I was reading "Little Red Riding Hood" to Taran and Roshan when I noticed that Taran had a smirk on his face. I asked him about it and this is how the conversation progressed:

Me: Taran, is everything ok?
Taran: Mummy, this is a silly story.
Me: Why?
Taran: In the story the wolf meets Little Red Riding Hood in the woods and asks her where she was going. Then the wolf went to her grandmother's house to wait for Litle Red Riding Hood so that the wolf could eat her up. If the wolf wanted to eat her up then why did he not eat her up when he met her in the woods?!?! He wasted so much time by running to the grandmother's house and waiting for Little Red Riding Hood to come!!!

Just around Taran and Roshan's 4th birthday, Taran had the following conversation with one of his teachers:

Taran: Miss Judy, I am bigger than you.

Miss Judy(with a smile): Is that right? I think I am bigger than you.

Taran: No, Miss Judy, I am bigger than you.

Miss Judy: Really? How are you bigger than me?

Taran: Adults have 206 bones in their body. But I am a child - babies and children have 270 bones in their body. So I have bigger number of bones so I am bigger than you.

from "Three Chines Poets" by Vikram Seth.


A fisherman sailed up-river; he loved the hills
in Spring.
On either bank of the old ford stood peach
trees blossoming.
He stared at the red trees. The miles passed;
unaware,
He reached the green creek’s end but saw no
human anywhere.
A gap-a hidden path twisted and turned
about-
Then suddenly among the hills a vast plain
opened out.
From far, a host of clouds and trees – but as he
neared
Among bamboos and scattered flowers a
thousand homes appeared.
Woodcutters with Han names and surnames
passed them on.
The villagers still wore clothes of Qin times,
long since gone.
Together all of them now lived at Wuling Spring,
Tilling their gardens and their fields away from
everything.
Moon bright below the pines – their houses all
lay quiet
When the sun rose among the clouds, roosters
and dogs ran riot.
A visitor from the world! They gathered round
and vied
To ask him home and question him on how
things were outside.
From village lanes at dawn they swept the
flowers away.
Woodsmen and fishermen rowed home
towards the close of day.
At first they’d come to flee the world and, some
maintain,
Had then become immortals and decided to
remain.
From these ravines who’d guess human affairs
exist? –
And from the world you’d only see blank
mountains cloaked in mist.
He did not think such realms were hard to hear
or see;
His heart, still dusty with the world, longed
for his own country.
He went out through the cave, no heeding
stream or hill,
To take his leave from home and then return
here at this will.
Certain he could not lose what he had just
passed through,
How could he know when he returned the
landscape would look new?
He’d gone into deep hills – but nothing else
was clear.
How often into cloudy woods do green creeks
disappear?
All over every stream in Spring peach blossom
lies.
Who can discern where he should seek the
spring of paradise?

The kids, Ritesh and I were having such a rocking time in the first couple of days on the cruise. Thankfully, the cruise provided such a variety of activities that we all had lots to engage in, apart from lazing around with our books and dipping into the pool. Of course, the food was a huge temptation. We are never ones to miss such delicacies – it is such an insult to the chef and the kitchen staff and we are all very sensitive to other’s feelings so we indulged a little, then a little more, and then some more. The biggest attraction though, was to have Ritesh all to ourselves. We had never experienced this feeling before ‘coz he is always armed with his weapons of mass destruction errr mass communication – yes, I am referring to the blackberry and the iPhone. But cruise is like a time machine; it takes you back, as difficult as it is to imagine, to those days of yore when there were no cell phones and no internet.
But things started changing on the third day. I noticed that Ritesh was a trifle fretful, pacing the decks with the restlessness of a hungry tiger and periodically emanating low growls like that of a lion waiting for its prey. I am perpetually worried about his health and hence choose to be a traveling pharmacy. By virtue of his travel he tends to eat the “Yum” food aka high cholesterol food and hence, when he is in NJ, I try to dish out healthy alternatives to the kind of food he likes. I scooped out my thermometer and the plethora of meds but figured the only thing that may work was some calming medication and of course, Murphy’s Law was at it’s best – I did not have it. We continued with the day’s events though these were interrupted with a few hissing like sounds ….thankfully the tongue did not stick out though the body kept sliding in and out of the cabin with a disquiet that started bothering me.
The fourth day was when all hell broke loose. In an otherwise calm and placid Caribbean waters, things were not so tranquil on the decks where I noticed someone all ruffled up demanding that Comcast or Verizon Wireless be urgently summoned lest the cruise company should drop the claim of being “a complete package” and “the perfect vacation”. The cruise staff urged calm but the gentleman was in no mood to reason it out. On sensing that the cruise staff were not “empowered” to fulfill his wishes, (and also had no way of reaching these wireless companies precisely for the same reason for which this whole drama had been staged – i.e. the lack of wireless communication) he preached about the power of empowerment. He never claimed to be a grandee but such was his passion about these topics that he felt that the whole crew and guests were bereft of such an exhilarating experience. And saying so, he jumped onto a lifeboat and sailed on the gentle blue of the Caribbean.
Of course, noticing the events on and off board, my heart became tremulous and I had the direct sense of mortality I have ever experienced, but when I saw the delight on his face and heard him sing “Row row row the boat …” with a never before experienced zest, I realized that this was a win-win situation for all. The crew was most delighted, the kids missed him momentarily but were so habituated that they knew how to deal with it. As regards Ritesh, the moment he hit the Miami coast, he hip hip hurrayed (if there is a word), Columbus style, Yeah! It finally works!!!! And such was the delight and thrill in his pitch that I finally woke up only to realize that there he was lying next to me with a beatific expression on his face, fast asleep but with his arm around his blackberry.

My dear friend, Pooja’s travelogues always has this effect on me. (Check out her blog : http://travelure.blogspot.com/) She gives such vivid descriptions, I feel I am present at the said location enjoying the vistas and admiring the sunsets. Such was the effect on reading her travelogue of the cruise to the Caribbean (which goes by the same title); I fell to sleep thinking about it and immediately transported myself into dreamland. The result was the above. This “dream” was also possible only after a frank and fearless discussion with my good friend Samiksha who shared her thoughts about the “auto mode” that men go into as soon as their Blackberries buzz. It was rather refreshing to note that I was not alone in cursing the “other one” in our life – the third angle in our triangle.

Disclaimer: And before I am bashed up for bashing Ritesh, let me assure you that this has been posted with his approval and not under any duress.

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