Lullabies and More

I have fallen in love with MLV’s Jo Jo Rama. A simple composition, yet how calming it is. Bombay Jayashree’s rendition of the same just doesn’t work for me. It is way too slow.

Talking about slow lullabies, my most favourite is Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan’s Omana Thingal. It is one of those perfect pieces where the voice is as soothing as the piano and I love the lyrics too.

Come to think of it, slow lullabies never worked for my children. I had to carry them, walk fast and sing song after song. Nowadays, there are no lullabys or bedtime stories. All I do is fall asleep along with them! Am catching up with all those sleep of those sleepless years I guess!

Even as I typing this, fast music is suddenly turned on at the place I am in. That kind of super-fast foot-tapping beats that will definitely induce some energy in you.

I mull over music and its various shades. Joy, melancholy, tears, smile, motivation, relaxation or pure, plain entertainment, it is only music that turns out to be THE best companion!

Those Lazy, Cranky Days!

You know those crazy days, don’t you? That kind of a day when your child starts to unleash his naughty acts. When he refuses to eat what is usually his preferred food. When you’re sure that you are going to have a crying spree from your daughter because she has way too many things to be excited about and that is indeed what she ends up doing.

Then there is the sink overflowing with dishes to be washed. The laundry waiting to be done. The new school books waiting to be covered and labelled. Dinner waiting to be cooked.

Causing it all was the rainy pleasant weather which gave such a lazy beginning to the day that the already sleep-deprived you just couldn’t pull yourself out of the bed! And when this resulted in you almost dozing off during Shavasana when doing yoga, you can bet this is how the day will turn out to be!

Yes, it is the weather that I am going to blame which resulted in the outdoor play time of R getting reduced which resulted in his poor appetite.

Keeping R engaged indoor needed much more time and energy resulting in all other mundane chores being put on hold.

The weather delayed the clothes getting dried up which postponed the laundry chore getting done.

All these resulted in me becoming as cranky and irritated as my own children. Should I tell you anything more about the state in which I am in right now?

Rainy days are fun only when the only thing you have to do is to sit back and indulge on a hot samosa or a pakoda. 😛 It is no fun when you have a never-ending, ever-pending long list of chores and tasks to be done. Sigh!

96

It was during one of those sleepless nights like today’s that I watched the movie 96. The story or the songs or the few scenes from the trailer didn’t really impress me. But when I watched the movie fully, there was one thing that I could identify with – nostalgia!

There was the lead character Ram who was still holding on to his time and memories with Janu so close to his heart and hadn’t fully moved on from the past.

There was Janu who, though seemed to have moved on with her life for all practical purposes and appeared to have accepted all that had happened and not happened, was still holding on to those memories and feelings as fervently as Ram.

Yes, there were some flashbacks that were boring to me and there were way too many tears in the present scenes and the love story in itself didn’t seem any special. Yet, there was this one thing that made me keep watching the movie till the end and even get reminded of it at random moments – the portrayal of nostalgia!

Be it Ram excitedly recollecting the places in Thanjavur, the place where he spent his childhood, from the passenger seat of the car or stepping inside his old school or all the students of the class excitedly catching up wih each other after so many years or be it the class reunion or be it the fond reminiscences of the past by Ram and Janu, it was that nostalgia written all over the movie that appealed to me more than anything else.

Of course, the cinematography was superb, there was this enjoyment of watching Madras on screen and Vijay Sethupathi was excellent as usual!

When Sleep Eludes

I take the mobile to see the time. 23:55. I wonder why I am still wide awake. Is it because I am still in India time zone? Or is it because R is still in the excited holiday mood and is having a restless sleep? Or is it because S didn’t fall asleep till 22:45 and every time I was about to doze off, I was continued to be woken up? Or is it because I am finding myself completely relaxed from deep within since I wrapped up all the chores from sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, dishwashing, unpacking the luggage to getting the menu planned for the entire day tomorrow with the few vegetables available at home? Or is it because of the happiness I feel thinking back to the India trip, that feel-good feeling which comes being at my beloved home that is Madras and being only a few kilometres away from my own parents? Madras! Sigh!

As I wait for the words to flow….

This blog has been left to rust yet again by me. There definitely has not been a dearth of thoughts or happenings to be written about, but, barring a few sentences here and there, I have just not been able to sit and write lengthy posts. The words just refused to pour though and I just refused to prioritize my creative pursuits of any sort having been totally wrapped up in the parenting responsibilities and housekeeping chores.
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Nostalgic Moments at the Library!

On a visit to the Central Library at Bugis after several months, I stepped inside the all-too-familiar children’s section which houses this beautiful mock treehouse having recycled plastic bottles on ceiling doubling up as branches and leaves. The children’s section had underwent renovation and the treehouse with baby-friendly chairs and rocking stools all around it were inaugurated only in mid 2013. The collection of books was as attractive to me as it was to my daughter.

The year 2014 was when we spent at least an hour there every week as we let our then 2-year old daughter play all around the tree house, choose her own books and read those with her. I absolutely loved all those colourful baby books which were made all the more fun by having all those interesting features like flaps. Spot the pup, Usborne publishers’ book featuring that little, yellow duck hidden in all the pages, ABCD or counting books, numerous books on farms, Olivia the pig, Elmo teaching ABCD, animals, etc. and so on. Spot the pup series was the one S enjoyed so much that she called herself Spot and called her father and I by the name of Spot’s parents, Sam and Sally.

Yesterday, as I automatically turned towards our favourite board books section, the age group printed for that category brought with it with the cliched thought of how time flies! 0-3 years, said the board. Now, both my children have crossed that age group!

My thoughts didn’t stop with all the stages and baby milestones that my children have crossed or the reading milestones that S has crossed as she can now read all the children’s books and magazines on her own and even reads all his books for R too or the way R can mimic the phonic sounds of letters of small words now. In a year or so, he will also start reading simple books.

This library means more to us than just reminding us of our love for books and reading. This was a part of our weekly routine which only got completed with a visit to Krishnar temple, walking through Waterloo Street, which, to me, showcases perfectly all things typically Singapore, and shopping at Fairprice at the now demolished Rochor Centre.

As I went through a wave of feel-good memories, I found myself having a relaxing moment. And what better place to relax than a library which has this huge collection of books and comfortable seating to sit back and read and a small treehouse for babies and children to take their books to and ‘read’!

Coming back to the children’s section of the library itself, the rocking stools and chairs have been replaced with fewer chairs, the baby book collection not as much as it used to be. I couldn’t find even one Spot the puppy book. Have all been borrowed because of the double loan quota now?

But we still had a relaxing time as little R was busy exploring what was a not-so-familiar place to him. As for S, she was so happy to be back in the treehouse after a long time. Except that this time it was not a go-up-and-down-the-treehouse that she wanted to do or browse through Spot the pup or some board book, but it was some storybook that she grabbed and sat down to read as R walked all around the place playing with computer mouse or taking a random book or impatiently waiting to collect his Book Bug collectible cards from the machine. Time, indeed, flies!

Nostalgic Moments

Written a couple of weeks back….

Even as I am taking that train journey from Chennai Egmore to Mayiladuthurai Junction which always feels so comforting, my thoughts go on a whirlwind tour.

Sun shines brightly on the lush, green paddy fields and the winding canals. I see a white kokku/crane swoop down to a canal and see it reflected on the water. A sight as beautiful as this is a daily occurrence in this part of the world! Not content to call it just a crane/ kokku, I feel the urge to Google it to see if I can find the exact species of egret or stork or whatever it is. But I let it pass since it suddenly strikes me how simple life in itself was back then, during those carefree, childhood days which was filled with oodles of happy moments. It didn’t matter if it was a crane or an egret or whatever else it may be. All that mattered was going to the vayal / field with my maternal uncles and spotting those kokkus.

Looking outside from the comfort of the cooler confines of the air-conditioned compartment, I let that strong wave of nostalgia wash over me. Moments like those are just nostalgia and nothing more today. Time, they say, is the greatest healer. But all it actually does is help us get used to the idea of someone or something not being there….

As another year went by….

The last month of last year seemed to pass by very quickly, as every December has been ever since I became a Carnatic music and December music season aficionado.

December is that month when I am always in my beloved Madras, celebrating the music season gaining an enriching musical experience at as many Sanjay’s kutcheris as possible while my children enjoy their school vacation not caring much about what I am doing or where I am going. Being in Madras only has me rooting even more for life that would have been. Alas such is life and all that…. This December also saw me visiting my dream destination, Hampi. The grandeur of the ruins did indeed leave me in awe.
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The Hampi Dream

There are some places that you keep dreaming of visiting some day in your life. Hampi – the erstwhile glorious Vijayanagara empire – has always been that dream destination for me. It all started with the song, ‘Theendai’ from the Tamizh movie, ‘En Swaasa kaatre’ way back in 2000 when I first saw it. It was the pre-Google days when not every info was available at the touch of a mobile. So it took me some time to find out where the song was shot. I wanted to see the temple ruins and that beautiful stepped tank!

In the years that followed, my interest in temples developed beyond visiting them for religious reasons or generally admiring the beauty. I started learning more about the architectural details and the history. Then came the lectures on temple architecture by historian, Dr. Chithra Madhavan. The passion with which she spoke about temples and their history and architecture and the series of lectures on Hampi and Vijayanagara architecture that I attended at Musiri Chamber and Tattvaloka increased my fascination for Hampi. Hampi was that place where the temple architecture that we see today in most of the temples of Tamil Nadu developed. I really very badly wanted to visit that beautiful place filled with marvels in stone from where it all started!

Then there were all those travel blogs, especially that of Arun of travel.paintedstork.com. His photographs of the place and other travelogues continued to make me wish that I could go there.

All these passion for Hampi and travelling suddenly had to take a backseat after I moved to Singapore and I got completely caught up in my crazed routine as a stay-at-home mom.

Post the visit to Cambodia in September this year, my interest in temple architecture was rekindled in full fervour. Now, all that was remaining was Hampi.

When you come to Madras/ India for just a few weeks during school holidays and have to accommodate several to-dos and consider several other factors, you get only a few days to plan for a trip within India. We had just three days to spare and immediately booked the train tickets lest any other programme comes up.

While our initial plan was to visit just Hampi for three days at a leisurely pace just like how we did at Angkor, Cambodia, in the end, our plan completely went in for a toss and we ended up doing Aihole – Pattadakkal – Mahakoota – Badami – Banashankari on day 1, complete relaxation and rejuvenation at Hotel Shivavilas Palace and Sri Kumaraswamy Temple and Chakrateerta at Sandur on day 2 and almost the entire Hampi (!) on day 3!

Barring a few places at Hampi, we did manage to see all that we saw as fully as possible, though not as thoroughly as we might have, had we had a few more extra hours.

Day 1 was also another dream-come-true for me as Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal and Mahakoota have always been second in my list of dream destinations to visit.

To say that I am so happy is an understatement to how I am feeling now after visiting Hampi! It is the fulfillment of little dreams like these that make some moments of your life very special!

The Angkor Trail

For the last 18 years or so, Hampi in Karanataka, India, had been that dream destination of my life which I wanted to visit to explore the ruined remains of Vijayanagara empire.

This year we indulged in our first vacation in the last few years – a trip to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat, the dream destination of my husband. Unlike Hampi or any other heritage site in India, I wasn’t completely aware of the magnificence of Angkor Wat and the other temples. All I knew was it was the largest temple complex and the photos of it looked stunning. In the weeks leading up to the trip and even weeks after it, we started reading on Khmer temples and its architecture and are still reading more and more books on it.

The trip to Angkor Wat/ Siem Reap/ Cambodia turned out to be a trip of a lifetime! We spent 4 full days in leisure taking in as many temples in the Angkor region as possible. With seeing sunrise at Angkor Wat to sequentially visiting temples in each route, we did a comprehensive coverage of the entire place leaving just a few temples. The trip turned out to be exactly how I had always wanted to explore Hampi.

Suddenly, my interest in temple architecture was rekindled in full fervour. Now, all that was remaining was Hampi.