Friday, August 27, 2010

A 6 yard yarn

Onam didn’t mean anything to me until a few years back, when I relocated to Cochin in Kerala. The first job I did in Cochin was a flyer for Cochin Duty Free Onam (Booze) Promotions (For Cochin International Airport Limited]. And a Voice Over Recording for the Public Addressal System for the same promo event at the Airport.

I wrote about the times of prosperity during the reign of King Mahabali (an asura king) and how he was banished from his Kingdom by the jealous Gods in the disguise of Vamana (a dwarf) and that he was allowed to visit his Kingdom every year (during Onam)…the usual stuff, but of course with the RGB punch.

I’ve been working with the company I work for currently for dog years (what seems like eternity!). And every Onam we have celebrations at Office. We come to office dressed in traditional attire - Women in Kerala saree and Men in Mundu, there are some spoilsports of course, who come in regular wear. However, that's the blue-moon day I choose to wear a saree, as I'm otherwise literally born-and-brought-up-in-jeans (borrowed that phrase from The Holy Lama - Patented).

The boys come in early to design the Pookalam - flower carpet. The girls are usually busy decking themselves, so they come right in time to pose for the cameras. That includes me, because draping-a-saree takes longer than slipping-into-jeans! And also the time spent taking pictures at home, because it's the rare occasion I wear a saree (an event in itself!), so family, maid, neighbours and myself...all of us are excited. Even my baby has this questioning "Why do you have that thing wrapped around" look on her face. She tried to lift up the saree, wondering if I was wearing jeans underneath! So much for 6 yards, but the yarn continues...

Morning hours are dedicated to work. Lunch time and we have the Onasadhya (Onam Feast with a variety of dishes served on a plantain leaf, and payasam for dessert). Again the boys do the serving (a privilege we've bestowed upon them) and the girls giggle with glee and gobble away to glory!

I had to return to my desk because a client was online for a job brief. By four-ish, entertainment and games began. Tradition has it that newcomers have to introduce themselves and the others can take a potshot at them, to get to know them better (read 'bully them'). Endless rounds later (new-comers outnumbered old-timers such as myself!) with new talents discovered, we formed four groups and started playing dumb-charades (with malayalam movie titles) and I stay dumb most often because I wouldn't know most Malayalam Movie titles, except for playing cheer-leader and taking wild guesses. As the game hots-up with dumb-struck and dumb-found performances by the actors and the guess-ers, we fight against rules, set our own rules, yell and generally make merry (saving ourselves from what would almost land in fist-fights!). By the end of the game, Team No.3 (my team) had more members and more points than the other teams (hee, hee!). The next game was about to begin, but I had to wrap-up as I had to visit my in-laws who weren't keeping too well. Bid adieus, picked up the saree and jumped into the car.

Chock-o-block traffic. Driving bumper-to-bumper, it took me a good 1.5 hours to traverse a distance of 15 kilometres. A severe headache and backache followed. I was ready to drop-dead! M-i-L gave me some tea and balm (visitor turns patient!). Hubby gave me a good massage. All said and done, it was time to wrap up the day.

Onam thus celebrated. 6 yards off, denim back on...until next year maybe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fancy this.

A butterfly fairy in a silk top, pretty frock and stockings, a pair of wings that looked like anybody wearing it could actually fly and a wand that had this magical aura about it, which completed the look. It was an outfit my sister bought for my daughter for her birthday and we saved the wings and the wand for the fancy dress competition that is conducted every year as part of the Onam Celebrations at school.

My 7 yr old daughter with cheeks generously rouged, looking pretty in her outfit, went on the dais. As my hubby, parents and I waited with bated breath to see how she would perform, she walked in with an air of confidence and said with subtle hand gestures and a sweet smile to go with it…

"Hi! I am a butterfly fairy

Though I look pretty now

I was once just an ugly wriggly caterpillar

But don’t you know that each one of us is beautiful from within?

Here’s my magic wand

May each one of you shed your cocoons

And become beautiful butterflies!


We heaved a sigh of relief. It had gone well. There were quite a few kids who turned up for the competition dressed up as a bishop, nun, muthashi (grandmother), Lord Krishna, gypsy, paper girl, rag picker, earth, mother India, sunflower, Michael Jackson, princess, fairy, beauty queen, Swami Vivekananda, Dora the explorer….Some of the kids forgot the dialogue they were supposed to deliver after their grand entry onto the stage.

My daughter managed to pull it off. She is otherwise reserved and shy. But loves to participate – Fancy Dress, Elocution, Light Music, Recitation…

I had prepared a lengthy speech for her Elocution competition ‘Keep Kochi Clean’. She won the third prize. Kudos to you, my girl! She learns in a jiffy and delivers without stage-fear. Something to appreciate. Perhaps she needs to focus more on voice modulation, hand gestures and the right pauses. But I guess she will improve, with time. For now, she’s good. And I’m proud of her.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The cold wave

At dawn, I wake up with a sore throat. Atishu, atishu…Hubby gets up. Atchu…Becky baby gets up. Sniff-sniff…Ann wakes up too. She is the culprit. She brought the cold in, from school perhaps.

A busy day ahead, I thrust the milk bottle into baby’s mouth, get Ann ready for school and after steaming, a dose of Rhus-tox (homeo medicine) and breakfast, hubby drops her off at the bus stop.

Then there is a chorus of Atishu, Atishu – replete with Bass, Tenor, Soprano, Alto…. A bout of common cold strikes our family cold. We rub eucalyptus oil and do the customary steaming. Feels good. Hubby and I head to work. Becky stays put at home with maid.

Cold gets cold-er over the day. Develops into fever for Becky and me. I pop a paracetamol pill to get rid of the gnawing headache, body ache and fever. Becky gets the paediatric syrup. We get the steam ready. All four of us get under the blanket, breathe-in, breathe-out.

Next morning, my legs and hands are aching. And my head throbbing. I feel feverish. Muster the energy to get Ann ready for school after the steam, rhus-tox, breakfast and glass of milk. And hit the bed again. I decide to work from home that day, when baby gets a bit too cranky to handle, because of the annoying cold. She wants me to be around. We both do the steaming therapy religiously, get a 2 hour sleep, and the waking hours I do errands for the baby and actually manage some work in between. Hectic day, but baby and I feel much better by the end of the day. My voice sounds nasal. And my kids’ too.

Next day, cold develops into dry cough. Co-oh, co-oh. It hurts. Voice sound gruff. The gnawing headache remains. But I head to work. By evening, cough and headache increases 2-fold. Get out by 7 pm from work. Hubby has an appointment with the dentist. So we pickup Ann from mom’s place and rush to the dentist. I sink into the cozy couch at the dentist’s place and watch lame programmes on TV, switch channels as I hold my throbbing head in agony. The wait seems endless. Ann already has a clip on to correct her cross-bite condition and the dentist says its working fine. Hubby wants me to get my teeth checked as well. And the dentist discovers 3 cavities, says my wisdom teeth are smiling at him, begging to be removed. Asks me to think about it and get back if I want it temporarily filled or removed. I smile. The lady dentist compliments that I have a pretty smile. I suspect if it’s a marketing gimmick. And we dash home. Co-oh-co-oh, throb-throb…have dinner, pop paracetamol and crash.

Becky wakes up in the wee hours, co-hoh, co-hoh. Dry cough. Family steaming session again in the morning. Today is definitely better than yesterday. Hope the cold storm dies down soon.

“A family that steams together, heals together.”