Monday, January 25, 2016

First impression

So I've been trying to catch up with work and other things since we came back from India and now I've finally finished getting all the photos together to get down to some photo-blogging on India.

Everyone has been asking me if Xena liked India and what she did there. She did a lot for sure, but more importantly, what she did not do thankfully, was fall sick. We had been keeping our fingers, toes, elbows, knees and eyes crossed as we were not sure how she, born and brought up in squeaky clean Singapore, would cope with the chaos that is India. We made sure she got the typhoid and the flu vaccines before the trip, and during the trip, like an annoying NRI, I was even brushing her teeth with filtered water. But it was all totally worth it, because not only did she not fall sick at all (in fact, Viv and I were down every now and then, but not her!), she truly had a good time in every single city/town we visited.

We had planned our trip to coincide with both Viv's sister's and my sister's India trips, so we could have big family reunions. Besides, it was school holidays so a lot of our cousins' kids were vella at home. She was not at all overwhelmed by the barrage of the 3434955 relatives who had descended upon her, having never seen her, except only in photos. She especially got along with the 42987483757548375 cousins she encountered and it was amazing how within minutes, they were all friends and playing together.

She tried all sorts of food and to my relief, didn't hate everything. I even snuck in street food once! So much for my 'brushing-teeth-with-filtered-water' strategy. She didn't like it much, leaving me rather in shock. "How can you, MY child, not like pani puri?????"

She also had a chance to travel by various modes -- aeroplane, train, taxi, car, auto-rickshaw and even a boat! She truly did experience the various elements that make India what it is. Now and then she would be curious about why some places were so noisy and smelly and dusty but thankfully, she didn't show any disdain.

So here it is, a photo collage of what my little girl did on her first trip to India!

She met new 'paatis' (grandmas) other than her primary paati. This is Viv's aunt in Bangalore, patiently playing doctor-doctor with her. 

She met new 'thathas' (grandpas) other than her primary thatha. This is Viv's uncle, patiently playing, erm, candy crush, with her. She rightfully christened him 'Crush Candy thatha'. 

She tried on all kinds of food. Here, she is, having mixed feelings about 'thair sadam'...

...And here, with not-so-mixed feelings about dosa-sambar.

She discovered a swing in a playground. Surprisingly, swings are rather rare in Singapore playgrounds, so she plastered herself permanently to it. 

More swinging the next day. She couldn't get enough of it! I had to literally peel her off because we had to catch a flight!

Viv went go-karting with a friend, and Xena and I tagged along. She restricted herself to just trying on a helmet, which was incidentally about the same size as her. 

The Mini Stig

She, along with my sister's kids, took over my mom's puja room. They did everything. After the first day, mom didn't even have to tell them the various steps. Their favourite part was taking the agarbattis around the whole house before planting them near the basil plant outside. 

My dad set up a swing inside the house for the three kids. They had a blast on it. 

I relaxed my 'no nail polish' rule because it was a vacation, and she made me do a panda manicure for her. My sister's son howled and howled until his dad said ok to him getting the same thing. Phew!

Xena and my sister's son in identical clothes, and switched footwear
(Okay, so the identical clothes were my idea. I did a Christmas treasure hunt for the three kids, and the 'treasure' at the end of the hunt turned out to be identical clothes for all three. I know I know...)

My cousin gifted them a tent, which served as a great entertainment centre for the three of them, leaving my mom, my sister and me to do full gup-shup over chai. (Viv was, of course, busy watching cricket.)

She met my cousin's kid and suddenly got all big sisterly when she realised he's a year younger than her.

More cousins and more activities! Here she is, with Viv's cousin's kids. I'd taken some sticker books along, and they all got busy, trying to be the first to finish!

If you thought panda manicure was funny, wait till you see what mehendi she made me do on her hand! Yes, she asked for a helicopter and I had to google 'helicopter line art' to be able to make something that at least vaguely resembled a helicopter. Her cousin wanted an aeroplane. More googling ensued. Obviously. 

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like. My child is dancing on the streets in India. I asked her what was going on and she said, "Mama, I'm dancing in the sun so my mehendi can dry more quickly." Okay, then.

Manicure - check. Mehendi - check. Next stop - hairstyles. Both sides of the family are full of girls so I had a blast with all that hair. Xena's hair is easier to work with than mine, so I often use her as my guinea pig. The flower is from my dad's garden.

My fascination for these mosquito-annihilating racquets (or what my niece calls 'mosquito fryers') will never end. It was the first time Xena was encountering them. Here she is, putting on her 'formidable opponent' look for the mosquitoes. 

Here she is, enjoying the lovely blue skies, fresh air and cool weather in Yercaud, where we took a short family vacation. Upon the request of my dad-in-law, I'll be doing a post on Yercaud on my travel blog Hopscotch

Xena, looking a little terrified, during a boat ride in Yercaud

Xena and her cousin during an early morning hike, on which they absolutely insisted on accompanying us, even waking up early for it

Xena, mulling over the intricacies of life, during the hike

Walked around. A lot. That's me with her and Viv's cousin's kid. 

Her synchronised naps with her cousin left me very amused. They'd go to sleep and wake up at exactly the same time!

She also turned official family photographer on occasions. From left to right: sis-in-law, me, mom-in-law (yes, yes, it was a very pink day)

And this last shot is just a representative shot of all the laad, pyaar, dulaar and pampering she got from everyone in India. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A win-win situation

Lately, Xena has been questioning why kids her age are no longer napping in the afternoons, while she has to. She probably feels the world is out partying without her while she naps, and doesn't want to miss out. On the rare days that she skips her nap, she gets really cranky by evening and then dinner becomes a war zone. That's why even when we were in India in the midst of all the happening happenings, I made sure she didn't skip her afternoon nap.

Usually, she resists in the beginning, but I know that once she falls asleep, she will wake up only after an hour or more, refreshed and cheerful. So my goal is just to get her to agree to lie down quietly. The rest takes care of itself.

Here's a snippet of one of our negotiations on this.

Xena - Ok, I'll go to sleep now. But can I wake up at 2.30?

Me - It's 2.30 now.

Xena - Ok, I'll sleep till 3 o'clock?

Me - 4.

Xena - 3.30?

Me - 4.

Xena (after some deep thought) - Mama, I have a great idea! I'll sleep... till I wake up!

Me - OH! That's a GREAT idea! Why didn't I think of it? Let's do it!

Xena - YAYYY!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's a sign

I'd written a post after my India trip in 2008, documenting some funny signs I saw along the way as I travelled. My favourite has to be a restaurant called Achanak restaurant, which true to its name, appeared rather suddenly during our drive from Delhi to Jaipur.

This time, it was a little crazy as we went on a whirlwind tour covering 5 cities in 20 days. I didn't have a chance to capture a lot of signs, but I did get these three amusing ones, which I wanted to share.

PS: I'll be posting some more photos soon, documenting the things Xena did on her very first trip to India!

To lazy to catalogue?

No ordinary filter coffee, this!

Height of sale -- the taller you are, the cheaper your clothes get!