Zoo Diaries

We’re a family with a child. Children like animals. Animals are fun to observe and usually even the smallest of cities will have an animal enclosure for the tourists. So while the idea of animals being caged bothers me, it seems to also be a way to get the kids up close and (im)personal with the creatures they usually watch on Animal Planet or Nat Geo.

Here are a few glimpses of the zoo visit Padmaja Naidu Zoological Gardens at Darjeeling.

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Movie Review: Annabelle Comes Home

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When is a horror movie not like a horror movie? When it fails to scare, that’s when. While the closing credits are scrolling on the screen, the only question that comes to mind is “Why the heck did Annabelle come home if she wasn’t going to cause out and out mayhem and carnage?”

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Picking up where Ed and Lorraine Warren meet the nursing students and bring Annabelle into their homes, this movie borders on the (not so) funny-ha ha and cheap theatrics and very little on the actual spook factor.

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Always referred to as a conduit through which an evil spirit tries to get its hands on a soul, Annabelle does precious little to actually acquire a soul when given the chance. Instead she unleashes a room full of malevolent spirits (literally roomful) and each one comes in, says ‘Boo’ and goes away just as easily. I have never seen a movie where the supernatural bad guy is subdued this easily. Jason had to be killed over 10 sequels, Freddy over at least 5 and even the shark from Jaws was more tenacious. This movie was truly a bah! humbug kind of a situation for those of us who like to be spooked and feel the cold, crawly fingers of fear inching around us while we sit in a darkened theater and watch the hapless preyed upon.

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Onto the players- Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are so comfortable in the role that they are cast in that they don’t seem to have to try at all to become the Warrens. But in all honesty, their time on the screen was fairly limited as well so…

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Judy, played by McKenna Grace is the surprise package. She’s sweet, vulnerable and rather believable as the child who can sense spirits and is also terrified of them. She sort of has a Haley Joel Osment-vibe going for her. One hopes she gets better movies rather than that of the Mean Girls ilk as she matures as an actress. Madison Iseman as Mary Ellen fulfills her part well enough but the introduction of Bob the teenage boy and the Hellhound chase he takes part just make for a discordant comic element which was unwittingly brought in; or was it?

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The demons that are unleashed either suffer from very little focus given to their individual characters or in the way they’re made up to look because they don’t look scary enough! The demon trying to suck out Judy soul, the dead priest who guides them to Annabelle or even the Ferryman and his passengers who all appear with coins over their eyes, artfully placed to make them look creepier; are all just sad props in a movie where the main character just didn’t do enough.

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Annabelle Comes Home doesn’t come up to scratch. The first two movies in the series were much better. One can avoid this. Even on home media. Better yet, give Ol’ Chucky another go. He was something…

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Rating: *

Waiter..There’s A Fly In My Soup

Well…there may have been a fly and there may have been a waiter and there definitely may be some soup somewhere in this universe. But this morning it was just me and TO, sitting at the dinning table while it was still a bit dark out.

He was all agog about going to his cricket class after having a break of 4 days. I made him a quick breakfast of toast and jam and was just lurching towards the coffee mugs when suddenly this happened: “Ayu…come here please!” Ayu duly went and was faced with the crisis that would lead to humanity being at utmost peril…a portion of a bread that wasn’t covered with enough jam!

TO-” my bread is empty here. Me- it’s not empty..it just has less jam. TO- but it’s almost empty…that spot has jam but this corner doesn’t have any jam at all!”

Me (going back to the kitchen and gripping the butter knife the way Carrie’s mother held the cleaver)- “Shall I put more jam for you then? Why don’t you eat the rest of the other bread while I put more jam on this bit?” TO-” I want to eat it all together Ayu. I’ll wait till you put more jam. That’s it..a little more to the right, no..that’s going out of the bread! Yup..a little more to the left…perfect! The whole bread is covered now. I can FINALLY eat in peace!”

Me, bleary-eyed, sleepy and caffeine-deprived, ” Am so glad I could take care of your jam emergency baby. Nothing makes a mother happier than stuffing more sugar into her kid and being micromanaged into the art of spreading jam on a piece of bread.” And pat comes the reply- You’re welcome. Kissy kissy”

AAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHH!

Freaky Friday Conversation

My son and I have no-holds barred conversations. These conversations often leave me with a gormless look on my face and at other times it’s a toss-up between laughter, crying and looking for a place to bang my head against.

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Ever since TO and a bunch of little friends sneaked a peek at some horror movies on Amazon Prime and then went and got spooked about anything that went bump in the night, I’ve reinforced the embargo on scary movies till he’s 30. My hope is that he outgrows the wish to watch them way before that deadline passes but keeping it banned till the big 3-0 makes it sufficiently important in his head. If anything’s banned for that long then the repercussions surrounding it are going to be rather elaborate and possibly ouchie-inducing too.

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I’m not too worried about him sneaking a peek again. In fact let him see Pennywise biting off a kid’s hand or pulling him into a sewer. Or Bathsheba possessing Carolyn Perron or worst of all, let him take a gander at the head turning scene in The Exorcist. Some lessons are learnt the hard way. Let’s see which way the little man’s headed..’cuse the pun!

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But getting back to the freaky conversations we’re prone to having…TO keeps asking me how the doll in Annabelle comes alive. And explaining demonic possession to an almost 10-year old isn’t something I thought I’d have to tackle. I mean the facts of life..yeah sure. But how a doll is a host of a demon or that people use the occult to channel evil spirits and what is exorcism; all this wasn’t in any of the parenting manuals my husband shoved my face into unfortunately.

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So after trying to explain the occult to him and failing, I tried to keep up with the rapid fire questions while evading the virtual helicopter shots coming off his cricket bat. I told him I didn’t know how Annabelle got out of the well or why they didn’t show Annabelle as walking and running or killing people or if he’d suddenly find Annabelle if he opened his closet door while he was home alone one day. But I told him not to worry about Annabelle at all…because I…his all-knowing mother was always watching and would ALWAYS know what he was up to. Always. Mwaaaahaaaa

The Gift

My husband isn’t a person who does a lot of things by himself for others. He doesn’t give “of” himself consistently unless it’s for his son. For TO this man does everything I expect and then some. But neither does he wait around for others to ‘do unto him’. He takes what comes his way, if he wants more, he helps himself; if he doesn’t then he doesn’t. It’s very cut and dry and without hidden messages to decipher.

A few weeks ago I told him that instead of the family road trip that we’d planned out in this month, I wanted a few days by myself. And he agreed. He did it gracefully is what I’m focusing on. ‘Me by myself’ would have meant either I go off for introspection, fun, vegetate in a place outside my home or stay put and have the home and hearth to wander around in. I chose the latter.

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T.O almost exclusively travels with me. I have more time on my hands and it’s easier to align my trips with his time off from school but I’ve been wanting to make TO more flexible about where he travels, with whom and basically not get too rigid about anything in life. And the first ever father-son mini-vacay took place. They’re in Goa right now, our-once-every-year-holiday-spot while I vacay at home. And it’s been blissful.

I didn’t need to be away from them. I needed to be with me. And that’s not any feministic, soul searching claptrap. Sometimes you really don’t want to have to do anything beyond what you want to do. And I did exactly that. My indulgences consisted of switching off the daily alarms (yes..I have more than one) and just potter around the house while listening to everything from this to this. And no, I didn’t get drunk out of sheer joy. Alchohol did not touch these gabby lips once. And it’s nothing to brag about. I just didn’t feel like it.

I cooked. I sang. I did my usual minimal housekeeping because let’s face it, I don’t go on a cleaning frenzy till my folks are due to arrive and I need to maintain appearances about being a tidy housewife. But it’s been lovely and I’m actually looking forward to having these two back and hearing all about their stag trip that’s been full of fun, grilled fish and loads and loads of chatter and most of all, bonding.

So while I type this out, drink my unsweetened coffee (in your face sugar!) and sigh contentedly as the lovely cool breeze flutters the curtains all around, I’m going to go on record and say that for his services to preserving the sanity of this mother, I’m going to ease off on the nagging front with Red for as long as I possibly can. I’ll crack in a week, if that long but such gestures need a get out of jail free card and this is his.

Salut!

Myopically Yours

I have myopia. I inherited from both my parents. I helped it along but for the most part, it’s their fault. I also have TO..that’s all Red’s fault. And I’ll tell you why…not why it’s Red’s fault; that’s Biology 101 and I have no desire to relive it. But when my myopia and my child’s influence overlap with each other, it becomes like a 3-beer, 2-black coffees+3 beers kinda Saturday for me.

So my myopia is fairly severe. Minus my glasses and more than 5 feet of distance between and the object, everyone’s The Blob. I kid you not. And with the humidity post the rains last night, I took off the glasses to go wash my face and came out to look for my hand lotion. The tube was open, with the cap on one side and the tube lying a bit further away. Sign #1 of TO infestation.

I thought I’d put it back and lifted the cap to find quite a bit of lotion inside it. Sign #2 of TO’s presence. So I thought I’d give him my patented ‘Thou Shalt Not Waste Beauty Products’ spiel once he got back home and liberally look the lotion from the cap and started to smear it on the back of my left hand. Danger bells ringing yet? No? Well…it should!

The “cream” was heavier, stickier and didn’t seem to get absorbed into my skin like before. If anything, my skin was beginning to look rather albino-ish when I squinted at it properly. Being a mother, I sniffed at it for good measure. It was WHITE. POSTER. COLOR. I mean why wouldn’t it be? I found a dinosaur in my bra once so why not poster color disguised as hand cream? Totally in my wheelhouse. So I squinted a bit more and found the open bottle of color shoved haphazardly amongst his books on the bookshelf and then decided it wasn’t the little imp’s fault. It was my myopia. I should know better than to touch anything on any surface of his room that I can’t either clearly see, smell or what doesn’t set off a Geiger counter.

So this post is dedicated to my folks…because this morning’s “colorful” experience is all on them and their shortsighted genes! And am seriously tempted to go Buffalo Bill on someone’s little behind right about now!

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Darjeeling Trip Highlights

The Housewife Chronicles

Note: The author knows that women put up with the vagaries of the hoomans they live with whether they are working inside the home or outside of it but it does seem a little tougher to escape said hoomans when you’re chiefly inside the home. You either have to buy a ticket to the tropics (minus the drama of the song) or buy your hoomans one and get yourself some METIME.

So the latest hurdle to hit this cozy household was one of milk. Yup, that’s M-I-L-K. Why did milk become a crisis as it were? Well our earlier milk vendor who sent us yummy, delicious, thick milk in good quality glass bottles (yay for the eco footprint reducers!) was unable to provide the milk due to some operational hitches. And the milk delivery stopped abruptly.

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I got back home from a trip to my folks’ place to find my husband saying “fix this” and a child who’s a food critique par excellence in the making; his terse and discerning palates lead him to say, “Yuck, this is disgusting” and that particular item is deemed unfit and doesn’t cross his lips again. Ever.

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So a bit of a background about my two masters- they are fussy eaters. Not an extensive palate. Extremely limited fare goes down their gullet but that must be consistent and be the same-ish. And if you ever need a bit of a feedback about what may or may not be making the dish taste good or bad the answer comes back in a way that redefines being succinct for all eternity- “Doesn’t taste good” OR “tastes good”. And you’re left trying to decipher what the bleeping eff you’re supposed to take back from the exchange.

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So when I went back to an earlier brand of milk we used to have before our new favorite, Red came to me with a scrunched up face. And for an-almost constant poker-faced guy a scrunched up face can signal the beginning of the Apocalypse. This is how the exchange went-

Red- Is this the new milk? Me- Umm no..this is the old new milk..hee hee, we used to have this brand before we switched to the latest thing. Red- We did? Why? Doesn’t taste good. Me- You liked it earlier. Red- Don’t like it now. Too thin. M- OKAY…how does it taste though. R- I don’t like this..it’s too thin. M- $%@#$^@#^@$^. Red- get something else for tomorrow.

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Similar exchange with TO- “Ayu…the chocolate milk doesn’t taste good. Me- it’s the same as it always was. TO- No it’s not. Can I have juice? Me- No, we don’t waste food, finish this and I’ll get you something different later. TO- Add some chocolate sauce and put a straw in it like Ma (my mom) does. This is weird. Me- Weird how (because, yes…I’m that much of a masochist). TO- IT.IS.WEIRD.” Nuff said.

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So after having a couple of mind-boggling, eye-popping experiences by seeing the prices of the stuff out there and even contemplating buying a damn cow to please the two ogres I live with, I finally got a brand home that’s passed muster with OGRE#1. Am waiting for OGRE#2 to wake up and put me out of my misery and give me his trademark thumbs up approval for the new milk brand.

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If that doesn’t work I’ll just interview the milch cows of Hyderabad and see if anyone wants to generate milk customized to the taste buds of two (semi) high maintenance males who seem to get hungry and thirsty the moment they see my face. If that doesn’t work either they can live offa Soya milk because I’ll be saying MOO to you!

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P.S: how do people inherit food genes?! Baffles the mind.

Movie Review: The Secret Life Of Pets 2

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If I was to purely think in kiddy terms then this movie is amazeballs! I have two constant movie partners- one for grown up movies and one for the kiddy (quasi) stuff. This movie falls more into the latter but since there’s still at kid inside us who clamors for popcorn at the movies ( ooh me! me!), it suits the grown-ups just fine too.

Picking up where the first one left one, The Secret Life Of Pets-2(TSLOP) is a very organic segue into the turns the lives of the pets humans take purely because of actions of the hoomans that abound.

Bringing back everyone from the first movie and adding on a few more characters, the movie isn’t a laugh-a-minute fare but it’s entertaining for sure! Especially with your own little hooman by your side.

Here’s how it goes- Max has to deal with making room in his life and apartment for a few more people in Katie’s life and in the process, grow up some more. Adding more flair to the movie as always is Snowball, the crime fighting bunny, Gidget the Pomeranian and a gruff Harrison Ford in the form of Rooster- the old farm hand (dog).

Take your kids and enjoy a big tub of popcorn while these pets romp around and do what they’re best at…bringing a smile to our faces.

Rating: 3/5

Conversations On A Monday Monday

I live with two people who want me in their space but refuse to let me breathe the way I want to. I like the windows open with loads of fresh air coming in. TO wants the inside of a freezer all around him and greedily watches the AC to see when it’ll be turned on. Red wants the AC switched off when I would rather have a slightly chillier atmosphere, leading to genuine chill emanating from me that ends up baffling him for some reason. Go figure.

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So I wake up this morning and do my usual stuff of opening the doors to the balcony, opening the windows; take a deep breath of air which hasn’t yet been saturated by exhaust and what not. This lasts all of 2 hours. When the offspring wakes up, he goes around closing the windows, drawing the shades and closing the blinds as well.

On being told to keep everything back the way it was, he starts objecting, “But Ayuuuuuuu”. Mondays are tough enough without another month and a half of holidays remaining. I tell him to give me my fresh air and ” GO BE A TROLL” in his own room with the curtains and windows closed!

11yo has a 'pot belly'

His response? A beaming smile. This is how monstrous ideas are formed…by loose lips of uncaffeinated mothers. Ye Gods!

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