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July 27, 2016

Ammusings - 5!

Each time I vanish and pop-up after a few months; I notice that I come up with a post of Ammusings as one of them will always be lying in my drafts. Here's one more for you and me:

Ammu: "Amma, I really don't care about American Presidents!"
Me: Why?
Ammu: "Because I am not an American..
I am an Indian"
Me: So, who is the Indian president?
A: Obama
Me: hehehe...no .....he is the American President
A: "Then who is the Indian president?"
Me: Pranab Mukherjee
A: Moh- kah-who?
Me: Pranab Mukherjee
A: What's his first name?
Me: Pranab
A: Para..What is the last name?
Me: After a good 5 minutes of trying to say the name right
A: Abraham Lincoln lives on a Penny!!
It took me a few seconds to understand that
And George Bush lives on a Quarter!

Ammu: "Amma, the girl's bathroom in the school smells nasty, yucky and horrible!"

Me: "Why do you think so?"
A: "Because you know kids don't flush properly"
Me: Ohh!!
A: "You know if you crack an egg...and the yolk comes out?"
Me: Hmm
A:"Like take another egg and crack it and there are three eggs with yolks open"
Me: Ewww
A: And you know it smells as if it stayed there for 58 years!
Me: 58 yrs???? OMG
Don't know where that number came from...sigh!!

One evening while her dad was doing his stretches:

Ammu: "Nanna, did you know what?"
S: "What?"
A: People are symmetrical
    Becuase they have sides
    Separates her legs and touches her left leg and right leg
    See.... look at my nose
    There are two sides!!

Ammu started collecting money for Jump Rope for Heart Event. When I asked her to give her contribution; she said she would do it at the end.
She adds one dollar at the end to the list of names
Me: "How come you donated only one dollar?"
Ammu in her nonchalant way: "Because I don't want to waste my money"
Me: Seriously???

While practicing music, Ammu suddenly waves off her head and says this thing makes me mad.
Me: "What thing?"
Ammu: "There are these two boys who told me: hey girl, do you know how a booty looks like?"
Me: Surprised and shocked: "they said that? to you?"
Ammu: "Yes, to me! They are big hypocrite boys who are stupid!"
Me: "What is hypocrite?" (She hears her brother use it often )
She actually doesn't know the meaning but wanted to use it for the complexity of the word and thinks that is a really bad, bad, bad cuss word.
Me: Next time if they say that, tell them: "Go ask your mommy and she will show you what a booty looks like..." (I was really mad)
After a few days...
Ammu: I saw them again...I wanted to smack their head with something!
Glad you didn't!!

February 1, 2016

Makara Sankranthi and More...Part 2

You can read Part 1 here...

I remember saying I will come up with a Part 2 of the post and vanished into oblivion. After Bhogi, the second day is Sankranthi. Sankranthi means the migration of Sun from one Rashi (Sun sign) to another. When the Sun migrates from Dhanur Rasi (Sagittarius) to Makara Rasi (Capricorn) is when Makara Sankranthi is celebrated. I am sure you'll get this much info from anywhere on the internet. My purpose is not to define the festival but to share my memories associated with it.
         
      First thing that springs to my mind on hearing the word Sankranthi, is Ariselu. Ariselu made by my Ammamma are the best. She was one expert in making the jaggery syrup in the right consistency and exact crispness. As I am wired different, unlike everyone who loves Ariselu made with Jaggery, I would eat only those made with Sugar. She made sure she cooked a different batch at the end ONLY for her loving grand daughter. No one gives me that extra attention anymore :( Sob! Sob! Every year she would bring a big can of Ariselu, LaddoosKarapoosa etc etc

      Ariselu made and parceled by my mom-in-law with love

     Preparation of these savories was a huge deal. Preparations started a week before the actual festival. They were cooked collectively in one of the relative or neighbor's homes. After the cooking was done, we kids would go distributing to the same bunch. But then, what was the purpose of giving it to the same people again? More or less, we all cooked the same varieties. Who cared anyway? As kids, we just wanted a reason to visit the relative's or friend's place one more time. 

     Many people visit their villages or home towns for Sankranthi. That is where the festive season comes to full life. Newly wed daughters visit their maternal homes with their husbands. The new son-in-law has has most of his wishes fulfilled. Like a new bike, car etc...etc.

One practice that is famous in certain parts of Andhra is Kodi Pandelu. I can never get a word in English that translates the exact meaning. Though the High Court has put a ban on them, they continue to happen. There is a lot of money involved in betting that happen around these fights. I haven't witnessed one though.


        Image Courtesy: Youtube.com

Flying kites is something that always bring color and fun to Sankranthi. S narrates me stories of his childhood how they would sharpen the kite string with powdered glass. 

                             Image Courtesy: thehindu.com

Sankranthi as a festival has more memories than rituals and practices that go along with it. I will conclude this post with the third day, Kanuma.

Ammamma - maternal grand mother
Kodi Pandelu - Hen/Cock fights

January 17, 2016

Makara Sankranthi and more... Part 1

Sankranthi, Pongal or Lohri as you may call it, is celebrated as the harvest festival across India on the 13th to 16th of January every year. Each state has their own way of celebrating the arrival of spring. For us in Andhra, we celebrate it over three days. First day is Bhogi, second day is Sankranthi and the third day is Kanuma. 

Starting with the month of Dhanurmasam (Mid Dec - Mid Jan) where the Sun enters the Dhanur Rasi, we start adorning our entrances with colorful muggulu. The muggu powder is made with the sand of lime stone. To give it a bit of smooth and white texture, we add rice flour to it. From amateur lines to huge designs, we progressed as we grew up. The size of my muggu would range anywhere from 5 to 35 dots in length. The bigger it is, the prouder we were. I wasn't a prize winner but I was almost an expert in making these beautiful patterns. Though a child, I would compete with the older ladies of the neighborhood in making bigger designs each day :-).  Mind you, these are not as easy as they seem to be. Getting the dots in a straight line is a challenge in itself. Our news paper would publish a Muggu each day. The first job in the morning is to grab it and practice it on a piece of paper. I would then neatly copy it in the fair muggu notebook that I duly maintained. The muggu would be decorated with Gobbemmalu (Cow dung balls), turmeric, kumkum and flowers. This is the stinkiest part of the whole process. 


Image courtesy: Nechcheli.com

It is a tradition to collect all the old and unused stuff of the house and set a bonfire called Bhogi mantalu in the wee hours of the morning. This symbolises the disposal of the old and the welcoming of the new. In the villages, elders watch out for the naughty kind who grab any piece of wooden furniture that is visible to use for their fire. Girls in teens dance around the fire singing songs in praise of lord Indra.

We take a special shower with sunni pindi (Herbal bath powder) and Shikakai and the entire family wears new clothes.

On the evening of Bhogi, we do a pooja and pour Bhogi PaLLu on the babies to kids. From months to 5-6 year old. Bhogi PaLLU is a mixture of Regi (berries, Indian plum), coins, flowers, sugar cane cubes, black chick peas.  Children are dressed up and they have a merry time collecting all the coins. We don't do the Bhongi mantalu or the Bhogi paLLu in my household though. May be we already grew up by then :-)

I have too many memories associated with the festival. One of the initial ones are the Haridasus that would go from door to door where we would pour rice in the akshya patra that he carried on his head. Like many things cultural, they are also becoming a rarity these days.

Pic courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rdkumarj/

As a child, I would eagerly wait and run to the main gate to look at the colorful Gangireddu and the Basavanna that went through the village playing their Sannayi. We would hand them down the clothes that are in usable condition. 


Pic Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vijay_chennupati

I think I will stop it here for Bhogi and come up with a part 2 for Sankranthi...Thanks to Rachna for her Sankranthi post that triggered all these memories.

Muggulu - Rangoli
Gobbemmalu - Round balls made of cow dung
Bhogi Mantalu - bonfire made with cow dung cakes and old stuff of the house
Gangireddu - A Bull decorated with colorful clothes, bells and it dances
Basavanna - The guy who carries the Gangireddu
Sannayi - Clarinet.

January 6, 2016

An Illustrator turned Actor to Architect to Magician to.....

Image courtesy: dreamstime.com
What do you want to be when you grow up? How often have we heard this question in our lives? At least in our childhood? The answer to this question keeps changing eternally as we grow up; for we keep growing up eternally.  Some of us chase our dream career and live up to that one dream. But most of us want to become something, study something and end up working as something or someone else.

In my growing up years, I wanted to become a lawyer. Do you want to know why? Because, yours truly had a great habit of arguing and a sharp tongue which I thought was enough to survive as a lawyer.  Later in High school, I wanted to become a journalist. I appeared for the entrance of a law college and got the admission, which I denied. Glad I did! However, there still remains an unfulfilled wish of not doing the journalism course. Whatever! I work as a s/w tester who books and cancels flights morning to evening. Well, my passengers can range anywhere from Brad Pitt to the Big B.

From dreaming on what to become to what I became; it's my turn to ask my kids. Right now, my daughter is very keen on becoming a teacher. She pretends to be one every day and repeats her Montessori schedule at home with us. Whereas, yours truly dreams on sending her to the Senate. Long way to go, huh? Yes, long way. By the way, nothing has changed since this post that had been sitting in my drafts for more than two years. She graduated to an art teacher.

My son keeps changing his options very often which is very natural being the son of this confused soul. Kids his age are already pretty clear on what they want to do.  One day he said, “Amma, I want to become a book illustrator”. Oh wow! The writer in me jumped with joy. A creative son for a creative mom. What else do I need? I said that’s great! "Amma, will I be famous if I am book illustrator?" Ah..well! yes, you will.

While the illustrator in him is put to sleep, he wanted to become an NBA player who could make millions.  And mind you, we don’t lift a finger in the house or move an inch of any muscle. But we sit in the sofa and discuss what shots Jordan threw, how much an NBA player makes per game and if Curry is better than LeBron.

"Amma, is it difficult to become an actor?" Long answer short, you need to have someone in the film industry. He then went over an extensive list of actors/actresses, comedians and how each of them became a film star. There were even attempts at becoming a director and that deserves a separate post. :-)

We were building our first home and the house was always filled with discussions regarding the plans, tiles, upgrades etc...If not an actor, an architect. He would come up with designs of buildings and even promised his aunt to build her a mansion. Yes, not a house. A mansion. All he does right now is sleep blissfully in the mansion built by his parents.

One lazy Sunday noon while I was cooking for the week ahead, he comes to help me in the kitchen. "I think it's better to learn cooking. If I don't have anything else, this will be an option." It was my turn to look at him in ....... (feel free to use your vocabulary to fill the blank).

Fast forward to an year and half...We were returning from a birthday party. "Amma, how much money do you think a magician will make?" Ehh..."A Magician?" Aahh...now it rings a bell...there was a magician at the Birthday party. "Oh boy!!"

Won't you tell me what you wanted to be when you grew up?

October 22, 2015

Keep in touch!!!


             Pic Courtesy: Google Images via Pexels.com

Dear Friends, not so friends and all those numbers in my phone,

Apparently it happens that I am one of those millions of smart phone users. Not denying the fact that social media has shrunk the world big time, we still are not in contact with every single number on our phone.

I realized that I have 524 contacts on my phone. I bet most of you have a similar number of numbers on your mobiles. A few hundred more or a few hundred less. Though Facebook and Whatsap has significantly reduced the geographical distance between each other, at any given point of time in life, I am not in touch with more than 10-20 people. Tell me honestly, how many of you maintain the communication back and forth?

What I have noticed over the years at each phase of life is, we communicate only with a limited set of folks. Reasons may be different. This is true especially for people like me who has been on the move for the past decade. I started my life in an apartment and made few friends in the complex. I used to be in regular contact with them. Eventually I found a job and made new friends. Slowly my interaction with my friends at the Apartment complex reduced. Some moved out. Some moved in. But I don't have the time to be friends with new ones. Later I moved out and the cycle continued. This happened again and again with me over the years. I moved places and shifted jobs. Made new connections and lost a few old ones. 

One fine day, a school classmate or your childhood neighbor's son or your school teacher's daughter pops up on the horizon. You talk to them in full gusto for the first few weeks. Exchange phone calls, connect on Facebook, text on Whatsap, meet for lunch or dinner or a reunion if possible. After all the hustle bustle has settled down, we promise to keep in touch and fall back into our routines. 

Another boring day, your smart phones buzzes. You knit your brows and lift the phone debating. You are accused of not keeping in touch, of not calling the other person, of not pinging them often. There is a smile on your face along with a sigh. There could also be a grunt or a grumble. I am sure each one of us must have faced this situation at least once. 

S and me had always had this discussion of keeping in touch. Why don't people keep in touch? Are people really so busy? Why does one feel that he/she is the person who communicate all the time? etc..etc. Above all, why don't people pick up their phones? And let me tell you, no one has a phone smaller or not so smarter than the latest released iPhone. After mulling over it for many months and years.....

Here's the deal. Before you accuse someone next time for not making a call or pinging or texting you; please open your smart phone and check the last time you both communicated. By the way, who contacted who first? If it's you, then don't be sorry. Feel proud for taking that extra step in maintaining the relation. If it's always you, then think about. I would continue calling the person or keep in touch only if I care for them. If not, move on. After all, you have one life and it is short. Like them, you don't have all the time in the world....

Yours truly!

August 19, 2015

An Ant Story!!

Schools begin in a week and summer holidays are almost coming to an end. Mom is back with me at the end of the holidays and kids have been dropped from the day care to spend the rest of summer with their grandma. And what do they do the whole day at home?
                        They EAT. Yes. They eat in the morning, at noon and at night. In between morning & noon, noon & evening and evening & night. They basically eat the whole day. So in this process of non-stop eating, their friends followed them without invitation. But would the friends just eat and keep quiet? No. They start biting you if you come in their way.
Day 1:
As mad as an ant could be, Ammu started killing them. As wise as the grandma should be, mom said, "Don't kill the ants for no reason. You will be born as an ant again". Soaking the ant wisdom parted by her grandma, Ammu stopped killing the ants. She even started spreading the newly gained wisdom to her older brother. "Anna, don't kill the ants. You will be born as an ant". I come from work and blame it on my mom for letting them eat junk the whole day. As if they would stop eating if she tells them to!!

Day 2:
I see a huge line of black ants with lumps of food that includes pieces of laddoos, peanuts and muruku. Having had an ant free home all these months, I yell: "What's happening here? How many times did I tell you guys to close the pantry door and no food on the ground?" Everyone is quiet. I look at my mom and she gives me a sheepish grin. 
 "Well, your daughter was feeding the ants". 
"Feeding the ants?"
"Yes"
R runs to complain as usual. "Yes Amma, all because of this stupid girl"
Ammu tags along and giggles when I look at her. "Yes Amma, I only gave the food to the ants"
Could there be anything sweeter than her innocent toothless smile? I said I don't feel like sweeping away the ants and their food. Mom says, that's the reason I did not clean them. And we let the ants breed on.



Day 5:
Ammu: "Anna, did you look at the ants?"
R: "Yeah, all because of you"
Ammu: "No Anna...they are fat now. "
R: "They are becoming fat with all the food you gave"
Ammu:"Yes...Yes". Giggles again!!

Sigh! Looks like time for action!

July 14, 2015

My Dear Most Annoying Movie Lovers!!

Ten On Tuesday!


Image courtesy: cinebell.com, Google Images

Have you been waiting for three excruciatingly painful years to watch a movie or at least for half a year, like me? Are you waiting to watch your dream heroine as a fairy princess, with saliva dripping? Can't wait to see what surprises your favorite director has in store for you? If all of us movie lovers and movie goers keep a few tips in mind; I am sure your most awaited movie's experience is going to be just as wonderful.
  1. Don't read Reviews. Period.! : Okay, now that you have waited for so long; why taste the meal before eating? Just go without any expectations and enjoy it to the core.
  2. Early Birds: I know you are eager to watch the movie on the first day,  first show. Well, I cannot afford to pay $30 and wait in line for an hour to sit in the front row. I like to watch after the dust settles down. So if you can kindly keep quiet around enthusiasts like me, we are very grateful.
  3. This row is reserved for Found In Folsom: Yes. Please do not put your hand kerchief and block an entire row for your colony. This is not the red bus of your small town. Save one for your wife, two for your kids, two for your parents, I can still bear it. But an entire row, I am going to sit there next time.
  4. Is there a way you can arrange for a babysitter if possible? I made this mistake when my son was little and I am thankful to those couple of friends who baby sat him outside the theater during the entire movie. If possible, arrange for a baby sitter. If not, please take turns  in watching the movie with friends at least till your kids are grown up and can keep quiet.
  5. Whatsap can wait: Like data, we all have unlimited friends on our whatsap and Facebook. I am sure they can wait for your reply. If you are the CEO and your company is sinking in case you don't reply, there is always an Exit door. Didn't get me? Will you switch that damn thing off?
  6. Long legs? Fold 'em: 6 "Ft tall? Long legs? Okay, please push 'em back or sit in a row without seats before you. Don't place them on the front row. This is not your coffee table, darling. Stop Kicking!
  7. Newly married? Forever 21? Cannot get enough of each other? How do I enjoy the romance on the screen if a live session is going on beside or ahead of me, my dear lovey dovey couples?
  8. If you watched it umpteen times, kindly zip your lips: If you liked the movie too well and it is your second, third or thirteenth time watching it, we know you know the dialogues by heart. Will you please zip your lips?
  9. Don't drink, don't pee: Don't gimme that look. I haven't known a person who died of dehydration who didn't drink for every 15 minutes and pee for every half an hour. If you think you do, please sit at the starting of a row.
  10. Last but not least, it takes crores of rupees, years of thinking & planning, months of sleepless days and nights, hundreds of people to co-ordinate to make a movie. Please go and watch it in a theater and not online. It won't cost more than a Biryani or a pizza. Stop Piracy!!
Disclaimer: This post is not to hurt anyone's feelings in particular. Any resemblance to persons reading or not is purely coincidental. 

July 1, 2015

The etiquette of buying Vegetables!

Image courtesy : Complete Well Being
Incidentally grocery shopping happens to be one of my favorite shopping areas. As some of you know, I have a big weakness for fresh vegetables. When we were kids, mom mostly bought vegetables from the street hawker. I wouldn't say exactly a street hawker a.k.a sabjiwala. Once in a while when time permitted she would go to the nearest market and buy them in bulk. As kids we would tag along on these mini shopping ventures. So, began the art of buying vegetables. 

If you have to buy a tender Bhindi, you snap the edges of the vegetable. If it snaps tick and the edge falls off, you immediately put it in your basket. If you want to buy a Lauki, pinch it and see if your nail digs into it smoothly. Tomatoes have to be ripe but hard enough to not squish by the time you reach home. Greens have to be always green and shiny. So on and so forth...

All this while, the vendors would keep saying, "No Amma..you cannot do it". But who cares or who listens anyway? People would snap and pinch and press till they got the desired color, consistency and quality of the product. It is hard to forego those buying habits and techniques which were inculcated at a very young age. 

However, after moving to the U.S of A; vegetable shopping had been a slightly different affair altogether. There are no more sabjiwala bhaiahs who would shout tomato, mirchi, aloo, beans and the family of it. There are no Raitu Bazaars or Sabji Mandis. There are, only we discovered them much later. Somehow I felt it odd to snap or pinch the veggies any more. All I could do comfortably was to pick those that are fresh, green or shiny. As years passed, even picking each of them seemed silly or ridiculous to me. 

Please don't snap them:

Want to know the trigger for this post? The other day I had been happily shopping veggies for the week. I go to the bhindi table. Who can stop me when there is a heap of fresh, green bhindi? I was stuffing my bag to glory and then noticed a brown hand snap, snap, snap. I know it's not manners to stare at people; but you know I don't have good manners. So, I lift my head to have a peek at the person with brown hands. He stops for a second and continue snapping in a slow manner. The store manager happens to pass by arranging different vegetables and removing empty trays. Not sure if it was the store manager or my stupid gaze, the guy packed a few and left. I kept wondering if he really needed that little and he had to pick them? Whatever. I continued and finished shopping. While waiting in the line for billing, I was doing people watching. A good way to kill time. And here I see our bhindi guy with brown hands and a gold chain happily picking bhindi. Seriously??

Please don't break them:

Another thing that gets on to my nerves is breaking vegetables. Breaking the long vegetables like ridge gourd, snake gourd, drum sticks. Some people break them to fit into bags, which is okay. But breaking them to taste the bitterness or the freshness of the vegetable? NO.

Please don't pinch them:

Whenever people pinch vegetables with their nails to test how tender they are, I immediately feel like pinching or poking them in the same manner. 

Pick 'em up:

Leave about snapping, pinching, pricking and breaking. Let these all be their personal preferences. What irks me to no end is dropping vegetables while putting them into bags. You think it is popping pop-corn into your mouth while watching T.V lazily in your sofa? Come on!

I don't think people would behave the same way or continue the same habits in any American grocery store. Then why abuse Indian stores??

Raitu Bazaar - Farmers Market
Sabji Mandi - Vegetable Market
Sabjiwala Bhaiahs - Our neighborhood vegetable sellers
Bhindi - Okra
Lauki - Bottle Gourd

June 12, 2015

Ammusings - 4 !!

I know..I know..I have been missing here forever. I have been trying to be back, but just couldn't. So, here I come up with few anecdotes of the little one that had been in drafts of my blog and mind for a while. Hope you have fun reading them as much as I do talking with her. :)

Ammu: Amma, I want to be a god
Me: why?
Ammu: Because he is famous
M: Who told you he is famous?
A: because I know it
M: how do you know it?
A: I just know it myself
M:How do you know just yourself?
A: Because I am smart
M: and how do you become smart?
Amma!!! you need to keep practicing to become smart.

Ammu's Class was going to a movie.

Amma, I don't want to go to the movie
why?
It is so long...it's boring
End of the day
Ammu, how was the movie?
"I slept in the movie"
Sigh...I should know better!!

Homework time. Reading time.

Ammu: "Amma..."
Yes?
Amma, "Why does 'ohhh' (makes long sound) spell Oh and not OOO?
Hmm...because I don't know
Amma, Oh and know..rhyming.
We both giggle.

Last Friday happened to be our Anniversary.

Ammu: Amma, What is is an Anniversary?
Me: It is a day you celebrate when you got married.
A: Amma, I want to marry on Jan 1st.
M: Ehh? Jan 1st? Why is that?
A: Because I would be the first one to get married
All of us burst into laughter.

After a long day; I sit in the sofa and ask:

Ammu, can you please get me a glass of water?
Ammu: Hmm...I am not your assistant
M: (Trying to sound dramatic)
Please...who else will get it for me if not you?
Ammu: I am not your assistant. Don't ask me to get stuff for you
M: (Trying to play the bossy mom)
Then why am I cooking for you?
Ammu: In her own cool way, tilts her head and from the corner of her eye: " because I don't know how to cook".
M: I keep staring with my mouth open wide!
She comes with a glass of water and with a hand on her hip, says : Okay! but next time, I am not your assistant any more. 
I take the water, grab her by the arm and tickles and giggles follow :)

Mom always tells me to write down what kids speak; for you forget them in no time. I do it sometimes and keep thinking to do it other times. But trust me, it is totally worth it. To  go back and read them and smile. For the kids too and for us too.

April 7, 2015

You Remind me...


You remind me...
you remind me
of those monsoon months

You remind me
of the sultry afternoons
of the thorn scratched arms
and prickled finger tips

You remind me
of mom's warnings
food is not fed with my hand

You remind me
of the circles and swirls
and tiny flowers

You remind me
of the amateur designs
with matches and broom sticks
on twilight evenings

You remind me
of the sugar syrup
and lemon juice
pressed on sticky palms

You remind me
of the late nights
in hostel rooms

You remind me
of the sun and Scorpio tattoos
on lean fair arms
on Sunday noons

You remind me
of the sleep laden eyes
of a newly wed

You remind me
of the last days I spent
in my maternal abode

You remind me
of yesteryears and more
of an era bygone!