Showing posts from 2006

Shakespearen Comedies and Tragedies of Kindergarden

The wit of S.

My neighbour asked Gautham: You dont get any homework at school? You are totally free?
Gautham Responded with an exuberant "India is a FREE Country!" right after Independence Day.

Painting flags, pinning flags, forcing him to watch bits and pieces of Gandhi and Rang De Basanti.... I guess the message really did sink in.

He tried the line on me when I asked him to clean up. I bit my tongue to keep from retorting "Not in my house, you are not".

To Be Continued..................

memorable beginnings

My baby is suddenly a lil man! He goes to a regular school now; Pre-Primary II at HarisriVidyalayam. Every free moment I find, I continue to worry about the effect schooling will have on him. He is coping superbly though - his teacher said he is "Just Perfect" in his class.
We are diverging in our choices though; His best friend from preschool, Samyukth is in a different section in HariSri. I felt I would be on the same wavelength as the teacher in Samyukth's class and Gautham sobbed his lil heart out the day they separated the two kids into different class rooms. My entreaties to put them back together in the same class room (Just 12 kids to a class) fell on deaf ears and hard hearts. While I was meditating over revenge and school change, my son took to his class and his teacher!
He frequently walks down the staircase holding her hand, he indulges her fairy tales - rain occurs when the cloud covered sun is sad and cries (with me it would be don't be silly P.…

born kissing the blarney stone

I took my son kurta shopping - his new school uniform is kurta pyjama - and picked one out to try on him, he looked at it and declared it is "trillion billion bigger" than my size :)

Yesterday was a very tiring day - haircut, wrestling with dad all morning, fighting/playing/crying with friend all afternoon, short nap and then off shopping with Chitti at the spencer's plaza. When he finally lay down to sleep he was too tired to even move his limbs. A concerned dad asked him how he was feeling; "You know how sometimes when you get up in the morning you dont feel like getting up at all? That's how I feel." FYI none of us are morning people. We prefer greeting the day when the sun is pretty high up in the sky.

I told him to stop knocking his tumbler on the floor and creating such a din. "My hand, my tumbler, my house. I will do it". I walked out of the room in a huff. I cooled down and explained the beauty of non irritating everyone around yo…

quip of the day

Gau hasnt come up with any particularly funny or perceptive quips in the last few days; But, he has spewed some rather grown up phrases like "That is true but", "I guess I will", "Complicated is interesting", "not necessarily" etc... He is going to end up on CNN/ESPN when he grows up.
He is suddenly grown up and willing to spend time with friends without parental supervision. His most frequent playmate is somewhat whiny and utterly refuses to share any toy with him. He on the other hand is usually generous. Yet, he preferred throwing frisbee into the air and catching it alongside R and her frisbee to playing with his dad!!! He even chose to chase the soap bubbles from her wand rather than play frisbee with me. This when she never offered to let him have a go at her bubble wand.
Today I took him to the beach to play, he noticed a 10 year old boy playing football by himself. He approached him and they payed together for nearly 30 minutes!

quip(s) of the day

After a blistering hot agninaksatram, the rain Gods finally took pity on us yesterday afternoon. Today morning was equally pleasant. When Gau woke up, I told him I had been to the beach and the weather was awesome.
Gau: this early in the morning?
Me: I had to buy some vegetables.
Gau: AT the beach?! What did you buy? Plankton?

On the way to school, he declared today is the freshest day ever. "As fresh as you feel after a very long bath" he clarified. Did I tell you it was the coolest morning in 3 months?

a few long pending quips

Between summer vacations and a sudden whim to try to get into a good school and may be do my PhD in Biotechnology, I have had nary a minute to update my blog with the zillion views my son has to share.
I frequently whine about my pear shape body. My son stuck a baby coconut to the pointed nail end of a old-fashioned wooden top and declared he has made a fat doll just like me!
This ungracious comment was all my doing (and a little my husband's). At 5'4" and 120 lb, I am not overweight, just a little plump. You know how we women always worry about our owning aging, expanding figures while struggling to give our daughters a positive body image? I just realised that solved only a quarter of the problem; The unseen is in 3 parts, giving our sons a positive body image and ensuring both boys and girls see everyone in a uncritical light!

We had gone to Pondy to see my parents. Gau loves all the songs in Ghajini and hence the actor Surya. He would watch the songs from the mo…

quip of the day

we were walking along the beach when gau noticed the moon and exclaimed the moon was walking along with him just like in the Harold and the purple crayon book.
I asked him why, the moon is friendly with me he mused.
Then he asked why the moon doesn't hug and kiss him if it loves him. I thought a while and replied I don't know but asked him for his thoughts. He decided the moon didn't have eyes or hands so it couldn't hug and kiss him.
I now wanted to know how the moon could be friendly with him if it didn't have eyes. he didn't deign to reply.

I am still wondering why he said eyes and not mouth.

Joining the anti-oxidant rich food (ARF) tuesday challenge

Finally, I have not only cooked something satisfying gautham's sensitive, discerning palette, I have also managed to do something I enjoy reading about in a few blogs ARF and (DRAMATIC PAUSE) I even managed to take pictures!
I haven’t quite managed to get around to uploading it on my PC though.

I started the day thinking I will cook a quick Cauliflower curry, make some organic whole wheat chapattis and get back to my pending pile of things to-do. Instead, I ended shopping at the book fair in my son's school and yakking with other mom's about kids’ health, vacations, school search etc... When I came home it was nearly 10:45 and sathish leaves at 11:15! Thankfully, he offered to come home for lunch around 2:00 giving me ample time to play in the kitchen. I foraged the fridge. I had a day old red cabbage from the roadside (! Not the wilted food world kind!) Vendor I frequent in Besantnagar, a week old wilting Snake Gourd and a bottle of Karen's Szechwan sauce I had acquire…

quip of the day

"We cannot see the sun at night because it is dark"!

I didnt bother correcting him; I feel, at this age imagination, even when wrong, is much better than knowledge ;)

quip of the day

You know how a steel tumbler with a not-so-flat bottom teeter-totters when you place it with a bang on the kitchen counter?

I asked Gau to put his tumbler in the kitchen, he heard the teeter-tottering after placing it with a bang on the countertop and declared it sounds just like an echo in a mountainous region - lest I misunderstood he meant a repeating fading sound, he repeated "echo" a dozen times, progressively softly to make matters very clear.

quip of the day

2 days in a row! I am improving!
Yesterday Sathish and Gautham were reading a Chinese fairy tale where the hero dies at the end. Gau wanted to know why people die? Sathish explained people grow old, their bodies become weak and feeble, so they die. Gautham rexclaimed "What a waste!" We skittered away without enquiring into what was a waste. He is too young for purpose of life discussions, don't you agree?

quip of the day(s).

The quip of the day was started as a daily routine, But, I am too much of a procrastinator to stick to any sort of a regular schedule; SO today I am combining a few of Gautham's witticism

He learns phonics in the form of songs at school like "lion licking lollipop la la a..."
Today, as I was putting him to bed he sang "Priya with a Pillow pa pa pa..."
He couldn’t bear to leave his father out so he added "Sathish and a Snake singing Sa Sa Sa..."

The AKbar and Birbal animation on Cartoon Network is reasonably well made. We watched 1 episode where Akbar cuts his finger and Birbal says, a la Panglove, "Everything that happens, happens for the best"; a peeved akbar leaves him behind on his hunting trip. He is caught by tribals' and when they are about to sacrifice him to their God, they notice he is not perfect, i.e. he has a very visible cut on his finger and let him go free thus proving Birbal's point. That night, as usual Gau was fussy…

quip of the day

Someone got my son a glow-in-the-dark sword similar to the kind in Aladin (the sword not the glowing in the dark bit ;) Prancing around with the sword, my son now fancies himself three musketeers and He-man all rolled into one.

This was our conversation in econut - translated into english:
Gau: Why dont thieves come anymore?
a-searching-the-disarrayed-aisles-me: mmmmmmm i dont know.
Gau: tell me why
Me : I dont know why!
Gau: ARe they extinct like dinosaurs?

That grabbed my attention at full throttle. Apparently he is hoping for a robber at our home so that he could fend him off with his glow-in-the-dark sword!

Ban PriyaGold 's fresh gold Juice!

It is funny how all the developed countries are realising the importance of eating less packaged food, more fresh fruits 'n' veggies and we are forging ahead in the opposite direction! Case in point: Priya Gold Juice advertisment on Pogo/Cartoon network channels. It is an ad for a brand of juices with no preservatives. Their shibboleth? The mom trilling "ab paani koyi nahi mangega" (no one will ask for water anymore).

The juice claims no preservatives used. I wonder what percentage of the populace notices the significance; it says only no preservatives, it doesn’t say "no added sugar or flavour or color". India is racing at breakneck speed to be the diabetes capital of the world and this company is adding momentum by adding more sugars to our diet!

Here is a incomplete list of reasons to ban this brand in our homes and refrigerators:
It targets kids who are in the 2 - 10 age group, highly susceptible to any suggestion. It tells them it is cool to drin…

capitalist insensitivity?

Have you seen the SBI advertisement in The Hindu of late?

The first advertisement I noticed featured a poor slob dragging a very heavy cart laden to breaking point under a merciless sun beating down on him. The one featured today portrays another poor slob slaving away under the hot sun, washing a unending pile of clothes. The caption in both cases reads ex-pickpocket.

What message were we supposed to take from it? The ones I got were
Images of Hades and greek lores of what hell would feel like - unending unrewarded toil.SBI ensures a bigger divide between the haves and the have nots? SBI ensures your financial well being at the expense of the other 80% of the country. Why aspire to material wealth when 80% of the country is living in squalor?The economy is shaky, remember the true face of India?SBI condemns pickpockets to a life of squalor and mindless work?A CPI(M) election peg : Capitalism sucks communism rules.Wealth and sensitivity dont belong in the same planet.This is how …

Gender Differences

Gautham's nature changes every day. He has suddenly gone from being something of a sissy to all boy - inventing games, climbing wherever possible, jumping off every conceivable spot, playing "tennis" w me or his dad for hours. Yet, he has lost none of the cautiousness that characterised his first attempts at walking; He seems to pick only do-able targets for his acrobatics.

He continues to dream really big though. He was showing off on his tricycle (He also does reasonably well on his bicycle w training wheels); riding with one hand, riding w one foot on the handle bar, riding fast and braking suddenly and quickly.
He suddenly wanted to know if there was a cycle race.
I asked what kind?
He said you know like formula I for cars.
I told him, yep there is, Tour De France.
His response? I have a cycle and I ride very fast, I am going to the Tour De France!

Though he has more girl friends than boys, he seems more deeply attached to his boy friends. When I go to pick him up, he…

Mystery stews

The last few days, I have looking at my vegetable basket and concocting stews based on the degree of moribundity of the vegetable in the basket; So yesterday we had Turnip with Turnip Greens and Black Urad, today we had a stew of Bottlegourd, Carrots and Ribbed Gourd with Masoor daal (Black and Orange). Surprisingly, Shockingly, Amazingly, they more then passed muster with both Hubby and Gau! Hubby has been threatening (playfully, I hope) to suck up any healthy meal I concoct into the new Euroclean vacuum cleaner we bought. He claims he does not want to see bown/red rice or any non-regular cereals on his plate; He begged for some regular white rice batter dosai. I only delivered on the last count ;)

Kombucha in Chennai!

I was meandering through some of the foodblog links I follow on Sunday. Somehow I ended up in a silicon valley article about how cool Google is even down to the cafeteria facilities for its employees! Then I read about one of their chef's making Kombucha and what an awesome health drink it is. The cook in me had to find out how to do it right here in Chennai and I actually garnered a few email addresses in Bangalore, Hyd, Mumbai supplying the yeast bacteria mix for making the drink. I was hemming and hawing over when and who to write for the precious starter when I had to run to my favourite organic store - Econut in Besantnagar - to buy more dates for Gau. They had bottles of kombucha in their refrigerator!
I rushed back home to see what this so called miracle food tastes like - a lil bit like highly diluted carbonated beer (or is all beer carbonated?). The vinegar adds a surprisingly fresh taste to the drink. Hubby loved it, I dont try such things on Gau.

Mint Pesto AKA Mint Pulao

Just like in engineering, I love certain concepts in food, Pairing a nut and a leaf (Basil and Pine Nut) to make an awesome sauce for pasta is one of them. Granted the awesome part may owe as much to the generous amounts of olive oil and paramesan cheese as the fresh basil leaves and nut; But, for those who have not savoured the real thing and those who live here in Chennai were Basil, Pine Nuts, Olive Oil and Parmesan are either hard to come by or atrociously priced, Pesto could be curtailed to just the leaf and nut. My version today was a pesto with a cup of tightly packed mint leaves and a quarter cup of sunflower seeds. I cooked rice and sweet potatoes separately; Made the indispensible tadka out of jeera, mustard, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and onions in heated clarified butter; Mixed together the tadka, cubed cooked sweetpotato, 2 cups cooked rice, pesto in a huge mixing bowl. Ta Da! Mint Pulao Pesto Style.
BTW I used sunflower seeds because I have had some in my refriger…

Wily Breakfasts

For months at a time my Son would demand Mini-Idlis and Sambhar for breakfast; Despite the boredom of having the same thing everyday I happily acquiesced - after all it is a very healthy, nutritionally complete breakfast; Especially when I make the Sambhar out of lots of vegetables and a different Daal everyday.
After his last bout of stomach flu he has changed course again. He only wants Bread for breakfast with Dana brand Cherry jam. I started adding a fruit or two, usually banana and apple to his breakfast, I switched to multi-grain bread from Leo Fortune or Wheatberry bread from Nilgiris. Now I am only struggling to get more protein into his breakfast. Peanutbutter Jelly goes down OK. Today I made Tofu Burji with "Cotton Tofu" from nilgiris. He gawked at the quaggy mess on his plate and declared he wanted no part of it. We sneaked quite a bit into his sandwich and he gulped it down happily. And I have met my soybean quota for this week :)

Tofu Burji

1 large onion ch…

mind like a whirligig

Gautham's thoughts and speech are continuous and touching on every topic in his little world...
He found a foto of DH and me, he must have noticed he was missing; Now he wanted to know when we took the trip, before or after we were married. I have no Idea what brought on the last part of the question!
I changed the bedspread to something newly acquired on a trip to Pondicherry; he loved the colour. Then he wants me to buy lots and lots of new bedsheets. I asked him to quantify; his response? "As many as holes in the mosquito net".
His exuberance when we play together generally only spills into declaring "You are my best friend in the world". He tries to quantify that and comes up with some interesting similies - As much as a giant is big, as much as "Chennai" etc...
Since the weather is getting quite hot, I let him play in his bath for a looooong while. He came out very happy and suddenly declared to my thrilled, astounded, amazed, deeply touched Ho…

Working on my to do list

I made the oats bar from the chocolate zucchini web site! And considering this is the first of the month, I think I am off to a rousing start.

The original recipe is here

My version:
2 cups rolled oats (I used Baggry's old fashioned)2 cups amaranth3/4 cup brown sugar2/3 cup currants1/3 cup chopped cashews1/3 cup whole chiroli (hazelnut would be a good substitute)2 tsp cardamom powder3.5 cups milk3 eggs beaten2 medium apples peeled, cored, sliced
Mix items 1 to 7 thorughly, add items 8, 9, stir togetherPour into a well buttered pan. Top with apple slicesBake for 40 - 50 minutes (I took only 40, the original recipe said 50)Cool and cut into rectangles

Review: My husband said it reminded him of panchamritham and ate 2; My son took 1 bite and gave up :( I personally liked it a lot, much better than store bought breakfast cereal bars.

End of the month blues

February has flown past, leaving in its wake a dozen planned projects, book to read, software to catch up, foods to cook.

Maybe I should make my march list fewer and simpler.

This past sunday was Sivaratri and I had fasted most of the day and concocted the usual sweet potato dish for prasadam ;

Sivaratri Sweet Potato
Boil 2 sweet potatoes, peel, chop coarsely add it to 1/2 cup of thick jaggery syrup. Garnish with a handful of freshly scraped coconut.
I had quite a bit leftover; This made todays breakfast very interesting.

Amaranth Seed Sweetpotato kanji

Cook 1 cup amaranth in 2 cups water and 2 cups milk for 15 - 25 minutes. Add a handful of raisins when you start cooking.Add 1 recipe of the sweet potato dish mentioned above and mix thoroughly.Ladle onto cereal bowls, top with fresh milk and enjoy.

Both my DH and son enjoyed this.

BTW I had not realised Amaranth is just Thandukeerai, a sure fire in my mom's arsenal. I used to love eating Thandukeerai Masiyil and Vatral Kuzham…

Greatest Compliment!

Today, I set a simple lunch for my son - Roti, Aalo Sabji (potato curry), Millet Rice and Moar Kuzhambu (More like Gujarathi Kadi). Halfway through the meal, he said "I love everything you have prepared today"!!! It must be snowing in Chennai ;)

This behooves me to set down the recipes I used in 24 caret gold!

Or atleast this blog.

Aloo Sabji - A modification of my MIL's so called Aloo Dum

(The real aaloo dum is a complicated mughlai undertaking, requiring fried baby potatoes and a almond-cashew rich gravy)

1 Cup of shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped5 Medium sized potatoes thoroughly washed, unpeeled, cubed and put in a bowl of cold water (about 3 Inches long)1 Small sweet potato (about 5 inches long) washed,peeled, cubed and added to the cold water3 Tomatoes of the country variety, juicy and somewhat sour, disintegrates when cooked20 Curry leaves, washed and torn1 tsp Jeera1 tsp black mustard1 tsp kalonji1 tsp fennel seeds1/2 tsp Methi seeds2 tsp dhanjeera pow…

Travails of school search

My son is turning 4 this March, time for him to move to a regular school.

Schooling here is very very rigorous, the emphasis is on academic performance and acing the various board and competititive exams offered when the child turns 12, 15 and 17. The schools generally tend to be authoritative with no patience for those who "walk to the beat of a different drummer" to use an oft repeated cliche.

IMHO this curtails creativity. I am one of those mom's who dont try to teach their kids anything. I just gently expose my son to a lot things - songs, books, astronomy, science, cooking, painting, origami etc... and then sit back and respond to his exploratory queries to the best of my abilities and patience. From age 2, my son is aware I look up google for questions I cannot answer. My method has been fail proof so far. Gautham has an amazing vocabulary, he asks a zillion questions, listens to the answers and uses them in the right context; sometimes to my detriment. He lov…

Overflowing Cookie Jars .....

and a child unwilling to eat any :(

I had always had this visual image of a pleasant kitchen with a small dining table; A pretty looking cookie jar on the table.

I forgot to visualise my son grabbing the cookies; Now, I beg him to try 1 cookie, promising him a red juicy apple or a bunch of grapes in return!

I have slightly better luck with my younger nephew; My older one is just as fussy. This time, when my in-laws returned home to Erode I deceided to bake 2 different batches of cookies, one aimed at tempting the older one and the other one a proven success with the younger one.

My version of Amaretti (Italian Almond Cookies):
1 Cup Almonds1/2 Cup Chiroli3/4 Cup Melon Seeds1/2 Cup Sugar1/4 Spoon salt8 - 10 peppercorn2 tbsp Maida (All-Purpose flour)1 tsp Vanilla Essence4 egg whites beaten1 yolk (optional - mine was a mistake but tasted fabulous)
Roast items 1,2,3 in a 100 deg Celsius oven for 8 to 10 minutes; Take care not to burn.Pre-heat oven to 175 deg Celsius, line cookie sheet w…

Hanuman movie review AKA Violent Visual Media

The visual media seems to take most of the blame for all of societies evils these days; While I dislike most TV, is it fair to lay all the blame at visual media's door step?

We watched the eminently avoidable first Indian animation movie Hanuman; We even bought the DVD. My excuses? Impulse, Misplaced patriotic fervour, loyalty to Indian Software so-called Genius, dad on the phone demanding to know whether to buy or not, immediately and finally my son's blatant enjoyment of the movie.
The makers erred on every possible angle in making the movie:
The fundamental error was making Hanuman some sort of a super-human on steroids and portraying Rama as a God from childhood itself. In my view, the most beautiful thing about Hinduism is an emphasis on nature and nuture. Fundamentally flawed beings rise to the occasion drawing upon their inborn abilities and their breeding and show themseleves to be worthy of God-like worship. This was totally lost by the makers of this movie.At th…

You are what you eat?!

The recent articles over the inefficacy of low-fat diets has me in a tizzy.

I have my son on a wholesome food diets - lots of unrefined grains, lentils, beans, fruits, vegetables and a lot less of cakes and biscuits and other junk food. Despite all this, he was been diagnosed with borderline anaemia.

Feeling a wealth of fear for his well being and guilt over my ineptitude as a mother, I read a gadzillion pages on increasing iron content in his meals and improving iron absorption. I also spent sleepless nights worrying he has thalessemia of the mildest kind. Finally, I brought out a excel spreadsheet, tracking what I buy and what I cook, ensuring we eat a different lentil/bean everyday and have the required quota of fruits and veggies.

Some of my research findings:
You need 10 dates just to get 1.8 mg of iron, but getting a kid to eat more than 3 is a Herculean task.Half a cup of cooked lentil/Daal has anywhere from 3 - 6 mg of iron, depending on the lentil used. There is a negative c…


Are kids always born with the expectancy to multitask, or is this brought on by the visual onslaught of TV and video games?

Gautham likes the sound of Hindi, so I left some old hindi movie on and started dinner preparations. He suddenly walked into the kitchen and demanded to know what the kid in the movie had just said. I told him I was too busy chopping vegetables, I didnt hear what the kid had said. He surmised I dont understand hindi, for I hear with my ears and chop with my hands. My ears should have heard the words, but my brain didnt make any sense out of it.

That was a fortnight ago. Yesterday we had our lunch while watching Oswald as usual. He finished and went to the sink to wash his hands. I switched off the TV. He demanded more Oswald, because he had heard the TV say "Oswald will be right back!". He paid attention to the TV over the sound of running water and the fun of playing in it!

Gautham a la Seuss

Sowmya : Gautham are you Priya?
Gautham: Sowmya are you Ria?
Sowmya : No, I am not Ria.
Gautham: No, I am not Priya.

Time's Fun when we are having flies ;)

Gau is Kermit the frog! He is doing innumerable amounts of language jokes!

We were leving pondycherry for a three hour, arduous drive back home to chennai with a very restless almost 4 year old. We playfully asked my sister, leaving for Bangalore the same night, she take Gautham along so that we could drive back peacefully. "Oh, so you are going to shell peas' the full ride back" he quipped immediately! He really is going to be 4 only in march.

He declares Tricycle is called so because babies Try and Try to ride one and finally make it.

Kanian is a somewhat insulting word in Tamil meaning idiot / bumpkin. Gautham has to stand on an old water can to reach the sink. Sathish playfully told Gautham he is a Kanian because he stands on a can to brush his teeth. Gautham retorted he is a Cannon not a Kanian.

I hope I am not overreaching in calling his quips highly creative. The question now is does creativity arise from imitation? My dad and his dad do a lot of such language…