—————————–

Scenario 1:

—————————–

“You look so fat! Almost ill ! Oh, look at your face !!Tch, Tch. What’s going on?”

Would this be an acceptable line coming from a friend, even though she is close to you and your family, especially when the words come at you as you just open the door , smile and welcome her into your home ?

Am sure none of us think  this is acceptable.  It is downright rude to speak so bluntly about someone’s weight gain or the way they are carrying it on their face, especially when you first see them.

—————————–

Scenario 2:

—————————–

The exact same as above, but just replace the word ‘fat’ -

“You look so thin! Almost ill ! Oh, look at your face !!Tch, Tch. What’s going on?”

Now, does it sound more acceptable? Probably..yes?

—————————–

Many people I know seem to think so. And, they use it liberally on me. Not just when I open the door to welcome them home , but anywhere and everywhere else possible.

Why does society think it is okay to throw the thin/skinny word around and comment any way they like? The person on the receiving end has lesser feelings?

Why is it the norm to be nice and polite about one’s weight gain, but outright harsh when it comes about one’s weight loss?  Why the double standards?

To anyone who throws the thin/skinny/ill word at me, especially as the first thing when I meet you :

I have had enough and I am not offering any more explanations! I look the way I do and I am perfectly fine with it. I may or may not be feeling ill, but that’s none of your business since you cannot even greet without exclaiming about the weight. Thank you for your unsolicited concern, but I’m geared up for a different reaction this time. You will either receive dead silence that will embarrass the sh** out of you  OR royally hear back open comments about your humongous butt. Either one depending on my mood.

BEWARE.

Dear Little Paapu,

Couple of months back you turned into a four year old. For the first time ever, you were so proud when the day arrived. “I am Four!” you announced, “I ate all my vegetables and drank my milk everyday. See, I am tall and Four today!”, you beamed.I agreed and hugged you a little more tight, soaking in your beautiful smell…the still lingering baby smell in your skin, the shine in your smiling eyes.

The invitation for your little B’day party at the park went out with the title “Fiesty and Four” and it read:

Fearless, Chatty, Feisty and Fun!
That’s how I am and wish to remain :)
Can you believe, I turn FOUR soon!
Come see, how much taller I’ve grown :)

I think , Feisty is the one word to describe you Paapu. It shows in everything you do – the way you chat up strangers, the way you run out any place anywhere with no care, the way you lead among a group of kids, the way you do what you want to do with absolutely no inhibitions.

Although the same qualities make my motherly heart beat faster, I am slowly learning this is who you are. A free spirit.

Me and your Appa are usually seen running on the walkways, in airports, on the Golden gate bridge, in city halls , public parks and any open areas..right behind you, trying to catch up. You are officially the runner kind. No amount of warning, scolding, punishing has had any effect so far and we are just making peace with running behind you, for as long as we can :)

You are rarely scared of anything and if you do, you’ll try hard to resist the feeling. On a busy road, when I try to accelerate hoping to reach a schedule on time, you slowly suggest, “I am not at all scared right now Amma, but, please can you drive little slower?” :D
You have your ways with showing joy. Other than the “Hurray!” and shrieking, you make up songs to mark the moment. Making up your own lyrics and tune on the spot.I chime in to add to the lyrics , we improvise. The song is new every time, never repeated at all.Hope we continue the tradition for a very long time time come. Fun, isn’t it, Paapu? :D

Speaking of songs, your current favorite is the “Let it Go” from Frozen ( like every one in your age group all over the world). You sing it on infinite loop at any given chance – on the way to school, on the way back, while on the potty, during a shower..gosh, it’s annoying! But, I do enjoy watching you rise to “Let it Go!! Let it Go!!” in a very perfect pitch and attitude to match with it. My favorite is that time when you stood in the center of a plant nursery along with your school bestie and sang the song aloud in chorus – not a care in the world that it is a public place while a dozen people gathered around watching in glee :D

While the songs and sentences flow with an easy, perfect pronunciation from you, I feel the twinge of having lost your baby gibberish behind.Well, my happy moment was when you pointed at a bug on a walking trail and said “Look Amma, CaLapitter!!”. Yes, baby, it is a Calapitter. I don’t think I’ll ever correct you on that :D

Being both – Mamma’s baby and Daddy’s girl

You get attached to people very easily and never want the good times to end ( who does?). You took the scene to the next level during our visit to my friends place recently. Remember how he got so pally with you, you didn’t want to leave his house that evening? I stood outside coaxing you to get into the car, while you clung to him and pronounced , “No Amma, I belong here. This is my Appa”. Ummm.. yeah. That last part.You didn’t mean it, am sure.

You love your school, more for the art and craft work, than the words and numbers. You love it more for the playground and gardening sessions, than the reading and writing ones.

Must admit though – learning wise, there are some things you are really awesome at. You learnt hair styling and braiding all on your own. Your teachers, friends, cousins and Amma- any unsuspecting person with a minimum 2 inches of hair sitting still is your scapegoat. Although it has caused a few episodes of trauma to me ( hair pulled unceremoniously and a 100 clips and hairbands infused), it is something you are currently passionate about. The natural flow of your braiding actually caught me by surprise!

“Really, I did it” look after a hairstyling session on Amma

Speaking of skills, Gymnastics is an additional class outside of school for you and you absolutely love it! Everything from balancing and swinging to leg splits and cartwheel, you give it your best. Although yet to perfect them, I can see how easily you will get there with more practice. Your coach thinks so too :) Cannot wait to see my little girl performing a full fledged gymnastics routine few years down the line.

Gymnastics class

Oh, not just Gymnastics, I cannot wait to see the wonderful little person you will grow up to be! With this kind of fearless, cheerful attitude, I am sure I have much to look forward to :)

Stay Healthy. Stay Happy. Always.

Much Love,
Mom/Amma

It’s been a period of extended long silence here, but I am back hoping this space is not totally forgotten. I bring you the story of my experience in this little country called “Belize”. We visited this land in Central America for just about a week in total, but came back with experiences worth a lifetime. Penning-down the good,bad,funny and all that was Belize for me. A long post coming up.But, please show some love and read on, will you? :)

Checking-in at the airport, Paapu was seen talking to this employee – an old lady in black uniform, wrinkled face, wiry silver hair, sharp nose and a pair of thick black spectacles. She was laughing hysterically at something Paapu said. When I approached and asked , she kept laughing and so I asked Paapu. Paapu matter-of-factly told me “I asked her if she was a witch”. * Gulp* Thank God that nice lady had a sense of humor to laugh at this unsolicited question!

The almost-four year old kept at her non-stop chatter on the plane. Talking about this and that, really loud most times. I shushed her as much as I could, pleaded her to talk soft, also warned her a couple of times to no avail. An uptight looking lady in our front seat rose up and turned back only to yell at Paapu’s face -” You are so noisy! Gosh, you have to learn to be quiet!”. While I muttered an embarrassed sorry, Paapu burst out into wails even louder than the chatter! How I wanted the floor to just gobble up and remove me from the scene altogether. Bah, the joys of plane journey with a non-cooperating toddler seated next to a mean passenger.

The Belize airport was so small, almost as big as a bus station in a big town. I recall browsing through the wares in the airport shops and thinking -“wow, this stuff looks really cheap and badly made. If airport shops have such low standards, I wonder what’s in store outside?”. I was wrong of course. The outside, I was to know, had great shopping options, only if I looked at the right shop. :)

Never thought I would be flying on a 10 seater airplane sitting right behind the pilots in the cockpit, but it happened! ‘Tropic Air’ took us from the mainland Belize city to this little island called San Pedro. Vividly recall Paapu seated next to me and singing her made-up song “We’re going in a jet! going in a jet! Hey-ho-the-merry-ho,going in a jet!” while I clapped and bobbed my head along. Jet? Ah, it was not even a real plane, if you ask me :P

The first destination took my breath away. The Ak’bol Resort so picturesque…straight out of a post card! The thatched cabanas and rooms were so rugged, not a piece of plastic or shiny metal used in construction. The mud floor ingrained with smooth pebbles, the hand made clay sink with a beach sea conch for a water faucet, bamboo framed bed with a mosquito net, wooden ladder up to a loft !To top it all, the bathroom was outside, four walls with open top where the trees hovered high. The shower was the bare basic, pulling down an attached string to the faucets showered lukewarm water. Although I missed my regular carpeted floor and automatic showers, this was a humbling eco-friendly experience.

2

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The ‘soul kitchen’, the restaurant inside the resort kept true to its name and served soulful food, all local cuisine, made from scratch. My favorite was the ‘Papusa’ , a variation of our poori’s stuffed with veggies and black beans, served with spicy salad on the side. Mmmm. Over the period of 3 days, the creaky stools and wood chairs on the sand here saw us gulp countless glasses of fresh fruit smoothies and beer. They even have a special menu of drinks to counter hangovers! Go check out the Michelada recipe if you wanna know :D

While we spent so much time hanging out in the “Soul Kitchen”, we got acquainted with a lot of interesting souls. First to mention would be the owners of the resort – Kirsten and Milio They lived and worked in Chicago . About 10 years back their love for Belize made them pack up and buy a one-way ticket to this remote island, where they set up shop and never went back! She used to be a clothes designer and he a rock punk..and now they run a beautiful resort, teach yoga, employ hundreds of locals and raise 2 kids. To see that they truly followed their heart and are blissfully happy..how inspiring!

The story at Ak’bol resort isn’t complete without the mention of the invisible mosquitoes that make grand entry after sunset. They are so tiny, you’ll never even notice them sitting cozy on your legs and sucking away to glory. No wonder they are called “No-see-ums” ( nobody sees them!). One of the unforgettable momentous I brought back from Belize were the pink/red mosquito bite marks all over my lower legs. Yay! ( not)

To go from one part of the island to another was, in itself, a trip to look forward to. The road access isn’t great, but the water-taxi’s made up well for that. Water-taxi’s run on schedule every few hours and charge a minimal amount. All you have to do it stand at the pier and switch on the blinking light facing the ocean and wait for the these fast engine boats. They stop to pick passengers when they spot the blinking lights. Green lights to travel right and red lights to travel left. I loved sharing seat with random strangers on the boat – some locals taking their kids to a nearby park, some tourists going to the downtown, others returning back after a shopping spree, loaded with souvenirs and sporting huge smiles :D

4

If you have “Swimming with Sharks” in your bucket list, this is the place to go! Belize is paradise for snorkelers and deep water divers. No, I am not exaggerating. They take you to so many spots in the ocean – one of them is named “Shark and Stingray alley”. True to the name, we saw huge sharks and gigantic stingrays comfortably passing by underwater. While I literally shuddered to be next to those creatures, they seem to be least bothered about this weird flip-wearing snorkel people ;) However, the experience beautiful overall – clear blue waters, corals of all shape and colors, tiny school of fish.. some yellow striped, some shimmering blue, happily moving around in their natural habitat. It was, as if, I was given this rare invite to visit their gorgeous world and they didn’t care as long as I didn’t bother them :)

The snorkel guide diving in to 'invite' more sharks and sting rays

The snorkel guide diving in to ‘invite’ more sharks and sting rays

Renting a bicycle and going around the little island was one of the best things we did during the entire trip! The warm ocean breeze on the face felt refreshing as we rode around exploring the unknown narrow paths in the island. Every smile was met with a smile back and friendly wave from the locals.While Pappu chattered along from the toddler backseat, I took every chance to stop – to buy banana chips from a shop, check on the handcrafted jewelry, bags and carvings, admire the stunning strokes on a hand made painting, click pictures and watch the sunset  :)

6

The husband had booked a driver to pick us to our second destination. He interacted with the company using an email alias which he created on a whim to sound funny. So, this lady driver stood there with a name board awaiting us. It read “Erume” , That means “Buffalo” in Tamil. Yes, they thought it was his name, even though he specified his actual name on emails several times. I laughed so hard, could not stop giggling all the way through the 2 hour car ride.

Speaking about the ride, the driver lady, Daniella, was a very interesting personality.She was a mother of two teenagers with a husband who served Belize as a soldier. She was chatty and warm, answering all our curious questions about the life and ways of locals. Told her life story, how every woman in her family were school teachers except for her- who chose to take on the rough roads as a driver. She had lived in Los Angels, USA for more than 6 years as a teenager, taking up menial jobs to gather enough money and buy her own car in her own Belize. Somehow, Daniella made me proud. She stood high as an example of strong willed women who achieve what they set out for.

The Belize Zoo has a story, that brought me happy goosebumps. About 30 years back ,this lady, Sharon Matola, came to Belize in order to work on a documentary on Belize animals. She did not have any plans to make a zoo! But, when, at the end of it, she ended up with more than a dozen animals in need of care, she decided to stay back and build them a shelter. Over time it has evolved into this very well maintained space where mammals, birds and reptiles local to the land roam about free ( almost) and are taken very good care. Most of these animals are old or injured and cannot survive out in the wild. The deers, monkeys, tapirs, owls, toucans, macaws, jaguars and something called the ‘coatamundi’ – they all seem totally at home here. Don’t you love the concept of this ‘zoo’? I do :)

7

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Paapu was walking around this place, totally amused and looking at all things we pointed out “Look, a Howler monkey”, “Look, a Tapir”. She was quiet and taking it all in very sincerely, when a zoo employee walked out of a gate. She piped up to point him and exclaimed, “Look, a human!”. To say we had a good laugh over it is an understatement :D

Belize hosts a number of ruins from the Mayan Civilization. There are many high profile ruins  ( Altun Ha, Xunantunich, Caracol..). Because of several reasons, we couldn’t go to any of them, so settled-in for this low profile ruin called “Cahal Pech”. This was the hilltop home for an elite Maya family in 1200 BC. It felt surreal to see where the king sat and to imagine a full court of people. The main courtyard, I was told, hosted this special ball games where the winner was beheaded to offer to their rain Gods ! The players still fought to win , because it was a honorable death promising their place in heaven. *gulp*

9

Our second place of stay was this highly regarded resort in the country – spanning an enormous 360 acres on the Maya mountains. It offered a range of options to lodge – upscale suites and villas , medium priced cottages and tree-houses and also the least expensive camp sites. We, of course, chose that last option, wanting to stay rugged and adventurous ( ok, also to save money :P).The camp site offered tented rooms with the bare minimum to survive – beds, tables, and 2 kerosene lamps. That’s right – not even electricity :D Although was a bit disappointed at the bare basics at first,the untouched feel of the forest ambiance grew on us. A common area served freshly made local food to the campers. The kitchen next to the common area housed a Belizian family, where the wife was the cook, husband and the grown-up son were the care takers of the campsite. Such warm and friendly people – they loved Paapu like their own for the few days we were there :)

10

The resort offered wide variety of options for the lodgers to enjoy – hiking on guided trails, birding, visits to the onsite Butterfly Farm, Natural History Museum, and rain-forest tours, to name a few. How this beautiful resort was established in the middle of nowhere, by a regular couple is a story in itself. Still boggles me to think just a pair of husband and wife got this all started and sustained it so well! Read here to know the actual story.

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On the last day, we canoed down the Makal river, rowing sparsely, and mostly sitting silent taking-in the serenity and sounds of the beautiful rain-forest around us.The guide who accompanied was born and raised in the little village right there and he was very proud of his roots. It was quite humbling to hear from this seemingly smart and english-fluent man say, ” I have worked hard and earned my respect. I have had various offers to go to lot of different countries given my experience in surviving the wild jungle, but I refuse to take them up. This is my home. This is where I belong.I need to be nowhere else in the world to be happy.”

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I guess that last line from the guide sums up the experience in beautiful Belize.

Until I have another story to share, adios my dear readers!

last

Wish you a very peaceful, refreshing and utterly gratifying new year 2014.

See you on the other side :)

It was a cool night, with a glowing full moon. Was way past midnight, but a bunch of us sat around the campfire sipping on our cognac and cracking up on silly jokes. One of them said in jest pointing at my husband , “And, he is the leader of his family!”

Everyone laughed. Except me.

“Leader of the family?”, I questioned the crowd. “Who appointed him the leader? There’s no leader in our family”

“Haha. Come on…”

I looked straight and said , ” No, am serious. I believe my house has no ‘leader’. As husband and wife we decide on all aspects of life together. We are a ‘team’, nobody leads or is considered higher authority.”

Laughing stopped and silence fell. While some of the men started fidgeting with obvious discomfort over the topic, the women had a confused look.

I asked one of them, “You tell me. Do you have a leader in your family?”

She hardly gave it a thought before saying, “Yes, of course. My husband”

“Okay. Why do you say so. Any reason?”

“Well. Be realistic. If there is a thief trying to break into the house, my husband will be put in the front line to safeguard the rest of us in the house. Isn’t that what the leader does?”

“Hmmm. I don’t think that alone is a good reason to be termed a leader.” I turned to another woman and asked, “What about you. You think your husband is the leader of your family?”

She took a second and said , ” Yes, I do”

“Why?”

“Because it is his surname the family takes on. For example, a bank official will ask for “XYZ Family” where XYZ is his surname”

“Then, what about people like me who don’t take up the husbands surname?”

“…”

I continued. “Forget the societal norms. Do you truly believe he is the leader? Which means he has full authority to overrule any decisions made for the family?”

“Well…no, that’s not what I meant”

“That brings to my point – where I think families of this age and generation do not have a ‘leader’. A family runs on team effort, mutual understanding ,conjoined decisions. It’s not like the old days when women stayed in the kitchen and meekly abided by the words of the husband , gave him supreme authority. Don’t you agree?”

The conversation was flipped over by another random joke and the topic met an untimely stop.
But, I keep wondering if my thinking makes sense.

Sharing here to see what you wise people out there have to say.

Am happy if you agree with me. More power to us!

But, if you don’t agree, I am here to listen. Tell me if there is a leader in your family. If so, on what basis and why?

Yes, it is going to be a bullet point post. Each of these have been floating in my head forming individual posts. But, I figured they will never make it here unless summarized in bullets anyway. I am ashamed of keeping this space untouched for so long and I want to apologize.  But, it just..just feels dishonest at this point.

  • The year of 2012 was like a non-involved neighbor. Smiled back when I did, made small talk, shared some home made goodies but generally stayed to herself. No noise. No fun either.

    My biggest grouch was the lack of travel, the excitement it brings, the thrill of exploring the unexplored. Living an immigrant life bound by constant visa renewals sucks.To be required to stay within the boundaries of the country felt very restraining. Why so many boundaries, such stringent laws, so many constraints?  Let me free, I wish to fly.

    Reminds me of these beautiful Javed Akhtar lyrics in hindi:

    Panchhi nadiyan pawan ke jhoken
    Koi sarhad naa inhe roke
    Sarhaden insaano ke liye hain
    Socho, tumne aur maine
    Kya paaya insaan hoke?

    [ Birds, rivers, gusts of wind
    No border inhibits them
    Borders are for people
    Think about it, what have you and I
    Obtained by being born as humans? ]

  • Speaking of boundaries, I was recently enlightened about the fact that a non-citizen US resident cannot adopt a baby outside the US.The rules are so hard that they make it practically impossible to adopt internationally. Which means we cannot even have a serious thought on adopting a baby from India, if we want to. That is… sad.
  • Work has been a roller coaster ride recently. Challenges thrown from left-right-center. I try catching them all carefully, and yet some slip and fall. There is only so much one can do and I try telling it to myself almost every single day. When things go haywire, there are days when I log off feeling miserable, head spinning, discontent and frustrated. But, there are also good days when I sign off humming a happy song, utterly satisfied and grateful. The husband reminds me not to let work control my emotions so much. And I agree to do better at drawing my lines to separate them both. I haven’t seen much success so far . How do you do it, keep your emotions disconnected from work stuff that is, share some good tips, will you?
  • Have been trying my hand at Radio Jockeying and it has been..well, sweet so far. I enjoyed the first few sessions, put my best into preparing for the show, scripts, recording and editing. Did not care if it meant less sleep and long nights. Eagerly waited for my show to go live on air and beamed proudly when it did. Jumped and screamed with joy when people said they liked what they heard even if it were my own friends and cousins :) But, the glamour of the whole thing is starting to fade now. I gave a chance and tried, but happy to leave behind to look for something new. Honestly, I don’t think I am cut for it. If it takes so much effort, time and brain-wracking, probably I am doing it wrong. Supposed to be smooth and easy , this RJing thing, right? Oh, well :P
  • You remember Ana-Swetha from here, right? Her family and ours are very good friends now :) We visit them often- the kids play among each other while we sit and chat in the kitchen with a cup of chai. Ana-Swetha and me have danced in the living room to random music, walked to the park holding hands and generally laughed and hugged tight. I still speak to her in Kannada and she still runs to me when she hears my voice. Baby sat her one evening when the parents took a deserved break and I think I did pretty well! Their family is so full of warmth and cheer, sometimes I am overwhelmed with joy just by being around them. Meeting them is one of the best things that happened to us in the past year and I feel so much richer in life by the gift of it all :)
  • Leisure reading has always been a thing of less priority mainly because..er..there hardly is leisure to sit down with a book with a toddler around :) But, the blog world has been so inspiring to push my limits and create that time for books, especially voracious readers like herself. The pleasure of living those characters through the words on a good book is so addicting.The drowsy eyes and sleepy head in the mornings are still worth the late nights cozied up in the sofa with a book! Some of my favorites so far:

    -Water for Elephants  by Sara Gruen
    -The Help  by Kathryn Stockett
    -The Life of Pi  by Yann Martel
    -The Client  by John Grisham
    -The palace of Illusions
    -Mistress of Spices
    -Sister of my heart…all  by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
    -Nefertiti  by Michelle Moran
    -A Thousand Splendid Suns  by Khaled Hosseini

    Recommendations for a must-read or a link to your favorite list is much appreciated :)

  • Two vacations highlighted my year of 2012. One is the solo trip to India. Just me and Paapu, while the husband stayed back.It was all about visiting uncles, aunts, cousins and friends – wondering how much you have missed them through the years and why the heck didn’t you keep in touch more often! It was also about strolling in the greens of the many relatives who own beautiful gardens:IMG_3635..also about gorging on mangoes! Oh, the juicy, sweet, nectar-like Mangoes! :)
    The one thing that stands out in my memory though is the evening I got to meet this girl ! I have admired her blog for so long- the way she spins words so effortlessly, the honesty in every single of the posts and most of all – her perspective, which is just so unique and incredibly mature.Sitting across the table with her and chatting up felt absolutely wonderful! She was just the way her blog portrayed and much much more. In fact, she made me think back about how I used to be at her age, not too long ago – naive, timid and somewhat dumb, if you ask me, especially in comparison to her :D

    Oh, and this framed doodle art gifted by her sits on my bedroom table next to a family picture -…makes me smile big whenever I look at it. Love you and your art dear girl :)

    The other vacation was towards the end of 2012 – a much awaited trip to Hawaii. The last time we visited the islands Paapu was quietly growing in my tummy- a nostalgic post here. This visit though, we had a cheery little girl building sand castles on the beach, running in the trails in the tropical forests and watching the sun go down into the sea leaving orange footprints in the sky.

  • Paapu is turning three next month. THREE. Yes, you heard me right. When did she stop being a baby and turn into this talkative little preschool going girl? I have no clue! Sample some of the laugh moments:

——-

Midnight stroke of 12 on the new years eve. I grab Paapu in the middle of the party to say “Happy new year!”
“Huh? Happy..What ?”

[ Note to self - Toddlers don't understand the sense of time - not in seconds, minutes or in ( happy new) years.]
——-
” Paapu, no Preschool today. It’s closed for holiday”
“Yes. They shut the doors and locked it really tight.Very tight. Cannot open.”
“??!”

..after a few days of Christmas holidays,

“Paapu, your preschool opens tomorrow”
“They open the door? Was very tight closed, how they open?

——-
“”Good Job!”
“No, Amma, I am not Good Job. I am Good Girl!”
——-
Middle of the night, everyone is sound asleep.

“Amma!”
I wake up shocked by the cry, “What, what happened baby?”
“Amma, she is not sharing her toys with me”
“Aww, that’s okay, it’s a dream, sleep now..shhh” , patting her back to sleep.
..after 20 minutes
“Amma..! She is still not sharing her toys with me!”
Apparently, toddlers dream in saga episodes, who knew ;)
——-

I am driving the car and the noise from the backseat gets irritating.

“Paapu. Stop screaming. Stop it.”
“Ok Amma, don’t be angry. I will scream very quietly. Okay?”

——-

She is a silly goose, isn’t she? :D

That’s about it for now.

Stay happy there :)

Cheers!

It started with a posting on Craigslist, the website where you can buy/sell second hand items for cheap.

 
I put up a Vacuum cleaner for sale there few days back. It was an old one, but worked perfectly. I put a reasonable price so that I get a buyer soon- just trying to get rid of some clutter at home.
 
I received just one response by email and eagerly grabbed the opportunity . It was a couple who contacted me. An American couple with kids and pets and they needed to be sure the vacuum cleaner cleans on wooden flooring as well as carpet.
 
I called the number and heard a soft female voice, ” Hello, this is Lina”
 
“Hi, I am calling about the Vacuum cleaner you were interested in ? Could you come this evening, after 6:30 PM to take a look?”
 
“Oh, Hi. Thank you for contacting. This evening is difficult. How about tomorrow early morning?”
 
“Okay. Can you come around 8:30 AM before I leave for work?”
 
“Sure. My husband and me will come. I will get my 2.5 year old daughter too”
 
“Definitely. Bring your daughter. I have a 2.5 year old daughter too” :)
 
“Nice. My daughter, she is blind. So, a little behind the milestones. But, she would be happy to meet your daughter “
 
“Uh….Oh, Ok. Sure”
 
“See you tomorrow then?”
 
“See you tomorrow”
 
The word ‘blind’ came unexpected. And, the fact that she included it in a conversation so smoothly made me feel small. I took being ‘normal’ as granted. Right after the call, I felt blessed to have a child who is able to see. I ran to Paapu and gave her an extra special kiss. I told about the couple and their daughter to the husband by the end of the day and re-iterated how we take things for granted.
 
The next day, at 8:30 in the morning, we had our visitors. In came a petite woman wearing jeans-Tee and  a beautiful smile. She was helping her little girl to guide with the cane. The husband walked in right next to them with a nice smile too.
 
I could not take my eyes off the little girl.She was wearing a little salwar kameez and did not look American at all. I had to ask -
 
” Your daughter is beautiful. Is she Asian?”
 
“Yes. She is from Bangalore, India”
 
“Oh..!”
 
” We got her from an orphange this February. She is just getting used here.I suppose you are from India too?”
 
“Yes,  we are. In fact, I come from a place near Bangalore”
 
“Wow, really? You know ka-na-da then?”
 
” Kannada? Yes, of course I do”
 
“My daughter, Ana-Swetha*, loves to hear ka-na-da. Can you speak to her in the language?”
 
“Sure!”
 
I called out to Ana-Swetha and said “Hegidiya?” ( How are you?)
 
She turned in a sudden jerk and came running in my direction. I kneeled down and opened up my arms to hold her before she tripped on something.
 
And, then, she hugged me. 
 
The tightest, fondest, most wonderful of hugs I have ever got! She wrapped her legs around my waist and buried her face into my neck. I just sat down and held her…words do not describe the feeling inside me. 
 
After moments passed silently. I noticed a sad streak on Lina’s face , “She misses Ka-na-da. They spoke that language in her orphanage. I am trying to learn a few words actually”
 
I tried to talk, breaking from the strong embrace, but chocked on my own tears.Finally said, 
 
“Hmm. People like us only keep dreaming of doing such a thing. To adopt. You guys have actually done it. I…I feel touched. “
 
“Oh, Ana-Shwetha came to us really. We have an elder daughter who is from the same orphanage too. We went to bring her home and could not resist bringing Ana-Shwetha home”
 
She showed me a picture of her elder daughter, who was not blind, but equally beautiful and spirited.
 
While the husband showed them the Vacuum cleaner ( which they bought) I made Paapu and Ana-Shwetha drink their morning glass of milk together. Paapu (reluctantly) gave a toy of hers for Ana-Shwetha to take home.
 
It was time for them to leave and we stood at the door waving them goodbye.
 
But, this is not the last we’ll meet them I hope. Promises have been made to meet up again. I cannot wait to start a relationship with this wonderful family. A family that showed me there is no limits to sharing love, you only have to open your arms with it.
 
 
 
NOTE: Names have been partially changed to protect identity.
 
* Ana-Swetha : The birth name is the second half .The first half  “Ana” was added by the new family. It means “favored grace”.
 
My dear Paapu,

Been a while  since I wrote to you. I wasn’t away. I was right next to you, watching you grow, feeling pleased, being surprised and at times acting silly along with you :)

You are a little more than 2 years old now. But, when someone asks me, I still say “Oh, she turned two recently”. At times, however, I want to smile and tell ” She is Two going on Twenty Two really”. Here are few reasons that will show you why-

We sit together eating a bowl of fruits and I finish my portion first and you go “Good Job Amma!” patting my back.You also notice and praise with a “Good job Amma!” when I dress you up and tie your pigtails well. Role reversal at one of it’s best :)

Me and your dad have a tiff, voice levels raise, eyebrows knot, body language changes and he stands close to me with an angry face. You barge in from no where, block his way, point your fingers and shout “No Appa, No!”. You make us break into a loud laugh in the middle of a heated arguement. Do you know how embarassing it is at times? :D

I am supposed to be potty training you, correct? No, you don’t seem to think so. In fact, you think you are supposed to train me to potty train you. “No diaper Amma, only pant, ok?”. And then, you voluntarily pull me to the restroom screaming “I wanna make Potty now, lets go!” and I follow to help you like an obliging student. Stifling my laugh while you pompously sit on your potty and beam at your achievement is a separate topic anyway.

While I get dressed for a party or a evening out or to work, you never fail to compliment if you like my attire. “Nice dress Amma” you smile and I promptly check back  “Nice, really?” and you nod. You have no idea how sweet that feels. But hey, I cannot coax a compliment out of you unless you actually like my dress. Trust me, I have tried ;)

On a camping trip, I stand in front of the campfire grilling some cheese and you softly stand aside to say “Careful Amma, ok?”. Your dad hammers a nail into the wall and you are right next to him reminding “Careful Appa, careful”. How do you know when exactly to use such caring words? I wonder.

For you, salt is ‘Uppa” and Ghee is ‘Uppa” too. Pretty confusing if you ask me. But, we get by, especially since you are a pretty little assistant cook – helping peel the peas out, handing over the dried vessels, watching me cook with such appraise. I almost feel like a celebrity when you curiously ask “whattis dis?” while I carefully pick it up and say “Onion” :D

Remember how in one of your last letters I said you were fearless and walked away to explore without a backward glance? Well, that still hasn’t changed. Sometimes, it scares me when you act all grown up and start walking away. I wait for you to turn around and look for me. But, usually you are too happy smiling at strangers or plucking at a leaf on the way. Go, explore. But, stay safe. Stay near, will you?

Reading is one of your favorite things to do. You open it and hold it down on the lap, then point at the words and start reading animatedly. If only the book wasn’t upside down we would have totally bought your act.

I have such a relaxing time letting you ruffle my hair. My hair and your tiny hands are all real. But the hair brush, rubberband, hairclips and everythign else that you imagine are..err..imaginary. You can spend hours pretend combing my hair and I sit there enjoying every bit of it. Thank you my love! :)

Two year olds gorge on pizzas when they get a chance, I have seen. You are the only one in the birthday parties who refuses pizza and picks out the veggie toppings from them to munch on.”How did you do it?” , fellow mommies ask surprised. “Nothing, really”, I reply honestly, “she just doesn’t like pizzas much, but loves her veggies”.They will see you stuffing your face with cake and chocolate the next minute, but until then, I am allowed to feel a little proud about your habits, am I not? ;)

You fight with me. Loudly. Already. I am quite mad about something and say “Paapu, you are a bad girl!”. Immediately there’s a response “No, YOU bad girl!”. I don’t give up “No, YOU bad girl” louder. You stand up, point a finger and scream “Nooo. YOU! Bad Girl! OK?!”. The game goes on for a few minutes with louder and funnier faces until neither of us can stay serious anymore. Next thing we know, we are laughing and rolling on the floor together . At this rate,  all my disciplining plan can go hide its face in shame.

Tell me why you love being barefoot so much? In the park, in a backyard, on a walkign trail – you are the only kid without footwear running around carefree. Once you throw out your shoes no amount of pleading will help. I have noticed little bruises on your tiny feet sometimes, but you do not seem to mind at all. That is why you love my foot massages after bath everyday, don’t you?

Kind, smart and fearless, are you Paapu? Maybe all true. But, one more thing is true too. You are a bondhu little silly girl. Why? sample this-

” Paapu, Look up, big blue sky!”
You look up . “Yes, Amma”
” Now tell me, what is the color of the sky?”
“Mmm….Orange?” :D

Love you my darling. Stay happy always.

Tight hugs and kisses,
Your Amma
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