Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I often wonder how it is possible that everything about the last six months with Peanut feels so intense for me, so unforgettable - and that she will retain absolutely no memory of all this when she grows up!

It's almost as hard for me to understand how my own mother seems to have zero recollection of my early months - or indeed, those of my elder brother or younger sister. How can you be so matter of fact about bringing up such beautiful children, especially me? Ok, whatever!

Anyway, this thought is what prodded me to write about my earliest memory. It's very clearly imprinted on my mind still. No question about it.

I'm around 3 and a half years old. My mom seems to have disappeared for a couple of days. I am standing in the hall of my house in Delhi. My grandfather has a really wide smile on his face, and he is telling me that my mother is coming home with my little baby sister. Clearly they have already decided on her nickname at this point because what he is saying to me is 'Mama aa rahin hai - Chanda ke saath'. I am quite interested in this piece of news. I also remember thinking something along the lines of 'What the heck is a Chanda?'

(My next memory is one of feeling intense hatred towards my sister as I stood next to the bed where she was being breastfed by my mother, but I will quickly pass over this - to my credit, I thought she was hurting Mom)

So that was my earliest memory. My most intense childhood memory however, is the time when I nearly died. I exaggerate not.

I am around ten years old. We are visiting family friends who have a farm in a lovely place called Kashipur. Their house is practically in the middle of a jungle. There is a chicken coop outside, always a source of great diversion for me. This particular morning is a sunny, crisp one and I step outside of the house, freshly bathed, to go have a look at what the chickens are upto.

As the door closes behind me, it clicks shut - one of those self-locking doors, new to me at that age. Just at this point, I note that I am not the only one interested in the chickens. Approximately 100 feet away from me, right in front of the coop, meditatively observing the nervous birds within, is a large panther.

At the sound of the door shutting, however, it shifts its attention towards me with a turn of its head. Even at that distance, I feel as if our eyes have locked together for an instant. I still have no words to describe that feeling. It was as if someone had pressed the pause button on my life.

Then my heart starts pounding and it flashes through my mind, some talk amongst the adults the previous day, about a man-eating panther causing havoc in the nearby village.

Everyone knows that when you are confronted with a dangerous wild animal, you make no sound and stay absolutely still. But a ten year old doesn't know or doesn't care. I turned around and began to bang on the door, completely terrified. I kept screaming 'Aarti Didi', the name of the youngest of the three kids in that family. Finally, after what felt like ages, someone, I think a servant, opened the door and I nearly fell in, weeping with relief. Before the door shut, I cast my one and only backward glance towards the chicken coop.

There was nothing there. The panther had melted away in complete silence.

I had no witnesses. I am not sure if I told too many people about it because all I remember is being dazed for a long time afterwards. I do know that I did tell my mother at some point - and she didn't really believe me. Later, she tried to tell me that I had probably dreamt it or imagined it. I have a feeling she still doesn't believe it happened. I have never quite forgiven her for that. But it's okay.

Now, what I am really, truly interested in is YOUR first memory. What is the very first thing you remember and how old were you then?

Also, have you ever had an experience where your life was truly in danger? Tell me about it. Did your mother also refuse to believe you?

I will believe you. Just try me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How things change in just a few months

@1 month: Peanut....wake up....wake up and playyy with us...
@6 months: Peanut....go to sleep....sleep, please....let us sleep too....

@2 months: Vijay, quit hogging the baby...
@6 months: Vijay, quit hogging the TV - here, take the baby for a while.

@3 months: Peanut....why don't you DO something...move...roll over....come on...
@6 months: Peanut! No! Don't roll off the bed...stop rolling over when I'm changing your diaper...no, don't pee on my bed...fine!

@4 months: Peanut...come on, learn how to hold objects in your little fist...that's it!
@6 months: Peanut, LET GO OF MY HAIR...Owww....no, don't throw that remote...THIS is toy...THAT is mama's phone...

@5 months: Peanut, it's time for you to start eating something...try a smattering of banana...carrot...apple...yummm

Well, I guess not everything changes.

Too Many Posts...

...are running through my head right now. I am groggy and rambling right now. Amongst other things, I want to write about the following:

Peanut is now six months old...wow...

Dipali tagged me to write about a material object that holds many memories...

Sango tagged me to write a letter to myself of a year ago...

My leave now draws to a dangerous close and my child is still not eating anything to speak of - or taking the bottle yet...

I randomly want to write a post about early memories and my one single near death experience...

I have yet to write that post on the 'advantages of having working parents' which I wrote as a kid for some school debate...

Then there is a post on cooking, what I have actually learned to cook over the years, thanks to Vijay...

And another random one on jingles from fifteen to twenty years ago that are STILL in my head...

Oh, dear...what to do...what to write...

Right now, this is all I can manage. What a let down, eh.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Babies and Their Toys

Peanut! Looka, looka! Your jungle gym! Brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood Papa-man!

It's got a giraffe...an elephant...a parrot...a monkey...a tiger...a zebra...a mirror...a rattle...lights...music...

You likey?

(Wails in frustration until forcibly extricated and carried away)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dialogue of the Week

Vijay, locking eyes with Peanut, coldly informs her in his best Amitabh Bachhan voice:

''Rishtey mein to hum tumhare baap lagte hain''

Peanut gurgles delightedly and resumes playing with her rattle. The effect is spoilt.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Give up

Vani and Pranay come over for a pleasant Saturday evening.

As it tends to happen, there are two parallel conversations going on -the women talking about one thing, the men about another. In between, the men pause briefly to listen to our conversation.

Y: ''And have you seen this movie, French Kiss? It's quite sweet''
Vani: ''I have seen it and thought it was rather silly'
Y: ''It is silly, of course, but also rather funny - Meg Ryan is cute in it...and I even like Kevin Kline'.

At this, Pranay turns to Vijay and asks 'Kevin Kline? Yeh kaun hai?'
Vijay explains confidently 'Wo chaddi hoti hai na...'

I am aghast to hear this 'No, that's Calvin Klein. And is that all you have to say about a brand like that? Chaddi?'
Pranay rushes to Vijay's defense 'Nahin, yaar, achhi chaddi hoti hai...'

I officially give up.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hypothetical Situation

Wife, bored while out for a walk on a Friday morning, calls up Husband.

Husband: (all professional, clearly with someone else at work) Hello?
Wife: Hiya Hunneeee...
Husband: (melting only slightly) Hi!
Wife: Where are ya?
Husband: (as if she didn't know) In Bangalore today.
Wife: Whatcha dooin?
Husband: (back to business-like tone) Just about to get into a meeting, actually.
Wife: Oh! That's so nice! Do you love me?
Husband: (stiffly) Yes.
Wife: Say it! Say it! Say it!
Husband: (lowering voice) Kya hai...
Wife: (chanting) Say! Say! Say!
Husband: Hmm. I do.
Wife (not satisfied yet): Tell me I'm your shnoookybums!
Husband (aghast): What?
Wife: Shnookybums! Say it! Say it! Say it!
Husband (trying to cover up): Okay, I'm going to have to call you back on this one. Getting into that meeting now.
Wife: Nooo....first say it! say it! say it!
Husband (totally embarassed now): Okay, thanks. Bye...

If the wife finally hangs up and continues on her walk -with a smile so smug and gleeful that all passers-by do a double-take - maybe it is time for her to go back to her job, hmmm?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ups and Downs, Lifts and Crowns

The work on my crowns is finally over. Yay!

My dentist's office is on the eighth floor of his building. Needless to say, the lift is a crucial part of the journey there.

The last time I went there with my cousin Mini, we waited a long time for the lift. When it finally arrived, we piled in hurriedly with Peanut. Then a really huge man, around seven feet tall, all burly and gruff-looking entered. He frowned down at me, and I cowered against the back of the lift, quite terrified. Then he saw Peanut, who gave him a delighted smile. His face suddenly melted into that of a tenderhearted, large teddy bear. A cute baby can break just about anyone.

We were discussing him later at home,

Y: Did you see that big guy in the lift?
Mini: Ya, he was really tall. But he was quite nice, I thought.
Y: Oh yes, he held the door open for us.
Mini: Yes and he pressed the button for our floor also.
Y: Quite a sweet guy.
Mini: Ya, and he was also there when we were going down later, I don't think you noticed.
Y: That's quite a coincidence.

Vijay, who had been listening with a great deal of interest to this exchange, piped in 'Are you sure he wasn't the liftman?'


Anyway, that was then - and now, three days ago, I had to go again to the dentist - this was to be my final visit for the final crowns. Vijay accompanied me this time, and as usual, we had to wait for what felt like an eternity for the lift. The wait was made even more painful by the fact that I was slightly late for my appointment, which I hate. Anyway, we piled into the lift with a bunch of other people.

By the time we got to the sixth floor, the left was empty except for us and this scrawny little guy in glasses, who seemed quite lost in his own thoughts. The door opened on the sixth floor, but no one got in or out.

Vijay, wanting to make sure the button for our floor had been pressed, mumbled at this little fella, who was standing near the front 'Can you press eighth floor, please?'

Scrawny little guy, snapping out of his reverie, looking confusedly at Vijay 'Huh?'

Vijay, said louder 'Eighth floor', adding, for good measure 'EIGHTH FLOOR!'

Scrawny little guy, still confused, saw the lift door was open and said 'Oh, is it? Thank you', and stepped out quickly.

Vijay, mortified, said 'No, no, this is the SIXTH....' as the door closed on the helpless, confused face of the poor scrawny little guy.

It was good fun asking Vijay, over and over again, 'Why did you do that to the poor chap, honey?' to hear mumbled variations of 'I didn't mean it...you know that...'.


Seriously though, why do dentists insist on talking to you when your mouth is full of all sorts of drills, syringes and suchlike equipment?

And talking to you is bad enough, but actually ask you questions to which they seemingly expect a response?

And a reponse such as 'yes' or 'no' can still be managed with appropriate grunting sounds, but open ended questions?

Such as 'So what kind of a father is Vijay?'

How am I supposed to answer that question while in such pain, discomfort and the fear of losing all my teeth and maybe tongue, too?

Also, my dentist nearly gave me a heart attack by saying 'My laboratory has made a mistake'.

I waited, stricken.

He continued 'By mistake, they have made your crown a much higher quality than required for a back tooth. Metal finish'.

I waited.

He went on 'But since it is our mistake, I will not be charging you for it at that rate. So you are getting a great crown for half the cost. Lucky you. Ha ha.' (The last 'Ha, ha' being a total fake, barely masking his own pain at the loss of revenue)

I remained impassive, willing him to get on with the drilling.

He finished with 'So I guess that makes all your trauma of the temporary crown falling and having to come here six times worth it, eh?'

At this point, I truly wished for a chance to strap him into his own torture seat, stuff his mouth full of sharp implements and shout in his ear 'Do you think I really care about some ruddy metal finish that I never wanted in the first place on a crown for an inconsequential back tooth? Do you? Do you? Answer me! No, don't grunt! Say 'yes' or 'no'...Bruhuaahahaa....'

Of course, it was not to be. So I just grunted politely and non-committally.

He was obviously hurt by my lack of enthusiasm and therefore proceeded to start final work on my tooth before the anaesthetic kicked in.

I am so, so, so glad that's over.

For the time being. (Shudder).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

This is the stuff Marriage is made of

It's a lazy, beautiful Sunday afternoon. The weekend is almost over for my hardworking husband. This really his day to relax. On this day, he usually resists the idea of a bath strongly.

However, given that I have bathed fairly early on in the day, and even our baby has been massaged and bathed, he clearly feels a little grimy in comparison. He somehow musters up the will power to get out of bed and goes to take a nice, hot shower.

He comes out sparkling clean. He looks like he's washed his hair today, and in fact, I think he may have used my shampoo for this. I watch out of the corner of my eye as he checks himself out in the mirror. Wearing a fresh T-shirt and track pants, he looks like he's even contemplating combing his hair. Indeed, he now looks around and spotting my hairbrush, picks it up and starts to run it in deft strokes through his hair.

I bury my nose in my book again quickly, so that he doesn't figure out how closely I've been watching him. I wait until he finishes with the final stroke of the hairbrush and turns away from the mirror towards me, with the faintest trace of satisfaction on his face.

That's when I look up from my book, glance at him with all the nonchalance I can muster, and suggest in a sweet voice,

'Honey, why don't you have a bath now?'

Oh, that single moment of wide-eyed, red-faced, blustering indignation.

When you've been married almost five years, it's these little moments of pleasure that give you maximum joy.

Another Peanut Update

Peanut is about 5 months and a week old now.

Over the last few days, she hasn't really been too well and I haven't felt much like posting. Mumbai weather suddenly turned pretty cold, and we had a pretty hectic holiday out of town, so that could also be why she developed a nasty cough and cold. But she's a better today - it was good to see her smiling and talking again, because she had turned rather cranky over the last four days.

Nowadays, she just doesn't lie still on her back - the minute she is put down, she immediately turns over onto her stomach, faster than you can say 'Wait, your diaper is open' - over the last few days, when she was ill, she would start whining immediately once she found herself on her tummy, but today she is playing fairly happily in this position, so that's good too.

I think one of the reasons she refuses to lie on her back is that she thinks I'm going to force some of that vile expectorant down her throat again. Seriously, couldn't they make it taste better? I tried propping her up a bit on a pillow before giving it to her. The pillow has now got bright pink spots all over it, and Peanut escaped by simply spitting every last bit of the offensive liquid out. That's right. Bright pink. That helps a lot.

The other thing about her now is that she absolutely loves to stand and 'walk'. I try to explain to her that she must learn to crawl before she learns to walk, but there is absolutely no reasoning with a baby. I am used to this. I've had bosses like that, too.

Eeks! Speaking of which, the moment of the return to work of the mother approaches, it is only a matter of a few weeks now. I don't think I want to go down this line of thought right now, so I will deftly move on to another topic.

Ah, yes. The 'nazar' bit. So, Zareena is convinced that the baby 'ko nazar lag gayi', and that's why she is ill. I really don't know what to say about this. How can people really believe in this stuff? Our driver, Vinod has informed me that his mother, who has been calling regularly from their village in UP for updates on the baby's status, also feels the same way. I am touched by his mom's concern but sigh at the reasoning. Sometimes I think it may just be better to put a kala teeka on Peanut's face, just for the sole purpose of shutting everybody up. And while I'm at it, I think I'll be putting a kala teeka on my handsome husband's face before he goes to office everyday, too.

So what else about Peanut was I going to write? Ah yes, she still absolutely loathes being fed so I'm easing up on that for the time being. I imagine she will stop breastfeeding at some point of time or the other, so why push it? But this refusal of all things solid, as well as the bottle, makes it a little tougher to imagine leaving her to return to work. Dammit! I'm back on that again? Come on, come on...think of something else...

Oh yes, she has started saying 'Ba-ba'. It's really quite cute because she crinkles up her nose while saying it and her lips keep moving as if she is chomping on something, long after the sound has come out of her mouth. It's rather like watching a tiny, chubby, badly dubbed Chinese martial arts movie. We are breathlessly awaiting to see whether this 'Ba-ba' evolves to 'Ma-ma' or 'Pa-pa'. I have to say that Vijay has an edge here, though - while I am constantly talking to her about everything in an attempt to widen her vocabulary, whenever Vijay gets a chance to talk to her, all he keeps saying over and over is 'Pa-paa'. Hah. We'll see.

In the meantime, since he's been out of town for the last two days, it's been good to have the K, Zareena and Vinod around. Vinod has helped by fetching medicines, but more so by engaging with Peanut and trying to cheer her up. Once he discovered that the only thing she seems to like right now is 'walking', he's been walking her up and down the drawing room, over and over again.

Here's a picture - *yes* we live in Mumbai and not the North Pole. Your point is?

Both she and Vinod seem very happy at these times. And it's quite amusing for me, when he uses words and phrases right out of his driving vocabulary, such as :

'Ab das kilometer aur chalna hai, bas'

'Chalo, yahan U-turn maaro'

'Haan, ab hum reverse mein chalenge'

(Achha, listen, please don't put nazar on her. And anyone know how to put kala teeka on a blog?)