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I would like to talk about the two books by James Clavell – The Shogun and Tai-pan this time. I remember picking Shogun when I was at college and then put it down intimidated by the size (around 1200 pages) and that too it was in fine print – usual Rs 40 per copy print. Now my co-brother read it and reminded be of the author and the book again. V was surprised to know I haven’t yet read Shogun and promptly picked up the book from the library the next time he went.

Shogun – It was such a pleasure to read the book and Shogun made an interesting read, totally awesome. It is really good to read a very enticing story set in the boring history period of British incursion int0 Asian countries. We read so much in history and forget all about it… Later when you end up reading a story related to that period it all comes back to you! I learnt more about WWs in Fiction novels than what I learnt in History during school days! May be we should have stories to go with the history lessons making them more appealing rather than make kids remember dates by rote!

Anyway back to the book, the story is about a British sailor / adventurer Blackthorne , the Japanese woman Mariko he falls head over heels in love with and an indestructible Japanese Lord Toronaga who aspires or should I say conspires to become the Shogun of Japan.  Blackthorne’s ship docks in the shores of a Japanese village and he and his crew are taken captive. What would shock you is how primitive the ways of the British sailors are to the Japanese people and how soon Blackthorne realizes the errors in his way of living and tries to emulate the Japanese and ends up becoming a Samurai. The word HONOR means everything to the people there and something as trivial as taking a bath is a ritual to them as is drinking Tea or watching a rock grow!! I knew bath was not a regular act back in those early days in Britain (of course only  from other books), but this book just blatantly points out the savage ways that existed in the West when the East was so advanced in the cleanliness and spiritual awareness.

The writing of Clavell has an addictive quality and you just don’t realize you are really reading a humongous book! All the characters are interesting and unpredictable and you can never guess what would happen next. There is a lot of violence in the book – seppukku – honor suicide when one fails their duty is the most common. But you will end up admiring that unwavering commitment they have to their role and how they would rather commit honorable assisted-suicide rather than live with the shame of failure. I was in particular stunned at one point, when one Japanese general enters the Warlord’s quarters, on his way thinking about how the guard at the door is the husband of his favourite grand daughter and how much he is looking forward to seeing his great grand kids, from that couple, grow up.  The very next scene is that there is somehow a breach of security and there is a foiled attempt on the Warlord. The instant the danger is averted the same Japanese general says the guard should commit seppukku for failing his duty without even a second thought. There is not even a hesitation in his mind or words and the author doesn’t even attempt to explain the situation, such is the Japanese way of holding on to their honor. The same general in a week requests the warlord to allow his grand daughter and her one year old son to commit seppukku as they do not want to live with the shame of the guard. The general however doesn’t approve it and ends up assigning that grand daughter as a courtesan to Samurai Blackthorne, who is addressed as Anjin-san throughout the book. Sharing the quarters with a savage Westerner-turned-Samurai is the punishment to her!!

The strategies of Lord Toronaga are so astounding in nature and I wondered how James Clavell could conjure up such conniving schemes. All the details of the war and the culmination of the plot to the final climax is all so clearly laid-out that leaves you awe-struck. How can I forget to mention the most beautiful love story that was running all through the story.. The love shared by Blackthorne and Mariko is really magical and you wish them a life of togetherness though you know it may not happen.  I am not sure how much of a clear representation of the Japanese culture and civilization  the book is of the 17th century Japan, but what James Clavell portrays, he does it with such a confidence that I just want to believe him. I was also amazed at how the Catholic Church already had its presence in Japan and how the politics of the country was shaped a little by them!! I always admire the Church for the strong conviction they have in their religion and how far and wide spread they took the message of God as they know it. The Catholic Church, of course saw the Protestant sailors as a threat to all they had built so far in the country and they try to make it difficult for Anjin-san. The friction between the parties involved is gripping! Anyway I think I am giving too much plot away and my brain is already screaming “Spoiler Alert” . So I would stop here! Please do read this book when you get a chance.

Tai-pan – Smitten by the work of James Clavell in Shogun, I picked Tai-pan right next. Infact Tai-pan is an earlier book by the author. This book was indeed entertaining in its own way. This book is set in the turbulent days of the establishment of Hong-Kong and is about Dirk Struan who has been accorded the honorable title of Tai-pan and his rival Tyler Brock. There is a constant power struggle between them and their need to establish their trading company in Hong-Kong that would serve to trade with Mainland China. Dirk Struan is a man defined only in contradictions, a visionary who wants to open up China to the West and is an unorthodox manipulator, but is also portrayed very humane.

In this book, the Tai-pan though seems to work establishing his trading house – the Noble house as the leader among the British traders, actually looks at a long term goal of reaping the benefits of a trade agreement with China. The tea trade and the Opium trade and their economics are easily portrayed and I understood why the English promoted tea cultivation in India and why it was important for them to not be dependent on China for Tea! The Asian saga of James Clavell I am sure would teach more History to students than any traditional academic history books. 🙂 That said I am now more equipped to teach S and A their history with a better understanding!

Again how can the Church not be there in a book set in Asia, however closed Mainland China is to everyone else, the Church has it presence there already!

James Clavell truly loves Asia why else he would take such effort to bring about the finer points in the culture and have the hero of his stories emulate them and make them appreciate and balance the ways of Europe and Asia. Of the two books Shogun and Taipan, I liked Shogun better, but trust me, both are incredibly readable and would suck you into the plot and make you live along with the Characters.

I will be sure to pick up Noble house by James Clavell soon to followup on what happened after Tai-pan ended! :)I have been totally busy at both personal and work front and I have been having this entry WIP for like close to three weeks.. I just seemed to have some spare time today and here I complete the entry.

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S and A play together a lot these days and A is such a copy cat and tends to do all that S does and even occasionally wear S’s necklaces! I wonder if I can encourage all this cross dressing.. 🙂 But I guess he will learn on his own and stay away later… Seems too premature to stop him from all the innocent enjoyment…  We got S so many stuffed toys when she was growing up, but she wouldn’t play with them much. But A is forever cuddling Mickey mouse, Minnie mouse and Goofy. He cutely holds them to his chest and carries them over to the bed, for his naptime these days. The royal treatment given to CARS has been transferred to the Mickey family now.. 🙂

A is totally into Ice age Scrat, and in the last few weeks would have watched the three parts at least three times!   He even seems to follow the story a little bit to our amazement, and his sister also keep narrating the story to him. There is this scene in the Dinosaur part where Sid would mistake an Ox for a cow and try getting milk for  the dinosaur babies. In a minute, he would be running away shouting “I thought you were a female!” S was ‘explaining’ this scene to A and he laughed as if he understood! It is like he doesn’t want to disappoint S, so he plays along with her all the time. I really wish they grow up sharing this special bond always.

As much as S still complains to me about my singular attention to A, she truly is excited when A says new words.. Like the other day we were watching an old video of S and it was her first birthday party, immediately A started singing cutely ‘APPY BDAY TOUU’  all in one word. We never knew till that moment he had learnt that. He seems to pick up a lot from his daycare and we learn it in moments like this. S was so excited that she gave a huge hug to him and was telling him she is SO proud of him!!! A was beaming with joy and kept repeating it to get the same attention from her. Those are moments I wish I could freeze forever in my memory.

A’s vocab – at least those we know as of now that he can say :

1. I wan Sheeseee – He says waiting near the Fridge holding a cup and spoon he would take from the dishwasher. Cottage cheese still tops his fav food list, in fact fills the later positions too!  🙂

2. I wan waterrr – He says waterrr with a twist in the R thats so cute and he asks water not for drinking but to

  • either wash his hot wheels car or choo choo train
  • put his bourbon biscuit in and mash it to a gooey and use it to color his toys
  • clean our table, laptops if he can, and then ask for tishu (tissue) to clean them up.

3. Go ouside He takes our hand and leads us to the main door and says “Go ousidee”. If our shoes are outside the closet, he would bring them to us and say “Go ouside” . He is really an outdoorsy person, hates to come back home after shopping trips. He would not even care about his meals when we are out, he can skip meals, naps, anything to be out with us. S used to be like that too; somehow I am blessed with two kids who don’t get cranky even if I change their schedule upside down.

4. Santa Santa, Ho Ho Ho – Holiday time of the year and A now knows the lovable Santa and cutely repeats “Santa Santa, Ho Ho Ho” ,whenever he sees a Christmas tree or any bright setting with shades of green and red in it! 🙂

5. Horshee and Dog – He knows Dog quite well and  Horse is everything that has four legs and not dog! Even elephant is a horshee for him right now.

6. Washsh – The moment there is some cereal or food on  his hand or cheek, he would immediately want to wash up, also he thinks once I wash his face, his food time is done! 🙂 so tries to take that shortcut at times to avoid food…. also he takes tissue from us when his tshirt gets wet and tries to wipe off the wetness!!

7. Stickerr – He loves the stickers he gets at the Drs office and says stickerr over and over till we come home. He holds on to it dearly!

Apart from all this he does talk a lot, but just that we have not figured them out yet!! 🙂

A also watches Toy story, all the three parts and the best is his reaction to the movie scenes. When the mean dog goes after Woody or Buzz, he would close his mouth with his fingers and say Doggg… 🙂 He has the cutest ever fear in his face for Buzz/Woody! For those who follow Tamil movies, his reaction is comparable to Saroja Devi’s ooohh reaction to MGR!

I have to mark 31st Dec 2011 in our lives, as that was the first day A and my DH fought! A was in a yet another naughty spree where he was throwing his toys all around the  living room. My DH raised his voice against him and told him to cleanup, A was all worked up at the reaction and he was non-stop ‘talking’ back to V. He would talk few gibberish sentences, move away from V, may be to take a deep breath (:) and then come back to shout again.. It was soooooooooo cute that I just wanted to lift him and cuddle him. But dint want to break the moment too. V cudn’t help laughing and we all started laughing so hard that A looked at the three of us like, why wud he be part of this lunatic family!! 🙂

Now onto S… Last week when we were traveling in our car, S got so bored with the GPS voice that she said she wished there was a mute setting in the GPS and before I could ask her how we would get the directions then, she said the GPS in the mute setting, should have captioning for what it says and that we should follow that to drive around! 🙂

December was the month S looked forward so much – being her bday month… It did turn out to be awesome for her. She had her dream party at the Y and 14 of her 18 classmates attended her party and with all the holiday sales on, she got the best presents ever! 🙂 She got a beautiful necklace with S as a rhinestone pendant from a boy in her class who apparently according to her, has a crush on her! OMG was my reaction though I didnt show it out. I did not know of the word Crush till I was 17 years old, of course I did know the feeling but dint know the word for it! 🙂 And here my daughter loosely uses it at 7! There is already a generation gap….

The December agenda in her class at school was discussion of holiday traditions. When the teacher has initiated a discussion on Christmas, S had told her that she doesn’t celebrate the holiday and when questioned, had gone on to explain how Diwali is the most important festival for Hindus et al! She has also offered to her teacher that she can call me to come to the class and explain to everyone. Promptly her teacher mailed me about her idea and asked if I can present to the kids some information about Diwali.  Just the earlier week, I had substituted for her SS teacher at the Indian school she attends on Saturday. It was a surprise for her to see me at the class that day and she was thrilled to have me there and was beaming all through the class. Her hands shot up for every question and was disappointed I dint pick her up every time! Even after the class, she was telling her friends that it was her mom who was there and she was later asking me if I can do that often! So when she sensed another opportunity at her regular school she had volunteered my services!

Anyway the long story short, with my dear friend G’s help I had a kids-friendly presentation and it was an instant hit at the class. S was again super thrilled and we were both dressed in our ethnic wear at school. Her teacher appreciated S that she was so bold and did not feel shy to be different when they were discussing Christmas and she was asking me how I taught her to be like that. She said most kids wouldn’t want to be different so would just nod for everything. She said S was almost proud when she spoke about Diwali! I was happy hearing that but was thinking, “Lady, you call that pride, but knowing my daughter, it is more like Arrogance! ” 🙂 Anyway jokes apart, I was indeed proud that she was feeling confident enough to tell a diverse crowd about her background!

It is such a blessing to watch the duo grow up and I am enjoying every moment of this!! More to come soon… I still haven’t talked about S’s party and her special month! 🙂

I wish I had more time in hand, S keeps telling may be 24 hrs is not enough time for a day and it does seem true at times. I read so many books and of them there are many books I want to note down for posterity! I am hoping S and A would grow up to be avid readers and ask me for suggestions and I would have all my notes to readily share with them! Books indeed are the window to the world and my perception undergoes immense change with every book I read. Even the dumbest book can give you brilliant insights into stuff you would have stopped to think of. So there is no bad book, just books that move you and those that do not, but still may teach you a new thing or two!

This post is about the two books:

Room by Emma Donoghue and

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

My initial plan was to discuss Shogun, but I recently completed another book, Taipan by James Clavell and I would rather discuss them together in a separate post.

Room by Emma Donoghue – I waited for this book for close to 2 months, when I reserved the book I was 218 in line and even forgot about the book till it became available for checkout. What can I say, this book really moved me and stayed with me for a long time even after I finished it. Not that the plot was any unique, a teenage girl kidnapped and held as a captive without anyone knowing for years together. We have known in recent times that many such freaks exist in this world holding strangers or even wives and kids as captives hiding them for eternity and harassing them. This is a story of one such girl who was kidnapped and held aloof from outside world and she ends up delivering her son in that room and after that life changing event, she makes the purpose of her life to equip the son with all the knowledge she knows and make him strong and eventually with his help escape the “prison”.  The story is narrated by Jack the 5 year old son in his simple words and within the first ten pages of the book, you would be captivated by his narration and your mind would adjust to his thinking ways, addressing inanimate objects in the room as persons.

Within the confines of that room, it is amazing to see the maternal relationship bloom between the duo and how the son literally thinks the WORLD about his mom, after all according to him the world is made of just three people including the nocturnal visitor. The mom’s sincerity in creating a normal life for her son in the form of routines is admirable and she is such an excellent teacher as well. It just goes to show how someone can spend productive hours with a kid with very limited faculties as well, locked in a room. It made me think about the quality time I spend with my kids and how i can improve, and I am not talking about academic skills here! For someone who has spent all his 5 years of existence with his mom, Jack has such good manners when he is outside and treats everyone with respect!! I had to say this for to me, seeing a 7 year old turning into a little rebel right in my family, I am impressed of any kid with good manners,even in a book!! 🙂

The author has captured the effect in the little boy when he is exposed to the outside real world in a holistic manner and it just would move you, when you learn that the boy would rather go back to the safe world he knows, THE ROOM instead of experiencing the real world. The same room is both a heaven for Jack and hell for his mother. If you have not read this book, please do read it!!  It is a must-read kind of a book.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This book was also reserved by me and I waited for a long time to get hold of it and I had the book for just a week, but I did not need a week to complete the book. Once I began this book, I hardly took any breaks in between, every waking moment when I wasn’t attending to the duo in my family, was spent with the book. It was really un-put-downable for me!

I cant wait to read other books by this awesome author and I hope he writes many many more!! This is his debut novel and you need to read the book to understand the Verghese effect I experienced. His narration of the plot and the depth he brought in every character in the book is amazing. The book revolves around the life of conjoined twins(separated at birth) born to an Indian nurse Mary Praise and a British surgeon Thomas Stone. How the birth of the twins Shiva Stone and Marion Stone bring people together and how the lives of the twins is influenced by their foster Indian parents is narrated in a seamless manner and as you watch the twins grow, you also notice the rise and fall of regimes in Ethiopia and get engrossed in the lives of immigrants in Ethiopia. The story begins with the disappearance of the father of the twins after the mother dies in child birth and their father’s disappearance haunts the twins all their life, in particular Marion’s. The foster parents happen to be Doctors as well and the kids grow up right there in the hospital and Shiva even without attending medical school is acclaimed for his successful medical procedures for a common condition in Ethiopia.  The magical relationship that Marion experiences rather imagines with his childhood crush Genet and how the same relationship takes him to death bed and destroys one of the twins, Verghese does have a style in tying all characters together. I loved the characters Dr. Hema and Dr. Ghosh and the influence they had on the twins upbringing. The US stint of Marion was interesting in many aspects and you would be surprised at how even the gory surgery details escape your attention when the story is so heart warming  and you feel kin-like with every character.

This book is another must-read according to me!! I do admit I am not too much critical of any book, I hardly ever say anything bad about a book, to me a book would fare excellent if one doesn’t read the book just to finish it but enjoy along with the characters and feel involved,and hear the author talking. And of course apart from all the good books I put down in my blog, I do read many other fiction books simultaneously but I only write about books that move me, so no wonder I have nothing but praise for the books in my blog! The other books, I just read them till the end before returning to the library! 🙂

Fun and Frolic with A!!

A’s vocabulary has zoomed from just oohs and aahs to intelligible words in just a span of a week! I had this little toddler who was adept at using his sign language to express himself. He was such an expert at it that you will not even realize he is not using his words!!!  Now when I hear this sudden words from him,it is like I don’t even know who is talking!

It is funny and of course quite predictable considering these day’s need for survival for kids at daycare that his first words were

Mine,

Mo and

Go away.

The moment you try to take even his jacket off when he is back from daycare he would shout, MINE, and would refuse to part it away! Same goes for any of his belongings!! You offer him food, the standard response is a vehement Mo with a head shake to support it. As one would have guessed, Mo is No in his language! How much ever we correct him, he still says Mo to even our corrections and sticks to his ‘Mo’. I have to wait and see if he is actually going to use M for all the N words..  When I used to be a toddler, my mom said I used to substitute Ka for Va. May be in just this thing, hez taking after me for the mazhalai! 🙂 And he says ‘Go away’ so cutely when he decides it is time to move away from that place. It is not aimed at us, it is like ‘lets go away’ kind to move from one room to another! When we are all set to call it a day and end up in the bed, he would say ‘go away’ and try to climb down the bed!

A also got this sudden enlightenment about all the Disney characters around him, especially the CARSH, BUZZZZ and POO.. I dont think he realized he had a Toy Story blanket till recently, now he cant let go of it, he goes around the house lugging it along! He points to Woody and Buzz and calls them by the same name Buzzzz… He is equally fascinated by Lightning McQueen and even more by Mater, both go by the same name CARSHH for him. We knew about his interest in Disney CARS only when we went boots shopping for him. He flatly refused to cooperate getting into a trial boots, but the moment V picked up a CARS character boots, he started meditating CARSHH and was more than happy to try them out and we were not able to take it off him even for the billing! He then decided to wear his heavy snow boots even for pleasant days, the teachers had to force the boots off him at daycare. So we went shoe shopping again to find him a Buzz Woody shoe that again had his sudden liking. Now he is happy to wear that all day and on colder days, we are planning to show him the CARSH boots.. 🙂 The day after we got him the toy story shoe, he got up in the morning, went in search of the shoe first thing and was contentedly moving round with the box in his hand! How easy he gets attached to stuff!! And this reach the Disney characters have on toddlers, it is amazing. Only now S is out of all her Disney idols and has moved on to real rock stars, which again is not quite right.. I quite bear to see her in a JB or a SG night suit.. 🙂 Now the Disney character promoters have A to thank for making us spend our money over the Disney stuff for few more years to come!

A’s other favorites are ‘SHTOP’, ‘SIT’ and ‘TATA’. He also says ‘SHEESE’ for Cottage cheese and wants to begin his day with cottage cheese! 🙂 He starts and ends every meal with cottage cheese. He also says ‘THEETHAA’ for water and when he doesnt drink it, he uses the water he gets to keep his bath toys afloat in any container of his choice. 🙂 When you are home, you can never be too careful when handling his toys! Anything can be his container and you might wet the carpet if you are not careful!

The bed time ritual has also underwent some changes; once he decides to call it a day he would not stop nudging me till I take him to the bed, all the while telling good night to V and S pointing his hand at his head. Incase he forgets that, I would ask him to go back to the living room to say good night and I would hear him shout AAAAAH in the living room to take everyone’s attention and point good night to all at the same time and he would rush back to the bed. How can I miss the most important part?? Even before he settles himself, he would tirelessly lug all his CARSH into the bed, arrange them next to his pillow, get his CARSH blankie and only then he would be ready to sleep. During weekends, we would bring his Toy Story blankie from his daycare, so weekend ritual would include getting that blankie as well. This little one will be bundled with two blankies!! 🙂

A has always been fascinated by anything on wheels, but lately his excitement reaches peaks when he sees cars and he plays for hours together just with them! I guess boys will be boys and girls, girls! Somehome my kids have compartamentalized both their interests and if I draw a Venn diagram for their interests it would only be two separate circles! I remember getting S, cars when she was little and at the end V and I would end up playing with them and she just ignored them totally! Same with the Thomas train tracks we got her, may be we should have saved them all for A!

Apart from Cars and Toystory characters, Winnie the Pooh fascinate A. He shouts Poooo when he sees Pooh. He loves watching Pooh cartoons any time of the day. He also seems to prefer rock bands already! He loves Wiggles, the children band. We even have the Wiggles audios saved in CDs, to play them during our day trips to engage him. He dances so cutely and repeats any action the song would expect of the kids. I thought he was a little early for Wiggles, but apparently he doesnt think so! Just the Wiggles VCD cover excites him, he even attempts to sing the Laaas and Aaahs in few songs!

It is such a joy to watch him grow and he adds twinkle and sparkle to our lives!!! Cant wait to see what all he has in store for us!

Scene 1 : S very seriously told A the other day that he really has to learn all about ROMANCE.. The capitalization is for the stress she gave to the word! They both were watching a Tom n Jerry show where Tom fancies a she-cat and Jerry sabotages their date! I was about to ask her what she actually knew about it, but stopped myself as I wasn’t sure I was ready for the answer! 🙂

Scene 2: A and I were waiting for S’s school bus outside our apartment. S comes in and A is all super-excited just seeing the bus and ta-da, she rushes to him and gives him a big bear hug and kisses him in both the cheeks. A beams at me with joy, unsure of how to react to this sudden expression of affection from S! Usually it is A who dotes on S and she hardly pays attention to him! Looks like that day S read a story at school about a mean sister and how she taunts her baby brother, so it had struck her that may be she was being a litttle bit mean to A, hence the special attention. Of course, it goes without saying that she forgot that story part from the next day.. It was just a singular moment of truth for her!!

Scene 3: A runs after a boy in our apartment quite innocently and S shouts after him, “A, you are not supposed to like boys, you have to run after girls! Remember that!”  Quite an embarrassing moment, as there were quite a number of people around! Anyway S at least for now thinks heterosexuality is the way to go! SO good for me.. 🙂

Scene 4: I am in the kitchen (as always :() and I hear A laughing aloud!! I run to him and there he is holding a book upside down and finding the characters hilarious! May be becoz they were upside down, God only knows, but of late he goes over his books on his own and laughs at certain pages quite knowingly!! It is REALLY a fun sight to behold… He is growing up to be a very happy and contended child, very much like his sister.

Scene 5: S sometimes fixes her own breakfast. She was looking for butter one day in the fridge and found out much to her dismay that V has kept the butter in the freezer by mistake! She gave us both a warning about not to repeat this again, and still was not convinced that we would remember that. She wrote on bright fluorescent post-its and stuck on the fridge. Her message was”

Dear Mommy and Daddy, The butter goes in the fridge! NOT THE FREEZER!!! From: S

And she also had a Post-it on the freezer door that said “See Notes Please” and an arrow mark pointing down to her post-it. As a matter of adding redundancy to prevent the mistake, she had another post-it next to the Fridge door! 🙂

Here is the picture of her post-its.. Isn’t she funny?

Scene 6: S asks this question to us out of the blue. “Did you guys give birth to me, so you will always have someone to scold?” She was so serious that we just couldn’t dismiss that remark.  Granted we have been a little demanding once her school began, and mostly it had to do with keeping her things organized and be a little more careful around A and not litter stuff that A should not be playing with. Looks like she has really taken all that to heart and has thought it over and cornered us with that question. After an hour long discussion, she was kind of ok, still we are going to be watching for early signs before she bursts out again! It is really tough to be tough with her! 🙂

Scene 7: S thinks making spelling mistakes is alright as the rules are very stupid according to her. Why would you have a silent letter when you are not going to pronounce the letter. And how come two exact same spellings be pronounced in two different ways based on the context. She says if someone has made these silly rules, she can make her own rules too! These days kids live by their own rules, I mean they just dont take anything for granted and need explanations! Talking of rules, she has also prepared her own set of Math rules! 🙂 All sorts of cheat codes already like adding a 9 to a single digit number is reduce the number by 1 and add 10. It was quite an interesting read, the way her mind worked. Nothing defies logic, still it was her own logic and inference.. In the same context, one homework paper from school had a list of single digit additions and at the end there was a space to explain the reasoning for the answer to at least one of the problems in the list. S’s answer in the note was “I dont know, I just knew the answer.” See this.. 🙂 She has been doing single digit additions already in her last school may be she was bored. I usually never correct her home work as a principle. If she makes a mistake, it is up to the teacher to correct her and believe me kids react better to the teacher’s comments than the mother’s!

Scene 8:The moment our car pulls into our parking lot, A starts crying. He hates to get back home, he would rather keep going someplace or the other rather than returning! Even when we just lift him and bring him in, he flatly would refuse to take his coat and shoes off, thinking there would still be a chance of going out as long he doesn’t change! It is getting to be too much trouble everyday after he is back from the daycare. We have to perform all kinds of theatrics to get him to remove them! This, from a boy who refused to sit on the car seat and used to cry even when we were traveling for an hour day trip, what can I say!! With kids, change is the only constant phenomenon!

Scene 9: A has discovered the world of communication by actions! He is mastering the ability to communicate perfectly without using a single word, with just actions and prompting sounds that tell us if we have understood him or not. He would take us by holding our finger to wherever the place of action is and then point to what he wants and then do an action, like drink to tell us what he wants. If we pick up the wrong item, he would vehemently shake his head from side to side and hit once on his head to highlight how stupid we are not understanding him! 🙂  If we do pick up the right item, he would clap his hands to appreciate our good job! 🙂  Whenever he does a good job, we would clap and encourage him and also say Good job, now he uses the same tactic with us without actually saying ‘Good job’! 🙂 Hez such a funny little fellow!

Scene 10: A does this scrunched-up nose routine when he is up to some mischief! When we are all watching some show on the TV quite seriously, he would just march in and switch off the TV main button and turn to us and would scrunch-up his nose and his eyes would glitter with the joy of  doing something worthwhile grabbing our attention! And the moment we start saying Bad Job A, he would get sober and the second he hears No as part of any phrase, No A, or No way, or Not a good job, he would crack up and close his eyes with his little hands and fake cry would start! I am smiling even as I am writing this.. It would be so funny to watch him that we would crack up and laugh, then he would immediately stop the cry and flash his million-dollar smile at us and run to us! Needless to add, S will be like, ‘You guys are never tough on him..” 🙂

I guess I am really going overboard with all this stuff.. There seems to be so much to add but I guess they can wait for another post!

This is again a post about not a single book,but many! I have been reading so many lately, but very little time to put them down in the blog. 🙂

I found this new author M. L. Malcolm and read her debut novel which is the first one in a series of two books and I read the sequel right after. She was a good find! I mean I have been reading a lot of new authors and not many really hook you up with their style. This author has the makings of a good one. The books are very fast paced and she takes you to the place where the stories are set, takes you through the first world war and what it did to people. The books would appeal to any historical fiction reader. The books are Heart of Lies and Heart of Deception.

Heart of Lies – The protagonist is Leo Hoffman who is a multi-linguist Hungarian National who is extremely smart and can think on his feet. The first book is a beautiful love story between Leo and Martha and their love spans continents when Leo has to move to Shanghai to escape prison, start his life all over. It is just incredible that Martha leave her safety zone and travels all the way to Shanghai to join him. Their love story is woven around the WW I events and Shanghai seems to be a place without borders and where anyone can salvage their life! The author just transports you from Europe to Asia to Shanghai and you feel you are right there with the couple and watch them settle down and Leo getting embroiled in local politics and how he survives and emerges a winner in the end. When the first book ends, you just cant wait to pick up the sequel.

Heart of Deception – The sequel is as un-put-downable as the first one! This ventures into the later years of Leo and how he strives to connect with his daughter who is safe in America. It is not easy for him, as his daughter thinks he abandoned her and blames her for the loss of  The plot is riveting and enjoyable, and you almost feel bad when the book ends and you know there is no more to it.Leo continues to be a spy, working hard to gain entry to America, to be united with his daughter. The life of the spy and the many reasons that motivate them is portrayed beautifully and the rundown of the events in Morocco and North Africa during the WW II is awesome. It transports you to the places and makes you empathize for all those who worked in the ‘enemy’ territory during wars. I can read any number of books based on the world war and still be moved however lame the book may turn out to be. The way it affected people all around the globe is so terrifying and my secret desire is that there is never a WW III in our lifetimes or I should say rather never.. What if I get caught in one in my rebirth? 🙂

This new author is definitely on my watch list so I read her new books!

I have been reading books off the shelves of the library at random these days, looking for interesting reads. One such book that I picked recently that was kind of good was ‘Rich Again’ by Anna Maxted.

Rich Again – The book cover was quite deceptive and I was expecting a chic novel, however it turned out to be a dark mystery novel. I could find in it the likes of Sidney Sheldon mystery – just that the plot here was quite deep and there was a dense story line building up. It talks about a dysfunctional family in which every family member is taunted by a mystery enemy force, no one even realizes that the misgivings they face are from a common enemy!  The climax is quite nail biting involving kids and is quite a fitting end, though it is quite a drama. A very different reading experience in the middle of historical novels!

After finishing this book, I picked up another one of Anna Maxted – Getting over it.

Getting Over it – This book was nothing like Rich Again, totally different, chic-book and completely funny! There was nothing remotely even dark about this. I even had to check if this was by the same author! Anyway here the story line was about a late twenties woman who loses her dad suddenly and how she ‘gets over’ the loss, all the while supporting her mom, even at the cost of ruining her romantic life. She suddenly finds her mom all dependent on her and she finds it quite choking and she has no time to relieve her sadness and seems to be reacting to everything that is happening around her rather than think and act! The mess she makes of her life and how she gets back in control is the book crux. There is a wry humor in every line and would bring a smile to your lips as you read it. It was an enjoyable read though it could have been cut short a bit, there were extensive chapters that you wish would end and the story would move! Anyway two different books from the same author. I am not sure I am ready for another Anna Maxted in the recent future.

The next book I read was so AWESOME and I am sure once I start about that, this post would not end any soon. So I am reserving it for the next post. Anyway the book I am referring to is Shogun by James Clavell.

I read in a book recently that the worst fear of any woman in her middle age is to hear someone say that she is turning out to be JUST like her mother.. I also heard the same statement in another movie and this just set me thinking if that’s applicable to me. If someone were to say that to me, that would be the GREATEST compliment I would ever receive. I am born to this incredibly amazing individual who has touched many lives and is still doing everyday! First of all, she makes these beautiful babies (including me.. ;)) , raises them so well and in the process, inculcates common sense and compassion in the kids and even in the friends of the kids. She is as selfless a person in a familial life can get and has never taught a wrong value to the four of us, her daughters. And she did all this with no help from baby center or any books. She had had all her babies before the age I was even married! And here I was at my marriage thinking I became committed a little too early and years before at the same age, my mom had 4 daughters already! I can just not fathom how scared she would have been holding me, her first-born when she was just 20 yrs old! 🙂 i mean it was quite common in those days still, the mental strength she had moving away from her village to the city and from being a single totally adored daughter to being the 5th daughter-in-law in a huge joint family. She used to recount her early days that it took her a while to know everyone’s name and relationship in the family!!

When she learnt she was expecting my twin sisters in a scan that changed her life drastically, she had tears in her eyes seeing them in the scan. The scan people thought those were the first kids of the young lady lying there, when she said she already had two daughters at home, as expected, there was this loud sad sigh from the technicians. From then on, everywhere she turned, she was only getting sad stares and how she ever could raise and provide for 4 daughters with a single income was everyone’s concern! Then my parents had consciously decided that never would they let anyone’s reaction affect them and it was their duty to raise us and it cannot be anyone’s worry. They also decided not to react to the empathy and never give in or break down, no matter what they hear from others. That said, I don’t remember a single instance in all my life, when my parents worried over us – the fact about having all daughters. Of course we did not spare them of the typical worries any teenager or head strong children would give! We gave them our share of troubles and they did have to worry about that, it was just that any function we would attend, we would attract all the attention – the young parents with four daughters and they would just march in with their heads high and were never bored to repeat to people they were really not worried about our future! 🙂

I have no idea how she provided for us with none of us ever thinking we were deprived of anything. There were not many hand-me-downs for my sisters as well. She was an excellent planner and had tremendous positive energy that permeated our whole household and no problems were ever too big for us to manage. I remember the super busy mornings when she gets breakfast and lunch fixed for all the four of us going to school and also simultaneously get us all ready. When it is time for our school van to pick us up a street away, she would be the first one to march out of our home with our bags calling for us – me and my first sis. 🙂 We would then follow her and would be right in time for the van always. Now looking back, I cant believe how she kept the time with no calls to the van attender’s mobile, whereas I always used to check with S’s van attender before coming out of the home to wait for her school van! 🙂 After sending us off, she would take my youngest twin sisters to the local school. All four of us never missed a competition at school, especially the fancy dress competition or any other activity requiring parent-involvement, she always had time for all of us. We never felt deprived of her attention or time.

She was very particular on our extra-curricular activities as well! Both me and my first sis, were quite regular to music classes till one day a mosquito entered my mouth during an Alapanai and that stopped me from going anymore.. Even at that young age, I remember skipping music class with another friend of mind and visiting a neighboring woods. As our luck turned out, we were caught the same day when my sister reported to my mom of my absence in the class and also the music teacher’s family person met us at the woods and brought us back home. I still remember how my mad my friend’s parents were and remember her cries after the beating she received; but my mom was cool as a cucumber and just told me about all the things that could have gone wrong that day and that scared me more than anything. She made me promise I would never do that again. It is not that she was never mad with us, but she always knew at every situation what kind of her reaction would have the maximum effect on us! She also signed me up for a Hindi tuition 12 miles away from my home! After school, for two days in a week I used to take public transportation up and down from Porur to Triplicane, for 1.5 hours to attend a half hour class. She wanted what was best for us, even if it meant trouble for her and for us. She was bold and wanted nothing less than that from us; I cant imagine sending S for a class that far away, however important that could have been.

Growing up, I had no trouble sharing any of my secrets with her and she would never judge me or my friends even after knowing what we have been upto! 🙂  And now that all our sisters are in our own families, she has turned out to be a wonderful in-law as well to our husbands and she never questions our decisions and has 0% interference in our lives. That is such a rare quality right, even if we ask her for advice, she would stop with just that and not try to influence us at all. That has made her the special MIL to our spouses! Anyway there is no way I can talk about her in just one post! This is like less than 1% of all the wonderful memories I would like to share! May be I should write a separate book!! 🙂

This is the Super woman in my life who shaped my life and is still making me better, with many of her insights and I owe anything that is good in me to her. 🙂