Yashodhara Lal is an Author, Coach, Marketer. Mom of Three, Fitness Instructor, Music Lover, Yoga Enthusiast and Transactional-Analysis-Psychotherapist-in-Training. Allsomeness is her venture dedicated to helping people connect with their passions, and to design and live their fullest lives.
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.