Postcards From Channapatna, The Land Of Toys

So, the next story from our recent trip to Mysore is up! Do go here to read it.

I hope you have read (and enjoyed) my previous posts about this trip already. If youโ€™ve not, please do the deed right away!

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore

A walk through RK Narayanโ€™s house in Yadavgiri, Mysore

10 reasons why I enjoyed breakfasting at Malgudi Vattika, Mysore Road

Dosa Pizza| Indo-Italian Fusion Recipe

Lately, I have been reading about a lot of moms preparing ‘dosa pizza’ for their kids, as a snack. Yes, pizza toppings on dosa, instead of on a maida base, making it a relatively healthier and guilt-free snack option. I was, of course, intrigued by this, and decided to make my own version for dinner yesterday. It turned out super delish, and was much loved by everyone at home.

I have been trying out different types of dosas for breakfast and dinner, and this one joins the list. I so know we are going to be having this often.

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Now, let me tell you all about my version of pizza dosa, okay?

Ingredients (yields 5 dosas):

About 10 ladles of dosa batter

Home-made pasta/pizza sauce to spread on the dosa (Here‘s how I made it)

A few pitted black olives in brine (store-bought)

A few pickled jalapenos, chopped (store-bought)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small capsicum, finely chopped

4 cubes of processed cheese, grated (I used Amul)

Italian seasoning (store-bought), to garnish

Method:

  1. Get a dosa pan nice and hot, till water droplets dance on it.
  2. Spread two ladles of dosa batter on the pan, and spread 1 teaspoon of oil around it. Let the dosa cook without flipping it, till the top part looks done too.
  3. Now, turn down the heat to low-medium.
  4. Use a spoon to spread a little pasta/pizza sauce over the dosa. Then, add some chopped onions and capsicum, as well as some olives and jalapenos. Sprinkle some Italian seasoning and add some grated cheese.
  5. Cover the dosa and cook for about 2 minutes, or till the capsicum and onions are a little cooked and the cheese melts.
  6. Make all the dosas in a similar fashion, turning the flame to medium-high to cook the dosas on one side, and then turning it down to low-medium while the veggies cook, while the dosas are covered.
  7. Serve immediately. This dosa doesn’t really need an accompaniment.

Notes:

  1. My home-made pasta/pizza sauce already has tomato ketchup, sugar, red chilli powder and pepper sauce in it. So, the dosa turns out quite flavourful. If you are using store-bought pizza sauce, you might want to consider adding some tomato ketchup or pepper sauce to it.
  2. You could use oregano in place of Italian seasoning, too.
  3. I made this dosa on a non-stick pan, but i think you could make it on an iron pan or a cast-iron one too.
  4. I used only salad vegetables – i.e. onion and capsicum – in the dosa, which can be eaten raw as well. If you want to use other vegetables too, like mushrooms or baby corn, I think it would be a good idea to half-cook them first before you add them to the dosa.
  5. I am partial to Amul cheese, so that is the cheese I use for almost every cheese-based dish I cook at home. You could use other brands of cheese as well, though I personally prefer using processed cheese over mozarella or other kinds of cheese, for this dosa.
  6. I used two ladles of batter to make the dosas, instead of the usual one ladle that I use to make dosas normally. These dosas will, therefore, turn out just a bit thicker than ordinary dosas, and you will not be able to spread the batter out too much. That way, the dosas will turn out not too thin, and will not burn while you cover them for the veggies to cook.

You like? I hope you will try this out too, and that you will love it as much as we did!

If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you about just how amazed I am by the fact that there’s just one more month to go before the bub turns two. I can’t, for the life of me, understand where the time flew by. I am constantly astonished at just how much she seems to have grown lately, how much she seems to understand and talk about. Soon, in the blink of an eye, it will be time to send her to school. Till now, I thought of her like a little baby, but now, she is a little girl. Not a toddler, but a little girl. I feel bittersweet.

… I’d tell you that I feel all the more responsible for Bubboo these days. She is like a sponge of late, absorbing everything that she sees or is told to her. I think it is my responsibility, now more than ever, to introduce the right kinds of things to her – people, other kids, experiences, books, music, toys and what not. I feel like she is soon going to take off on a mission, to Play Group, and then she will be out there in the world. I need to give her the space to grow, at the same time being behind her to catch her whenever she stumbles, giving her just the stimulation she needs. This is also a time when I need to let myself sit back a little, and watch out for the things she likes and the ones she hates, so I can understand the sort of person she is fast becoming. I can’t say that is going to be easy, but then, it is inevitable. It is going to be an exciting journey, that is for sure.

… I’d tell you of how, of late, there is, in me, a hankering to do something. I am growing weary of letting myself take the back seat. I need to do something with my life – go to work, social service, travel, take up a course, I can’t figure out what I want, but I do want to do something that will make me feel like I used to feel earlier. I want to feel purposeful, I guess. I am waiting for that Aha! moment that will help me figure out just what it is that I really want to do.

… I’d tell you of how my health hasn’t been the greatest, lately. I’ve been down in the dumps with flu – fever, cold, and a horrendous cough. While I have been consulting with a doctor for the same, I seem to have opened a Pandora’s box – all the health-related issues that I brushed under the carpet earlier, before Bubboo, because my focus then was on having a baby. I desperately need to make my health my priority, and I am taking baby steps towards that end. I can’t say I have reached a milestone on that path but, well, at least I’ve started.

… I’d tell you of how I’m getting more and more attracted to the concepts of minimalism and simple living. When I think about it, I understand just how much clutter there is in my house, in my mind, and in my life. Spring cleaning is something I badly need, and I am doing a little bit of it at a time. (While on the subject of minimalism, you must watch this!)

… I’d tell you how I’m trying to get back on the Bollywood bandwagon, after I posted this. Some major CD- and VCD-buying happened over the weekend, and I can’t wait to begin to watch the movies I have picked up. I have also been trying to catch up on some music and some FM radio, so that I am not living under a rock any more.

… I’d tell you that I am currently reading Jojo Moyes’ After You, the sequel to Me Before You, a book that I absolutely adored. There have been a whole lot of negative reviews about After You around the Internet and, yes, it is a let-down after Me Before You, but this one does have its moments too. The brilliance of the author shines through in those moments, moments that make you pause and think and feel. And, for that, I am glad I picked this book up, in spite of the many brickbats that it has received.

… I’d tell you of how I am simply hooked to this song, ever since I heard it, very recently. I love, love, love the lyrics. If there is something I would like to say to Bubboo right now, it would be exactly the same as the lyrics of this song. I am amazed at the way this song seems to give voice to my feelings for Bubboo, something that I have been thinking about, but struggling to put into words. I am no good at translation, so I am not even going to attempt translating this beautiful Tamil song. Apologies to all non-Tamil speakers!

… I’d tell you of how the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in our apartment were lovely this year as well. All of us, including Bubboo, enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. The lemon rice that I was in charge of turned out delish, and it wasn’t just me who thought so.๐Ÿ˜‰ I am stunned that I managed to prepare something for about 35-40 people, mostly single-handedly! Yes, I can do it, and I am glad I attempted it, so that I know now.

… I’d tell you of just how much I miss the ‘Us’ that the husband and I used to be, before Bubboo. We love her to bits, and we can’t imagine life without her, but I do miss the way we used to be before – friendly, talking to each other all the time, planning a holiday at the drop of a hat, discussing everything under the sun, planning the weekly kitchen menu together, and doing up our house together. We were never overly romantic, but I miss our closeness. Having a child and the husband’s stressful job has done ‘Us’ in.

โ€ฆ Iโ€™d also ask after you and your loved ones, as to what you have been up to, and how has life been lately.

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!

 

Easy-Peasy Chocolate Fudge| Easy Dessert Idea

Princess Butter, this post is for you. For you, and for all those other readers who’d be interested in an easy-peasy dessert idea, here’s the recipe for the simple chocolate fudge that I’d posted about a while back.

I must tell you guys that the fudge I made was hugely inspired by this recipe here. Only, the original recipe calls for the use of dark chocolate, and I used milk chocolate instead. The result was, nonetheless, stupendous. I will surely be making this chocolate fudge – with dark as well as milk chocolate – over and over again.

This is a great recipe to turn to when you need to make something sweet for guests or for a festival, and don’t want to make a traditional dish requiring highly elaborate preparations. Or, when you need a quick sugar fix and want to use up the stuff that has been lying around in your refrigerator.

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Now, without further ado, we’ll get to the recipe, shall we?

Here’s how I made the fudge.

Ingredients (yields about 20 pieces):

Milk chocolate, grated or chopped into small pieces (I used Amul) – 1-3/4 cups (use more if you would like the fudge to be more sweet, increase the quantity to about 2 cups if you are using dark chocolate)

Sweetened condensed milk (I used Amul Mithai Mate) – 3/4 cup

Unsalted butter – 2 tablespoons

Mixed nuts – a handful (I used raisins and cashewnuts)

Method:

  1. Dry roast the mixed nuts, and coarsely chop them when they cool down. Keep aside.
  2. Line a box with parchment paper/butter paper to pour the fudge into, once it is ready. Keep aside.
  3. Heat some water in a wide vessel and keep another, smaller vessel above the water. Place the butter in the smaller vessel and let it melt. Now, add the chopped/grated chocolate and the condensed milk to the smaller vessel. Keeping the flame on medium high, let the heat from the boiling water melt the chocolate. Stir intermittently, ensuring that water from the bigger vessel doesn’t enter the smaller one.
  4. When the chocolate has completely melted, and has combined well with the butter and condensed milk, switch off the gas.
  5. Take the smaller vessel out of the water and add the roasted mixed nuts (and raisins, if using) to the chocolate mixture. Mix well, again.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture immediately into the box that you have lined with paper and kept ready. Once the mixture cools down a bit, place the box, covered, in the refrigerator.
  7. Let the fudge chill for at least 3 hours, by which time it will set well and harden enough to enable you to cut it into pieces.
  8. After about 3 hours, use the paper lining the box to lift the chocolate fudge and place it onto a tray. Cut the fudge into pieces, as big as you want them to be.
  9. Store the cut fudge in an airtight box in the refrigerator, and serve chilled or after letting them stay at room temperature for a bit. They don’t melt immediately, and taste best when chilled.

Sounds good? I hope you will try making this at home too, and that you will love it as much as we did!

Little Discoveries In The Parenting Journey 4: Of Wooden Toys And Buying Them Directly From The Craftsmen Of Channapatna

You guys know how much I love wooden toys. I would choose wooden toys for Bubboo any day, over plastic or battery-operated ones. There’s something very rustic, very charming about wooden toys that I fail to find in the mass market plastic and soft toys. Moreover, most of these wooden toys are hand-made, so you end up supporting a craftsperson when you buy one. Wooden toys are also, often, require far more creative application of the mind on the part of a kid than other store-bought ones, definitely something I wouldn’t compromise on. These toys bring me as much happiness – shopping for them and playing with them – as they do to Bubboo. They are a huge hit in our house, and I am sure most kids (and parents) would be charmed by them. So, if you have a toddler in your house and haven’t discovered wooden toys yet, I would urge you to begin, right now. There are a whole lot of wooden goodies out there, waiting to be found. Also, if you can, I would suggest you buy them directly from the craftsmen at Channapatna.

Here are some of our favourites, picked up from here and there, over the years.

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A wooden train and rattle from Channapatna that I picked up at Dastkar, when I was pregnant with Bubboo. These were the very first toys that I picked up for the little one, so they are hugely special to me. The bub loves them to bits, too.

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A colourful train from Channapatna
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A wooden rattle, again from Channapatna

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This wooden rattle with sleigh bells that I was looking for here, there and everywhere, after spotting a similar one at the pediatrician’s office. I finally found one when Bubboo was just about to turn one. Both mother and bub love it to bits.

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Wooden rattle with sleigh bells, bought at a Bangalore fair

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The husband and I have passed through Channapatna several times over, on several road trips, and have always, always been attracted by the wooden toys on display on the toy stores along the highway. Through all of these road trips, I harboured a secret desire – one to buy a rocking horse for my kid from Channapatna, once he/she was born healthy and safe. So, on our recent trip to Mysore, we ensured that we made a pit stop at Channapatna just to buy wooden toys, and a rocking horse was among them.

Now, Bubboo loves, loves, loves her rocking horse, and her Amma goes nuts clicking pictures of her on the horse! A dream come true, this one is for me.

And you know what? The rocking horse cost us just a fraction of what it retails for in kids’ toy stores and online stores like Amazon!

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Wooden rocking horse from Channapatna

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I love looking at photographs of Russia, and dream of visiting the place some day. I love Russian Matryoshka dolls. Till we get to visit Russia in real life, though, we visit Malleshwaram market and pick up beautiful wooden Matryoshka dolls off pavement vendors.

The little one loves opening up one doll after another, and discovering yet another doll within. I don’t let her play with the smallest doll of all, though, as it could pose a choking hazard. Cute, right?

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Matryoshka dolls from a roadsise stall in Malleshwaram market

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The bub loves me reading Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar to her. So, I thought it would be a great idea to get her this pull-along wooden caterpillar from Channapatna, recently. And, yes, she loves pulling it along wherever she goes!

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A wooden caterpillar from Channapatna

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A wooden xylophone that I picked up at Jayanagar market, a while ago. Both the bub and I love striking notes on it!

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Wooden xylophone from Jayanagar market

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A set of joker dolls that I bought from a roadside vendor in Malleshwaram market. They occupy pride of place in our showcase these days, and the bub loves getting them out to play every now and then!

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A set of joker dolls from Malleshwaram market

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A joker puppet that I bought in Channapatna. I plan to begin telling stories to Bubboo using this puppet, very soon. Till then, Bubboo loves looking at me pulling the string and making the puppet move!

And, oh, it felt so, so, so great to make Bubboo meet the very ‘Aunty’ who hand-made her toy! Worth it to drive to Channapatna just to give your child such an experience, I say!

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Joker puppet from Channapatna

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Because we love Ganeshas, and love collecting them in different poses, colours, and materials, we had to buy this wooden Ganesha from Malleshwaram market. It now sits, amidst our other Ganeshas, in our pooja room.

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Colourful Ganesha from Malleshwaram market

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A wooden elephant puzzle that I picked up from an arts-and-crafts store in Vidyaranyapura. The bub isn’t up to assembling it yet, but she loves watching me doing the puzzle. And, of course, I love assembling it!

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Wooden elephant puzzle from a Vidyaranyapura store

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A bouncy doll that we got in Channapatna. The bub loves trying to pat it to sleep, and giggles with glee when the doll refuses to sleep, rising up from the ground every single time.๐Ÿ™‚

She calls this one ‘Bobby’, BTW. Because it bobs.๐Ÿ˜›

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‘Bobby’, who comes from Channapatna

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We got home this wooden abacus from the arts-and-crafts store in Vidyaranyapura, too. The bub is too young to really use it, but she runs off with it to the bedroom at times and pretends to count ‘One, two…’ at times, when we all bother her too much.๐Ÿ™‚

She loves watching me count on it, too.

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Abacus from a Vidyaranyapura store

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This wooden aeroplane that we picked up in Malleshwaram market is a hot favourite at our place. I love its bright colour, and the bub loves sliding it along on the floor as she walks beside it.

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Aeroplane from a Malleshwaram market roadside stall

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A toy wooden watch that we picked up in Channapatna, because Bubboo keeps insisting on wearing her dad’s huge watch. She loves it to bits, and wears it to the park on her evening walks, these days!

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Pink wooden toy watch from Channapatna

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Well, that’s all about our favourite wooden toys. Do you have wooden toys that you love, too? Show me, please!

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Read about my other interesting little discoveries in the course of the parenting journey:

Wooden rattle with sleigh bells

Barefoot sandals

Babywearing

Of Getting Salsafied: Raw Mango Salsa and Ripe Pineapple Salsa

I tried out this ripe mango salsa in the peak of the mango season, and we loved it to bits. Ever since then, I have been wanting to try my hands at making salsa with raw mango, as well as with ripe pineapple. I managed to do both of these tasks a while ago, towards the fag end of the mango season, some time in late August, but didn’t get around to posting about it. I was able to lay my hands on the very last raw mango I would be able to get this year, I think, as well as a couple of those miniature pineapples that are flooding the market this time of the year. Both salsas turned out gorgeous, I am happy to say.

Take a look at them, will you?

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Raw mango salsa, served with store-bought baked nachos

How did I make the raw mango salsa? Here you go!

Ingredients (serves 2):

1 medium-sized raw mango (choose something like a Totapuri that isn’t very sour to begin with, and one that’s beginning to ripen, so it will be just the right mix of sweet and sour for the salsa), peeled and chopped finely

1 small tomato, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

Honey, to taste

8-10 pickled jalapenos (store-bought), finely chopped

Method:

Just mix up all the ingredients, and there you go! Serve immediately, with baked nachos, canapes, chips, khakhras or on its own!

And that, there, is the ripe pineapple salsa.

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Ripe pineapple salsa

Here’s how I made the pineapple salsa.

Ingredients (serves 2):

1 small ripe pineapple, thorns and cores removed and finely chopped

1 small tomato, finely chopped

A few stalks of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

A dash of lemon juice

Honey, to taste

8-10 pickled jalapenos (store-bought), finely chopped

Method:

Just mix up everything in a large mixing bowl. Serve immediately!

I hope you’ll try these out too, and that you will love them just as much as we did!

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Would you like to read about more tried and tested raw mango recipes from my kitchen? .

Here is all the stuff that we tried out last year.

A Thai-style raw mango and onion salad and Tamil New Year-special raw mango and neem flower pachadi are the only things I managed to try out this year, apart from this salsa of course.

The Little Drama Queen & I

The little one has, lately, taken to checking out my hands, then those of her father, and then her own. She inspects each of our hands thoroughly, rubs her fingers along the wedding rings that her Appa and I wear, and then says, ‘Amma ring’ and ‘Appa ring’. Then, holding her hands up into the air, she quips ‘Ammu ring illai (Ammu doesn’t have a ring)’.

She says this in such a pitiful voice that we are almost convinced we should buy her a ring immediately.

Drama queen! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The other day, I was doing some food photography when the bub got attracted by my camera and wanted to grab it. Considering that she has already done considerable damage to my camera earlier, I tried to divert her attention elsewhere.

The next thing I knew, she began cooing ‘I love you’ and ‘Amma, I love you’, in a voice dripping with honey. ‘Amma, after photo, give camera to Ammu,’ she said, followed by another sugary-sweet ‘I love you!’.

I was stumped. I still am.

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So, my little girl has now officially learnt the art of emotional manipulation. Who on earth teaches these babies these things, huh?

What Has The Little One Been Up To?

When I recently went grocery shopping, I picked up a new toothbrush for the kiddo. I shunned fancy brushes with cartoon characters and glitter and what not, in favour of a very plain orange-coloured Johnson’s toothbrush that cost me INR 30.

I came back home and gave the little one the toothbrush, and discovered that she was super-duper excited to have it. She refused to let go of the toothbrush for two full days, holding it in her hands 24/7, even while bathing, changing clothes and sleeping! She keptย  saying ‘Ammu new brush’ and ‘Amma got it for me’.

I am touched. It takes a child to be excited and happy about the very little things in life. The little one never fails to teach me – lessons small and big – every single day.

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The little one shuts her eyes tight and says ‘It is dark. There’s no light.’
And then, a moment later, she opens her eyes and says ‘The light has come.’
This is her latest antic, one that has us endlessly entertained. Apart from the cuteness factor, I find, in this little game of hers, the philosophy of life too.

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…. and for no apparent reason, the little one has, occasionally, begun to call me ‘Ammi‘ and ‘Mummy’! I am pretty sure no one around us uses these words. How on earth did she learn then?

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I cuddle, kiss, cajole, fight, threaten, bribe and try everything I can – for close to an hour – to change the little one’s dress. Nothing works. I am almost in tears and in visible distress when I give up.

Enter her daddy.

He just says, ‘Come, we’ll change your dress.’ And she stops her whining and goes all quiet and meek. And just like that, in ten seconds flat, the little one is all dressed up neatly, hair combed and smelling fresh and clean.

This is not the first time this has happened.

Why, babe, why?

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The husband has been on the phone for a few minutes when the little one goes up to him and says ‘OK, Bye!’

Time to end the conversation, apparently.

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‘Ammu, get down and walk. Don’t ask me to carry you all the time,’ I tell the little one.

Pavvale (parava ille/ it is okay)’ she replies.

Pavvale‘ is her response to most things I ask her to do. ‘Come let us go, the park is about to close’, ‘Eat your food, please!’, ‘Get down from the swing, we will go on the slide’ โ€” most such requests are met with a ‘Pavvale‘.

Rather diplomatic, not to forget cute!

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A gypsy woman selling porcelain dolls for golus, a pair of young men in a Maruti van dolled up with colourful bedsheets that they are selling, an old lady offering stainless steel vessels in exchange for human hair, a man selling a variety of greens out of a huge basket on his bicycle, a balloon man who sells cheap plastic and paper toys, a loud lady who sells the reddest of country tomatoes off a cart, a couple of Men with a drum and a trumpet and a . beautifully dressed up cow โ€” just a small sample of the vendors the little one and I get to see, on a regular basis, while we chat and unwind on our balcony. Can’t say life from the balcony isn’t entertaining!

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‘Ammu, what are you doing there, in the balcony?,’ I call out to the little one.

Veshamam (mischief),’ she replies.

She knows exactly what she is doing!

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I spend just 10 minutes – barely 10 minutes – sending out an e-mail that has to be sent urgently, and the little comes running to me. She is well entertained, cared for by the husband or my parents, but still insists on rushing to me. She then proceeds to put her arms around me, taking my palms in hers, kissing my hands, and just generally turning me into mush. This continues till I shut down the system and go off to play with her.

This happens every single time I try to do some work, for about 10 minutes of time.

She knows exactly what buttons to push with me. Every single time.

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While the little one is entirely Daddy’s girl during the day, she becomes a complete Momma’s baby in the nights. Through the night, she needs to snuggle up to me, hug my hands, and sleep with my hands and/or legs locked by hers, often a triple-lock system that I just cannot escape.

The husband often tells her, just before all of us are about to doze off – ‘Ammu, give me a hug, please? Come, I’ll tell you a story!’

And the little one is quick to respond – ‘Vendaam. Pavaale. Amma kitte. (No, I don’t want. It’s okay. I want to be with Amma!)’

And then, she promptly proceeds to cuddle up to me.

Ah, sweet revenge!