…the eternal dreamer


Musical Monday

Today is just random music day. (primarily because I am trying to get back to being regular here and it’s almost end of the day!)

One of those songs that we’ve been listening to regularly in the car these days is Aathi ena nee from Kathi. I know, the avid Anirudh hater that I am, I am forced into hearing this song by the son. (On a related but completely shattered note, he seems to like a lot Anirudh songs. **sniffs**) Anyway, I kind of like this song too. It has a nice breezy song vibe, thanks to Vishal Daldani and Anirudh’s vocals.

So, the next one is one of my recent addictions although an old song. Satru munbu from Nee Dhane En Ponvasantham. Such an intense song it is. NSK Ramya’s vocals is the highlight of the song. And those violins.. Raaja is a genius. One of those films where I really really liked Samantha. Sigh.

Sean Roldan’s Mundasuppatti has some phenomenal songs. (I’ve actually listed two of them here) But today will see Idhu enna from the same film. There is so much emotion in that song; it feels like music is talking to us even in the interludes. (Trivia – Did you know that Sean Roldan’s maternal grandpa is the Tamil writer Sandilyan?!) Anyway, the song becomes even more beautiful ‘cos of Haricharan’s vocals. Whattay voice!

I know I’ve written about this film here. But I haven’t posted any songs from it yet. What blasphemy when the music from Santhosh is as good as it can get. Vaadi Raasaathi from 36 vayadhinile. There’s an earthiness about this song; especially the vocals by Lalitha Vijayakumar. That conversational part in the middle when she goes.. ‘thambi trumpetu… enna pa idhu’, it makes me giggle every time. The lyrics of this song (apparently by lyricist Vivek) hits home like anything.

Potta Pulla Poga Ulagam Paathai Pottu Vaikkum
Muttu Santhu Paathu Antha Roadu Poi Nikkum
Padankaattum Emaathi
Kalangaatha Raasaathi

Also Jothika❤

And then the last, like I’ve already said, my recent addiction.. Chennai 2 Singapore. Last week, I’d posted a super melody. This week is quite the opposite. Texas Pogiren. This song took quite some time to get me. But when it did, it became a ‘on-a-loop’ song. It’s such a funky number with such funky lyrics. The way it ends with the baby crying is hilarious. Gibran FTW.

Hope you like them!🙂


Conversations around food

So, I have two opposites in the house. (What’s new, anyway!) More so, when it comes to food. One likes blandest of the bland food; the other likes pretty spicy food. You know which ones’ which! One likes pizza; one hates pizza. One can eat junk food everyday; one likes to go on a thachchi mammu diet for eternity. Well.. In this line of opposites, we have this.. One is trying hard to convince me to let him try meat; the other goes yuck when such an argument ensues. I’ve been putting off the meat eating request for years now.

I’ve been a vegetarian from birth. Slowly, I started eating eggs but somehow couldn’t get to eating meat, although I had ample opportunities and complete freedom at home. I can’t even pin point a reason for it. It’s the similar case with the husband. My brother started eating meat when he was in college. He was a meat eater until about a year ago and then suddenly stopped for reasons best known to him.

All I am trying to say is I am not averse to the son eating meat. Then, why am I putting off his request? Simply because I want him to be old enough to be able to think about why he wants to eat meat and the moral implications (if he feels there are any!) about it. His deadline is sixteen. ‘When you are sixteen and are able to drive, you can go ahead and decide whether to be a vegetarian or not.’ That’s the standard response he gets. But that doesn’t deter him from trying to convince me every once in a while. And I do humor him for sometime and then go back to utter the standard ‘when you are sixteen…’ phrase.

Now, let’s talk about the other. Whenever there is a meat conversation or a meat picture or a meat anything, the daughter goes ‘oh yuck’. This is a new reaction of hers that has developed over the last year or so. Which I obviously don’t endorse. While I tried to figure out where this came from, I realized it was that her group of friends in school are vegetarians who apparently are not comfortable around meat eaters. I kept telling her that differentiating people based on food choices is a big no-no but somehow her reaction hasn’t changed much.

Last week when one conversation began about a neighbor’s food choices, I grabbed the opportunity to reason out with her (both of them actually!)

Ma.. D’s dad eats everything, you know.. Anything that walks or swims or crawls.. Everything. D and her mom are vegetarians though. D said she doesn’t like her dad because he eats meat.

Isn’t that wrong? I mean, not liking her dad just because he eats meat?

Yeah. But eating meat is wrong too no, Ma? We are hurting animals right?

Okay. Do you like eggs?


If no one in the world ate eggs at all, then these eggs could’ve been left to hatch by the hens. They might’ve given birth to a chicken. Which means, you might be effectively killing a chicken even before it came in there?

Okay.. I’ll stop eating eggs then.

Right. So you drink milk, right?

Yes. I love milk.

So, where does milk come from?


Right. So cows have milk only for their calves. But we actually force them to give it to us so that us, human beings, can have milk.

(At this point, we did do a short detour and spoke about how blood turns into milk which in turn led to talking about breast milk and lactating mothers and all.. but I’ll censor it for the sake of our sanity!)

Then, I’ll not drink milk too.

Okay.. Which means, you shouldn’t have anything made from milk.


Butter. Ghee. Cheese. Paneer. More importantly, curd.

She went silent for a while. I know how much she loves curd. Slowly, she uttered a not-so-convincing yes.

Do you know plants have life too? They breathe, remember?

Yeah. They give us oxygen and they breathe in carbon di oxide. We’ve learnt in Brain Pops.

Which means, you are killing the plants to have your vegetables and fruits and grains. Aren’t you?

**sighs** We kill too? So, what do we eat then?

Exactly why I say you shouldn’t mock at the food choices of anyone. Others have a choice to eat what they want just like how you have your own. So never say yuck at anyone’s food, alright?

And well.. it’s been a week now since we had this sermon and it’s too early to know if the advice has been heeded to. I hope it will be of some use. I really hope!


Musical Monday

It’s been so long and I’ve been missing this space like anything. I’ve been framing so many posts in my head but somehow none of them have made it here. So finally here I am with my most trusted blogger’s block breaker – Music.

I just ran a search through the blog with keyword as ‘Kabali’ and it came back with a ‘no results found’ breaking my heart into pieces. Kabali is an album that spells Santhosh more than Rajni and that is the success of the man (Santhosh I mean!) It’s not just the album, the entire OST is brilliant and quirky in equal measure just like any other Santhosh OST. I love love the entire album.

When the soundtrack first came out, Neruppu da was the one that kept me hooked. It does keep me hooked even now but now I am unable to decide which of the five songs is my favorite. But because I am the eternal melody fan, I think I will go with Maya Nadhi today. (I will sure come back with the rest later!) Also, because Pradeep and Ananthu and Shwetha Mohan.. Whattay trio! Also I love the guitar and violin portions in the middle; so much Santhosh and so not him! Also, Umadevi’s lyrics..

‘Neer vazhiye meengalai pol
En uravai naanizhanthen
Nee irunthum nee irunthum
Oru thuravai naanadainthen’

And this –
‘Desamellam aalugindra
Oru padaiyai naan adainthen
Kaalam enum veeranidam
En kodiyai naan izhanthen

Manaloorum mazhaiyaai
Madimeedhu vizha vaa vaa
Anai meerum punalaai
Maar saaindhu azhavaa’

And also Thalaivar and Radhika Apte’s acting in this song and the beautiful way in which the entire song was filmed. This will be a favorite song of mine for eternity!

But Thalaivar film means how can I stop with just one song. The next is Ulagam Oruvanukka. THE best opening song for Thalaivar in a long time. That Rajni Swag is evident in lyrics, music and the way it has been filmed. And that whistle by Vijay narain… Ppaaaah level only!

So well, I ran a search for Acham enbadhu madamaiyada and it came up only with Sid Sriram’s Thalli Pogathey. That album is another not-so-recent addiction of mine. I love love the songs except of course the highly questionable Showkali. (Is that even a song of ARR calibre?) Anyway, today will see not one but two songs from AYM.

First one is Rasaali. Simply because Sathya Prakash. Man, his voice.**swoons** The way he effortlessly moves the sogn from a light number to the classical athi thiru part!❤ Also, Saasha Tripathi. I loved her rendition of Naane Varugiren from OK Kanmani (Again with that mesmerizing chinnanchiru chinnanchiru bit from Sathya!) In this song though, she outdoes herself with that Ninnukori part. Win from ARR!

One more song from AYM, just for the lyrics. You must’ve known by now. Avalum Naanum. Vijay Yesudas’ rendition is so romantic and melodic. Sigh. So is the violin bit in the middle. It’s the best in recent times. ARR has brought the old world charm beautifully well. But what takes the song to greater heights is the lyrics. Bharathidasan.

Aarum Karaiyum
Ambum Villum
Paatum Uraiyum
Naanum Avalum

Naanum Avalum
Uyirum Udambum
Narambum Yaazhum
Poovum Manamum.

So much love just reading the lyrics no?

Okay… These are all older songs. One new album that I am getting addicted to is Gibran’s Chennai2Singapore. Only after listening to the album did I realize how much I had missed Gibran’s music. There’s just so much variety in this album and each song is wonderful in its own way. But because I am partial toward melody, today I’ll post Suthasini’s version of Pogathey. (The Rajan Chelliah’s version of the same song is so so different and yet the same.. needless to say, it’s brilliant!)  Please do listen to this album.. it’s such a fun album!

That’s it for today. What are you listening to this Monday?


Sport… in India

My husband has his headphones plugged in. I know what he’s watching on his computer. When the entire world is talking about Simone Biles and Usain Bolt, he’s busy following the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis. Unplugging his headphones, ‘Anand is tied at second place’, he calls out. ‘Who’s leading?’, I ask. ‘A new chap named So Wesley’, he says and plugs his headphones back.

I open twitter. There’s outrage as usual. Olympics is the flavor of the day. A viral meme pops up on my screen. ‘Who are we?’ ‘Indians’. ‘What do we want?’ ‘Olympic medals’. ‘What do we want our children to be?’ ‘Doctors and Engineers’. I smile at the stick figures in the meme. They look funny. I close the app and get to making dinner.

As I cut the vegetables, the meme flashes again in my head. ‘What do we want our children to be?’ ‘Doctors and Engineers’. I get reminded of the three giant carton boxes back home in India filled with trophies and cups and shields from the husband’s chess playing days. When we were there this time, my dad took them out of the loft and asked what he should do with them. The husband and I looked at each other. What’s there to be done with them? ‘Nothing. Let them be. Let them remain in the carton boxes.’

The meme gets into my head again. ‘What do we want our children to be?’ ‘Doctors and Engineers’. I remember a conversation that took place eight years ago. With my mother-in-law. She was showing me newspaper clippings of the various times the husband’s name had appeared in there. I was a new proud wife then. ‘Why did he let this all go, ma?’, I remember asking in genuine confusion. ‘Once he finished college, Appa and I spoke to Venkat. It was his time to choose. He had to decide whether to begin taking chess seriously as a profession. Or give it all up and pursue Chartered Accountancy. We left the choice to him. He thought about it and chose the latter. Simply because there wasn’t enough funding to pursue chess full time. Appa was a mere government employee. How much could he afford?’

I recall the time we were at a chess academy run by the husband’s friend. In a narrow lane in KK Nagar is a three storyed house. One of the floors is converted into a chess learning center. About fifty odd kids are all sitting in pairs with chess boards in front of them. Two coaches go around supervising these kids. I sit there looking around the place when one of the coaches suddenly comes in front to make an announcement. ‘Listen.. Silence!’, he screams. A hushed silence falls over the room. He introduces a small boy of about twelve to the room. ‘Our academy’s Ravi has won the first place in the chess tournament held in his school.’ Everyone applauds. The child’s face beams in pride. I sit there wondering how far this child will go in chess.

We are talking to this friend who runs the academy. ‘This is just my small way of giving back to the chess fraternity’, he says. He juggles a day job and this chess academy. ‘There’s nothing guaranteed in chess. Or for that matter any sport. So many of our friends thought chess was their life and didn’t pursue any higher education. But, the money they made out of chess was not enough to fend for themselves. And they didn’t have enough education to turn to. They were trapped. They are trapped!’

I continue with my dinner preparation. The stoves are working in full swing and so is my head. I think of a school senior. Priya. She was the sports captain of our school. A gymnast par excellence. Once, she welcomed a chief guest to our sports day by cartwheeling from one end of the ground to the other all the while holding flowers in one hand. I wonder what she’s doing now. I wonder what she thinks about Dipa’s Produnova.

The image of Athirai pops up in my head. A college mate who was in college on sports quota. I recall how every day during attendance, we were supposed to mutter ‘sports ma’am’ once her name was called. Athirai was an athlete who won laurels for our college. She was in the national team for a while. I wonder what she’s doing now. I wonder if she’s following the journey of Lalita Babbar at Rio.

I am done with the dinner prep. The kitchen counters are wiped clean and I settle down on the couch. ‘You remember I have a tournament this weekend, right?’ That’s a question from the husband that usually makes me frown. Weekend’s gone, I used to crib. Not this time. I smile and nod. The husband looks startled at my reaction. ‘Let’s do the groceries on Friday, then.’ He goes back to practicing his endgames on the computer. I open Twitter again. That meme is still floating around. ‘Who are we?’ ‘Indians’. ‘What do we want?’ ‘Olympic medals’. ‘What do we want our children to be?’ ‘Doctors and Engineers’. I look at the stick figures. I don’t smile at them this time. They don’t look all that funny anymore.


On Fitness

So the last time I wrote about fitness, it was a crib fest. Even while I realized how much I was lagging behind in exercising, my son was making it clear my tummy was growing at an astronomical pace by constantly asking if it was a girl or boy inside. That’s when I decided enough was enough.

I hit the gym. With a vengeance. For about two months (March and April, to be precise) I was at the gym for one hour solid every damn day. No weekends. No excuses whatsoever. Even when the kids had their spring break, I would be at the gym from six in the morning and be back home before the husband left for work. I started off with the treadmill but found it a little difficult to up the pace in there. So I switched to the elliptical. There were days when I would increase the level to twenty and burn more than a thousand calories. Cycle, Surya Namaskar at home, a half completed abs challenge.. Those two months were the best months as far as fitness was concerned. I did lose about four kilos in those two months.

In two months, the initial euphoria vanished. And gym became a mundane activity. Yes, I was still going to the gym but not everyday. Four days a week which was still okay. When one fine day, I realized how pleasant the weather had become. And so began walking with a friend.

We began walking about two miles every day. And then while exploring our neighbourhood we realized a round trip which was exactly 4.85 miles was making us feel nice. But we couldn’t do it everyday. So three days a week was this trip and the remaining two were either rest days or two mile walks. Unlike the gym, this didn’t burn much calories but it did give a lot of freshness to my mornings.

Right now, I am in Madras (Happiness update – Brother is getting married! Yay!) and gorging on food like anything. I’ve already had half a dozen kalayana sapads (Happiness update 2 – kid cousin got married a couple of weeks ago! Yay!) and awaiting a dozen or more already. These two months aren’t going to do any good to my fitness and honestly, I don’t seem to care about it as much as I thought I would. I will sure go back to my base and begin the long walks and gym routine.

Over the last few months, this is what I learnt (and followed) about fitness –

– Diet is a big no-no for me. When I learnt about the brother’s wedding, I wanted to reduce weight as quickly as I could. So for a while I went on a no-rice diet and started craving rice like anything. Then, I went on a no sweets diet and started craving sweets like anything. All this craving only left me cranky and unhappy. Fat and happy sounded a better deal at the wedding than thin and unhappy. Which meant, I kicked these ‘diets’ out of my life.

– Our medical insurance was lapsing in the month of Febrary and so the husband insisted I get a full physical done. I reluctantly got it done (because I was super scared about my TSH and sugar levels) but when these came up normal, I was super elated. Yes.. I did want to lose weight to ‘look nice’ but beyond that bit of shallowness, I wanted to lose weight because I am genetically diabetic prone. When the medical results were in the positive, I realized exercising to keep fit and put ourselves through suffering to lose weight are two different things. I stopped doing the latter.

– We (as a family) started having dinner early. As early as 6.30 PM. Which meant, the gap between lunch and dinner reduced and we were able to eat moderate quantities of food instead of stuffing an overly hungry stomach. Plus, it did give us ample enough time between dinner and bed-time. Eating dinner this early didn’t make us hungry before bed as we thought it would. (Rarely, the husband would feel hungry and would grab some fruits before bed time and that’s it!)

– I stopped thinking about weight all the time. Or talking about it. Or comparing myself with others. Or making my happiness depend on it. At my cousin’s wedding, one relative looked at me and said, ‘you know.. you’ve become ‘healthy’. Apparently, healthy is PC for ‘losing weight’. I laughed him off. When I went to invite a friend’s mom for brother’s wedding, she couldn’t recognize me for sometime. ‘Auntie.. I am Indu’, I screamed. ‘I know’, she said, ‘I am just getting used to a plumper Indu’, she said. I laughed her off too. I am the same me but different people look at me differently. For some, I am fat. For some, I am not. For me, I’ve stopped caring about ‘looking healthy’; but am sure I’ll never stop caring about ‘being healthy’.


How we learnt to read!

(Over the last few days, I’ve been having this immense pang to get back to blogging but somehow have been lazy to put my thoughts to words. Today, when I saw RS and R’s Mom (Yay! She’s back!) put up posts on kids getting adjusted to new education systems, I thought I should at least cross-post my experience which I wrote for IMC here. I promise (more to myself) that I’ll get back to full-time blogging in some time!)


First some background. A year ago, when the kids were six, we moved from India to the US. I know a lot of Indian kids who’ve moved and are doing really well at school here. But, I was super worried. Because we just didn’t move countries; we were moving from alternate education system to a mainstream one. We were moving from Waldorf education system to IB. Waldorf emphasizes on physical fitness and rhythm over the first six years. There are no ‘books’ until first grade except for free drawing and painting. They begin reading, writing only capital letters and a bit of math only in the first grade. (Well.. How much I miss Waldorf is for a separate post altogether!) So, that’s what we moved with into the first grade – no reading; no writing; no math. Well.. Let me focus on reading in this post. Basically, how we learnt to read.

How we began

The first month into grade one was intimidating; no not for the kids, but for me. We sat everyday for an hour or so after school learning the phonics. Being a technologically averse parent that I am, I wasn’t too comfortable dealing with apps for reading. So, we learnt phonics the old-fashioned way. There was always a doubt in my mind about whether I was teaching them the right things and in the right way. That’s when serendipity intervened.

I met someone at a local temple here. We got talking about reading and kids. Bob books are great, she said, but didn’t quite work with her kids because they read a word just based on the first few letters and more often than not, they guessed the word; sometimes wrongly. She suggested a book called ‘Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons’. That book is my savior. That book is my reading bible.

What the books says

The book says that parents need to sit with the child 20 minutes every day but probably because we started way late (at age six, the biggest advantage the kids have over say kids of age three, is that their comprehension levels are much much higher), we were able to do two lessons in half an hour. That is, for the first few lessons at least which were pretty short.

That book introduces phonics in a step by step manner letting the kids absorb what’s being taught. The rules for groups of letters are given clearly and emphasised over two or three lessons. We took about seventy odd days to complete the entire book. Before I began with the book, I was really worried if their basics would go for a toss because they had no formal beginnings to reading. By the end of the book, the kids had progressed a lot from where we began. They were really comfortable with the basic phonics sounds.

What I learnt!

We are at the end of grade one now and both the kids are now almost on par with their peers. There are few things I learnt from this entire process of teaching the kids to read –

– Different kids have different comprehension and learning speeds. I’ve realized that I truly believe in what the Waldorf system of education emphasizes. That, each child will learn at their own pace and what we need is patience. The initial 4 months saw the daughter go up only 3 reading levels. Subconsciously, I started worrying a lot about her not catching up with the standards set. But, over the next two months, she jumped 5 reading levels stunning both us and her teachers. Teaching them read taught me patience.

– There’s a mistake I committed which I did correct in some time; but still I regret making it. I made the daughter read books which was a couple of levels higher than her reading level. I thought that would help her learn to read faster. But all that it resulted was in her getting frustrated. I learnt it was best to make her read books she could comfortably read and boost her confidence.

– Flash cards helped a little. But my problem with flash cards was that as soon as they saw the first or the first two letters, they assumed a word in mind and blurted it out, sometimes wrongly. But then, one way in which the flash cards helped was it gave us a fair idea on where the kids stood.

– Libraries. Every weekend along with groceries, we would invariably visit the library too. The kids got to pick and choose the books they wanted. Somehow, choosing their own books made them want to read them. They labored with a lot of books they chose even though they were difficult to read.

– Reading. Reading to them. Reading myself. Letting the house be filled with books. When they kept seeing books and people who kept reading, the probability of the kids wanting to read increased.

My Yay Moment

Last week, when we were on our regular trip to the grocers, the daughter who usually cribs, grabbed a book from home and sat herself on the cart. She was reading aloud in the store and asking us for help in deciphering difficult words. We did receive a few stares but I fended off those with a proud grin. My daughter was enjoying her book!

Yes, there are days when we don’t want to touch a book, but I live for days like the one at the store. And I keep hoping that one day all our days will turn out like this!



Dear Ammu and Kuttan,

I know we are already on a mushy letters overload. I still write this because it’s a tradition that I don’t want to miss.

The last one year has been a roller coaster of sorts for all of us with both of you giving us one hell of a ride. (I know I shouldn’t use hell because ‘it’s a bad word, amma’! :p) Newer country. Newer culture. Newer language. Newer style of education. Newer friends. And, you still managed to give your best. While the other first graders started from the start line, the two of you started a few meters behind that line. And yet at end of the year, your teacher wrote that you are ‘exactly where you need to be’ and she is ‘so proud of the both of you’. I sent that teacher’s email to Appa and he replied with ‘after all, both of them are Star Students’. You know, he even used a smiley which he reserves for such ‘big’ events!😉

There are times when I see you struggling with something and I wish I have a magic wand which can make me wrap you and keep you cocooned far away from this big bad world. But, the sane part of me knows that both of you are seven and beeeeg now. It is your time to fly. So go ahead and soar high, my kutties. Let not the sun or the rain deter you!

Happy birthday, little ones!

Lots and Lots of love,