Nephews


While I do not have too many aunts I am close to, I take my role as an aunt very seriously. And being an aunt is very special. I should know. Because I have three beautiful nephews aged 9, 3 and 1.

Nephew Number One. He is obviously my favorite. Being the youngest in my family, I always secretly yearned for a younger sibling. And it happened in 2006, when S was born to my brother and sister-in-law. I call him my younger brother because that’s exactly how I feel about him. I feel protective of him like a parent/guardian but have as much fun with him like a sibling/friend. He is a powerhouse of information, and by far one of the smartest people I have ever met. From dinosaurs to dog breeds to states and capitals to space, he has all sorts of facts at his fingertips. He knows the Mahabharata inside out and enjoys asking us questions from it. And I always score negative marks because I know almost nothing about it. He regularly quizzes us on subjects he learns in school, and gives us points accordingly. Not surprisingly, my report card is almost always in the red.

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I remember an incident with him back in 2010 when he was 4. It was Sports Day in his school and I attended it along with my sister-in-law. It was a sunny day and I was wearing my sunglasses. S was participating in a race and I have no idea what happened but I teared up. As i saw him running, I could feel nothing but an extreme amount of emotion and tears streaming down. Wearing glasses helped me that day and no one saw me crying. To this day, I don’t understand that unexpected surge of emotion. It has only made me love him even more.

Another experience with him happened in Bangalore. My sister-in-law, S and I were shopping on Commercial Street. S was probably around 3 or 4 years old and wasn’t enjoying being dragged around shops by us. Finally, at one shop, he sat on the floor and told us he needs to go potty. My sister-in-law and I quickly wound up and took an auto and rushed home. And surprise surprise, our man didn’t have to go potty. He lied to us! Because he wanted to get back home! A few days later, the three of us went back to that store. And S tells us, this is the shop where I told you’ll I want to go potty!

Did I tell you how smart he is?

S and I have had so much fun together. From making green-colored French toast for him, to sharing innumerable servings of ice cream to going on bike rides. The two of us share a special bond. Back in college, during exams, I would lock my room door and study. He was less than a year old then and would keep banging on my door until I opened. He has truly been the younger sibling I never had. I could never say no to him for almost anything. He turns 10 in a few months and I only hope he doesn’t think it isn’t too cool to hang out with his aunt every now and then.

Nephew Number Two. Now this guy is just the bestest. He is unapologetic, free-spirited, has his own mind and just the cutest little monster ever. A. I haven’t had too much time to spend with A. He is completely different from his elder brother S. A is close to his parents and never really liked being away from them even if they were in the next room. So I’ve never really had the opportunity to bond with him much. But I’ve seen his personality change in the last one year. And can’t wait to meet him in person soon.

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While I only get to speak to him on FaceTime now, he is more aware of who I am and gives the warmest virtual hugs!

He has a huge craze for cars and loves lining them up in the most organized of manners. We still don’t understand everything he says but whatever he says just sounds adorable.

I hope, with time, I get to spend more time with him and we get to know each other better. Love you, A.

Nephew Number Three. Do you remember that FRIENDS episode where everyone wants to know who will get their baby if Ross and Rachel die? That’s exactly the question I ask my sister and brother-in-law! Because I would happily put V in my pocket and spoil him to no end. My husband and I absolutely adore this little ball of fur.

V is the newest addition to the family and is therefore the baby of our house. He is about 17 months old but the things he does some times seem like he is 33 or something.

I FaceTime with him almost everyday and he does nothing short of brightening it.

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V is at a phase where he is trying to talk and copies every single thing we do. I happened to yawn one day, and every time you ask him what chithi (aunt in Tamil) does, he pretends to yawn! And he has recently started calling me chithi though he only gets the ‘thi’ bit.

This boy loves being photographed and is such a poser. We always manage to get some really good pictures of him. He loves food especially sweets. He loves the outdoors. He can make you laugh by doing the absolutely funniest of things including trying to stand on his head! I’ve also probably received the most number of virtual kisses from him. He definitely has me wrapped around his little finger.

I have been fortunate to see him grow from a crawling baby to an absolutely naughty toddler. Living in the same continent has definitely helped. In the years to come, I know he is going to grow into an even stronger personality and continue to put smiles on people’s faces.

Being an aunt

Being an aunt is nothing short of a blessing. The joy these three young men have brought to my life is immense. I am grateful I know them and love them with all my heart and more. If you have a niece or a nephew, call them, write to them or meet them and tell them how much you love them. And to all my other nieces and nephews (through cousins), I love you too!

And as cheesy as the quote goes, ‘Only an aunt can give hugs like a mother, keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend’.

I love being an aunt!

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My list of fours


1. Four names people call me other than my real name

Pain
Bobby
Athai
Akka

2. Four movies I’ve watched more than once

Stepmom
Alaipayuthey
Hum Aapke hain kaun
The Sound of Music

3. Four books I’d recommend

Not without my daughter
The Help
The Story of Henrietta Lacks
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

4. Four places I’ve lived

Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Bellevue, Washington, USA
Pflugerville, Texas, USA

5. Four places I’ve visited

Delhi, India
Bellary, Karnataka, India
Key West, Florida, USA
Bangkok, Thailand

6. Four things I prefer not to eat

Beef
Pork
Upma
Cabbage

7. Four of my favourite foods

Chocolate
Ice cream
Chaat
Poori

8. Four TV shows I watch

Grey’s Anatomy
Revenge
Scandal
Suits

9. Four things I’m looking forward to this year

Going on a holiday
My father visiting me
Finding success in bagging a job
Trying to be more patient and calm

10. Four things I’m always saying

No
But
I’m feeling sleepy
Stop bugging me

Memories from school


The past few weeks have rekindled a lot of memories for me about school. For one, it’s because I’m staying with my childhood friend from school at her home in the United States. We have been exchanging stories from school, bugging our husbands in the process.
M has an amazing memory. So she reminded me of things I had completely forgotten about. Some even useless, as she would say!

Annoying classmates, angry teachers, practicing for the school day, sports day rehearsals. It has been nice recalling those days that now seem like a different lifetime.

The time that I was robbed of my earrings in first standard, along with a classmate.

The prasadam we were fed by Gowri Miss in sixth standard.

Being caught for copying in the pre-final exams in tenth standard.

Having to by-heart a particular chapter from the Bhagavad Gita for a chanting competition.

Being told that girls can only salwars/chudidhar on ‘colour dress’ days.

My sister being called to class when I got 1 out of 10 in Kannada dictation (In the next day’s dictation I received a whopping 10 on 10. Woohoo!).

Particular classmates competing with you because you scored higher than them.

Copying notes from friends.

Bunking school a day before tests began. And then being punished for it.

Picnics to Nandi Hills.

Childrens’ day programmes.

Singing in the school choir.

Dictating notes.

Being hit on the palm/knuckles with a wooden ruler when you didn’t know the right answer.

Having to get your answer sheet signed by a parent. (I would always do it in the morning before leaving for school hoping that way dad wouldn’t yell at me!)

Debates. Extempore. News reading.

Forming a line to go to class or when leaving class.

Walking in pairs, especially when we are taken outside school.

Being late for Assembly in the morning.

Checking if shoes are clean and nails are cut. (Job of the Captains)

Leaving a class mid-way in glee when you are called for school day practice.

Playing the kettle drum in the school band.

Saree drill.

Being compared to an older sibling who happened to have studied in the same school.

Making charts. (Which my brother did for me and I had to beg him to do it, because I can’t draw a straight line to save my life)

Oh, there is so much more! What are your memories from school?

The Colgate Clock


The Colgate Clock in Jersey City Waterfront

The Colgate Clock in Jersey City Waterfront

Colgate is a company synonymous with toothpaste in India. And when I saw this clock, it reminded me of home! This is an octogonal clock located in Jersey City, New Jersey. It faces the Manhattan skyline overlooking the Hudson river. This clock is said to have been installed way back in 1924. Incidentally the Jersey City waterfront was earlier home to several factories. More details about this clock can be found here

We are stressed, not stupid


This morning, during a conversation with my father, he very matter-of-factly stated that he does not pay too much attention to the food I make every day and that he just eats what is made with no fuss. I replied, saying, ‘Thanks a lot.’ To be honest, it hurt. It reminded me of an article that author Chetan Bhagat had written in his column in The Times of India in July 2011.

Bhagat wrote a sort of open letter to Indian women after a survey was carried out by Nielsen about how women in our country are the most stressed out in the world. Read his article here if you haven’t already, before proceeding further.

“What are we doing to our women?” Bhagat asks.

Well, Mr Author, the problem is, men (like yourself) aren’t doing anything.

Before you assume that this blogpost is going to be a rant because of what my father said to me this morning, let me stop and correct you. I understand the context in which my father said what he did. And he’s 71 years old. I completely understand.

However, as I said, it reminded me of Bhagat’s column.

At a first glance, I know some women will applaud the writer for his letter, as women are being acknowledged.

But his column talks about everything that is wrong with this world today.

Bhagat says that in a world without women, there would be “body odour, socks on the floor and nothing in the fridge to eat.” Excuse me, but is that why women are born into this world? To rid you of body odour, pick up your socks and put some food in the fridge for you to eat?

Can’t you pick up your own socks? Or have a bath and rid yourself of that body odour? For a change, can you make some food and put it in the fridge?

Our stress doesn’t stem from this. But more on that later. We shall first understand the suggestions that Bhagat gives to reduce stress levels.

“Give it back to that mother-in-law.” I am not married, but from what I hear, it would be a lot nicer if husbands stood up for their wives more often instead of allowing an opportunity to “give it back”.

Second, if my boss does not value me, Bhagat says I should quit. Sir, if my boss is a woman, and she herself is under a lot of stress, what advice would you give her?

I have no complaint about Bhagat’s third suggestion. He is, however, stating something that we already know.

It is Bhagat’s fourth suggestion that makes me cringe and as one of my school teachers used to say, ‘makes my blood boil’. This is also the point that I was reminded of this morning during the conversation with my father.

“…do not ever feel stressed about having a dual responsibility of family and work. It is difficult, but not impossible. The trick is not to expect an A+ in every aspect of your life. You are not taking an exam, and you frankly can’t score cent per cent (unless you are in SRCC, of course). It is okay if you don’t make four dishes for lunch, one can fill their stomach with one. It is okay if you don’t work until midnight and don’t get a promotion. Nobody remembers their job designation on their dying day.”

The dual responsibility of family and work is possible and difficult. We have a world of women doing this. Why is Chetan Bhagat telling us that it’s not impossible? Where did he come flying from to tell us something we already know?

Anyways, even if I do think it is impossible, according to Bhagat there’s a trick out of it! And that’s to not expect an A+ all the time. Hello. But does he really think I expect an A+ when I get up and make breakfast every morning?

We may be stressed, but we are not stupid, Mr Bhagat.

The writer however doesn’t stop here. He goes on to console Indian women, saying, ‘Don’t make four dishes for your family. Make how many ever you can.’ This is where the fundamental problem lies. Not once is Bhagat even suggesting that men (brothers, fathers, husbands, sons) assist the women in the household to relieve them of some stress.

Why don’t you make one dish for lunch instead of telling me that it’s okay not to make four?

“Your neighbour may make a six-dabba tiffin for her husband, you don’t – big deal.” I mean, come on. Mr Bhagat, I think you are watching too much television. No one cares a rat’s backside about how many dabbas the neighbour’s husband is getting. It seems like you care more.

The premise of Bhagat’s column is that women should continue doing what they are doing (probably cook a little less lunch than usual), the men are going to continue to leave their socks on the floor and we should feel absolutely stress-free.

Stress, very often, is self-induced. But there are a lot of external factors that can help address this. Bhagat has very conveniently not touched upon this, saying since it’s the women who are stressed, it’s their problem, let them deal with it, I am doing my duty by telling you to not feel stressed.

Mr Bhagat, you say we Indians have the habit of exploiting those without power. That society puts power above equality and justice. Your entire article is a contradiction. If you want to talk equality and justice, tell the men in the world to get up and make a six-dabba tiffin for their wives.

“We judge, expect too much, don’t give space and suffocate our women’s individuality.” So find a solution to this, instead of telling women to chill and not stress out.

“These regressive attitudes will take a while to change.” Yes, as long as you write columns about picking up dirty socks and body odour, these regressive attitudes will most certainly take a while to change.

“Now smile, before your mother-in-law shouts at you for wasting your time reading the newspaper.” Well, I am no one to judge, but I think the mother-in-law is right. It was a waste of time.