Thursday, April 16, 2015

Love Is...

... a sticky finger exploring your lips, your nose, your nose-pin, as a sleepy, sweaty, tired little baby tries to keep it together. Or when he's fighting sleep and decides to admire you instead, your bindi, your kaajal, your dingly-dangly earrings, the stray hairs that keep escaping your top-knot.

Love is the kisses and bites you give that insistent little finger too.

Thursday, April 09, 2015


I awoke from a nightmare not ten minutes ago and my heart is still racing. These aren't the dreams of monsters and ghosts that scared me as a child; these are visions of people being perverse, being very, very cruel, so realistically twisted from things that have actually happened that I have to work hard to remember these visions are not true and that these people don't do these things.

My heart is still racing.

I am petrified of dementia in my old age. Earlier I used to worry about being at the mercy of other people for my most basic needs; now that I have these occasional glimpses into the inner doubts in my head I worry about being at the mercy of thoughts like these without having the rationality to defend myself.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Review: Madzzle Mysteries of the Amazon

Have you seen the new Madrat games in the toyshops? Rahul has been gifted two in the last six months, one of which went over his head and another, the Ultimate Tic Tac Toe, which he quite enjoyed even though I strongly suspect he and I fudged the rules quite a bit. ;) I was intrigued by the company's approach to board games, because it's been quite some years since I found games that weren't just trying to capitalise on old favourites. Well, you can say the Tic Tac Toe does just that, but trying playing by the game's actual rules and then we'll discuss it... Anyway, so I was intrigued enough to say yes when the company approached me to try out one of their newest games: Mysteries of the Amazon from the Madzzle series.

Madzzles, going by this game, are based on jigsaw puzzles which you solve to be able to start a game based on the puzzle itself. Confused? I was, a little, but it's actually great fun.

This is what reached us. A game in a handy-dandy tube, which is a vast improvement over the unwieldy boxes of the other two games that we already had.

These don't come cheap. This particular Madzzle, for instance, is priced at Rs 750.

It's classified as being suitable for kids in the 8-12 years category but I confess Rahul and I laughed ourselves silly playing it. We shouted so loud we actually frightened poor Puchke.

See the back here. You can click on the photo to see a larger, clearer image.

At this point Rahul was already hopping up and down in excitement.

The tube opened to reveal a rolled up mat and another, narrower, tube within.

See the excitement? I wasn't allowed to do the opening!

The second tube held a 120-piece jigsaw puzzle -- they claim each piece is unique and fits without a gap -- a deck of data cards in a bag, a reference picture for the puzzle and a pamphlet with the rules of play.

Even better, inside the lid of the smaller tube was a small packet of marigold seeds, Madrat's attempt to give back to the environment.

I appreciated these little touches, as I did the playfulness of the whole package, the direct yet non-condescending communication with the child.

The puzzle mat is another interesting innovation though I don't know that I would call it a roaring success. The idea is to have a pliable surface on which the puzzle can be pieced together and stored. One should be able to roll the puzzle up in the mat and it stays safely held in place with the magnetic strip on the edge of the mat. I tried it a few times and the puzzle fell apart sometimes as I rolled and sometimes as I opened the mat up. It didn't fall completely apart though, just partially, so piecing it back together was rather less work than starting again from scratch.

Here is a look at the entire game: the black puzzle mat, the smaller tube container, the puzzle pieces and their reference image and the deck of cards with their little green bag.

Now here's the thing that we couldn't photograph -- the puzzle glows in the dark! If you piece it together and ensure it gets some strong light (artificial light suffices) and then turn all the lights off, close the curtains and catch the baby before he tries to taste the pieces, you will be rewarded with blinking eyes in the darkness of an Amazonian rainforest. That was great fun, though we had all expected it to lead to something more than just the glow in the dark experience. We were a little crestfallen to find that is all there was to it, but I have to say, it was pretty cool even then.

The cards allow different plays once the puzzle is ready. The most basic, hunting objects in the densely packed picture, led to a riotous hour in our home, and there are further variations as players hunt or challenge each other based on creature specifications instead of just names.

Our verdict? We loved it. The price would have made me pause before buying but having tasted one Madzzle, I would rather buy this for a child than overpriced movie merchandise. Rahul, an eight year old who hasn't been interested in jigsaws in many years, commented that this was "the best game ever, can we play it again?" 'Nuff said?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Vicky Minds the Baby

The other day I went into the other bedroom and found this scene in progress:

Vicky, supposed to be keeping an eye on the boys, had dozed off. Rahul was playing on the floor and Puchke was trying to join him headfirst, stopped only by his father's hand firmly gripping his wee ankle in sleep.

I suppose I should be grateful they weren't out robbing safes.

The link above leads to you an etext of 'Butch Minds the Baby'. You can read other Damon Runyon stories here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Of Cousins and Wedding Invitations

I got married in 2006, the first of the cousins on either side to do so. I waited impatiently for the others to get married, so I could do all the fun things they did at my wedding, make all the demands, enjoy all the events, savour the anticipation. Eventually one did get married but his wedding was in another country and his mother, my aunt, did not invite my parents (her own brother!) so I dropped in with a gift at the reception but did not stay. Not much of a happy memory, especially unfortunate given that I met his wife properly later on and really liked her, and their son.

Last year another cousin got married and his father, my mother's cousin, came and invited us and I was quite excited, as were my parents. Except they never did get their invitation. We will never know why since my parents are the kind of people whose blessings people take when their weddings are organised, and I have known prospective brides, grooms and their families to go to great lengths to ensure my parents' attendance at the wedding -- but that was not the case here. This led to some lasting ill-will and ensured that when this uncle's daughter got married some months later, none of us received an invitation. In fact, the family went to some trouble to hide the date from us, which still baffles me!

So, that's three cousins whose weddings I could not attend.

Now it's April and cousin T is getting married in a fortnight in Delhi. She is the closest to me in age and as children we were quite close, confiding our secrets in each other, sharing many common interests. But she doesn't want me at the wedding. Her mother, who I once looked up to and believed loved me, has spent many months telling whoever would listen how she doesn't want any of our family there. When her parents did come over with the invitation to the reception, they were neither particularly inviting nor especially interested in whether we were coming. I don't usually stand on ceremony with close family but I do know when people are being unnecessarily offensive. The wedding itself was decided upon about a year ago but our card was dropped off by Cousin T's maternal grandmother's help one evening, late enough to ensure that we couldn't possibly make it to Delhi. The other cousins I have never been particularly close to but I did not realise Cousin T and her family would take such pains to ensure I would not be around. I really don't know why and I don't think the reason matters at the end of the day.

These are the doings one cannot undo.