The Scorpios

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Ojas- tomorrow is my birthday?
Me- no, tomorrow is not your birthday
Ojas- mera birthday cancel ho gaya?
has my b'day been cancelled?

"his b'day is on tuesday!''

What has really been worrying them, especially Ojas is that the other set ( of twins ) had their b'day alderry...(already in their language), and their's has not yet come. And everyone seems to be buying stuff for them but not for Ojas and Tejas.
They are also expecting that we will have lots of games but Mamma has other plans this time. In fact she is not even properly planned. No frantic list making. No advance planning. In fact the excuse of a list is made on a post it booklet. And the guest list is pared to a minimum. Therefore the invitations also were done in a jiffy.
And therefore we are ready for the party but there is actually no slogging this time. Basically less of effort because as kids grow, they learn to enjoy themselves as soon as they gather.
The focus will be on learning something and experiencing a different thing and enjoying it too!
So watch this space for more.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Diwali Lights

This time I didn't do too much. Just the bare minimal.
The kids were not so scared of the crackers. Tejas handled the sparklers well. But Ojas was tentative. He fell over a candle too, thankfully he fell in such a way that the candle came between his legs.

Meanwhile, some kids in the building were following the green diwali. So they did not light crackers. Which to my mind is a very welcome initiative.

Terracotta lamp- new release this Diwali- one that I have been wanting for a long time

The Gharaunda

Lazy/ Safe way of lighting sparklers- Line up the sparklers in the soil and light them up and watch them sparkle

Floating lamps in urli of flowers


Floating lamps again

Sent from my Nokia phone

Mobile Milestone

So Ojas has downloaded some game on hus Dad's Blackberry and he has been charged 150 bucks.
He even attempted the same on the iphone and asked- Dadda, what is your password?
Sent from my Nokia phone

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book of Kings, Queens, Emperors and Wart nosed Commoners

History is the written version of our past, which hopefully contains more truth than not- says the author. But whatever it is, whether it is true or false, it sure makes for an interesting reading. And if you care to snuggle them in some corner of your mind you could even spill those pearls of wisdom out at appropriate moments and make an impression on the listener.

It is an A3 size, 350 plus number of pages book written in a comical format, which makes it all the more interesting. In fact I flipped through most of the facts in one sitting.

So do you know how the Danish Prince William discovered he has become King?

Who introduced Golf & Horse Racing to England?

How did Nero manage to get his half brother murdered?

What happens when a non-native fish is brought to a land? How does the equilibrium get disturbed and therefore why was the catch and eat program introduced in Japan?

Whose famous words were- (I am in) no danger, for no man would take away my life to make you king of England!

Whose said _ let them eat cake!

And more such tales from ancient kings and queens. A treasure trove indeed.

Title- Philip Ardagh's Book of Kings, Queens, Emperors and Rotten Wart-Nosed Commoners

Author- Philip Ardagh

Publisher- Macmillan Children's Book

Never Make The First Offer

"On a handshake I have trusted Donald with my Life", this said Tennis star Athur Ashe on Donald Dell, who was handling his publicity.

Donald Dell has a phenomenal reputation in the world of sports marketing. Being a player himself, he has the advantages of being on their side but that's not all about him, He is a master negotiator who knows when to make the first offer and when to keep his mouth shut. Above all, he is gifted with the mental agility and ability of thinking on his feet and thereby turning the tables in his favour against all odds.

In this book, Donald teaches us the various aspects of negotiation, illustrating them via his own experiences and thereby making it less text bookish than it could become.

What came very clearly apart from knowing the theory aspect is that one must never underestimate the power of practicing what one knows, or never ignore the instinct and what your heart tells you.

Donald emphasizes on the power of networking and personal relationship building to further contacts and build word of mouth reputation.

Negotiators do most of what he talks subconsciously but I like the way he uses anecdotes to really bring out theory into practice.

It also gives one insight on the way various people's mind works depending on the situation.

Another important thing he talks of is building trust an striving to maintain he same. For once you lose trust of the opposite person, it is almost impossible to maintain a relationship.

Overall it is a nice ready reckoner to look at to reinforce one's thought process and a good book to pass on to people who are learning the art of negotiation.


I was trying to call Ojas' class teacher and I didn't have her number.
Tejas- mamma, I have N's number. You can call him.
Damn...why didn't I think about it. N's mom is Ojas' class teacher.

But Tejas will not always spell out things for you. Ojas was filling his book label. Asking Tejas what to write as Tejas had filled his, taking some help from me.
In his flow of queries, Ojas, what should I fill.
Tejas- you don't know which school you are going?
Sent from my Nokia phone

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where do we get ghee from

During a story telling session, the story teller asks...
Where do you get milk from
Where do you get ghee, butter, yoghurt from.
Ojas...raising his hand..,.Spencers...
Sent from my Nokia phone


This would be a classic case of fine detection which helps in converging separate incidents towards the end of the book very neatly despite being a jumble.
Frankly I found the Japanese names extremely confusing and had to turn the pages several times to get a grip on them.
Ben is not a common criminal, but what makes him break into a highly secure lab to steal books?
Why is everyone in the story intent to obtain possession of those books?
Satoshi Machita is on the verge of becoming the owner of a patent that is a great medical break through. But there are gliches. He is an illegal immigrant and moreover his life is in grave danger.
Laurie Montgomery is back from her long maternity leave to her job as chief medical officer in the forensic departmentn and is raring to go. When her first case arrives at her desk, it seems to be a clearcut case of natural dearh, but Laurie with her instinct refuses to dismiss it as such. She persists on finding a clear cut pathology but little did she envisage that she was on the verge of triggering a series of incidents that would endanger her son's wellbeing.

But does this deter her resolve to seek justice fir the unidentified body? Apparently not as she beautifully solves the case and the connects the scattered incidents into one large drama that is unfolding.

While the book itself is more than 400 pages, it doesn't take long to cover. It is fast paced with a tight editing but I found the jap names confusing and they would throw me off gear.
Also the case was obvious for the reader but not to the key participants right from the beginning si for the reader it is just a matter if waiting for Laurie to resolvethe case. Which could be disappointing for thriller and detective story fans.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Monday, October 24, 2011

Celebrate- Your Fun Festival Handbook Series- Dussehra & Durga Puja

Launched on the occasion of Dussehra, this handbook brings in the festivities with interesting stories and fun things to do during Dussehra.
The first section contains Durg Puja based stories – Starting from intrigue- the case of the stolen necklace.
Tuli has a fascinating experience during Durga Puja- she has an encounter with her very own Ma Durga.
I particularly liked the story of 8 brothers is based on a folk tale from Bengal, retold in a storytelling format where the listener develops the story in her mind parallely based on her imagination.
In the section- All About Dussehra & Durga Puja- we read through a delightful collection of myths about Durga puja festival including the nine forms of the Goddess, which was very enlightening for me, and the slaying of Mahishasur of course.
We had the bitter sweet story of the Goddess or the daughter coming home for Durga puja and the enlightening – getting to know the Goddess.
The handbook ends with the section of various recipes and craft related to the Durga Puja festival.

The Great People Series- Illustrated Biography

This exciting new series combines biography with storytelling and drama. The all colour illustrations and whacky story telling that starts with a mission of finding something interesting in rummage’s knick knack shop makes the stories delightful and child friendly.
The first 6 titles in the series comprise the following.
Take pictures from the internet for each of the books

Mahatma Gandhi – Anita Ganeri
The story of Gandhiji begin with the discovery of his trademark glasses and a discussion on tidbits about him like- he was scared of the dark and was the youngest of the lot in his family and therefore must have been very pampered!
There is the interesting deliberation on his early marriage that lasted for 62 years and thereafter what he did during the freedom movement including the salt march and his quit India movement that led to the freedom of India.

Mother Teresa- Anita Ganeri
Born as Agnes Bojaaxhiu, Mother Teresa, the Angel of Mercy was born in Macedonia. Mother Teresa formed the famed Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata to tend for the sick, poor and dying.
The story describes the tough life that the sisters followed apart from the service of the poor.
It also traces the making of a Saint according to the Christian laws.

Martin Luther King- Gerry Bailey & Karen Foster
Martin Luther dedicated his life fighting for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden. He is remembered for his powerful speeches apart from his work.
The book describes his difficult life as a black in America and the North South Divide in America after the end of slavery.
Martin Luther’s famous words are immortalized here-
I have a dream… that one day little black boys & girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and girls and sisters and brothers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Gerry Bailey & Karen Foster
Did you know that Mozart wrote the Fantasie in F-Minor for the barrel of a musical clock?
Did you know that Mozart was perhaps killed by a jealous composer.
Did you know that Mozart’s first opera was not a success?
Mozart wasn’t very good with people. Yet he was a brilliant composer , a dancer and a master talent.
Find out more about him in this book

Leonardo da Vinci- Gerry Bailey & Karen Foster

In August 1473, Leonardo made a pen and ink drawing of the Arno valley- it looked real- and nobody had ever worked in this style before. And after that, he never looked back. He was a painter, a sculptor, an inventor and a perfectionist who was never ever satisfied with his work. He was the artist of Monalisa- one of the most famous and the greatest painting since a long time.
William Shakespeare – Gerry Bailey & Karen Foster
The Bard of Avon is recognized as the greatest English playwright of our times. All of us at some point of tine or other must have read the works of Shakespear.
Here’s a chance to know more about his early life and his life work .

The Fatwa Girl

I loved the book cover. Very unique and symbolic to the entire characterisation of the protagonist.

Amina is nicknamed as The Fatwa Girl among those who know her owing to her relentless pursuit to persuade the imam to declare a Fatwa that declares Suicide bombing as a sin. Does she attain success in her mission?
Read on to find out and get caught in whorls that unfold revealing romance against all odds, the tussle between the ideologies of Shias and Sunnis and the ultimate bending to the wishes of the family and still learning to love the new life forgetting the innocent romance that was forced not to blossom.
Amina and Omar join the band the 6 pakis and decide that music is the unifying force that promotes peace, harmony and love. They travel around and play near the madrasas, attempting to influence the students to come out of the teachings of the madrasas and adopt a peaceful way of life.
The characters of Amina and Omar display a very powerful self restraint and maturity with each other. They know that their love is pointless and yet they do not dwell upon the inevitable. They part peacefully and keep in touch via their common link.
Amina is genuinely happy and in love with her husband yet there is a shadow that sometimes crosses her face.
What’s the reason for the shadow?
Does Amina manage to succeed in her dream of a peaceful life?The book moves easily and captures the interest of the reader in the first few chapters. The religious discussion however was prolonged and made my mind wander. Sometimes it felt irrelevant and dogmatic and hindered the movement of the story.

Lead to Win

Lead to Win is written in a handbook format by Harshit who is a first generation entrepreneur and runs a business consultancy called Universal Hunt. This books attempts to document the perspectives on the theory and practice of leadership. It sets thoughts in motion and enables one to be a good leader.
The book covers all topics that reflects or leads to leadership and motivates one to really follow the principles during the course of their daily professional life.
Each page has atleast one quotation that leads one to think and act and imbibe the lessons.
The author expounds the principles of leadership through stories of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and even A R Rahman, underlining their impact on the world.
The book begins with the first principles of leadership, which is – being a leader is being you.
The most important and prime requisite of being a leader is the power of envisioning. Without the vision of where the leader wants to lead the people, it is not possible to lead.
Vision is something that doesn’t allow you to sleep and yet keep you energized next morning.
Therefore, a leader is able to take people where they do not necessarily want to go but ought to go.
Most importantly, the vision of the leader is magnanimous enough to include everyone yet simple enough to make people understand. It is like a slogan that summarises the entire vision of the leader and thereby energises the followers or partners in the vision.
A leader has to be self-motivated, even in the face of failure. A leader competes with oneself and works to surpass oneself.
Continuity is extremely important for the leader to reach his goal. Continuity of efforts and communication of the end objective to one and all.
Another important aspect is the mastering of change and thinking beyond self and capacity to give up power and empower others.

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

While the initiative is quite annoying, the tree hugger in me refuses to feel annoyed and dismayed everytime they charge for the carrybags in the supermarket. As it is I used to be a frugal user of carrybags. I refuse them and rather stuff the purchases in my handbag or straight away dump them in the car if they are few in number. Sometimes I don't refuse the carry bags
as they are recycled till they no longer can be used.
So anyway, the little steps I have taken recently as a conscious effort to recycle without compromising on my larger objective of decluttering are as follows.

1. We have unearthed carrybags from various niches and corners in the house and dumped at least 8 each in every car that we use. I also keep a folded cloth bag permanently in my handbag and have bundled cloth bags in an accessable nook inside my cupboard.

2. To make them convenient to reuse, I have stapled together all one sided papers, letters, circulars, and made them into booklets for the kids to use for painting etc.

3. A friend was mentioning that before throwing anything away, in her mind she always checks avenues for recycling them. I tend to agree that it is a good thing to do but given that in these times we have limit space, and time to do best out if waste exercises, so I either see how the life of that object can be increased. May be I could give it away if it is in usable condition or the best thing is to convert them into kitchen napkins.

I have converted old soft toys into pillows, by stuffing the inner filling into white pillow cases.

Kids clothes are regularly given away to workers and maids.

I find diaries a collossal waste and inconvenient to use as the lines are too narrow. I normally give them away to maids whose children are studying or simply give them to the kids for their scribbling but frankly I don't prefer this as they are in good condition and should be used for organised work.

I preserve cornflakes or cashew foil for packing kids' tiffin boxes.

Old handbags or watch cases can be used as pouches for keeping medicines or cosmetics or equipment like chargers etc.

Old bedsheets in good condition are best guven away as someone out there would find use for it.

4. Simply put I do not buy toys for the kids. Unless it us a musical one. I wait for them to be gifted so that the basic principle of reducing is taken care of.

5. In my book reviewing attempts I have got hold of many books. My aim is to make as many people read them as possible.
If you want to make your kids understand recycling there is a lovely series of books from macaw books on Earth, pollution, recycling etc. Do look out for it. It is done in an interesting storytelling fashion.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yellow is the Colour of Longing

What does the colour Yellow signify for you? Brightness, Sunshine, happiness or just longing? Or perhaps sickness?
Yellow is the story of two people who are caught up in their disease and the incurability of it.
The book is a collection of stories translated from Malayalam, but effectively retain the original Malayalam flavour in the storytelling.
What the Souls do at midnight is the story of a soul that can go across the physical barriers and go for flights of fancy during the night, wicked even.
The story of Krishna is not only symbolic mythically but also reflects the story of the sex racket in Kerala.
A cat, utterly personal is the story a woman who is caught in the web of office politics.
The scent of news is like the chilling story that becomes real as one writes it. This lady can scent news but perhaps fails to scent the news unfolding in her own home.
Alif Laila is hilarious- it reflects the way a hindi serial writer adds situations after situation thereby making the serial go endlessly long!
Out of 15 stories, some left me wondering but those mentioned above are worth a read.

Humour from Hyderabad

This slim volume is a collection of anecdotes from Hyderabad, which includes comedy of errors due to confusion caused by ignorance of the language or general slice of life humour from everyday. One could look at it as a collection of everyday humour from across walks of life.
Be it the trick a husband employs to make his wife place his manuscript in its rightful place or to bring her back from her mom’s place.
Or the confusion, which caused relatives of a girl beat up the wrong teacher and apologise to the teacher they wanted to beat up in the first place.
The funniest one was the way a foreign returned person pronounced important causing a general confusion for the listener or uses “shit” in every sentence. The tale of the lady haggling for rickshaw fare and paying a higher sum because she didn’t know how to count in Telugu is like a déjà vu.
The author also peppers the book with instances of typical Indian situations like a 24 hour café being closed for tea time or the slogan “Jai Telangana” that unites people across.

Little Genius

The kids were playing with a remote controlled helicopter.
And of course a part had to fall off.
Everyone started searching for the part but were unsure about what they were looking for. Our resident genius Tejas gave a bright idea.
Let me bring the book...(manual). We can see how the part looks like.
And yes, the found the part shortly after that.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Boxers

Here come the boxers....courtsey Mausi
Sent from my Nokia phone


The frankie maker takes support on the stack of rotis while making frankies
Sent from my Nokia phone

Lack of Space

What should a baby do if he wants to sleep next to his Bhayia?
Sent from my Nokia phone

The Last Song of Savio de Souza

‘If Savio sings, the angels will flutter their wings’. Such was the confidence that Silvy had in her brother Savio’s voice.
Set in the magical about to be drowned tip of Kerala, the lifetime of Savio is woven around the religious triumvirate of the Church, the Mosque and the Temple. The saga of his life draws the readers into various parallel story lines for instance, the dilemma of the Christian priest at the growing popularity of the Sufi and his curiosity as to how they can magically cure the incurable.
Savio was the son of Simon the school bus driver who had promised his daughter Silvy to the church. While Silvy is a bright star, Savio’s future depends upon his passing his school exam. He has been selected to play for the local team on the condition that he passes his school. Savio is also gifted with a beautiful voice.
While Savio struggles to pass exams and be part of the team Silvy joins the school to teach and eventually joins the nunnery.
Simon is plagued with guilt at being unable to come to terms with the situation yet carries on doing his duty. By virtue of being the school driver, he meets Silvy on and off and Silvy ensures that Savio sings for the choir, thereby giving her the chance to catch up with her home.
As time passes, Silvy moves to Vatican and Savio manages to pass his exams and he and his group of friends gain success in sports.
The point of no return come when Savio takes a decision to move out of his home to a faraway place. There lies the tsunami- both the metaphorical and the physical one.
The story while simply written is not easy to keep track of. It is slow and heart wrenching and an eye opener for many of us who are not fully aware of the plight of the girls who are forced to become a nun. Not just physically but also emotionally and socially. With time they manage to cut the umbilical cord with their family and they immerse themselves into the propagation of their faith.
But is the process that simple?

The Mandatory Airline Post

1. What...did you think I will not understand that you sarcastically said 'aur laad do' ...pile more bags...when I piled 2 measley bags in the security belt. Weren't you pleasantly surprised (not) when I gave you back...kya boli. Zaraa dhyaan se, yahaan dhi log hindu samajhte hain.
2. Do you have absolutely no shame? When you asked me if it was the security queue I was standing in, and I said yes, why did you turn your head away and closed the gap between you and the person ahead of you when I came back to my spot after coming out if queue to throw trash. Would the presence of my kids and me make such a huge difference to your security check in time?
3. Any particular reason why you suddenly recline your chair every 20 minutes causing my son peering into the window to get banged on the nose. And don't you think it is a god idea to keep the seat upright dyring landing and takeoff or during meals being served?
4. Is it absolutely necessary to recline into my lap nearly and put your hands in my space behind your seat back giving me next to nothing air space as I am to mild mannered to recline when the person behind me is eating.
5. Is it so necessary to peep over my shoulder for your bags on the belt? Especially when you can see me struggling to keep 2 hyper kids and my trolley in my line of vision while awaiting my bags. Shoo, peep over that man standing alone over there.
6. So what if that gentleman shifted your bag to accomodate his bag in the overhead compartment? Why create such a fight with him? Shame on you.
7. Any specific reason why you told me only middle seats are available. On both counts today I moved over to my adjoining empty window seat. Inspite of me asking why I wasn't given ghe available window this morning.
8. What forced you to leave my luggage in Delhi and let another flight carry it on your behalf.
9. And did you really ask me what does your bag contain apart from 3 perishable food items that I highlighted. Did you think my bag will not have clothes in them?
10. Chivalrous and helpful men do exist. Thanks for giving me a hand in pulling my bags out of the belt.
11. Why the hell does Chennai airport not invest in a good toilet in the departure.
12. Time to include an N8 charger in your charging points in airports.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hits and Misses

The hit- met Devdutt Pattanaik on the airport today. Saw his nameboard and stayed around waiting for him to come. Not long as he was on my flight itself.
The miss- very kickworthy or head bangworthy. When I came back from Delhi, the husband waiting for me outside the gates got rewarded with the darshan of Shahrukh Khan who came to Chennak that Sunday. While I, was busy filing a complaint for baggage that never came in my flight. Just my luck.
Sent from my Nokia phone

Concept of Boyfriend

A colleague calls me.
Kids- who is that
Me-a friend
Kids-your boyfriend?
Me- no baby. Dadda is my boyfriend.
Kids- did you marry him
Me- yes
Kids- do you kiss him.
Kids-ha ha ha. She married him.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Volume & Energy

As the flight was landing, Tejas feeling his ears block says- My volume has gone...
Then checks with Ojas- are you getting volume?

During one tantrum session over food, Mausi tells Tejas- do you know why you are so thin? Because you don't eat your food properly and eat only kurkure/ chips.
Tejas- everyone is lying
Mausi- why?
Tejas- I read on chips packet - there is energy, calories, no transfat. Then why am I not being fatter?