My friend Dola did a blog-post about the questions her children ask.  Its ditto at our place, just different topics.

Ravi has left for a 2 week trek, so bedtime is hard for Zoya.  She needs her Nana at home in order to sleep.  Her idea of bliss is to wake up in the middle of the night and count the sleeping people around her, 1, 2, 3, and herself, 4.  Anyway, so i was wondering how to make bedtime easier.  Our idea of bedtime refers to “the time we feel like going to bed.”

So the kids were lying in bed and laughing at some character’s antics on youtube on the IPad.  We started talking about music and the next hour was a mix of all the following:

Music i heard as a kid
Bangles and their hit song Manic Monday
Nazia Hassan and her brother
Guitar lessons
Boom Boom, another Nazia hit
Elvis Presley
We watched Jailhouse Rock (Raghu loved Elvis’s deep voice)
Black and while videos
Where did color come from
The Wild Thornberrys (Kids are loving this show…i used to love this cartoon when i was in the US)
Different countries and the ways to get there
How long before Ravi gets back… so that means how many days (for Zoya counting is an on going concept)
We saw Michael Jackson’s first moon walk and talked about how he died.
Then we talked about how Elvis died
Dying in general
Bright lanterns (someone near our home floated 2 beautiful lighted lanterns)
We ran to the terrace and watched the lanterns till they disappeared
Discussion on Mr. Bean’s fridge fitting into a hot air balloon, ridiculous or possible?
Zoya talked about how they might reach the moon
Raghu argued they would never make it and why
Zoya asked about oxygen and whether you need it on the moon and is that what the astronaut’s helmet is for
Sadness that they can’t be on the moon (umm like right away or real soon)
Shock that humans sent up a monkey first
We watched the Thornberrys and of course we all felt we had to live that life right away
What is a comvee
Listened to Elvis song “return to sender”  Which is a new Zoya fave now

And finally with Zoya still asking for YouTube videos of how to make a lantern and float it and why we have not had successful kite flying for a long time… we all fell asleep.

So yeah… Questions.  They abound.  Sometimes the answers are easy, sometimes we google, sometimes we just have to trust that we do not know the answer but one exists somewhere.

The stuff of awesomeness

We traveled to Dharwad by car a couple of weeks ago.  Raghu created bazookas and other things out of the old pipes Dad had uprooted during a plumbing clean-up of his building.   We ate Uttappas and dosas and idlis every day and loved it… strangely.  The kids actually say the uttappas in Dharwad are better tasting than mine… hmm.  We loved exploring our new Apple Toys and listened to music and the rain and each other.  We rarely stepped out of home.  Dharwad is beautiful, especially in the rains.  Dad’s large terraces on different levels got the kids excited.  They collected things and snacks and jackets and made a parallel home up on the highest terrace.

Zoya has drawn a beautiful mosaic like image on the black board.  Ravi found her listening to ABBA while huddled on top of an old IKEA stool balanced on top of a chair in front of the black board.  She seemed to be very comfortable!

Snowy, my lovely baby is absolutely beautiful.  Here she stares at me, nervous of my camera!

All that lovely plasticine looks like chopped up bits of delicious looking colorful skittles (I miss skittles!!)  The things we built have been slowly cut up and cooked, pared, and even dunked in water (just to see what would happen).  Raghu’s elegant Bionicle man seemed to be dancing and beckoning to me.  I love how Raghu fearlessly mixes up all his toys and creates new forms.


Zoya has been watching videos of Kutsuwa eraser making kits…. its real fun… watch here:
There are many videos in this category and she watches them regularly.

Well she wants the kit and i’m not able to source it locally.  It struck me that i could get her plasticine. Something that resembles the stuff in the video.  The last time i got plasticine the kids mixed everything up and it was a ball of gunk… so I have stayed with home made playdough ever since. And the kids have never complained.  They love our home-made colorful playdough.

But recently i noticed that this did not meet Zoya’s increasingly exacting standards.  And she wanted details and the satisfaction of creating art that playdough was not giving her.

Anyway… today we went to an art store and got loads of plasticine.  And we were in heaven.  Kids and I created hamburgers, chillies, a stuffed blue-berry pie, sandwiches.  And Raghu, uncharacteristically, played with us!!  He even made an olive on a toothpick that i was frankly amazed by.  We all love this smelly plasticine and are looking fwd to making more things tomorrow.

I love finding ways to meet my children’s needs.  I’m also loving accepting all the times i can’t meet a need head on.  To be able to stay centered and helpful thru both types of situations is very important to me.

Click on the pic to see the details 🙂
Just want to mention that you can make really realistic looking food and the colors mix beautifully together and don’t forget… unless you press real hard the different parts of the food stay separate!!  So the sandwich Raghu made can come apart and be reused.  Also this material is very satisfying to cut.  Zoya was playing chef and was hosting a talk show while chopping up… just like her fave Nigella 🙂

Food and Layers of Learning

I was harboring fear and irritation whenever Raghu asked for “interesting” food.  His kind of ‘interesting’ usually involves me going waaay out of my comfort zone.  He drools over Nigella, Masterchef, Jamie Oliver and devours cook books.

A couple of evenings ago I plunged into buying alien items like rice-paper, sesame oil and Sumac.  That evening I created a dish inspired by Nigella and some techniques i’d learnt via Masterchef.  The stuff was eaten so fast that i never managed to photograph it 🙂  I created rice paper rolls with cooked corn-rice, cooked and raw cucumber and shredded lettuce stuffing.  It was incredible.  We dunked these translucent, beautiful little parcels of semi-cooked and raw elements in 2 kinds of home-made, asian dips.

What is my point here?  Well for me this was an act of courage.  I want to honor it / myself.  I was able to be playful and relaxed while creating, nay inventing, new food while meeting Raghu’s taste, my pantry limitations, dinner rush, and all the other “perceived”obstacles.  I did keep daal and chaval on the side as a backup, just in case 🙂

So what are the layers here?  I went way beyond just creating the food.  I was able to get past the fears, irritation (why not focus on the million other things i make?… I already make many different cuisines for my gourmand-son) and learn to go with the flow.  I set an intent “to meet Raghu’s need for new foods with love and to make it happen”.  And it happened.  This intent setting business is heady stuff.  I don’t quite know when the internal shift happens… but by setting my energies in the right direction and not lingering in doubt, fears, irritation or too much left-brain analysis etc… I am happier and able to stay in the moment with love and gratitude and an open heart that says “even what you think is impossible can happen if you want it to”.  Ok… a bit dramatic… but truly… buying rice wrappers, fancy-shmancy ingredients, paying a bomb, not knowing whether they will get used fully, whether i’d make anything good with them etc… and whether the kid will eat it etc… tests my thresholds 🙂 out here in India.

For Raghu he got to see me take a dip in uncharted waters.  He, needless to say, was thrilled, cheered me on and was an enthusiastic taster while i cooked.  He spoke with me about other ingredients we can source in Pune (he wants me to cook him endives and bake Beef-pot-pies next 🙂 We spoke about why i get irritated with his frequent needs for “interesting” foods.  I shared how i feel stressed by the cost of these imported ingredients.  A simple slab of haloumi sets us back quite a bit here (haloumi being a simple, salted, Arabic cottage-cheese variety that i took for granted growing up in Abu Dhabi) or even a simple Cheddar.  And Raghu is quite the gourmand… he knows his cheeses, oils, meats, salad dressings, nut butters, etc.  But as we talked I realized…. OMG i love it.  I love how much he knows about food… his passion for new tastes and exploration.  And Ravi, dear Ravi, confirmed for me that we should just keep money for it… like we would if Raghu wanted a class.  When it comes to money and seeing it as a flowing, moving energy… Ravi is awesome and inspiring to me.

Raghu surprised Ravi and me by having boiled, salted peanuts sold by the toll booths on the way to Dharwad.  Also road-side, large watery cucumbers slit and dipped in spicy salt.  He has been adjusting to the local cuisine and eats many, many more Indian (read: ingredients are easy to procure and cheaper and more local for me) dishes these days.  But he is a ‘foodie’ and misses bagels, pretzels, well-made shawarma (tasted last in Abu Dhabi) and other international foods that we (parents who travel and work in different countries) have exposed him to since an early age.  So I move, learn, change, unfold, whisper sweet intents to the universe and the layers of learning dawn upon me everyday.