Thursday, January 30, 2020

Wild Karnataka – Experience

We were ecstatic when we got to know we were going to see Wild Karnataka. It was a long trip to Vega City mall, Bannerghetta Road, Bengaluru. We went in an empty elevator to the 4thfloor of the mall. We entered PVR and were taken to Audi 6 – Playhouse. We finally sat in our assigned seats. 

I sat in the last row at the back. We eagerly waited for the movie to start and got some buttered popcorns. Soon the movie started. I loved the movie so much that I did not realise my popcorns were stolen L

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A report on my cat (Q&A)

Q: What is his name?
A: His name is Coffee A.K.A Puglu.
Q:What are his characteristics’?
A:At dawn he starts scratching the balcony’s door. Then he is opened in for the rest of the day & fed well.
Q:What does he do during the day?
A: He usually sits in a corner. Sometimes he jumps around or runs, so we keep him out for a while.
Q:How old is he?
A: He has just turned 1 year old.
[Report written by Zoe A.R. done on 11/8/2019.]

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Book Review - Pops!

Book Name: Pops!
Author: Balaji Venkataramanan
Published by: Duckbill
Reviewed by: Zoe (Age 8.5 years)

Pops! is a book about 7-year old Arun who lives with his Mumma and his Patti & Thatta. His life is normal like we would expect a 7-year old’s life. Everything seems normal expect the fact that Arun has never seen his dad. His father (Arun calls him ‘the Man’) left Arun and his Mumma when Arun was born. One day, suddenly Arun gets to know that he has to go to the family court. Arun is nervous as he will be meeting the Man for the first time. At first, Arun doesn’t like him, as the Man had left them. Soon things start to change, when Arun’s school play comes near. Patti & Thatta don’t like the fact that Arun actually has started liking the Man. If I tell you anything beyond this, then the surprise will get spoilt (I don’t like doing that).

Many people (like me) can’t think of a life without Pops! (I call mine Fizzy). Arun could and he did live without his dad for 7 long years. The book is great, very interesting, because now I know how it feels like not having a parent. I personally wouldn’t ever think of being in Arun’s place.

Arun was really forgiving and a little mature for his age, I could relate to Arun, but only a bit. Pops was a very kind man who would never raise his voice and he seem like a happy-go-lucky person. Arun’s Mumma is a little strict, but very loving and forgiving. Thatta & Patti are always dull mood (Mumsy says sombre is a better word), they keep telling Arun that Pops will take him away one day; I personally don’t like when they do that.

I kept myself in Arun’s place & felt very bad for him not having a dad, but for Arun it was normal till he went to the court. 

To Balaji Venkataramanan (writer of the book), I would like to say’, “The book is amazing, where did you get the idea from? Do let me know…”

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Z Takes Charg

Being Zoe’s Mom is changing for good. I have been away from the blog as I got busy with work and life in general. Z, the hero of this blog keeps reading the posts and wants me to get back to writing, I have tried in the past but failed miserably. So, I gave the charge of this blog to Ms. Z, not complete charge, but the charge of churning out some amazing content. She’s been writing in her journal regularly for the past 3 years, yes, she is 8 years 6 months…. She has a habit of noting down everything. She has now agreed to let you have a little peek in her life… So, I will be sharing a few entries (unedited) with all of you… 

Here’s Zoe’s mum saying bye… hope you have fun reading. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

8 years of awesome

How do I address my 8 year old daughter who is everything I ever wanted. Zoë is my daughter, my strength, my weakness, my lifeline, my confidant, my partner-in-crime, my monkey, my mini-me… I can go on and on. 

Zoë is her own person now, she has a personality you won’t ignore. On her 8th, I wanted to celebrate Zoë and the person she has become or has always been...

Curious... One thing, which you can’t miss when and if you get a chance to meet Miss. Z is her curiosity. She wants to know anything and everything, at times her questions become too much to handle. Thankfully, I’m not the only one she turns to with her questions ;-). That’s the reason why maybe, academically, she is doing pretty well. She just loves to learn (that is without any pressure from school or at home).

A bookworm above anything else... I have seen children get into a reading phase and out, with Z she never gets out of it. Now, she also enjoys watching TV/movies and music. I should have mentioned music before television…. this year, she listened to a lot of Beatles and Presley (thanks to her dad), she loves Hindi Movie songs as well. Board games fascinate her and she likes playing games on Alexa as well. But, books still hold her heart.

Whiner, yes she is a big WHINER. She can whine about anything, and there's no stopping her. She becomes a little irritating whining and cribbing, at least I can say she hates her whiner self and is working at changing it.

Adamant: If she puts her heart on something, she wants to be the best at it. When she started her swimming lessons this summer, she was at a beginner level, now… she is quiet good at it, and all the credit goes to her. The flip side is, she still struggles at handling things that might not go her way. She gets pretty emotional, which is something we are working at. We are trying to release her emotions in a better manner.

Moody and very transparent: Zoë gets her mood-swings from me (damn) and she is extremely transparent as well, what’s going on within her is reflected on her face and her behaviour. Good thing or bad, well, depends how we handle the situation. Thankfully, she prefers sharing her feelings and emotions with us (both the parents).

Chatterbox: Always has been and I guess she will always be, she can just go on and on. Her language skills are something she gets appreciated for a lot, thanks to Zoë and her books.

Fair: Zoë has a very good sense of right and wrong, and when she sees something inappropriate she does question, we never stop her from doing this. I know she might land into trouble because of this, but we don’t want to take away something so precious from her… The world will just have to live with that.

Born to perform: If someone sees her in daily life her might say Zoë is extremely shy especially in amongst strangers. Leave her on stage and the girl owns it (she loves it). She loves public speaking, and this she has definitely taken from me… there is no denying it.

Helper: She has always been my little helper, but she loves helping her friends and people around her. She loves lending a helping hand whenever and wherever she can.

She loves her comfort zone: Zoë loves her comfort zone, she is super confident, happy and her true self, take her out and she gets into a shell, she comes out of the shell but not immediately.

Enthusiastic/Hyper: Yes, when in her zone, she is super energetic and enthusiastic about the smallest of things.

Our strength: She knows if something isn’t right with us or her friends (I don’t know how but she does) and she makes sure she makes us feel a little better. Everyday morning, post-gym she asks me about my workout and tells me, “Mumsy, you are so strong, Im so proud of you
Feminist: She is a budding feminist and believes in equality (like her parents). She is extremely vocal about it as well.

To Z I want to say, “Zoë, you are all this, all this, and much much more. Fizz and I love you for who you are and we will always respect you for being you. Please be as you are because, my little woman, you are very very special… Happy 8th sweetheart. Love you to the moon and back!" 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

To 7 beautiful years!

Dearest Darling Z, 

How does it feel to be with your monster mom for 7 long years? I know exactly what I feel about you my rockstar... You are absolutely amazing, and you don't cease to surprise me every single day. 

This year, has been a milestone of sorts, you have all of a sudden become this new person. You're no longer my little chubby cheeked, curly haired daughter... today you are leaner, taller, smarter, yet no less adorable. Your infectious smile with so many missing teeth, your scraped knees, your tangled hair and your loud voice... I love all this and more. Your smiles makes my day, your hugs complete me and your tears... they just tear me apart. Well, it does sound melodramatic, but it's the truth. I never thought, I was capable of feeling this way before you were born... what can we say, but motherhood does make you emotional. 

In my pre-Z days, I was a very practical woman. I wasn't really compassionate, I was extremely indifferent to a lot of things (and people) who should have meant more. Then, I had you, and you showed me the true meaning of love, care and compassion. I'm a completely different person now. I see you care about people around you, think about them and feel for them. I remember, I was narrating a story about a child who doesn't has parents and then someone adopts the little boy. That day, I saw your expressions change from fear, to sadness to happiness and relief. You had tears in your eyes. That's what I mean, you could actually feel for others. That's an amazing quality, stay blessed, sweetheart. Talking about being emotional, you my darling, can cry when you read books, hear about someone's pain or even while watching a movie.... You laugh your heart out the very next second. This just goes to show how sensitive you are.

Your independent streak drives me nuts, but there are these situations where you become unsure of yourself. Yes, you are apprehensive when you're put in an unusual situation, but that's just you. All I will say is have a little more faith in yourself. I used to worry about whether you're ready to handle different situations or you'll just get bullied and stay under pressure... You have now shown me how strong you are. You took your school change so beautifully, sorry I doubted you. You love your new school, and I can see that in the way you look forward to go to school every single day.

Your curiosity, what can I say, you have a question ready, before we can give you an answer. You don't ask questions, for the heck of asking... you genuinely want to know. And believe me, Fizz and I will try to do our best to answer all your questions. 

You can go on talking non-stop, like a volcano has just erupted, you have always been extremely good when it comes to talking.  I also see you always ensure you listen to us, I don't know how you do it. You speak so much, but then you listen to others when they speak as well. That is a new quality which you have developed, I'm am really impressed, that finally, you are listening as well. 
You're absolutely headstrong, like Mumsy. People might take that as a negative trait, I think it's amazing. Stay like this, though people might suggest you otherwise. You might be what people call 'bossy' but I don't see it that way. I know you do come across as someone who is not ready to listen or budge; but I've seen you accept your mistakes when and if you are wrong; you apologise before you're told to... That's not bad, is it? Always be like this...

I have always mentioned about this quality of yours in my previous series of letters on the blog, but I can say it again. I see so many seven year olds around and then I see you. You know how proud I'm of the fact that you don't necessarily have to follow or do things everyone else thinks might be correct for you. If you think something isn't right for you, you always question why... Even if it's your parents you doubt. You are a super cool 7 year old. So many kids your age get into girl and boy stuff, but not you. I was hearing a conversation the other day when you were arguing with a friend who was being 'kind' enough to make you understand "girls don't play football." You made him quiet by saying just two words, "says who?" and this is is just one incident. 

Till you were 6, reading was all you wanted to do. Now you have varied interest, but reading tops the list. You favourite book now a days, which you've read again and again is "Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls".

You might not know this, but I just am amazed at is your perseverance... Be it learning to ride a bike without stabilizers, going for your first sleepover and now learning to skate... You don't give up. You're teaching yourself how to play a keyboard, just because you hate going for keyboard lessons. You also started the Quran this year, I hope you just don't read but understand the words and the meaning. 

You know your friends are very important for you and you care about them....but then you know what, your guide in the PTM told me? She said "Z is a very flexible girl, you make her a part of any group and she doesn't has a problem. She will put in her best. That's a big thing for a child this age, generally, they love being with the same set of people." You might not realise that Z, but it's huge, I'm super proud of you! I used to be super scared of my PTMs, but in your case, I've never heard a teacher complain about you... All we've heard is "she's flying and how..."

Have you seen how your eyes light-up when you witness something amazing... You have magic in your eyes Z. A new book, discussing a play date with N, watching a new movie, listening to a nice song.... You should see how you just enjoy yourself. Keep that alive always, that is a special trait and everyone doesn't has it. As I type this, I can hear you humming 'Ghalti se mistake' in the other room. I always smile when I see you singing and just being yourself. 

You do have your mood swings, terrible ones, but then you zap out of a bad mood in no time. I'm glad we've told you how important it is to speak to either of us whenever you want. I'm happy you're following that, please stay the same, and I promise, we will help you in whichever way possible. 

I just wish you had more confidence in yourself, and I know I can blame myself for that. I believe in you so much that you at times start questioning your strengths and abilities. Try and believe in what you are.  

Since Mumsy and Fizz, both are working, I worry a lot at times. Worry that I don't spend enough time with you, or don't talk to you enough... but one conversation with you, and you ensure I know that I don't have any reason to do so.
Your relationship with your Mumsy has taken a new turn now... We argue, we read together, watch Full House, discuss things I can't imagine I would anyone else... You're equally close to Fizz as well, how do you do that? 
Here's what I want to tell you:
- Always believe in yourself and love yourself. 
- Crying doesn't make you weak. It's what comes after the weak moment that's important. Once you're done crying, get up and come out as a winner. 
- Always speak when you have to and don't worry about what others might think. 
- We all make mistakes, those mistakes make us the best version of ourselves. 
- You're too smart to be a part of a rat race. 

Remember our little #ConversationwithZ #ThatswhatZsaid

Z: "I love being myself, I can like others, but I can't be like them. I don't like to follow the crowd... "
After a few seconds: "You know what follow the crowd means... right?" 
Me: "What does it mean?"
Z: "why should I do what others do? I might like my friend's shoes, but if I buy the exact same shoes, how will I know what's mine?" 

I've said enough, yet there is so much more I want to... we'll keep that for another time...for now...
Happy Birthday sweetheart! Wishing you everything and more. May Allah Ta'ala bless you abundantly. Keep dreaming, keep questioning, keep challenging yourself, keep reading, keep smiling and keep rocking. 

Lots of love

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Goodnight stories for rebel girls

There are good books, there are great books and then there our books which touch our lives in a very special ways. They tell stories which inspire us, make us happy, tales which we instantly connect with, stories which make us pick the book up again and again.

Today, I'm writing about one such book which I recently came across. The title of the book was appealing enough for me to pick it up for my little Z. What I didn't know was that the stories in the book will touch my heart as much as they inspire my daughter. The book is called Goodnight stories for Rebel girls. It's written by  Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo. It has illustrations by 60 female artists  from across the globe. 

I made Z pick up her abosolute favorites and she did give me a long list after a lot of drama, according to her, "how can I pick only a few. I love all the stories." Anyway, her favorites include Margaret Hamilton, Brenda Chapman, Ann Makosinski, Coy Mathis, Maria Montessori, Jane Austen, Cleopatra, Julia Child, Simone Billes, Ashley Fiolek, Nelly Bly and Malala Yousafzai. I can't blame her for picking so many of them.

We have read these stories once and we are reading it once again... I know it definitely isn't the last time she is (sorry we are) reading it. I love the message in the beginning of the the book as well; "To the rebel girls of the world: Dream bigger, aim higher, fight harder, and when in doubt, remember you are right."

I wish I had Goodnight stories for rebel girls, when I was a little girl. 

Please do not think twice and pick this up for yourself and your kids.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Leaving with a bagful of memories

I see so many parents now-a-days who just question the 'standards' of schools. And then there are schools like Siksha - a little place in one of the quiet green roads of BTM, Bangalore; this place was a blessing for my child and many such children.

What started on the 5th of June 2013 with Z joining Siksha Montessori, finally ends today with my daughter graduating. And what an incredible journey it has been.

It's been a beautiful ride and we (Faizan and me) couldn't have asked for more. Siksha soon became a very important part of Z's life. She spoke non-stop about her school and how every experience was enjoyable and enriching, the amazing day she had, the discussions, celebrations, mishaps, presentations et. al.

Once she settled down in Siksha, I have never heard her say "Mumsy I don't want to go to school". When she attended her extended sessions for a few months, where her school hours increased, she was equally excited. She learned so much, but more than anything, she enjoyed the process.
You were the first environment Z encountered outside her home, and you've given her much more than we, as her parents could've asked for. Siksha was more than just a school for us... it was a place she made her second home, a place she felt safe, secure, loved and free.
A huge shout out to all the aunties and the help staff... you took care of so many little ones, and continue to do so. It is nothing short of a blessing for us.
It was by chance that Faizan, Z and I walked into those Siksha gates... but, finally when we chose Siksha, we instantly connected with the environment and Neetha’s vision... As parents, not once did we have a chance to doubt our decision.
It is time to move on, and we will miss Siksha as much as Z. The next school she joins, has to match up to the high standards Siksha has set. This, is not just for us,
I know I speak for many graduating parents.
Siksha has given a beautiful environment to my daughter and the transition will be a challenging one for her and for us.
Thanks Siksha for the beautiful foundation you've given to our child. Thanks for transforming her into a sensible little girl and a nice person at heart. Words won't do justice to all that I want to say.
Here is to the amazing people at Siksha, may you keep touching the lives of many many more children out there. God bless you!

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Trap

Picture this:

A nice warm Sunday morning and all you want is to stay in bed for just a little longer. Usually, I start thinking too much, throw the covers and get up without even letting my mind relax. That Sunday was different, it was a Sunday, which made me lazy and just stay in bed for a little longer. Since, my husband was snoring away, which was pretty unusual (no not the snoring bit, but the staying late in bed bit), I thought, I would enjoy my Sunday. After contemplating for half an hour, trying to enjoy, I got up. As I stepped out of the room, I see my 6 year old sitting there, reading The BFG for the nth time. Now, if you know Z, you'd say that's not unusual, I agree. What was unusual was she was all dressed up... teeth brushed, changed, ate breakfast and combed her hair. 

I, for one, don't want her to grow up too soon, I want her to feel like a baby... I tried to ignore the sight as a 'one-off' and sat down with my chai and mobile... She gets up, goes in my house help's room and says "Mumsy uth gayee hai, breakfast banate hain" (Mumsy is up, let's make breakfast). She takes my house-help to the kitchen and gets breakfast ready. Half my breakfast is 2 slices of toasted whole wheat bread and at least she prepared that. I see her get the plate from the kitchen. I try, not to look up, and she says, "Excuse me Mumsy, breakfast is important."  I pout, keep my phone away and take the plate. Once I'm done she takes my plate and I'm back with my phone (I usually avoid phones on Sundays, but the scene in front of me was super scary).

I feel like someone standing in front of me, AGAIN. I look up, she has a The BFG: Plays for Children in her hand. She says, "I did everything for you, and you forgot your promise."

Ahhh! Blackmail, I like that.

Me (my smile which had faded away back on my face): "Yes Z, tell me" I throw my phone away.
Z (now, she is pouting): "You promised you will read the 'whole book' with me"

My smile fades away a little... one part of my brain says "What? You promised to read aloud a 120 'pager' in one day... are you nuts?" another part is constantly saying, "A promise is a promise, besides she did so much for you in the morning."

My smile broadens and my eyes twinkle, "Let's do it"

Z has a broader smile and a brighter twinkle in her eyes, "Yes!" she said... As if saying, "You fell in the TRAP again"

Score: Mumsy 000 Z 100

Post that 1 and a half hours were filled with completely crazy book-a-licious fun.


Score: Mumsy 100 Z 100

After I read the last page, I turn to Z and say, "Next time, just tell me to read, avoid the drama."

She smiles...

A Sunday well spent.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review - A kitten called Moonlight

Some books leave an impact on you no matter how simple the story line. With a few books you can't put a finger on what is that one thing that really touched your heart. A kitten called Moonlight is one such book. This one is a winner also, because it makes Z and me snuggle up, read and go into our own little world. A world full of hugs, books and a little ball of fur... Moonlight is a lot like Fluff (our own little kitten - which is little no more). Anyway, let's come back to the book before I start discussing about anything besides the book.

A kitten called Moonlight is a story by Martin Waddell and beautifully illustrated by Christian Birmingham. Charlotte and her mom have a favorite story (don't we all), this is a special tale as it is based on an incident which actually happened. The story about the night Charlotte and her mother rescued a little kitten by the sea. The kitten wouldn't have been found, if not for the silver moonlight. That is the reason why Charlotte chooses to name the kitten Moonlight. The book talks about being selfless and caring for others.

What makes this book all the more special are the life-like illustrations by Christian Birmingham. The soft strokes used are just perfect for a story which talks about being sensitive and caring. 

Z loves this book, both Z and me are cat people, and A kitten called Moonlight is just the perfect this mother - daughter duo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review - The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

There are some books which touch your heart even before you have actually read it. One such book definitely has to be The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. I read the brief and I instantly connected with the book.

This book tells us about an 'ordinary girl' and her pet (her best friend). How they plan to make the most magnificent thing... They plan and get to work. Will they succeed will they not? What if they don't? What will be this 'Most Magnificent Thing'. You have to read it to see how amazing this book is.

The book talks about planning, invention, failure, success, ideas and execution. More than all this girl it is a story about a very young girl who doesn't know when to give up and why to give up. I loved the simplicity and the awesomeness of the book. The girl and her assistant are the best. The illustrations are beautiful and take the story forward. For Z, this book came at the right time, she is just learning that if you aren't able to do something, it doesn't make you a failure... till you keep trying.

Z loves the book, she has already read it a few times and she has a big smile on her face whenever she reads the book.

Wild Karnataka – Experience

We were ecstatic when we got to know we were going to see  Wild Karnataka.  It was a long trip to Vega City mall, Bannerghetta Road, Benga...