The house is strangely silent just now because the last of my family has left today for home. I've just put Peanut down for a little nap. The excitement of the last few days has been a little too much for her, and she has had a bit of a cough and cold. But is recovering fast, thank you very much.
I contemplated doing a 'Last year's highlights, New Year's resolutions' kind of post, but I got bored with the idea quickly. Just the fact that 2007 has given us Peanut makes it the most special year ever. Enough said.
It was a nice sort of end to this year, having my family down here. Over the last couple of days, we went to Murud-Janjira, a few hours away from Mumbai. The drive there and back wasn't too great since Peanut has decided to hate her car seat, but squalling infant notwithstanding, it was good fun overall. We even got to see the Janjira fort, it really is quite beautiful.
My cousin Anjali remarked on how amazing it was that the fort had been built out in the middle of the sea, and such a long time ago. I agreed that it was amazing, but was more amazed by the fact that no matter which monument I go to see in India, some idiot called Raju has been there before me, declaring his undying love for Pinky by scratching their names on the wall, complete with the obligatory drawing of a heart. Whatever, guys. Get a room. And write on the walls there!
Anyway, a few photos:
View of the Fort from the boat.
Inside the Fort.
A shot from one of the highest points in the fort - you can see the Pond covered with moss. It was quite a climb to get this Bird's Eye View. I hope you appreciate it.
An artistic shot Vijay took of Peanut and me inside the fort. (Note: artistic was the word he used. I said 'unclear' - but he quite likes it anyway.)
Oh, and this is a big one for me - I've been lamenting how I've not seen a sky full of stars in the longest time, like ten years or something - and it was on my 'Things to do before I'm 30' list - well, I saw a sky full of stars - two nights in a row! And it was really amazing. It wasn't really like millions of stars, but it was thousands, I think - and anyway, we take what we can get, given how rare this sight is nowadays. We took a bottle of wine out and sat on the beach on a couple of mats, passing around roasted almonds and cashews, just looking up at the stars, and listening to the sound of the ocean. I will spare you the bad joke I made about sitting on dari-yaan by the dariya. (note to self: do not attempt humour in Hindi again).
And since this was a very important moment for me, I attempted to take a photograph of starry night sky, as below.
As you can see, this did not work very well.
Vijay scoffed at my attempt, and said rather condescendingly that he would show me how it was to be done. The next night, he spent half an hour adjusting the camera settings, exposure, lighting, and took the following photograph.
I always say, if you must fail, fail in style.
Anyway, just believe us, there were a lot of stars in the sky. Just imagine them or something.
Oh, and before I forget - A Happy New Year to You!
There is a lot of the usual family stuff happening, including watching old, old home movies. This, one would imagine, would be very painful for Vijay, but instead he has been quite fascinated to see what we were all like ten years ago. My mother has brought with her some old scraps and letters that I wrote when I was a mere child, some of which are quite amusing and most of which are very embarassing.
There is this one piece I've written on 'The advantages of having working parents'. Am going to try and scan and post that. Perhaps this will convince me that it's time to go back to work soon. Sigh. But for now - Happy Holidays, everyone!
First, I lost my phone and all the Peanut pictures on it. That was not very nice.
The same evening, I thought I would cheer myself up by watching my newly purchased VCD of the Harry Potter 'Order of the Phoenix'. Shocking that I haven't seen it yet, I know, but I've been a bit busy raising a baby. Anyhow, I purposefully unwrapped the CD, opened up the cover, and while taking Disc 1 out, snapped it neatly in half. I gazed at the two pieces just lying there silently, taunting me with their indifference. I think my eyes may have welled up in tears.
I went over to Vijay, who was trying to take a nap, and woke him up to show him the pieces. 'Can you fix this?', I asked hopefully.
He looked at them and said slowly 'No...'
I was aghast. 'But you are an engineer. Can't you glue it together or something?'
He could see I was not to be diverted. 'Okay, leave it there, Honey, I'll try later', he said, while turning over and pulling his pillow firmly over his head.
I was going to blog about my recent trips to the dentist but have decided it is too painful right now as the memory is fresh. However, suffice it to say I am debating with myself which has been the lowest point of the week. It could be any of the instances below:
a. When the dentist injected the anaesthetic into my gum, so that I felt nothing when he was hacking away at my teeth. No, no, that part was good. The bad part was when he instructed me to rinse my mouth out. Everything was all numb and I couldn't move my jaw properly - the long and short of it is that I missed the basin completely and spat right on the dentist's immaculately maintained wall. It was not my finest moment. Judging from the dentist's silence, it wasn't the best part of his day either.
I'm sure this happens to everyone - although Vijay claims it hasn't ever happened to him. But then, men are liars.
b. Since my temporary crowns keep coming loose for some bloody reason, I've had to make two otherwise unnecessary trips all the way across town, with my baby in tow - driving for a total of 3 hours each time, for just 10 minutes work, because only the glue or cement or whatever-it-is had to be fixed.
I am still waiting for my permanent crowns to arrive. In desperation, my dentist has given me a spatula, a square plastic mixing base, two tubes to mix together to form the glue/cement/whatever-it-is, and an instrument with a menacing hook.
An apparent admirer of my husband, he said 'Just ask Vijay to mix these together and put the crown back for you'. I was thinking 'Yeah, right. This is the stuff divorces are made off'.
And then he added 'But I'm sure this time it won't come off'. I was thinking the now familiar thought 'Why are men such liars?'
c. The second trip I made to get it fixed, my cousin Mini accompanied me, handling the baby in the dentist's office. While Peanut behaved admirably there, she now appears to hate her car seat and we had an extremely harrowing time with her bawling in the car.
I had to ask Vinod to stop the car on the way back, so that I could take her out and calm her down. It was quite hot, there was the sound of honking and traffic all around, and my nerves were rather frayed. But Peanut began to calm down as I swayed her in my arms, back and forth. Mini looked out at us from the front seat. She slowly got out of the car and approached us. By this time, Peanut was almost asleep. I started to feel calmer myself, as my big sister approached with apparent tenderness at this loving scene of mother and baby, rocking back and forth, a small bubble of peace in all the chaos of the outside world. Mini leaned in close to the two of us, and whispered in my ear to inform me 'Your fly is undone'.
d. But I have to say, it might just be this one that was my lowest moment - when my crown actually came off for the second time. I was on the phone talking to the nice lady at Yatra.com, booking tickets for Mini, when I felt a sneeze coming on. It was a particularly violent one that came in the middle of a sentence wherein I was informing the Yatra lady that the booking reference number was 'T for Taxi...V for Vijay...'. The force of the sneeze that arrived in the middle of a sentence, sent my crown suddenly flying across the room.
This was embarassing enough as it is, but was made worse by my lovely cousin, insisting on scrambling to retrieve it. In general, you don't want other people to be picking up bits of your teeth, temporary or otherwise, and I'm sure it's not a load of fun for them either. Anyway, the nice Yatra lady was saying, politely and charmingly 'Bless You, Ma'am'. I wanted to hit her but being reasonable, I realized it was not her fault, and anyway, she was safe on the other end of the line.
I also realize as I type this that I've made myself sound like quite an idiot. Well, the truth of the matter is, I rather am. But tell me, seriously, tell me - this stuff DOES happen to everyone, right? Right? Right? (She implored)
For now, I've had a brilliant idea, and I'm going to try using the dentist's 'base paste & catalyst paste' and other equipment to glue my Harry Potter CD together.
I've played it only a couple of times but it can be a regular laugh riot.
The essence of the game is: you pick a card, and on top of that card is the word that you have to make your team members guess; and below that are five words which are closely related to the word on top- the deal is that those words are 'tabboo' and therefore, cannot be used in the description of the top word. It can be quite difficult to do this, and the other team members have to keep an eye on you, and scream 'taboo' if you use any of the taboo words. This can be a lot of fun - but only if you're the one screaming 'taboo', not if you're the one desperately trying to describe the word, under pressure of the fast-emptying hourglass. Obviously, the more words you successfully get in that limited time, the more points you get, and so on.
For example, your guess word could be 'Drive' - but your taboo words would be 'car', 'steering wheel', 'bus', and so on.
Vani and Pranay were over the other day, and we were playing it - guys versus girls. Vani is great at describing the words - and while I suck at that, I am pretty decent at guessing. Plus, we squealed and appealed louder every time, so we were beating the guys hands down.
But fortified by a few rounds of whiskey, Vijay and Pranay were starting to shape up and get their act together. Pranay became surprisingly good at describing the words, and Vijay started rocking the scene by guessing them quickly.
On one round, Pranay was going through his cards rather quickly - clearly, they were on a roll. And so, he was rather pleased to see such a simple word- 'Sweep' - on his next card. Of course, the taboo words were 'Chimney', 'Clean', 'Dirt', and so on. But this was still very easy.
'Okay, now this word... is something... that the guy... does outside the building... every morning...!' He said, confidently, already reaching for his next card - so sure was he that his partner would get it right.
Obviously, he hadn't counted on Vijay, who replied crisply, with equal confidence and authority, also apparently gearing up for the next word:
I have come to the conclusion that we need a new lullaby for Peanut.
When she started, I mean, when she was born, we discovered that she liked this one song called Aicha. Actually, since I was very keen on the name Ayesha for her initially, I sort of fancied this as a 'Theme Song' for her. ( A theme song for a baby. What can I say. New parent) and played it over and over for her - so it's no wonder she grew to recognize and like it. She favoured the Khaled version , and rightly so because the newer version by Outlandish doesn't even come close, in my humble opinion. However, since Khaled, has for some obscure reason chosen to sing this song in French, and my French is a bit rusty nowadays, I have some trouble with remembering and singing the words. The only part I can sing properly is 'Aicha! Aicha! Ecoutez moi' and I'm not even sure I've spelt that right. If you've not heard this song, I have only one thing to say to you - you should hear this song.
Well, anyway, soon after, I moved onto rocking her to the tune ( if you can call it a tune) of 'Give it away, now ' by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I really like that song, always have. Also, it starts with 'What I got, you gotta give it to your MAMMAA'...so I vaguely felt some sort of baby-and-Mama connect. Of course, I then came to realize that this is perhaps not the most appropriate song to be singing to your baby, and so started to look for another. If you've not heard this song...come on, everyone's heard this song. ( Dipali? Have you? Sorry!)
I then remembered the wonderful song 'Kitni Sundar Pyaari Chidiyan', and it worked nicely until, as I wrote before, Vijay ruined it for me - forever.
I then tried making up a song by myself for her - rocking her back and forth to a monotonous poem, made up as I went along - I had to stop when I realized I was singing stuff like 'Tu hai meri Rani...', followed by, because I couldn't think of a better rhyme 'Tu hai meri Naani'. Not only is this terrible poetry - so bad that you would probably be shot for it in a less liberal country - it is factually untrue and you don't want to be confusing your Peanut. So I gave up trying to do-it-myself. (Hey, that spells 'Dim'. Sounds about right.)
Nowadays, we've been trying the 'Cuppycake song': ( Yes, Sue, I know you put this down once in my comments section and I didn't acknowledge it, soweee!)
You're my Honeybunch, Sugarplum Pumpy-umpy-umpkin, You're my Sweetie Pie You're my Cuppycake, Gumdrop Snoogums-Boogums, You're the Apple of my Eye And I love you so and I want you to know That I'll always be right here And I love to sing sweet songs to you Because you are so dear.
Very sweet, but it's getting too repititive now. Plus, Vijay insists on ruining it by either singing along with me or singing it by himself, but saying 'Shnookum shnookum shnookum' instead of Snoogums-Boogums. This is exactly the kind of thing that can put you off any song for good.
So that's pretty much it. But yesterday, Vijay discovered that she likes the 'chhk chhk chhk chhk...' part in that old Hindi song 'Dil ka haal sune dilwaala', so we are transitioning from the Cuppycake song to this one...
Peanut must be thinking 'What the hell is with you people!?'
Any suggestions for a good one?
Edited to add: I forgot to mention that Vijay has also started trying that funny song 'Girl, where didja get your body from? Tell me, where didja get your body from.....I got it from my Mama! I got it from my Mama!'. This is quite frighteningly inappropriate, especially when he starts feeling insecure and starts singing it, instead, as 'I got it from my Papa! I got it from my Papa!'
At the age of 4.5 months, Peanut is finding new ways to amuse herself everyday. These little amusements are extremely amusing. For her. Not me.
Game # 1: Yelling
This typically happens when someone is singing to her. As with many children, Peanut's voice is disproportionately loud, and she can outshout everybody. She does it when she's getting annoyed, but she also does it when she's in a good mood, and she also does it when she's getting bored. Therefore, she does it all the time, except when she is asleep. She decided to do it when we went shopping yesterday and because I was wearing her in her sling, people kept looking at me strangely whenever these loud and long angry wails started up. Since not everyone could see the baby immediately, they obviously thought there was something very wrong with me. This yelling let to a sequence of events which led me to lose my phone, but that is fodder for another post.
The absolute worst part of this game is that the K, who is ever fascinated by anything to do with the baby, has picked up the ability to imitate this yell quite uncannily. Therefore, when the baby yells, the K yells back and the two of them yell at each other over and over until I want to bang my head against a wall. It is especially bad when I allow myself an indulgent smile at the cuteness of my baby's prolonged shouting, only to discover that that particular shout was, in fact, emanating from the K.
Game # 2 : Phtoooie
Peanut has been dribbling all over the place for a while now, but she has now discovering the joy of blowing spit bubbles, or raspberries. This is apparently a good thing and is supposed to be encouraged because it helps her learn how to move her mouth and tongue.
I've been told by my doctor that I can start giving her a little mashed banana, so have been experimenting with a spoonful or so for the last few days. It's real fun to see the disgusted face that she makes when she tastes it.
It's less fun since she's discovered that this is the perfect time to practice blowing loud raspberries. Not only does the offered spoonful of banana get a whole lot of bubbly spit suddenly added onto it, but if we're lucky, her mother may even get some of it right in the eye. Oh, ha ha.
I am saddened to report that blowing raspberries is a skill that the K is picking up quickly too.
Game # 3: Kicking
Peanut is turning into a very hands-on and legs-on kind of baby. With the enviable flexibility of all babies, she is able to use all her limbs to grasp, push and scratch at objects. It's great fun watching her with a newspaper, the crackling of which seems to fill her with great delight, and she does not rest until she has torn it apart and thrown the carcass an impressive distance.
She is also starting to try and crawl, in that weird fashion which involves using her head as an extra limb. She hasn't quite achieved success yet, because she tries to do this mostly with her head and legs, forgetting to try using her hands too. But she's getting there. For the time being, at these moments, the kicking, raspberries and yelling all seem to converge, and usually this ends in some frustrated crying.
The kicking also seems to kick in mostly when I'm trying to cut her nails. She will watch me doing so for a while in a very quiet, docile manner, and just when I think I'm going to get through this smoothly, she lifts up both her legs and slams them into my wrist. This is rather annoying because I wouldn't want to cut her finger by accident, which, I am sad to say, has happened twice already, and has resulted in a cacophony of wails quite disproportionate to the extent of damage. So at any point of time, she has always got around half her fingernails trimmed neatly, and the other half are jagged scratch-weapons.
It's quite entertaining to see her first pat Vijay's cheek lovingly, as he bends over to talk to her, and then attempt to follow this up with a swift, well-aimed kick to the chin.
Anyway, it quite amazes me to think back to the tiny unresponsive lump that she was a few months back. This feisty little creature is so different, social and explorative.
(Phone conversation, trying to complain about the instruction manual)
- Smarmy chap from Sunbaby, on the phone: What exactly is the problem, Madam? - Me: I have already explained it to your marketing manager in detail, and also sent an email. - Smarmy chap: Oh, yes, Madam, but could you please tell me once on the phone? - Me: (Sigh) I bought a stroller of yours...Baby Pram 200...and the instructions in the manual are nothing but a bunch of random words - it's all gibberish...how is a person supposed to know how to use the product properly? - Smarmy chap: Oh, yes, Madam! I know what you mean. But Madam, you see, that is Chinese English. They speak English very differently from us. - Me: What? What is Chinese English? And how is that the point - if the product is selling in India, shouldn't you at least ensure that the instruction manual is making sense? - Smarmy chap: Oh, yes, Madam! But what to do, Madam? Madam, let me tell you, we have such a problem with those people - we can't even understand the emails they send us!....blah, blah... - Me :... (dumbfounded, wondering who is supposed to be complaining to whom)
In any case, I am using my spare time to send irate emails to sundry Sunbaby IDs, and will not stop till I get a reply. Also, I've returned the stroller to Little Kangaroos and plan to pick up another one. This time, I will let Vijay choose it so that I can blame him for it later.
And then there is stupid internet connection thingy. When I moved to Mumbai, I tried to get a broadband connection from every possible angle - but for some reason, nobody seemed to want to sell me one.
When we tried getting it from MTNL, there turned out to be some silly paperwork required because they had some address wrong in their records. After that, one fellow kept calling up and promising to come over, but did not. I finally called him and insisted that he come on a particular day. He showed up, all surly, and was quite rude even though I offered - and he accepted - some tea while he worked. The connection worked for two minutes and then there was some 'ADSL' problem, whatever the heck that means! And the guy still had the nerve to ask Vijay to pay him a 'service charge' - namely bribe/tip! Jerk.
Eventually, when it did not work, Vijay called some customer care number and got some senior people's mobile number - and after he spoke to them, miracle of miracles - the internet started working! The only problem after that was that I got no less than 22 follow up calls over the next few days. I am not kidding here, 22 calls - to ensure the internet was still working.
The K: Halloo, Kaun? ....(handing the cordless phone to me) Logta hai bandh ho gaya Me (taking the phone and pressing the talk button, with a weary sigh) Hello? MTNL person: Hello? MTNL se bol rahen hai, aapka internet chaalu hai na? Me: Haanji, par yeh mere ko eleventh...eleventhwa...gaira..gairwa call hai...aap phirse please mat call kijiye MTNL person: Kya? Itne call aapko aaye? Aisa to nahin ho sakta. Achha, sorry.
(and so on, until call 22).
I have now trained the K to press the talk button when the phone rings, and say 'Haanji, kaam kar raha hai' as an answer to any question that is asked on the phone. So if you call me, please frame your desire to speak to me as a direct order and not a question - or you will get the same response from her, followed by the dial tone.
And this one is just not funny. While I was trying to get the MTNL connection, I was also trying to get the Reliance Broadband thing. This idiot called Kunal spoke to me, sent a guy over to collect my documents and a cheque for Rs.500 and has disappeared - it's been over four weeks now and nothing, except promises to get the connection for me, or to refund my cheque.
For the last two weeks, he has been avoiding my calls. I am cleverly trying from different numbers, but he's one up on me because he is pretending to be a new person everytime I get through 'But Madam, I am Vicky, Kunal is on the other line' or 'But Madam, I am Sunil, the call has been forwarded to my number' - ending with the promise of 'I will find out and get back to you'. I don't mind calling again and again - he's got Shakira's Hips Don't Lie as a caller tune, and I like that song.
I am resisting the temptation to put his mobile number up here for all those of you who want to hear the song, too. There's enough nastiness in the bloggy world these days - and anyway, I would like to believe, as I do in the offline world - I'm one of the good guys.
Finally, we went to Shopper's Stop the other day to buy something, and as we were leaving, I spotted just what I had been looking for - a guy was standing outside the store peddling rubberbands, hair clips and the like. I bought the stuff I needed from him, and then spotted this nice black and white hairband. I don't really wear hairbands, and have been especially wary of these since Abhishek Bachhan has started wearing one, but I couldn't resist picking it up and looking at it.
Me (examining hairband, unsure of whether it will fit): Yeh issi size mein aata hai? Young Peddlar guy (glancing at baby in Vijay's arms) Haan, madam, yeh bilkul sahi size hai, baby ko barobar fit aayega. Me (annoyed): Par mere ko apne liye chahiye. Young Peddlar guy (with a wide grin, not a trace of shame, looking at my head which is at least twice the size of my four month old daughter's): Haan, madam, ye bilkul sahi size hai, aapko barobar fit aayega.
I glared at him for this obvious lie, but then could not resist the urge to burst into laughter at his cheeky grin, and at the cheek. I actually bought the darned hairband, too, paying around three times its actual value. He obviously charges a premium for standing outside Shopper's Stop.
Did I say I hate salespeople? I don't know, I kind of liked this guy, though. Still hate the others.
So we bought this baby stroller for Peanut on Saturday. There were a few different types in the shop (Little Kangaroos, Bandra), but I spotted one which was looked reasonably lightweight, yet about sturdy enough. It was a Sunbaby product, and we've bought a couple of Sunbaby items which have been okay, so we ended up buying the stroller, too.
And then we took the baby for a stroll yesterday, and somehow it was a bit awkward - I guess we're just used to having her in the sling now, so she seemed very far away from us (New parents. Really!). Plus, since it was a Sunday, it was just too crowded and everyone was gawking at her - which usually I don't care that much about but I guess this was bugging me because it was in conjunction with how far away she seemed, and also the fact that this stroller had only a seat belt that went around the waist and legs (and not the arms, the saleswoman had said the earlier models had arm straps, but apparently they were not desired by users of the product) Sigh.
Anyway, today I sent it back to the shop with Vinod and they say they will install straps for the arms. Since this was my major grouse, I thought, okay, no problem then. It will be fine.
But then I was flipping through the instruction manual and I see loads of spelling mistakes, which is always a real piss-off. I really did not think we were compromising by purchasing this stroller, it was expensive enough and seemed to meet our requirement. But this instruction-manual-spelling-mistakes thing is a bad sign, I think - it really makes me lose a huge portion of my confidence in the brand and the product.
Just when I got through the instructions, another sheet fell out. And this one really took the cake. Much like the Mr. Bear toy, this one too seemed to just have a bunch of random english words thrown together. You think I'm exaggerating? Allow me to reproduce the same for you, word for word:
Such as pursueing and show, at the upper and lower holeses of cup support and cup srpport who push rod pay bear and ask that a hole had is aimed at, It wears washer insert and make a reservation and sell and twist upper nuts, And then twist small board hands closely. On the contrary, twist the next nut, pull out and publish and orient selling, namely put the cup support removably.
Never before in my life have I had to buy so many things where quality is the key - and it is pretty disappointing to spend thousands of rupees and then get stuff like this.
And what kind of a reason would that be to return the product - your frickin' instruction manual makes no sense, buddies! I think I will need to speak to the Sunbaby people because I'm fairly sure the Little Kangaroos people will just pass it on to them anyway.
Unlike the Mr. Bear toy, which by the way, looks pretty good in comparison now, this one is not funny because a stroller is an important purchase, and one needs to be totally comfortable about its quality and safety. Plus, we bought this ourselves, it was not a gift. Such idiotic things as this 'manual' just do not inspire much confidence, if you know what I mean.
In the meantime - anyone want to buy a slightly used stroller? Nah, I wouldn't do that to you. I need to convince myself this stroller is okay - else I plan to go and smash it over the head of the smarmy saleswoman at the store - who incidentally also kept referring to Peanut as a boy (apparently, in Mumbai, this is a 'baba' as opposed to a 'baby')
The word 'Bah' comes to mind. And I would like to officially state for the record:
Drawing room conversation between husband and wife:
Y: ... and I don't think this whole workout thing is working for me, because ( blah blah etc etc) V: (Nodding along, while watching cricket on the TV out of the corner of his eyes) Uh-huh, uh-huh... Y: (snapping) You're not listening to me, are you? V: (suddenly attentive) Of course I am. I am, I am. Y: You don't even care that I've become fat in the process of making YOUR child! V: Of course I do, honey. Y: Aha! So you do care that I look fat? So that means you do think I look fat? Is that all you care about? V: (Starts making strange buzzing sound, avoiding eye contact, shaking his head side to side) Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz......... Y: WHAT are you doing now? V: (Closes eyes, still shaking head) Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......... Y: Are you serious? You're trying to create your own white noise to tune me out and avoid this conversation? V: (Eyes closed, oblivious) Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........
After writing such a nice list of things I am grateful for, I waited coyly for Vijay to read it. He did read it eventually, and his face broke into a slow smile when he came to the end of the post. He put his arm around me, pulled me into a hug and whispered gently in my ear...
'Couldn't think of a tenth one, could you? That's why I'm there, isn't it?'
And Peanut loves it as a lullaby, especially because I use exaggerated hand movements to denote flying birds - recently, I've been putting her to sleep with this with a fair amount of success.
Well, yesterday, Vijay ruined it. He was watching me sing it at night and the baby was just about to drift off. All was peaceful and right with the world. But then, just as I reached the end and repeated the chorus for the last time, Vijay chimed in to sing along - loudly and emphatically substituting the main word with 'Chaddi-yaan'.
I glared at him and he stopped almost immediately, but not without a satisfied smirk first. It's all over now. I can no longer sing this song without imagining many, assorted, colourful chaddis floating off fearlessly into the sky. This makes me burst into angry giggles everytime and this is not very soothing for Peanut. Angry giggles. Who knew they were possible?
In happier news, one of my best friends is getting married. Yayy!
Manav the Mean Mover, as we have known him in IIMB, has gotten engaged - and that too, to what appears to be a very nice, sane, lovely young woman. Such happiness!
This makes him one of the first of my really close friends to get married. Further, he has the unique distinction of being my only friend who is also truly liked by my husband (no, no, you other guys, he likes you too...sigh...).
Therefore, for many years, Vijay and I have referred to Manav as 'our social circle'. We are delighted that our social circle is going to double in size, as a result of this upcoming union. Oh yeah, we are also happy for the young couple.
The wedding is in March in Delhi - and EVERYONE is invited!
(Sorry, Manaww, couldn't help it. You don't mind a few extra people at the wedding, do you? No, they are not strangers, they are my bloggy friends!)
1. Seen a sky full of millions of stars (ok, thousands will do!) - and hopefully, more than once.
2. Been to Corfu in Greece. Well, if not that, then at least, to the North East part of our country.
3. Written that damn book, and if not, resolve to do it by age 40! ( and then by 50...you get the drift?)
4. Figured out what I really want to do with the rest of my life, and taken at least the first step towards it. I mean this work-wise.
5. Made up my mind about whether to have second baby or not. Shocking myself with this one, and I'm sure, shocking those of you who actually know me in person! I had always thought, no, no, no baby at all! And then, one, one, one is enough! Hmmm....
6. Found myself a good singing partner or two, practised our vocal chords off, prepared some mean harmonizing, and actually performed, for a while in some not-too-seedy clubs! And hopefully, not for free. Or having had to pay for it ourselves!
7. Touched, if only briefly, my pre-pregnancy weight of 56 kgs! Especially since I bought an entire new wardrobe of clothes last year, most of which have not been worn more than once.
8. Learned how to swim underwater. No, seriously, it is damn irritating because right now, even when I believe I have been swimming deep under the water, I am informed that my butt has been sticking out of the water's surface all the while. It's a bit embarassing, really.
9. Grown my hair long again, and kept it in decent shape this time, by resisting the urge to straighten, colour, or otherwise maul the life out of it.
10. Truly understood that even if I don't achieve a SINGLE thing amongst the above, it doesn't really matter and life is pretty great, anyway. This is the only really important thing in my list.
In fact, part 2 of this tag is '10 things I miss in my life right now', but I really would rather put a twist in this, and talk about the 10 things that I am grateful for in my life right now. Here's hoping I don't jinx myself in any way, but I'm not that superstitious ( Thoo, thoo; Knock on Wood; Etc!). Anyway, I think being thankful is something I haven't been doing enough of, so here goes.
10 things I am grateful for on my life right now:
1. My family - Peanut, Vijay, my Mom, my Sister G, and my cousin Mini make it to the top of my list.
2. My friends - Abhimanyu and Richa, who've been my friends for over 10 years now - and of course, the irrepressible Vani.
3. The long maternity leave of over 6 months that I am enjoying, thanks to my company having changed its policy from 3 months to 6 months, just last year. It really is a blessing.
4. The song Aicha by Khalid, which my baby loves, and which has helped me to put her to sleep on countless occasions in the last 3 months.
5. Having had a normal delivery in a time when C-sections seem to be more common -and having had a 4 hour labour. No, it wasn't easy, but easier than most - I think. Oh, and I am ever so grateful for the epidural, too. (And I'm really not looking for any judging here, okay? '' What? A four hour labour, and you took the epidural?''. Had enough of 'Are you sure you want the epidural, child?' from the attending doctor, and wanted to sock her and share some pain with her!)
6. Being one of the few people I know without a single strand of grey hair ( NOW, I know I'm jinxing myself! Off to check the mirror)
7. Having attended pre-pregnancy classes which really helped, especially in that one tip of using Olive Oil on the belly to avoid stretch marks. ( Ditto on the quick mirror check!)
8. Having the help that I do, as written in my previous post, especially the K. All three, actually, but especially, the K.
9. The blogging, because it's put me in touch with so many nice people - mommy bloggers and otherwise. And it makes me feel so good when someone says their day is brightened by reading my blog. That's really nice!
10. Being married to the most amazing man in the world. Yes, I know, he was there in point # 1 also, but still. He is such a great husband and will be the best father ever, too.
(Running off to research something I remember reading about the Jmonster somewhere...where was it??)
I am tagging Rohini, and Suki for this. I've picked you two because I'd like to see how different they are for the different stages in life you two are at. Do it if you want - and however you want.
I've mentioned this before: it's really nice having the help that we do over here - Vinod, Zareena, and the K.
Vinod, as I wrote about before, is not just a driver, but more like an all-rounder. He helped me quite a bit for Vijay's 'surprise' birthday party last week - it wasn't just fetching stuff from the market, but in staying late to help out in the kitchen ( The K was very tickled because apparently he was chopping onions like a pro, at one point), dropping Zareena home after the party, and even helping me sort out some old boxes of junk that we brought from Bangalore over a year back and still haven't thrown out. He takes the initiative in most of these matters, such as noticing that I was asking him to get mobile recharge cards almost every other day for Vijay's phone, which I am using - which was working out really expensive- so he pushed me to switch to a post-paid plan, even getting a Vodafone person to call me up with the ideal plan.
He is very fond of the baby and she bursts into giggles when she sees his face. What is it about this little girl and men!
Conversation between Vinod and me:
Vinod (sing song voice): Madam, maine saab se chaar din ki chhutti maangi hai. Me: Achha? Kab? Vinod (waving hand vaguely): Yu hi, paanch, chhe, saat, aath tareek. Me: Oh. Kahan jaa rahen ho? Vinod : Mere Maama ke ladke ki shaadi hai, Satna mein. Main nahin jaaunga, Madam, to wo mujhe MAAR daalega! Me: Theek hai. (Muttering to myself) Chhe tareek ko baby ko doctor ke paas le jaana hai. Vinod (overhearing me, immediately sings out) To main cancil kar deta ho!
Of course, I had no desire to have him killed by his Maama's ladka for the sake of taking my baby to a doctor 15 minutes away - so I told him we were quite capable of managing without him. He's cancelled his trip anyway, although Vijay tells me that he said it's because he is not feeling too well. Hmmm.
Zareena, of course, is thrilled to have the baby here. She's been waiting for this time for quite a few months and apparently used to get quite bored without anyone here. And unlike the earlier days when she would quickly finish up her work and rush off to the next house, she actually hangs around quite a bit, talking to the K - but actually waiting for the baby to wake up so that she can attempt to deafen her by cackling delightedly in her ear. She has this weird song that she sings to her, I can't really make out the words - but man, that woman is loud and tuneless. Thankfully, Peanut is a in a good mood after her naps and feeds and doesn't seem to mind at all - she smiles away at the old, loud, energetic woman who is shouting 'PA-PA-PUTLI-(SOMETHING)-TITLI....' between cackles. Anyone out there know this song?
And earlier, she would tend to take a day off every now and then - coinciding usually with the day after payday, thereby convincing Vijay that the money he paid her was going into buying and consuming copious quantities of daroo, and that she was lolling about in a drunken state somewhere on the days that she did not show up. This is quite an unfair accusation, but that is Vijay's suspicious nature for you. Anyway, it would be too much for us to hope that she doesn't take days off now, but those instances have lessened, and she does call up to inform us that she is 'not well today'. Plus, it is made that much more bearable because of the K.
The K, my mother's gift to us, is a real saviour for me. Life goes on as usual even though Zareena hasn't landed up today. And while the K can tend to be a little woolly-headed and not very efficient with handling the baby, what matters most to me is that she whole-heartedly loves her and is totally attentive with her. Of course, she is a bit too attentive and I have to coax her to let the baby play by herself occasionally, but this is a small price to pay for such love and impeccable credentials as having brought up my own baby sister.
However, she is getting rather absent-minded in her old age. Incidentally, I was shocked to hear that the K is now 50 years old because, to me, she looks exactly like she did when she came to our house 25 years ago. But anyway, she still tends to have those gaps in communication with Vijay. Such as when she brings Vijay's early morning tea to him.
The K (chirpy): Gud Mawrning, Bhaiyya! Vijay: (stretching, never at his best in the mornings) Good morning. The K: Biskoot laau? Vijay: (mumbling incoherently) Haan...ek, do, le aao... (Pause) The K (gently repeats): Biskoot laau? Vijay (a bit more clearly): Haan...ek, do, le aao...
The K smiles indulgently and disappears for ten minutes.
Vijay, not traditionally a biscuit eater in the mornings, is nevertheless now in the mood for a biskoot or two to dunk in his tea and goes off looking for the same. He goes to the kitchen and finds the biscuit tin himself, and on his way back, notices the K is standing by the drawing room window, gazing at the wide, wide ocean in a very contemplative mood. In his words, it is as if 'Wo soch rahi thi, main itne bade saagar mein kahan se biskoot dhoondke laau'. A bit annoyed, Vijay purposely rattles the biscuit tin as he passes to get her attention.
She turns towards him slowly, the very picture of early morning serenity, and proceeds to rub it in, with a final, affectionate 'Biskoot laau?'
No one has ever accused me of being a connoisseur of the finest food but I knows what I likes! And I sure can eat a lot of it, too.
But of course, there are many foods that aren’t great in themselves but turn into something far more edible in combination with something else. Over the years, I have discovered a few such combinations. I can’t claim to have invented them all, but I am compiling them anyway, for no particular reason.
- Peanut butter, by itself, just okay. Mixed fruit jam, by itself, barely tolerable. Put them together on a slice of bread – Aah! (Credit to my friend Abhimanyu for introducing me to this fattening delight, many years and kilos ago)
- Lay’s Chips by themselves, too salty. Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce, by itself, too spicy. Put them together, throw in bits of cheese – Aah! This one is my own invention.
- Coke, by itself, pretty ho-hum. Vanilla Ice-cream by itself, too Vanilla. Put them together and you get a far more enjoyable ‘Float’. The McDonald’s in the Delhi University area used to even sell this, years ago. I wonder if they still do.
- An ordinary tomato by itself, eww. Salt by itself, inedible. But bite out a small bit of the tomato and add a little salt to the hole you have created. Suck the pulp out of the tomato, adding bits of salt to taste. It is surprisingly good, and quite wholesome.( Credit to my Raju Mashi for teaching this when I was merely a small child. Just to clarify, I don’t really eat tomatoes like this anymore. Except when there is nothing else in the refrigerator.)
- Cherry, Cheese cubes, Pineapples – all reasonably enjoyable. But so much better when skewered together onto a toothpick. I have successfully made these for more than one party in my life, and they have been much appreciated. By me, who ends up eating almost all of them, but that’s not the point.
- And now, my personal favourite, and another of my own inventions: Chocolate Chip Ice-cream, by itself, good. Microwaves, I don’t know the taste of - but just put chocolate-chip ice-cream in the microwave for a minute or so and it’s – Aah!
Now, it may sound a little weird to you that someone can actually microwave ice-cream and blog about it unabashedly, too but I am telling you, it is great. Ice-cream in general, while being lovely, has the peculiar characteristic of being too cold and so microwaving helps. But you have to get it to just the right consistency. It should be part melted and part solid, part hot and part cold – this is no mean feat to achieve, let me tell you. What you can do instead is melt the chocolate chip completely till it’s hot and melted, and then throw in a dollop of another flavour such as vanilla, which is un-microwaved and therefore cold and solid. This works like a dream. Have you never microwaved ice-cream? Seriously?
And yes, I know I may not ever make it as a successful restaurant critic or anything. But it’s really the pleasure that is to be found in everyday foods that makes life that much better. And in case you’re thinking about how unhealthy most of the above is – you’re right. But I now weigh four kilos less than my husband, unlike a month ago when we both weighed exactly the same – so I feel much better now! Yesss!
Yeah, he’s put on four kilos in the last month. And your point is?
So now, tell me about any other weird, beloved ‘recipe’ or combination of foods you like so that I can try it. Keep it simple for me, and commonplace items please – if you ask me to sautée some avocadoes or something, I won’t. Keep it on the level of microwaved ice-cream? Okay? Thanks.
Lots of birthdays this weekend. My dear mother's yesterday - as well as my eldest cousin Aditya, who would be 34 today. A post here from his sister, my cousin Mini - and his mom has written the post before that.
And today? Is Vijay's.
I threw him a little surprise party yesterday. Or what was meant to be a surprise party. It was all neatly planned out. Just a few assorted guests, seven people were invited. They were all to assemble at 7 p.m. at our home and then jump out from behind the sofa when Vijay came back from work, shouting 'Surprise'.
Of course, that is not what happened. Because the husband, who was not feeling well all day, having returned from Bangalore in the morning, decided to surprise me by coming home at 5.30 p.m. - well before anyone else landed up.
I was shocked but with my usual presence of mind, I acted nonchalantly and tried to usher him into the bedroom. I realized he was slightly dazed and had a headache and thought I could put him to sleep before he noticed the following:
1. The drawing room had been cleared up and was sparkling clean like never before.
2. Zareena, who leaves by 2 p.m., was still in the house - as I had asked her to stay back and help heat and serve the food.
3. The kitchen was full of large dishes of food - Pulao, Matar Paneer, Dal, Chhole, Bhature, Raita - and an assortment of various drinks.
So he walked into the house and went into the drawing room - he looked around in a wondering manner and said 'Wah!'. He put his bag and laptop on a chair and I shrilly demanded that he not put it there and mess it up. He said 'Arrey, to main issko leke hi khada rahoon, kya?'. I realized I was not helping matters and told him to go take a nap since he was tired.
I tried to hide Zareena in the kitchen but she was hanging around grinning coyly. He asked her 'Arrey Zareena, tum yahan kya kar rahin ho ab tak?'. And she responded 'ABHI JA RAHIN THEE, JEE!', which really wasn't a very satisfactory explanation.
Finally, before I could stop him, he wandered into the kitchen and that's when it confirmed his suspicion that something was up. He smiled and said 'Y...what are you doing? What is all this?'. I went into a brief sulk that the surprise was spoilt but realized I could still surprise him by refusing to tell him who was coming.
And he was pleasantly surprised to note, when the guests arrived, that this was just not a gathering of my friends, but also a few of his old ones- I had sneaked a couple of numbers from his mobile phone last week and ensured they would land up. So at least there was some surprise element involved.
Of course, I had a lot of help from my cousin Karishma and my friend Vani for this. Karishma had picked up the most delicious chocolate mousse cake, and also this fun party game called Taboo - which we didn't end up using because the conversation followed fun and easy right from the beginning to end. This was a bit unexpected for me, because of the motley crew of guests - one single young woman, one couple yet to have kids, another couple (like us) with a young baby, and finally, a couple with one 4 year-old (who came dressed as Batman) and another on the way - all of whom who barely knew each other. But it worked somehow.
Vani, of course, helped me immensely by playing hostess whenever I had to run in to the baby, and with various other matters.
Sample conversation with her, when planning things two days back.
I dial her mobile number and wait.
Vani: (pseudo sophisticated voice) Hello?
Y: (rudely) Hullo? It's me!
Vani: Who is this?
Y: (annoyed) How many times do I have to tell you to save my landline number on your phone?
Vani: Oh, Hi ( voice garbling)
Y: Arrey, why do you sound so far away?
Vani: Because I AM far Away. In Bangkok.
Y: Oh. Well, when are you back?
Y: Good. You haven't forgotten about the party, have you?
Vani: Of course not.
Y: Okay. I'm having trouble figuring out a good vegetarian appetizer. Do you know how to make a dip?
Vani: A DIP? Yuckk! That's so fattening. I have a better idea. You can make a salad dressing instead - just a little lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper. Much healthier, and tasty too.
Y: Okayyyy. Also, about the drinks - I think there is beer in the house, and some wine, but we may need some other...
Vani: Oh, I have a better idea for that too. You can just take all the alcohol that you have in the house and dump it together into a bowl and call it 'Punch'. Trust me, I've done it, it works very well, no one will even figure it out. Very simple, na?
Y: Okayyyy. But I was thinking since this is VIJAY's birthday, maybe we could get him something that HE will actually LIKE?
Vani (conceding the point, albeit reluctantly): Okay. I can pick up something from Duty Free then - what should I get?
Y (Uncertain): I think he may like some whiskey - but am not really sure which one - Black Label or Chivas Regal, the silver box one - I don't know anything about this stuff...either should do, I guess.
Vani: I have a better idea! I will ask Pranay to call him up and say 'Vijay, I am throwing a party, which whiskey should I get, and by the way, which is your favourite whiskey?'. We'll find out and he'll not guess anything!
Y: Vani - you're just full of suggestions (Vani giggles happily at the other end of the line)...unfortunately, they all SUCK (Giggles stop and abuse is inserted which I ignore). Just do what I tell you. Pick up either of the two whiskies I suggested - see which one has a better promo. Either should be okay.
(End of conversation)
I got a call from her later and was told there was an 'attractive travel bag' on both whiskies - I told her to just get the damned Chivas Regal, making sure it was 'the silver box, 12 years'.
Just to annoy me, she and Pranay kept telling me till the end that she had picked up 'the golden box, 6 years'. I had no idea they were hoaxing me, and I mentioned to Vijay before the party that Vani was getting the 'wrong whiskey, Chivas Regal 6 years only'. He said 'Ussko bolna chhe saal baad aaye' and I knew the evening was going to be full of bad cracks like that. Anyway, she got the right one, just by luck, and possibly also because of the 'attractive travel bag'.
Also, earlier in the day, I had thought we should do at least some sort of decoration so Vani and I had exchanged some SMS's on this subject.
Y: Do you think we can do up a banner or something, at least?
V: Sure thing! I will get the fabric colours on my way. Do you have any cloth at home you don't mind sacrificing?
I had considered this and volunteered the most sacrificable thing in the house.
Y: Yeah, what about Vijay's Banian? We can say something like 'You're a year older today - Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hain'
V: Ha ha - no problem. Just make sure he knows this was YOUR idea.
Y: It is a brilliant idea. We can all sign it for him. It's not just a banner - not just a banian - it is a BANNERIAN!
We eventually did it too - I looked through his underwear drawer, threw aside a tatty old 'Rupa Frontline' and selected a nice, white, new Jockey vest of Vijay's - and Vani decorated the front nicely, and we all signed off on the back, with silly messages like 'Vest of luck!'.
Before the other guests arrived, I was asked, rather rudely, by Vani and my cousin to stop looking like a Dusting maid, and to put on something nice. I changed my shirt, and was very happy to note I fit into one of my favorite ones from last year. They liked it, but then asked me to change out of my frumpy ankle-length pants, too. I tentatively put on a short, black skirt - it looked good but didn't feel very comfortable so I changed back. They tried very hard to get me to put on the skirt again, telling me to 'get out of that Pregnant lady mode now'. I gently reminded them that I had always been a frumpy dresser, it had nothing to do with the pregnancy. They started taking pictures of my bum, to convince me that the skirt was more flattering than the pants anyway. That's when I knew I had to put a stop to it, and I kept escaping them until they gave up.
So anyway, it was all good fun and I hope the pain of turning 35 was made more bearable for Vijay. Here are a few pictures.
Vani, using my freshly vaccummed Sofa as a stepping stool to the drawing room mirror to correct her make-up. (The Psycho)
Batman and Banianman - yes, he actually put it on.
Vijay feeding me the Cake after cutting it - yes, that is a very silly expression on my face.
And a couple of Peanut:
So I've been shampooed today because of tomorrow's party, huh? Okay then!
Look, Pops, it may be your birthday, but you're PUSHIN' it!
Anyway...Happy Birthday, Vijay!May you have many, many, many more!
V: You’ll be happy…I passed up the opportunity to buy something else from the Tele-shopping network. Y: Great, what was it? V: It was a CD of children’s nursery rhymes – for Rs.450 (Silence) Y: But we needed that. V: Ummm…yes, but I thought… Y: Let me get this straight. You buy a Rs.4000 Mozart CD set for our baby…but you pass up a Rs.450 CD of nursery rhymes which we actually need? How does that make any sense. V: Well, I thought you can sing the nursery rhymes to her…but you can’t sing Mozart. Y: (Glares) V: Oh, sorry, okay, tum Mozart ko bhi gaa sakte ho… Y: (haughtily) Mozart ko gaate nahin... V: To phir? Y: (Struggling) Usse…Bajate…hai… V: (laughing) Bechara…wo to mar gaya hai…uski kyo bajaaye ab?Ha ha ha... Y: (Glares even harder) V: (Smile fading) I love you?
On the phone - 1
V: I’m going to stop off on my way home to get a haircut Y: I can give you a haircut…come on…a good one this time V: I love you, honey…Bye… On the phone – 2
Y: And then I said…(blah blah blah…) V: (muffled voice) Uh-huh…Hmmm… Y: Are you smoking again? (Silence) V: Nooo? Y: Vijay! V: I love you, honey…Bye
Y (Checking scales): WHY am I not losing weight? I just don’t understand it…I’ve been jogging regularly for weeks now. V: Maybe because you’ve been hogging on sweets, as usual? Y: What are you talking about? I’ve been very good about sweets. V: Really? Then who finished the Diwali kaju ki barfi and besan ke laddoo? I had one piece of each and you finished two boxes in one week? (Silence) Y: Why don’t you love me anymore?
Y: Stuti commented on my last post, making fun of my Hindi…she said it is ‘bahut jor se and not bahut jod se’…is that true? V: Well…yes…jor was the word you were looking for…because jod means ‘joint’ …so do you remember the word ‘Bejod’? Y: Yes! V: And what does it mean? Y: Without a joint! V: Hmmm. That’s what I thought you would say. But no, it doesn’t mean that… Y: Oh wait, yes…Brooke Bond Red Label chai…sach much hai bejod chai…bejod means unmatchable! V: Well…not really…it means without a ‘jod’ …a ‘jod’ is necessary when something is broken…so it means without any break…and so ‘strong’ is the meaning. (Silence) Y: That’s a crap explanation. Hindi doesn’t make much sense sometimes. V: Actually, it’s Urdu! Y: Hah! That’s it! Stuti doesn’t know what she’s talking about! It’s not my Hindi that sucks…it’s my Urdu! (Silence) V: Yes, dear…but you did say ‘Buri sugandh’ the other day …the word is ‘Durgandh’. (Silence) Y: Why don’t you love me anymore?
Y: ‘Vijay, please give me my shorts – I was going to wear those to sleep’ V: ‘These are MY shorts, you know’ Y: ‘Don’t argue – you know none of my shorts fit me anymore – gimme!’ V: (ignoring me,in sing-song voice to Peanut) ‘Bitiyaaa… Mama is talking to you – she wants to wear your diaper…give it to her’ Y: ‘ Listen, please don’t be silly….just give me my diaper now, okay?…DAMMIT’
Y: ‘Vijay, why have you got the electrician to put lights that are not matching in the drawing room?’ V: ‘Arrey! I wanted it to be in line with our theme’ Y: ‘Oh? And what is our theme?’ V: ‘Lights…that… do not match’
Just Lounging around
Y: ‘Vijay, what is the origin of the word Beishak…Be-ishak? Without ishak?’ V: ‘No…the word is Be-shak…as in, without a doubt’ Y:‘Are you sure? I always thought it was Be-ishak’ V: ‘No…Be-shak.. ‘Be’ means ‘without’…on the other hand, Ba-kaida means ‘According to the kaida, or law…or ‘as a matter of course’…or ‘of course’…and Berozgaar is ‘without a living’…got it? Y: ‘Got it!’ V: ‘Good. Then don’t ask me if Bekaar is ‘without a car’.
Calling the doctor
Y: ‘Vijay, give me the paediatrician’s details’ V: ‘Here, it’s written here’ Y: ‘Eh? Are you sure that’s his name?’ V: ‘That’s what our doc wrote’ Y: ‘Ok, fine…(dialling)…Hello? May I speak to Dr. Ugli please?’ (Silence) Doctor’s wife in annoyed tone: ‘I think you mean Dr. Ugre, don’t you?’ Y: ‘ Ummm…sure…that’s what I said…sorry…I’ll call back later!...VIJAY!’
Taking care of baby
Y: ‘Vijay, please cut Peanut’s nails now’ V: ‘No way! We should do it only when she is sleeping’ Y:‘Yaar…listen…I’ve tried that before…and she wakes up, so there’s no point’ V: ‘Then we will try again later’ Y: ‘Arrey, but if she wakes up every time we try, and we are to do it only when she’s sleeping, then when will we ever cut her nails?’ V:‘Never!’ Y:‘ Vijay, please don’t be silly. Just cut them’ V: ‘Yes, Matron!’
Y: ‘Did you notice the entire place is sparkling clean and all the books are sorted?’ V: ‘Yes, I did…you’ve changed so much, honey’ (Y beams proudly as the K comes in) K (mournfully) Raita to kharaab ho gaya, microwave mein… V ( in total disbelief): Microwave mein? Raita kaun garam karta hai microwave mein? Y (shamefacedly interrupts) Actually, I asked her to do it V: WHY? Y: Because it was frozen. (Pause) V: And why did you freeze the raita? Y: It was room temperature…I like raita cold…so I thought I would put it in for two minutes and then forgot… (Silence) Y: So I guess I haven’t changed that much, huh?
Pleading for internet
Y: I need internet…I want internet… V: Hmmm….ho jayega, honey. Y: Tumhe nahin pata…mujhe bahut jod se blog karna hai V: Logon ko ‘Bahut Jod Se’ susu karna hota hai…par tumhe blog karna hai ‘bahut jod se’…sahi jaa rahe ho…
Our driver Vinod walks up to us, quickly taking the trolley from the K and wheeling it to the car. I note that he seems to have lost weight since I saw him last. I greet him, but he seems tongue-tied with shyness and just smiles at me in return. I remark that he has become thin and this seems to embarrass him even further and he shuffles his feet. I decide to break the ice and show him Peanut, saying ‘Isko to hello bolo…iska naam hai Anoushka’. He repeats ‘Anoushka’ slowly and his face lights up in a smile as he looks at sleeping Peanut. We pile into the car – hallelujah, everything actually fits and we are driving home.
When we reach the apartment, the security guards jump into action and help us with our luggage. I’ve always felt the help in Mumbai is really good, in general – of course, they are expecting big tips from Vijay considering that it is Diwali plus my return with the baby – and they are not to be disappointed. I am very tired by this time and go on ahead upstairs, with the baby being carried by the K, fumbling with my key in the lock. I idly note a pair of ugly, familiar red-and-yellow slippers outside the door and realize Zareena must be inside. Sure enough she is, as I discover when I apply some pressure on the door with my shoulder and stumble when she swings it open from the inside. She yells at me ‘ABHI ANDAR NAHIN AANA TUMEE’ and we stand there patiently while she quirts a little lemon around us in a strange little ceremony, which ends with her sprinkling a little water on our feet. And then she takes Peanut from the K and brings her inside quickly, cooing at her delightedly, if it is possible to coo while yelling.
I introduce Zareena and the K although nobody is listening to me, and they are anyway getting acquainted, as they play with the baby, who is looking around wonderingly lying on the bed.
Zareena says ‘YEH TO SAAB KI DUPLICATE COPY HAI’ and the K demurs ‘Wahan pe to sab kehte hai ki yeh mummy jaisi lagti hai’
Zareena says ‘AYI-YAI-YO – ISKO TUMNE PAYAL KYON NAHIN PEHNAYA’. The K jumps in, before I can answer ‘Hamare yahan haath pe hi pehnate hain. Pauu pe nahin.’ Zareena says ‘HAMARE YAHAN PAUU PE BHI PEHNATE HAI!’ The K says ‘Hamare yahan nahin pehnate...’ Zareena says 'PEHNATE HAI, JEE!' I quickly interrupt because I can see this can go on indefinitely. I peaceably suggest that we can make her wear payals also sometimes, but not always. Both parties look satisfied at this and there is a moment of silence.
Then Zareena says ‘BAHUT SUNDAR HAI BABA!’ and this seems to momentarily win over the K, who looks quite mollified and as proud as if she is solely responsible for Peanut’s looks.
Zareena says ‘KITNA KHILONA LAYA SAAB, DEKHO, DEKHO’ and runs to bring out a tub, which she has ingeniously removed from the bathroom to house the toys which I had sent with Vijay the previous week. She picks out a musical toy, pressing it to play its tune, telling the K ‘ISKO DEKHO, BAJA BAJTA HAI, JEEE!’.
Now, it so happens that the toy she has chosen to show the K is one which has been the K’s favourite in Delhi. It is a caterpillar which when pressed on its tummy plays the most annoyingly tinny version of that paddywack song ‘This old man…he played one…’. The K used to play it tirelessly, over and over, with the most adoring smile on her face, to a highly unimpressed Peanut – until I finally lost patience, confiscated it and hid it from her. So now, when she sees Zareena showing it off, it is a bit too much for her. She says, the biting contempt clear in her voice ‘Mere ko pata hai. Yeh wahan se hi aaya hai. Bahut khilaati thi main iss waale se’.
Zareena is hardly listening by this time, though. She says to Peanut ‘KYA NAAM HAI? MAINE TO SONIA RAKHA HAI…MAIN SAAB KO BHI BATAYEE …SONIAA, SONIAAA, SONIAAAA…
The K musters up every ounce of dignity that she posseses, and replies in no uncertain terms ‘Mera naam Kajal hai’
I stifle my laughter but Zareena cackles unabashedly ‘NAHIN JEEE! ISKA NAAM’.
The K says stiffly ‘Achha…Iska naam toh Onoshka hai…’ She considers for a moment ‘Par main bhi isko Shonee bulaati hoon...Shonee...Shonia...ek hi hai...’. This fact seems to make her finally eye Zareena with an approval and they play with the baby quite peacefully from thereon, soon joined by Vinod, who has been sent in by Vijay to get further acquainted with Peanut.
While the three of them play, laugh and fuss with the baby, I go and take a look around our little apartment. It’s looking a whole lot bigger than I remembered it. Vijay has got Zareena to clean it up pretty well, and she’s washed everything, including the curtains. I walk around, suddenly feeling very happy to be here, despite knowing I will miss my Mom and Sis, and the comfort of my Delhi childhood home.
No-one has ever accused us of overly refined elegance, but we do have a bright, warm, cheerful and colourful little home with rooms done up in blues, reds, and oranges. I quite like it.
And then, of course, I catch a view of the clincher - right outside our drawing room and bedroom windows – the great, big, beautiful sea.
We’re finally home.
(And thus begins a new set of adventures in Mumbai. I will upload pictures when I get a faster connection. If that ever happens, that is...Sigh.)
The flight is gearing up to take off. Mindful of the fact that I should feed Peanut as we take off to minimize ear discomfort, I bring her discreetly into position and wait. But she is having none of this silly thing called discretion. Her stomach is telling her it is time to feed and she starts getting excited, and pawing at me impatiently. I know that sometimes it takes quite a while before the plane actually takes off, so I try to distract her - but it isn't working. She starts getting upset, so I give up and start to feed her and she attacks, making embarassingly loud smacking noises. Soon enough, she has finished her feed and we are still on the ground. We start to take off and she is looking very suspicious at the rumbling sound of the plane’s engines as they get louder and louder. I am now very worried that she will experience discomfort, or worse, pain in her ears. Then as we start to take off, I figure it is the sucking action that matters, and since she is for once not trying to suck her own thumb, I offer her my finger instead. She looks even more suspicious at this unexpected treat but clamps down on it with what seems to me to be unnecessary force and sucks vigorously as Vijay laughs and imitates Peanut in an unfairly high-pitched voice ‘Wow Mama! Aaj aapko kya ho gaya? Mazaa aa gaya!’. I ignore him – the tactic seems to be working, and Peanut is still busily sucking on my finger as the plane leaves the ground - and we’re off!
However, it so transpires that Peanut has been concentrating on something else apart from my finger – indeed, it is now potty-time. I can feel her straining. It's going to be a big one, I can tell.
Now I've developed a quick,efficient methodology to check whether potty has happened– I just stick my finger into her diaper. This may not sound like the best possible method to you, but the thing is that the finger usually comes out clean because Peanut has fairly regular, one-a-day bowel movements. This methodology is akin to we folks in Marketing/Market Research call a ‘No gross negative check’. However, this does not work very well when she has actually done Potty - as I had discovered in McDonald’s the previous day, finding myself unpleasantly potty-fingered after an otherwise enjoyable meal. For this reason, I figure now that it would be better to just take off Peanut’s pants and check, as being potty-fingered is eminently avoidable while on a flight. So I take off her pants and lo and behold – it is indeed big potty which has leaked out everywhere – and despite my best efforts, I find myself potty-fingered yet again.
While Vijay changes her diaper and the K watches on with interest, I go to the toilet to wash my hands. I note with some disgust for the first time that Jet Airways has a ‘shampooing conditioner’ dispenser in place of a liquid soap dispenser. Why do we let them get away with this stuff? Somebody should do something, by Jove! (Another phrase I’ve always wanted to use. Yes!) I will write a letter! For the moment, I sigh and make do with the stupid shampooing conditioner to wash my hands. In general, I dislike public toilets with an intensity directly proportional to my immense dependence on them (caused by my unpredictable and disloyal bladder) – but plane toilets are particularly claustrophobia-inducing. I hurry back to my seat - to find Vijay dancing in the aisle with Peanut, who has chosen this most opportune time to throw a massive tantrum.
In a while, an air-hostess comes up to bat her eyelids at Vijay, in the manner that women reserve for fathers of cute, tiny babies - and asks him sympathetically ‘Having some trouble?’.
Vijay, who has just spent ten minutes undressing Peanut and changing her diaper while she wails at him and then another ten minutes swaying back and forth like a drunken palm tree to calm her down, responds immediately, over his shoulder in a smooth, charming manner
We have discovered the flight has lots of seats empty – Vijay has sprawled himself across three empty seats, holding Peanut on his lap. I sit down in the opposite aisle seat, glad that the neighbouring seats are also free. The airhostess brings about our piping hot breakfast, and I wait patiently. I take a tray when it is offered, and also thoughtfully ask for a North Indian Veg meal for Vijay, as he is with Peanut. As I put the tray down on the table next to me, a sympathetic air-hostess tells me ‘Ma’am is not having anything?’ , referring to the K who is still sitting in our original front row seats. I realize the K is probably feeling too shy to eat, so I ask for another North Indian Veg meal for her. I place it on the next-to-next table so that I can give it to her when the meal trolley passes. Then I hear Vijay calling my name. I turn and see him leaning back on his seat with an amused smirk on his face, Peanut clinging to him like monkey. He then calls out, loud enough for a dozen people or so people around to hear ‘You know, you’re only supposed to take one meal. Don’t eat so much’.
I turn red and glare at him and he gives me a cheeky grin in return. I wait till the airhostesses pass and then take one tray to the K. She gets very embarrassed and says ‘Aap mere liye itna sab kya le aaye’. I tell her not to be shy and to eat. I am actually quite worried that without any sleep the night before, and with the lack of nutrition, she might faint – and that’s the last thing we need right now, although I must admit I have never actually seen anyone faint and am quite curious about how it happens in real life. Must try and make someone faint sometime soon. Anyhow, I digress. Back to the story.
Yes, so anyway, the rest of the flight passes without incident. Peanut falls asleep in my arms and wakes up dutifully to feed just as we are landing. We have reached Mumbai! I feel funny. It's been more than five months since I was here last. And it was just Vijay and a grumpily pregnant me that flew off to Delhi. How things have changed, I marvel.
We get off the plane and are now inside the Mumbai airport. I go for a loo break while Vijay collects the baggage. I am very tired. I look at myself in the mirror, and think, not bad for a mom – just ten kilos above my pre-pregnancy weight of 56 kgs. I try not to think about the fact that I weigh as much as my husband now. Another young woman wafts in through the door and stands next to me. She is not only much slimmer, but also one of those who manages to have good-looking, straight hair even in humid Mumbai. I tell myself I refuse to compare. I finish washing my hands and then put my hands under the automatic hand dryer. It refuses to come on. I wait. It still refuses. I wait a few more seconds. I can feel the young woman’s eyes on me, and I mutter ‘These stupid things never work’. I pick up my bag and start to leave the loo, and notice she is still looking at me strangely. Too late, I realize that I had been standing with my hands held out imploringly under an empty paper towel dispenser. Feeling like a fool, I beat a hasty retreat. I try to cheer myself up thinking it is just exhaustion, but at the back of my mind I am still wondering about the fact that I went to an IIM. It just goes to show, doesn’t it? There’s no real way to separate the wheat from the chaff, and right now I feel like the chaff of all chaffs. What is chaff, anyway? Never mind. It’s a nice word.
So finally, we have collected our luggage. Our driver is to pick us up and we hurry forth to meet him. We stand around looking and suddenly I see a familiar car being deftly manoeuvred into a parking spot up ahead at an unnecessarily high speed, and a short, thin figure leaping out off the driver’s seat in a sprightly manner.
It is indeed none other than good ol’ Vinod. He’s going to drive us home where Zareena is waiting for us. We’re really back!
And now because I am working with a stupid slow connection, I will finish this story in The Homecoming-Part 3. So stay tuned, and kindly appreciate that I am still doing this, despite having been spoiled by a super-fast wireless broadband connection in Delhi.
It is 4 a.m. on a cold day in Delhi. I am awoken by a little Peanut rooting around for milk. I think it is just as well for we have to be up in half an hour anyway, to take our flight to Mumbai. I feed the baby, thinking about the day ahead. The husband has suggested that we get a bright and early start on this Sunday morning so that we have the entire day ahead of us to set things up in our Bandra home. It sounds like a good plan, although we haven’t got any sleep the night before either, because of the damn Diwali crackers that startled us and our baby through the night. Anyhow, it is now 4.30 a.m. and Vijay’s phone alarm starts to ring. I watch his shadowy figure across the bed, as the alarm gets louder and louder. Finally there is some movement on his part – he reaches out slowly, switches off the alarm and drifts back off to sleep peacefully. I wait a full five minutes before sharply exclaiming his name, startling him out of his sweet slumber. It is time to get ready.
I walk out to go for a bath and note the light on in the drawing room. Ah, good, the usually slow K is actually ready, despite her panic about the ‘itna kaam, oh baba goh!’ that she had to finish before leaving. I go on over there to ask her to make some tea for Vijay and notice her standing in the centre of the room, dressed in a new sari, with her bag packed and ready on the floor next to her, and a supremely serene look on her face. She looks completely ready to go, a woman who has everything under control. ‘Gud Mawrning’, she tells me sweetly.
I gaze at her closely, get a sudden feeling and ask her ‘Tum poori raat nahin soee ho, na?’
She beams at me, pleased ‘Bilkul nahin!’
At that moment, it hits me. I’m going to go on a plane today to Mumbai - with Vijay, Peanut and the K. It’s going to be an interesting day.
We are at the airport by 6 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight. We have a whole lot of luggage with us – three full suitcases and the car seat, along with our hand baggage including Peanut in her rocker. We have shamelessly palmed off the bassinet to my sister’s friend Saurabh who is flying into Mumbai at a saner hour later in the day. Peanut is asleep and I am carrying her in her rocker, covering her with my shawl to protect her from the cold. Vijay has loaded two trolleys, and marches on ahead with one, while the K struggles with the one behind me. I look back at her, a bit worried. I had thought this was her first flight and she might be a bit nervous, but she had allayed my fears by saying that she had flown before with us when we were mere children, handling my infant sister. Of course, that was almost a quarter century ago-but she seemed fine, so I had relaxed. Now, as her trolley wig-waggs this way and that, I am not so sure. I ask her to be careful not to run over anyone’s feet with it. She nods confidently and immediately proceeds to jam the trolley into my shin. I grit my teeth and trot on ahead faster to catch up with my husband.
We get to the counter, miraculously in the shortest line for once. Things are looking up, I think. The efficient Jet employee at the check-in counter processes our tickets quickly and hands us our three boarding passes with a smile. Her smile widens as she sees Vijay playing with the now awake Peanut. Her smile fades as she realizes something.
‘Sir? Where is the baby’s ticket?’
Vijay is stunned ‘The baby needs a ticket? Nobody told me the baby needs a ticket! I’ve mentioned so many times while making the reservations that we are travelling with a baby and no one mentioned a ticket! A ticket? Are you sure? Are you sure she needs a ticket? Can’t be!’
‘Sir, please go and buy a ticket for the baby at the counter outside quickly. There is an infant ticket for some 500 rupees plus taxes – if I hadn’t seen her here, you would have been turned back at the gate’
‘This is ridiculous…no one told me…are you sure?...OK!’
The tall, lanky figure races off leaving me staring at his back with my mouth open. I can’t quite believe it. My husband has organized everything with the express purpose of getting our new baby home. And forgets to buy her ticket.
I have barely recovered from this when he returns with the ticket. He avoids looking at me while collecting the boarding passes. Finally, we have all four in hand and have got rid of our bulky check-in baggage. We move on ahead, and I am hopeful there will be no more excitement.
We are at Security check, and the K, Peanut and me go towards the ladies counter. I hand our three boarding passes to K because Peanut’s rocker has to be X-rayed, and I have to pick her up and go through the checking booth. I tell her to follow me, but be very, very, very careful not to lose the boarding passes. The bored-looking security lady perks up when she sees Peanut and checks us, letting us go through quickly, nodding while I tell her our boarding passes are with the lady behind us. The K follows soon enough and we then move to pick up our hand baggage. I notice she is gripping Peanut’s diaper bag tightly with both hands. With both hands. Both. WHERE ARE OUR BOARDING PASSES? ‘Oh, shorreee….’ She runs back to the checking booth, where the bemused security lady holds them out to her, telling her that she must be careful with these passes or all will be lost. She runs back to me with a sheepish smile on her face, and I practically snatch them from her and thrust them towards Vijay, telling him to keep them instead.
We are about to board the flight now, going through the gate. The K is now holding her own bag, Peanut’s diaper bag and my small purse, all tightly bunched up together, in one arm. As we go through the final security check, the guard asks in a casual manner ‘Ek hi bag hai, na?’ The K obviously ignores this question and trudges past. Vijay also ignores the question and the guard loses interest. But for some reason, I blurt out ‘Ek nahin, teen hai’. The guard then calls the K back and listlessly checks the three bags - and we find that my purse has not been stamped by the idiots at the X-ray counter. Vijay has to go back and get it re-checked there, but not before giving me a malevolent glare for opening my big mouth. In the bus, he looks at me and mimics in an unfairly high-pitched voice ‘Naheeen, naheeen! Hamare paas to Teen-TEEN bag hai!’. We laugh about it and as we are getting off the bus to board the plane, he insists on carrying Peanut. He picks up the rocker with both hands. Both. WHERE ARE OUR BOARDING PASSES? We look at each other, at Peanut and then around the bus, just in time to see the K deftly jumping off, the elusive boarding passes flashing in one hand.
We finally trudge up the stairs onto the flight and are greeted by perky flight attendants. I am feeling glad Vijay had at least blocked good seats for us, front row – which means extra leg space. We get to our seats to find that there is hardly any leg space at all, forget extra leg space. As an added bonus, there is no window there either. We taker our seats stoically, the K in the aisle seat and Vijay in the middle with his long legs turned right into my already cramped leg space.
Peanut has been looking around with great interest but now decides to get cranky as we gear up for take off. The smiling flight attendant informs me that I should feed her as we take off to minimize discomfort in her ears. I nod knowingly – our beloved paediatrician had told me this, too. We are finally settled in our seats.
I lean back and close my tired eyes for a minute in silent prayer. Surely, the rest of the journey will now smooth and uneventful. Right?
I'm on the verge of giving up. There's just too much stuff here and I find myself unable to decide which items can stay behind and which ones go to Bombay with us. Everything suddenly looks indispensable - except the Mr. Bear Bump & Go Mobile - which is the only thing I have been able to decide to leave behind, so far.
And this is despite the fact that Vijay already took back a whole load of stuff over the weekend. After packing everything, he asked me 'How much do you think all this will weigh?' - I examined the baggage critically and said 'Oh, you'll be well within your 20 kg limit'. It was 34 kgs.
The suitcase we are using to transport our baggage is a really old, large green one that is falling apart at the seams. After Vijay managed to struggle with it last time to finally get it to shut, it stood there like an unsightly, overstuffed frog. I then gingerly placed on top of it the 8 DVDs which I had borrowed from Vani earlier. I didn't hear a word from him about them, and I haven't been able to find them in the dustbin here, so I think he squeezed them in - my patient, accommodating husband.
However, he told me, as he gazed thoughtfully at the tattered, overfull suitcase 'Agar yeh raaste mein phat jaaye...aur sab kuchh bahar nikal aaye...' I waited expectantly to hear his plan, and he finished the thought with great confidence 'Main isko wahi chhod ke chala jaaunga'.
Clearly, a man whose reservoir of patience is as close to bursting at the seams as our suitcase.
Anyway, back to the point - I have only a few hours today in which to wrap up everything! It is an impossible task. The word 'Yaaaaaaaaaaah' comes to mind!
Come on, Y! Is this why you went to a top-notch B-school? To have all your faculties fall apart in a simple domestic organization issue?
A manager has to prioritize...to schedule...to delegate...and most importantly, have an overall strategy...
Prioritization: Diapers, Car seat, Bassinet, Bathtub, Clothes, Toiletries, Toys, Baby Gyms - yep, everything except Mr. Bear Bump & Go Mobile goes. Check.
Schedule: I have decided to split my day pretending to pack and posting mini-posts on my blog because I may not have internet access for a while now. Oh, and there's this little thing called Peanut which may require my attention now and then.
Delegate: Vijay is coming tonight to put the final finishing touches on my packing, and I have full confidence in him to do a great job. It's all about confidence in your people.
Strategize: This one is a sure-shot winner. In a masterly move, I have piled all our worldly belongings onto Vijay's bed. There's absolutely no way he can sleep tonight without tackling that pile.
I finally know why I deserve my salary. It really is kind of sad.
Well, no time to muse today. Bye bye for now - will try and post a few pics later today.