Monday, December 31, 2012

The birthday cake

This week has been a busy one. Three parties to prepare for. And with almost the same guest list!!
But this blog post is not about clothes and jewelry and shoes and perfumes. It is about the birthday cake.
After much pondering, choosing, short listing we finally decided to get a really large cup cake with frosty pink icing for my grandchild's first birthday.
So this cake is in the trunk of the car. We collect it on Saturday because the shop is closed on Sunday. I tell my daughter let me make space for the cake in the fridge. And she says no mama I will not bring it up. I will leave the cake in the car.
What!!! I ask. Won't it go bad?
No mama it is colder outside than it is in our fridge...
aaah yes ofcourse... it is 0 degrees C outside
and then this morning she says, I will bring the cake up from the car mama ... and I say, hey, we are anyway going to the party hall, so why bring the cake up...huh?
She says .. the cake is perhaps frozen rock hard by now, I need to bring it up to thaw it ...
oh oh
And I look out and see our black car is white (covered in snow) and fine icicles hang from the bumper

strange are the ways of the world...


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Paint your pottery

November is Thanksgiving time here in the US. Families find different ways of giving 'thanks'.
Serving lunches and dinners at charity homes - Clothes and toys for the poor - Donations in cash - Dinner with family and friends - are the most preferred methods of offering thanks. But my new friend Mina is warm and unique. She takes two grannies and a nephew for a special experience. I go with them too.

Colour me mine in San Jose has inviting clusters of tables and chairs. Two walls are lined with small and large white pottery and the third wall has brushes, special paints, palettes, stencils, shaped sponge dips. The wall itself is a mosaic of small coloured tiles. Each tile has a number below it. The air is vibrant with creative energy. The tables are filled with busy grandpas grandmas and kids. What are they doing??

Amma and Aunty are apprehensive. The nephew is non committal. What is this place?
Surprise! You are here to paint.
yes, you pick a white pottery, you pick some colours, and you paint. says Mina with a smile.
More confusion. What do we pick? How do we paint? Will it come out good?

We pick a  tray, a vase, a star and a bank car. We choose paints and brushes and say naa to stencils and shapes. Soon we plunge into the world of colours.
Conversation begins to flow.
We chat about their days of youth. Of days as working women. Of fears about shifting to a strange country. Of grandchildren and the joy of their successes. They joke. They laugh.
paint your pottery

We leave the painted pottery carefully tagged. The pottery will be fired and glazed and kept ready for pick up in 5 days. That was a grand thankgiving. An afternoon to cherish.
the best gift is a gift of TIME spent.

Hype? Or gripe?

Welcome to the era of extreme emotions.
we are either super excited about something
or we are ranting and grumbling about something

is normal conversation a thing of the past?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It is Christmas

Christmas is all about love and sharing and warmth and togetherness.
It is about the magic ... the magic of making a wish list ... and the magic of Santa granting wishes
I do wish and pray that the magic of Santa
the magic of hope and love
touches every one in your life.

If you are with your loved ones, sharing laughter and music, that is how it should be. Soak in the moment. It is yours.
If you are seeking warmth, and trying to be brave and happy, may more magic come your way, may you find the love and meaning you seek.

Yesterday evening
we did up the fireplace (yes, we have one!)
put some green leaves, sparkles and lights (I went nuts at walmart)
arranged the little plastic pine tree (with a shiny star on top too)
struggled to keep our crawling little one from grabbing at the lights
and at night ... like kids ... whispered to each other ... arranged Santa's gifts ... and clicked many pictures

My grandson is busy racing with the car that Santa gave him
Oh this is fun.
happy festive season to you all

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas lights

I had the most awesome time in San Jose. One of the highlights of the stay was the happening Christmas lights. My brother's neighbour is a festival enthusiast.

  • He does up the house for Halloween .. scary ghosts and black plastic witches sway in the breeze. smoke oozes from a tree, and orange pumpkins sit on the doorstep. 
  • During thanksgiving his house is done up again ... this time multi colour lights wave in and out of tree branches. 
  • By end of November he is up on his roof again. Sparkling rows of white lights hug along the roof eaves, windows and fence. A large balloon snowman and a sparkling reindeer shaking his head welcome us in the front yard.

We drove around the town at see the lights. Almost every home has sparkling lights.
reminding me of Deepavali and the Mysore Palace.

The best houses are listed on the web. We followed the lady's instructions on GPS, and reached the houses. One more spectacular than the other. at one place 6 houses got together to make an awesome presentation, with sound synchronized lighting! to tell you the truth it was pretty garish. but a lot of serious effort and expenditure was put in. This is a different version...but gives you a taste of it

And then we came home. We pulled out strings of white lights. Fixed them on the garage door.
Turned them on. And stood back...Our house lit up.. .. SERIOUSLY
this is the best house

that well lit up home, with rows of sparkling lights.....that is our neighbour

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hop over at Chicago

What must you do... if you have to catch a connecting flight.... at Chicago... and you are traveling alone?
  • keep enough time between flights so that you can walk to the departure gate at a comfortable pace
  • keep some cash on hand or carry a credit card so you can pay for a flight if you need to
  • keep your carry-on bag very light 
  • wear comfortable shoes
  • keep a charged cell phone so you are in touch with family
  • if you need to rebook, try getting on a flight by the SAME airlines
And I did none of these!!!
I was flying from San Fransisco to Louisville with a hop-over at Chicago. 
I landed in Chicago O'Hare ORD airport at 3pm at Terminal 2 and I had to board my flight to Louisville at 3:55. The lady at the counter says, hurry, go to terminal1 gate B22. I have this humongous black bag. It is heavy and has no wheels. 
I scramble like mad for a good 15 minutes to B22. Oops I need to trace back to the restroom 
and huff back again......
crackle crackle ..... Passengers please note flight blah blah to Louisville is delayed. It will leave at 6pm. I need to warn my daughter who is waiting at Louisville airport, with two small kids in tow... and I have no cell phone.
errr lady, may I borrow your cell phone? Hello chinnu... My flight is delayed by 2 hours!

half hour later they tell us ...YOUR  flight captain has not reported to duty. The flight is CANCELLED! Crackle ... Please get to customer service. We regret the inconvenience....Ya right...
errr lady ... may I borrow your cell phone? hello chinnu

So I trudge to the customer desk. They offer me tickets on a 7pm flight to Lexington on American Eagle.. Yippee
errr lady ... may I borrow your cell phone? hey chinnu

So, I plod with the now double humongous bag ...  to G14 at terminal 3. It takes me a solid 22 minutes. It is now 6pm. American Eagle refuses to let me board the flight. They have no intimation or money transfer from United she tells me. Go back to the customer service at terminal 1.

My bag seems to now weigh a hundred kilos, my shoes a fifty, and my knees are jelly. But I need to reach before this flight takes off.... or I may not get a replacement ticket... I manage to reach customer service in B8.
Hi how r u today... Sorry about that. We have a last seat in the United 9pm flight. U r lucky!
ya right! 
errr lady ... may I borrow your cell phone? Aa.a... chinnu

This flight leaves from the other end of terminal 2. I am past thinking. and way beyond fatigue point. I drag my bag, my feet and my soul to F14. I plonk into a seat. And burst into silent wet tears.
This flight did take off. and I was in it.

So If you are travelling alone, and if you have a hop-over flight, do follow the pointers at the beginning of this blog post 
or else  !!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reconnecting the wires

It is 3 weeks since I said hi to you.
Sorry, but hey, you know you are always in my thoughts. Thank you for being such a good friend.
For waiting patiently and giving me my space
For being ready to listen when I am ready to talk
For pinging me again and again ... even when I looked away

I have been tussling with my emotions
It all began with a most tiring chicago airport experience
I convinced myself that after that I was too tired to go for my walks
I switched off from my favourite hindi serials
and then from phone calls
and then from books and blogging
and from the news
And I watched myself slowly going into a state of depression

But hey, that is not a road I like to take
So I decided to jump myself out of it
I started by colouring some pages of my grandson's colouring book
I made lots of upittu!
I cleaned up the house... as if someone was visiting!
I vacuumed, refilled paper towel dispensers
I watched this and this and THIS too 
I played in the ipad
and finally today I made phone calls and am blogging too

suddenly I find that I have so many stories that I want to share with you
so many pictures that I want to upload
And my thoughts are out of the deep freeze and ready to thaw

Lots of wires connected to make these Christmas lights...

at the horse park, lexington, ky


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Two dimensional view

Everything around us has at the least three dimensions. Yet quite often we see only two dimensions.  Or sometimes only one!!
My grandson of four years is convinced that the best Christmas gift for his play home teacher is a toy car, for in his words ... Ajji i know Ms D likes playing with toy cars. She plays with us all the time!

Well, forty year olds are no different.
This happened a few months ago in Delhi. A gentleman escorted me to an office. We chose to travel by cycle-rickshaw. After we got dropped the gentleman paid the man ten rupees. The rickshaw puller asked him for five rupees more as we were two passengers with a heavy bag. The gentleman's response- Why are you asking for so much? You want to build a house or what!! makaan banana hai kya?? - implying that a rickshaw puller had to be just that ... A poor man with no ambitions. The rickshaw puller remained for my friend... Just two dimensions. 
We interact with doctors, teachers, bank officials, salesmen, colleagues...  Our interaction with them is for a single purpose. To be treated, or to be taught, or for comercial needs. When as a result of some break in conversation we are forced to see them as three dimensional, as people with their own hopes and fears, we suddenly sit back and take notice.
Or we reject this sudden imposition of the third dimension, and react illogically, like my friend.
It takes concerted effort to pull ourself out of stereotyped thinking, and stop 'slotting people'.

I came across an interesting speaker in TED.  Listen to this speaker.