Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 9: Rasgueado, Golpe, Efforts for Sympathy & New Feature Film Script!

24 - 30 March, 2014

It was a rather quiet week where nothing much seems to have happened. Or at least nothing BIG seems to have happened. 

But there were several tiny little gems of experiences along the way. 

1) Finally... and I mean F.I.N.A.L.L.Y, the edit for Aravindum Aarumughamum is locked. The full & final edit. Sure, we still have the sound design to be locked before we can release it, but this is already a big milestone so I am happy about that. 

2) After a gap of about a month, I finally got to meet the regular gang. And that always gives me a lot of joy. It was great to catch up and each of them bonded with the little one (yes, she had tagged alone too), in their own unique ways. 

3) I learnt two really cool things to play on the guitar called Rasgueado and Golpe. Both are techniques used in Spanish guitar (Flamenco guitar, specifically) and I was given an exercise where they needed to be used. And I LOVE it! SO MUCH FUN! 

4) The Little One is turning out to be a real hoot. Her new found technique of earning my sympathy is as follows. If I scold her for something, she walks up to the coffee table and very purposefully, yet very, very gently, bangs her head on to the glass top of the table. Then she rubs her head, looks up with puppy eyes fully expecting me to melt and sympathize with her. I told her that the technique would have worked had I not seen her deliberate attempt to go and bang herself. After a few unsuccessful attempts at earning my sympathy this way, she decided to garnish the theatrics a bit. So now, she goes and bangs her head first and then rubs it gently while looking up at me with sad, pleading eyes. And then, for full effect, she goes back to the table and reprimands it, just like the way we do when she falls or hurts herself any way - we scold the object that caused her the pain which quickly seem to make her happy. So now she does that herself. What can I say! 

5) I signed the Little One up at a playschool. Yet another milestone. This place is only a stone's throw from my house and one evening the Little One, my Mom and I walked over and signed her up. She will begin classes from July but for now she seemed rather happy with the bright, cheery place full of children of her age. 

6) I have started to write the script for my next feature and I have completed one scene so far. This is planned to be one with a really small cast but that doesnt mean low budget because it is planned to be set in a location in India (I just don't want to shoot in Singapore anymore!). Because of this thought of an outside location, the working title for the film is "The Destination Film", until I can think of a more sensible one. Talking about titles, I am yet to name my previous feature film script in Tamil. That's currently going by the very creative title of "The Tamil Feature Film". Oh well. 

7) Last but not the least, I have to admit that this event of the helper being away did turn out for good at the end. Sure, it was tiring and quite stressful to manage everything but it did get my mom (and for a short while, dad) down. Once the dust settled down and we got into a manageable routine, we got to spend some quality time together. That was really a blessing in disguise! 

That's about it then. Nothing major. But all good.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week 8: Dramatic Abandonment, Bioluminescent Planktons, Elephants & Mangroves.

17 - 23 March, 2014

Bulk of the week was spent in Krabi, so I guess I will focus this post on the trip.

So yes, what was initially meant to be a snorkelling trip with my dad, turned out to be a full blown family vacation with dad, mom and the little one, given the recent developments at home. I had already booked tickets and hotel, so decided to stick to the original plan which was to be honest not very toddler friendly. But we decided to make the best of it. And here are the highlights.

Dad, Mom, Little One and I went on an Elephant Safari.
In other words, we comfortably seated ourselves on chairs atop elephants that walked through the jungles and streams, and I realized that the massive to and fro motion as the elephant took each step, was not at all comfortable. The Little One probably felt the same but all she did was sit tight without uttering a single sound. It was probably her quietest hour during the trip.

Dad and I went snorkelling while Mom babysat the Little One.
We were picked up by the snorkelling guys in a fancy wooden box attached to the sides of a scooter which resulted in the most fun ride ever, we enjoyed the fast longboat ride over choppy waters, we explored a ton of corals, saw hundreds of multicoloured fish and once even a crab, got bruised and cut all over when we were dropped off at the wrong end of very shallow waters and tall corals, we walked along a sandbank that appeared between two islands during low tide, walked through extremely rocky waters to a pristine beach, watched the most beautiful sunset ever, got stranded in a boat for close to an hour when the boat got stuck in the rocks thanks to low tide, and the best part of all, we, for the first time ever, saw bio luminescent plankton in the pitch black sea - these fascinating creatures are like glowworms, but in the ocean, and they light up when the water around them moves! Watching them glow as I slapped around in the water, was nothing short of magical!

Mom and I went kayaking in the sea and through the mangroves, while Dad babysat the Little One.
Well, initially it was my mom and I on the same kayak, with me trying to paddle away. But when I, albeit my best paddling efforts, fell behind all the others in our group who were primarily being driven by tall, strong, beefy men, my Mom got cold feet and wanted to get a paddle boy for her kayak. So I was unceremoniously fired as the kayaker and we switched boats. While she lounged comfortably in her kayak being rowed around like a "queen" (words of a fellow tourist), I sat miserably in between two guys in the middle of another kayak, not let anywhere near a paddle. But the experience of kayaking through that maze of mangroves with the constant sounds of crickets and birds, sightings of monkeys (one even jumped onto a kayak!) and cool atmosphere in spite of the blistering heat outside in the open ocean, it was indeed an experience of a lifetime. My mom thought the same too, except that whenever she mentions it, she ends with a "Should have gotten that paddle boy earlier. You could have drowned me!". I did try pointing out that drowning was impossible with life jackets on, but that is simply acknowledged with a "Still, you never know!". Sigh.

Other exciting things happened too.

Dad and Mom went shopping while the Little One and I hit the pool in the hotel. Dad discovered a few tour options as they ventured out, so he left Mom at the beach to quickly get back to the hotel to check my opinion on them. On the way to the hotel, Dad lost his way pretty badly. Mom sat at the beach all alone into the night for a couple hours with no money and no phone. Mom thought she was abandoned by her family (yeah, dramatic). Dad got back to her after much delay and heartache and tension. Dad and Mom got back to the hotel to me and the Little One who were oblivious of anything happening. All we thought was that Dad and Mom were doing a little bit too much shopping.

The Little One made friends with everyone at the hotel. They were all kinda inseparable by the end of three days. She also made friends with everyone at the airport, getting into deep conversations with Russians and Indians and Malaysians and Thais, as we waited for our very delayed flight. In the process, she decided to improve her vocabulary and out of nowhere started saying "Eka" (her name), "apple", "Aana" (elephant), "Dudu" (milk), "eyes", "kose" (I think she means "nose" because that's what she points at), "Kaaka" (crow), and such. I decided that she might just be the scientist that her dad wants her to be and not the actress that I believe she might turn out to be. But then when we got back to Singapore airport, we went to our favourite Ananda Bhavan for dinner, and there, she demonstrated that actress might be more her thing anyway. After feeding herself dosa and coconut chutney, when convinced that she had had her fill, she used the remaining chutney to delicately apply on her cheeks, very much how she does with her (and my) multitude creams, as part of her daily beauty regime. Also, there was one instant when she threw a tantrum and I pointed out to her a bunch of strangers watching her from a distance. She quickly dropped the tantrum and picked her best toothy grin and waved at them. Yup. Actress, it is.

So yes, it was an eventful trip. I did miss the hubby who was left behind (rather, he chose to stay behind because 'work is priority' and all that talk), and was very glad to be back.

The Little One on the other hand, didn't seem all that pleased, and immediately walked back to the lift as we reached the door of the apartment. Clearly, she had a great trip.

And so did my parents.

Except that my mom keeps retelling the story of how she thought her family abandoned her with no money and no Thai linguistic skills in the middle of a beach in Krabi.

I guess we will have to live with that.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 7: From Harmonics, Duets & Soundtracks to Laddoo Pottal!

10 - 16 March, 2014

It's already Tuesday March 18th and I am writing the post for last week only now. Two days too late. That's a bummer from a timing standpoint but that's how freakishly busy I have been. But things are good... in fact, quite good.

Highlight from last week.

1) Work's super busy but pretty good. All the guilt I had of working from home extensively (my helper's only returning next month!) was kinda overcome because there's been tremendous amount of progress on a few projects. So that makes me pretty happy!

2) My guitar class was awesome! The teacher was so happy with his student that he gave me a star in the form of a sticker, which then I proudly pasted on my guitar! I think I was excited as his other students who are probably a few decades younger to me! He taught me how to play harmonics, which I had never done before, as well as a duet, which again, I was doing for the first time. I loved the sound of the harmonics and the challenge of the duet - it required an immense amount of concentration to not get what you are playing wrong, when another person is playing something completely different along! Must have been one of the best guitar lessons till now!

3) I had this dream which I never thought would materialize because of an utter lack of required skill set. And that was being able to sing a song while playing the guitar along. I have had low confidence on the guitar part and I definitely have rather questionable skills when it comes to singing. So when I watch others demonstrate this, what I consider an awesome talent, I used to watch with mouth-wide-opened awe. But things are looking rather sunny as far as this dream is concerned now. The latest pop song we tackled in the guitar class was a rather simple one (simple from a chords standpoint) called "Let it be" by the Beatles. As I was practicing it later together with the real song in the background, I realized that this might just be that song that I can sing and play the guitar to! The chords were simple enough, the lyrics were memorable enough, the pitch was something within my range and overall I found it at least hummable. I tried to sing and play the guitar and found that it takes a LOT of effort to play the chords correctly, remember the lyrics and sing without going out of tune, all at the same time. Like, a LOT! But I tried. And recorded. And I was horrified to realize what my guitar and I actually sounded outside my head. So I tried again. And recorded again. And I was pleased to see a vast improvement after my 10th attempt or so. I think it was one of those moments when I physically lived the phrase "manasil laddoo potti" (the laddoo, a sweet Indian delicacy, burst in my heart). Aaaah! Sure, the singing is still rather questionable and the guitar playing needs to be a lot smoother, but it is at least no longer a dream that is confined to the "never gonna happen" territory. It has been promoted to "might just happen, after all!"

4) My music director in Chennai and I had regular connects in the virtual world and finally we lock the full soundtrack for Aravindum Aarumughamum! The film is now very very close to getting completed and I can't wait !

5) I wrote not one, but TWO episodes for the Malayalam sitcom, in the midst of all the hullaballoo happening around!

6) My dad flew down over the weekend and he is an extra helping hand at home now, which is of course, awesome! And yes, I am immensely pleased to have him otherwise also.

7) In other news, the little one can now say "Apple". What a milestone. She puts her doll to sleep with the Malayalam lullaby "va vo va". She does her version of Bharatanatyam eye movement, which goes from top to bottom, instead of left to right. She is mastering her skill of dramatics with her focus areas being acting coy and imitating her granddad burp. Yup, she is growing up.

7) Last, but not the least, I watched a really interesting play called Re:Play by a colleague's wife. It was my first time watching what they called "immersive theatre" that involves interactions with audience, I really enjoyed the experience. I was wowed by the thought process being the concept (based on traditional Indian games) and the flawless execution. It makes me want to watch more theatre, something I have been so out of touch for so long now!

So that's that. A pretty happening week, if any. And now my parents, the little one and I will be off to a 3 day trip to Krabi. This was meant to be a snorkelling trip for just my dad and I but given all the changes at home the last couple of weeks, this has now turned into a full blown family vacation. Am not sure how much snorkelling we will get done, but we will have fun sure. So long!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week 6: A Lot to be Thankful for!

3 - 9 March, 2014

Am down with a flu, am still juggling work and the little one since the helper will be out for the rest of the month, hence, I am gonna keep this very short.

Things are not as bad as the introduction might let you think. In fact, I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my mom who is in town to help us with the little one. Even though she cant manage her all on her own and I need to be home to help out, it is still a huge load off my chest.

I am thankful for my wonderful company which has let me work from home 5 out of 6 days so far, so that I can manage the little one.

I am thankful for the hubby and the good friend who offered to take care of the little one over the weekend so that my mom and I can take a break and go watch a Malayalam film.

I am thankful that that particular Malayalam film, Om Shanti Oshana, turned out to be exactly the simple, sweet, entertaining film I was looking forward to.

I am thankful for still being able to squeeze in some form of exercise - even if just walks with the little one in the stroller or quick Ashtanga Yoga sessions at home - in spite of the craziness of these days.

I am thankful for being able to complete all the work that I am supposed to in spite of all of the above.

And if I really am honest, I am thankful for being able to spend so much time with the little one. The last time this happened (unless we are on holidays) was during my maternity leave a year ago!

So yes, there's indeed a lot to be thankful for!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 5: The Temporary Superwoman!

24 February - 2 March, 2014 

Alright then. Where do I start?

Had things gone according to plan, this post would have been my usual laundry list of "highlights". It would have included some work on Aravindum Aarumughamum, some achievements of the little one (she can now say "Ello", "Na na" (no), "toooo" (two) and "thee" (three) and apparently takes great delight in walking with her hands on her hips in an attempt to ape her mom; I had no idea I walked liked that until she pointed it out...), some work stuff (an event I organized turned out be a great success), the new food joint we have discovered - "PODI" at Raffles City which served some really cool fusion dishes (like linguine aglio olio with curry leaves in it!) and maybe about a Malayalam movie which, in a very rare turn of events, the hubby had agreed to go to but which both of us didnt end up going to in spite of already having bought the tickets.

Instead, am just gonna write about how I feel like Superwoman at this point in time.

You see, because I make films and plays while holding on to a full time job, people tend to call me "superwoman".

But that's a joke.

I am no superwoman and the only reason I could do all those plays and films is because I always had adequate support at home. Either in the form of part time helpers who cleaned and ironed or since 2011 September, full time helpers who cooked, cleaned, did laundry and ironed and when the little one came along, looked after her too. If I had to do all of these myself like how, many of friends have to in US and Europe and other parts of the world where domestic help is scarce, I really doubt whether I could have managed all that I seemingly have.

To me Superwomen are those that maintain their homes and husbands and children and work all on their own. That does take some super power and I definitely do not have it.

So when over the weekend our helper had to return to India on a family emergency, with just one day's notice, I was stumped.

How was I to manage work and the little one?!

I think my confidence in my utter lack of homemaking and childrearing skills transformed into a full blown nightmare that I was up wide awake by 4:30am the night after the helper broke the news.

But I guess it is like learning to swim when you are thrown into a pool. Sure, there is a high chance you would drown, but you might just kick and flap around in such a way that you might successfully stay afloat. Luckily for me, it was the latter. At least, so far.

It is Sunday night now and here's what I achieved over the weekend. Without a helper.

I Cooked. Cleaned. Did all that was to be done for the little one like giving her a bath, feeding her, reading to her, playing with her, taking her on a walk, tidying up after her etc. Went shopping multiple number of times because there were always things missing in the house. Did some work and even managed a quick visit to the office. Finalized and did the subtitling for Aravindum Aaarumughamum trailer (the 1 min trailer took me 2 whole hours to get the subtitles right!). Released the trailer (yay!). Basked in all the wonderfully kind feedback that people gave on the trailer. Missed the Malayalam movie that we had gotten the tickets for because there is no way the little one would sit through that. Compensated by watching my own film's trailer multiple number of times. Felt really pleased that it was the little one who wanted to watch it multiple number of times (for some reason, she was absolutely delighted with the trailer!). Had a nice lunch with the hubby at the Professor Brawn's Cafe while the little one slept off. And now, at 11:01 pm, am very close to completing this blog post as well.

Those of you who can cook and clean and look after toddlers like it's child's play would be rolling your eyes at this. But to me, I am feeling rather good about my "achievement" and as of now, I do feel like Superwoman.

And my respect for women who do this on a daily basis have quadrupled. Or more.

Luckily for me, my mom is arriving on Tuesday morning to help with the little one since I have to get back to work soon and this working from home arrangement is not sustainable.

But till then I shall be the Temporary Superwoman and feel quite proud about it.