Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy Birrrthhday Tooo Youuuu....

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?
Vani: Tonight.

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!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Further conversations: Always nice to hear 'I love you'

Walking on Bandstand

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
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?
V: Nooo?
Y: Vijay!
V: I love you, honey…Bye

At home-1

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?
Y: Why don’t you love me anymore?

At home-2

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.
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!
V: Yes, dear…but you did say ‘Buri sugandh’ the other day …the word is ‘Durgandh’.
Y: Why don’t you love me anymore?

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'm Fighting A Losing Battle


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’

Household chores

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?’
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?’
Y:‘ Vijay, please don’t be silly. Just cut them’
V: ‘Yes, Matron!’

Dinner conversation

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
Y: Because it was frozen.
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…
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…

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Homecoming - Part 3: The Finale

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.’
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.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Homecoming – part 2

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

‘No, not at all’


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.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Homecoming: Part 1

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?


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

And they're off!

...but not before wishing you a Happy Diwali ! Yes, YOU!

May the light of something something prosperity yada yada happiness etc etc grant your wishes blah blah...and oh, to your family too.

Have fun.

See you on the other side.

I've always wanted to say that ... ' ... on de udda side'...yes!

Ok, bye.

(Best wishes from Vijay, Y, Peanut, the K, and everyone else!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What's the Use of Being a Manager?

...If you can't even manage your packing?

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 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.

Monday, November 5, 2007


The K and my sister:

K: Shoneee kitna chalaak hai, oh baba goh! Shabh jaanti hai...
My sister: Hmmm? (half listening)
K (conversationally and candidly): Aap log to bilkul buddhu the...

Vijay and Peanut:

V (chanting with enthusiasm): Ek dhakka aur do...saari potty nikaal do!
Peanut ( obligingly potties some more, on my hand, as I clean her up while V looks unusually happy): ....

My sister and me:

Sister (petulantly): WHY you going to Bombay? With MY baby?
Me (feeling sorry): Yeah. You'll really miss her. What'll you do when you come home in the evening?
Sister (snaps maliciously) : I'll cry. And curse you. Every day.
Me: Well, at least you've got a plan.

The K and me:

Me (trying to dress a wailing Peanut to go out, getting very late): Uska woh dena...
K (hovering around in readiness, not knowing which way to lurch): Kya?
Me (searching for the hindi word for 'Glove') : Woh...woh...
K ( desperately trying to help, picks up a diaper): Yeh!?
Me: (getting frustrated) Nahin...kyo bolte hai usse, yaar...uska...haath ka...
K ( triumphantly grabs the nearest rattle) : Yeh!
Me: Nahin, yaar...haath pe pehnaate hai na...
K ( finally handing me Peanut's gloves): Achha!Yeh!
Me (relieved) Thank you.
K (beaming) Belkum... (adds helpfully as I put the gloves on Peanut's hands) Isse haath ka moja kehte hai.

Vijay and me:

Me (upset that Vijay is busy working on his laptop on the weekend): I'll run away from you.
Vijay (perks up immediately, looking up with interest) Kabhhh?
Me ( still trying ) I'm serious. You'll be all alone, I'll run away.
Vijay: (pumping fist encouragingly) On your marks...Get set...

Peanut's Paediatrician and me:

Doc (wrapping up visit): Ok, Vasundhara, all the best in Bombay.
Me (for the nth time) :'s Yashodhara, doc.
Doc (surprised): Is it? Well, the same thing, Vasundhara, Yashodhara. They are the same person we worship.
Me (as docile as a cow in front of the man with the needle, while thinking 'what a load of crap'): Yes, Doc.
Doc: Now, let me give you the receipt for the vaccination. What's his name?
Me: Anoushka.
Doc (finally, after treating my baby for over 3 months, exclaims in surprise)'s a girl!