How November Whizzed By…

A Family of Scorpios and My Non-Existent Asana Practice

November 1: Happy Birthday Rahul and Leila


Birthday cakes at snack time

November 7: “He won,” Maher exclaims as I walk in. “Now I’m ready to move to America!” he winks.

“But I don’t want to go to America on the Mayflower,” Rahul says. “If we go to Plymouth, America, we will get sick. And then the small people will take care of the big ones.”

We laugh.

“Papa’s joking about moving to America Rahul, and we don’t have to go on a loooong boat ride like the pilgrims, we can take a plane.”

Rahul and Leila break into song: “The pilgrims went to America, America, America…”

November 11: Happy birthday tonton (uncle) Jalal

November 12: Welcome to the World and to Chengdu, cousin Mina XiaoYu Kassar

November 13: Happy Diwali

photo(6)We talk to my family in Zambia. We all wish each other a Happy Diwali. Maher and my Canadian, soon to be sister-in-law also exchange happy diwali’s on the phone.

Maher jokes with my parents that the children are learning all about Halloween and Thanksgiving at school, but they know nothing about Diwali.

“Hey, we did dress up, and take a photo!” I interject. “Maybe next time the diwas (oil lamps), sweets, and stories. I need to google it!”

November 15: Happy Birthday Nana (grandpa) Ravi

November 16: Happy Birthday Jiddo (grandpa) Kamal

November 18: Jiddo Kamal arrives in Chengdu to visit his three grandchildren.

November 22: Happy Thanksgiving


Leila’s Turkey

Rahul's Turkey

Rahul’s Turkey

Thechildren have turkey and cornbread muffins at school. They talk about corn husk dolls and symbiosis.

November 23: L cries and R whines when I meet them at school. They want to do a full day, eat and nap with their friends. Thankfully I’d just discussed this with their teacher.

The evening after their first full day Leila is sure that she wants to stay all day, everyday. Rahul is sure that he wants to come home, always, before lunch.

November 26: Thus begins my three trips a day to the school, one refuses to come home, the other refuses to stay beyond noon.

As a mum of twins this is a big step – the kids first clear decision to do something important and rather long-term independently of each other.


Thanks for sharing this crazy month with us teta Houda.

Thanks for sharing this month with us teta Houda. Finally not only one, but two people who can keep up with you!

Finally not only one, but two people who keep up with you!

"Papa and Teta" Photo by Rahul

“Papa and Teta” Photo by Rahul

Father Who? Oh! You Mean Papa Noel.

I used to get two presents from my parents on the 25th of December, one for Christmas, and one for my birthday. I don’t remember if I was bothered that my brothers, in fact, that MANY people get presents on MY birthday.

I don’t remember if I ever thought that Santa Claus was real. I don’t remember any transition from believing that he exists, to knowing the truth; if there was one.

I enjoyed the Christmas stories that we read at school, and the American movies that were shown on the local TV (Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation).

I even used to cut one small branch of one of the three pine trees (go figure!) in our garden and decorate it with christmassy balls and shiny streamers.

However, I could neither empathise with reindeer in the snow (December is rainy and HOT in Lusaka), nor with Father Christmas sliding down chimneys to fill over-sized socks hanging at fireplaces. Chimneys? Fireplaces? And the milk and cookies; if they were called biscuits I might have held the stories closer to my heart.

When we were older, we attended Christmas parties hosted by the local Rotary Club that my dad was involved with, where a black African man dressed up in coca-cola red, with a long and curly, white hair wig and beard, posing as the main man.

It was fun to hang out with the other kids, as well as with the gregarious Santa, Ho ho hoeing, amidst Christmas trees, shiny decorations, who handed out presents (that our parents had bought for us). We usually donated our own old toys to the club so that some children in need at hospitals, orphanages, or on the streets, could also feel some of the Christmas spirit.


Rahul has been saying, “Rhino. Papa Noel,” a few times lately. It’s sweet that he likes rhinos. If he hadn’t let me in on how he planned to get one though, I’d have told him he’ll see real rhino’s when he goes to Zambia, sometime next year.

In an English – speaking setting, Leila hesitated for a few minutes before she burst out, “Leila. Papa No-lel. Blue dinosaur.” That’s when I realised that Leila and Rahul had no idea who Father Christmas, or Santa Claus was. The concept didn’t exist because I’d never brought it up.

Maher overheard what Leila asked for and replied: “Est-ce que c’est Papa Noel, ou c’est papa Maher qui va t’acheter un dinosaur bleu?

I want L and R to enjoy stories about Santa, like most of the kids around them; and I hope they feel the magic of it all. But I won’t go so far as to tell them that he’s sliding down 30 storey buildings, into the living room windows at night, to deliver gifts to them; and only if they are good children. And that he decided that they have to share one big present. Or do they get one each, something smaller maybe? Exactly the same toy, or two different ones?

Does he like chappatis and kheer?


Any personal Santa stories, books, or movies to share?

Here are a few Santa Posts:

Santa Claus: The Magic of Christmas Or A Big, Fat, Bearded Lie by Jo Eberhardt of The Happy Logophile

Yes, I Torture Them. Gleefully! by Desi of The Valentine 4: Living Each Day

Santa Claus: Kind of an Asshole by Mommy Rotten, Guest Post at Momma Be Thy Name

Some Music for the Birthday Girl

My little cousin turned 23 yesterday. Here are a couple of YouTube videos (that’s I’m accessing via the proxy server),for you Saloni.

The first is a Talvin Singh electronic piece, Jaan, with beautiful vocals. I travel through enchanted worlds of love when I listen to it. I discovered it in 1998; when I was in Chennai taking dance lessons.

And the second is a TV5 show, again of Talvin Singh, but this time improvising with Angelique Kidjo. I found it today on YouTube, randomly.

Jaan because of Chennai, electronic music, and the vocals. And then, the Angelique Kidjo one because you know, strong female African performer!

Hope you enjoy it. Saloni’s blog: Everytime I visit, I dream big, I travel far, I’m beautiful inside and out, I’m hip, alive, and connected.

It’s no small feat, not only to be all that, but also to inspire those around you to feel it!