Apr 30, 2011

Influential Elders - Ms.Annathai

Here's my Mom Mrs. Yohapushpam Livingston sharing about her childhood friend Ms.Annathai, as part of our ongoing series: Influential Elders.
Annathai Akka

Annathai Akka is about 10 years older than me and her love towards me is unconditional. She was a neighbour to my grandparents and when my mother came there as the daughter in law of the house an instant friendship was established between the little girl and my mother who might have been about 20 years elder. This relationship lasted for more than 50 years till my mother passed away and continues with me and my children. She is now around 75 years old.

Though not related, she called my mother athai and my father maama......aunt and uncle. She had told me how my mother used to bundle up the baby me and hand over to her and how she used to take me to the nearby convent to pluck flowers for me etc etc. She used to enjoy my baby talks it seems and one particular incident she narrated made me smile. My grandfather used to grind beetle leaves in a small stone and it seems I used to go and sit near him watching him closely. It seems he would tease the little me saying "Isn't your husband a bad boy?" (kalla paya pendatti), and I would respond, "No Grandpa, he is a good boy!" (kalla paya pendatti illai thaatha, nalla paya pendatti). I am really happy to know that I have defended my husband even at my early age. This incident I know only because of Annathai Akka.

While growing up, she used to comb and clean my hair and while doing this job, I will insist that she should tell me stories. She told me cinema stories which she had seen. In those days we did not have any cinema theatres in our village and she had seen a few when she had the tailoring training in a nearby city and she will narrate all these stories to me. She often came to our house to sleep over and helped my mother in many ways. Both of them will sit together to design and stitch our dresses all the time sharing some stories.

She came with us to pluck the ripe tamarinds from the trees. We will climb up the trees through the lower branches of the trees and we will jump on these branches making the tamarinds to fall. In spite of her tailoring job she used to spend most of the time with us. In my childhood Annathai Akka was a central figure. My future plans at that time included her. When my mother became very ill when we were young, she took care of us and my mother and in appreciation of this help, I remember my parents presenting her a saree . She was a great support to my mother always. When my mother died at the age of 81, Annathai akka was there to give the final bath and dressing.

She had a uniquely designed pair of ear studs which I liked. In her twenties or so, she joined our Christian religious group in which people do not wear jewels. She was good looking and she was a tailor by profession and so many marriage proposals came for her. But she refused them for some reason or other. May be she waited for a better person. She remains single. Now, when I think of it, I wonder why my parents did not compel her to marry someone of their choice since they had much influence over her.

After I got married, whenever I went to my parents house there will be an invariable visit to see Annathai akka to taste her simple village food. She is a prayer warrior and her prayers for me and my children support us much. Once I was sick for a few days and my mother came to see me with Annathai akka and I was very happy to taste the food prepared by her. For a few months my husband arranged for a fasting prayer in our house, on second Saturdays. Annathai akka travelled about 150 km to support my husband in these meetings. She will arrive early morning with another sister and immediately start cleaning the house and the campus to keep it ready for the meeting.

Even now I sometimes long for her company and feel like going over to spend a few days with her. Recently she came and stayed with me for 3 days; but she was in a hurry to go back to water her plants. Her love for my mother, me, my children is unconditional. It is our duty to pass on this love to others with whom we come into contact.

Apr 29, 2011

Influential Elders - Kumaresan Driver

The series 'Influential Elders' continues... but this time the person is not really an elder. He must be same age as me or few years younger, but I admit he is one of the people who have influenced me.

Kumaresan Driver

When I landed from America for the first time in 5 years since marriage, I got introduced to Kumaresan our new driver. Okay, he wasn't really new, he was helping Mom out for few years, but to me he was new. I hadn't seen him before I left for America.I guess he was in some big city for few years before he retreated to his home town for a living.

In the few short weeks we spent in India, I got lot of updates on Kumaresan Driver as to how he had helped Papa in many ways and in turn Mom too. In fact even on Papa's last trip to and from the hospital, Kumaresan Driver was all along, never leaving sight, I heard. Since then I developed a special kind of affinity towards Kumaresan Driver. Though he calls me 'Akka' I would like to call him 'Annan' as he is very much like an elder brother in the family.

All matters big and small that needs running around, we need Kumaresan driver for. Not just driving, he helps us with everything that a household runs on. Okay, not the simple stuff like grocery shopping but major shopping like real estate. Yes, he is our representative in local government offices, paying taxes, why not even our signatory at the land exchange office. He takes care of a lot of things before we show up to sign the papers.

The rarest quality among human, which is honesty, is found in abundance in Kumaresan Driver. He will never charge you more than what he needs to pay at these different offices. He charges only the right amount for his driving services. He keeps an account of his services and if we pay him extra, he will discuss and return it.

He is warmly welcome in all places he travels with us. In-laws and extended family also treat him as one of our own. I was surprised recently when I visited places without him, (as he was not available due to his Mom's passing away), many inquired of him. It shows how much he is valued and associated with us.

I have to share with you an incident that happened once; not sure if I even told Mom about this. Once when we visited my in-law's place, I had an argument with Israel for something or other and was returning to Mom's place alone to attend a lunch get together at my friend's place; kids were already at Mom's I guess. Israel refused to join me.

As the car left Israel's home, I started crying and crying and when I paused for a minute to yawn or something, Kumaresan Driver inquired what happened. He listened to the whole story as I narrated it to him. In the end with a big sigh he said, "Sir is very good Akka! He will have to behave certain way in front of his people otherwise it is only bad name for you. So please don't cry". With that my tears stopped for the rest of the way and I could instantly forgive Israel. I don't think any other words would have comforted me that very moment. Not only then, many times after that also these words helped me smooth out the differences.

Anytime we land in India or leave for America, the first & last familiar face we see is that of Kumaresan Driver as he manages to come all the way in front of the crowd waving cheerfully at us. He would have given up sleep to drive us around places, would have missed meals trying to keep up with our schedule, still he showed no remorse of any kind. Willingly he will help with the luggage, stop for tender coconuts, quickly run and get the basket or something our children get attracted to in the road side shop, little little things but which comes from a very big heart!

Kumaresan Driver is happily married and has two precious daughters. I wish and pray only the best for him & his. Once again, here's someone whose affinity to our family is priceless...

P.S.: So, what's stopping you guys from sharing about your Influential Elders? Trust me, you will feel so good once you write! Email me your posts at nrigirl@hotmail.com if you would like for me to publish it here as part of the ongoing series... Thank you!

Apr 28, 2011

Influential Elders - Reena Amma

Glad to be part of the series Influential Elders. I have quite a few who have influenced me one way or another and would love to share about them all one by one… Here’s introducing the first in my list - Reena Amma!
Reena Amma

Reena Amma was our neighbor when we moved to our new parental home. I remember I was in third grade then. Reena Amma became an instant friend of the family. The earliest memories of Reena Amma is when she used to buy jasmine flowers and pin it to our hair - for both myself and my sister.

A year or two later when Delightson was born, Reena Amma quickly mixed some sugar in water and gave us all a spoonful saying, 'You have got a baby brother!' Over the years we came to depend on Reena Amma for very many things.

Tooth is wiggly? Go to Reena Amma!
Thorn in the foot? Call Reena Amma!
Scraped the knee? Call Reena Amma!
Fever? Remedies by Reena Amma!
Sugar is over? Borrow from Reena Amma!
Change for Rs.100? Reena Amma!
Quickly borrow some cash? Reena Amma!
Feed Snowy while we are away? Reena Amma!
Cut a jack fruit? Take a piece to Reena Amma!
Grandma brought murukkus? Share with Reena Amma!
Madhan got low grades? Rescue him from Reena Amma! :)
New clothes? Show it to Reena Amma!
... & many many more

As I said, Reena Amma was our immediate solution for many things big and small. She was our instant banker, doctor, advisor all combined into one. Reena Amma would frequently make some sweets and bring it over. Cooked something nice? She would be sure to share with us.

Above all! When Papa suddenly departed us, it was Reena Amma, Appa and children who rushed to help. Madhan, Deepan, Vincy, Vinodh they were of huge help from showering to shaving to all other arrangements. Night and day they were there till we arrived and all else took place. I am forever grateful for their love for us, their constant availability to our beck and call and their willingness to hold us dear. We can never pay back for everything they have done.

It has been few years now since I last saw Reena Amma. They built a new home and moved away, and whenever I visit from USA, she is out of town, for whatever reason we haven't met in a very long time. With the frequently changing cell phone numbers it is hard to get hold of her on the phone too.

But to tell you the truth I often remember her love for us. We too love them much and wish them the best. I am sure she has no doubt about it - our Reena Amma, sorry Deepan Amma!

P.S: Last statement was modified to fit in Deepan's request in the comment section below... Deepan must be happy now :))

Apr 27, 2011

Influential Elders - Dave Uncle

Influential Elders! That is the next big series I am hoping to get started. You would all agree, a lot of people have influenced us since our childhood. The teachers we looked up to, the grandparents who loved us best, our parents who gave their all, the Uncle who meant so much, the neighbor who was always there... the list goes on.

Let's take a moment to reminisce on what some of them really did to us, how we are a better person because of these individuals, what lessons we learnt from them, what we would have lacked if not for them, etc.

Hope you will all join me in sharing about your influential elders. This will help us become influential too... The email address to send your post is nrigirl@hotmail.com. The posts will be published on a first come first served basis.

Here's presenting the first post in this series by Annan Jebarathinam Alexander. Jeba Annan is our family friend - son of my Mom's best friend - Mrs. Grace Alexander Aunty. I can surely say Mrs. Grace Alexander Aunty was quite influential in my life. Mom would send things for Aunty through me when I was on summer breaks from school/college. When I stand my bicycle at 'Muthamizh' - the residence of Mrs. Grace Alexander Aunty, she would welcome me with a broad smile, her hair long & let lose, her tone all cheerful as if she was long expecting me to visit her.

She would walk me around her garden, pluck me some jasmines, share with me how her health was fading or something in general though I don't recall what else we spoke about. Overall she would treat me very special as if I am a grownup - equal in stature to her. Aunty would not send me back empty handed but will find something like curry leaves or drum sticks from her garden to take back for Mom.

Aunty loved Mom and Mom loved Aunty. They shared great respect for each other, calling each other by proper names with qualifiers such as Mrs. Yohapushpam Livingston & Mrs. Grace Alexander. Even during their conversations it didn't seem to bother them to use these long names to address each other. If Papa was home he too would join their conversation. Oh! how I loved to watch them talk for hours - but then Aunty would politely send me away to do my home work or chores and when I don't get her hint, she would insist lovingly, "It is not good manners for little girls to listen to big people's conversation"."But I love to hear you talk Aunty" would be my unspoken response as I reluctantly walk away...

Later Aunty became very sick and passed away shortly after. I could sense a great part of my Mom was gone with her. Hard to believe it has been twenty years since then, but Aunty is still much loved and often remembered. I am grateful to Aunty for what she was to my Mom - a great friend!

Now, if you can kindly excuse my long intro... let's get back to our first post in the series of Influential Elders. Please welcome Jebarathinam Annan as he comes here to share from his heart about his influential elder!

Dave Uncle

I remember, in my late teens, when I went to stay with my mother during summer vacations (in early 80's), there was an Uncle (must have been 85+ years old) living next door. His wife Kiruba aunty called him as "Dave uncle" to me. He had lost his eye sight due to his old age, was able to hardly walk and so would sit in his own easy-chair close to the corner window of their living room (adjacent to our house). He would use a walking stick and take baby steps to go to the bathroom in say, 5 minutes, whenever he needed to go. Every early morning, if I am awake, I will be able to hear him listening to FEBA radio station (loudly) listening to Christian devotional programs - at 4.45 AM in the morning!

One day, my mother asked me to go give some eatable to Kiruba aunty. And I had the first golden opportunity to get acquainted with Dave uncle. Turned out that he became one of the most memorable persons of my life. The kind of stories he had to share, the gentle and kind words he had to say, boy, I wonder if we see such personalities anymore in our lives. I hardly am able to remember his face now - he had a very black thickened skin on both his cheeks. I could not stare at his eyes as he was not able to see anything straight, it would just simply wander like a rabbit all the time.

Dave uncle would go on talking for hours together about his youth days where he had gone out to hunting with his cousins in Kalakkad hills (the wild life sanctuary had been established years later); where he would hunt 'Maan', 'MiLa', 'Kaatu kozhi' among other animals. I would sit and listen in awe wondering how he is able to remember all those meticulous details, to the dot.

Kiruba aunty was also a remarkable person I believe. She was a bit plump, and had this distinct leucoderma white lips and big white patches on her cheeks and forehead. And an unbelievable graceful smile on her face all the time, as if "all is well", even when she would be doing tons and tons of chores to take care of Dave uncle day-in, day-out.

Unfortunately, my summer vacations were too distracted and my encounters with Dave uncle were sort of limited. In a couple years, my mother moved out building her own house (she had been renting a house next to Dave uncle's house). The next year I went to Tirunelveli, I heard Dave uncle had passed away and that Kiruba aunty lives all alone by herself. I went and saw her once, I could not stand watching her going through such a life without Dave uncle, so I didn't go see her afterwards. But I would see her at church or walking to the stores near her house. She would stop and enquire as to how things were, amid her all is well smiles.

That last time I met her, Kiruba aunty said that Dave uncle would "wait for Jeba" to come home on vacations so he would be able to "talk to someone". Little had I realized until then, that I had been a rare source of encouragement for Dave uncle during those "visits". From that day onwards, whenever I heard FEBA radio, that thick skinned face would flash across my mind, and I would hear that soft, gentle voice I loved hearing, for at least sometime in my life...

Apr 26, 2011

Hunting for Easter Eggs

For those who are not familiar with Easter eggs, let me explain. Here in the US, around Easter time stores sell colorful plastic eggs which is bought and filled with candy for kids. Normally the eggs are spread around the lawn where kids pick it from. We decided to host an egg hunt for kids in our community this year. We were busy preparing for the last one month starting with mail ordering over 500 eggs! Then we bought about 20 lbs of candy. Over several weeks we have been advertising in our local web sites, yahoo groups, Evites etc to gather 'hunters' for the event.

It is supposed to be an outdoor event. However in spite of our earnest prayers it rained heavily on the proposed day. We were not discouraged the least bit. We emptied a room in the basement, brought available artificial plants from around the house, added some stuffed animals to the show and spread the eggs all around. We had over 20 kids who showed up on the big day.

Now, 12 of these 500 plus eggs were special. They were numbered 1 thru' 12 and whoever found one of these eggs were asked to bring it to the organizer for a special gift - a little teddy bear! Once all eggs were hunted down, we gathered the kids in the next room for a story reading session where we had an appointed guest read out the book called Benjamin's Box - which talks about a little boy called Benjamin who narrates the Easter story as it happened to a friend. As the person reads the book, she opens these special eggs one at a time to reveal a special Easter related item inside the egg - such as a tiny donkey, a nail, 30 silver, a piece of cloth, a crown of thorn, praying hands etc. The 12th egg is purposely left empty to emphasise to the kids that Jesus's tomb was empty the third day as He resurrected.

After the story reading we showed a Veggie Tales movie called 'T'was the night before Easter' followed by light dinner for all.

The whole event was an instant hit among parents and children alike and we wish to host it every year - God willing. Here's sharing few pictures from the event which occured 23rd April 2011 - last Saturday...

Apr 25, 2011

Giggle times

I can vividly remember my giggling days growing up and can assure you that was the best time in my life. Walking around with Delightson - my little brother, with our arms around each others' shoulder, cracking up on the silly things we saw, heard or assumed to be funny...

Even now though we are oceans apart, our phone conversations are mostly 'giggly' as we recall how our conversations with Mom, Akka, our spouses or kids went...

Looks like my kids are in that phase right now... Everything we say is funny to them and they crack up mid conversation (to our annoyance at times), and in turn everything they say is funny to us making us laugh out loud (to their dismay at times).

Here's to share a few highlights with you ...

"Guess what Mommy, Mima is not my friend anymore!"
"Who? Mima? The cute little Mima?"
"Cute? No, not any more. Yes that's her"
"Why what happened?"
"What happened was she made me cry, well, almost"
"How did she?"
"Because she lied to me. She lied to me that John said I was ugly. I said, 'oh well' and later when I was playing with John I asked him Mima told me you said I am ugly. And John said, 'No I did not say that!'. Then I went and asked Mima, 'Mima, did John really say I am ugly?' and she said 'yes!' and I said I asked John and he said he did not say that.' Then she said 'yes! he said that' and then I asked 'really?' and then I said, 'we will go talk to John then' and then she said, 'no he didn't say that, only I made it up' and that's why"
"Wait a minute! So John didn't really say you are ugly. Does that mean John said you are beautiful?"
"Mommy! That's not true!"
"What! He didn't say you are beautiful?"
"Mommy! Stop that! He didn't say anything"
"Oh! Okay... Let's forget Mima for a while. Tell me about John"
"Ooh... you are talking about boys, let me join too"
"Listen Rachel, I said John didn't really say I was ugly and Mima made it up and Mommy is asking if that means John thinks I am beautiful; ewe!"
"Oh! really?! Did he say that?"
"No! Mommy asked if he did"
"OK girls, I got to run. Just tell me one thing. How is this John?"
"Mima is this tall (pointing to my shoulder) and John is this tall (pointing to half my shoulder)"
"Oh! only that much? Then he won't work for us..."
"Mommy! You are funny... John? Ewe!"
Giggle giggle giggle...
~ ~ ~

"Mommy! You know what?! They tease me with Ryan..."
"Ryan?! why?"
"Once Ryan was at the microwave, and I accidentally hit his arm when I opend the microwave and I said 'Sorry' and he said, 'Rachel you almost broke my arm...' and  then he turned to others and said 'Rachel almost broke my heart, oops my arm' and everybody laughed at him and since then they are teasing him..."
"Are you sure it was the arm you broke and not the heart?!"
"Sha..ron! That's not funny..."
Giggle giggle giggle...
~ ~ ~

"Mommy! You know Trevor?"
"Yes, Of course I know Trevor! He is my favorite; what about him?"
"Ooh! Mommy likes Tre...vor!"
"I will tell on you to Daddy..."
"What is there to tell on me to Daddy? I like Trevor because he is a nice boy."
"Mommy! You are married. You cannot like boys... You can only like Daddy"
Giggle giggle giggle...
~ ~ ~

"Psss psss psss..."
"Giggle psss psss giggle"
"Joshua! Don't listen!"
"Psss.. psss psss..."
"What are you girls talking about and why can't you include my Joshua?"
"Mommy! That's girls stuff"
"Girls stuff? Can I join too?"
"Not really, it is not appropriate to share with you"
"Why not! I am a girl too"
"No! You are not! You are Mommy!"
Giggle giggle giggle...
"Psss psss psss Giggle"
~ ~ ~

"Mommy! Tell Joshua he cannot be friends with the Pre-k-ers."
"Why? What's wrong with that?"
"There is this girl in Pre-k, she tells everyone she likes Joshua."
"Yeah! She likes me!"
"Joshua! Just tell her she cannot like you. Tell her you want to be just friends."
Blink blink blank...
"Sharon! Leave him alone, he is still little"
"Joshua! Just tell her you are only friends"
~ ~ ~

"Quickly eat the milk and drink the pancake! We are getting late"
"Daddy! No offense! But (Giggle) you said eat the milk (giggle) and drink the pancake (giggle), Sharon! you know what?! Daddy said eat the milk and (giggle) drink the pancake"
Giggle giggle giggle...
"Enough giggling now! Quick eat your milk!!"
"Daddy! You said it again!"
Giggle giggle...
"That's okay! Just drink your pancake, we got to leave!"
More giggles ripple the kitchen floor...
~ ~ ~

Conversation with the stars

This was originally posted on 28th July 2010.

Star of yonder, Star of night
Twinkling in the night so bright
Tell me what is your sweet name
Jewel of wonder, share with me
What are you upto in your race
To trace the whole earth in one night?

Girl of wonder, Girl so nice
Awake at night with eyes so bright
My name is same as your sweet name
Girl of wonder, with sweetest smile
I'm tracing the earth every night to
Chat with little girls just like you

Star of yonder, Star of night
Traveling with the moon tonight
Tell me how the earth looks from there
Do you see the bluest skies
Lilacs,lillies, the robin nests
And how about the butterflies?

Can I miss such pretty sights of
The mesmerizing earth beneath
Wonder of wonders, next to heavens
Oh how I too wish I was there
Looking up the night sky light
And talking to a star from there?

Count to three and be wide awake as
I get ready to jump from here
Make sure you see me shooting by
Wish your fondest dreams come true
I too will ask the Master to
Grant your wishes soonest soon...

Dearest star that flew by tonight
I am sure you landed safe and sound
My wish came true to have you next door
Let us chat with the stars out there
In the morning, when they all sleep
I will show you some butterflies...

Apr 20, 2011

What is so good about Good Friday?!

Good Friday is remembering the day Jesus was crucified. In that sense every day is a Good Friday for me as everyday I am reminded of the crucifiction of my Lord. Similarly everyday would be Easter for me as everyday I am reminded of His resurrection, and again the same case with Christmas!

I often wonder how it would have been if I lived in those days - in the first century Palestine - walking along with Jesus and his followers... I often think I would have stayed closer to Him and not deserted like others did! I would have been devastated that night I am sure and would have cried, rolling on the streets, calling out after Him, begging the soldiers to be not too hard on Him, wincing with each blow to Him...

Then I wonder if I am thinking too high of myself... If Peter couldn't stay with Him and even if John himself deserted Him with the ten others, or even Mary for that matter couldn't run out to Him, hug Him, cry for Him, plead for Him, what is there for me to think I would have done it any differently?! If not one single soul from the mutitudes of people who received health, life, food, blessings from Him could come closer, how would I have... I don't think I would have been any different... I would have been a hindrance I am sure, rather than a helper in such a situation...

I am sure I would have believed He will not die - that He will do a miracle and get away with the cross or something like that... I am sure I would have thought He would be the King soon... - putting the soldiers to shame... Many wouldn't have had even the slightest idea that He would die that night... After all He had raised the dead, healed the sick, often preached about establishing His Kingdom, anyone who belived in Him then would have thought He would live thru' that night... I might have too if I were there...

But alas, the unexpected happend! He died on the cross! Let's pause there for a moment! The agony that followed, the hopelessness, the fear, the "left alone" feeling - it would have been terrible, too hard a blow...  Most of them had left everything to follow Him, and now if He is no more, what would they do? How will they survive? Who will plead their case, wipe their tears, raise their dead, heal their sick, feed them bread... who?... how?... when?

The agony didn't last longer. It turned to joy the third day when Christ resurrected and appeared to many... They were no more deserted, they now had Him again and death can harm Him no more...

 "He Lives!" would have been the greeting of that day, that week, that month, that year and even of that century.. and ofcourse for the rest of the centuries to follow - even today! Indeed He Lives! Absolutely no doubt about it! He lives in me and if you believe, He will live in you too!

Good Friday is good not because He died but because He lives! He died for me and now lives - in order to pay the price for my sins, in order to take me home where He is... No greater love than this I have seen... 

Wishing everyone a Happy Good Friday, a Happy Easter and why not a Happy Christmas too!

Apr 16, 2011

My Little Drummer Girl

"Mommy! I am bored... Can you help me find something to do?"
"I can’t come now Sharon; I have another 19 minutes to go…" (in the elliptical machine)
“I am really bored! What can I do? Just because it is a weekday I can’t watch TV, I can’t play my game, and I have nothing to do…”
“Why can’t you play with Rachel and Joshua?”
“Rachel is reading a book and Joshua is sick and so sleeping…”
“How about your homework? Did you finish it all?”
“I did that in the school itself, in the after care.”
“Did you practice music? May be you can now…”
(Thinks for an excuse, when she can’t find any she says) “Oh! Well” (and walks over to the drum, tapping at the seat asks: ) "Do you know this is called a throne?"
"Is it?"
(Excitedly) "Yes! And this is the snare drum, this one is the base; see (hits it with her stick) that's the base, and this one is the ride cymbal, this one is the crash cymbal, you know why it is called a crash cymbal? See... (lifts the muting pad and hits it with her stick) CLING!! ... Doesn’t it sound like a crash? That's why it is called the crash cymbal. This one here is the tom tom and this one is the floor tom tom, and this is Hi-hat!"
(I just grab the moment when she pauses and say: ) "That's great! You know a lot Sharon. You are an expert! Now can we start with the practice?"
"Mhhhm mhmmm no..."
"Why not?"
"Because 30 minutes is too long"
"Who says you should practice for 30 minutes?"
"I thought it is for 15 minutes daily..."
"Yeah, but if you miss one day then Daddy says we have to do 30 minutes the next day"
"I see... it's okay just do 15 minutes I will talk to Daddy. See I have 15 more minutes to walk on the elliptical, if you start now we both can complete it at the same time!!"
"Mhhmmm mhmmm... hey wait let me show you something... (Sits squarely in a chair nearby with a blanket all wrapped up) and opens her music book, (pointing at the start of the book) "...This is where we started! Mommy, do you know to read this?"
"No! I don't know to read music; do you?"
"Yes, I know it! See this means you have to do it slow and here you have to do it loud and here you should do it really loud... and this is where the piano will go... piano will be very soft and so no drum then... but here you start the drum and louder, more loud and slow again and slower..." (Goes on and on and on…)
"That's interesting Sharon-ma! You must be really good at it. Can you show me by doing it?" (By now only 9 minutes are left for me to finish my exercise...)
"Mhmmm mhmmm..."
"See only 9 more minutes are left for me to finish my walking... you too start"
"Only 9 minutes? Does it mean I will be done just with 9 minutes?"
"Ye! That is 6 minutes less! But Daddy won't accept it"
(thinking “good, she knows the basic math…”) "I will talk to Daddy! You start"
"Okay" (happily jumps on her throne, flips thru' few pages, decides on one page, puts it on the stand and starts hitting" Dum dum... tick tack dum tick crash , "oh no! I messed up! Okay here we go..." Dum dum tick tack tick tack crash, tick... "I am sorry I messed up again! I am not going to do this one.(closes the book, puts it aside) I will show you the song for my recital"
"Sure, go ahead" (all the while controlling my laughter and wondering why I am not getting angry...)
Flips the book, finds a sheet lying around, clips it on the stand, moves around the cymbals from left to right and then to far right. Sits on her throne, starts hitting. Stops. Gets down from her throne, adjusts the height of one of the cymbals. Sighs. Pushes, pulls, sighs again. "Mhmm... I can't adjust this height" Tries again, this time it works. Sets it up, climbs on her throne again. Starts to hit and then pauses for a while, starts hitting again. Stops. "That's it! I am done!!"
"What?! That's all? You were not even hitting all the time. How come you are done?!"
"That's because that's what the notes say. I have to be stopping when the piano part comes... (brings the notes to me to read) look, that is for the piano."
"Sharon-ma in that case I missed the whole part. Can you please do once more so that I will pay attention this time?"
"Okay! Here we go... Mommy! Are you looking?"
"Yes, I am looking go ahead"
(Just when I moved my eyes to look at the clock… she caught me...) "You weren't looking... you always do that. When Joshua does you will be looking continuously, when I do you don't pay attention..."
"That's not true I always look when you do too"
"Yes it is true!”Somehow she suddenly feels pity for me and as if she thought it is not worth pursuing the fight, smiles and says, “I love you Mommy! What time it is?"
"Mmm... 59 seconds left" (looking at the preset elliptical…)
"Okay! Now I am really done!" storms out of the room in full spirits.
(I follow her upstairs as I am done too.)
She goes straight to Joshua and claims, "I finished my music practice! Did you do it Joshua?"
(Shakes his head from left to right to say he did not - fearing Daddy might hear him if he speaks)
"I know Rachel didn't do too. I am the only one who did!!"
“No! You did not?!”
“Yes, I did! Ask Mommy. Mommy! Didn’t I practice my music?”
(Thinking “Do you call this practice?” and rolling my eyes imaginarily..., but out loud it came) "Yes, you did!"
P.S: Readers! If you can figure out how long she practiced for, that will be great as I lost track of the minutes in the conversation...

Apr 14, 2011

Tag train or what?!

Believe it or not tagging continues ... Trust me it was not my intention to start a tagging train. But some of our friends felt comfortable answering here at NRIGirl than their own blogs.

Why, you may ask. The only answer I can think of is that their respective blogs serve specific purpose and so they don't want to spoil their theme. You will take that as a valid answer, won't you? Here's Bawa Kaseem of Sillvandu onboard our "Tag Train"!

1 If you could go back in time to relive one moment, what would it be?
It would be the “family bike ride!” in our esteemed motorcycle “Yezdi”. Me - in the petrol tank, Appa - riding the bike, Amma – in the pillion holding my sweet little sister tightly in her lap, entire family used to fit in, in that bike! :) Just once… only once… if I could go back in time… I would like to relish each and every micro second of those moments! :)

2 If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
My Year of birth…! Change it to 1995… ah ha…. I’m a teenager now… I’m in my ‘sweet’ 16! How great it is eh? At least this time, I should be able to find out the ‘sweetness’ that they talk about in the “sweet” Sixteen!

3 What movie or TV character you think you resemble most in personality?
Lal eattan (Mohan Lal)’s character in most of the movies of that time! For example: “No: 20 Madras Mail”, “Dhasaradham”, “Kallippattam”, “Life Is Beautiful (Malayalam)”, “Balettan” etc.,

4 What movie or TV character would you really like to be like?
“Vallavarayan Vandhiyathevan” in Kalki’s famous novel “Ponniyin Selvan”! (OK.. don’t laugh now!)

5 If you could push one person in the whole world off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
None as of now!

6 Name one habit you want to change in your self.

7 Describe yourself in one word.
Apropermixtureofthegoodthebadandtheugly! (see… I was able to describe myself in only one word!!)

8 Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
Queen! (By all means).

9 Why do you Blog? Answer in one sentence.
May be to keep my writing habit “Clog free”?! Click here to check it out...

10 Name at least 3 bloggers to send this Meme to then inform them.

* Shehanaz's As I like it
* Jaya who writes Samayal Kalai
* Usha who blogs Stranger's Castle

Apr 13, 2011

Yet another tag along...

True! Tagging was intended to be posted on the "tagged"'s own blog; but Amma and now Black Walnut Pearl wished me to post their tags on NRIGirl. Of course, who can resist free content?! So, here we go as Vanitha of Black Walnut Pearl tags along...

1 If you could go back in time to relive one moment, what would it be?
The summer vacation days I spent in my Grand parents home in Trichy.

2 If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
Have no regrets.

3 What movie or TV character you think you resemble most in personality?
I  have heard from many friends that I look like Nadhiya;) What I think would again be a question as I'd like to be as unique as every other personalities.

4 What movie or TV character would you really like to be like?
I would like to be the character of 'Vanitha' in the movie 'Life'. BTW, I also like the character of 'Jennifer Lopez' in the movie 'Enough'.

5 If you could push one person in the whole world off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
No one.

6 Name one habit you want to change in your self.
Sometimes being intense.

7 Describe yourself in one word.
"Vie" - my new name by Raj which means "Life" in French;)

8 Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.

9 Why do you Blog? Answer in one sentence.
To pen the feelings that run deep inside me. Click here to check it out...

10 Name at least 3 bloggers to send this Meme to then inform them.

* Ani of Between me and my little girlie by Ani
* SG of Shoot the Breeze by SG
* AS of Just Another Blog by AS

Apr 12, 2011

Tagging continues...

Here's Mrs. Livingston - my mom playing along the tag game... Beware you might be the next in the link to be tagged!

1 If you could go back in time to relive one moment, what would it be?
The visits to the Kudankulam beach every year with family and friends in the afternoon of the final day of the annual convention. It is a pity that the beach is no more available to the public since it is taken up for the Nuclear Project.

2 If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
My final argument with my husband

3 What movie or TV character you think you resemble most in personality?
Kushpoo; her frankness and her referring to her husband and children often in her talks.

4 What movie or TV character would you really like to be like?
Geena Davis - as President Mackenzie Allen in Commander in Chief.

5 If you could push one person in the whole world off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
Adolf Hitler... I do not know whether I would actually do it. But he was the one person I wondered why nobody killed him.

6 Name one habit you want to change in your self.
I think at this age 65 I have become more refined.

7 Describe yourself in one word.
Loving? May be unpredictable?

8 Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
Loving daughter. Hard working and sincere in her duties. Tries to build up relationships.

9 Why do you Blog? Answer in one sentence.
To lift up the glory of Jesus. Click here to check it out...

10 Name at least 3 people to send this Meme to then inform them.

* Emily - Ruby slipper journeys
* The stranger
* Black walnut Pearl

Looking forward to more tag alongs...

Apr 11, 2011

Tag! you're it.

Ok fine, I am it! I have been tagged. Not by one but two. Seems like Irfaan Uddin of Apniboli and Always Happy of Dil ki baat, Blog ke Saath are teamed up to tag unsuspecting fellow bloggers. Let's go for it; it is fun after all. Let's see if I can handle their questions.

1 If you could go back in time to relive one moment, what would it be?
If I were to rollback in time, it would be to when Papa and us were in Grandma's house listening to Grandma's stories of Papa's birth and his childhood mischiefs.

2 If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
I would keep my long hair

3 What movie or TV character you think you resemble most in personality?
I can relate to Kajol of Kuch kuch hota hai.

4 What movie or TV character would you really like to be like?
None really. Just plain me.

5 If you could push one person in the whole world off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
Sorry, wrong number...

6 Name one habit you want to change in your self.

7 Describe yourself in one word.
Hephzibah (Isn't that smart or what?!)

8 Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
Good friend! Great Blogger! (see, one word is not enough...)

9 Why do you Blog? Answer in one sentence.
To share the traces of my past, moments of my present, dreams of  my future and joy of my life.

10 Name at least 3 people to send this Meme to then inform them.
Aha! Here's the fun part. 'Gotcha!' to the unsuspecting souls below:

* Amma
* Bawa
* Talha

Hope to hear from you guys soon...

Apr 10, 2011

A must do journey for every cricket fans and nots alike!

I must warn you I knew nothing about cricket or ever had any intention to get to know it. Also, I had never heard of Wright Thompson before. However at the end of an article Israel brought to my attention this weekend, I had become a fan of both - Cricket & Thompson!

Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com. On his recent quest to learn the game cricket he travels from US to Bangladesh & parts of India attending few World Cup 2011 games in person. He sums up his overall experience in this wonderful narration In Tendulkar Country. Check it out yourself if you would wish to travel along. For folks who are only interested in the highlights of the day, please read on...

Wright is on a mission! His course is set; his days are fixed. He needs to find the answers for a few simple questions. What is cricket? What does it mean to India? He carries along a copy of Cricket for Dummies to understand the basics of the game and friends helps him to take it a little further. However nothing like watching it in person and playing it himself.

Wright pals up with a cab driver whose ten year old Sachin becomes his cricket tutor if you will. It was very kind of him to take a nice gift, a cricket bat made of English willow signed by Tendulkar himself. Their game on the Delhi streets starts fiercely each team putting in their best, however  it had to end abruptly when the ball gets lost in the trash or the trees or the clouds or somewhere.

Next Wright visits Sehwag's childhood home in Najafgarh Road, Delhi. His comparison of what made Gavasker tick - to Sachin stand out - to Sewag's arrogance is interesting. There are times when Wright switches his Press box seat with fans to get to 'feel' the real game as a true fan. He captures the simple details of the cops, the fans and even the smell of the air which takes you to the 'then and there'. He writes:
There are 11 opponents constantly shifting around the green field, looking to trick, to trap, to slide into a spot where a ball is coming. The cricket pitch is a dangerous ocean. The batsman is a tiny boat.
About the India vs. England game, when Sachin gets out, Wright brings the true scene in front of our eyes; we can sense the mood, the tension, the hope of the opposing team fans... He writes:
The worrying begins. The fans sense something, a fatal flaw built into this team of sluggers. They can all hit the ball a mile, but they can't get anybody out. Power has its limits. They are wasting Sachin's brilliance. The noise dies down. The stadium is still. People look into themselves... England scores, off big hits, off bad pitches, off lazy defense. The India outfielders don't run down balls that go for fours.
Just before parting ways with cricket in India to leave for his home sweet home, he gets to meet with Sachin in person in Sachin's hotel room. To his question of when was the last time Sachin had 20 days off in a row with nothing to do, Sachin answers: "I'm waiting for that time to come".

Let us wish the best for Sachin as he looks forward to his days off and let us hope Wright will write more about India to bring us all a little closer to the game and our nation!

Overall it is a fun packed journey and a must do for every cricket fans and nots alike!

Apr 8, 2011

Speaking of Pokémon

Do you speak Pokie? Yes, Pokie - pronounced 'po' with a 'key'. Haven't heard of it? That's because it is just a name I have invented for my kids' language, for lack of a better word.

By language I mean their conversation around the Pokémon games. Lately Poke seems to be the only language kids speak at home, which we have no clue following.
"Mommy! Did you know Pikachu can evolve?"
"Look! Pichu has passed the final stage"
"Mommy can you please help me find some cheat to find the ultimate Pokémon in the 5th generation Black & White?"
"No cheats Joshua! That is cheating!! Mommy! Don't find any cheats for him..."
"Mommy! Can you check out if I can trade 3rd generation Pokémon with the 5th generation Pokédex?"
"Mommy! What is generation?"
These questions only make Mommy scrambling to find some answers from Google to some avail; doesn't work all the time though! To me these characters look so miserable - okay I accept Pikachu is kind of cute (shown here), but the others are nowhere close. But kids are fond of them all. They laugh out loud as these tiny characters jump around their little handheld devices. They sigh in disappointment or worry when a visiting friend uses up all their hard earned Poke bucks and blame it on us that it was because we asked them to share their toy with the friend. They jump up and down the middle of the night just to power up their Poke balls.

A fellow mom once suggested Pokémons are evil; I have searched long and hard to explore on that but haven't quite found anything convincing so I haven't banned it yet. Recently while shopping with their Dad they came across a Pokémon Guide which was $19.99! Daddy didn't think it was worth the money for a mere game guide. Kids came back home with long faces and such disappointment. When I heard about the incident I encouraged them to pray for it. They rolled up their eyes and said, "You always say that - which means you will never get it". I repeated, "Just pray!"

Later that week, on Saturday I stopped by a Moving Sale. Moving Sale is when someone decides to clean up their house before selling it to move to a different place. I love these sales mainly for two things: books and DVDs. Books I keep; DVDs I sell.

Surprisingly they had lot of Pokémon books including that guide kids had wanted and were selling it for only 25 50 cents each! Of course I got them all as it was an opportunity to share with the kids that prayers get answered. They were overjoyed; I got so many 'I love you Mommy’s that day than all days put together rest of my life. Since then their vocabulary has improved or should I say worsened - which means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to follow their conversation. However I don't want to admit that lest I seem not so cool.

For now I have found a tactful way to handle their threatening terminologies. I poke their tummies playfully with my finger and say, "You said Poke? Here you get poke!" I know this can't go on forever. It may be only days before they find out my trick and stop giggling to it and insist I understand their language.

If only there is Poke lessons offered for prior generation mommies, I'll be the first to sign up for it! Just so I can stay in touch with the current generation kids! Please let me know if you hear of anything... will you?!

Apr 7, 2011


Many thanks to Raji of Why? for awarding me with the Versatile Blogger Award for one of my blogs: Coffee with Jesus. Here's the catch, I must list out seven things about myself. Let me give it a try:
! My maiden name is Hephzibah Queenstar Livingston and mostly known as Queen back home.
! I do not like bats, owls, snakes and hyenas.
! I admire the sparrows & swans.
! Malayalam is my favorite language and I can follow it 99% though I can hardly speak it.
! I believe the journey is more fun than the destination.
! If I were to rollback in time, it would be to when Papa and us were in Grandma's house listening to Grandma's stories of Papa's birth and his childhood mischiefs.
! I was afraid to dangle my legs from bed, thinking there were prowling lions under the bed. Also, I was very afraid of dark. However after marriage all such fears disappeared almost magically.

Phew, somehow I passed that test! The next catch is I must pass on the award to fellow bloggers... I would like to pick the following bloggers:

Baili and I
A Simple Blogger
Doc at Heart Beats
Bikramjit &

If you guys already got the same award, please be kind and pass it on...

What's next? Copy the award image and post it in your blog along with a similar post telling about YOU!!

Apr 6, 2011

Color color what color

Economically it works best to buy a pack of toothbrush rather than buying them individually. A pack of 12 normally comes with four repeating colors but we are a family of five; which means that at least two of us will end up using the same color.

We take care to mark them apart with our initials or tie a rubberband around it or something of that sort. But that is not always a foolproof method as the initials are erased off with use or the rubber bands get removed or exchanged that soon we lose track of whose is which.

This was never a problem before when kids had their favorite character toothbrush. Joshua's would be a Spider man or Bats man or Elmo. The girls would pick Barbie or Dora the Explorer or Winnie the Pooh. However now that they are bigger they have started using adult size regular medium bristle toothbrush which is the cause of this seemingly never ending chaos around the house.

To make matters worse I normally maintain three sets of toothbrush - one in all bath rooms - thinking it would be easy for the kids to grab hold of one that is closeby. Not only that, as one of ours gets worn out, we grab a new color from the lot which could be already rotating among the rest of the family members. This only makes it more confusing to decide which is whose. Saturday mornings the regular conversation goes like this: (as other days I hand them their toothbrush when they are in the shower)
Rachel: "Who used the red tooth brush?"
Sharon: "Why? I did; it's mine"
Rachel: "No; it is not. The red upstairs is yours; this is mine"
Sharon: "No! This is mine; ask Mommy"
Two in unison: "Mommy, whose is the red tooth brush downstairs?"
Mommy: "Downstairs? Red? That's Joshua's"
Three in unison: "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyy....!!!!"
Mommy: "Okay, let me go over the colors once again. The red one upstairs is Sharon's; the red downstairs is Joshua's. One in the basement without the rubberband is Rachel's and with is mine. But don't forget the red with three lines on it that almost looks new - that is Daddy's; he got it from the dentist last time and so it looks different from ours; okay? Is this now clear?"
Ask me to repeat it, I might get this mixed up myself. I have absolutely no idea how to resolve this problem once for all. Any ideas will help...

Apr 4, 2011

Greetings from Washington DC

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