Wednesday, June 26, 2019


                                      cold-weather-cartoons - clip art - free clip art - NX91jd

Being a grandma is the most fun one can think of, but the cold in Johannesburg is another thing altogether. Absolutely wrong timing, I say, having a baby at the start of winter, when wet wipes, bum cream, diapers, cold hands and red, flowing noses are the norm. And with a brand new baby in hand, one who is so tiny that he gets lost in his clothes, the cold gets to one all the more.

Let me speak for myself. I, for one, love winter when it is just right, along with a steaming hot cuppa green tea, a warm shawl, thick socks and just a nip in the air. However, when the temperature drops and I cannot feel my toes, and wooden toilet seats feel better than ceramic ones, it is time to tuck in and hibernate.

Green Tea cartoon clip art - KISS png

Grandmas, of course, cannot hibernate. They are the go-to persons as far as the first hand chores go. Not that I mind, because the warmest I feel is when I wash dishes in water scalding enough to take my skin off. Priyanka, my daughter, clucks impatiently as she almost burns her hands after I have had a go at the dishes. But anything to stave off the cold, I tell her.

 Washing Dishes - Cliparts Zone

Going out is a chore in itself. I lug on the layers, blow on my icy hands, and rush into the car which is mercifully heated. Likewise, the baby’s bedroom is heated and it is bliss to stay ensconced within the duvet till the time it is time to burp, change or rock the baby to sleep. Four of us snuggle in the warmth of the heater – Grandma, mama, and the two kids, though the big sister, Zoya, sleeps in her own cot, replete with a pretty duvet, a sparkly unicorn, a bald baby doll and a sequinned bunny. Of course, we need to check whether the warm, furry thing on the bed is the cat, Tyrion, who loves a quick snuggle himself.

When we got here in May, the weather was perfect – sunny days and balmy evenings. June waltzed in with the chill setting in. At first, I couldn’t understand why people around smirked when I asked them if it was going to get colder soon. Now, I know! As the old song goes, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” In my case, the chill in Jo’burg falls mainly on my bones! Or is it Jo’brrrg!     
Orcas Issues
Come morning, husband dear gets togged up in his warm jacket, his woollen cap and his gloves and sets off on a brisk walk. “Coming for a stroll?” he asks. One look at my horrified face is enough to elicit a chuckle as he strides off in true military style. As a result, despite the rich food we eat here, he looks the same, even as, in my case, I find calories sneaking in and making their homes in my entrails. Or wherever it is they hide away!

June is on its way out and if I were to misquote T S Eliot, I believe that July is the cruellest month. Temperatures are going to drop further, and I can only imagine the state that I will be in... Frozen, and in no state to mimic Elsa and sing ‘The cold never bothered me anyway.” (Let It Go)

Elsa - Frozen - PopSugar

Instead, I will be like an Eskimo, covered from head to toe, just my eyes peering out from within the layers, attempting to hibernate as much as possible. Probably scaring myself when I peer into a mirror and see visions of a Death Eater, courtesy Harry Potter. Cloudy skies, freezing winds and a frost that bites into the bones... time for braais and barbeques, warm fires and hot beverages, desperate glances at the elusive sun and new woollen clothes that hopefully look smart. So folks, if you do not hear from me in July, think of my fingers wrapped in mittens, unable to type, as I contemplate on the month of August when the cold starts abating, maybe by the 14th or so. Shucks, the day we leave for the warmer climes of India!

Braai PNG Images Braai Clipart Free Download Source · Meetings 2014 2015 Toastmasters Antwerpen

For as P B Shelley put it so aptly, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”


Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Just a fortnight old and he has turned the household upside down. Little Samir of the pointed chin and the delicate features, with a tiny head filled with downy hair has proved that he is a personality in his own right. No guessing where that comes from! As the adage goes – the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and it has been proved all over again. Samir feeds; he sleeps, Samir is hungry; he doesn’t let anyone sleep.

Early in the morning, he is placed on a rocker that plays music to soothe his senses. From there, he looks at the world around him, his almond-shaped eyes darting from side to side. His expressions are wide ranged – one moment he wrinkles up his little brow, frown lines making him look like a wizened old man, the next moment he smiles beguilingly, making us hunt for that elusive dimple. He puckers up his lips three seconds before he actually cries, and in those three seconds we do everything to divert him, cooing to him, lifting him up and cuddling him, all of which are much appreciated by the smart little man. The one person he does look intently at is his spirited big sister, Zoya, who is head over heels in love with her baby brother.

The first time we saw Samir, we were struck by his resemblance to his father, who is the most relieved person going, as when Zoya was born, she looked like everyone else, but him. This time around, he is thrilled that his genes will go down in posterity.

 It is a delight to see the two little ones together. Zoya, who is a mini tornado herself, calms down the moment he is in the vicinity. She strokes his head with utmost care, gives his soft, butterfly kisses, and loves having him on her lap. Our hearts swell with pride when we see how well her parents have prepared her for this momentous event – the arrival of a sibling. There is no trace of rivalry in her three-year-old heart... all she wants is to take care of her baby and show him off to every person she meets.

As we change diapers, bathe the little prince in a basin and try to get him to stretch out his scrawny little legs, there is only one prayer in our hearts. May every blessing descend on his head, as he begins his journey in life, surrounded by love, laughter, good health and happiness! What more could a doting family ask for?

As he sleeps, little fists clenched tight, a smile suddenly transforming his face, we marvel over how tiny he is, with his rosebud lips, his delicate nails and his tiny red feet. And we think to ourselves, “Let him sleep... for when he wakes, he will move mountains.” 

                                                       (Quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte)

Monday, June 3, 2019


Three years old… that’s what she trills, loud and clear when anyone asks her how old she is. As she runs towards us, her grandparents (Nana and Mooma) at the airport, her eyes shining in glee, I realize that she has grown, that she is a little human being, a kutty manushyan in her own right. Gone are the faltering steps and the reserve that once stopped her from smiling at strangers – this is a grown up little creature, long hair tied in disarray with stray curls escaping, a tiny jacket to keep off the chilly Johannesburg wind and a vocabulary that has us gasping.

In the car she regales us with non-stop chatter and we can only look on, our hearts filled with delight, as she waxes eloquent on Tyrion, her grey cat (definitely the GOT influence!), her new school which she adores and the one question that she repeats. “Are you going to stay in my home, Mooma – Nana?” 

Of course, the one topic that is a constant is one that is on all our minds. “I am going to be a big sister. I love my baby!” her eyes glow as she talks about Junior for whom she has been waiting ever so patiently over the past eight months. She gives her mum’s tummy a kiss and leans against it to show her adoration of the little one who lies, cosy within.

Back home, she gives us a guided tour, which she later continues at her paternal grandparents’ home as well. The overflowing toy room, the warm little room that we will use, the lounge which doubles up as her toy room at times, the little pantry cupboard which contains her treats and her swimming pool which we have never had the privilege of using because the African cold and the African sun compete, in turns, to keep us out.

 This time, we go to drop Zoya off at school, and we see a different side of her. She turns quieter as she looks around at her teachers and her friends with large, wary eyes, but we know that this will last only till we leave. For after, she has the time of her life painting, singing, ballet dancing (“I want to be a ballerina!”), baking and sleeping. The warmth at school is palpable and it is no wonder that our little Sparkle loves being there. 

Her vocabulary is astonishing, if I do so say myself. Ask her a question and she hums and haws and says, “Maybe!” She points out ‘electricity’ and ‘excavators’ on the road. She hears a siren and whispers, ‘ambulance’. The most amusing moment came when she was sent to the naughty corner, and from a distance, we could hear her say, “Wee coming, oh dear!” The other day, when her Nana asked her if she wanted a cracker, pat came the reply, “Oh, yes, please!” Peppa Pig has much to do with this British spurt, I suspect.  For example, when her Mama does the smallest thing for her, she is greeted with, “Oh, thank you, my little sweetheart!”

Peppa Pig TV Review - Common Sense Media

She also has created her own vocabulary for her own use. “Crumbs”, for instance refers to the food that has fallen on the ground and must still be eaten. Her Mama has all her special words written down but that, I suspect, would take another chapter in itself. Her sense of humour often keeps us in splits, and we wait for those times when mischief peeps out of her sparkling eyes.

Now that our Sparkle is a bit more grown up, the tantrums are slowly building up. Mama is the strict one who nips them in the bud. Dada tries, but judging from the hapless expression on his face, his heart is really not in it. The grandparents strive to keep straight faces, even as their hearts melt like chocolate in the sun, at the first sign of a rebuke.

A huge milestone gladdened our hearts last week. With the imminent arrival of a little grandchild, the question that loomed was whether to have Zoya sleep on the bed next to Mama or a crib by her side. So, all of us set to work, trying to persuade her that the crib would be a great idea. Dada put the crib together and we went shopping for new sheets and accessories pretty enough to bring cheer to Zoya’s heart.

That night she slept on her bed with not a whimper, covered with a pretty white and pink duvet, with a sparkly bunny, a pink unicorn and Bella, her new panda strewn around her. We were all so proud of her!

Dancing and music are in her blood, as she sings the toughest of Hindi songs and the cutest of nursery rhymes with the same ease. She twirls around, jhatkas and matkas in perfect rhythm, as she copies the gyrations of Bollywood dancers. In school, she has taken ballet and her ambition, as she once told her teacher, is to become a ballerina. 

Meal times are when she watches DD (cartoons on the mobile) as Mama makes sure that her viewing time is limited.  Mama also ensures that her plate has all Zoya’s favourites on it – chicken nuggets, carrots, tomatoes and corn. She also loves to draw, and it is a treat to watch her, as she concentrates on not allowing the paint to flow out of the lines. 

That is Zoya for you… a little girl who manages to get the limelight on her whatever she does, whether at the mall or at a party. She bosses over her older cousins, goes absolutely wild as she rushes around, fearless, keeping up with them. She refuses to cry even when she is hurt. However, one stern word from Mama and she drops everything she is doing, looking at her with large, woe-begone eyes. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth on such occasions.

As we wait for the arrival of the littlest VIP, our hearts swell with love and pride as we watch the big sister, and marvel over the things she does, the words she uses and the oh-so-precious hugs and kisses which come so naturally. These moments are precious, akin to pearls in a necklace, strung together with adoration and warmth. We strive to keep them in our hearts for as long as we can, because as little ones grow up, their minds and thoughts shift, the caresses become fewer as they turn more reserved and conscious of being adults.

And to end with a quote that I have always loved from Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie The Pooh: Pinterest

Photographs: Priyanka Menon Rao


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