Tag: vacations

Jamuns on my desk

Jamuns on my desk

There are two types of people in the world – those who are fruit people and those who aren’t. 

I am the latter.

That’s not to say I didn’t sneak into the school grounds to pick bers and amlas like every self-respecting young person but that was more for the thrill than the fruit itself. And I like mangoes but those are more dessert than fruit, right?

The Husband on the other hand is a complete fruitarian.

(I have to stop here for a moment to marvel at the way God up in heaven gets his laughs bringing together people with entirely different likes and dislikes and then sitting down to watch the fun.)

But I digress.

So the other day we were passing a street-vendor with a handcart laden with jamuns. Obviously then, the husband had to stop the car. We hadn’t had them in decades. They show up for such a short while each year and then have to compete with mangoes. They really don’t stand a chance.

Back home, as they lay washed and dried in the colander, H came by and chucked one in his mouth. (Fact: H cannot pass by anything that looks remotely edible without sampling it).

‘Akhch!’ he exclaimed, ‘These aren’t grapes. There’s a seed!’ 

‘These are jamuns’, I told him.

‘I like grapes better, one doesn’t have to spit out seeds,’ he said settling at his gaming desk, shooting the seed with unerring aim right into the dustbin.

I caught hold of N and got her to try one too (Fact: N has to be waylaid/wrestled/bribed before anything at all, specially a fruit, passes her lips).

She ate it, wrinkled her nose scratched at her tongue with her teeth and ran to the mirror to look at it saying, ‘I can’t feel my tongue.’

What kind of children are these, I wondered, who could not accept a jamun for what it is — a delicious, juicy fruit, the daddy of their favourite kala khatta and one that came with the added advantage of giving a technicolour tongue?

When we were young, summer would bring with it special offerings, jamuns being one of them. It also brought a bunch of cousins who stayed for one whole long glorious month.

Our grandfather babuji/nanaji (as applicable) occupied the bahar wala kamara (the room on the outside) of our house that opened right onto a busy street where vendors plied their wares.

We’d know it was jamun season when we’d hear the cry of:
‘Kale kale hain, bagiya wale hain’ 

(Loosely translated: They’re black, they’re straight from the orchards)

As soon as we’d hear that we’d rush out to our grandfather’s room who would have already hailed the man.

The vendor would make a cone of jamun leaves, put a handful of fruit in it and sprinkle on it his secret spice. He’d then cover it with another leaf-cone and shake it all together. 

We’d watch with ill-concealed impatience, saliva surging already. That wait was interminable.

Finally, the cone was handed to us with the rich ripe berries bursting out of their skins coated with the delicious masala and they were gone in minutes.

At school, we had a tall jamun tree by our throwball court. The fruit would drip down onto the court making it an accident-prone spot. A careless step would find one slipping and sprawling on the plump fleshy seeds. One would then have to spend the day with ones sky blue skirt stained a stubborn bright purple.

When we shifted to our house in the University Campus we found the bungalow rich with a variety of rare fruits. The Campus stood on the grounds that were once an orchard of the Nawabs (even our address read Badshah Bagh). Kadamb and kamarakh spread out their thick branches among the mangoes and of course large lanky jamun trees .

While my grandmother who was diabetic, would collect the seeds, wash and powder them, saying they had medicinal value, we simply enjoyed the fruit. We even had a resident snake that lived high up in the tree. I don’t quite remember ever spotting him but we all knew he was there.

Once I moved out of home I lost touch with most seasonal fruits, including jamuns. Also, the strawberries and blueberries, avocados and dragon fruit elbowed it right out of my memory. 

But here it is, after all these years, delicious as ever with the added sweetness of nostalgia.

Letting them be

Letting them be

‘Gooood Morning. Wake up. Wake up. It’s mooorning!’

‘What time is it?’


‘6.30? Why are you waking me up so early? It’s vacation time. Let me be.’

‘No please. Wake up, pretty please.’

‘Go away.’

‘But you promised you’d take us swimming.’

‘Ow! Okay five more minutes?’

Alllriggght! Five minutes. That’s 300 seconds 1..2…3…4…5…

At that point I just push off the covers and decide to give up on my sleep, whatever’s left of it that is, after all that conversation. Some role-reversal, this!

The other day I woke up to the sound of the doorbell. Darned milkman, thought I. Despite telling him over and over again not to ring the doorbell every morning, somedays he insists on doing just that, deriving some kind of perverse pleasure in disturbing my sleep. I opened the door to see N standing there, dressed in tracks and running shoes, her face bright pink, her grin stretching from ear to ear. I stared at her slightly disoriented wondering what she was doing on the wrong side of the door. ‘I went jogging,’ she explains, ‘You were asleep so I didn’t disturb you.’

 That’s how my days have been starting since the holidays began. The kids, who insisted on sleeping well beyond 8 or 9 each morning, during their entire study leave, have been up by 6.30 am almost everyday, bursting with energy and ready with their lists of things to do. They sleep late, wake up early and want to spend every waking moment either in the pool or at their tabs.

 I can be found reading a book while they splash around happily, or ferrying them around fulfilling their very varied wish lists or carting home tubs of ice cream. I am quite revelling in their freedom, taking a break from being mean mum. It is a relief and a pleasure to simply let them be, at least for the first few days.

 The vacations are here!

Among the clouds

Among the clouds

Today we, at Marathon Bloggers, kick off a week of picture prompts

‘a story for every picture, a picture for every story’ 

Today’s prompt – ‘Fly’
Going literally with ‘flying’, here’s my entry. 
That’s as close as I’ve ever come to flying. We were on a family vacation to Dapoli – 13 of us. We’d hired this huge bus so we could all travel together. I remember thinking what an unlucky number we were. However it turned out to be a fantastic holiday and remains a benchmark for all of us. Each time we plan a holiday it’s like, “As good as Dapoli” or “Dalpoli was more fun”.
I’m not sure what made me let myself get strapped to that contraption. I’m absolutely not an adventurous soul — the typically safe and conservative Capricorn. That day I agreed, I still wonder why. The trip into the clouds lasted barely minutes and everyone else came down complaining how ‘tame’ it was. My 7-year old nephew was gravely upset because he wasn’t allowed to go. Anyhow, I rose in my estimation that day and thought no end of myself for having dared to do it.
So there.. that’s the story for that picture. Aren’t those rippled clouds beautiful? 
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Boo to the party planner

Boo to the party planner

I’m not a good party planner. Each time something comes up I think and plan and get all ambitious then it’s never quite as good as I’d intended it to be. The best parties I’ve ever had have been the ones I haven’t planned for. This was one such.

We’ve been shifting.. nothing big just next door, to a house that’s a mirror image of our old one. It’s quite funny actually and we keep reaching out for door handles on the wrong side and the rooms are just all topsy turvey … a bit like Alice stepping through the looking glass.

During the shifting I stumbled upon some last years’ party supplies. While I intended to reuse them The Husband, made me throw them out calling me a ‘hoarder of useless stuff’. However, to my secret delight, the kids retrieved all of it and decided to have a party.

I was just glad to have them out of the way and allowed them to have their party as long as they stayed in their room.

A flurry of calls on the intercom and Naisha’s friends trooped in ready for action. They got down to decorating their room while discussing what they should have the party for.

After a few hours, yes hours, of diligent decoration they decided they’d push the party to the evening. “Decoration takes soooo much time,” sighed one of the girls busily wiping sweat from her little forehead. They hung up streamers, decorated a table, did up the windows, blew balloons and even managed to fill one up with thermacol balls with no help from me. Oh these girls are veterans.

I had a plain chocolate cake which I decorated like this (from the momviews.com). Thanks Swapna. (https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=513196348726532&set=a.490859950960172.104065.213652222014281&type=1&theater)

A bowl of chips and some juice and the menu was done. I really didn’t have time for anything fancy.

After much thought and discussion it was decided it would be a ‘my favourite toy birthday party’. Innovative isn’t it? Come evening they trooped in with their toys all dressed up for the occasion. They put on masks and caps,

burst balloons,

cut the cake,

and danced
and danced

and danced.
Check out the happy faces..

So next time I should remember to never plan a party.
Organising weekend activities for kids

Organising weekend activities for kids

Back in Pune the kids have a bunch of friends and normally manage to keep themselves busy. However during weekends or vacations I find them running out of ideas and getting into trouble with the society guards or the elderly members. That’s when I received this offer for a guest post from Charlotte at Surf Excel. I have to admit I was in a bit of a quandary on whether I should host a post ‘sponsored’ by a commercial product but then decided to go ahead simply on the merit of the piece. All they asked for was a link to their site, which also I found interesting. Here is the article.

While organising weekend activities for young children the idea is to get your kids involved at every stage.

As a parent, it can be tempting to take complete control of your kid’s social calendar. You know the type of activities your child enjoys and who they are friends with, so when it is time to prepare a social activity you tend to just get on with it. After all, depending on the age of your child, there aren’t many responsibilities you can completely entrust to them anyway.
There are many online resources about child development  that you can look at in order to help your children become more independent individuals. One easy way to help your kids grow is to allow them to help plan weekend adventures with friends. Not only will you help your kids to become more confident and self-reliant, you will be boosting their social skills and helping them learn the ways to socialise effortlessly in the future as well.
How to help children organise activities
For very young children, once you decide to organise an activity on their behalf then you should allow them to participate in the decision-making process. Talk them through the decision you made: for example, you are going to the indoor swimming pool because the weather forecast is bad, or you are going to the park because it is quick to walk there. For older children (aged 6 and over), you might want to give them a couple of feasible options that you are willing to co-ordinate. Don’t give them the option of going to the zoo if you haven’t the spare time to get them there! After explaining any limitations on the number of people they can bring, let your child decide which friends to invite.

Encourage your child to make the arrangements with their friends themselves – either through a phone call or in person. Both options allow you a degree of supervision and intervention if you believe the wrong message has been conveyed, but stepping back and letting your child make contact with his or her friends will give him or her the experience of organising an event and communicating necessary information to others. These experiences will be very valuable for their future!
Once the activity has been arranged, the whole family can get involved in preparing for the activity. Children can get involved with the making of snacks or lunch for a day out, or they can help pack all the essentials for an afternoon in the park into a rucksack. The parent can give guidance and support.
How to deal with problems when organising activities for kids
Sometimes, of course, your children will make a suggestion that you must refuse – for example, it might be too expensive to go to the cinema twice in the same month, or you might not have time to go to the zoo or the national park. Your child might get upset if you reject an option without any explanation. Instead, you should take the time to explain why their proposal is not going to work and help them come up with an alternative that gets around the stated problem. If the cinema is too expensive, suggest cheaper or free fun activities that they can do instead – maybe watching a film with their friends at home would be a better option? You could get the kids to help make their own special snacks, as well – which might be even tastier than the ones they could get in the cinema!
As a busy parent, coordinating activities to keep your children amused over the weekends or summer holidays is an intensive task. By teaching your kids how to plan and organise their own activities, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of work in the future!