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Zoo through the eyes of an eight month old!

Avi had seen many animals in his picture books – a zebra, a lion, an elephant, a monkey to name a few. It was time to meet these animals in person. So we decided to take Avi to a zoo! More than him, we were excited to TAKE him to a zoo.

Avi’s trip to the zoo started with a snooze. It was accompanied with snores on papa’s cozy and warm shoulder. A train, a tram, light drizzle and views of the Amsterdam city gave us company on our way to the zoo. Jay and I were visiting the zoo for the time after we became parents. So we were very excited!

Finally, we reached the Artis zoo in Amsterdam. “Entry ticket is free for the baby,” said the person at the ticket counter looking at our sleepy little boy. The moment we entered the zoo, we saw a camel which seemed to have two humps.Image

And we heard monkeys screaming. Both of us looked at Avi with a lot of excitement. But Avi was in deep slumber! We were both getting impatient. “When is he going to wake up?” we wondered. Well, may be he sensed our restlessness and budged a little on Jay. He rubbed his eyes with his little fingers and gazed around. And the two of us were waiting to see some eagerness in his eyes. But he did not care. Oblivious to his surroundings, he wrapped his hands around Jay and said, “papa”. And suddenly that hug and the sound of “papa” were way more exciting than the two humped camel or the screaming monkeys. We were happy if Avi was happy. We realized that there was no need for us to project our excitement onto him. He was a unique individual and he had his own ways of getting happy. You see, as first time parents, we are learning all the time.

We walked on. We saw a little baby elephant snuggling with its motherImage

While we were looking at this amazing sight, Avi was looking at a sparrow (which obviously was not supposed to be a zoo attraction) pecking at something on the ground. “Oooh” he addressed the sparrow from his papa’s shoulder. We walked on. A lion and a lioness were resting in a small cave of a big enclosure. For some reason, Avi stared at the lion for a long time and said, “Ooooh, aaaa” from the comfort of his perch! And people around smiled. Babies have the ability to do this well –put a smile on your face, anytime, anywhere!

Our now alert baby started looking around. The exotic species in the zoo did not attract his attention much but the ducks, children running around, and sparrows pecking on the ground did! Our final stop on the zoo was an aquarium. There were a lot of fancy looking fish in the aquarium who looked bored behind the glass doors. The children visiting the aquarium looked bored too. Suddenly one kid shouted, “papa.” Her voice echoed in the aquarium. This echo attracted many other enthusiastic echoes. In a minute, the aquarium was filled with sounds of “papa” and giggles. Avi who was trying hard to look at the bored fish started smiling at these kids. And his parent’s smiles followed!

The trip to the zoo ended with lunch at a water side restaurant – the main attraction being flamingos in the water! The flamingos entertained Avi while we quickly grabbed a bite. In conclusion, it doesn’t matter where you go with an eight month old, he will make sure that you view the world through his eyes. And trust me; the world is a much more beautiful place that way! 



A picture story of a bridge

I saw this awesome sight while walking around Weesp today. Had to share it with all of you.

This is the bridge over a canal connecting to river Vecht in Weesp.


After a few seconds…


After few more seconds…


Jay, Avi and I stared while the bridge just became taller and taller! The bridge was happy to tower over Weesp, instead of people just walking over it.


The towering bridge made way for a tiny boat!


The person operating the bridge slowly lowered a fishing rod like thing to the person in the boat. The person in the boat put something in it. I presume it was the 3 Euros needed to raise the bridge to let a boat go through. Isn’t this fun?

Good night from Weesp!


An article in Teacher Plus: Unlock the writer within!

A storytelling session conducted by me at Shishuvan school Mumbai.

A Kodak moment!

From Snowhite’s stepmom to Avi, a mirror fascinates all! Snowhite’s stepmom asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the prettiest of all?” And Avi cooes, “Who is in this mirror after all?” I am his mother, so I can decode his coos.

The reflection in the mirror attracted Avi’s attention when he was two months old. I was lucky to witness that moment. He looked at the mirror on his swing and gave an amused look. He stared at his refection for a few minutes and moved his arms and legs to indicate his excitement. The joy of discovering something for the first time is priceless, isn’t it? For Avi, it was his reflection and for me it was his reaction.

Fast-forward to four months later. Avi still loves mirrors. Now he can do much more with a mirror. He can grab it, pull it, lick it and sleep on it! He holds the mirror with the firm grip of his little fingers. He looks into the mirror with wonder. Sometimes he smiles. Sometimes he talks. And at other times, he prefers holding out a hand to himself in the mirror, just the way he holds out his hand to me. Surely, his reflection is special to him!

There are times when he and I together look into the mirror. At such times, instead of looking at me directly, he prefers looking at my reflection.  He gurgles at my reflection. Today, he looked at me and then my reflection. Then again me. And then my reflection. If I had to decode his reaction this time, it would translate as, “Huh? Mommy is inside the mirror. Mommy is outside the mirror!” He stretched his hand out to touch me in the mirror. “Awww” I said. He turned towards me and stared at me with a twinkle in his eye. Kodak moment! 

Ghosts, chai, aloo fry and mashed rice from a PhD’s point of view!

This article is meant for strictly humor purposes. Any resemblance to Jay, and Swati is purely coincidental.

After staying with Jay for five years, I realized how he and I view the world differently. May it be in the way he thinks, approaches life, or may be it be the way he speaks. I share some anecdotes and a few dialogues that I remember through this write-up.

On ghosts….

One evening, one PhD was talking to another PhD, one of them being my husband. I said, “Jay, I am feeling scared. The room looks quite dark.” I don’t believe in ghosts but I start believing in them in the night. And if one watches the movie paranormal activity at 8pm, one is usually convinced that ghosts exist! My irrational fear amused Jay’s rational friend. He said, “ What do you mean you are scared? There is no such thing as ghost!” I was thinking to myself, “I know that. But what about irrational fears, there is such a thing as that right? Not everything is logical mere bhai!” The person continued, “If you can’t see the ghost, the ghost can’t see you!” And then my husband and he started a conversation about how if you can’t see the ghost, the ghost can’t see you either. Here is excerpt from the conversation. I remember the conversation like this, but if they are any “technical errors,” ignore them in the spirit of humor! J

PhD 1: If the ghost can detect visible light (translation: if it can see me), then it cannot be 100% transparent to visible light (translation: I should be able to see it).

PhD 2: But what if the ghost is detecting you on different wavelength, say infrared?

The words ‘infrared’ ‘visible light’ hovered over my head while I was extremely concerned about one thing – Can the ghost see me or not? And these people still hadn’t reached a consensus.

On chai…

You would think making chai is a simple affair. Ah ah. But that is not the case. For making chai, one has to steep chai for exactly three minutes. Not more. Not less. Just three minutes. And if you thought a wrist watch is good enough to see time, you are wrong. A special timer for this purpose has to be installed in the kitchen. What I will admit is the process of making chai has been tried, tested and the end result is always perfect – awesome chai! The not so good part is Jay uses a specific cup for measuring water and if that cup decides to play hide and seek with him, my poor husband cannot figure out how to make chai! At such times, the kettle, the timer and I miss the indispensable cup!

On aloo fry (potato fry)…

Jay and I believe in division of labor, so one day, I decided to make dal and he decided to make aloo fry. On that day, my sister, Swati was also around. She and Jay decided to make the aloo fry together. An excerpt from their conversation:

Swati said, “Jija, I think the oil is not at an “optimal” temperature right now for frying. Let us wait for the oil to heat up. Meanwhile, I feel like having ice-cream soon. Let us keep it at four degree celcius.

(What is four degree celcius? I was puzzled.  Pravin (Swati’s husband) whispered into my ears, “she means, take it out of the freezer and keep it in the fridge. Hmm. Husband always knows what wife means or doesn’t mean. I am sure all married couples reading this would agree.)

Jay replied, “Ok.”

After putting the cut aloo pieces in the oil that was at optimal temperature, Swati said, “Jija, this rate-limiting aloo is cooked, I think.”

Jay replied, “Oh great.” (Somehow, he seemed to understand her language better!)

One thing was sure, the optimal temperature of oil and the rate limiting aloo ensured that the aloo fry was delicious!


On mashed rice…….

One day, Jay and I were mashing some rice to feed Avi. The consistency of rice did not look good enough.

I said, “Jay, the rice doesn’t look mushy enough!”

And Jay replied, “We should add water to discrete pieces of rice to make a homogeneous mass.”

I thought, “OK! Are we talking about the same thing here?” I smiled and Jay focused on turning the discrete pieces of rice into a homogenous mass. He looked up at me and said, “homogenous enough?” I smiled.

Different perspectives and different thought processes have enabled Jay and me to add joy and spice in each other’s life. I am sure Jay will agree!


A letter to Weesp.

ImageDear Weesp,

I saw your pictures online before coming to stay with you. You looked like a cozy small town. I eagerly waited to meet you in person. So Jay and I packed bags, put Avi (my six month old son) in a stroller and headed towards the airport with some amazing friends. The rollercoaster of adventure started from there. From missing one flight to travelling to three different US cities in two days, it felt like a never ending ordeal. I wondered why you did not want us to come to you.

Finally, we managed to board a flight which flew us to Amsterdam. Dragging a stroller, four heavy bags and carrying Avi was a mini adventure in itself. We finally stepped out of the airport into a cold Amsterdam. Someone told me that Amsterdam was usually warmer than this, but when we landed it was unusually cold. I longed to see the warm Amsterdam. You see, I came from the always warm Pasadena. Did I forget to mention that Mc-Donalds and Starbucks coffee at the airport brought a smile to my face? You see dear, Weesp, I was still missing Pasadena.  I wondered if you will ever make me feel as comfortable.

We somehow squeezed all our heavy bags into the accommodating trunk of a taxi and drove towards you. After a while, I saw a big sign board which read “Weesp” and had a right arrow next to it. I eagerly waited to see you. But for a few minutes, I was distracted, or should I say attracted to my little one who occupies the biggest space in my life. In a few minutes, the driver said, “This is the start of Weesp.” I looked up and saw vast stretches of green fields. I saw cows grazing in the fields and sheep wandering about. I saw an old windmill. I gazed at the ducks swimming in the canals. And I admired the beautiful houses near the canals. You brought a smile to my face. Dear dear Weesp, I thought you were beautiful. I felt I was turning the pages of my favorite picture book.   I fell in love with you instantly. Would my love be unrequited? I wondered.

The next day, I missed Pasadena terribly. But then it rained. And then the sun shone. I saw a beautiful double rainbow across the sky. Hmm. Yet again you brought a smile to my face. I made two hot cups of chai and had a wonderful time with Jay.

After it stopped raining, I went to the grocery store. Everything seemed like ‘French’ or should I say ‘Dutch’ to me. I was desperately trying to translate the description on a packet using my phone when a gentleman asked me, “Do you need help? I can help you with translation.” “Oh yes! Thank you so much,” I said enthusiastically. Sometimes expressions cross the barriers of languages and speak aloud for you. And surely the gentleman had read mine.  All this while, Avi was staring at everything in the store with wonder. “Wow!” I thought to myself. “A grocery store can be an exciting place for Avi too, with so many colours and shapes to look at!” I liked the groceries and Avi liked everything in the grocery store.

A day later, I roamed around in your city center on 11 number ki gaadi ! The aroma of freshly baked bread, little shops with lots of character, and the sight of families standing in queues to relish ice-cream filled my heart with joy. Ducks huddling together and little children trying to feed them were a pleasure to watch. Away from the hustle and bustle of a big crowded city where people get can easily get lost, you are a beautiful little town. ImageAvi loved you too. I know it because he was continuously looking around with his curious eyes and cooing. And yes he does convey his love through, “euuus and oooooohs”! Did you hear that?

You fill my heart with so much pleasure and you have so much to give that I am convinced my love is not unrequited! Hope we enjoy each other’s company over this next year.



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