Tuesday, August 29, 2006

tantrums of the terrible threes?

A, an absolutely adorable 3 year-old, suddenly dropped-in on sun evening with her 7 year-old sister I and her parents. the kids were being their usual bouncy selves and after a bit of jumping and chasing around, the elder one settled herself on one of the floor-cushions while the little one parked herself between her mum and me. barely a few minutes later, she was trying to squeeze into I's cushion. expectedly, I refused, not allowing her any space. she told A to get her own cushion, but of course, A only wanted I's cushion. A's plaintive cries filled the room, which the parents calmy ignored. s and i decided to follow the cue and go along with the ignoring...though i MUST say that i found it really hard to ignore her, she is simply so very cute. anyway, conversation flowed in parallel with A's monotonous wails.

at some point, A decided it wasn't worth it and moved on to the sohn-papdi on the table, without a bowl. she dropped most of it...and was immediately admonished by her mum, who promptly appeared with a bowl that she insisted A use. A refused. this was followed by a long pause, after which the mum just thrust the bowl into A's hands. more sulking and drama.

our friends hadn't intended on staying for dinner and it was already late, so we ended up making do with whatever was stocked in the fridge. A's dad was keen to go home soon, the next day being a monday. s was even more keen to get to bed early...he needs some extra-time on sunday nights to brainwash himself that life isn't terrible despite the fact that he leaves home mon morn 6:30 and usually doesnt return till thursday. so we adults went about business-like trying to get food on the table to ensure we could wind up soon.

and then A happened. from the very start of her dinner, she showed no inclination to eat. she sat swinging her legs, playing with her food. after 3 bites, she declared she didn't like roti and wanted rice instead, but mum refused to give her anything until she finished what was on her plate. she then decided it was time for her to go to the toilet for the Big Job. responsible elder sister I volunteered to take her instead of mum though she hadnt finished her dinner either. so mum said she should take her to the loo and leave her there. for a few seconds, there was peace. then, just as we heard I's footsteps walking back towards us, A's vocal chords stretched themselves and drowned them out. 'IIISSSSSSHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO don' t goooooooooooo', she bawled. there's I, not knowing whether to return to us or to the toilet. and there's mum, calmly telling I to come back to her waiting dinner. and there's A's wailing, that has now been transformed into shrieking.

in the midst of all that, there's our dinner. so we eat on and I joins us. finally, A shrieks even louder and shriller than before (if that was really possible) to indicate that she is done. so mum goes and gets her. for a few minutes, A hides behind the sofas, smiling coyly, while mum has already resumed her eating. again given the royal ignore, she clambers onto her seat and finally begins eating. by now, we are all mostly done, but sitting and chatting. A stops eating as soon as she started. we begin clearing the table, A continues staring at the wall. then, quite suddenly, she resumes her wailing. what is it NOW, asks her exasperated mum from the kitchen. 'i want isssshhhhooooooooooooo tp feeeeeeeedddd meeeeee': the classical stretched tone of a child who bawls and talks at the same time. mum's response: nobody is going to feed A, she must eat herself. after the same dialogues were repeated on both sides for what seemed like forever, A FINALLY quietens down and slowly eats her food. by the time she finishes, it's 11.

once they left, s and i just stared at each other. honestly...we find both kids really well-behaved, MOST of the time. having one of them throw a tantrum in our own home was a strange experience...tucked into bed, my little one got a sound lecture on how NOT to behave!!!

a holy bow to every single parent in the world. HOW on earth did our's bring us up!?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

thanks to s, cd, here u are

this is the alhambra, as seen from the top of the albaysin (the old muslim quarters).

one of the many designs on the walls in the casa royal. wish i could read arabic and know what this one means!

i havent seen so much intricate work in a structure as huge as this one, so well-preserved. of course, there has been some renovation work.

and if you look hard enough at the ochre-ish archway behind the white beam, you may just spot the stalactitie-like designs i mentioned in the post below.

this is one of my favourites. the entire wall is composed of maybe 3 or 4 of these windows, and if u look closely at the bottom of the photo, you will see the arabic inscription which says 'there's no conqueror but god'. the sides of the window as u see them do not fully capture the intricate beauty of the designs.

in this one below, u see the islamic usage of water to balance their environment. this pool was constructed not only to cool the marble in the summer, but also to provide a new perspective to the architechture itself: the perfect geometry reflected in the gentle ripples were believed to lend the symmetrical ambience a sensuous and softening effect.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

andalucia. and the cosmos.

tarifa, spain, is the southern-most city of europe. touching the straits of gibraltar, it is essentially the central dividing point between costa del sol and costa de le luz (coast of the sun, and of light, respectively). being one of the windiest coasts in the world, it is no surprise that it is a major kite-surfing capital. that surprised us nevertheless, for we didn't realise just HOW windy it could get on the beach. grains of sand can be driven into a frenzy and fling themselves against you stinging your feet.

but let that not put you off...the sparkling azure waters are gorgeous, and it has a magnetic goa-esque charm to it. our hotel was 6 km outside tarifa, so we had the peace and quiet that we sought, and hip-and-happening excitement when we wanted it.

dolphin-watching was clearly the highlight of the trip for me. actually, they call it whale-watching, though we didn't see any whales. frankly, whales leave me feeling quite cold...even killer whales don't inspire me much. but dolphins...aaah, they're something else. i'd watched a program on them years ago, and had since then desired to see them in the wild. and this was my lucky day...not one, not two, but many. they swam in twos, threes and fives, almost racing alongside us. some even seemed to be performing for our pleasure, as if enjoying the attention. i had hoped to hear their sound, but nope. guess that's a bit much to hope for when you are one one of three ferries hectically looking for and circling around dolphins!

whatever you may have heard about the alhambra, it is hard to imagine its actual beauty...its an absolute must if you ever visit. it gives you a real feel of islamic spain. the alcazaba, or fortress, though enchanting, doesn't come close to the casa real, the royal rooms. islamic mastery over geometric architechture is evident in the interiors of these rooms. the intricate designs are unlike any other mosaic-work i have seen. these are beautifully blended with arabic inscriptions all over the walls. often, the same line from the quran is repeated - 'there is no conqueror but god'. the arches are carved with unbelieveable detail and symmetry, applying the concept of stalactities to highlight the interplay of light as it streams through the meshed windows. honestly, i could go on...you really have to be there to feel it.

the albaysin, the old muslim quarter, was interesting but not spectaular. the route to get there is fun, though. you have to climb up wide steps of uneven large pebblestones (can pebblestones be large or are they then called something else?) along curving lanes up to the top, and along the way you pass enchanting arabic tea houses, complete with hookahs, islamic furniture and art. once you reach the top (the mosque has been replaced by a non-descript church), you find yourself on an open terrace that overlooks the rest of city and one side of the alhambra. if you are lucky, as we were, you may chance upon a bunch of old (maybe failed) flamenco singers and guitarists, merrily doing their thing, with the appreciative audience clapping away in the spanish style to encourage and support the singing. GREAT fun. there's something so exciting about stumbling upon a spontaneous, indigineous performance involving a random group.

had the chance to catch a 'real' performance as well. set in the alhambra at night, all lit up, it was a wonderful experience. originally, flamenco involved only singing and clapping, i believe. the guitar was introduced soon after, and only later, the dancer. quite the opposite of what i'd thought. to me, flamenco was unimaginable without the amazing foot-work and hand movments of the dancer, and the clapping. also, traditionally, the songs were always about lamentation and sorrow, though in different contexts. the introduction of more cheerful content is recent.

the white villages - grazalema and zahara de la sierra:
away from the coast, in the central-south of spain, a number of little villages dot the undulating scenery. these villages are full of white-washed homes and buildings, along narrow curving streets. very pretty when you approach them, they stand out as pristine white dwellings against the blue sky and the green hills, sometimes looking quite imposing if percehed atop a hill with a fortress. once inside, they feel like any other little town. so they are perfect to drive through.

if you are vegetarian, please carry your own food. it isn't too much of a problem in tarifa...thanks to new-age bars and restaurants and increasing interest in vegetarianism. but villages and granada...fruit and pizzas zindabad!

though completely disjointed from the rest of this post, i can't not mention an overwhelming moment that occured before the trip. when the cosmos waved to us.

and so
the cosmos waved
the dolphins played
and all is well with the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


oh island in the sun
given to me by my father's hands
all my days i will sing in praise
of your forests, waters
your shining sands

oh island in the sun...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

for the 6th of august, in advance

nani aaj to badaa din hai
aaj jo aapka janmdin hai

aaj ka har pal hai suhaana
mujhe hai aapse bas yeh kehna

ki aapki aankhein aur muskuraahat
hamesha rahein itni hi pyaari

aur aapke lavzon main kal bhi
jhalkein khushiyaan dher saari.