Wednesday, May 13, 2015

At the Residency - a bit of history for kids

It's been over two decades since I moved out of my hometown, Lucknow. Each summer I come back here with the kids to renew my bonds with the city. I am extremely proud of its rich culture and history, the language of its people, their subtle sense of humour and of course its culinary treats. That's not to say I haven't bonded with all the cities I've lived in but nothing really does compare with home.

To the kids, it often doesn't quite compare with the city of their birth being smaller and more laid-back. For this one month I try to show them my city through my eyes, to share with them what I find special about it. 

This week we decided on a historical tryst with the Residency. It dates back to the time of British rule in India and was witness to the first war of Indian Independence way back in 1857. This is where some British families were held under siege while the Indian rebels waged war against them. It's a majestic building, even in its ruins and has stood steadfast for over 200 years.

H and N wanted to know why we played cricket with the 'British' despite having been at  war with them. They asked whether there were women and children in the British homes who were hurt in the fight. It was a great time to reinforce how History evolves and how things change over time, how we forget enmity and learn to live in peace. As also the sad effects of war - how innocents are always hurt no matter who is in the right.

Once there, they were too excited running around in the ruins with their cousins to really worry about the history. Sharing some pictures here.

The ruins stand amidst lots of greenery

Signs of the struggle - musket and cannon marks

That, in the backdrop, is a British banquet hall - we had a great time imagining what it would have been like before the place was destroyed.

Doors within doors - amazing symmetry


Linking to ABC Wednesday for the letter R with thanks to Mrs Nesbitt for coming up with this wonderful concept. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Spending Quality time with kids - one on one

Most times I feel like the luckiest person on earth because of the wonderful ‘package deal’ I got when I had the twins. However one of the downsides of having two children of the same age is that I have to struggle to find time with each of them alone. That’s one reason I look forward to the summers when I come home. Other than both sets of grandparents, our hometown is bursting with uncles, aunts and cousins. What’s better the kids have different ‘favourites’ and most of them are just a short walk away. That’s as good as it can possibly get. It’s such a luxury to pack off one the twins to their favourite aunts/cousin’s place without a twinge of apprehension or guilt while I spend time Quality time with the other.

It is also a wonderful time to test the waters on letting them try out their independence. Last year while all the cousins were having a sleepover H pretended he ‘just wasn’t sleepy’ since he’d rather die than accept that he couldn’t sleep without ‘mama’. He lounged in the living room till we persuaded him to come sleep with me. This year, he has been going for the sleepover for the past two days without as much as a 'May I'. That's a huge step forward for this clingy son of mine. And I cannot begin to say how happy/relieved I am.

N is the independent one and doesn’t seem to need anyone which is even more reason to keep the conversation flowing and the connection strong. When we’re alone she and I read together or we pick up a craft to do. 

When N is away, H and I ave fun watching something inane like  Pokemon. It’s TV but we’re on holiday and the regular mum-rules stand suspended for the month.

I often make the mistake of clubbing the kids together as one unit even though they are as different as chalk and cheese and never forget to assert their individualities. Alone time is important to reinforce the fact that they aren’t two halves of a whole but are complete people in themselves. Here are more reasons why Quality alone time is important: 

- To begin with it’s fun and very relaxing to have just one child to myself rather than struggling to balance their very diverse tastes. 

- It’s great for the kids to have things completely their way for a change rather than being pushed to compromise - whether it is choosing what show to watch or what game to play  or which side they get to sleep on. 

- It gives me a chance of focusing complete attention to each child by turn and to understand, enjoy and be totally be blown away at how very different they are.

- It encourages them to think of themselves as separate individuals, to express their likes and dislikes without being influenced by the other.

- It reassures them that they are individually loved and cherished for their special qualities. 

- Secure in that love they stop seeing each other as adversaries fighting for attention taking the edge away from the dreaded sibling rivalry.

I’m off then to make the most of the holidays and perhaps we will be trying out even more sleepovers and day-visits.

Linking to ABC Wednesday for the letter Q with thanks to Mrs Nesbitt for coming up with the wonderful concept of bringing together people from across the world.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Pondering the predictability of life

That’s something I rarely do. Really, who has the time for introspection amidst the daily chaos? Along came an earthquake and shook me up not just physically, which it most certainly did, but also mentally. All I could think of was ushering everyone out as the kids babbled excitedly - marvelling at the swaying ceiling fan and shuddering knick knacks. 

It wasn’t strong enough to really scare me, specially since we were on the ground floor and the children were with me. It did, however, put things in perspective.

A while back I’d stumbled on a site called theburninghouse.com where people answer the question ‘If your house were burning what would you take with you’. It’s a thought-provoking question and has some interesting answers as people try to balance the ‘practical with the sentimental'. Some said they’d pick a much-loved teddy, a beautiful piece of jewellery, a bunch of family photographs, a cherished book of recipes. The practical ones picked wallets, house keys, car keys and passports. Others said they’d take along cameras and sunglasses. One of them even said he’d take along his ukulele.

Well, to each his own.

However, I do maintain that what you actually would pick up in a crisis situation might be very different from this carefully thought out list. The thing is, we never really know our reactions to unusual situations till we are actually there. If you’ve ever seen someone not being able to answer basic questions on quiz shows or making blunders in examinations or forgetting simple dance steps on the stage and have labelled them incredibly stupid, perhaps it’s time for a rethink. 

It’s been a few days now. I’ve been looking at the horrifying pictures of Nepal, where the epicentre was located, and can only be grateful for being safe. One takeaway from this whole thing has been the reinforcement of the idea to not ‘Postpone Joy’, to make the most of the present.

Have you ever thought about it? What would you take along if an earthquake hit? 

Linking to ABC Wednesday for the letter P.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

O is for the Ordinary

I love Ordinary. The plain old, simple unexciting Ordinary. Once upon a time I used to be the Ordinary kind of person - the one who prefers the extraordinary. However, along came the twins and turned the whole equation upside down. Suddenly the Ordinary became extraordinary while extraordinary turned Ordinary. Do I have you all confused?

Well sample this:

The world is full of children, right? Google tells me 4 new ones are added every second. So it should be a pretty Ordinary thing that I got some too, right? Wrong. It's a completely Extraordinary feeling to have them.

.. and this

Think of simple every day stuff - smiling, walking, talking, dancing, singing - all kids learn to do it. But when the twins did all of that, yeah, just then it became extraordinary.
There's more to it. 

The twins magically transform Ordinary things into extraordinary. Take a look..

Getting to read the morning news - Extraordinary
A five minute bath without having to answer fifty questions - Extraordinary
An uninterrupted telephone call - Extraordinary.
A good night's sleep  - Extraordinary
A walk from one room to the other without tripping on toys/clothes/crayons/shoes/glasses/food - Extraordinary.

And some extraordinary stuff turned magically Ordinary:

Scraped knees and bleeding elbows - Ordinary
Sleeping with a head stuck at my waist and a pair of toes up my nose - Ordinary.
Poop talk in public - Ordinary. (though we're working on keeping it down as the kids enter their sensitive tweens).
Bottles of perfumes and deodorants magically emptying out within days - Ordinary
Lipsticks breaking themselves - Ordinary
Half eaten bread hidden away in sofa folds and under beds - Ordinary
Finding your favourite shirt cut up and made into doll clothes - Ordinary

Life sure has changed. Not that I'd have it any other way but I will say this - an 'Ordinary' day sure becomes 'Extraordinary' after you become a mum.

Linking to ABC Wednesday for the letter O. Thanks to Mrs Nesbitt who brought us all together with this wonderful meme.


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