Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Peanut Turns Two

Yes, she did, just a couple of days back. I can't quite believe that it's been two years since I had her. It's quite amazing, I think. Wow.

I realize that this isn't the most articulate post ever, but I think I'm still a bit zapped by how time flies.

Oh, also, we had a birthday party for her this Saturday. To my horror, I realized that it was time for kiddy birthday parties, with return gifts, party games, prizes, party hats, those annoying little noisemakers, etc. It all went off rather well, thanks largely to the organizing skills of my mother, sister and sister's friend A.

A, who is rather fond of Peanut (and vice versa), had got her this 2 kg Fairy Princess Birthday cake which was not just pretty but also delicious. When the other kids tried to swipe a bit of it before Peanut had a chance to cut it, A almost killed them. And when, later, they all had bits and pieces from the bottom part of the cake and it caved in on itself, it was A who was most upset - indeed, he went rushing for it frantically and tried to hold it back up with his own two hands, but unfortunately, it was a lost cause.

My sister and A were to bring the decorations, but they got rather late in the process. To make up for lost time, they ended up blowing up most of the balloons in the car on the way. I'm sure that was a fun ride for them. And the driver.

Also, Peanut was attacked just as her party was beginning. I had invited a neighbour, whose two daughters are very fond of her - they are around 7 and 4 years old.The 4 year old decided to express her love and affection by hugging Peanut so hard that she knocked her right off her feet and they both landed up in a heap on the floor - I saw the horror on Peanut's face as she realized that she was suddenly horizontal and had a larger child on top of her- my poor child started crying and was quite inconsolable and in a bad mood for the rest of the party.

The other kids all had fun, though, apparently - they certainly ran about making enough noise for it. The parents also beamed beatifically at each other. The only people who looked out of place were the four non-parent friends of mine who had landed up - but then I'm sure they were fine - because they had each other, as well as the fact that they are not yet parents, to be thankful for.

We had booked a hall in the club at the place we stay and it was all rather convenient. Oh, who am I kidding? Birthday parties are only fun when you're a kid - not the Mom. Even when you have the support of a husband, a mother, a sister and an A.

A highly depressing realization. But I'm still glad we did it because birthdays are meant to be celebrated, dammit. Also, largely I'm glad for the pictures - so that many years later when the memory fades, we can fool ourselves into nostalgically reminiscing about the good old days - I can see it now. Doddering Vijay and Y twenty years later, staring at photos out of aging eyes, and telling each other -

'Remember when Peanut turned two? That was a fun party'.


P.S - incidentally, her actual birthday was later and we celebrated it just at home with the family and it was very, very nice. Plus, as a consequence of this, we had multiple cakes, which is always good.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Peanut & PlaySchool

Summary of Day 1, as per conversation with Peanut.

Y: Peanut, did you go to school today?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Were there babies there?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Did you play with them?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Was there Aunty?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Did she give you a chocolate?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Was she nice?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Did you have fun in school?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Do you like it?
Peanut: Haan
Y: Shall we go back there again?
Peanut: Naii. ( Vehement head shake)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You Always Hurt the Ones You Love

Especially if you're an idiotic bungler like me.

Here go a series of apologies of forgotten birthdays and other special occasions over the last month. Maybe I should make THIS a regular feature. That way, I may still have some friends left. Family members, of course, are stuck with me.

* My brother Abhi - belated Happy Birthday. Heh, heh.
* My brother Abhi and my sis-in-law, Vandu - belated Happy Anniversary. Heh, heh. How many years now? Time flies, doesn't it? How is beautiful little Nikki?
* My friend Manav - Hi there, Manav. Belated Happy Birthday. You know you're my best friend, right?
* My friend Amit K - Hey there. 'Sup? Belated Happy Birthday. You know you're my best friend, right?
* My sister, G - Belated Happy Birthday. You're an amazing person. Sorry I didn't call. But I love you. Really.

I have this whole set of excuses for all of the above, but none of them are worth it.

Apologies all around.

It's truly a wonder any of you still love me :-(

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Holiday Highlights Thus Far

So this is what is up - it's been over a week since we came here to Ann Arbor, Michigan and here's a brief synopsis. 

* Can't believe it's already time to leave tomorrow - we head out by a 3 p.m. flight to New York, and will be returning to Delhi next week. This has to be the longest holiday that Vijay and I have taken together since we got married - in fact, for each of us, the longest break from work ever. Wow. Should do it more often. 

* Most of our time here has been spent pottering about the little town - it's very, very pretty and green, and generally very friendly - been to the malls; downtown; couple of restaurants; the University of Michigan; and so on - yesterday we went to the Arboretum, a large and beautiful park with many walking trails and its own river to boot. The baby was asleep and Vijay and I spent the afternoon just lying around in the sun and then getting lost somewhere while the brother-in-law tried valiantly to bring the car around to the desolate exit we finally found ourselves at. 

* We had a mini-break with Vijay's brother's family - took a van to a lovely place called Mackinac island - and - I kid you not, Paradise. It really was, like its name suggests, something close to Paradise. The place we stayed at in Paradise was right on the bank of Lake Superior, which I am convinced is really an Ocean in Disguise - in the morning, we played on the shore - and the freezing cold water did not deter us, least of all, little Peanut, who refused to get out until we dragged her out kicking and screaming. Mackinac island itself was great, because it's an island that has no cars at all - took a horse drawn carriage tour of the place, and it's quaint, beautiful and hopelessly and utterly charming, even despite being an out-and-out tourist destination. 

* I have discovered the best part about this country - it has to be the Peanut Butter. I am obsessed with trying everything that has Peanut Butter flavour , including Ice Cream and Fudge. While I am trying to keep up with my exercise, I'm afraid it's a losing battle against the temptations of the Peanut Butter concoctions, which, for your information, is very, very tasty. 

*Surprisingly, the other pleasure on this holiday has been just generally pottering about the kitchen - something I haven't done in ...well, ever. I have discovered that I can actually put together fairly decent meals. Okay, let's not push it. But I do make a mean aloo-parantha, and one time I made this really tasty alu-matar-pyaaz thing in a unique, dry style - and gave it my own twist by adding ketchup on it, as well as cheese. Okay fine, so this is a recipe that my friend Vani showed me last year, but the cheese sprinkles on top were MY idea. I personally thought it was quite brilliant. Apart from this, I am also queen of Scrambled Eggs, but there, alas is where my culinary skills end. 

*The house that the family stays in is beautiful, complete with sunny back porch and garden and everything. It's all automated and they even have a breadmaker that they use to goondo the atta in, if you know what I mean. There are switches for everything all around, but I don't use most of them because I get confused and frankly, I am wary of booby traps. That's me, the little Ghati, Rustic, Indian Bumpkin. 

*Peanut has been having a nice time with her Didi and the 'Baby'. She's also been a barrel of laughs herself, doing things like discovering and trying to run away from her own shadow, which I must rather cruelly add, was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The other funny thing happened yesterday, when we were buying Ice Cream ( and yes, I selected Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie). My niece Ananya and her Dad, Ajay ( Vijay's brother) were at the counter and Peanut and I were behind them. Ananya couldn't decide and kept pointing to different flavours on display, saying 'Papa, I'll have the Mint Choco Chip' and then 'No, Papa, I want the Birthday Cake Remix' and so on'. Finally, Peanut could stand it no longer and unexpectedly shouted at Ajay in her piercing baby tone ' PAPA!' and pointed to a picture of a Butterscotch Ice Cream Cone. 

* Lastly, I wanted to tell you that the concept of a single scoop of ice cream the way we know it in India does not exist here. I asked for a single scoop each time, and got something resembling the leaning tower of Pisa. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had actually gone for the Triple, as Ajay kept trying to push me for. 

In short, it's been rather nice, and we still have a week to go. And yes, the Americans have actually been very, very nice and friendly, and the best part is that so many people have a sense of humour even while interacting with strangers - so I guess it was only the officials at the airport who were a bit nasty. 

But then again, let's see, because we've been in good ol' little Ann Arbor and around it, all this while - and after all, it's New York from tomorrow. 


Friday, July 3, 2009

Partying with the Sister-in-Law

...didn't quite turn out according to plan, of course. 

Our initial thought was that we would ditch the husbands and kids and go out on the town. But then, they wanted to go play golf, so we thought we'd be shrewd about it - we offered to take 7 year old Ananya and 2 year old Peanut out, while they would have to manage 1 year old Adi, who's the toughest of the lot. 

However, it turned out that Adi slept peacefully the entire time while Vijay and brother played golf merrily for 2 hours. 

Our two hours? We thought we'd pick up some books and have a coffee at Barnes & Noble. But the second I entered, my heart sank and Peanut's leapt with joy. There they were - two majestic escalators leading up and down between the ground and first floor. All other plans were abandoned as Peanut screamed to ride them up and down with me. So that's exactly what we did for 1.5 hours, while my sister in law watched with helpless amusement. 

Why did they invent escalators anyway? They're just for lazy people and crazy 2 year olds. 

The good news is that Peanut had a good time. 

But we followed it up with a nice evening at a Thai restaurant. I enjoyed my shrimp salad while Vijay kept alternating between looking around wistfully for the Daal-roti and fooling around by making his brother repeat the name of the dish we were having, 'Phad-ki-what?' and remarking embarassingly loudly to Peanut 'Yeh Maggi bahut bekaar hai na, beta?'. Thankfully no one understood him. 

So much for the party plan. We are determinedly trying to go out again today. Let's see if we manage.

Conversations with Ananya

My seven year old niece over here is a bundle of laughs. 

Here's a few samples: 

20 questions: 

I explained the concept of the game 20 questions to her and she was quite fascinated. We tried our hand at it, and she had a little trouble figuring out the logic in the beginning. Certain questions would follow certain others, such as -

A: Is it a boy?
Y: No! 
A: So is it a girl?
Y: Err...yeah...


A: Is it a boy?
Y: No!
A: Does he have a mustache?


A: Is it a really famous movie star?
Y: Yes!!
A: Is he related to us?


A: Is he above 20 years old?
Y: Yes!
A: But is he above 10 years old?
Y: Err...Yes?!

On the other hand, there were also the usual signs of a 7 year old's impatience, like: 

A: Is it a boy?
Y: Yes!
A: Is he Indian?
Y: Yes!
A: Is he in movies?
Y: Yes!
A: Is he above 30?
Y: Yes!
A: WHO is this person?
Y: ....You have to guess...

And the final straw, when she just can't wait for the answer

A: Is it Madonna?
Y: No! That's thirteen questions. You have seven more tries. 
A: Is it Madonna?
A: Is it Madonna?
A: Madonna?
A: So is it Madonna?

You get the picture, right?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quick Update

So I had a few minutes and thought I'd just jot down some random thoughts: 

* Ann Arbor is such a pretty little place. There's a summer festival going on, went to it and there was a lively band. This kind of tradition, I love. 

*I say summer festival, but frankly, it's nothing like summer over here - it's quite cold, as a matter of fact, but in a great 'Bangalore chilly' kind of way - requires just a light jacket in order to feel comfortable. It's raining today, but not the depressing kind of rain. All in all, a perfect respite from the heat of Delhi summer!

*Some people have turned out quite nice, the opposite of the initial experience with the Americans - particularly the waiters, as a matter of fact. 

*It's incredibly nice being with the family - my brother-in-law, sis-in-law, and their two kids. The younger one, turning 1 in July, makes Peanut look like a complete angel - he's so full of energy, he's always in trouble, crawling here, there and everywhere. I described him to my brother-in-law today as a 'series of heart attacks'. 

* They have an amazingly beautiful house - it's large, yet cosy and comfortable, convenient and clean, and in a very nice, pleasant neighbourhood. 

*Tonight, my sis-in-law and I hope to sneak out and go somewhere leaving the men behind to babysit the kids. Unlike yesterday, when all six of us went out to a pub and there was havoc all over the place, especially because Peanut and little Adi were cranky, sleepy and generally annoyed with life. 

Ok got to go now! Everybody has descended upon me in the computer room...