mom of all trades

mom of all trades

Listed among the best Indian blogs by mommies

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Featured on Masala mommies was featured on Masala mommies

About Masala mommies ( is an online magazine for today’s South Asian mothers and moms-to-be or moms with a South Asian connection, showcasing ideas and experiences that enable them to juggle everyday life. This web magazine also features interviews with experts as well as moms themselves in various fields who offer information and tips for mothers with a South Asian connection. From fashion, education, balancing your household budget, cool tech and gear must-haves to the latest health and parenting news . is the brainchild of award-winning journalist and mother of two, Anjum Choudhry Nayyar. She has been a journalist for more than 10 years with experience in broadcast, print and online communications. Once she married and had children, Anjum found herself constantly wondering about the rules and customs surrounding various South Asian traditional family occasions. Although she grew up in a South Asian family herself, she found that sometimes it wasn’t always clear how she could provide the best blend of traditional and modern when it came to parenting. She was also faced with the daily push and pull of balancing work life with home life. As a mother of two young children, she often wondered how other young moms facing the same issues juggled it all. Having always had a passion for writing, Anjum created to meet that need. It allows South Asian women to celebrate and commiserate about the challenges and opportunities that come along with being a mother with roots in traditional South Asian culture.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Life of Nachkaet: Chapter 7,part 1 - Friendship

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
 Nachikaet has always had companions, kids whom he loved playing with  and doing what seven year old boys normally do. But I always doubted whether he had any special friends, not companions but friends. When ever I asked him to name his best friend/friends he would tell me that the whole class at school plus the kids at the apartment were his’best friends’. I would agree with him enthusiastically, while silently acknowledging that he and I were reading from two completely different pages as to what the word ‘friend’ means.  
I often wondered when he would discover the beautiful world of friendship. The kind shared by Pooh bear and piglet; and then it happened ..just like that. It was about a month ago that I first heard the name mentioned-Anirudh Krishna.  I knew the little guy as he had always been in Nachikaet’s section. I smiled indulgently as nachikaet told me little snippets about his day at school and almost every story featured anirudh. I brushed it off as a passing phase. But when the name still made front page news even after a month my ‘mommy alert’ button began to ring. Then one day he came from school beaming and handed me his rough note book. There nestled between pages and pages of  untidy scrawly rough work and  pictures of  angry birds and scrawny coconut trees lay two lines in neat cursive writing ‘Anirudh Krishna’ and his phone number in a style which would put seasoned calligraphy artists to shame. “Please call Ani” he said.
It was at that instant that I knew that this little guy was going to  be a part of my son’s life. Apparently the two little tykes had made elaborate plans at school to meet up and hence the number. I was made to call on the number, and threatened with dire consequences if I did not manage to convince his mother to let him come to Nachikaet’s house.
The call was received by (a much relieved ) Anirudh’s mother, who was also hoping that I would call sometime soon.  Anirudh was also waiting on tenterhooks to be called. Then started the seemingly never-ending wait for them to arrive. Nachkaet was in the role of the perfect host, issuing strict instructions to me to change into ‘something presentable’, and inspecting the snacks to be served.  The next 20 minutes were spent in running to and fro to see if the elevator was moving to our floor and cajoling me to track his friend’s progress. Finally they came. Its hard to say which of the two friend’s mothers were more relieved. After about a full minute of hugging and kissing they finally sauntered off inside.
It was a pleasure to watch my son revel in” Ani’s” company. It is difficult to pin point at what exactly makes them friends. They are as different as chalk and cheese. One is calm and quiet and the other exhibits the above mentioned qualities only when asleep. Apart from the fact that both their mother's share the same name they have no common trait. But somewhere in that indefinable grey area they have found a beautiful space, a space where no words are needed no parental intervention is required.
I watched in wonder and delight as the friendship blossomed. Every morning Anirudh would be diligently waiting by the school gates when I dropped Nachikaet there. His little face would light up in a lovely smile as they ran and hugged each other. At that moment I let out a silent prayer to the almighty for letting my son experience the delights of friendship.
And here is wishing  the little ones what piglet said to pooh -
 We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
 Here is a snap of them.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The world according to 'apps'

  Last month my life changed ...again!! Dramatic- maybe. True - completely. Being somewhat challenged in the areas of gadgets and technology, I used to think of my smart phone well, only as a phone- to make and receive calls. Despite various attempts by my well meaning husband and sister (who was in denial that her own flesh and blood does not know how to down load an 'app') to make me 'worldly wise', I refused to budge.  So while other smart phones in the neighborhood were sending mails, commenting on FB and flaunting arm candy 'apps' by the dozen; my poor supposedly ‘smart’ phone was reduced to a BSNL landline.

  Last month changed all that. I come from a large family of sisters*, who have all been (me included) ‘blessed ' with the ability,to never run out of topics to discuss. Some of my happiest childhood and adolescent memories feature latenight gossip sessions, games and dressing up sessions and to shorten a long tale- growing up with these sisters.  One of our pet peeves was the lack of occasions to meet up and spend time with each other as  we were spread across different locations. A simple ‘app’ changed all that.

Goaded and cajoled by the sisters I decided to give it a try. After conveniently outsourcing the ‘downloading’ part to my bewildered brother in law (the poor man must have been convinced that he married into a crazy family!)  I proudly stepped into the world of ‘apps’.

Downloading whatzapp was the best thing that I could have done for myself. Everyday life took on a special sheen. Every morning I was greeted by words of love and positivity which made feel that, that day was special, that I was special. Everyday meals took on a ‘gourmet flavor’ when it was discussed and drooled over by the sisters. Even falling sick seemed not so bad, given the inflow of concerned messages and calls which comforted me like a much loved cozy blanket, warm and familiar.

  I have never smiled so consistently, as much as I have in this past one month. Every day gave me a reason to smile and look at life through someone else’s eyes. I so admire these strong talented women all carving for themselves unique identities. We have a corporate honcho, an interior designer, a model coordinator, a film director, a teacher in the making, a chartered accountant, an actor, and a preschool specialist. In spite of their hectic schedules these women take the time out each day to be a part of each others lives, to love comfort and laugh with each other.

I love the person I am turning into when I am with these girls. I am more patient with my son more understanding with my husband and generally a more pleasant person to be with.
Thank you ladies for filling my life with the sweetness of unconditional love; it is so much easier to take on life when ‘I’ becomes ‘WE’


a note on sisters: The dictionary defines the term sister as "A girl or woman who shares a common ancestry, allegiance, character, or purpose  with another or others


     So when someone refers to any one of them as 'your cousin’, it  takes a moment   for me to register, because we have always been sisters- nothing less nothing more. They have always been and always will be sisters of my heart.





Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tales of blood and gore from my living room

From the time he was four years old, Nachikaet had wanted to have a pet. The 'pet' would depend on his current obsession. So at the beginning of the year it would be a pet pig that he was 'just dying' to have after watching Babe, where Babe the pig was trained to behave like a sheepdog. He would spend hours planning and deciding what to name the pig, how to train it, whether the pig would be allowed to accompany him to school and such intricate details. After finding out that most ‘normal’ pigs love a mud bath, he decided that it would not be ‘feasible’.  Then he shifted his focus to more ‘practical’ and ‘cleaner’ pets like an elephant calf , inspired by colonel Haathi’s march in the jungle book or a baby dragon which he aspired to train how to fly, with him on its back.
So when one day, his friend who stayed in the next apartment got a puppy dog as birthday gift, all hell broke loose  and Nachikaet to keep up his honor, conceded to have any pet that can be acquired in half a day. That was how he got introduced to the beautiful world of ornamental fishes and they caught him hook line and sinker!!!!

By the end of that day, he was the proud owner of three chicklets, two jewel fishes, a huge fish tank with ornamental plants, hiding places for the ‘shy’ fishes and two sharks to add a bit of drama.

It was amazing to see Nachikaet take to them like well, a fish to water. He would run to see them as soon as soon as he opened his eyes in the morning. In the evening, Nachikaet and his father would feed the fish and hold lengthy discussions about their health, and how to make the aquarium more comfortable for them.

At first, all was calm in the little water kingdom... but little did we know that it was the calm before the storm. One morning, he noticed that the chicklets were always in hiding, sneaking behind the water plants or burying themselves deep into one of the hiding spots provided. Further investigation revealed that the chicklets were actually being attacked.

All evidence pointed to the sharks, their huge size and menacing looks didn’t make matters easier. During the feed time in the evening, Nachikaet let out a blood curdling scream that  gave me goose bumps. One of the chicklets was dead and the other was actually swimming around in a trail of blood with its tail bitten off. It had been badly injured.

Nachikae,t wanting to avenge the underdogs was insistent on taking out the villainous shark. Then came the twist in this ‘fishy’ tale’. During the quiet of that winter afternoon, Nachikaet’s dad chanced upon the seemingly mild mannered jewel fish, devour one of the chicklets. With the speed of Israeli commandoes Nachikaet and his dad swung into action. The poor hapless victim was rescued and the villains  were moved to a 'restricted zone' (a take away container filled with water)

Finally, when it  looked like peace was restored in the turbulent kingdom, one of the sharks was missing. Then started the rampant ‘aquarium wide’ search. While each square inch of the aquarium was prodded   with a net, Nachikaet noticed something under the table on which the aquarium was kept. It was the shark and it was still alive!!!!

By that time all of us were ready to call it a day, and left the fishes to fight their own battles. Last heard Nachikaet was convinced that a dog would be the best choice for a pet..after all it is not called man’s best friend for nothing!!!  At this point in time I wouldn’t mind being someone’s pet myself!!!






Saturday, August 11, 2012

Roti, Kapda and most importantly Makaan!!!

After learning about  the  basic necessities of life- food, clothing and shelter, in social science class at school, Nachikaet decided that it was time he increased the 'quality' of his life. After making the required changes to the 'roti' and and 'kapda' part, which included a Friday pizza night and a few more Ben 10 T-shirts he decided it was time he "moved out" of his parent’s humble abode.

 After a few strategic phone calls to his various "connections” (my ever obliging parents, sister and brother in law- for the uninitiated) I opened my front door one morning to find my beaming parents who claimed to have dropped in for a "surprise" visit, bearing a huge package in their hands.

It turned out that they had by some sheer "amazing coincidence" brought along a huge house like tent for Nachikaet. Then started the process of converting the house to a 'home' as Nachikaet called it.
 Since the basic structure was already in place, a bright techno-coloured affair which looked straight out a circus ground; 'house hold necessities' were scavenged from various parts of the above mentioned humble abode. It was a closely guarded project with no access for anyone except Nachkaet and his two minions (that would be my parents).

Finally after a whole day of frenzied activities, it was finally ready. My husband and I were formally invited for the 'housewarming' ceremony. Our gift was a little brass doorbell for the house.
We were astonished to see that he had created a warm and cozy little haven for himself where he could slip into when he wanted to get away from the 'madding crowd’ There was a 'sitting area' with his favorite Winnie the pooh cushion, a 'dining' area furnished with my little laptop table and all kind of 'essentials' a seven year old boy would need.

 Congratulations on your first ever home my little one, home is after all where the heart is.

 Here are some snaps of the proud grihanath(house owner) and his precious home

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Good Housekeeping

After a long break I'm really glad to come back with a ‘feel good' post.
 'Good Housekeeping' has been one of my favorite magazines ever since it was launched in India. Finding it along with the morning paper usually makes my day. So when the newspaper man accidently 'forgets' to deliver it at the beginning of the month, I call and pester him till the poor man might be tempted to seriously contemplate a change of career!!
 Last month when there was no trace of the magazine for over 2 weeks I started my tirade against the newspaper guy, telling anyone who would care to listen, about the dire consequences he would have to face.
It was half an hour later that the doorbell rang and when I opened the door I saw my son standing outside with a solemn expression on his face, as he handed me what looked like two papers stuck together.
It was what was written inside that gave me a lump in my throat. I had one of my ‘mommy moments’ in my scruffy pajamas at my front door.
   The papers were taped together with sticky tape to make it look like a book
The title read “Good House keeping”
Inside was written in his best handwriting (he must have really taken the trouble to write neatly) the following
“We should always keep our homes clean
We should wash our clothes everyday
We should wash our hands after going to the toilet
Good houses should have windows to let in fresh air and sunlight
Sunlight can kill germs
We should not cut trees or plants, we should grow plants. Plants give us shade, food, fresh air etc
We should have a sink to wash utensils
Good homes should have doors and lock them or robbers will enter our houses and steal things”
 Despite all his temper tantrums and mischief which makes me want to pull my hair out, the little fellow had his heart in the right place.
 Thank you my little one for having   enough empathy   to understand amma’s little eccentricities.
I am also happy to announce that I can safely say that my son is now “properly domesticated”.. at least in theory!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Season of super heroes

Nachikaet is not into Hindi movies at all. But this "one" really caught him hook line and sinker. It started when the movie Ra one was aired on TV for the first time and I (blissfully unaware of the repercussions  my one  move would create)  recorded the movie on Tata sky to watch later. Nachkaet sat through the movie completely mesmerised by G one. Sadly to say that was just the beginning. G one began to replace each one his favourite cartoons . Since he is allowed to watch TV only for half hour every day, the movie became a glorified "daily soap".
G one's power over the house hold was soon apparent when my house help (who speaks no other language other than my native tongue Malayalam) casually asked me "Will you be my chammak challo?" complete with perfectly choreographed hand and hip movements, as I was helping her chop onions. I almost cut off my finger in shock.
We must have watched the movie in bits and pieces at least two dozen time by now!! My son proudly rattles off dialogues in his very limited  Hindi vocabulary to any one who cares to listen....ranging from amused security in our apartment to his adoring grandparents who think its  perfectly normal to listen to G one story for the 6th time in a week over STD calls.
Move over Ben 10 and Chotta Bheem its the season of super heroes!!!!

Here is a snap of my in house "super hero"..courtesy my husbands newly acquired photo shopping skills!!!


Friday, March 9, 2012

An obituary to my hot water bag

Last week my 10 year old hot water bag passed away after loyally serving me during some of my darkest days. I wish I could say she passed away peacefully but unfortunately somebody trod on her and her shiny pink skin split into two...well I'll spare you the rest of the 'gory" details!!!!

so here is a little note to my  little friend who never failed to "warm" me with her presence

  Dear hot water bag,
               Thank you for keeping my little family warm and comfortable,

               for warming little toes on cold chilly evenings,

               for easing aching backs after a hard day at work,

               for teaming up with a mug of hot tea to comfort,when the world seems a cold cruel place;

               for offering warmth and comfort to three people in your  short life
               which is more than I can ever say for myself!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The' yellow belt' road to happiness

Happiness (for a 6 year old ) = a meter of yellow cloth obtained after 4 hours of intense physical exertions.
Sunday was a landmark day in Nachikaet's"martial artistic" life. He has been been given "official membership" into the the fascinating world of martial arts.  It is his first "real achievement"... all the more sweeter as it is quite literally the fruit of his sweat and labour.
What really made this day special for me, was to see my son (who used to come running asking to be taken to a hospital, because he had scraped his knee,) slog on hour after hour determined to get that belt.
While a  good number of kids were all but ready to give up; crying and howling, my little man carried on until the last punch was delivered.
Congratulations my little one
                                         for believing that you could do it ..even though amma told you that you weren't  ready yet.
                                         for having the courage to say no, when amma asked you if you wanted to stop and go home, after you nearly collapsed after the 50th count of middle punches

and most of all congratulations on getting your " dream" belt..amma is so very proud of you.

Here is a snap of him beaming at the camara with his coveted yellow belt which by  the way, has replaced
all alien creatures and pre historic species as our new bed fellow!!!


Friday, January 27, 2012

By us for us

When Smita Banerjee , (on behalf of Hewlett Packard Write and Read initiative), mailed me asking if I would like to review a collection of short stories for children, I jumped at the opportunity.
The names associated with the book had given me a fair idea that I was in for a treat. Further, I saw it as an opportunity to read it with my 6 year old son, and view the book from his perspective (it is a book meant for kids after all!!!)
I received a lovely brightly coloured illustrated book called “By us for us”. What sets this book apart is that it is a collection of short stories, written by children for children. All the 29 storied featured in this book have been handpicked by the acclaimed lyricist/poet Prasoon Joshi, and is published by Katha in collaboration with Hewlett Packard India.

Each of the 29 stories bears testament to the unique insight that only children can have. I truly felt I was seeing our world in a whole new light - through the eyes of a child. The book engulfs the reader, in a plethora of emotions in the simple uncomplicated language of children. Each of the “little authors” manage to convey a socially relevant message through their thought provoking stories - little Kaizan who begs near the traffic signals of Chandni Chowk, who makes us feel grateful for all of life’s privileges we so take for granted…
A little boy who stumbles upon a treasure called “sharing”..
A tree who shows us what it feels like when we so casually cut it in half ..
A suit case who opens our eyes to the layers of corruption camouflaged cleverly in the powerful world of politics, through its memoirs on how it became a “celebrity”..
A stray cat who was adopted by a family and soon became “reigning queen” , introduces us to the joys of caring for a pet. a stray one at that!!
Four toothbrushes who have an adventure of their” toothbrushy” lives when they tamper with a time machine, showcases childish imagination at its best.

It is this sort of creative writing at its best that make this book a must read for kids (and adults!!!)
My 6 year old thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one of these stories and
the fact that it was written by children, made it even more enjoyable and its given him that “little push” to give writing stories a shot..what more can a mother expect out of a book? It is definitely a keeper!!!

Please check out their space for more information

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A" soon to be" mom in law!!!

If things go the way they are going currently, I am in danger of becoming a "soon to be" mom in law..courtesy my ever obliging and proactive 6 year old. Here is what I am talking about.
We were returning from Karate class the other day, when suddenly it struck me that Nachikaet was unusually silent..deep in thought. This is an excerpt from our conversation..

Amma:  Kanna, what happened, why are you so quiet..are you feeling sick? (sadly, that's one of the few reasons he keeps quiet!!!)

Nachikaet: Amma I'm thinking of getting married!!!

Amma: You're what????      ( managed not to shriek and pretended as if I had not heard)

Nachikaet:   You know like you and achan..

Amma : Oh that's nice, and who is the lucky girl? ( perfectly calm, as if he had told me that  he wanted a new toy)

Nachikaet: There are two three I'm thinking of...can't can marry only one person right?

Amma: Yes kanna ( god give me the strength!!!)

He sighs.. accepting the sad but bitter truth - monogamy!!!!
Suddenly he brightened up and gave a wide toothless grin
  Amma , I know each class i'll marry a different girl...
I nodded..not knowing what else to say!!!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Enter the Nachikaet!!!!

My husband is an ardent fan of movies related to martial arts. As a result Nachikaet knows his Tony Jaa's and Jet Lee's from his Jackie Chan's and Bruce Lee's. So when our apartment began conducting karate classes for kids in the club house, both father and son decided that it was time to "enter the Nachikaet"

 He has started classes along with 15 other "black-belts-in-the-making"..all eager to try their freshly learnt moves on each other!!

It is so heartening to see the little ones so eager to learn  the new moves being taught, each without the slightest sliver of doubt  that they are "god's gift to the world of martial arts"
Here  is wishing the little group many more lovely hours of  middle punches and upper punches...

Here is a picture of my little samurai in action

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A fiery start to the new year!!!

This "event" really set me on fire. My "mommy-alert" button hit the panic mode and I quite literally let off my steam!!!
The saga unfolded in the underwater world, Sentosa island in Singapore, where I had gone for a vacation with my husband and 6 year old son Nachikaet. One of my pet phobias is the "fear of anything which remotely resembles a snake" So you can imagine my plight, when my son casually announced that he wanted to take a photo with a python draped  around  his neck (one of the attractions being offered in the underwater world)

To say that my mind was on fire is to put matters mildly. To add fuel to the "fire", my husband was all smiles beaming proudly at his "macho" son. The theatrical display of navarasas* which coursed through my face, would have put a seasoned kathakali* artist to shame!!!

I had by this time, managed to attract quite a decent number of interested audience- ranging from giggly pigtailed girls to wonder mommies who looked as if they had just stepped out of the salon, balancing a perfectly behaved baby on one hip  and typing furiously on their I-phones!!!
My son and husband were by this time ready to disown me and get on with more important things getting a python draped around their necks!!
The rather tragic end of this epic drama was that I was left howling and screaming and trying  to explain to a concerned security guard that I didn't need to go the first aid station; while my son went and got himself the coveted picture!!! Here is a copy of the controversial sure fired up my day!!!!

This post is written for the indiblogger and KFC sponsered contest  "Sets you on fire"