Tuesday, July 31, 2007

At a Japanese farm house!

" Kombamwa!!! Is it Nanditha san? I am Tamura ! We wait you in car.....you ready? We wait OK? ".................
"Kombamwa!!! Ok Tamura San! I 'll be right there!" I replied and took my bag and rushed down.
I was ready, as I knew how punctual these Japanese were....I could never move around according to the IST ( Indian Stretchable Time) here. We once took a wrong train and traveled in the opposite direction unaware till we reached a new place!!( all because we boarded the 7.35 train instead of 7.34!). Can you ever imagine this in India ?

Mr and Mrs Tamura were waiting for me in the car.
" Wow! Your Indian dress nice!" complimented the couple.
" Arigato!" I thanked them in Japanese.
" You Japanese good! ... Indians clever!" I bowed at Tamura San's compliment . They were always surprised how Indians could handle so many languages!! I had the extra privilege of knowing Malayalam, a language which can be credited for offering maximum flexibility to your tongue!

We had a long drive. We were heading towards the country side, and I enjoyed every bit of the serene picturesque panoramic beauty around.Each day in Japan was a new experience for me . I enjoyed these experiences and encounters.After an hours drive we reached a small farm. This was unlike any place I had visited before. I was invited to give a performance! I wondered where I would perform, for I did not see any signs of it! There were a few wooden chairs, around fifteen in the yard.

We were welcomed with all warmth and I was receiving all the attention and care of a gaijin( foreigner).
It was getting dark, and still there were no signs of any formal function! I wondered and worried what PP would be doing back in our apartment.I had not fixed dinner expecting to reach before our dinner time .....I rang him up on Tamura San's mobile and explained to him the situation I was in . He told me not to worry and that he had fixed dinner ! I felt a lot better ..!

As it was getting darker the crowd was slowly increasing .....Tamura San told me,"come, lets go for walk!"
What did this mean! Was I brought all the way here for a walk? And that too, when my stomach was grumbling , partly due to hunger and partly due to the turn of events here! I had never been invited for a performance, and asked for a walk! I would have preferred to walk with some casuals on ! Now here I was all decked up in a silk saree, with matching jewelery, and make up! I thought I was invited for a dance performance !( thank God I decided on not wearing the dance costume....) Imagine walking in Japan in a Bharatnatyam costume....with all the farmers!

"we show you the farm"....Tamura San could surely not see my facial expression in the dark....We had to be very careful....there were damp and swampy areas and I could hear ducks quacking away in their coop.
All my uneasiness vanished as I got the first glimpse of the moving stars dancing in front of me! This was a rare sight ! I had never seen something like this before! They were numerous! As we continued walking we were surrounded by them ....They had created an aura on each one of us....I was transported into a different world altogether ....They were the fireflies!... Yes ! and this was the firefly festival ..! The whole farm was glowing with their light ....I felt as if I have entered a fairy land! I remember seeing fireflies when I was young ... but never were they so huge in size or infinite in number!

As we walked backed to the farm, I felt the fire flies had kindled my spirits and evoked a sense of calm with in.They reminded me that each of us carry a light with in us....which when it glows can transform our land into heaven.....

Back at the farm house, I was not bothered about dancing with out a formal stage or a hall packed with audience! I danced under the twinkling stars and in the midst of glowing fire flies....in front of a small audience , who lived a life of simplicity! I was honored! My performance was followed by a musical symphony...which played ethnic country music! I was fascinated by their instruments and music which transformed one into a different horizon.

Later, we were served food under the stars....They loaded Tamura san's car with lot of their farm products, ! Which was unloaded at my apartment...It was their gratitude ! their token of love.....What I experienced was so precious , so valuable .....I treasure those moments , at the fire fly festival!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kanna and Sree visit the Zoo!

" Anna , Anna !.. ... wake up, anna! " There was urgency in the 2 year olds tone.

His brother was still in bed and didn't show any signs of waking up.

"Anna , wake up Anna , today we go zoo! " Now Sree was on top of his brother , Kanna and was howling into his brother's ears!

"Yeaaaa! Zoo.... Zooo! both of them were in heights of excitement already!
"Sree, come lets brush our teeth " , now the 5 year old Kanna took over.
Within seconds they hoisted themselves besides the wash basin and proceeded with their brushing!

"More paste! Want more paste" , Sree started crying....
"NO!" replied Kanna, " more paste will spoil your teeth, see how I'm brushing"
"I Want , I want more paste", Sree invited his mother to the scene...She some how explained about the whole lot of wild animals waiting for him at the Zoo and wound up the brushing!

"I give fish food...."Sree yelled.
" wait for me.. wait for me...." Kanna almost knocked his brother down.
By the time the fish food was in the small aquariam, there was enough on the ground too!

"give me milk! give me fruit loops!" Sree squatted on the kitchen floor.
"I want cornflakes , with honey and banana and lots of raisins!", Kanna squatted beside his brother.

"I want the red bowl", shouted Kanna.Their mother knew well what would follow!She sighed...
"Red me ! red me!"now it was Sree`s turn. Mother sighed again, wondering when she would be able to strap them on to their car seat.
Red bowl was given to the younger one (as usual), Kanna was bribed with an extra spoonful of raisins and pacified with an orange bowl( explanation: orange and red hail from the same "family!").

"Amma, Sree is eating from my bowl!" complained Kanna. Mother knew well, there was no point in yelling at Sree, for he had the most powerful weapon, his heavy down pour with thunderous sobs!

Mother again brought Zoo to the picture, and cajoled Sree with thoughts of wild animals eagerly waiting to see their beloved friend Sree!

"Come on Sree , lets play in the bath.."
"All my animals need a bath, Wait Anna, let me get them", Sree was busy picking up his bath toys.

Today it was father's turn to give them a bath, while mother packed snacks.
"Amma.....! Sree is splashing water all over the place" mother ran with the mop....while father scooped them from the bath !
Both were hanging on their father's shoulders like langoors....

" Sree wants Anna shoe!....Anna shoe!" Parents Sighed in unison, this was yet another hurdle they surpass daily!
Sree was adamant at wearing his brother's shoe , and that too all by himself.
"Animals want to see Sree's new shoe.. or else they will cry!", Kanna came up with a new tactic which consoled Sree.

Thank God!... not much of a drama today!...Parents were relieved!

Finally Kanna and Sree were buckled in their car seats...Kanna picked up a book... and so did Sree...Kanna started his usual enquiries," when will we reach the Zoo!" Sree echoed.."when ZOO WHEN ZOO!"

"Give me something to eat!" Kanna pleaded......" Sree MA..MAMA , SREE ma..mama!" Sree followed..
Mother passed them the apples hoping the snacks would last through the Zoo visit!

In the Zoo Sree and Kanna enjoyed their train ride....

"This is Thomas the tank engine....", Sree was excited.

Both the boys were so happy to see many peacocks, just walking along ....

" See , see they are dancing!" Kanna spotted.

"Did you see the flamingos, Sree!...look at one sleeping on just one leg!" Kanna tried to imitate!
" You know how they get their color? " Kanna continued without waiting for an answer."They eat food with beta carotene!"
" Sree,so you should eat lots of carrots! OK" , Kanna had started his non stop lecture.

They hopped into the Kangaroo shelter and even saw a baby kangaroo peeping from its mama's pouch.

"Did you know how Kangaroo got its name?" asked father.
"NO"..Kanna replied.
"once a foreigner visited Australia and asked one of the aborigines what the strange animal was? The Aborigine replied,"KANGAROO".. MEANING I don't know!.From then on Kangaroo got its name!" explained father.

"Amma Maamum, I am hungry" Sree said.
They had a picnic lunch under a tree.

Then proceeded to see the other exhibits.Till five in the evening they walked around the whole zoo... amused by the animals...

" Amma , legs are aching how long will it take to reach our car", Kanna was tired.
"count till 100 and you will be there!" said father.
" come on Kanna, if you finish counting till 100 and still do not reach the car , then Appa will get nice beatings! OK" Mother raised up Kanna's spirits!
The thought made him laugh and he started counting loudly inviting a lot of attention.
By the time Kanna reached 100 , father was running - Sree, Kanna and Amma close behind.

Return journey was easier as there were a lot of things to talk about.All had a light dinner and plunged on to the bed.
"How was the day? did you enjoy it?" asked Amma...
"Zoo no good! no dinosaurs!... Why no dinosaurs!....Sree like dinosaurs!"

"ONCE UPON A TIME, long...............long.............ago.......there was a dinosaur...."When Amma started a dinosaur story Sree was happy and he involuntarily closed his eyes with a baby smile still on!

"I wish i could see dinosaurs too.. i like Apatosaurus and Triceratops and Stegosaurus.. you know why ? they were herbivorous...." Kanna too dozed off to sleep , weaving his own dreams!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A small victory!

My childhood days were spent in and around a small township.The township had a hospital, where I was born; good schools where I did my schooling; temples adjacent to our school where we used to bribe God for our tests and exams and also for the tasty prasad of bananas sliced into small triangles and sprinkled with sugar.Our township had small shops where we could purchase all necessary groceries and vegetables, and one Martin's barbershop, where customers queued up for their turn of haircut and to hear Martin's interesting stories.Rather than taking me to a beauty parlor, I was often taken to Martin for trimming my hair, and I used to enjoy his pamperings as a child. After nearly 25 years, still my father has his hair cut by Martin and whenever I go home, my father takes my son to Martin's barber shop, where he still pursues his job with the same old enthusiasm.

I am not going to write on Martin and his hair cutting techniques...... ; I was just trying to fly back in time and pay my obeisance to my Guru MARTIN!
It was in Japan , when I first tried my hand at this art.I do not have any formal training in this arena, but my regular visits to Martin's barbershop would have surely stimulated the artistic expressions in my fingers! Language was always a big hurdle we had to face in Japan.Though I picked up the basics of the language necessary for my survival, initially even the mere task of shopping was Herculean task.After facing umpteen number of embarrassing situations, Our whole team rather preferred to have long hair rather than approach a hair cutting saloon.

I was impressed when one of my Japanese students ,Nishijima San told that she herself cuts her husband's and children's hair.All our team members including my husband PP were now slowly transforming into Neolithic Homo Sapiens with enough hair to put two tiny ponies!This was when I first armed myself with scissors and comb and cajoled my husband into agreeing to be my guinea pig! (privilege of the newly wed)!. I inwardly saluted my guru , and started to cut in all directions...My hands just moved according to my imagination....After the job was done I knew it was not perfect... but PP gave me a satisfying smile...( you know why? ... he could only see his front cut... if he dared to see his back cut: but he was least bothered.....)

This was my strength ! With each haircut I learned a few tactics and techniques...Today I manage to give a decent haircut to PP and my two boys....And also save $35 on the 3 haircuts! .... I rejoice in this small victory!

Enjoy this virtual haircut (hat tip to Mishmash). Do use your head phones for a good laugh!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A secret formula!!

An instant rewiring occurs in your cerebrum and within no time your priorities change, your attitude changes. The only thing that is permanent in life is change! Yes, when one takes a leap into motherhood,what occurs is a metamorphosis. One sheds the layers of youth and finds oneself suddenly embraced in the new layer of womanhood.Those thoughts which once diverged to your likes, dislikes, your passions , pursuits , your hobbies , jobs ... all now seem to converge at one core, your child.

My passions and interests blurred away into the unseen past, as I cloistered happily into the innocent warmth of my baby. His smile, giggles and baby talk filled up my whole space and time. I was away from my home land, in a new environment , surrounded by a new culture. I was not woken up by the bicycle bells of the milkman or paperwala, or by the spluttering sound of the mustard seeds in hot oil accompanied by the aroma from the kitchen. As I peered down from our eighth floor balcony all I could see was people rushing for their jobs and kids rushing to school. My husband too had to rush early to his office. But I never felt lonely, I was charmed by the unearthly beauty and love that sparkled from my baby.

When he was 4 months he turned over on his tummy gleaming with pride at his new achievement, on his new world view; at five he managed to sit upright, not yet mobile, still unable to explore new horizons.Whenever I turned on my music system ,I noticed his head and tiny hands keeping in rhythm with the music. I was excited, and in order to amuse him started to dance with the music. Like a doll which responds with the turn of a key, he would blush with peels of laughter which automatically was reflected on my face too! I wanted to amuse him more, and one day took out my precious dancing bells (Chilanka), which I had not used since I conceived. This time I had a dance music on and danced with my dancing bells, and to my amazement I found my only audience sit upright and clap his hands with a toothless smile.

I was possessed by an intense desire to perform. But circumstances were different now. I was not in India where there was more exposure and oppurtunuties for my art.Here I had a wonderful audience, my baby who never hesitated in applauding and appreciating my every move and turn. Keeping my desire burning within I danced everyday before, the best audience ever, satisfied after every performance.

Days passed, my baby was fully accustomed to every step I took and every expression that came along. One day, my husband announced the 30th Anniversary of FORD in Taiwan (Ford was a client of my husband's company) and proudly said that I was asked to perform Indian dance. The secret formula had worked once again for me. A formula???

yes! I know formula that has worked wonders for me....

"Desire + Effort = Grace" You should have a strong desire and should put in your maximum effort, you can harvest miraculous results!

I danced for the anniversary celebrations before a huge audience, but my precious little one was enjoying every move from the front row in his father's lap, applauding and smiling his toothless smile!