Dearest Lui and Shobbs,

I’m visiting these pages after ages! For no fathomable reason, I had stopped writing. I convinced myself it is because I’d rather ‘stay in the moment’ than mentally take down notes to blog about it. I wanted to be an active participant of your life than be an observer of your growth (of which I’m guilty at times!).

But I was wrong.

Capturing the precious moments of my life with you is what makes this blog so special to me. Each time I pull out an old post and read about your antics, it brings a smile to my face 🙂 . I may not immediately remember the incident, but reading about it does jog my memory and everything becomes clearer, as if it happened recently. I’m sad that these last two years, which have brought about such tremendous changes in you, have not been penned 😦 . It is my fault and now that you are turning 7 (Gosh! I still can’t believe it !!), I think its high time I do justice to you and my blog.

But first, a confession.

I sit here sobbing a little as I type. Tears flow down my cheeks because I feel overwhelmed. You two have turned out to be so terrific in every way that I feel incompetent as your mother, your guardian. I can’t think of any single good deed that I did to deserve you. I sob because I want to give you all that you desire, but you never demand. You both derive pleasure from the smallest things in life, making me realize that it isnt money that buys happiness. I’m proud to say that you both are my sunshine. You are the brightness that fills every crevice of my heart and make me giddy with joy 🙂

Lui sweetheart,  you are our resident angel, bet you already know that 😀 . You can spin me and the BF around your little finger just as easily as you did 7 years back! The only difference being that you’ve got a loud mouth to go with it now 🙄 ! I have watched you grow into a wonderfully confident little thing, quiet unlike the shy, gawky me of yore. I puff up with pride at your grace, your kindness and generosity, your impeccable manners and your readiness to apologize for your mistakes. Believe me darling, it takes people many many years to achieve all that! You are just seven, but I have seen how wonderfully  you go about making friends, being kind towards the underdogs, helping out friends and classmates as best as you can and pleasing your teachers with your impish smile 🙂 .  These are not things that I have ‘taught’ you, they come from within you. I can only pray to Allah to keep this warmth in you forever.

Shobby darling, you are our bundle of joy, wrapped in multiple layers of humour and mirth 😀 . I can’t believe that a kid as young as you has a wicked sense of humour, but you do! It is a great gift and I seriously pray that it stays with you forever, for there is no medicine like laughter, right 😀 ?! You are seven but people ask me if you are 4! Some even ‘recommend’ that I feed you 🙄 . At times I feel offended, but then I realize that those people don’t know how tough your beginning was. You put up a good fight champ and and in the last 7 years I’m grateful to Allah for giving you a healthy constitution. Though tiny, you are sturdier than most kids your age. Like Lui, making friends comes so easily to you! This is all the more surprising because earlier you were quite the shy guy, offering nothing more than a smile! Your confidence has blossomed and I’ll confess that I preen a little when people complement me on your kind disposition.

Seven years back today, as I lay on that hospital bed, I marveled at the beauty of Lui and the fragility of Shobbs. Today, I see character in Lui and strength in Shobby. So much has changed, for the better I’m glad to say (Alhamdulillah) and I can only pray that you progress towards your own betterment. I have not set any benchmarks for you, I do not expect you to do great things, frankly, I feel just honoured being your mom.

We’ve reached the lucky seven, you and me together, although for me, it is twice the luck 😉 . You are neither little kids nor young adults. It is a difficult phase for me because you have grown curious about so many things. You ask questions and I do my best to answer them (ex: What does showing the middle finger mean?) . It is difficult to gauge your level of comprehension and I worry that I might push you across the border of innocence (frankly, NO mother likes to believe that her kids grew up!), but there are so many things you need to be prepared for. The world today is not as kind as before, people around you would be quick to judge, quick to blame and quick to demean. But you need to hold on to the goodness in your heart. Keep that flame of kindness alive, no matter how others treat you.

And laugh. Laugh as you laugh today, from your belly, with abandon, with the sparkle in your eyes.

Because that’s all it takes to make your world a better place to live in 🙂

Many Happy Returns of the Day my Babies…….!

PS : Here’s a little collage of you two over the last two years! Am sure you’ll find pictures of before somewhere in this blog 🙂

Six to Seven :)

Six to Seven 🙂


Love you forever 🙂




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I never liked Autumn back in India. I really don’t know why!

The weather would play pranks, hot during the day and pretty much chilly at night. The monsoon showers would be a thing of the past. The leaves on the trees would simply fall off without any indication of ageing or changing of color. Laden with dust and pollutants, the leaves look a dull green/brown throughout the year (except during monsoons, when the dust washes off and we are blinded by  the beauty of the green underneath 🙂 ).

Autumn, or Fall as it is called here, is a delight to see 🙂 . The trees around have such bright shades. From burgundy red to fiery oranges to vivid yellows. Some trees hang on to the green and add that dash of charm to the palette. The trees outside my window are all yellow now. A shade so bright, I have never seen anything like it before. Within this week, they will turn brown and most probably, by next week, the trees would shed off their leaves. Then, the sight is pretty desolate 😦

Anyhow, on the outskirts of Chicago is an area called Lisle (pronounced ‘La-ill’) which is famous for its arboretum. Whats an arboretum, you may ask! And I’ll gladly reply – it is a tree museum.


The Morton Arboretum is a famous tree museum where the motto is, “Plant Trees”. Seriously! Its that simple. Conceptualized by Joy Morton, the arboretum was first open to public in 1922. Since then, they have a massive collection of trees from all over the world! Apart from planting trees, the museum also does research on tree-growth factors, impact of pollution on trees and environmental benefits from different types of trees. Needless to say, the arboretum covers a whopping 1700 acres of land which is beautifully landscaped to showcase the trees. Please do check out the link.

Sunday was bright and sunny (which does NOT mean it was warm!), unlike the last two weeks before it and I decided to make the best use of it. It was also the last day of fall season, meaning, by now, 80 percent of the trees would have shed their leaves. Luckily, we were on time and got to see some really wonderful fall colours.


Green, yellow and brown


Maple patch


love the contrast 🙂


Orange and yellow



My favorite 🙂


Turning brown

It was a breathtaking experience. The beauty of nature is so powerful, I don’t have words to describe the sights 🙂

For once, I rued not getting a decent camera along for the trip 😦

The twins enjoyed the trip, not because they felt very close to nature and all that jazz but because they had their friends along with them and all they appreciated was the vast expanse of ground where they could run to their heart’s content 😀 (and also climb trees!)


Lui on top

Lui on top

Shobby trying his best :)

Shobby trying his best 🙂

Clicking pictures of the trees was a piece of cake compared to clicking snaps of the kids! They were so pumped up with adrenaline that we barely got a couple of decent shots in which none of them was moving (whew!). We had a great time, albeit a tiring one. By the time we got back home, it was 9pm and we could barely eat dinner before crashing out!

And ohh! The BF could not accompany us for the trip, but he had the most amazing Maggi, hot and ready for us when we got back. And he also had  hot tea ready for me 🙂 .

( Tired out by the long journey, legs throbbing with all the walking we did and throat sore from yelling after the kids throughout the day, I realized in that one moment, once again, why I love this man so much!! )

Winter is around the corner and it is just a matter of days when everything will be covered in white! I’ll miss these wonderful colors then 😐


The One Without The Title

You know, I really want to add more to this blog in terms of content. Right now, I’m stuck in a rut where all I can write about, are my kids (which I don’t mind, really. They are the reason the blog exists in the first place 🙂 ) . Its just that for the last two days, I’ve been wondering what to write about and frankly, I drew a blank when it came to matters concerning solely me! It is a little unnerving, to know/realize that nothing is churning my mind enough for me to voice an opinion or start a discussion. How dull have I become 😦 !!

On the plus side, on an impulse, I threw a potluck lunch at home today. Invited the few friends that I have here. They were very sweet and even at the short notice, turned up with their dishes. Honestly speaking, I’d been planning the potluck for ages, simply because there is no other way to socialize here. I have one friend, she in turn knows the wives of her husband’s colleagues and just like that we all became acquainted.

It was a fun afternoon. Though we just had a couple of couple of hours together, it was time well spent. We ate Paani-pooris, Puliyogare, vermicelli-Upma, Chhole-puri, Daal-vadi, Pizza (by me) and Rasgulla!! Believe me, by the end of the lunch, we could barely move 😀 ! With heavy hearts and even heavier tummies, we broke up to collect our respective kids from school 🙂 .

Thanks for coming guys :)

Thanks for coming guys 🙂

Notice the lights? T’was because the day got terribly dark and dreary towards noon.


Another weekend’s here and the BF is yet to get back. Right now he is in Pune, with the rest of the family (his and mine). My little cousin brother is getting married and the family has come to attend the wedding and the festivities!  All I can do from here is send my brother my love and best wishes. My parents, husband, brothers and sisters are all in one place and I’m far far away from them.

Could I be any more sorrier for myself??


Am missing everyone terribly 😥


American women have a thing for nails. I am yet to come across an American woman who does not have well manicured nails. Both the hands will have nails of equal length (unlike most Indian women who prefer to decorate the left hand but leave the right hand free for practical purposes!). The colors would be bright, with plenty of nail-art (glitter, stones, intricate patterns, you name it !!)

 The nail spas here must be doing a roaring business!

Compared to them, all the Indian women I know, have neatly trimmed nails, very few remember to use nail-polish and I’m sure none of us have ever entered a nail-spa here!

Anyhow, one fine day, I decided to take a break and grow my nails. It took weeks but I finally managed to get them to a decent length. After shaping and buffing, I applied the hardener, colour polish and then the top-coat (I can’t believe I actually know so much about nail-polishes 😀 ). The fingers looked good! Really, really good. I flaunted my hands, with a new-found confidence in their appearance.

And then came dinner time.

And with it, the realization that the women who were the inspiration for my nail-effort, surely weren’t the types who went home to cook dinner for their families.

Take the simple example of chopping onions (an ingredient without which I just cannot cook. Period!) . Firstly, I couldn’t hold the knife at the regular position because that would make my nails touch the chopping board. So I held the knife more towards the end of the handle. The left hand fared no better. I had to hold the onion, yet cut it such that I don’t chop my nails in the process.

I used to be known for my onion chopping speed, but with the long nails, I think I took thrice the time to cut one onion. The nail of the left  index finger suffered some chipping, which was corrected with some nail polish. I somehow persevered and finished my cooking. But it wasn’t just the problem with cooking. The nails came in the way of scrubbing the tub or washing the toilet-bowl. I was afraid of them tearing while scrubbing some heavily greased pan or while doing the laundry. Heck, I couldn’t even type properly with them.

On the third day, I took the nail clipper and chopped off the nails. Also removed the nail-polish for good measure. The nails look just like they used to before. My hands don’t look fancy anymore.

But you know what? I’m actually relieved. I realized that having clean and workable hands are more important to me than having glitzy ones which come in the way of everything I do.

For people who do manage all their regular tasks with fancy nails, I say, good for you 🙂


The kids got their first set of assessment result yesterday. All straight A’s except for a ‘B’ in Writing! As soon as I saw the report , I made them sit and write two pages of text from any story book of their choice. The BF, when I told him of the result, was a little miffed that the kids didn’t get a ‘C’ or a ‘D’ in anything! In fact, he feels that I push the kids too hard and he doesn’t want them to be the academic types who only score in exams. Though the kids got an A in Gym, Music and Arts, the BF wasn’t satisfied.

Anyhow, I was pretty surprised when the kids didn’t protest the writing imposition I laid on them. I thought they will yell at the prospect of extra writing after they finish their regular homework! But it was not so. When I asked Shobby if he knew why I was making them write, he said, ” Yes I know. Because we got a ‘B’. ‘B’ is for BAD. We need to get an ‘A’. ‘A’ is for ALL GOOD “.

Well, he said it, not me 😀


Its getting chillier by the day here. So much so that I make sure I reach the twin’s school just as their teacher leads the children out to the gate. Standing at the gate, waiting for the kids can be a torture, with icy winds piercing the skin and getting into any openings between the jacket and muffler. Making the kids wait for me would be even more cruel! I’ve got the timing down pat though. My kids are the first to leave school 😀


And just like that, the last two entries veered towards the kids!

I just can’t stop writing about them, can I?!

Shortcut Mein Update

I’ve been asked many times what I was up to in the last 5 months . And each time, I’d say, “Nothing…just regular routine…nothing new”.

But thats not all true, of course 😀

A LOT happened in the last few months . I’ve been meaning to do individual posts for all of them but since I’ve put them off for so long, I regret that I don’t remember the entire sequence of events. I’m quickly jotting down the remnants of those events in my collapsing memory. So here goes (In no particular order. That would be too cruel on my poor brain) –

The twins finished Kindergarten with flying colors. Well, they ought to ! After all, they spent an entire 12 months doing just KG! ( Their session started in India in the first week of July ’13 and ended here in Chicago in the last week of June ’14).

Their teachers were pleased with the English, Math and overall obedience of the two . I howled and wailed that they must have got my kids mixed up with someone else’s but they wouldn’t listen. To prove their point, they gave the kids medals for perfect attendance and slapped a certificate at me which declared me the parent of the month!

I kid you not!

Our gifts

Our gifts

I got The Egg. Though hand-painted and exquisite, it kind of epitomizes what I really deserve!!


We finally had Summer!! Not the dusty, hot summer of India, but a quaint, dainty summer which lasted exactly 90 days. The temperature never dipped enough to make you sweat, unless you ran or did some major physical activity ( It was hot enough for the Americans to shed their clothes and their inhibitions, though!) Overall, it was the Spring of India passed off as Summer of Chicago.

The sunny weather was the perfect opportunity to make use of the swimming pool on our terrace top. The twins splashed and jumped and had the greatest time of their lives. Whenever we entered the pool area, people already in the pool would look at the twins, grin and decently come out one by one. So the kids had the pool to themselves most of the time (The people here can be really, really kind towards kids). I did my best to teach them to swim, but they were too enamored by the water to pay me any heed 😦


Shobby and his “Zebu”


The other water source was the beach of Lake Michigan. Enough sand was dragged back home for me to make my own private sand castle.


Digging sand for the castle


The twins undertook the Summer Reading Challenge to read and record the amount of time they read each day. It was a wonderful way to spend the summer vacation and the twins loved the visits to the library which was conducting the challenge. Apart from selecting books, they had book-reading sessions, crafts, lucky draws, etc each week. The twins won books and binoculars in the lucky dip 🙂

The library also conducted workshops on puppet-making and introduction to the insect/reptile world (which was seriously good). They got to touch real live pythons and alligators and black widows !


With Puppets and Miss Annie

With Puppets and Miss Annie

Picking up the python

Picking up the python


The BF’s parents came down for a visit and it was YAY! time all around 🙂

After a long time, I could take a siesta without worrying about the kids. The moment the kids spotted their grandparents at the airport, they forgot they had a Momma or an Abu. For the next two months, they only spoke to Dada and Dadi. Just as well 🙂 . Sometimes, it is good to have the kids off your hands, even if its for a little while !

Once the in-laws came, it truly felt like home once again 🙂 .  Me and the MIL would cook together, all of us would have our meals together, there would be talks and discussions, jokes and spats,  just like old times. I think I spent more time with them here than all those years back in Pune when we would all meet for hardly a couple of hours each day!

The in-laws would go for long walks around the neighborhood.  FIL made more friends around the area than people I know!

Keeping an eye on their grand-kids

Keeping an eye on their grand-kids


We finally visited the Niagara Falls.

It was Amazing! In fact, “Amazing” doesn’t even begin to cover the experience! It was mind-blowingly magnificent!

The power of nature at its best!

The twins drove me nuts on our drive till the falls. It was a long way and they were rather fidgety, being unused to getting strapped to their car-seats. The lack of movement, couple with the long distance made them eat the brains of the only person on their row. Me!

Lui : Mumma, have we reached?

Me : No, not yet.

Shobby : When will we reach??

Me : Maybe in another hour.

2 seconds pass by.

Shobby : Mumma, have we reached?

And so the loop went on. Somewhere towards the end, I lost my head and asked the BF to pull over. “Anything wrong?” he asked. “Yeah, I just want to leap off this window and jump into that river below”, I said. The in-laws found it funny! But of course! They weren’t the ones enduring those pesky , ranting, whining kids!

Desperately waiting to reach the falls

Desperately waiting to reach the falls

The Falls

The Falls

The torture was well worth it! One look at the falls and I realized the insignificance of our existence. Tonnes of water cascading down the gorge, the terrific sounds, the multiple rainbows over it, it was too beautiful! Almost exhilarating, yet bringing us down a bit. Nature’s creations are supreme. Nothing man-made can come any closer (SubhanAllah).


The rainbow


Since the In-laws were with us, we made a trip to the Water-park capital of the world – Wisconsin. I thought the title was exaggerated, but you have to visit the place to believe it! I think I have never seen so many water parks (and I’m talking about really large ones here) on one road! The resort we were staying at was called Kalahari, with a jungle theme and loads of indoor/outdoor water rides and an indoor theme park. The indoor water park even had temperature controlled water, so it wasn’t cold, a little on the warm side. In the toddler’s section, there was actual warm water flowing/splashing around!

We had great fun there. Even the MIL got down into the pool to play water basket-ball 😀

The friendly gorilla :)

The friendly gorilla 🙂


The climbing wall

The Kalahari trip was by far the most entertaining. Apart from the time we spent in the water, we all also got to do a lot of indoor fun activities like the sky-walk, go-carts, bowling, ferris-wheel, climbing walls, carousal and a dozen other arcade games.  It was nearly midnight before the twins agreed to be dragged back to our rooms!


The in-laws visit also gave us an excuse to go sight-seeing around Chicago, something we’d been putting off for reasons unknown. We covered all the tourist sites, except the museums. The kids aren’t too fond of museums yet and they get irritable if we spend too much time on one! So we did the rounds of Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountains, Architectural Boat tour (Where they take you on the Chicago river and give a brief description/history on the landmark towers/buildings in downtown), Magnificent Mile and the likes.

Overall, it was an amazing two months, not only because the parents were with us, also because we got to spend a lot of quality time together as a family. Thats precious 🙂

On the boat tour

On the boat tour

At the Buckingham Fountain

At the Buckingham Fountain

At John Hancock

At John Hancock


And then, the school started! The kids are in Grade 1 now, older and much wiser than before. They give me enough reason to take refuge in my blog once again 😀

New Academic year begins!

New Academic year begins!

Thats it folks. A quick summary if there ever was one 🙂

I’m a house-wife, still. I did get my work permit, but didn’t have the time or inclination to hunt for a job. InshaAllah, with the in-laws back home and the kids back in school, this might just be the right time to think about a profession again.

So wish me luck.



Today was Columbus Day in US. I believe it is the day to honor Sir Columbus who discovered America.  The schools had an off today, but I guess the offices didn’t have a holiday (Saw the usual rush of professionals at the bus-stops).

The kids had brought back poems on Columbus from school last week. Lui was reading the poem, when the BF asked the kids, “Who is Columbus”?

Lui immediately started off with the tale she must have heard at school, about ships and voyagers and high sees and she seemed to go on and on but we were not close to understanding who was Columbus 😐 (brevity is so NOT her style !)

So the BF turned to Shobby and asked him the question. Shobby gave his typical reply –

Arre Abbu, Woh Columbus Pune jaane waala tha, Chicago pahunch gaya“. (Oh Dad, Columbus was heading towards Pune but reached Chicago).

Succinct, I say!

We were rolling over the floor laughing for a good five minutes after this 😀

Needless to say, Shobby has a better understanding of the heart of the matter 😀

Anyhow, since Columbus Day doesn’t really ring my bell (Am more used to Gandhi Jayantis), I woke the kids up early this morning. Pestered them for brushing, toilet, bath, etc. Got them ready and off we went. Only after reaching the school did I realize that something was missing –  the rest of the students ! And the faculty! And the school buses!


(The above line was from the kids. Ever heard a collective groan from two disgruntled kids? It sounds terrible!)

The twins admonished me all the way back home.

“Momma!! You ruined our holiday” (this one’s from Lui. Believe me, she used those exact same words!

“Momma, you should have seen the calendar”, said practical Shobbs.

“Yeah, yeah! Why couldn’t you two have reminded me?”, I shot back at them.

So we reached home and I tried to divert the twin’s irritation with some cartoons (bad parenting example. Guilty *gulp* ).

Now, Lui has this bad habit of fingering her ear-lobe, to the extent that the piercing developed some bruising, After nearly a month of keeping her away from ear-rings, I had put in a stud just that morning, to check if the piercing still existed. Luckily, it did, so I asked Lui to wear the earrings till evening.

Now Lui being Lui and fidgety to boot, started fingering her ear again.

“Mumma, can I remove my earrings now”, she asked.

“No. Not now. Later”.

“But Mumma, I want to remove it”.

“Leave it sweetie. We don’t want that piercing to close, do we?”

“But Mumma, it is MY body. I should decide if I want to wear the earring or not. You cannot decide for me. Right Mom?”


(That was the invisible sucker punch to my gut and the subsequent fall of my pride).

I couldn’t speak for a while. There were myriad images running in my mind, of Lui as an adult, with multiple piercings and tattoos all over her body, telling me that it is her right to do what she wants with her body.


Shook my head a bit to clear that image. There were bigger issues at hand here.

“Sweetheart, its your body, I agree, but right now, your ear piercing is close to getting closed forever. If it does, it’ll hurt when you pierce it again and if you don’t, you won’t get to wear all my earrings that you adore so much”!

There, that did the trick.  Lui agreed to keep the earrings on till evening.

A girl’s vanity always comes to the rescue , doesn’t it ?! 😀


"And that's how we fake a smile"

“And that’s how we fake a smile”


Planning Ahead

With the BF away for a few days, life at home has become a tad boring. This weekend is worse! I mean, not that we did something groundbreaking when he was here, but its just that it was easier to while away the day . He would laze around the day, the kids would sprawl all over him and I would have time on my hands to ….well, do some darning or cleaning or shopping( yeah , yeah! that is how I entertain myself these days!).

The kids were missing their father terribly, so I gave in and allowed them to watch cartoons for longer than their ration. And, in order to give them a break from all that television, I gave them some plastic beads and satin cords to make into necklaces. It is an easy activity and it helped keep them occupied without my interference.

Lui grumbled all along because apparently, I didn’t have the exact bead colours and shapes that fit the pattern in her mind 🙄 . She couldn’t believe, quote- “are you kidding me? You didn’t buy green beads?!”-unquote , that her mother was careless enough to not buy green and pink beads.


I really need to prioritize bead colors while purchasing them 😐

Anyhow, the beads were strung and the Lui proudly wore it around her neck.

I asked Shobby to do the same.

“No Mom, when I get married, I will give it to my wi-“, he broke off.

“Errr……Whom are you going to give it to?”, I pestered, because obviously, I wanted to know whether I heard it right.

“I’ll wear it Mumma. On my shaadi“.

“But you said you wanted to give it to someone”.

“Oh-ho Mumma. You keep this”, he finished the topic by firmly wrapping my fingers around his necklace and scampering away to the bedroom.

I sat there for a long while, digesting the fact that my 5+ year old just made a necklace to gift his future wife.

*Gulp* 😐

And oh, here are the necklaces –



Pink thread=Lui; Blue=Shobbs


The School

I considered it my immense luck when the twins got admission in a school which was barely a 2-minute walk from my place. It was easy-peasy to drop them there in the morning and then again, to pick them up after school. The kids get to learn English and Spanish and not surprisingly, their Maths is much above the par specified for their level (Indian schools do much better at teaching Maths, I guess!). Personally, I am rather satisfied with the way the twin’s education is progressing.

The BF is not so happy though. He had his heart set on some other schools which wouldn’t accept the twins because of their age (they wanted the twins to repeat Kindergarten when in fact, the twins are eligible for grade 1 (along with their Indian counterparts). I wasn’t happy with the thought of making the kids lose out a year, more so because we intend to get back to India once the BF is done with his work here. The school they are in currently, has a modest rating whereas the ones the BF prefers are rated much higher. For the record, these are public schools we are talking about. The schools are funded entirely by the government. We had to pay a nominal fee of $20 dollars for admission though.

But this post isn’t about the twin’s school admissions. It is about how the schools here approach the matter of teaching, how parents are involved in making decisions about the school and how the school isn’t limited to the child alone. There is so much the Indian schools can learn from here. For instance, there are no textbooks. No bulky books that the children have to lug around. Stuff such as scrap books, art-work, drawing books , etc are kept in the school itself. The children get assignment sheets as printouts which they complete and submit back. Initially, I was skeptical, not sure how they could teach without books! I mean, kids had to refer something, right?!

But as it turns out, rote learning is a complete No-No! The education here is completely activity based (at least where the lower grades are concerned). Maths, English and Science are taught very differently. For Maths, they use games, like Dominoes or blocks. For Science, the kids do practical activities in class (they get to study live turtles, frogs, birds, insects, etc). The school conducts multiple field trips in a year for real-life experience. The twins did 4 months of Kindergarten here and in those 4 months, they had one outing each month (Thats a whole lot if you consider that Indian schools barely manage to conduct 1 picnic in an academic year. And I’m talking private school here. Am not sure if Government schools can afford a school picnic). The students here are taught in such a wide variety of way that text-books appear redundant! They get to watch cartoons, read story books, play on iPads (yes, the kids here get iPads! Heck, even I don’t have one 😐 )

(I was always against the twins watching cartoons, but the ones shown here are specifically suggested and approved by the Chicago Public Schools department – http://www.pbskids.org. The cartoons broadcast here are all knowledge-based, either related to Maths, English, Science, Dinosaurs or General awareness and Civic sense. These same cartoons are shown in the school)

The classrooms make a difference in the attitudes of children too. I remember the dreary classrooms of my childhood, with a few fading charts adorning the walls. Here, the classrooms are a riot of  colours!


Apart from being really large, the rooms are airy, bright and ergonomically designed for the kids.  One section of the wall is stuffed with blocks, play-dough, toys, jigsaw- puzzles, lego, dinosaurs, race cars. The other wall has the stationary stock. When I went to there for the first time, I was shocked to see the quantities of stationary made available for that class. There were large tubs (twice the size of grocery baskets) each filled with crayons, pencils, glue, paint, color-pencils, scissors,  reams of chart papers, printout papers and every other kind of paper used for art projects.


Some of the stationary


The board games, play-dough, Lego and blocks


The computers

The computers

It is amazing to see the kind of expense made by the government for the children – and I’m talking about an average-rated public school here!. I wonder what all facilities are made for children in higher-rated schools! When I mentioned this to the BF, he said that huge sums of money was allotted for education in India too, its just that it never reaches down till the school. Pity :(!

No wonder then, that the twins LOVE going to school. Even though the hours are longer (7 hours), it doesn’t seem that long. The kids get free breakfast in class(The motto being that “A Hungry Child Cannot Learn”). The lunch too is free, but I prefer giving home-made dabba just so that I can track their food intake !

It would be a matter of time before we  return back to India. I guess of all the things here, the kids are likely to miss their school the most. I’m not saying that Indian schools are drab….its just that they’ll have to carry all those books, workbooks, classwork notebooks, homework notebooks, lunch and water! They’ll have to read from text books and mug up answers. They will have quarterly unit tests (unlike the regular assessments happening here) and worry about grades. To sum up, they will join the rat-race to score and stay ahead instead of just enjoying school for what it should be! A wonderful quote in the school’s reception says –

“Teach Me, I will forget. Show me, I may remember. Involve me, I will learn”

The schools here, involve.

In India, they teach 😐 !




Still Alive And Kickin’ 

That’d be me.

Yup! I’m around, even though most of the folks who used to read my posts, aren’t. Can’t blame them! One can press the refresh button only a finite number of times before one gives it up as a bad joke and quits. My apologies folks, I was too busy soaking in the laziness of doing nothing, yet everything!

(Being a housewife has its perks, but after years of being a working woman, household chores can never entice me. I am terrible at them 😦  )

In case you’ve been wondering, I’m over the honeymoon phase now. Experienced the Chicago winter and summer at leisure and now, I’m ready to get back to business. Enough of the house-wifery thingummy-jig 😀 .

Tons have happened in the last few months. I posted some deets on FB (those on my friends list might have seen the updates). FB was the only social networking I was following (since all my friends are on it), consciously keeping away from twitter, WhatsApp and even  Wordpress. Frankly, I have very little time to give for browsing/replying/chatting when I have to do every single thing at home (including the kids and their homework 🙄 ) all by myself.  And then one day, I read a very relevant FB post which said :-

“We all need to know our limits. We are living in an age where we are so free to express our opinions, that we are kind of reckless in sharing our opinions on matters that we are not fully knowledgeable of. That’s what social media has turned us into. Everyone has a very strong opinion, and that has to be undone”.

I had become disillusioned with  the kind of opinions (political/social/religious) being put forward by people, who really didn’t have the faintest idea of the truth, that for a while, I kept away from FB too. I’ve been able to prevent myself from expressing my opinions on FB, but the mind! How does one silence the mind which churns out thoughts and words and scenes in loop mode? The answer is simple. One gets back to blogging 😀

So here I am, once again. This is my space. I can vent, howl, scream and do whatever I want to here and give two hoots about whether someone ‘likes’ it or not. Here, I don’t need to be politically correct all the time. The mistakes I make, the errors of my judgement, my opinions, are solely mine. To be honest, I really don’t get why I abandoned this space for so long 😦

So its adieu FB (I’ll drop by once in a while), Hello WordPress.

This time, I’m here to stay.



Going Seedy

One of the many things I’m busy with these days (apart from the regular cooking, cleaning, etc) is attending the art class at the kid’s school every Thursday. The classes are free (Yay!! 🙂 ) and even the supplies are free (Yippee yay!! 😀 ). Needless to say, I haven’t missed a single class since I found out about it. Alas, I have completed only one art-work till now –


Fabric paint on silk



Another angle

Its a shame, really, because though I finished the painting in one sitting, it took me two weeks of dilly-dallying to finally put the lace frill around it. In fact, I was quite okay without it anyway, but Senora Miriam wouldn’t listen.

Aaah! Senora Miriam!!

This gutsy old dame is our art teacher, who, incidentally, doesn’t speak a single word of English. Neither does she understand it. So when I said, I didn’t want the lace, she just pulled out a length of it and handed it over. When I insisted, she took the lace from my hand and as if explaining to a child, told me how to stick it around the metal frame. I struggled to find the right words to let her know my true feelings, but Spanish evades me. Other than a casual, “Adios Amigos”, how much do we use it anyway?? Anyhow, another Mexican woman in the class took pity on me and explained to Senora Miriam that I didn’t want the lace. At this, Senora Miriam shot me such a look of of horror, rage , pity and grief, roughly in that order, that by the end of those few nanoseconds I agreed to put two rounds of lace around that damned frame if she wanted! She told me to stick to one.

Finally, after three weeks (or three classes), I was done with the frame. The BF gladly hammered a portable rack in the drawing room to display the fruit of my labor . It sits there pretty 🙂

(The smudges on the painting above and not by me! They are by Senora Miriam 😀 )

After the frame, we started on seed-art, something that is quite a cultural thing in Mexico. I believe people design entire walls by sticking little seeds in patterns. Seed art looks something like this :-


Mexican seed art

(No, I didn’t make that. Obviously. Duh!)

(And No, I don’t intend to. EVER.)

I was pretty piqued at doing something different. I mean, how difficult is it to stick grains on a design base, huh?? We (me and the other Indian moms) hunted for designs on the net and finalized our patterns. On the day of the class, we arrived, all merry and chatty, till we caught sight of the wooden boards awaiting us. What we didn’t expect was that we had to finish boards that were nearly 2 feet by 1 and half feet!! Just looking at the size of the board made us realize what a tough task lay ahead. Immediate rethink was the need of the hour. Google came to the rescue and  threw up a few easy patterns. One of the simplest pattern we found was this :-


My board after I did the outlines with black rice


This was the simplest pattern available and I quickly drew the outlines on two other boards as well 🙂 . Sticking the black rice was easy enough (have you ever seen black rice before?? I thought that the grains were dyed black, but it seems they were actually black in color 😐 ) . I just had to follow the pencil pattern on the board. The tough part was filling in the other colors. I started with the clouds above. Split Urad dal was used to fill in the swirls. Moong dal filled up the petals/rays and though I had initially planned on filling in the centre with Moong dal too, the effort required was too much! I used Chana dal because they are larger and easier to stick. I also added a few to the rays to give some ‘effect’.


Clouds and Sun

One look at the sun and the BF declared it the most rotten thing he’d ever seen (no, he didn’t actually say that. But if you can’t read your husband’s expressions after years of living with him, what have you learned in life??!) . So I took a knife and dug out the rays/petals. The rework, I tell you!! Never will I take a short-cut again 😐 . Much glueing later, the board looked something like this  (that is Masoor Dal in the pathway, whole green Moong dal for the watermelon’s peel and white Til seeds for the white parts) :-


The edited sun

I had to colour Urad Dal with red food-coloring to prepare seeds for the watermelon. After weeks of of sticking grains and two vertebrae knocked out of position, I’m at this stage :-


The foreground’s covered. Whew!!

This is what the BF calls my Goodness-I-Can’t-Believe-She-Reached-Here stage. It is also what I lovingly call my Till-Here-No-Further stage. Thats because Senora Miriam (remember? The art matron?) wants my design background to be shaded !! Red, yellow and orange coloured seeds have to be stuck in such a manner that the colours move from red to yellow towards the outside 🙄 . I’m sure it will look beautiful that way. I’m also very sure that this lifetime is too short for me to achieve that.

And hence, the board has been lying around, gathering lint (there’s no ‘dust’ here….just mounds of lint) for the last three weeks.

I need motivation to go on folks. I just can’t seem to gather the passion to finish the last mile (also, the longest!). I also need suggestions. Should I go with the ombre effect that Senora Miriam demands or should I cover the background with something more neutral? I have tried sticking Sabudana, rice and til seeds for the background. They just don’t look good. Is there any other dal or grain that in your opinion would make the foreground stand out?

(Please omit Rajma, Chhole and White Peas. They are just too large and look horrbile :()

Kindly help.

Mucho Gracias.


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