara, we found it very easily, but it was closed & there was a banner with two phone numbers on it. I had one of them & took down the other one. But I did inspect the place from outside. I liked it, small garden with proper playing equipment. Looked organised to me. Shoe racks in place. So I will wait for them to return from their vacation. Yes, before I go on to the next school, let me also tell you that none of the numbers on the banner seem to be working or connected!! So I just hope that my phone call gets an answer..somehow!!
Second on list was Words, the pre-school along Jalan Maroff near Bangsar Shopping Center. Ms. Shelly was there to welcome me in in spite the school being closed for vacations & cleaning. She took me on a tour of the school & showed me all the different areas like toddler area, out-door play area, water play area, sand play area, eating area etc. The place looks very organised & clean. I liked the easy environment there, not a school-school..There are lots of colourful things around to stimulate the children. The best part was that they have an uniform, this is very important to me as it gives the child a sense of belonging & identity. Aadi's previous pre-school in S'pore had uniforms & he loved to wear it, even now on days that he misses school too much, he goes to his cupboard & brings his school uniform & just wearing it makes him happy :)
To continue about Words, I also like their attention to detail like installing staircase-gates so that no toddler gets to a place where he should not be. There is plenty of room to move & play, another thing I loved about the place is that it has a low student-teacher ratio of 6:1. They follow partial Montessori methods, they prefer using crayons to actually draw alphabets & numbers which is not done in Montessori. They also have lots of after school activity & hobby classes. Their web site is very informative: http://www.wordsbangsar.com/
I like this one a lot, & know for sure that my son will be very happy here.
But I am still going to wait for Taska Jaunty to re-open as it is full Montessori & that is my most important criterion.
So the hunt is still ON...wish me luck !!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

When the maid does not come..

Sunday night my maids daughter calls in to say that her mom would not be coming the next day. I was too sleepy to react so I just thanked her for the message & went off to sleep. Well the next morning when I went to the kitchen, I could not find the tea pot, it had not been washed the previous day. So I made tea in something else. I had put all the utensils in a tub & submerged them in water so that they are easy to clean for the maid on Monday...but she did not turn up!! So there I was with heaps of utensils to clean, & a schedule to keep as it was also Arts-day at Gymboree for my son. So I left them & started with our preparations for the outing. Breakfast was made according to the pots available. Hubby was sent off without a fresh lunch, I just packed some chicken (I had attempted to make Peri-Peri chicken & Mexican rice for Sunday dinner) & Mexican rice. Hubby was more than happy to have it for lunch again !! We went off to the class & upon our return although Aadi slept for two hours I invested them in the ongoing school hunt. Then the normal schedule caught on, & before I realised it was evening & dinner was to be made. Then I remembered that I had bought a huge Papaya the previous day, so bingo !! that was turned into dinner with a dose to hubby that we must lose weight & eating fruits for dinner was one way !! So there you go, no vessels to wash!! Then as hubby was busy in cutting the Papaya, I finally got myself to clean the sink full of vessels, the tub remains un-touched till now.
Assuming that the maid will turn up tomorrow, I did some spring cleaning today, & also sprayed some insect repellent in our room; and have made a mental note of all the tasks lined up tomorrow. But again I am worried that tomorrow I want to finalise Aadi's school also, so how will I manage all these things considering the fact that the timings are a bit overlapping.
Anyways, tomorrow is a new day & maybe something will work out & I will be able to do all my tasks & also get the maid to do her bit.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Search for that 'perfect' pre-school - Still ON


Come Monday & I am all enthu to re-start the hunt for that 'perfect' pre-school for my now very bored son. (The photo above is from his previous pre-school in Singapore). It has to follow the Montessori method of teaching, there should be a low teacher-student ratio, they should have a playground, they must be clean & hygienic, the teachers/directresses must be soft & gentle with the kids, they should be...., the school has to... oh well the list never ends. Well actually it ends, but these are things that are very important for the child.

Well today I decided to visit a school while returning from Aadi's Gymboree Art class. We can manage only one as the class ends at 12, and Aadi is sleepy or hungry or both !! So off we went to Gymboree & then as soon as class was over we hopped into uncle Sebastian's taxi & went off looking for Fungarten Kindergarten along Lorong Marrof, we found the house number correctly, but there was no sign of Fungarten, the place had some other name, & looked run down. Even then I went in & enquired with the lady. There were a few kids inside, mostly day-care ones I feel, & seeing them Aadi decides to take off his shoes & run inside; and I am trying to get the lady to tell me where Fungarten relocated to...well my enquiry was futile, & I went back to the taxi with Aadi howling away for not being sent inside the school. He went off to sleep on way home & was dozing for a good couple of hours. During which I racked my brains, Google, and everything else I could think off to find some more pre-schools in Bangsar. Finally I decided to cut it short & stick to the few names that I have, One of them is Tasks Jaunty Montessori, the other is Words. I liked the latter one more as I have gone through their web site & the place looks fun. So now I have decided that enough is enough, I will choose between these two only...well except that I want to check out Children's House also!! but they are closed until 7th January, and I cannot bear to keep Aadi away from school till then.

So now Wednesday will be the-day, the day that we finally decide. I have plans to also carry some cash so that I register there n there if I like the school. So wish me luck for Wednesday!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why do we have a prayer room?

Most Indian homes have a prayer room or altar. A lamp is lit and the Lord worshipped each day. Other spiritual practices like japa - repetition of the Lord’s name, meditation, paaraayana - reading of the scriptures, prayers, and devotional singing etc are also done here. Special worship is done on auspicious occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and the like. Each member of the family - young or old - communes with and worships the Divine here. The Lord is the entire creation. He is therefore the true owner of the house we live in too. The prayer room is the Master room of the house. We are the earthly occupants of His property. This notion rids us of false pride and possessiveness. The ideal attitude to take is to regard the Lord as the true owner of our homes and us as caretakers of His home. But if that is rather difficult, we could at least think of Him as a very welcome guest. Just as we would house an important guest in the best comfort, so too we felicitate the Lord’s presence in our homes by having a prayer room or altar, which is, at all times, kept clean and well-decorated. Also the Lord is all pervading. To remind us that He resides in our homes with us, we have prayer rooms. Without the grace of the Lord, no task can be successfully or easily accomplished. We invoke His grace by communing with Him in the prayer room each day and on special occasions.
Each room in a house is dedicated to a specific function like the bedroom for resting, the drawing room to receive guests, the kitchen for cooking etc. The furniture, decor and the atmosphere of each room are made conducive to the purpose it serves. So too for the purpose of meditation, worship and prayer, we should have a conducive atmosphere – hence the need for a prayer room. Sacred thoughts and sound vibrations pervade the place and influence the minds of those who spend time there. Spiritual thoughts and vibrations accumulated through regular meditation, worship and chanting done there pervade the prayer room. Even when we are tired or agitated, by just sitting in the prayer room for a while, we feel calm, rejuvenated and spiritually uplifted.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Benefits of Honey

Eyesight: Regular use of honey mixed with the carrot juice helps to improve the eyesight. It should be taken one hour before meals in the morning.

Cough: Mixture of equal quantities of honey and ginger juice is a good expectorant. It gives immediate relief in symptoms like cold, cough, sore throat, congestion of chest and runny nose.

Asthma: Mix half a gram of black pepper powder with honey and ginger juice mixture (equal quantity). Take this mixture at least three times a day. It helps to cure asthma.

Blood Pressure: Take one teaspoonful of garlic juice mixed with two teaspoonful of honey. It can be taken twice a day in the morning and evening. Regular use of this mixture is beneficial for high blood pressure.

Blood Purification and Fat Reduction: Take one glass of warm water and mix 1-2 teaspoonful of honey and one teaspoonful of lemon juice. Take this preparation daily before evacuation. It helps to purify the blood. It also helps to reduce fat and to clean the bowels.

Heart Tonic: One teaspoonful of anise powder mixed with one or two teaspoonful of honey acts a very nice tonic for the heart. It strengthens the heart muscles and improves its functions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday, I told hubby not to wake me up at midnight for wishing me, as I was tired & did not want to be cranky when I would be required to be cheerful. So we slept off, but there it was the phone rang at mid night & it was my brother & mom, I don't recall what we spoke initially, but then as we went on, my sleep went away & I actually asked Mom to continue talking as I was wide awake!! Meanwhile hubby was awake & doing something in the kitchen, as I walked in, he lit the candle which was singing 'Happy birthday to you', & mounted it on top of a chocolate pastry. We had a mini cake-cutting ceremony & was handed my card which had some very mushy lines on it. We wanted to cut the cake while Aadi was awake so we abandoned the ceremony & went straight to bed. We woke up at a princely 8 & I went about my regular chores, then decided to meet for lunch. So after calling for a cab & sweating off the waiting period we were finally off to Amcorp Mall, oh by the way I decided to get my much needed haircut done today. Aadi was handed over to hubby with a bag full of books & goodies to eat. I entered the salon anticipating what lay ahead. Here I want to tell you that the last haircut I had was in a Jean Yip salon in Singapore & I was very unhappy with the result. So this time I did not want to mess up. So I mustered all my courage & told the lady there (named Sabrina) that I did not want to shorten the length, but just needed some layers & an overall nice look. She understood & then suggested that I go in for a moisture treatment as well as my hair was "not healthy" according to her. I did not want to explain to her that they were not unhealthy but just neglected so I gave my consent to the treatment. My only concern was the time all this would take as I had to meet my two boys for lunch, I was assured that I would be done in 45 minutes. So then a girl came with some shampoo & a squeezy bottle of water, she lathered my hair with the shampoo & gave me a good massage also :) after that it was off to the basin for a wash, where she asked me if I preferred warm or cold water to which I replied cold. She washed my hair gently & bundled me up for the treatment which was to follow. The treatment consisted of a cream/lotion which was applied on small sections & then a bundle was made on top of my hair & then the 'dome' machine was got & placed strategically over my head. To my horror I saw steam coming out of it & recalled all the movie scenes where the lady screams & runs out of the salon when steam/fumes appear from the 'dome' machine. I gave a concerned look to the lady & she gave me a re-assuring smile. Oh before I forget let me mention that I was offered a hot cup of Milo & some biscuits while the massage was on. After the machine went 'ting' it was finally removed & then the girl told me I had to wait for 3 minutes before washing again. So after another cold-water wash I went back to my perch again & then began the cut which was done by a cute Chinese guy with the weirdest hair & color I had ever seen. Maybe I can call it the shabby look !!! The haircut turned out good & the setting took it's time & another girl was called in to help. SO I had 2 people with 2 very noisy dryers trying to style my hair. But at the end it was all worth it coz I really liked what I saw of myself in the mirror. So off I went to meet the boys with a broad smile, expecting a huge compliment from hubby. What I actually got was a broader smile & 'it's looking nice, I was going to tell you to cut it this way' !!

We then headed to Chutneys for lunch, it is an Indian restaurant located in newtown PJ. http://www.thechutneys.com.my/ We ordered 1/2 chicken tandoori, paneer masala, one garlic naan, one butter naan & spicy Andhra rice. The drinks were spicy buttermilk & Punjabi lemonade. I can't begin to tell you how amazing the food was. The tandoori was just perfect, the chicken had the right seasonings & was devoid of the typical tandoori red color, there was the amazing aroma of charcoal & the meat itself was tender. I generally don't like non-veg items in restaurants but this one was simply outstanding. The paneer (a hot favourite of mine) was spicy & not too tomato-tomato...so I quite liked it & the best past about my butter naan was that it had a sprinkling of sesame seeds on it that made it all the more yummmm. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch & then headed back to Amcorp, from where we were to head separate ways.

We had plans of going out for dinner at another favourite joint called Nando's. But we are still so full with the lunch that we dropped the idea & are relaxing at home. I wanted to put all this down before the date changed in the calendar so in midst of keeping my eyes open & attending to Aadi I am finishing this special post. Happy Birthday to Me !!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Terrible Two's

Ever since I read Malina’s post about toddler hood, and terrible two’s; I have wanted to shout out to the whole world that I too have just very recently experienced the ‘onset of the terrible tow’s’!!
Earlier when mommies would tell me how their kids were suddenly not babies any more but had opinions and demands and most of all a vocabulary to say what’s on their minds…I was like…”my Aadi would never do that…he is just too sweet for all this”. But I was proved very wrong. As soon as Aadi turned two, he suddenly was not my baby anymore, he was suddenly saying a lot of words, at times broken sentences and most of all he was learning the trick of their trade i.e. throwing tantrums.
Of course it is not as terrible as it sounds. I love the fact that his language skills have improved so well and he can say a lot of words in both Marathi as well as English.
Most importantly I noticed that he had learnt to say an emphatic “No” and “Nako” (Nako is No in Marathi our mother tongue) and also (thankfully) a seemingly lovely sound of “Yes” !!
Before moving to KL, his tantrums were not that painful, but now, it’s like I have to pay attention to his demand ( though only at times as I believe that if you pay attention to a tantrum you are fuelling the tantrum). I feel his tantrum or anger-exhibition as I prefer to call it is more due to the fact that he is not engaged in school activity yet & that maybe it’s his way of telling us that he misses all. I don’t get angry or lose my cool at him…poor thing I feel very sorry for him & it only propels me to hunt for that perfect school for him. But yes I lose it completely as the clock hits 8 PM !! Post this hubby has to be home to take over or else there are some screaming scenes.
Just today after bath he told me he wants to wear a Cars (the movie) shirt, he does not have one. I tried to calm him, but it was futile. I found him a nice blue shirt with an airplane on it, but he was least bothered. He continued with his crying, then I offered him a warm cup of milk and voila, I had a happy & playful baby (oops toddler).
The way I look at tantrums & anger show is that the kids are still young enough to say exactly what they want, & if we cannot understand them it irritates them more. At times just hugging my son has made him happy. Another thing to understand is that this is also the time when they are forming their individuality, so we must encourage all good things, and discourage what we think is not good. This is very crucial as kids don’t know the difference between good & bad and will want to imbibe anything & everything they see in us, the parents, media like TV, movies etc. I have seen some parents who are in their own world, and are not focused on the child, this also makes the child want to shout & scream and make his/her presence felt. I tell all my friends that the child is never at fault, it is us parents that fail to make the distinction between right & wrong to the child. Some people also believe in being friends to the child, I feel it is better to be parents to the child as will have lots of friends as he/she grows up & that they always will need a parent to guide them to scold them & to help them make decisions.

Mapro Panchgani

Last night we were watching the AFC (Asian food channel) in which someone made a sandwich consisting of some greens, tomatoes, turkey & cheese; and they called it the 'everything sandwich'!! to this hubby & me had the same response..."there is no sandwich like the Mapro sandwich". The situation & our comment made us nostalgic about the very famous Mapro sandwich. http://www.maprofoods.com/index.htm
No...no..Mapro is not a sandwich churning joint....it is a company that makes jams, squashes, crushes, syrups & soft confectioneries. It is located in Panchgani, and every (or should I say most) traveller to Mahabaleshwar or Panchgani makes a pit-stop at Mapro for a bite of their yummyyyyy sandwich, fresh & flavourful ice-creams, and the works...
The sandwich is made with a thick bread which is huge (8x8") the contents are very simple & basic, like some greens, tomatoes, cucumber, lots of cheese...and I don't know what else....I just love the medley of flavours & the melted cheese & this entire ensemble is grilled to perfection. I have a photograph of this somewhere...I will have to find it...but surly I will post it.
The ice-cream is another favourite, specially with their syrup toppings...I love the Lychee syrup on top of a Vanilla scoop, there are lots of options to mix & try.
On all my trips to Mahabaleshwar we have stopped at Mapro, actually going to Mapro was like an incentive to me to go to Mahabaleshwar!! I love the ambiance of the outdoor cafe where all these delicious things are served & the grilling of sandwiches makes the air all the more aromatic!!
I will end my post here with a resolve to visit Mapro on my next visit to India.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Why a lamp is lit in Hindu Homes

In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is maintained continuously - Akhanda Deepa.
All auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion. Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness - ignorance. The Lord is the "Knowledge Principle" (Chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshiped as the Lord himself.
Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth.
Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly we should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Done at last !!!

Today is that day when I (read we) have managed to finally put a full stop on something that had been pending from d-day that we moved to the new home, and that was to arrange our son's toy room plus my writing space. Actually I am so happy with us (team of hubby, son & me) that I made a lovely lunch of Matar-Pulao, hubby dear did his yummy bit by making some masala-papads. All the work was done before lunch. We began by sorting all the toys, arranging some of them on a rack, that gave us the freedom to throw away one box, so that left 2 boxes of toys, with two racks of books & activity stuff ....phew !!!! after the toys were sorted & placed so as to allow Aadi to look & choose, we got to doing my writing space bit. This we arranged on a table (study table) that was in the toy room, the laptop was brought in from it's new perch on top of the dining table, the printer, the hard disk were woken up from their slumber in the still un-packed cabinet. Some pens, pencils, markers made the content of my pen-holder. I also placed a photograph of the Budhha (which I find peaceful to look at) on the table & any decorator will envy me as the table & the picture with it's steel frame all match & look amazing. To add some color to the grey-black ensemble, I added a colourful paper holder & a very cute strawberry shaped photo frame.
I love this new nook of mine & I can do a bit of writing while my son plays in the same room!! cool na? I can also keep an eye on the kitchen & get up once in a while to stir some yummy stuff !!
right now hubby is taking is much deserved break by watching die-hard 4, Aadi is busy bashing up his air-filled tiger, and me, I stole some time to write in this post. One more thing that will make my day perfect is a phone call to my folks at home.

First Aid - the Ayurvedic way

Simple Ayurvedic remedies can play a very effective role as first aid treatments. Below are some simple treatments which have been effectively used for thousands of years, for treating some common problems. You can also try them and stay healthy in a natural way.

Asthma: Take one teaspoonful of ginger powder and one teaspoonful of licorice powder. Add half a liter of water and boil the mixture till it reduces to one fourth (about 125 ml.). Strain it and drink it warm. Adding a teaspoonful of honey or one gram of common salt is beneficial.
Backache: Make a paste of ginger, and apply to the affected area. Massaging with eucalyptus oil is very effective. You can also make your own massaging oil. Take 2-3 cloves of garlic, and cut them into small pieces. Put them in 100 ml. of sesame oil or mustard oil (or any other oil if these two are not available). Boil on slow fire for about five minutes. This oil is very good for massaging the area of backache.
Bleeding (External): Applying a paste of sandalwood powder is helpful in the cases of external bleeding. It stops the bleeding and also heals the wound. Drinking a cup of warm milk with half teaspoonful turmeric powder and a pinch of saffron or alum, added to it is also very good healing drink. It also acts as pain reliever.
Burns: Make a paste of fresh gel of aloe-vera with a pinch of turmeric powder. Adding one 1-2 grams of ghee or coconut oil to this paste makes it more effective. This paste can be applied to the burnt area.
Cold: Take one tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, one teaspoonful of cinnamon( Dalchinini) powder and one teaspoonful of licorice powder. Add all these together to one liter water and boil on slow fire for ten minutes till about one fourth (250 ml.) of it is left. This drink can be taken three times in a day. Honey can added as a sweetener.
Diarrhea: Add one teaspoon of fresh grated ginger and one gram of nutmeg powder to half a cup of water. Blend them together for few minutes into a mixture. Drinking this twice or thrice a day helps to stop diarrhea.
Earache: Take 2-3 cloves of garlic. Peel off the skin and cut them into small pieces. Add 100 ml. of sesame or mustard oil and boil on a slow fire for about five minutes. Strain and when it becomes cool, drop two drops in the aching ear. Can be used two times a day.
Make a mixture of one teaspoonful of onion juice and half teaspoonful of honey. This mixture is also helpful in earache. Two drops in each ear can be used two times a day.
Eye Burn: Put 2-3 drops of pure rose water into the affected eye. This can be used two or three times a day. It also helps in itchy eyes and reduces the redness in the eyes.
Boils: Apply cooked onion as a poultice on the boil. A paste of ginger powder (one teaspoonful) and turmeric powder (one teaspoonful) is also good to apply on the boil. Either the boil will be suppressed or a head will appear so that the pus can be drained out easily.
Exhaustion (Heat): Drink one glass (250 ml.) of coconut water or grape juice. Take 3-4 pieces of dates and cook them with one glass of milk or water. Eat the dates and drink the milk or water. It is also good to blend them in a mixture before taking. This drink is very good and gives instant energy.
Gum Bleeding: Squeeze the juice of half lemon into a cup of water and add one teaspoonful of honey. This drink should be taken every morning. Massaging the gums gently with coconut oil also helps.
Menstrual Cramps: Take one tablespoon of aloe-vera gel and mix in half a gram of black pepper powder. Such a mixture can be taken 2-3 times during the day or until the cramps disappear.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

All in a day

According to me, dance is an expression of your feelings. Today as I was watching Aankhe the movie where three blind men rob a bank. In that Arjun Rampal does a good piece in the song 'tension kayko leneka', I loved the way he does the free-form & full-tu tapori dance. I simply enjoyed it!! It brought back memories of a school picnic, where our group was busy dancing at the back of the bus to all the then hit numbers from Ram-Lakhan, etc. We actually decided to dance the way Anil Kapoor does/did in his movies, and it was great fun watching all of us trying to do some silly step. Zooming into today, my son loves dancing, and he with all his 27 months of experience does a very good job at that. His current favourite number is 'hare-ram from Bhoolbhulaiyya'.
We had a good day of outing today, we explored the Bangsar Shopping Center, and Amol liked the variety of products at Cold Storage, although we found it a bit expensive. But if you consider the piece of mind with which we could shop, then it was all worth it. Before heading off to BSC we stopped at Bangsar Village for Aadi's Gymboree class, but realised that we were a good 20 minutes late, so we decided to ditch the class & head off to Mumbai Se, a store we've been waiting to explore. I liked the store, the clothes & some of the artifacts that they displayed. I specially liked a pink top with kundan-work, it was amazing....someday I'll buy that.
I also finally managed to get some kaat-chaat done!! that was my big achievement for today.
Today Malins has gone back to her hometown on a long vacation. I hope the kids have a pleasant journey. Sonia also has gone home. I must say these girls are going on a much deserved break. The kids will love all the doting & affection that all the dada-dadis, nana-nanis & everyone else will overflowingly offer.
I want to go home too...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Om Shanti Om

Well after all that bickering about where I am and how I was happier where I was, I guess the time has come for me to share some good experiences with you. We went to see OSO (short for Om Shanti Om), actually the second day first show here which was at 11:30 AM. It was a Saturday so we had to make some efforts to wake up early, & get done with potty time for Aadi & breakfast, making his lunch etc. Needless to say that hubby darling takes the longest to step out of the door.
This was to be our first movie at Mid Valley Megamall with Aadi, we had told him what we were going to watch & he seemed OK with the idea. He likes the songs Dard-e-disco, ajab-si, main agar kahoon, as they were all sung by his favourites in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.
We were to collect our tickets 45 minutes before the show (we had booked online) so that left us with some time to wander around the mall. In all this time Aadi decided to take a nap, and I must admire his timing as he woke up just as the movie was beginning!! We enjoyed the movie, the songs made Aadi sit up as he tried to grasp all that was happening. But when there were too many dialogues, he covered his ears with his hands!! I don't know what that was for.
I liked Deepika & Shreyas, and Kiron Kher was amazing yet again!! There is no need for me to mention SRK as he is 'the' thing about the movie & even though I don't like him much, he managed to wow me with his six-packs..well...well not the visible or should I say the physical aspect of it but the very fact that he at his age had that much determination & will power to put in all that hard work to achieve that look !!
Most of all I loved the central theme of the movie which is based on the book 'The Secret' that if you desire something with all your heart and soul, the entire universe conspires to let you have it.
All in all an entertaining movie which was a bit below my expectations, as I expected a lot more with that theme from Farah Khan.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What is wronge with me??

I am still not over my nostalgic feelings for Singapore....I am not a person to brood over something, I rather look at the situation (location) at hand and see to it that I make all possible efforts to make my life better. But every time I think of doing something here, I rewind to how & when I did the same thing in S'pore!! I love the current house, but it does not have a fresh market nearby nor is there a supermarket close by. (By close by I mean walking distance.) things that I took for granted there are missing here, I don't have a doctor nearby, & there I could walk to my doctor's clinic within 4 minutes !! My hubby had chosen a very good locality for us there, but here I find that I am greatly at loss...every time I want to go out I will need a taxi & that my friends are hard to come by in our area. There I go again !! I am rattling on my woes to you all!! I think the reasons why I am going through this un-natural phase is because of the terrible experience I had on the very second day of coming here, I had to rush my son to the hospital as he had a mild febrile seizure in course of his viral fever, my phone lines were not up & I had no way to call Amol or the emergency hotline...I was stuck...so off I ran out of my door with my son in hand & screamed as loud as I could for help & by the grace of God I had a lot of ladies coming in to help me & rushing us to the Hospital. I shall be eternally thankful to all of them for their timely help that day. I was so mortified by the fact that I was stuck in a helpless situation (I like being prepared & in control) so I broke down as I called my mom & asked my brother to take the next available flight & be with me. Aadi was also glad to see his Mama around & plus the hospital was very good, staff excellent. The children's ward was very well decorated in cartoon characters, horse, monkey, joker. Aadi's room had a joker theme & it felt pleasant to be there even though we were all worried & a bit tensed. I am talking about Pantai Medical Center. This is the very place that I went to when I was pregnant with Aadi & I asked Amol to ask Dr. Narayanan (my gynaec & obs then) to come & visit us. Believe me when I saw Dr. Narayanan walk through that door I was so relieved & felt very safe. God bless him!!
After this scary episode we had little enthusiasm for setting up home & went about getting things out when required. But my brother & hubby both worked very hard in emptying off a lot of boxes.
This episode is I think one of the reasons why I feel I was better off in S'pore. The second reason is leaving Malina, Iba, Nazu, Faisal, Anand, Ranjeeta, CS behind. We have a lot of memories of good times spent together. I miss calling up Malina at the spur of the moment & just asking "what you doin?", making plans to go out, Iba & Aadi playing & fighting over that toy stroller!! Goshhhhh let me not go on...or I might start crying again!!
I am an eternal optimist, so I know I will surface & get over my phase.
On the lighter side of things I have not seen more than 2 ladies in short-shorts!! I am actually seeing a whole lot of fully clothed ladies & girls & it sure feels good to the eyes.
So to finish off this post I want to tell all of you not to take things for granted & always be prepared before hand like having a working phone line & mobile phone before you move to a new location & a list of all important numbers.

Nostalgic about Singapore

This is my first post away from Singapore, and I can already think of many things that are reminding me of Singapore..
As soon as we landed in KL, I found myself squeezing into the taxis, as I am so used to the huge taxis in Singapore. The small size of the taxis also acted as an impetus to lose weight!! While we’re still at taxis, I must tell you that the taxi-drivers in S’pore know the city very well, here they have to be guided and of course, never in S’pore did a taxi driver say that he did not want to go where I want to go….but here…they do tell you “cannot go lah!!”.
We are just 1 day in KL, & we spent some time yesterday exploring our condo, Aadi was impressed with the swimming pool, and the kids play ground. We also went to check out the gym & saw some brand new equipment there, and let me put it in writing that I promise to go gym-ing. The tennis court is located on the 2nd floor of the club house and has a great view around. I did see 2 squash courts, a table-tennis table, an entertainment hall, and yes a barbeque pit too (Ranz since we did not have a BBQ party at your place, we can have one here..so come soon!!)
I was a bit sceptical about how my son would handle the move, but he seems to be at ease & loves the huge windows all around the house through which he can see the sky, birds, planes, trees, cars..even I love the view. I will post some photos as soon as I am done un-packing & find my camera equipment intact.
Yesterday in the evening we also visited my favourite Mid Valley Mega Mall, we did not explore it but just stuck to our agenda of food & buying a bed-sheet & water-filter. For food we went to Annalakshmi as I used to love the authentic Indian food there, but I was so badly let down, the food was a fusion sorts part Chinese, part Malay, Part Indian & the service was also poor, I mean it is a self-service place but they used to have volunteers serving water etc. So in between eating & feeding Aadi plus entertaining him we were making rounds to get water. The place also did not look clean to me as there were some insects around our table (yuck !!)
After the walk through the mall & a quick tour of Carrefour, we headed home.
Coming back to the house, Aadi loves to play with the curtains & he calls out to Aaba, Anand, Mishi, Fafa, Dada, Nani, Papa…it is fun to watch him do that.
The packers have got our things today & the boxes have all piled up in each room, so there is plenty of work ahead.
Before I forget, in KL everyone wants to smile at you, I love the people-to-people contact here, the warmth of the people is really amazing!! This is something that I did miss in Singapore.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bachelor evening

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last evening. It was a typical later October London afternoon - grey, wet and gloomy - and we set out for Canary Wharf to do a spot of shopping. Once finished, we decided to do something different.
We called one of our friends who lives nearby (and is blissfully enjoying the single life), and pretty much said that we were going to visit him. I haven't done an unannounced visit on anyone in a long time and just doing it made me feel so good. It was nice to go somewhere and just relax. The guys decided to have some beer and they very thoughtfully bought me a bottle of root beer (non-alcoholic beverage that somehow reminded me of iodex). So i was trying out to relive my single life, having a drink out of a bottle as opposed to glasses and must say this - it was quite liberating. For once, Mihir, who loves exploring every nook and cranny, had a go at everything in sight and wasn't told off (although i set about protecting their much loved gizmos by blocking his access with chairs, tables, pillows - anything in sight - he still enjoyed himself and didn't complain and seemed to be quite interested in just discovering some way past it). He loved the indulgence - no toys in sight and nothing else that he could really destroy. He also did them a great favour by licking their tables clean. I was very worried and feeling guilty about trashing their place - but they assured me its much worse when their friends come over (yes i guess a toddler is never competition to partying single adults).
Having pizzas, eating a lovely tiramisu and having a swig of root beer, made one hell of a relaxing evening. And the icing on the cake was a happy child who was in dreamland by the time we got back home.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Tribute to our Friendship!

After getting up I got a call from Neelum and I asked her and Amol over for lunch as today would be their last day in Singapore. When Neelum and Amol came I served lunch and we all sat in the table eating and chatting. My menu was quite simple and it consited of "mutter paneer", chicken and dhal. I wanted to cook something special but could not manage to do it as Ibnat has not been keeping well since yesterday and she was demanding a lot of my attention.

We chatted about everything under the sun while having lunch and then sat together in the living space and started talking again. We had some yoghurt and icecream and little Nayaz was very keen to taste what we were having. So he crawled to his father for a bit of yoghurt.Faisal gave him some and he loved the taste so much that he kept making sounds to ask for more whenever he finished what was given to him. We were very amused by his expressions!

Meanwhile Adi and Iba started playing and the two buddies, as usual, started fighting over toys. We tried to mediate and when our efforts failed we decided to let them sort out their differences themselves.After a while they started playing together and it was clear that they were enjoying themselves. I looked at them and sighed. Iba would really miss little Adi, her first friend in Singapore.

When my hubby Faisal got a job offer from Singapore and decided to go for it, the first thing that came to my mind was thank god Neelum would be there! When Faisal came, Amol helped him find a place to stay.We purposely rented a house in close proximity to Neelum's so that it would be easier for us to socialize with each other. My hubby came first as I was pregnant with my second baby at that time.

On most weekends Neelum and I and our hubbies would go out somewhere and have good fun. Apart from being our close buddies, Amol and Neelum were also our "help hotline" in Singapore. Anything we needed to know, be it the bus route to "Little India" or where to buy an oven from, they were our constant guides. And they were always eager to help us out.

Neelum and I would talk over the phone almost everyday and meet frequently along with the kids. My daughter Ibnat is very fond of playing with Adi and also talking with him over phone. One place that we used to visit regularly was the Library as Neelum and I share a love of reading.

When it was time to leave neither Neelum nor I could hold back the tears. It was a poignant moment. Bidding farewell to friends is never easy, as I had realized once before in my life when I had set off for my home town, leaving all my friends behind, after completing my studies.

We said goodbye to each other, vowing to keep our friendship and the blog alive !

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weightloss woes! Continued.......

I am trying to make small changes at a time because when we change our diet drastically weightloss happens but it often cannot be sustained. Most of the times, I eat healthfully. I am perfect during daytime and I eat all healthy stuff in the right portions however, come evening and I will raid the fridge and gobble up chocolates or make myself a hot cup of "Milo" or have some crisps.

For the time being I have made the following changes in my lifestyle :
  • I am doing "cardio" four times a week
  • I stretch three times a day (my stretching sessions are very short...around five minutes)
  • I am doing abdominal exercises thrice a week (I follow Denise Austin's abdominal exercises)

So for the time being I am only concentrating on the exercise part and have made no changes to my diet. I just wish I could lose the weight overnight like in the "Atkins Diet" but I realize now that there is no healthy short-cut to weight loss!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kojagiri Pornima

The Kojagari Pornima is a festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu Lunar month of Ashwin (September-October). It marks the end of the rainy season & the brightness of the full moon brings special joy.
At night, goddess Laxmi is worshipped and night vigil is observed. According to a folk-tale, once a king fell on evil days, and was in great financial straits, but then his queen observed this fast and night vigil, and worshipped the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Consequently, they were blessed by the goddess and they regained their prosperity.
Some people believe that on this night Laxmi moves about from place to place asking, "Who is awake?" ("Kojagarti?") and shows her pleasure on those she finds awake. Hence, the night is spent in festivity and various games of amusement, in honour of the goddess. So people sit in the moonlight singing songs, or keep themselves entertained in some other way. They observe fast from solid food and take only fluids like coconut water or milk. Milk is boiled until it thickens, and milk masala (a combination of dry fruits) is added to it and drunk. There is also the tradition to have cool Milk & Rice flakes on this night. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout the country, particularly by us Maharashtrians i.e. by people residing in Maharashtra.
I particularly remember this day (or should I say night); Mom would thicken the milk & add all sorts of dry fruits to it. After dinner, we would then sit in our balcony & allow the milk to soak up all the cooling light of the moon. The milk is kept in the moonlight as it is believed that the moonlight has some special cooling medicinal properties on this night. In olden days queens & other ladies made their kajal on this day, and it was stored in a silver box & allowed to bask in the moonlight all night long. This tradition of making kajal is done even now, the reason again is that the cooling properties of the moonlight will benefit the kajal that is applied to cool the eyes. As kids we sat, talked, shared jokes and had a good time. The milk was consumed & then it would be time for bed, as these would be school days. We were never allowed to stay up all night.
Coming to think of today again, I have made the masala-milk, thickened it; & plan to take it to a place where it can soak up some moonlight (just pray that it is a cloud-less night). I want to tell my son why this is done & that what fun it is!! This will also be my last festival in Singapore this year. I am of course sad to leave my dear friends behind specially Malins whom I met coincidentally after our student days & it was so nice that our kids got to know each other & have grown fond of one another. Aadi will also miss Aaba & baby as he calls Malina's beautiful kids.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weightloss woes!

I got on the weighing scale yesterday and guess what? The scale has moved in the wrong direction again! I was devastated and ironically this time I have gained weight because I have been reading about health and weightloss (can you beat that?). Since reading used to take up my time I skipped exercise and devoted that time to browse through books on diet, weightloss and exercise.

However, now I have decided to take this weight gain in my stride and work towards some lifestyle changes which will help me lose a bit of weight before I go to my hometown in December. I want to look good for my son's birthday which, god willing, we will celebrate in December.

People say that women never really lose the weight from the second pregnancy and I think that there is some truth in it. Not that I believe that this statement is true but I feel that it is much more difficult after a second pregnancy. The weight kind of clings onto you and does not want to leave. I have been nursing and I don't think that makes much of a difference!

In the coming days I'll be writing more about my lifestyle changes!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Taking my toddler out

Taking my toddler out is fun these days b'coz she is now like a "miniature individual" who can give me company while I am at the supermarket or in the library. I can enjoy a meal with her in the food court or at a restaurant and let her choose what to buy for snacks. Yes, though a fussy eater, she is now more adventurous with food and asks for crisps or juice whenever we are out.......

Ibnat loves going out and her initial excitement when we go out is infectious. Her initial excitement may be transient and be replaced by tantrums at a later point when she is hungry or sleepy. She does not like to be in a pram these days and prefer walking and exploring things by herself. She is also very very reluctant to hold hands but I have made it clear to her that not holding hands is something that she will not get away with but she will still sometimes create a big fuss over it and cross her arms over her chest so that we are unable to hold her hands.

When I am out with Ibnat I take the opportunity to teach her about the world. She now knows the "green man" and the "red man" while crossing the road. Thanks to her frequent supermarket visits with me she can identify a number of vegetables and fruits. All salespeople in "Shop 'N Save" , the supermarket where I frequent, are now very familiar with her and therefore her supermarket visits are more like social outings.

We have taken Ibnat to the "Night Safari" and she was really thrilled. She also loved the "Underwater World" as fish is something that fascinates her. A zoo trip is something that I am looking forward to with her and I can imagine that she is going to have a lot of questions about the animals.

I try not to make trips with Ibnat too elaborate because even on a small scale they may be tiring to a child. And successful outings with toddlers depend a lot on the right supplies so I always carry the following things in Ibnat's bag:


  • a diaper

  • wipes

  • water bottle

  • some cheese in a Ziploc bag

  • one of her favorite toys

  • umbrella

I also love taking nature walks with Ibnat and it doesn't have to be a fancy place.....the nearby park is usually the place where we go. The birds in the tree, the grass and the butterflies are all enough at the moment to get my toddler thinking and learning about the natural world.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Creating your Dream Pillow

I came across this fabulous idea of making your dream pillow and it was a hit with me...so thought of sharing it with you all....read on...
A dream pillow is a small bag or pillow filled with herbs. Tucked inside your pillowcase, the herbs will be crushed slightly as you sleep, thus releasing their subtle aromas. Making your own dream pillow is simple. Use any aromatic herbs of your choice and which you find relaxing for example rose petals, lavender, lemon balm, & chamomile.
You will need: One 5x12 inch natural fabric strip in your favourite design. A handful of cotton batting or fiberfill. 1/2 cup of dried herbs.
Method: Fold your fabric into half with the right sides together, so you have a 5x6 inch piece. Stitch up two sides of the pillow, leaving the folded side & the open end -not sewn.
Wash and dry this with a on-fragrant soap & softener to remove any dyes or any other unpleasant odours. Turn the right side out and place a ball-sized amount of cotton or fiberfill in the bottom of this pillow. Now add the 1/2 cup of herbs and top it off with the remaining cotton or fiberfill. To finish this fold over the open end & sew it up to close it.
Voila !! your dream pillow is ready & you have to just insert it in your pillowcase and lay down on it & relaxxxxx......

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I wish I had compiled a pregnancy journal !

I went through two pregnancies and thanks to god both of them were smooth as far as my and of course the foetuses' health was concerned. In the first pregnancy I had some problems in the beginning and the gynaec had said that there was a possibility of miscarriage but thankfully that did not happen and I went on to deliver a healthy term baby.

During my pregnancy I used to love reading about it in books and in the internet. My favourite website for looking up information on the various stages of pregnancy was http://www.babycentre.com/ and a book by Heather Welford about pregnancy was my constant companion. In my first pregnancy I was very busy as I was working but I managed to do antenatal exercises which really helped me a lot and I think it was the major factor behind my normal delivery. My second pregnancy was unplanned and I did not really take much care of myself during that time. During my second pregnancy my hubby accepted a job offer from Singapore and so towards the end of the second birth the process of relocation had already started. So it was a time of some major changes in our lives.

However, I have one BIG REGRET and that is I did not maintain a pregnancy journal. I think if I had done it then it would have been wonderful to look at it a few years down the line. Neelum did give me the idea of writing a journal but somehow I could not get myself to start it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An old favorite - Main Hoon Na

A few weeks ago, Friday was a wet and gloomy day and so we decided to cheer ourselves up watching one of my favorite movies - main hoon na. Incidentally it translates to "i'm here now" - i always love reading the english subtitles with my old favorites - and they never cease to amuse me - but i guess that's only because nothing can ever capture the essence of the original language the films are made in. Anyway, after meandering down an unrelated path, coming back to the intended original one - there are several things i like about this movie and i thought i will list them here for you - and then you can add on to the list or you can add all the things that you dislike about it - and hopefully our mutual knowledge of this movie will be enhanced. (By now you must have guessed that making lists is second nature to me, maybe something to do with the years spent making powerpoint presentations)
  • i love the fact that its all goody goody and glossy. And i just simply love the fact that the Principal loves reading harry potter.. now that's a school i would like to go to.
  • the army connection - and the way in which the principal always messes up with the ranks. Just so that you never ever mess it up, i have listed them here.
    • Army Officer Ranks: General, Lt. General, Major General, Brigadier, Colonel, Lt. Colonel, Major, Captain, Lieutenant
    • Army Junior Commissioned Officer Ranks: Subedar Major, Subedar, Naib Subedar
    • Army Non-commissioned Ranks: Company Havildar Major, Havildar, Naik, Lance Naik, Sepoy
    • Navy Officer Ranks: Admiral, Vice Admiral, Rear Admiral, Commodore, Captain, Commander, Lt. Commander, Lieutenant, Sub Lieutenant
    • Air force Officer Ranks: Air Chief Marshal, Air Marshal, Air Vice Marshal, Air Commodore, Group Captain, Wing Commander, Squadron Leader, Flight Lieutenant, Flying Officer
  • The violins and huge fans blowing whenever the gorgeous Sush makes an entry - makes it the ultimate 60's Bollywood fantasy.
  • And the inspiration from other movies - Sholay (the cycle rickshaw called Dhanno), Matrix (all kinds of elasticated movements), RD Burman music (i must say not distastefully remixed), my all time favourite Amol Palekar's Golmaal, a touch of Masoom, love triangles- all expertly weaved in - to make a chocolate entertainer. I wonder if there is a little bit of Die Hard at the end what with hostages and fire in the background.
  • The weird teachers - the Hindi teacher Mrs Kakkad who keeps knitting, and the physics teacher who keeps spraying everyone, and of course the chemistry teacher who sets every guy's heart racing - i am sure this will remind us all of our school and college days - and the perfect touch of the office window of the i-card office closing just when you finally reach it.
  • And last but not the least - there are some hilarious originals - like "he is one of those sata savitra types" that have you chuckling all through the movie.
All in all it would be fair to say that it did manage to light up my dull and gloomy Friday evening, so lots of points for that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Crocs - almost everybody has them in Singapore


One of the things that caught my attention when I first came to Singapore was the huge number of people wearing crocs. Regardless of age and sex a large number of people here are in crocs. I think crocs are the most convenient footwear in Singapore as it rains almost everyday.
When I drop off my child in school I always look at the shoe rack and out of ten or twelve shoes atleast three are crocs. Mini crocs look oh so cute and most of them are adorned with accessories! They come in various colors but for children I think bright pink and yellow are the popular colors.
While crocs are comfortable and convenient to be used on beaches and on rainy days, there have been a lot of controversy as to whether it is safe for kids when they are on escalators. A lot of parents have reported serious foot injuries which happened when their kids' crocs got stuck in the escalators.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Night Safari


My uncle and cousins are in the city so since the last week or so we have been on a sightseeing spree. Last Sunday on our itinerary was the "Night Safari" which we have been wanting to go since a long time.....
The safari was due to start at seven in the evening but we reached there a bit early around quarter past six. As we entered the area of the night safari we were immediately impressed. Torches, totems and chants created an atmosphere that was very "voodoo" and we were thrilled. A group "nomads" came dancing down a bridge chanting a repetitive "mantra". Seeing this Ibnat became a bit scared and looked at me and I assured here that there was nothing to be scared about.

Before queueing up I noticed that some people were putting on insect repellents. The thought of bringing an insect repellent for Ibnat did cross my mind but I did not bring it as I felt she should be used to mosquitoes and other insects as these are so common in our countries.

After waiting in the line for few minutes we boarded the tram which would take us around the Night Safari. The area was dark which actually added to our thrill and artificial light was put here and there but it was done very subtly.

A 45 minute tram ride took us through three continents:Asia, Africa and South America. First was the artificially created "Himalayan foothills" and it we saw "Bharal" which we mistakenly thought was "goat". We also saw "Markhor" which is a type of goat and has unique twisted horns. In the "Nepalese River Valley" we saw one horned Rhinoceros, pelican and jackals.

In the "Indian subcontinent" we saw "Gir Lion" and it looked very majestic even in the dark. Ibnat was thrilled as she loves looking at pictures of lion so for her a live lion is a dream come true! The "Barasingha" deers were lovely creatures and I was disappointed to know that they were endangered.
In Africa we saw cape giraffe and again Ibnat was visibly excited. She has always been fascinated by a giraffe's long and graceful neck.

In the Indo-Malayan region we saw the "Malayan Tiger" which looks exactly like Royal Bengal Tiger and so "mama" (uncle), my cousins and we all started talking about how Bangladesh could do something like the "Night Safari" and attract tourists as it is blessed with a rich and diverse wildlife. Then we realized that we were talking loudly and getting carried away so we again concentrated on the nocturnal creatures around us.

In the Asian Riverine area we saw the Asian elephant and one of the elephants had unusually large white tusks and we all stared at it in wonder. We would have stared longer at him had the tram moved a bit slower. In the South American Pampas we saw the amazing "Capybara" which looks like a giant mouse. It is the largest creature of the rodent family.In this area we also saw a large anteater which came really close to the tram.

At the end of the trip all of us were happy to have seen so many nocturnal creatures in their natural habitats. We also wondered how the safari authorities have kept the tigers and lions from gobbling up the deers and other animals!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Plan of Action for today

Today is the much awaited 13th of October....guess why??? arre baba today is the final of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007 !! I can't wait for it to begin tonight.....I am all for seeing Raja as the winner, as I feel that he is really good & that he can really change my mood with his singing. Another factor affecting my choice is that he is 25 years old and the others are 18,19; so I feel that the others have a long way to go in terms of finding their way around to their goal in life. With their new found fame and exposure to the best of the best in the music & film industry should not find it difficult to make it their career. I also would like it equally if Amanat won today as he is the best versatile singer & is very good in every genre. Aneek I feel has a sweet voice but it needs some time to mature.
I want to make some yummy snacks & watch the finals, watching with friends around would be more fun....so I will ask Ranz to stay back.
Today we have been invited my Malina to her house for lunch as part of the Ramzaan Eid celebrations. So I am looking forward to some good time with friends and good food !!
Hubby dear wants to go & check out some new mobile phones so my guess is that our evening will be spent in the phone shops....
But I also want to eat Chaat, some good stuff; but then again we'll have to go to Tanjong Katong or Suntec City both are far; so I don't know how we're going to do it all !!!
Aadi had fever 2 days back so don't want to make it too hectic for him either, so we'll be fighting to strike a balance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A really nice thing to read & ponder upon

It's still best to wait for the one you want
Than settle for the one available.
Best to wait for the one you love
Than settle for one who's around…
Best to wait for the right one.
Life is short to waste on the wrong person....
It is better to meet the person, who will truly love you later,
Than meet someone now who promises to love you but sooner or later leaves you forever.....
Never try to impress someone to make him/her fall in love with you
If you do, you will be expected to keep the standard for the rest of your life...

Fate determines who comes into our lives. The heart determines who stays...!!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

The latest on my bookshelf and DVD shelf.

Last week, on one rainy day, i had enough of the bookshelf at home and decided i need some different books. So on went the pram's rain cover, and armed with my much used umbrella and of course the oyster, we (Mihir and I) visited our local library.

So my bookshelf now has these additions:
The yummy mummy's survival guide - thats a handbook written for mothers to help them deal with what their babies will throw at them, written in the legally blond style - lots of emphasis on self-pampering there - i quite enjoyed it - although its not one hundred percent me - i was glad to know that i am not the only one facing the baby challenges and reacting in not so very pleasant ways.
Michael Palin's Himalaya - this a travelogue about Palin's travels through the great Himalayan mountains - i am reading it right now and love every minute of it - just waiting for the day when i can do such a journey.
An introduction to child development - this looked very interesting and have just started reading it - Psychology has always fascinated me.
Mythology - this is one of the eyewitness guides - love all the pictures in this book and since i have always been interested in the Indian and Greek mythological stories, this tells me there is a treasure trove out there from various other civilizations.
Babies and Young Children - Certificate in Child Care and Education - i just picked this book up because i wanted to see what the prescribed curriculum has to say on the subject.

Mihir's bookshelf now has:
Thats not my train...
Thats not my tractor...
Maisy Dresses Up
Play with Spot
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (dual language version with English and Albanian)

And as if thats not all, i also went and borrowed some DVDs from the local video library
I now have the Harry Potter movies - Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire - just thought i would revise before i got around to borrowing the latest
and one Jennifer Aniston movie - cant remember the name.

So now that my bookshelf and DVD shelf is well stocked - this week should be a breeze for both of us - till Baba gets back home.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hair-day on Sunday & more...

Today my husband & I have decided to spend some time & effort on our hair. I have mixed together a good amount of henna powder with some amla powder, coffee & used tea-water to get all this into a thin paste. When we're ready to put it on our head, I am going to add a few egg-yolks or yogurt. This option exists because hubby dear does not like egg-smell sometimes. Since it is raining today i will have to add some cloves also to this mix to avoid catching a cold.
And yes...I am finally going to use the iron-wok that my Mum sent me!!
Zee TV is broadcasting the Sharukh Khan movie 'Badshaah' in the afternoon so that will be a good watch with some good lunch in hand. Evening time we hope to make it to the park with Aadi and his new cycle. I want to also meet up with Malina & meet Naazu who is finally recovering from a bad bout of Roseola. I just hate it when kids are ill, especially since they can't tell us what is happening to them & how they are feeling.
Yes..before I forget, I must tell you guys about our dinner last night. We were at the Food Republic at the Suntec Convention Center, and Ranz told us about this place for good chicken-rice. We all dug-into the tender chicken & lovely fragrant rice. These were accompanied by a very tasty soup, some red chili paste/sauce & ginger sauce. I must say that this was the first time that I had ginger sauce & it made the entire meal very yummmm
Some steamed greens were served with soya sauce. I enjoyed the meal & Aadi also liked the rice, he kept asking me for "bhaat-bhaat". The lovely dinner was finished off with a watermelon juice. Post dinner we scampered off to the Merlion near the beautiful Durian shaped Esplanade Theater.
Chalo hope you guys have a wonderful & restful Sunday!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Dard-e-disco

O...Haseena oh neelam pari...kar gayi kaisi jadugari.....goes the now hot n famous song from Om Shanti Om...This song has become a huge hit with my son, who can't help but dance to it. When we heard the songs from the movie on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa we were all amazed at the wonderful music and the way all of them sang the songs was outstanding !! My son and I personally love Dard-e-Disco....I love it coz well it has my name in it!! and that Sharukh is looking HOT in it and plus that my favourite Raja sang this song....
Thankfully I have recorded that episode of SRGMP and have to put it On when ever my son says "dadddd daddd eeee" meaning Dard-e-Disco !! I don't feel angry or flustered at all for having to hear all the songs over n over again...coz I love them too !!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Living the Terrible Two's

"It is the best of times, it is the worst of times." This is what one parenting book says about toddlerhood and I must say that I feel that this is a very apt description of this phase of life.

I had heard about the "terrible two's" from my dad a long time back when my sister was around two but nothing prepared me for what I faced with Zunairah. It seemed that almost overnight my daughter had turned from an angel to a mutinous little person. Everything that my hubby or I say is met with an emphatic "no". Because of this trait of hers we are sometimes tempted to use reverse psychology and it does work.....for example on weekends when I want my hubby to take her out for swimming I'll say,"Today I will take you for swimming" and she will promptly respond by saying, "No, no....today "baba" will take me.".

Mealtimes and bedtimes are ofcourse times of intense emotional upheavals for my tot. Previously I used to be really flustered about my daughter not eating properly. Now I offer her a variety of nutritious food and I have come to accept the fact that Zunairah will not always be hungry enough to "clean the plate". Thanks to books on toddler nutrition ,I now know that children do not suffer from malnutrition that easily.

I did not know that toddlers can be as fussy with clothes as teenagers. My daughter practically brings her wardrobe upside down atleast twice a day all because she often cannot decide what to wear. She is nowadays rejecting "girlish dresses" such as frocks and skirts. I am now left with atleast a dozen of newly stitched beautiful dresses and I don't know what to do with them! Often after a lot of fussing my tot will decide to wear whatever her little brother is wearing and she will persuade us to take off his clothes and put it on her.

My toddler is a major "drama queen" and she will throw a huge tantrum over seemingly unimportant issues. She will sometimes shriek and scream ever over something as minor as a slightly tight shoelace. I also face the proverbial "supermarket tantrums" and it is very tricky to deal with them now that my tot understands the concept of buying things from the shop.......

Yes, toddlerhood can be challenging but it is also a time of excitement for parents. A toddler is a boundless source of energy and his zest for life is infectious. A few days ago Zunairah was nagging for an icecream and so I bought her a cone icecream. As the icecream on top of the cone started melting in little rivulets my tot became very excited and made silly faces and started licking the cone very furiously.......Only a toddler can be so happy over something as mundane as an icecream.....It really made my day! My hubby and I also love her pronunciation such as "attim" (icecream) and "tottape" (scotch tape). I will miss them for sure when she starts speaking like an adult.

These toddler years are over all too quickly and I am going to miss them when my tot grows up. Also, now I am the centre of her universe but that will no longer be the case a few years down the line. I am going to miss that, too......

Horror....straight out of a movie

Air traffic operations at Mumbai were in disarray for about 10 minutes yesterday, ringing alarm bells for some 20 aircraft hovering over the city, when the Air Traffic Control stopped functioning due to power failure. More significantly, none of the back-up systems worked leading to chaos in the air. It’s learnt that the incident happened around 11-40 am when the generators and the UPS back-up systems were all pulled out for maintenance purposes in what is emerging as a case of “poor planning”.
One UPS that was functional also tripped due to overload leaving the one emergency frequency — used otherwise to tackle flight emergencies — operational.
This one frequency, sources said, was jammed as all aircraft tried desperately to seek instructions through this only available channel for communication. All that the ATC could do was ensure that the aircraft didn’t change their altitudes. In short, sources said, the situation was “very dangerous”. The only radar partly working was the one monitoring the southern side of the airspace in Mumbai region.
Sources said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has sought an urgent report on the reason for such failure given that several measures had been put in place after a similar incident took place a year ago. However, unlike this time, there was a blackout then. In this case, poor maintenance planning created a “dangerous scenario”.
While Mumbai airport officials sought to play this down, DGCA sources said such an incident must not happen in one of India’s premier airports as all effort has gone into placing several back-ups so that the ATC does not stop functioning

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Strawberry Jam

This is almost the end of the British strawberry season. My sister, who is visiting us for a week, wanted to eat some - prompting me to buy some. We got a small box with our groceries yesterday. Strawberries have a short shelf life and so after eating as many as we could, we still had enough remaining to make some jam. Earlier this summer when my mother-in-law was visiting us, she had "jammed up" some strawberries and so i decided to experiment with her recipe. It was a old rainy day and so strawberry jam sandwiches with some butter made all the difference.

Here is how i did it: i removed the stalks from the strawberries and chopped them up - or rather sliced them because i like to encounter some of the heart shaped fruit in my jam. Then i mixed it with some sugar in a bowl. So it was around a dozen strawberries and about 3 or maybe 4 tablespoons of sugar. And squeezed the juice of half a lemon on top. I stirred it around in the bowl and then transferred the mixture into a saucepan. This was then simmered on low heat till the sugar melted. I was getting impatient so i turned up the heat a little. The entire mixture then comes to a boil. At some point in the whole process the mixture starts thickening. Recipes on the internet generally suggest the cold saucer test - and i think you will have to do so for large batches that you would want to preserve. And i guess in that case you will have to measure the ingredients and worry about the correct process. But i can guarantee that for a small quantity of fruit that you want to put to good use so that you consume it before it goes bad, this works and works well. So after having some jam sandwiches at tea time, we will polish the rest off for dessert - vanilla ice cream with a dollop of jam to top it.

So just out of interest - here is the science behind it. I found this on a website called www.infoplease.com. Strawberries contain pectin. Pectin is any of a group of white, amorphous, complex carbohydrates that occur in ripe fruits and certain vegetables. Protopectin, present in unripe fruits, is converted to pectin as the fruit ripens. Pectin forms a colloidal solution in water and gels on cooling. When fruits are cooked with the correct amount of sugar, and when the acidity is optimum and the amount of pectin present is sufficient, jams and jellies can be made. In overripe fruits, the pectin becomes pectic acid, which does not form jelly with sugar solutions. Fruits rich in pectin are the peach, apple, currant, and plum. Commercial preparations of pectin are available for jelly making. An indigestible, soluble fiber, pectin is a general intestinal regulator that is used in many medicinal preparations, especially as an anti-diarrhea agent.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Inspiration ...in your moment of need

I came across this beautiful story and I knew at once that I had to dedicate this to my dear friend Preeti who lost her Dad suddenly last moday.

My father passed away June 3, 2006 after a long fight with
pancreatic cancer. I live 2400 miles away and did not see him very often in the last 10 years of his life. One morning in August I was feeling very low so I called my mom. (Mom always said, "God gave you parents so someone would always care about you.") Talking to mom made me feel better but I really missed my dad. Later that morning I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend and telling her how sad I felt and what my mom always says about God giving you parents. I told her I had talked to my mom that morning and wished I could talk to my dad. No sooner was that said when a huge, yellow butterfly flew up to the window where we were sitting and flapped it's wings, staying outside that window for about 15 seconds before flying away. I instantly told my friend, "That's my Dad!" and started to cry. Huge butterflies like that are not seen where we live. Ever since that day when I am feeling lonely or missing my Dad I will cross paths with a yellow butterfly. My children also believe their Grandpa comes around in the form of a yellow butterfly. On my daughter's first day of Junior High in September "Grandpa" flew in front of us as we walked up to the school. My son was saddened because Grandpa didn't walk him up to the school that morning, but was happy a few days later when he and I were sitting in the pool and "Grandpa" flew around the backyard. When I pointed to "Grandpa" and told my son to look, "Grandpa" landed on my hand where he remained for about 15 seconds before flying away. On a recent trip to Death Valley National Park I was extremely lonely for my parents. When my companion asked me why I was so quiet I told him I really missed my Mom and Dad today and a little, yellow butterfly flew in front of us! How comforting. I feel blessed to see these wonderful creatures of God and the signs they carry with them.
Marcia, Barstow, CA

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lantern Festival at Chinese Garden

The Lantern Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival, commemorates the 14th-century revolution led by Yuan Zhang who smuggled notes inside moon cakes and used lighted lanterns as a signal to launch the revolt. One of the highlights of the festival is the Moon Cake Fair where hundreds of festive stalls line the streets of Chinatown selling an astonishing variety of moon cakes, traditional paper lanterns, decorations and other delicacies. Children parade down the streets with their brightly lit lanterns in the Children’s Lantern Procession. The Chinese Garden becomes a fairyland of lights and colours for the Lantern Festival, and there is also a range of cultural shows and performances including lion and dragon dancing, Chinese instrumentalists and craftsmen.
The whole of Chinese garden is lighted right from Chinese Garden MRT & usually there are different themes followed during the festival for the lighted showcase that is an attraction for all young and old at this place. This year the theme is the Sea, and there is a great variety of wonderful sea animals, fish, jelly fish, star fish, coral, etc. Aadi's favourite were the penguins and we had to stay there the longest. There were also lots of stalls with light-toys for kids, sparklers, and other tit-bits for one and all. Amol was happy to see the large variety of food stalls at the festival. I was personally very happy to see so many lights and so much colour, the whole place had a warm and welcoming feel to it. The different shapes and sizes of lanterns was amazing. There was also a huge lantern from Sri Lanka!!

The crowd was full of people with cameras and there were some kids trying their hand as well...The lake in the garden was full of beautiful figures of Chinese mythological figures, lotus flowers...and the way all this reflected in the dark water was simply beautiful!!
We, my family, Faisal's family & Chandrasekhar we all went for this wonderful festival & had a good time on Friday evening. We took lots of photographs..

Friday, September 21, 2007

Amul, the taste of India

This June, the Taste of India got the billion-dollar tag. What began as a dairy co-operative movement in the 1940s, has become the country's largest food business.
The white revolution has finally created a billion dollar brand, all thanks to some aggressive marketing by the dairy co-operative and the foresight of India's milkman Dr. Varghese Kurien, who created the Amul brand.

The last push to the celebrity mark has come after intelligent marketing of milk, ice cream & buttermilk. And all this by maintaining the marketing spend at just 1% of the total turnover.

The Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), an apex body of 13 milk co-operatives has clocked a turnover of Rs. 43 billion during fiscal 2006-07 to become a billion-dollar entity. The story gets bigger here.The ambitious federation has now set its eyes on the Rs. 100 billion mark over the next three years.It took four decades for Amul to become Rs. 20 billion entity, but the turnover doubled to over 43 billion within nine years from 1999 to 2007.

One of the most conservative FMCG entities GCMMF,spends a mere 1% of its turnover on promotions. GCMMF has re-written the rules of the games. Amul butter girl is one of the longest run ad campaigns in the country.The federation sold liquid milk worth Rs. 12 billion in fiscal 2006-07 & aims to cross Rs. 15 billion in 07-08. This performance is despite the stumbling exports during the previous fiscal following the Government's ban on exporting skimmed milk powder.

Amul, the movement that started in cash-rich Anand district of Gujarat in 1946 to empower farmers with two village co-operatives ad 250 litres of milk per day, is one of the most trusted food brands.


The above article appeared in the monthly newsletter of the High Commission of India here in Singapore (July 2007)