Friday, August 31, 2007

The Thoughtful Gift

Vijay has been in Bombay for the week, and not very happy to be away from Peanut and me. Oh, all right, who am I kidding. From Peanut.

However, when I called him three days back, he sounded rather cheerful. It was ten thirty at night and I immediately recognized the symptoms.

Y:So, you're drinking, aren't you?

Vijay (after a stunned pause, during which I presume he is bewilderedly looking around for the hidden camera) : ...yyyess....

(A moment of silence. Vijay is processing the fact that I can always tell when he is drinking or smoking, just by hearing his voice on the phone)

Vijay: How do you always know?

Y: I just do. I guess I know you too well. Impressive, isn't it.

Vijay: Can you please stop? It is scary!

Y: Fine, fine. Just try and sleep early, okay? Am turning in myself now, am really tired.

(Hangs up)

At twelve thirty p.m., I receive an SMS from Vijay informing me that they have started showing DD's comedy show in Hindi on some channel called Jetix, and the entire comedy is ruined by the bad dubbing. I sigh and go back to sleep, hoping this is the last of the madness caused by the drink.

Alas, it is not to be.

The next morning, Vijay is all sober but coy on the phone.

Vijay: I bought something for you...Don't scold me... I think you'll like it.

Y: Eh? What did you buy since last night?

Vijay: Well, I was watching TV at a quarter to two...and I saw this ad...

Y: (Blood runs cold) You bought something from the Teleshopping network?

Vijay: Yes...No....Something like that....I had to buy it! I just had to!

Y: (Steeling herself) You bought something from the Teleshopping network when you were drunk??

Vijay:, I was not drunk, is very nice...I think...I had to buy it because they said the offer was only on till 2 a.m. - I had to make a quick decision...there were only fifteen minutes left.

Y: (Dangerously) Vijay. What have you done?

Vijay: It's not like that. You will like it.

Y: What is it?

Vijay: (Trying to act cute, in a singsong voice) It's a surprise! You will get it in a day or two...

Y: (Scariest voice she can muster) What is it?

Vijay: Oh, all right. It's a 40 CD collection ...of Mozart!

(Stunned silence)

Y: A what?

Vijay: Honey, I thought you'll like it. You like music. You like Mozart!

Y: I like Mozart? Where did you gather that? I don't listen to Mozart. I have never listened to Mozart!!

Vijay: (Pleadingly) But you liked the movie Amadeus...that was about Mozart...

Y: (Deep breathing to calm herself) How much did you spend?

Vijay: (Small voice) 4000 rupees only.

Y: (shocked) That's a lot of money. Why would you spend that much on something like this?

Vijay: (Voice getting louder) It is only 100 rupees a CD. I thought it was a steal.

Y: ..But...But...(Despairingly) Who listens to Mozart, Vijay?!

Vijay: We will, honey...we will...I thought it'll be good for Peanut also to listen to this kind of music, wait and see...

(End of conversation, after a few more minutes in the same vein)

So anyway, the 40 CD set arrived today. I opened the box grouchily and took out the CDs, staring at them malevolently. Over the course of the day, I softened and decided that although it was a silly impulse purchase, it was very sweet of him, and maybe I would actually enjoy the music.

I was determined to thank Vijay for his thoughtfulness when he arrived in Delhi in the night.

And I would have, too - if my mother hadn't come home from office, taken one look at the CDs and asked 'Hey, who took those out of the cupboard?'

Oh, yes. It turns out that my mother has the exact same collection at home, recently gifted to her by a friend. The same thing. Brand new, unopened and un-listened to.

Vijay should be arriving home anytime now. So, got to go.

For a guy who likes only Hindi music - who bursts into a tuneless but heartfelt rendition of 'Pyaar hume kiss mod pe le aaya' everytime he has one drink too many -a fitting punishment is waiting.

He will be listening to all 40 CDs over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Peanut and the Paediatrician

Since Peanut is a month old now, it was time to take her for her vaccination today. This was a slightly less pleasant experience than taking her out for Rakhi.

Getting there was easy enough, despite a bad traffic jam that got us 10 minutes late. But Peanut slept peacefully in her car seat, and we found the place despite the silly receptionist's warped directions, obtained on the phone by my mother.

I had been worried about reaching late for the appointment - and therefore, it was really irritating to have to wait for a whole hour before the doctor finally saw us. Of course, his dumbass receptionist could have told us he was running an hour late when my mother called for directions but clearly it did not occur to her. We were the only people there with an infant - there were a couple of other families in the waiting room with us - with their totally ghastly children.

Now, before you accuse me of bad-mouthing other people's kids - let me tell you, it's not that I think only my baby is cute - I think plenty of other babies are cute -but the specimen in the doctor's office were just NOT CUTE.

One was a female of about 6 years who wailed like a banshee everytime something was denied her - such as climbing up the stairs to the exit. To top it off, it was a completely strange wail - it didn't even seem to emanate from her, but came at you from all directions in a strange, disembodied manner. I fervently wished they would let her run up the stairs and just leave. Especially because I was afraid her constant screaming would wake up Peanut, who would be sure to be hungry and cranky - I shuddered at the thought of the resultant cacophony of wails that would surely ensue - but Peanut has become immune to such disturbances (she is used to ignoring Vijay's attempts to wake her up). I only softened towards the banshee for a milisecond when she pointed at Peanut, and delightedly shrieked 'Baba'. But then she started tantrumming loudly again and my heart hardened, and I was back to wishing she would run up the stairs and vanish forever.

The other kid was a squealing bratty boy of around 3, who was being carried around by his doting bespectacled potbellied middle-aged Papa. They had devised an interesting game together. The Papa would indulgently hand the little boy a ball, and the kid would toss it immediately onto the floor. It would then be picked up and handed back to him, to be thrown back down again - ad nauseum. The most interesting thing about this game was that the doting Papa obviously thought that since he was performing the task of carrying his own son, everyone else in the room should pick up the ball from the floor and hand it over to him, every single time - so that he could pass it on to his son to throw down again, and so on. Strangely, the other people in the room were complying each time with dull and listless expressions on their faces, bending over to retrieve the ball from under their seats, while doting Papa watched with a patient yet smug expression on his face. By this time, I was so irritated that I was waiting for the ball to roll my way just so that I could kick it straight to the moon - but it didn't happen.

Finally, it was time for us to go in and see the doctor. Now, we have met this doctor before, at the time of Peanut's birth and ten days after, and he's an oldish man with some strange quirks. First of all, it seems that these doctors are a little too used to babies and have a slightly nonchalant attitude towards them, flipping them over and patting them up and down a little too roughly ( for my taste, anyway). Second of all, he insists on referring to Peanut as a 'he' despite my interjecting many times to tell him its a girl, and pointedly calling her 'Bitiya' and 'Baby girl' many times in front of him. Finally, he keeps calling me Vasundhara despite my correcting him the first few times 'Doc, it's Yashodhara'. Eventually, I just gave up on both counts, dully responding to his 'Vasundhara, hold the baby like this, now' and agreed that 'He' is gaining weight pretty decently.

Anyway, we had asked him all the relevant questions, Peanut was duly weighed and height-ed and then it was time to get on with the business of the injection. I watched, horrified, as the doctor jabbed her in the thigh and her face turned the bright red colour of a ripe tomato and she wailed in pain, so much that actual tears fell from her eyes for the first time ever. She was quite inconsolable, the momentary pain of the injection turning into the realisation that she was hungry and cranky. We left in an even more hurried manner than we had come in, and brought the baby home quickly.

Now, I'm sure this is no big deal for more experienced moms out there, but it really wasn't a nice experience for a new Mom. Vijay is in Bombay and couldn't be there today, much to his chagrin. However, I am personally glad he wasn't around, because I had visions of him jumping to her defense in a mad frenzy, grabbing the needle from the doctor and jabbing him with it.

Just to end this with two rather telling pictures:

Before: In the waiting room, comfortable in her young Mashi's arms.

After: Back at home, with a very hurt expression on her face. She seems to be asking 'Why me?'

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

To Sleep...Perchance, to Dream...Perchance, to Dream of Sleeping...

Sleep is really a precious commodity these days. Can you really expect otherwise with a 23 day old baby in the house?

Our co-sleeping issues have been admirably sorted out by the intrepid Vijay. Last week, he went on a hunt to find the ideal solution to fit our needs, and came back with this nice little baby mattress that has pillows which can be tied onto the sides to prevent her from rolling over. And now, we can peacefully keep the baby sleeping between us, and the dangers of either of us rolling onto her are drastically minimized. A good temporary solution until a crib is finally purchased.

Anyway, being a fairly light sleeper, at night, I notice Peanut squirming around and chomping angrily on her fist before she starts crying out loud - so I get up in order to feed her before she wakes the whole house up. However, these days, she is not exactly what one might call co-operative in this business of feeding. In fact, she seems to have been some sort of a predator in her last life - determined to attack, wrestle and kill her prey before eating it - she bursts into angry war cries while being fed and squirms and wriggles fiercely - even when it's not gas that's bothering her -and generally makes a whole lot of fuss, making it a long and difficult struggle to calm her down.

Late last night, after I emerged victorious from one particularly vicious struggle, finally managing to get her to quiet down and start feeding, I noticed a strange sound - it was a low, rhythmic thup-thup-thup emanating from somewhere nearby. Glancing over, I saw it was - wonder of wonders -my dear Vijay who was responsible for it. He had his eyes closed and was clearly still in happy slumber, but had evidently reached out his hairy paw in response to the baby's crying, and had been patting her back to sleep. Only, since she had been with me the whole time, he had actually just been patting her tiny yellow pillow to sleep, with a serene, fatherly expression on his face. I stared at him in bemusement while feeding the now silent Peanut. After a while, he seemed to notice that the crying had stopped. Clearly thinking he had, yet again, done an admirable job in his newly discovered role as SuperDad, he allowed himself a rather self-satisfied smile, gave the pillow one final loving stroke, slowly removed his hand and resumed his peaceful, dreamless sleep.

Below is a picture of Peanut in her new mattress - safe from the danger of being rolled on - not so safe from the hairy, loving paws of her Papa.

A close up of Peanut reveals the interesting message on her new white onesie, courtesy her lovely Aunty Richa.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wanna Make Fransip?

I just lurve Orkut.

Why, you may ask. Oh, do, please.

I will tell you anyway.

Well, one of the main reasons is the 'Today's Fortune' message that I get when I log in. Such as:

- 'You will live to a ripe old age'
- ' When winter comes, heaven will rain success on you'

...and, of course, my personal favourite:

-'You and your wife will be very happy in your life together'

I never start my day without consulting Orkut for such useful and practical tips for daily living.

Apart from this, you get to see all sorts of interesting characters, who are out there, baring their souls. My sister swears she has seen one such character's profile, who had entered under his preferred choice of 'Cuisines' -''I have many - mausi ke ladke, mama ke ladkiyan...''- Being a rather generous soul, I am inclined to believe this was just somebody with a unique sense of humour, but my sister rolls her eyes, implying she thinks otherwise from having seen the whole profile.

My good friend Vani was lamenting the strange messages she was getting from various men on the site - until my other good friend Ganju asked me one day 'Who is this Vani friend of yours? She seems very interesting. She has put down that she is married, but also entered Dating as one of her reasons for being on Orkut'. When I suggested to Vani that this might be provide a clue as to why she has been getting propositioned so often, she looked rather confused and slightly embarassed.

Anyway, the point being that there are a lot of fascinatingly strange people out there - such as Vani - who are using Orkut.

Furthermore, Orkut proves that we are clearly a country of good looking, glamorous people. I have personally spotted dozens of men who look exactly like John Abraham and women who look exactly like Aishwarya Rai in their Orkut pictures. I was once tempted to become friends with such a person, who had sent me an invite. Unfortunately, his name on his user profile was something like:

'$-\ _O < ~ Happy Misery'

I had to reluctantly decline his invitation because I was sure that in the event we ever met, I would never be able to pronounce his first name correctly.

The other nice thing about Orkut is that you can demonstrate your feelings about people you admire, by becoming their fan. I have seven fans at last count. How sweet is that! Then I chanced upon my nephew's profile. He has a hundred and four fans.

So if you wanna make fransip with me, you can find me now - on Facebook.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Uncle Abhi and Aunty Richa come to visit

Two of my best and oldest friends, Richa and Abhimanyu, came by yesterday to visit. Both are still unmarried (hey, they are still me!), and for them, kids are a slightly far away prospect - in fact, just a few years ago, none of us could have imagined cooing over a little baby -especially one of ours.

Which is why it was most fascinating to see their behaviour around Peanut.

Abhimanyu ( 'Don't call me Uncle' ) could only keep staring at the baby and grinning like an idiot. He was the first person outside the family to see Peanut, at the hospital itself - and I don't think he has stopped grinning like an idiot ever since. These spells of grinning idiocy were broken only by his shocked gasps when he saw Vijay manhandling the baby.

Vijay, of course, believes in, umm, 'strengthening' the baby with a little bit of occasional 'exercise' - he does get carried away a bit and tries to manipulate her facial expressions by hand - Abhimanyu was totally aghast to see this behaviour, and kept telling Vijay that her bones are soft and still forming and he shouldn't be doing stuff like this, as below:

Vijay laughed cockily at Abhimanyu's expressed fears -until Peanut decided to get her own back. Now, she occasionally tends to cross her big eyes, and while my sister and I had seen this before, Vijay had not. So he was grinning in her face while playing with her, when she decided to smile really widely -but with her eyes crossed. He yelped in fright 'Hey! Iss ko kya ho gaya!? Why are her eyes like that?' He clearly thought for that one moment that his rough-housing had resulted in rattling something loose inside her, resulting in a cock-eyed child. She went back to normal again pretty quickly but it was good fun to see his reaction.

Abhimanyu, being a product designer by profession, had his usual know-it-all attitude about the pictures I've been taking. 'You suck at this...your settings are all wrong...let me do it...'. Being around the baby had clearly addled his brain. This was made clear when he finished a supercilious remark with the information that I needed a 'gooder' camera.

And again, by his reaction, when he kept failing to find a setting that did not use the flash (He was convinced that the constant use of the flash is going to blind the baby). After he took a yet another picture of her at close range and the camera flashed in her eyes, making her blink, Vijay heard Abhi muttering to himself 'Dammit! The flash went off again...hurting her eyes...I better delete this picture...'


We laughed at him a lot.

This is him following his self-imposed 'Look but don't touch' policy.

Richa had flown down from New York with a whole load of baby stuff, on which she has clearly spent a fortune. She clearly feels a sense of ownership of 'our baby' as she puts it, as borne out by her first SMS to me after Peanut was born, asking 'Does she have my eyes?'. Being a fashion designer, she took on the role of Peanut's self appointed hair stylist and subjected the poor baby girl to the following looks.

1. The Pixie Look

2. The disgruntled fat, oily bureaucrat look:

3. The Punk Rocker Look (Richa is holding up a tissue behind Peanut's head to show off the style in all its glory):

Vijay left after a while, and then it was the three of us, talking about our lives, and how things had changed in the 12 years we've known each other. We kept breaking off to watch the baby making her usual funny faces in her sleep.

Abhimanyu's sentiments were summed up at the end of the evening as they were leaving. He gripped my shoulder tight and in a gruff voice, said the two words any woman is always delighted to hear in this new phase of her life.

'Good Job'.

Anyway, this is one of the three decent pictures (out of 30 attempts) that Abhi had taken. Given Vijay's constant hogging of her, I am quite happy to have at least one picture with my daughter. I am only attempting a slight tug at her cheek to cause a smile - not at all distorting her features like her father does.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Baths, Massages and Arguments

Y (Wearily) We need to bathe and massage Peanut properly this evening. She may sleep for a few hours at night then.

Vijay: Sure! I'll do it!

Y: WE will do it. But this time, I think we should reverse the order. We should bathe her first and then massage her. It will help her sleep better.

Vijay: (Scoffing sounds) Why? That's not how we do it.

Y: And who is this 'we'?

Vijay: just doesn't make sense. See, first we should massage her, then we clean off the oil with a sponge bath.

Y: But I've checked -it says everywhere I've read that we should be massaging her after the bath.

Vijay (challengingly): Where have you read this?

Y (soft voice): On the Johnson's Baby Oil bottle ...(louder voice) but I'm sure I read it elsewhere too. Anyway, it makes sense, doesn't it? A bath is invigorating, a massage is we massage her later.

Vijay (argumentative tone): But I always feel sleepy after a bath.

Y: What's wrong with you? Don't you bathe in the morning to get fresh?

Vijay (sagaciously): Bathing makes you only momentarily fresh. I am always sleepy by 11 a.m. in office.

Y (Withering look): Hmmm. Don't be so silly, please.


As always, Only momentary)

Vijay (Having thought about it for a bit) Look here, Y. Water makes you tired. After all, don't you feel tired after a swim?

Y (now losing it): Stop. Are you really going to equate a half hour swim with a 5 minute sponge bath?

(Vijay retreats while Y prepares the bath and massage material, both in a sullen mood. A few moments later, Vijay re-enters the battlefield with gusto, playing his final trump card)

Vijay ( Spits out, in his 'I'm the man of this house' voice): I want one more baby!

Y (Stares dumbfoundedly, cannot get any words out): ...

Vijay: And I will do whatever I want, my way, with that one. Come on, then!

(And for once, the husband has the last word. What can you possibly say to a man like this?)

This is Peanut about to be sponged. She looks most bemused while her father sings, as untunefully and loudly as ever:

'Har Har Gange...

Pandit Ji, Nange...'

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Two Rather Distinct Parenting Styles

Vijay is one paranoid Dad.

Almost from the moment Peanut was born, he wanted to be the one handling her. He was with me in the delivery room and insists she actually came out beautiful, which I refuse to believe (I have seen too many birthing videos for that and was careful not to look!). He was pestering the nurse to let him hold her immediately and has had eyes only for her ever since.

While in the hospital post delivery, I was completely exhausted and Vijay had anyway pretty much taken charge - he was changing her diaper every time and generally looking after her, only handing her over to me for the feeding sessions, and that too, was most reluctantly. (I am telling you, if it weren't for nature designing us such that I have to do the feeding, I would be totally out of this equation by now.) In any case, on Day 2, she started crying quite uncontrollably and nothing Vijay was doing was soothing her. I woke up and checked - she was quite clearly hungry according to me, and once she was fed, she calmed down.

But Vijay wouldn't have any of it. He was sure that it was something extremely serious. The cries, he said, were not the hunger cries but cries of pain. I asked him how the hell he would know that, but he just enigmatically said that he just knew. I then asked him, in that case, how come she stopped crying after the feed? He looked at me like I was from another planet and said that it was only a matter of coincidence that her pain stopped when she started feeding. I gave it up but he didn't.

He insisted, the next day, on asking three different doctors what was wrong with Peanut. I tried not to roll my eyes when each of them said 'Nothing'. He insisted that they had been the most heartrending, terrible cries. Each of the doctors smiled indulgently and told him not to worry so much - babies tend to cry - and if it was colic, it would have been for more than the described three minutes. By this time, I could tell Vijay was on the verge of imitating the cries for the doctors, so I would hurriedly jump in and explain she was fine after the feeding. The doctors, being the professionals they are, controlled their urge to roll their own eyes and walked out, telling Vijay not to observe her every move so closely. Vijay muttered darkly to himself and only stopped sulking when he found something else to worry about.

He worried about whether she was feeling too cold, and added another blanket. When I tucked it around her, he decided she was feeling too hot and removed it. He made her wear gloves so that she would stay warm and not scratch herself - when she started putting it in her mouth, he removed it. He made her wear a hat as recommended by the doctor, but when I did the same, he decided that she didn't like it much, so he removed it. He lamented her long nails and got a pair of nail clippers with a magnifying glass, but didn't have the heart to cut them - after one attempt, he gave up and put the gloves back on again. The few times in the hospital that he was asleep, he would get startled awake by the slightest noise, while the baby slept on peacefully - and would rush over to check that nothing was wrong with her. (How a baby can sound like a distant slamming door, I fail to understand, but never mind that). He has worried about each temporary rash, the little bandages where they have taken her blood for testing, her umbilical stump, each bout of sneezing and hiccups. And by the way, he is trying to teach her to say Papa although she is six days old.

As I mentioned earlier, he has been changing each and every single diaper with the expertise of someone who does it for a living - with the consequence that I haven't had to change a diaper for the first five days - in fact, neither me nor the nurses at the hospital were allowed to do so. Half asleep, he would come and inform me 'Her Enconium is still coming out' before nodding off briefly on the spare bed. I was mystified but deciphered this to mean her Meconium, or first bowel movements after birth. ( Vijay is wonderful under pressure but his command over the language becomes suspect -when we were waiting for labour to start, he drove me nuts by asking me nervously if my 'Contraptions' had begun).

As a consequence of all this, our man was totally devastated as he had to go to Bombay yesterday morning for two day of work. While he is officially on leave from now, he has committed to finishing some project and may have to fly to Bombay for a day or two in the next few weeks. While leaving yesterday, he was very morose, and said that he was afraid 'she would forget all about him'. I tried to reassure him that it was only a matter of two days, and that she would surely be very happy to see him, would probably rush to answer the door herself when he returned. He ignored the sarcasm and yesterday rushed home after work to our flat in Bombay and insisted on trying to do a video chat with her, on the net. We finally managed to set up the camera so that he could see her and he started gooing and ga-ing. We couldn't see him because there was some problem with the webcam at his end, but figured that would be okay as the point was for him to see her. But, No! Vijay was again disappointed because he wanted her to see him so that she wouldn't forget what he looked like. I gently tried to explain that she is not able to focus on anything yet, so how could he expect her to look at the computer screen and recognize him on some fuzzy pop-up window. Vijay was convinced it is all part of a conspiracy to keep them apart.

He is returning tonight from Bombay and I am really glad. I miss him and his fussing over her (I, of course, no longer exist except to provide him with updates about her, but that's okay). And he misses her like crazy and I really don't want him to miss these early days, when she is growing up so fast (Yes, I know it is only the sixth day - so?).

And finally, it is confession time for me - while he was away, me and Sis were changing her diapers - G was holding up her legs while I did the wiping and all the rest of it.The first time we did this, it went really smoothly and we were fairly surprised at our proficiency- but congratulated ourselves at this achievement.

I was most determined to go it alone the next time, and I did so soon after- and that's when I discovered that somehow, we had omitted to throw away her dirty diaper the first time - but had instead, wrapped it up along with her in her blanket, where she lay peacefully with it for over an hour. I was very mortified by this and wondered whether to tell Vijay. As you can see, I am using the blog as a confession medium. I am also hoping some of you will tell me that you have done this before, or at least that, that it sounds like a most natural mistake ( Trails off on this pleading note...)

The paranoid, proud and possessive Papa can hardly bear to let go of her...

...And while the Papa is away, I get to hold my laughing baby! See, she has clearly already forgiven me for the diaper disaster!