Lockdown Home Schooling

It’s been some time since the lockdown, and homeschooling is on in our home as it is in homes across the globe. With a WFH schedule for the adults, schooling three kids with ages ranging from 10+ to 3+, it’s quite a challenge. Add to that some activities to keep them engaged, entertained, engrossed, and not 24×7 on the iPad or iPhone (10+ girl), or watching TV!

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5-yr-old M did a great job in this fill-in-the-blanks test! She did it in a jiffy too! Now, she’s keen to move on to the table of 3.

Then, of course, there’s the looming threat of a hangry’ outburst. They need food to chew on (perpetually) before they bite off each other’s heads! So I dash to the kitchen, my head in a swirl. Peanut butter sandwich…as I spread the butter I re-run a passage I was working on…editing… “that part needs a rewrite”… “What could be a better word for…” I switch channels and get back to the food one… ok, a ham and marmalade one too…and what did Z want? And these are only the in-betweens, there’s lunch beeping, “what’s for lunch?” in another corner of my head!

Keeping their hunger pangs down with this, that, or the other something light they can snack on between meals, without losing their appetite for a proper meal is a daily challenge. There are days when I’m just a breath away from climbing the walls. I let off steam by deep breathing and muttering mantras (I’m doing good. I’ve got it under control. I can do it. I’m patient…) under my breath so they can’t hear, and I do the best I can. 

We’re all trying to do the best we can! These little ones must find it even harder to adjust to being locked in, away from friends, and school with its activities and community. This thought helps me to rein in the frustration and sail on even keel even in choppy waters. But I have my human frailties and limitations too. So I need to accept and acknowledge my feelings of inadequacy that overcome me, at times, and the fatigue, both mental and physical.

I love having the kids around. I am closer to them and am a part of their life more than ever now. We share so much more… conversations, jokes, games, and camaraderie! And I do love doing their lessons with them and teaching them some new things too.

This brings me to the subject of this post… Math… the bane of my life 🙂

I’ve been getting 5 yr-old M to do single-digit addition sums and made a small step into single-digit subtraction. She’s learned her two tables and can max her revision tests: oral and written. Just the other day, I gave her a written test with blanks and she did very well: All correct answers!

As I watched her excited and loving her numbers; sums, tables, and tests, I thought of a 6-7-yr-old me and how I disliked arithmetic. And how tables tripped me up when I was quizzed in an oral test! As she rattled out her answers in her oral test, I compared it to the picture of me and my orals in the same two-three tables. It was funny and I found myself laughing. It was such a contrast in every way – the teachers (me Vs my mum), the students (me Vs M), and the love of the subject (me Vs M).

A foray into my journals threw up this short entry:

Two times Nine is…..umm…is…er…

I think I should add a few incidents with Mummy. Daddy’s been hogging all the space till now. Not that there’s much that transpired with her and me together…..I was always a Daddy’s girl…a tomboy. Anyway, Mummy was (as all mummies were in their homes) my teacher at home. Very bad really, for me, when it came to Arithmetic because she was short on patience and I was short on memory, especially when it came to multiplication Tables. By the end of an interminably long study hour, I’d manage to finally get through one Table and escape.

Oh yes! Escape it was. For my face, which would be burning with the tight slaps she’d land so precisely on my small cheeks, and the small palms that got whacked with a ruler, or my legs that got thwacked with a ladle or whatever was in her hands. Getting away was the greatest relief of the day.

Poor thing, she must have been relieved too! When I think back to the almost stupid way I’d stare at her, while I stumbled and hemmed and hawed my way through the same old Table day after day, my heart goes out to her…..any one would go crazy. So I had to find a method to remember my Multiplication Tables and avoid being slapped. And what a way I devised!!

I’d generally wait till she was in the kitchen instructing the cook and doing odds and ends. I would stand against the door jamb, in the pantry, and my elder brother would stand behind me hidden from her view. Then I’d very quickly and very loudly say the whole Table and hey, without a mistake! Jasper’s prompting got me a lot of praise and shorter study hours, till the day she decided to quiz me. My prompter failed me. Ah! It was back to the grind and a good slapathon and copious tears.

I couldn’t get why she got so impatient and exasperated. She, I guess, couldn’t understand why her bright daughter, good in all other subjects, cultural activities, sports, and discipline was so daft with numbers.

The slapping didn’t last long, though. I sobbed my heart out sitting on Daddy’s lap and convinced him that I was scared of her punishments and so I couldn’t remember anything. He must have spoken to her. She must have understood or found it a huge relief that she was off the hook if I didn’t fare well in the exam 🙂 Whatever, the punishment went back to a longer study hour or Time Out. Grounded. No playing outside with my friends or even my brother. I didn’t mind that because my brother and I found enough of recreation and fun things to do inside the house too.

My grandkids, four of them from 5-10-year-old, are good with numbers… brilliant, in fact! For some reason, that makes me happy!

PS: I still dislike Math! And I’m totally against slapping!

PPS: Just for the record:

1. Mummy was an awesome teacher in everything else. I’ve learned a lot from her. Her love of writing poems, rhymes instilled a love for words and writing. Her expertise in cooking. Her energy and spirit in tough times. Her resourcefulness. Her talent in singing (she sang alto), sewing, and embroidery. Her jovial nature and the laughter that always hovered behind her lips. Her helpful nature. There was so much I had to take away from her to build up my strengths. Her presence, in the house, meant a lot to me.

2. It was not considered as abuse, in India, in those days, to slap a kid and corporal punishment was allowed in schools too. And many kids, even girls, must have got a slap or two or three or more from their moms. Luckily, things have changed since our days.

 

GK…Forgotten

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My posts, The Messenger, and ‘Superstitions, Myths and Black Magic’ would be unbelievable to some, so here are more believable and interesting pieces of GK, which I know I knew but discovered I didn’t know much of now… does that make sense? I’m putting up a playful, funny, post today. #notseriouspost.

Do go through it. Like me, you might find that you didn’t know a couple of things or you’ve forgotten a few things. I’m sure you’ll find a thing or two that puts a smile on your face, so don’t skip reading; be a sport and go through it.

I’d like to add, the blogger is not responsible for any discrepancies or falsehoods. The blogger didn’t have anything to write about…mental block…so has posted a forward she received some years back (forwarded many times, I presume!)

General Knowledge – Forgotten!

In the 1400s, a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have: ‘the rule of thumb.’

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Many years ago, in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.’ And thus, the word GOLF entered into the English language!

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The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone. (Really? I find that hard to believe)

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Coca-Cola was originally green. (Yuck!

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It is impossible to lick your elbow.

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The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: £ 10,120.00 (this was the cost 11 yrs back! Do the math.) My dog Heidi died at seven so I have no idea.

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The first novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.

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Each King, in a deck of playing cards, represents a great king from history.

Spades: King David

Hearts: Charlemagne

Clubs: Alexander, the Great

Diamonds: Julius Caesar

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Math: 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12, 345, 678, 987, 654, 321

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If a commemorative statue of a person on a horse has the horse with both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.

It the horse has one leg in the air, the person died because of wounds received in battle.

If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

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Q 1. What if you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter ‘a’?

Q 2. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers have in common?

Q 3. What is the only food that doesn’t spoil?

 

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Ans: (1. One thousand. 2. All were invented by women! 3. Honey)

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*In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase: ‘Goodnight, sleep tight.’

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*It was the accepted practice in Babylon, 4,000 years ago, that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month. We know it today as the honeymoon. (Betcha didn’t know that!)

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*In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So, in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them, “mind your pints and quarts and settle down.” It’s where we get the phrase, ‘mind your P’s and Q’s.’

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*Many years ago, in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice.

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At least 75% of the people who read this will try to lick their elbow!

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You are living in a hi-tech world and you do one or all of these things…

1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three!

4. You WhatsApp the person who works at the desk next to you.

You also WhatsApp your kids in the upstairs room!

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, and maybe no email address!

6. You pull up in your driveway and use your mobile phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry the groceries.

7. Every commercial on TV has a website at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your phone, which you didn’t even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go online before your coffee or tea!

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. 🙂

12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly who you are going to tell a few things from here and quiz them about some others.

14. You were too busy to notice there is no No: 9 on the list.

15. You actually scrolled back to check if there wasn’t a 9 on the list.

And Finally…

Now you’re LAUGHING. The post wasn’t that bad after all…

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AND STOP TRYING TO LICK YOUR ELBOW!

 

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A Senior Moment

Another one from my journals written on Thursday, June 9, 2011. As I read it, I realized that things are more or less the same, if not worse, when it comes to the impatience of the younger generation towards their predecessors. Though people of an older generation have advanced in their learning and application of new technical skills, and they’re better than they were in 2011, a majority will still not be at par with the existing skills of youngsters. And if they aren’t, it’s all right.

These seniors have learned to drive today’s modern cars. They’ve learned to navigate their way through crowded roads; roads more crowded with vehicular traffic than they were in their day. They’re keeping up with the constant development of mobile phones with new apps, new technology in photography, communication, and a fast-changing world, in general. Change is not easy. In fact, it is hard for most. Yet, the seniors adapt and adjust to the new. 

Do these young ones appreciate the effort senior citizens make? Do they understand that learning new things at an advanced age is more difficult? Could they be more appreciative and patient with the seniors?

It’s the same as it was earlier; the percentage of those who are appreciative of seniors’ efforts to catch up is much lower than that of those who don’t.

And, in case you’re wondering; I’m not yet a ‘senior’! 🙂 But as the previous post suggests, I’ve always held these views about the treatment of our seniors: old parents, grandparents or neighbors in terms of their adjustment problems or learning issues. If you can’t help in any way, don’t berate or act like an arrogant know-all, and definitely, don’t think they are stupid.

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The old was once a new invention! The seniors have seen a lot of new inventions and changes. They have changed and moved with the times. But with age, things slow down for many. Instead of being arrogant and uppity with the older generation, help them or better, teach them with patience if they can learn even a little bit. And if they can’t just appreciate them. They’ve got a big experience behind them. (Pic: Matt Artz on Unsplash)

 

A Senior Moment

This post was prompted by a forward I found in my inbox. It was an illustration of how a member of the younger generation (a college freshman) perceives the people of the older one as primitive beings.

While I haven’t run into many youngsters like the obnoxious one mentioned here, I can safely say, they exist with all their pompous arrogance. I’ve seen it as road rage and disparaging remarks thrown at senior citizens driving on the road. I fully understand that at times they can do things wrong while driving and, at times, cause an accident, but then so can you, my young one. If they’ve still got their driving license they have as much right on the road as you have. At least the traffic authorities deem so!

I have noted the frustration of young drivers honking madly as an old person laboriously crosses the road. I’ve heard and seen enough to wonder from where all this comes. On the brighter side, I have heard and seen a great number of young people being kind, gentle, and patient with their elders. These are the ones you will not find airing their disapproval of the older folk they encounter, outside their families and homes.

Generally, one can say youngsters, these days, are becoming quite impatient and intolerant of older people who have not kept abreast of the times. Having been born in a world where everything has to be super fast, almost instant, they adopt arrogance and condescension with those they perceive as stupid and slow.

They fail to see that the fruits of progress they are enjoying today didn’t happen overnight. These senior citizens have been a part of the process; they have moved through the stages of development. Each has seen an improvement on a previous generation in terms of innovations and discoveries.

As children, we grew up with some new inventions that our parents never knew in their childhood. We also enjoyed improvements on existing devices which made them faster, quicker and more efficient. But I don’t recall being impatient, intolerant or arrogant with senior citizens who hadn’t seen these things at their time.

Instead, we would be keen to explain about new gadgets, and even try to convince them that the new device worked better and was good to use. I know how difficult it was to sell pressure cookers to housewives in small towns back in the tail end of the 50s and early 60s. The general fear being; it would burst! My mom, though a bit apprehensive, went ahead and bought one in 1963, and I thought she was brave!

It was the same when kerosene stoves entered the kitchen to replace coal and firewood. Later on, when they introduced LPG for cooking, it found the same initial resistance. Yet, I wasn’t intolerant with my grandmother who still used firewood and coal to cook and heat the house in winter. In fact, I enjoyed sitting in her kitchen.

Computers are still a #challenge for the older generation in my country. Some have learned or taught themselves the basics so they can surf the net and stay in contact through emails.

However, with the introduction of mobile phones and iPads and such hand-held devices, many more have crossed that line of doubt and fear and ventured into the world of internet and Wi-Fi. Their knowledge might be basic but they know enough to get on and keep in touch with the progress and that includes me too. I’m not a tech person, but I manage. The younger generation is impatient with this too. If you can’t keep pace with them, you’re not worth their time.

The progress in the past two decades has happened at a faster pace than earlier years. This could be a reason why not many who carry the #seniorcitizen tag have been able to catch up with recent developments. I’m sure that is no reason to view them as stupid or inefficient.

 

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They’re not dinosaurs; they are survivors. They are the people who have adopted new ways of living and adapted to more life-changing inventions and developments than you younger people have. But that’s just me. Tell it to an impatient generation that has grown up on #instant gratification.

(Reposting with a few additions and more editing!)

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Chile Diary- 12

“I go to sleep alone and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?”-Audrey Niffenegger

Volcan Mocho-Choshuenco and Lake Panguipulli, on the way to Huilo-Huilo National reserve.

Volcan Mocho-Choshuenco and Lake Panguipulli, on the way to Huilo-Huilo National reserve. The visible volcano is Mocho, the second one Choshuenco isn’t in the frame.

I’m back from my ‘workation’. I was away in my home country visiting friends and family. I did a bit of blogging on the side, whenever I found some spare time. But this story was on hold! I’m back now and trying to catch up with my blogs.

This chapter carries on from the previous one and surprises me. Click the link to read an introduction to the mom’s guests in Chile Diary-11.

The Mom’s Guests

I set up my computer on the dining table and began to write. If I was looking for common sense to guide the mom and her guests, I was disappointed. Common sense was conspicuous by its absence.

They continued to sit around the table and chat in the high-pitched, sing-song tone most Chilean women use. My head was beginning to ache. Just as I thought I should pack shop, the whole jingbang got up and left; mom included.

Hallelujah! I broke into a happy song. It was a premature celebration!

About half an hour later, they trooped in and the women began setting the table for tea. It was past 7.00 p.m. OMGosh! I moaned, not again.

The gossiping, laughing, and chomping went on and on. I glared at them from time to time but it was useless. Their total concentration was in the cake, bread, ham; the paltas (avocado), crackers, butter, and the tea and cold drinks they were walloping as they kept up the steady high-pitched conversation.

By then, my head was throbbing. I held my temples and looked directly at each one. I saw their mouths open and close but I couldn’t hear them talk! It was that bad. It was time for me to get up and leave. I wasn’t in good shape and if I stayed longer, I knew I’d say something and it wouldn’t be anything very nice.

I’m over that rant. It’s over. The day’s ended and with it the mood.

Or is it? The next day didn’t help. Looks like I’m in a mood these past two days! I discovered today that Indian beauticians are way ahead of their Chilean counterparts. Besides, they charge so little for the amount of work they do. I needed to give some attention to my feet so Manu took me to a salon nearby. I got a less than satisfactory pedicure. I’d have paid this amount for more and better quality of work back home.

If it weren’t for my back and knees that prevent me from cleaning my feet thoroughly and cutting my toenails, I’d skip a pedicure in Chile. Thank God, Roxanna colored my hair at her place! I’m glad Manu warned me not to even try the manicure. After the pedicure, I wouldn’t have anyway!

So, thus went my day into the dumps.

No more to write so I’ll wind up. Then what? As usual, I’ll stare at the walls and then lie on my bed and try not to think sad thoughts. For some reason, these words of an old Hindi song pop up in my mind. I’ve written it in the Roman script and I’ve tried to give you the best translation of the song. The lyrics are beautiful though melancholy!

 

“Aye mere dil-e-nadaan,

tu gham se na ghabrana.

Ek din toh samajh legi, duniya tera afsana.

(Oh, my naive heart,

don’t let sorrow worry you,

one day this world will understand your story.)

Armaan bhare dil mein,

zakhmon ko jagah dede,

Bhadke huye sholon ko,

kuch aur hawaa dede.

Banti hai toh ban jaye, yeh zindagi afsana.

(In a heart full of dreams and expectations,

allow a bit of space for hurt and pain.

The embers have burst into flame,

fan them a bit more.

If your life has become a story; let it be so.)

Faryad se kya hasil,

rone se natija kya?

Bekaar hain yeh baatein,

in baaton se hoga kya?

Apna bhi ghari bhar mein,

ban jaata hai begaana.

(Nothing comes from complaining,

and tears bring no results.

These are useless things

and nothing is achieved by it.

In a split second,

even our own become strangers.)

Aye mere dil-e-nadaan, tu gham se na ghabrana.

Ek din toh samajh legi, duniya tera afsana.

(Oh, my naive heart, don’t let sorrow worry you.

One day this world will understand your story.)

 

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” -Hermann Hesse

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Chile Diary- 11

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing,” it waits on the right time to act; for the right principles and in the right way.”-Fulton J. Sheen

Chapter 11 brought back the mixed feelings of that time when all plans began to fall apart. Hopelessness enshrouded me and I was at an all-time low. It also brings home the truth that although the plans were right, the timing was not! That’s why I had been not just nervous but “scared” too about moving.

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The building in the background is where the Company Guesthouse was.

 

The Chile Diary Chapter 11

Hitches and Glitches

I had many apprehensions about coming to live in Chile. I even recall repeating that I was scared. Unfortunately, the people I spoke to think in narrow grooves or are eager for fresh gossip. So everyone, without exception, wanted to know why I was “scared” to live with my son. I had not mentioned my son! The inference was wrong and born of deliberate misinterpretations.

I shook my head and smiled wondering how could they dig for gossip and create mountains out of non-existent mole-hills endlessly; year after year. But many people thrive on malicious, irresponsible natter.

I wanted to answer their queries but I could not understand why I was using such a strong term for my apprehensions. I wasn’t able to put my finger on the reason for my fear.

Why was I scared?

It isn’t in my nature to be scared of traveling to a new, unknown territory. Nervous, perhaps, but frightened? No! It was definitely too strong a word to describe what I was feeling about my pending travel.

I made sure to shoot down the insinuations and gave all the practical reasons I had to feel nervous about.

I was closing home in India. Everything I had worked for and built laboriously and lovingly through the years was gone. I would have no home to return to. No place to call my own. I had left myself bereft of all options. Wasn’t that a scary situation? It certainly did sound like one to some who agreed while others directed their minds elsewhere. But here’s the thing… I still wasn’t sure if this was the reason why I was scared!

One month later, with the benefit of hindsight, I realized it must have been intuition. (You can read about it here.) I had been begging Ranjit to let me stay in India for three or four months more. I wasn’t comfortable with the haste. There were many questions that were either not being answered to my satisfaction or answered too soon.

Four weeks later, of which three I’ve spent being in a refugee status, stressed and in nervous tension, I know why I was positively scared to come here. I’m isolated; physically, emotionally, spiritually… I cannot get through to my own.

But, surprisingly, the Chileans can feel my anxiety. They have been warm and supportive. Friends and strangers alike have extended encouraging moral support. Yet, Chile has been scary and terrifying in spite of the warmth and help extended by the hospitable people in Viña del Mar.

I want to fly out to Canada where my other son lives! That had been a part of my travel plans. In fact, I wanted to stay back longer in India to apply for my visa.

The latest information that was conveyed to me yesterday was that I wouldn’t be able to go to Canada from here. My return ticket had been booked by the company. So if I did not use it, my son would have to bear the cost of the same! He asked if the destination could be changed to Canada. They said it couldn’t.

Both my boys were okay with that thinking they would get my visa and I could meet my first and only grandchild in Canada. So bearing the cost of the cancellation didn’t seem to matter.

Before they conveyed their decision to the company, we found out that a particular document, necessary for my Canadian visa, was in the vernacular. We had to translate it in English and get it notarized by a government-certified notary. As luck would have it, I hadn’t submitted my visa application, yet. Thank God for that!

Getting a document translated from Hindi to English in Chile would have been impossible. At least now, I can think of returning to India! I’ll present my documents to the embassy there.

Many important details were not checked earlier making things difficult not only for me but the others too! I was to come here to settle for good as a dependent. Now, my son finds out that will not be possible as birth certificates of both mother and child must prove the biological relationship. This means that both the certificates must have the child’s name too.

Well, at the time of my birth and that of my sons, birth certificates did not carry the name of the child. Children, in India, were named formally only after a month or two. So it would mention a girl child or boy child born to so-and-so at such-and-such place, on such-and-such date and time. And this is how ours were too!

I’m sure I’ve made my point clear about my intuition of “scary” situations turning up with all the haste. I remember telling my son that they were “jumping to X, Y, Z before going through A, B, C.” Well, short-sightedness has taken its toll.

Granted the earthquake of this magnitude could not have been anticipated, but the quakes and tremors situation is constant. Problems coming up concerning me being left alone almost all the time should have been anticipated. The problem of language and communication should have been considered. My need for entertainment and company is real and should have been thought about. That I’d be a part of their outings, if not all the time, then quite often until I settled in properly was also an obvious given; a situation that should have been anticipated. These are predictable situations. Previous knowledge grants that this isn’t the best place to leave me alone at this time.

That’s the mood Saturday sees me in; despondent and disappointed. But one must go with the flow… always. I’m in God’s hands and though I might feel let down at times, that’s not the permanent attitude. My sons are trying to do the best they can and I appreciate all that they are doing. It’s just that they are too headstrong to listen to reason at times. I still have hope. God will show us the way where there seems to be no way… it’s only ten past one in the afternoon. I have a long day ahead of me!

That’s me venting and I’m done.

Early morning, Ranjit and I went to see the house on 15 Norte. It is beautiful. The houses here are on a rocky hill and made in the terraced style where the houses are built along the slope of the hill and do not rise up in one perpendicular block. So it seems to be a hill of jutting terraces and the terrace gardens add to the beauty.

Although it is smaller than the present apartment, it is well-planned to provide sufficient space for a neat living-dining room, a small but adequately-planned kitchen, two bedrooms, bathrooms, and a good-sized walk-in wardrobe. They have selected the furniture with taste keeping the limited space in mind. The best part of the house is the terrace in front. Location is also great; sea-facing, the view is simply amazing. But there are some hitches.

Like most rented apartments in this area, the apartment is on rent for only ten months; from March to December. This means another change of house at the end of the year. That’s the minor snag.

The major issue is, it’s on the 4th level. Being built on an incline, each level has more steps and more flights of stairs than the previous one, according to the floor they’re on; less on level one and more added as you progress to the higher levels. So this one is ruled out.

Back in the guesthouse, the other mom staying here was trying to ask me something. The only word I could comprehend was “problema.” 

What now, I thought while I threw up my hands and shook my head and smiled a helpless smile, hoping she’d understand that the only problem was that I couldn’t get a word of what she was saying.

She caught on and indicated that I should wait until she got her son, Mauricio, on the phone. Now I was sure she had a major problem and was keen to know if it involved me.

As it turned out, she was getting her friends over for lunch and wanted to know if that would be a problem for me. And, if necessary, she would call off the lunch. How considerate and kind of her to make that offer!

I told her son that since I was, at the time of speaking, a permanent fixture at the dining table, I’d be the problem to his mother and her friends. And since I was in the mood to write, I had no time limits. I could close shop in ten minutes or continue till the evening. So, if the group could carry on around me, it was fine with me. This brought an overly demonstrative response of gratitude from the mom who hugged and kissed me profusely!

Anyway, neither of us had to bother about it. The Indian group, comprising us, had a lunch of rajma-chawal and after a short nap left to pick up my track pants and buy some stuff for the house. The other mom’s guests hadn’t arrived until then! That’s when I learned that lunch ‘parties’ in Chile started very late… late afternoon; actually early evening! By the time I returned to the guesthouse at six in the evening the guests were leaving. What a relief!

I thought it had worked out fine for all concerned. But that was the forethought. Once again I have to remind you that ‘relief’ isn’t a long-term companion in Chile. I walked into the apartment to find there were still more people in the house and although I hoped against hope they would leave, they didn’t. 🙂 

But I didn’t mind that… much! (Read more about that here Chile Diary-12)

 

Glossary

Rajma…………… Rajma is red kidney beans. It’s cooked with spices and tomatoes to make a thick gravy dish which is usually eaten with rice.

Chawal………… rice.

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Glossary 

Rajma-chawal………….Rajma is red kidney beans cooked with spices and tomatoes to make a thick gravy which is usually eaten with rice (Chawal)

Perfect Moments

I call myself, the chef-on-the-run. No, I’m not a professional chef I’m a home cook! Do I get a kick out of calling myself a chef…No, I get a kick out of calling myself a chef on the run! I love to cook and when I’m cooking I prefer to be alone in the kitchen. If anyone wants to hang out with me they’ll have to listen to the music/songs I’m listening to or hear me singing or watch whatever it is I’m watching, spasmodically. I can make a few comments…crack a joke or two…but I just don’t do chatter, gossip, or grumble when I cook. There have been times I’ve had some company that I had to tolerate…but fortunately, those times have been rare. I get to decide, in the kitchen, how much conversation is enough, and what topic is discussed. Happy, witty, humorous is always more welcome. But all said and done I’m happiest working in my kitchen alone. Those are perfect moments for me.

Mornings usually see me in a rush. I have deadlines to meet…and not only in the kitchen. Diet restrictions to adhere to for the chef herself, two little girls, and/or anyone else in the house. Add to that the challenge to not get boring with repetitive meals. I need to be alone and not disturbed.

These days, however, I have umpteen interruptions. Many conversations that run from ‘serious’ concerns to funny, silly singing. There are little dance sessions or calisthenics…and through all this I juggle with spoons, forks, ladles, frying, sauteing, boiling, chopping, grating, whisking…but thankfully not burning anything…yet! And do I hate it? Do I get upset by it? Do I chase out the interrupters? My answer is an emphatic  – No!

Some days back, I had to make a yakhni for a Chicken Yakhni Pulao, boil & peel baby potatoes to make a herb potato vegetable dish, and there was cucumber to be grated and squeezed of extra juices to make a yogurt based relish. This meant grinding some things, tempering too and cutting the chicken to the right size. Not much if one starts working in time. Remember, I work with deadlines. But, I didn’t start in time! That meant – absolutely no interruptions.

So, in keeping with Murphy’s Law, I had an extra dose of them!

This pic will bear testament to what was happening…I was cutting onions into a pot on the fire…at least, I thought I was, my eyes weren’t on what I was doing.

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I was totally involved with a serious job of “putting the babies to sleep!”…listening and commenting on reports of “babies making stinky poo,” and  on “changing babies’ diapers.” Then there was the question of whether to apply “vaseline,” or “oil!” One advocated vaseline and the other oil. This is just an example of one interruption. There were many more of those. But you have to pay attention when two-year-old, actually 27 mths, girls ask you for advice! Or want you to approve of what they’re doing…especially with their babies! And trust me, it takes some time to answer the same questions twice and answer twice you must!

I wouldn’t have it any other way. These are the perfect moments of my day. These interruptions are actually memories in the making. Precious memories I wouldn’t have if I didn’t allow some onions to fall outside the pot, or turn off the fire to pick up two little, curious girls to show them what was cooking. To allow them to touch and smell or taste what I was cutting. To answer their queries patiently. And play hide-and-seek every time one calls out, “Where is Amaara?” Or “Where is Miraaya?” Or doing a hop, skip, and jump to some rhyme…even becoming the “Fi, Fie, Fo Fum” monster who wants to eat someone’s “tum-tum.” Let the deadline hang over my head…let the half chopped veggies lie on the board…let the broccoli steam a bit more (I’ll puree it for soup) I must go stomping after two little, squealing girls to devour their tum-tums!

But the deadlines threaten! I ask the twins for respite…no, I beg for respite and “two minutes” of rest. They permit it repeating after me, “two minutes rest. Dada’s tired,” to stress the time limit. Sure enough, they’re back again. However, I’ve managed to do quite a bit in those ‘two minutes’ which were actually thirty minutes! Thank god they have no sense of time as yet and can’t read a clock! This time, they open the lower cupboards and forage for strainers. They know exactly which cupboard, of the two, and which shelf they’d find them. Soon, I had two “astronauts” strutting about in my kitchen, ready to take-off to the moon. I facilitated ‘take-off’ and they zoomed off to the moon. If I thought I had bought a significant amount of time with that, I couldn’t be more wrong. Both were back in a split second.

“What now?” I ask.

“Dada, make you a Super Baby,” demanded Amu.

“Mia also,” the other one quips.

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I heave a sigh, walk out of the kitchen to get those ‘SUPER’ stickers that would change my babies into ‘Super Babies’ so they could fly to the moon! Three small circles of red, blue, and yellow do their magic and they zoom off again. I hoped they’d stay on the moon for the day…in vain!

One came zooming back shouting that she didn’t want to go to the moon. So I asked her where she wanted to go.

“You want to go to Jupiter,” she announced seriously.

So, I agreed that was a good choice and sent her off to Jupiter. If you’re wondering about their knowledge of planets…thanks to Bob the Train and his planet adventures on youtube!

Finally, I was free to finish off with the cooking and all that was left to do was clean up. But I shouldn’t have bothered. The space travellers returned without their astronaut headgear and I ordered them out as I wanted to clean up. They dashed out. That was fast. I was impressed. I should have known better…

They were back in a jiffy with their brooms (their mom had bought them the whole cleaning paraphernalia – brooms, mops, the floor brush etc to keep them away from the big ones :D) and quickly identified the dirty areas.

“Here, let’s clean up the floor.” Mia takes control.

“Yes, let’s clean up,” echoes Amu.

“Amu, there’s a carrot,” Mia directs her.

“You cleaning a leaf,” replies Amu intent on a piece of spinach. They usually use “you” when they mean “I.”

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I grab my phone and click a pic! My work was done for now. The floor was never my job anyway…the cleaning woman was in the house!

Grand-daughters are such a delight!

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She Hustles While She Waits

“Hurry up darling, give me a fresh towel.”

“In a minute Raj, here you are Honey.” She smiles and turns to go back to the kitchen, where an omelette was getting cooked in the pan…did she lower the heat? Better run!

“Mom! Are you listening, I can’t find my white socks….I told you not to tidy my room”

“Okay baby, I’ll remember. Your socks are in the second drawer on the left-hand side.” She said on the go and was just in time to take the omelette out of the fry-pan before it burned and place it on a plate. Now for the filling, and she stretches her hand to pick up the grated cheese…..

“Sweetheart, where’s the blue tie, the one with the diagonal stripes?”… the cheese can wait, run baby run.

“It’s right here Raj, with all the ties.” She makes a dash for the doorway, “while you’re at it please keep a fresh handkerchief out too, Baby,” grinned her husband.

“Sure Hon.” She takes out a hanky and makes good her escape.

Back in the kitchen…she moves like a whirlwind getting packed lunch and breakfast ready for the family. Omelette and hot buttered toasts for Raj, banana pancakes, cornflakes and milk for Kirit, lunch packets for both, green tea and a cheese- marmalade sandwich for herself.

“Darling, I’m running late today, could you hurry up and give me my breakfast,” said Raj as he sat down at the table and opened the newspaper.

“Hi Mom, can I skip cornflakes today?”

“No.”

“What’s the big deal?”

“You’re a growing boy and you need proper nourishment. That’s the big deal.”

“Can I have an omelette too”

“NO!”

“But why not?”

“Just in case you have forgotten you have a working mom. That’s why.”

“So…..?”

“So I don’t have the time to whip up an egg and…”

“Chill Mom, I don’t want an egg, I’ve had my cornflakes anyway,” laughs Kirit. She gives him a whack, which he dodges and runs off to the bus stop.

“Darling just listen to this.”

“I can’t sweetheart, I need to hurry too.”

“Babes, you’re going to end up getting sick, if you stress this way. Relax.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that Hon,” she zips off to change.

“Hey, you didn’t even kiss me,” she hears him calling out.

“If you can wait fifteen minutes you’ll get it,” she calls back. She hears the door close and the car start up. She’s dressed and dashes off to the stop where the office cab picks her up every day. After a few minutes she realizes the cab isn’t coming…a quick call to the office confirms her worst fear…she’s late and has missed her cab by five minutes. Got to get a taxi, she thinks and begins to walk. The taxi stand is a good ten-minute walk.

“You’re late Neera.”

“I’m sorry sir. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she smiles managing to be apologetic and charming!

“Hurry Neer, we have to be in the conference hall in ten minutes,” Andy whispers.

“I’ll be right there, you get going,” she quickly brushed her hair checked her lipstick and picked up her laptop and a few notes she had scribbled on the way. As she walked to the conference hall she felt a nervous tension building up. She was to make a presentation for a very big company. It was a big deal and meant a lot for the company. Her mobile rings.

“Hi Sweets forgot to tell you, we’ll be having guests over for dinner. Think of some nice Mughlai dishes, and let me know what you need, I’ll get it for you on the way back.”

“Yes Raj, but you should have told me earlier.”

“Sorry baby, you know how tied up I am with work. You’re great, you’ll manage.”

She’s at the door of the conference room, she pauses, takes a deep breath and says, “Here I am Lord. I give myself to you, what I am and what I’m not….take my ‘natural’ self and add your ‘Super’ to it…..I need it.” And she enters the room with a small smile on her face, exuding utter confidence and calmness, as one who is sure of victory.