Papa, you are ALMOST welcome

April 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Kabir has now started kindergarten at St. Paul school and leaves for school pretty early at 6am in the school bus. A few weeks ago, Kabir was having his breakfast and I was getting his lunch box ready. Aseem had just woken-up and was sitting next to Kabir at the table, still half-asleep. πŸ™‚ I was preparing a sandwich to send to school for Kabir, when I had the following memorable exchange with Aseem.
Aseem: “Papa, aap kya kar rahe ho?”
Papa: “Beta, mein bread garam kar raha hu Kabir ko bread aur jam bhejne ke liye. Aapko bread achi lagti hain? Chahiye?”
Aseem: “Papa, jab teacher school mein bread deti hain, tho saath mein ‘jalea’ bhi deti hain.”
Papa: “Beta, jalea kya hota hain?”
(I know enough Espanol to know that jalea means jam, but since I discourage K & A to speak Espanol at home, I asked him that question.)
Aseem: (Sounding matter of fact) “Papa, jam ko Espanol mein jalea kehte hain!”
Papa: “Oh! acha. Thank you for letting me know, beta.”
Aseem: (Feeling a sense of disappointment in my Espanol skills) πŸ™‚ “You are ALMOST welcome, Papa”
He gets down from the stool and walks away. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
I think he has heard me say ‘you are most welcome’ and was trying to repeat that, but his sense of timing and dialog delivery were just perfect, making this episode one to remember for a lifetime! πŸ™‚

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Kabir’s 4th Birthday “Sea Animals” Party

April 15, 2015 Leave a comment

This post was in the draft version for way too long 😦
Papa ki jaan, Kabir, is becoming a big boy πŸ™‚ We celebrated him turning 4 on Saturday, June 07, 2014. This year Kabir wanted a sea animals themed birthday, and I started doing my usual research on I found a bunch of ideas including banana & grape dolphin snacks and shark teeth photo booth. I started a Whatsapp group for the family to share these ideas, which worked great for getting my photo booth suggestion shot down in double quick time :-p I focused on creating a cute little invitation card for the birthday party, with the following result.
KabirBirthdayInvitationGuriya and I finally settled on this photo booth. It was all Guriya’s idea and my execution, with a bunch of creative input from Kabir’s Dadu-Dadi, Nanu, Sheena masi, Gunjan aunty, Mummy and Papa.

We had a whale pinata and an elmo birthday cake. This year, we had a special little guest, Lucio, taking a crack at the pinata and posing with the photo booth while taking his first steps. πŸ™‚

Gunjan did the banana-grape dolphin snacks, which looked so adorable that guests were in awe and almost hesitant to eat them. πŸ™‚BananaGrape Dolphin Snacks
Guriya had been insisting on getting a payaso for the party, which I thought was too early for Kabir to really enjoy and appreciate. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did Kabir enjoy the show, he was enthralled by it, and had a beautiful smile on his face the whole time. Aseem and Priya stopped fighting for a while and gave the payaso their undivided attention too! That was proof enough of what a wonderful idea this was. I love my wife! πŸ™‚

We even had our “copo girls”! :):) Β Everyone had a good time in the pool too.

We had a memorable time and it was fun to see adults and kids alike enjoying the photo booth.

On the day of his birthday (June 09), we filled the ceiling in Kabir and Aseem’s bedroom with helium-filled balloons, and watched their beautiful expressions of joy and happiness. In fact, Aseem woke-up first and when asked why we had balloons in their room, groggily said with a sleepy smile, “kyu ki aaj Kabir ka birthday hain”, and then leaned over and touched Kabir wanting to wake him up. He adores his elder brother. Kabir and Aseem played with the balloons and jumped on their beds trying to pull them down from the ceiling. We then took them to McDonald’s for a breakfast (less) & play (more) time. Β Later in the evening, family got together to again cut a cake.


Can’t wait for Kabir’s 5th birthday. This time around he wants a space themed birthday…rockets, astronauts, planets… I can’t wait to see how it turns out! πŸ™‚

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Aseem & Priya’s First Movie in a Cinema Hall – Rio 2

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Date: Friday, April 17, 2014
Time: 09:45 pm
Location: Cinemark @ Multiplaza Escazu (Costa Rica)
Movie: Rio 2

Rio 2 was going to be Aseem and Priya’s first movie in a cinema hall and no less than a 3-D version with glasses!! A momentous occasion for the family to introduce the two youngest members of the family to cinema halls. We found the only slot that was showing this movie in English, despite it being a late night show. There were about 20 people in the audience, including us 13 – Kabir, Aseem, Priya and their Dadi and Nanu-Nani, Sheena, Adolfo, Radha, Mehul, Tanya, Guriya and I!
We all settled-in the seats with booster seats (double booster seats for Priya and Aseem :-P) for Kabir and Mehul, with “tubs” of popcorn, well before the movie began. But, when it did begin, to our surprise, it was in Spanish. Sheena, Guriya and another lady in the audience were soon at the ticket counters demanding an explanation. When the representative finally came-in to talk to the audience and apologize for the goof-up, he offered a full refund or a 40 min wait for them to switch to the English version. We, of course decided to wait for the extra 40 mins, for it is not easy to coordinate plans for everybody. Sheena also negotiated a free refill for the popcorn and drinks, and free tickets for another show during the next 30 days!
When the movie finally started, the kids were thankfully, in fine fettle and gamely put-on their 3-D glasses. Kabir was super curious and intermittently took a peek without his glasses. We all had expected Priya to sleep for it was very late, but surprise surprise!, she was not just awake all through the movie, but applauded loudly at some inappropriate moments in the movie… ha ha ha. Oh! the innocence of babies. πŸ™‚ Who did sleep towards the end of the movie was Aseem and Radha loved holding him in her arms.
Everybody enjoyed the movie and had a wonderful time!

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Kabir’s 1st Movie in a Cinema Hall – Disney’s Aviones/Planes

April 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Date: September 29, 2013
Time: 06:45 pm
Location: Cinemark @ Multiplaza Escazu (Costa Rica)
Movie: Disney’s Aviones (Planes) dubbed in Espanol

Kabir had been enjoying watching Nemo at home for a few months now, but would never sit through the full movie. Lately though, he watched A Bug’s Life on DVD in full twice over the course of two weeks. This got Guriya thinking that he is probably ready for a trip to the cinema hall. And, Guriya being Guriya, she planned for this grand event in Kabir’s young life and a lifelong memory to be with me. Kabir is equally special for both of us, and only I can understand the magnitude of her sacrifice. A simple Thank You will never be enough, but, Thank You, jaan.

It was thrilling and memorable not just because I was watching a movie in a cinema hall with my son for the first time, but also because the movie was in Spanish when neither of us spoke or understood a whole lot. Kabir however, assumed he understood more than me and very helpfully related to me what was happening in the movie a few times. I had a satisfying time, knowing that Kabir was enjoying the movie. After the movie, I treated him to ice cream topped with marshmallows! Looking forward to watching more fun movies with both Kabir and Aseem and Guriya!

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Kabir’s Meeska Mouska (3rd) Birthday Party

April 20, 2014 Leave a comment

I started this post in June 2013, and am glad I am publishing it before June 2014 πŸ™‚

Kabir turned 3 on June 09, 2013. We however, celebrated his birthday on June 08, 2013.
Kabir had been asking for a Mickey birthday party for a few months now. Guriya and I had consciously tried to not get him too attached to any cartoon character, and had steered him more towards books until he started playing a Mickey Mouse Road Rally game on Guriya’s iPad. He loved it and would want to play it everyday multiple times. We therefore decided to plan a Mickey-theme birthday party for him. Funnily enough, a couple of weeks prior to his birthday, Kabir had gotten hooked to watching Curious George and Dora The Explorer videos, and we fretted if he would now want a “Curious George” birthday instead of a “Mickey” birthday! We however, talked about his upcoming “Mickey” party everyday to build-up the interest and excitement.
I researched all the commercially available Mickey themed birthday party supplies, online and in the stores, and found them very gaudy, very kitsch. I then decided to do it a little differently…scoured the internet for ideas and found plenty. Here are a few links of interest:
1. Interesting idea for table-chair covers, balloon arch – link
2. Signage – link
3. Subway Art – link 1 link 2
4. Invitation card – link
5. Balloon pinata – link 1 link 2
6. Coloring station – link
7. Mickey jelly – link
and, many others…
A few of them were tremendously inspiring and a few others did not work out as well as I would have liked and I did not have the time to work on a few of these ideas. Overall, we were very happy that we decided to work on the details ourselves…Kabir is going to love it when he is a little older…we hope! :):)

Now, here is how Kabir’s party details turned-out…and the fun time we all had, follows these details.

Invitation card
I found a Mickey head silhouette online, copied it and enlarged it to the desired size. Printed it out and made a template. Made a semi-circle cutout (red) of the same dimensions. Made another circle cutout (white) of a slightly smaller size than the Mickey head. This would be the invitation insert. We decided to do the Mickey head silhouette in black, but finding thick cardboard-type/construction paper was a challenge. I finally found what I liked at Sol Naciente, a specialty arts & crafts store near our home. We had everybody over for an evening to help with the cards. Here is the final output.

Sheena got cake for the party. It was beautiful, except that the Mickey on it looked a little different. Sheena spent a lot of time trying to fix it, but wasn’t too happy with her edits. Adolfo’s sisters suggested a clever fix…just show a silhouette and remove the details. It worked! πŸ™‚


Table-chair decor
We rented 3 tables, 30 chairs and covers for all of them. The theme was black with red accents. Guriya’s parents and Adolfo’s parents also very kindly lent us their party tables and chairs. Ligia lent us 3 Mickey-themed plastic table covers. We used these for the tables set outdoors…this is rainy season after all in Costa Rica.

Mickey Confetti
We bought a Mickey Paper Punch to make confetti for the tables. The confetti on the table was red and white and since we had lots of black paper left over, we put mixed red, white and black confetti on the floor. We had also bought a larger size Mickey paper punch to use for name tags for kids (to be used with two-sided tape), but the size of the cutout was too small for a name tag. We used this punch too for the confetti.

Coloring Station
One of the outdoor tables by the pool was used as a Coloring Station for the kids. Ligia had brought 6 Mickey-themed plastic buckets from Disney World for Kabir’s birthday…to use as snack buckets for each table. We used one of these buckets to hold crayons for the coloring station table.

Serving plates + napkins
I had wanted red-white-black polka dots serving plates, but could not find them in the stores. I had resigned myself to using regular white plates, but wasn’t too happy about it. Finally, we settled on black plates and red glasses, with regular semi-transparent cutlery.

Party favors
Guriya and I were really mindful of not handing-out chocolates and cheap plastic trinkets for party favors, and we did not have the budget for a really fancy and useful return gift for each kid. We considered and rejected the following before deciding on a mini-UNO card game. We thought kids would love the kid size of the cards and that parents would not mind their kids playing UNO.
Birthday seed card (Used for Kabir’s 2nd birthday party)
Ceramic piggy banks (cost prohibitive and shipping nightmare)
Bird seed (possible customs issues in Costa Rica)
We ordered the mini-UNOs to Ruchi’s house in Charlotte and she brought them over. They were just perfect and cute-sized for little children.
I wanted to wrap them in regular brown/khakhi shipping paper, but couldn’t find that either at regular gift stores. I reckon plain khakhi color wrapping paper is not in demand. πŸ™‚ Well, I found a wrapping paper the back size of which was the color I was looking for. We used this wrapping paper and used it inside out to wrap the mini-UNOs. The larger Mickey Paper Punch came handy to embellish these party favors. Here is how they turned-out.

Gift wrapping
We had requested family and all those who asked to give books as presents. We had ourselves ordered a bunch of new books, since Kabir loves books and he already knew almost all of his old books by heart. Adolfo’s mother, Dona Ana has a way with handicraft and I requested her to wrap the books family had gotten for kabir. I did not want a regular wrapping and she did not disappoint. It all lasted until Kabir lay his hands on them and shred the wrapping to bits. Of course, he is too young to appreciate the art of gift wrapping. πŸ™‚

Balloon arch
Initially, I had dismissed the balloon arch as too expensive to get done, but Ritu found a product in the store that would allow us to make the arch ourselves. Very cool, except that we did not set aside enough time to put enough balloons in it…the denser the better. We used it hanging upside down with the number of balloons we could blow and hang right before the party started. It looked cool though.

Mickey balloons
Sheena and Adolfo got a life-size Mickey inflatable for the party, and we first put it near the entrance. The helium in it wasn’t filled to the maximum, so one of Mickey’s hands was extended forward in handshake mode rather than straight up waving hi! Many children tried to shake Mickey’s hand. Later during the party, we moved the inflatable inside near the gift table, and kids played with him there too. Success!!

Trampoline + Climbing castle
Kabir and almost every kid we know, love jumping on the trampoline…and predictably, there were always a handful of them on there. We had planned the party by the pool, and most kids were in their swimming costumes right after they got there. πŸ™‚

We had food catered for the party. Adults were served Yasai rice with fish, from one of our favorite restaurant, Banzai. For the kids, we got pizza. Snacks and drinks were aplenty.

Munish & Gunjan helped-out with the music system and the songs.

Party Sign IMG_3148
I had gotten the sticks and other hardware to make this sign well ahead of the party day, but hastily put it together after the party had begun. The outcome was not very clean, but the idea was well-loved!

Kabir and Aseem both dislike hitting the pinata with a stick. Kabir always brags about how he would hit the pinata, but come pinata time, he chickens-out…always. So, I was intent on doing the balloon pinata for him, but wasn’t successful in putting more than a couple of chocolates in each balloon. Finally, we went with the traditional pinata, and knew that Kabir wasn’t going to take a swing at it. Neither did Aseem. A number of children though pounded it hard! πŸ™‚

Ritu had planned to come for the party and even though Nakul’s parents were visiting from India, she came. We are so grateful that they shared with us their limited time with her. Nakul was busy with classes and work and could not come. We hope he can visit us soon too!
Now, the shocker! The night before the party, we were all at Sheena-Adolfo’s house, wrapping gifts, doing last minute things for the party, and watching Costa Rica’s World Cup qualifier game on TV. And, guess who shows-up at the door?!?! Radha! She flew-in from Slovakia…said she couldn’t be absent from the party. Nobody in the family knew she was coming. Apparently, the only person in the know was her friend, Ana Victoria, who drove her home from the airport. What a surprise!?!

The day of the party started pretty early, with me helping the guys delivering the tables and chairs, and Guriya going to the city to get the snacks. Ritu kept Kabir and Aseem occupied until Radha, Sheena, Adolfo, Papaji, Mummyji and others arrived. Munish arrived early to help too. Guests started arriving on time, while we were still scrambling to get the place ready. πŸ˜› It was fun though!!

We had a really memorable time. Kabir had stayed-up the previous night really late and wasn’t in his elements until the party was winding down. But, by pinata time, he was happy and playing and talking and laughing. When it was time to unwrap the gifts, Kabir was jumping for joy! He was super happy…for he had tons of gifts to unwrap, and had a few friends on hand to help him too. We are very proud of the following moment, when his good manners showed.
Meeska Mouska Mickey Mouse dance and Excuse me” moments.
We also enjoyed this “Don’t give it to Sheena masi” moment (starting at 5:39)
Kabir got many Mickey toys and wanted to open each one of them right there. We were opening a gift, and handing it to Sheena to put in a bag, while he unwrapped another gift. After opening one of the gifts, Kabir insists on giving it to Guriya and tells her to not give the gift to Sheena, for (in his mind) the gifts were disappearing when they got to Sheena masi! ha ha ha ha
Aseem had a ton of fun playing with the wrapping paper, while, Priya was content watching over the gift bag.

Kabir got really good gifts. We are grateful to everybody who came to the party and shared our joy and happiness, and made the party even more fun! THANK YOU!


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Kabir & Aseem’s new look!

April 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Saturday, April 05, 2014:
Kabir’s hair growth in his infancy were very painfully slow…similar to the phase Aseem is in now. But, when his hair follicles opened-up, hair sprouted forth with amazing intensity and speed. I had always been a proponent of a sleek, short, smart, classic haircut, and had wanted the same for Kabir. However, his tiny head/face looked tinier with a light mop of hair. Guriya however, always professed a love for trendy long hair for kids and wanted the same for Kabir. When we eventually let his hair grow unhindered by scissors or shears, I started loving this look too. Lately though, Kabir had been complaining of his hair coming into his eyes when wet, so we decided to get him a little trim. This went on for over 3 weeks. When we finally ventured into the hair salon, I, on a whim, mentioned to Guriya that maybe we should get him a close cropped cut. She gave me a look, but when the hairstylist also suggested the same, she halfheartedly agreed.
Aseem of course loved the process. But, it was as painful for us, as it was for Kabir.

IMG-20140405-WA0006 20140405_152244
He does not look any less handsome, but we had started to love his long hair, and probably he picked-up on our vibe and expressed his displeasure too.
Aseem badly needed a trim of the handful πŸ˜› of unruly hair he had. Kabir set the trend, that Aseem followed and came out looking golden!
Here is the end result of the brothers, at a restaurant after the transformation. πŸ™‚
Mis guapos!


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Living the Costa Rican Dream

April 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Friday, March 28, 2014
Today, we jumped on the mortgage payment treadmill again, after a gap of exactly 1 year.
Putting down our roots here in Costa Rica is an ongoing process, and buying a plot of land to build our house makes it even more real and tangible. Yes, we did it! We are now “owners” of a beautiful piece of land with amazing views of mountains and windmills.
Securing a loan in Costa Rica is though an exercise that stretches you to your limits of sanity, with demands of every imaginable piece of document. It is a very opaque process, like it is anywhere in the world. Anyway, we took the plunge with Scotia Bank, but hope to sever our relationship with them, aka pay off the loan, as soon as possible. πŸ™‚
We just need an excuse to go see our plot of land, and have taken along family and friends on many such trips. Our most recent guests were Papaji and Mummyji. Of course they loved it! Even a peacock, India’s national bird, came out to welcome us.

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