Monday, December 13, 2010


A few days ago, I was dropping Peanut off to school on my way to work. I absent-mindedly started to put on a little lipstick - something I hadn't done in ages.

I finished and looked over to see Peanut gazing at me curiously.

'Mama, your lips are all brown'.

I checked myself out in the rear view mirror and said 'Yes. They are, aren't they. Do I look nice?'

She nodded enthusiastically, with a very bright, naughty smile, and added 'You look just like a lady'.

I was really surprised to hear this word from her and asked 'Do you even know what a lady is?'

She nodded again knowingly and said 'Yes'.

I challenged her 'Who is a lady?'

'Didu is a lady' was the firm reply ( referring to my mother)

This was undeniable, but I asked 'How do you know?'

She was looking out the window now, losing interest fast. She remarked over her shoulder 'Because she has brown lips'.

Circular reasoning, but I found it so adorable that I tried to cover her face in kisses, and was pushed away saying 'Not with brown lips, mama...your lips are all sticky...'

We started to repeat this exercise with only minor variations every day. She enjoys reminding me to put on my lipstick, and then informing me that my lips are all brown and that I look like a lady but I cannot kiss her because my lips are all sticky. Except that occasionally she mixes up the word 'sticky' with 'stinky', which is very flattering.

So a few days later when we were returning home after a picnic with my sister in law and her daughter, 2-year old Nikita, the conversation in the car went as follows -

Nikita, looking at my shades in Peanut's hands, said 'What's that thingy, Peanut?'

Peanut replied with some heat 'I am NOT Stinky Peanut'.

It was amusing enough until she decided to clarify 'My MAMA be all stinky. Every DAY'.

Thanks, kid. Love you too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pump It Up, Pump It Up, Pump It Up, Y'all

...this post is not for the men.

As a mother of three ( gasp), one of the things I've had to make sure I excel at is Multi-tasking - more so than ever before.

So I've mastered the art of feeding one of the twins while pumping milk simultaneously for the other, AND talking on the phone at the same time. All I've got to do is figure out how to also surf the internet at the same time, and I'm home.

The pumping thing is all the more necessary now that I'm back at work - even though it's only half days, the fact is that the twins are just about 5 months old and still need breastmilk to truly thrive. After a lot of struggling with my pump, a Medela Swing, I finally figured out how to successfully express decent amounts of milk for them.

Pumping on one side while feeding from the other has numerous benefits, the most important being that the feeding activates the let-down for a better flow. It's a huge time-saver - although it really annoys me that I have to give the pump a lot more attention than the babies so it cuts into the whole bonding-while-feeding thing. Oh well, can't have everything, eh?

A few days ago, though, the pump started malfunctioning. For no reason at all, it just kept switching off every few seconds. Considering it is already a hassle to handle a squirming baby who is distracted by the sound of the pump and fascinated by the contraption itself and keeps grabbing at it, this was really driving me up the wall.

I nagged my mechanical-engineering type husband to fix the thing, and he studiously examined it for a few seconds before declaring it was all fine. He asked me to balance it on a flat surface. Considering that I have to balance it on my post-pregnancy curvaceous hips while lying down to feed, I told him that this would not be possible.

I nagged him more and more until he finally called up the Mothercare section at Shopper's Stop, where the pump had been purchased. Of course, we had already lost the bill considering it's been a few months since we bought it, but they told us to come on down. We went to Select City Walk in Saket, and went over to the customer complaints department, and explained the problem.

Of course, for a while, the pump pretended to be working perfectly fine when the people at the complaints counter switched it on. I held my breath and prayed and prayed and finally it switched off. I had to keep from shouting in triumph 'See? I wasn't lying!'

The complaints people, a young man and a woman, called their supervisor and explained the problem to her. The lady studiously examined the pump and then opened it up and said 'This is the problem. There is no battery!'

I rolled my eyes up to the heavens and explained to her that I was using the adapter and that perhaps there was another problem. She acknowledged the truth in this and after putting their heads together for a while, they came up with a solution.

They wrote the number of the Medela customer care ( which is apparently a big secret) on a piece of paper and handed it over to me. I was stunned. I said 'But surely you could have given this to me on the phone, too? Why did I come down all the way to your store just for this?'.

They had no real answer but instead urged me to call the number right then and there, as if it would solve all my problems in life. I called the number reluctantly and an unfriendly female voice said 'Hello?'. She sounded resentful at a customer actually having discovered the helpline number.

I explained the problem in great detail, and she gave me a solution in great detail 'Open the pump Madam - see the black portion? Take it out and put the piping in, one end in a mug or water, of a cup of water if you want, whatever, and then the other end in the regular spot and it will clean it by itself. After ten minutes, take it out and then switch it on for about five minutes and then use it again, Madam. It will surely work. And this will solve the problem of No Suction that you are facing'.

I informed her that the problem I was facing was not of No Suction but of the pump switching off by itself every few seconds. She apparently didn't like my questioning her wisdom and insisted that I try this first and then call her back and only then would she send her technician. I gave up, said I would go home and try out her ridiculous advice and then call her again.

Miraculously, as it so often happens, I reached home and the pump started working perfectly. I thanked my husband profusely, asking him what he had done to make it start working again, and he shrugged his shoulders modestly saying that 'Perhaps our taking it to the store had exposed it to the right environment'. I gratefully started using my pump again and life has been perfect ever since.

Of course, when I was interrupted during the writing of this post to feed Pickle, and tried pumping, I found that the problem with the pump is back but I would like to ignore it for the time being. As I was saying, I'm a multi-tasking Supermom and life is perfect.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Happy Retirement

My mother has turned 60 years old ( gasp!) and is now officially an old lady. We gave her a (yawn) surprise party yesterday. But this time, there was a twist, which my sister came up with. We wanted to do something big for her this time round, and so we three siblings (and the husband Vijay and the sister in law Vandna) are all chipping in to send her off to (ta da!) EGYPT!
Initially, Gitanjali was a bit confused about whether we should get her to do South Africa or Egypt. But we eventually decided on Egypt based on the fact that there were more quips and jokes around Egypt and so a theme party around Egypt would be more fun. We’re decisive like that. Happily, our Gouri Masi agreed to accompany her on this journey and so it all worked out well.
For the party, we also decided to print up a gift voucher for her and have a little treasure hunt with clues placed all around the drawing room, which Mother dear would have to crack in order to get to her prize. The clues were very bad ones such as:

Clue 1 : The Secret Lies in the Chamber of Horrors. (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the bookshelf)
Clue 2: Oh All Powerful One! Don't blow this opportunity and burst your dream bubble (Balloon) Clue 3: Like Re, Isis & Horus in Indian garb (Idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman)
Clue 4: Most ancient artefact, one may not hear (Papa, our 95 yr old grandpa who doesn’t hear very well)
Clue 5: Keep going, we promise, this is one smokin' prize (Ashtray)
Clue 6: You're getting closer. But alas and Arak, there is one more clue after this one. Stop whining and look on...( bottle of Wine)
Clue 7: A match made in heaven; still the best looking in the room (Mom, Dad wedding photo)

So, after the champagne that we struggled to open for about five minutes and which finally meekly popped open with a tiny ‘bup’ – a major anticlimax - Mother dear proceeded to crack the clues, watched by a roomful of people who were trying to ‘help’ her by basically confusing her. My favorite clue was Papa – it was so easy to slip the clue chit into his pocket as I hugged him to say hello. He sat there right next to my mother, beaming at her and the rest of us while she tried to figure out what ‘ancient artefact’ we were talking about. Yes, we’re a bit rude but it’s alright, we love him. The Egyptian mood was enhanced by everybody wearing very Arab-type of chunnis on their heads; the ‘Egyptian music’ that Vijay had downloaded ( one Arabic-sounding track that he looped over and over plus a strange remix of ‘Walk like an Egyptian).

Behind the final clue, the wedding photo, was the gift voucher for a Trip to Egypt that Gitanjali got designed and printed up through a friend of hers. It was quite cool and authentic and all papyrus-type, and had the following silly ‘terms and conditions’:

* The bearer of this voucher is entitled to an all expense paid trip with companion of choice (hint: your eldest sister) to Egypt.
* "All expense" does not include shopping, liquor or guarantee of watching all audio-visual documentation of trip upon return
* This voucher cannot be redeemed for cash or transferred to any being other than one of the bearer's offspring (pick the one that you love the most)
* Bearer must agree to carry shopping lists (minimum 3) as given by issuers of voucher and dutifully bring back their desired goodies
* The Government of Egypt requires that all visitors to their country be below a maximum weight of 65 kgs in order to avoid giving the camels a backache
*Government of Egypt also has said only Indians who can roll their R's are allowed in, so please demonstrate this ability upon receipt of voucher' ( you may have guessed, she can't)
* Relation of ‘amusing’ anecdotes from the trip require prior rehearsal or reading from a previously prepared script ( have to have a couple of decades experience listening to my Mom trying to tell a joke to understand why this is important)
* While some of the ancient artefacts may not be upto high standards of hygiene it is advisable to steer clear of saying 'tut, tut' to King Tut
* Bearer may be asked to walk like an Egyptian upon return to New Delhi
* Terms & conditions are subject to arbitrary changes at any point of time... so be nice!!

Mother read out the terms and conditions to the roomful of people and giggled at all the wrong places. Then my sister brought out a huge, HUGE pyramid-shaped cake from Maxims (they are really awesome) and we proceeded to do the Happy Birthday thingy. It was good fun.

Dinner was some Lebanese food and some yummy Biryani (look, we had to make DO with whatever was available –YOU tell me where to get Egyptian food in Delhi). I was so tired that I almost dropped to the floor and eventually at about 11 p.m., me, Vijay, the K, Rinki and our three children headed home.

It had been fun. Especially the part when , just before leaving, I had asked my Mom when she was planning to take the trip and she looked at me and said ‘What? I thought you were joking.’

Saturday, November 27, 2010

When Love and Hate Collide...

...or when Peanut and Adi collide. Same thing.

3 year old Peanut and her cousin, 2 year old Adi have spent the last few days in close quarters, for the first time in their lives.

It's been quite an experience 'Bringing Up Adi' ( Heh heh, Parul) for the last week while the rest of the family has been in Jaipur. Apart from the joy of having 4 small children in the house, all of whom have been merrily reinfecting each other with their colds and runny noses, it's been a challenge keeping the peace between Peanut and Adi. I handled it very well, though.

I just quietly shut the door to my bedroom and let them fight it out.

Soon, though, both of them discovered how to work the handle and would barge in, complaining about each other not sharing a toy. Peanut was the bigger complainer, although she was also occasionally elbowing him aside and taking things away from him. Yesterday, she walked in and informed me 'Adi tried to snatch this hat from me'. I looked at the hat in her hands and did a double take.

I told her 'But I gave this hat to Adi - why did YOU snatch it from him?'

She said angelically 'I didn't snatch it. I only it took it from him'.

It's been really amazing to see them fighting like two furious tiger cubs one minute, and then walking around hand in hand like the best of friends one minute later, kissing each other and hugging affectionately. Peanut has really enjoyed his company overall, even though she has got the worst of most physical fights. It seems to have made her less of a crybaby overall, and it's clear she enjoys having someone close to her age around.

Some of their fights have been most amusing to watch. Adi tends to walk up to Peanut and inform her 'Aap thanda-thanda ho'.
Peanut responds with some heat 'Nahin. Main thanda-thanda nahin hoon'.
Adi takes offense to this rejoinder and shouts 'Haan! Aap thanda-thanda ho'.
This continues for a while and eventually comes to blows. I tried to interject a couple of times saying that everybody was the exactly correct temperature that they needed to be, but neither of them listened to me.

When on better terms, they've been going to the park together - occasionally with the K, other times with me - and since they look rather alike and are both very cute small kids, they get attention from others. Someone even asked the K 'Are they twin brothers!'. Ha ha.

I took them to the mall the other day, and a lady asked me 'Are they both yours?' with some surprise. Rather than explain things to her, I just said yes. Why not? I bought the two of them some bubbles, and they couldn't wait to get home and play with them. It brought me back to the days when nothing made me happier than just blowing bubbles and running around trying to burst them. Ah, childhood ( she sighed nostaligically).

When I come home from work, Adi is the first person at the door. I hear him go 'Taun Aaya' ( he has the cutest little lisp). And then as the door opens and he sees me, he goes delightedly, 'It's Chacheee!'

The three of us have been baking chocolate cakes together every few days. I can bake a cake in under half an hour but when they ''help'' me, it takes longer. They insist on doing everything and end up spilling a lot, but it's been fun. Also, even though the cakes turn out nicely, they seem to now prefer the process of baking it over eating it. Today both of them came to me and said they wanted to bake a cake. Adi said 'Talo, Chachee, Cake Banaye'. I pointed out that they still hadn't finished even half of the last cake but they didn't appreciate the logic.

At the park, the two of them play mostly on the slides. Peanut climbs up to the top and says 'Mama!' Adi follows along and also shouts at me 'Mama, Mama!' I wave at the two of them and they slide down one by one - Peanut whizzing down fast and ladylike, Adi just flopping down almost horizontally, landing flat on his back in the mud each time. They enjoy playing in the mud too, digging with sticks and dirtying each other completely.

They are strangely affectionate with each other at times. Today Adi sat down on Peanut's lap. They've been patting each other to sleep at bedtime - eventually abandoning the exercise to go and play together at almost midnight, much to my chagrin. All in all, it's been really great having tiny little Adi around and we're going to miss him a lot when he leaves next week.

Also, I was getting rather smug when he started calling me 'Mama'.

Except that Peanut now calls me Chachi.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let me tell you about my weekend

The kids - all three of them - were due for a doctor's visit. The twins for their vaccination, and Peanut for a general check up. Vijay is in Jaipur with the rest of the family, so I said I would take them on Saturday by myself.
I discovered on Friday that it was actually a working Saturday for me. I have started working half days, so decided to keep my doctor's appointment as planned in the morning and work in the second half.
For one mad moment, I evaluated taking little 2 year old Adi, my nephew with me because he had been coughing and sniffling of late, but his father - my brother-in-law Ajay - said it would not be necessary. So for the moment, he was left at home while the rest of us set out.
We had a new driver taking us who did not know the way, so of course we got lost on the way. Peanut, who was sitting in the back of the Innova with my help Rinki, decided that she wanted to sit on my lap. Considering that I was sitting in the front seat because I needed to withdraw a lot of cash for the injections and was looking out for an ATM, this was not possible. Therefore, she started to cry, claiming that the seat belt was hurting her and causing a stomach ache.
She cried so much that Papad woke up and started crying too. The twins were sitting in the middle in their car seat and the car was filled with the melodious sound of Peanut and Papad trying to out-wail each other. Thankfully, Pickle slept through it all. I like Pickle. Rinki decided that the driver was going to fast and sitting in the back of the Innova did not suit her delicate stomach, and in the nick of time, we stopped the car to let her throw up violently out the window.

We finally reached and the awful journey was over. That's when I discovered that Rinki had packed everything very nicely, filling 90 ml of boiled water into four bottles for the twins' formula. Only, she had omitted to pack the formula itself.

The babies were hungry and I decided to feed Pickle first. However, Pickle decided that he wanted to embarass me by causing me to flash the whole world, or at least all the people in the waiting room because he kept detaching while feeding to survey the room with great interest. I struggled with him and decided this was not happening and that I perhaps did like him all that much, after all.

I called our driver Radhey Shyam and asked him to get some formula. Some WHAT, he asked. I said get 'Nan 1'. He listened politely but I could tell he didn't get it. I wrote it on a piece of paper and went up to give it to him. I waited and waited for him, while he returned from around the corner where he had been doing whatever he had been doing. He took the paper and 500 bucks from me and went off. He returned within a minute saying 'Where will I find this?'. I told him to get to a chemist and fast. He checked with a couple of other drivers around and they directed him to the nearest chemist.

I went downstairs to the doctor's office, which happens to be in the basement of his house - and it was already my turn. Peanut was first ,walking in to inform him 'I need my checkup'. She had her check up and all was well. It was the twins' turn now and Radhey Shyam had still not come back. I saw on my phone that I had a missed call from him. The signal in the basement was poor so I had to rush up the stairs to speak to him. I called him and he informed me 'Madam, this chemist is getting married, and is back only on the 29th of November'. Tightlipped, I informed him that the nuptials of the neighborhood chemist did not interest me and he should go and find another chemist immediately. I also told him that he should not call me again but should just return with the formula and come downstairs to give it to me as the signal was poor in the basement.

After a few minutes of delaying the doctor with inane questions before he got to the shots, I was unable to put it off any longer. Poor little Pickle got his shots - two of them - and there was no formula to comfort the hurt and crying baby. While holding him to my shoulder to quieten him down, I saw another missed call from Radhey Shyam. Gritting my teeth, I rushed up the stairs again, holding Pickle, while Rinki held Papad for the doctor, and called the driver.

Radhey Shyam had the most intelligent question in the world for me. 'Madam - should I get 2 boxes or only one? You see, I thought I should ask because they are twins and I thought that perhaps 2 boxes would be more appropriate...' Resisting the urge to track him down and shoot him, I told him that either one or two would be fine but could he please get back with some formula right away?

Thankfully within a few minutes he was back, although poor Papad also had had his shots by then. Rinki efficiently prepared two bottles and we fed the children. Peanut was very sweet, giving Pickle the bottle while I paid the receptionist for the visit. It was not on purpose that she ended up putting the bottle into his nose, and I rescued him just in time. The kids were all ready to go home and we packed and bunged ourselves into the car, heading back home.

I volunteered my front seat to Rinki, and sat in the back with Peanut - but of course Peanut chose to cry again, this time claiming the seat belt was hurting her neck. Rinki threw up again for good measure, just as we were about a 100 metres from home.

We lurched through the front door thankfully, only to be greeted by a furious tiny Adi, who informed us in no uncertain terms 'I HATE you'. He was apparently most upset at having been left behind by the lot of us, and took a while to forgive us, telling us each 'I HATE you' in turn as we tried to mollify him.

After this, I actually mustered up the courage to go to work for a couple of hours and finished catching up on some of the things that had happened while I was away in the last four and a half months. I was completely exhausted by the time I got back home, and basically between breastfeeding the twins, giving them their Calpol for the pain of the shots, discovering Papad had developed Fever, pumping up a supply of milk for Monday and trying to keep Adi and Peanut from damaging each other, I ended up collapsing into bed about 11 p.m.

Throughout the night, Pickle and Papad were cranky -they had slept a lot through the day and were awake most of the night. The K, my saviour in such moments, helped by taking one of them off me when she heard me struggling with both the wailing babies at odd hours through the night. I was bleary eyed and still exhausted when dawn broke and the various members of the household roused themselves.

The first thing I heard clearly was the pint-sized Adi who was telling either Rinki or the K in his categorical way 'I HATE you'.

Life is fun.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back at the Office

All too soon, my maternity leave appears to have ended. I was planning to go back to work in January, but for various reasons have decided to start half days right away.

So I found myself in the office today and felt a bit strange being away from the babies. I was doing my best to concentrate on work and catching up with my team and boss, but was getting interrupted by various phone calls.

My sister-in-law Garima who had just reached the U.S and had to check on her two-year-old son Adi who is staying with us.

My maids for various reasons including instructions on how much formula to feed the babies in my absence, and when to do so.

But the prize for most interruptions goes brother Abhi, who was calling to enquire about whether his sunglasses had accidentally been left behind in my car yesterday. He had had a tough day-he had planned to take his daughter Nikita to the zoo and I, being the prize pile-on that I am and needing to get one of my three kids out of my hair for the day, had sent Peanut and the K along with them as well. It was very crowded. It then started raining. And then the two small girls decided that they did not want to walk more than a few feet and were in 'godi' throughout. Understandably the trip was cut short. But the most devastating event of the day for my bro was the loss of his shiny expensive new sunglasses.

'You see,' he started to explain on the phone before I could tell him I was in the middle of a meeting at office 'what had happened was that when we reached the zoo, the K , despite my instructions got all of Peanut's food in her bag and the security guy had stopped us...and so I had to go back to the car to put the bag back...and then I went back to the gate but then we found that Nikita's changing bag also had two apples and a banana in it...and then I had to go back to the car again to put the fruit back...'

My team members sat around twiddling their thumbs, waiting patiently for me to get off the phone. I found myself wondering why my brother had to tell me the whole story, including the exact inventory of the fruit in the saga, but I couldn't get a word in edgewise to tell him I needed to call him back.

'...and so' he blathered on 'I'm pretty sure that one of those two trips, I also gave my sunglasses to the driver and asked him to keep them was beginning to rain at the time so I knew I would not need them...but then later, we got home and took the kids out of the car and in the night I remembered that I had not taken I called the K and asked her to look in her bags just in case they were there, but she said they were not...and then I called the driver and he insisted he had kept them in the bag with the, I'm confused because I don't know which bag was the one with the fruit, and whether there was a third bag that we don't know about and whether the fruit that he was talking about was actually the two apples and the banana that we found in Nikita's changing bag, or whether there was some other fruit bag that the K was carrying for Peanut... because I'm pretty sure that the two apples and the banana were just kept loose on the seat...'

I finally interrupted him after a couple of paragraphs to tell him that while this was indeed a crisis of the highest degree, I would have to call him back since I was in a meeting. He huffily said 'Well, you only asked what was up, you should have said you were busy. Anyway, call me when you are with the driver'. And he hung up on me.

Happily, the glasses were eventually located and will be returned tomorrow to their rightful, if somewhat hyper owner - who also insisted on doing a long telephonic post-mortem with me of exactly how they had been lost and found.

And my phone will be on silent for the first half of each day from tomorrow, so call me in the evenings, hey?

Monday, November 15, 2010

She Has Gone

Thanks for all your prayers.

Edited to add: Mummyji left us day before yesterday. The cremation was yesterday, and the Chautha is tomorrow.

All we can console ourselves with is that she is at peace - that her suffering is over.

We're talking about her all the time. Peanut keeps saying 'I want Mummyji back'. How do you explain this to a 3-year old? She listens to every explanation we have to offer and then firmly repeats 'But I want her back'.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Please Pray

Vijay's mother has been in the ICU for more than ten days now. Please spare a moment to send good vibes and prayers for her.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Karvachauth Kissy-Kissy

I was out on my walk last night - usually at about 8 p.m, I have the little park in our complex all to myself. I was meandering along dreamily, when I chanced upon a couple all entangled in an embrace barely fit for public consumption. They were presumably a newly married husband and wife who also thought they had the park all to themselves.
All three of us were slightly embarassed by this but I passed them nonchalantly pretending not to notice anything. The man then said loudly 'Er, so where is that Damn Moon anyway?'.
They stood there scrutinizing the sky for the Damn Moon and my lips twitched just a little bit when I was a safe distance away.
Ah, Tradition. Nothing like it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

K and the Microbe

The K loves the Microwave oven, which she refers to fondly as the Microbe. The Peanut, too, thanks to her now calls it that.

A couple of days ago, I was trying to sleep. It had been a bad night, with my having to wake up almost every hour on the hour to feed Pickle and Papad. At about 6.30 a.m., I realized I couldn't sleep because there was too much noise coming from outside the room.

I also realized that there was this consistent beep-beep that sounded like the Microwave oven being put on to heat something for 30 seconds - this beep-beep was repeated over and over, and I wondered who on earth was heating something at this hour. I finally decided to get up to investigate.

In the kitchen, I found the K standing near the microwave oven with several cups of milk lying nearby.

'What' I asked her ' Are you doing with the microwave so early?'

She mumbled that she was making tea for Vijay's parents, who were early risers. Fair enough.
'But why are you heating milk in the microwave'.
She said that she did not like to put cold milk in the tea, so she warmed it in the microwave first and then put it in the tea.
Okaayyyyy, I thought. I then asked her 'But what are these extra cups for?'
She said that one of the mugs was for Vijay's tea, which she was just going to make next.
I asked her why she was making Vijay's tea now when he would not rise for the next two hours.
She had no answer for this.
I then asked her if she did want to make Vijay's tea in advance for any reason, why had she just not made three cups of tea, and made his along with his parents.
She had no answer for this either and just looked surly. She then informed me that one of the other cups of milk was for me.
I said, even I had my cup of milk with some protein powder two hours later, and more importantly, I liked it cold. So why was she heating it?
She said that she believed that if she heated it once, and then kept it in the fridge for me, then it would remain fresh for longer.
I did not understand this logic at all. I then asked her who the final cup was for.
She brightened up, saying that this one was for Peanut, who wanted her choco-dudu as soon as she woke up.
I said that Peanut wanted her milk warm, and would again, rise only a couple of hours from now - so what was the point of heating it now and then having to heat it again?
The K kept silent, clearly not appreciating this game of twenty questions early in the morning.

I tried to keep my cool, and said perhaps she could lessen her use of the 'Microbe' in the mornings and find something else to do, since it created a disturbance for people trying to sleep. I surmised that this was just a case of her trying to create some work for herself, given that she was an early riser.

The next morning, I was awake again at 6.30 a.m., bleary eyed after another bad night. I then heard a creaking sound - somebody, presumably the K, had walked up to my bedroom door and was shutting it tight. There was a slight click that indicated that the door was indeed shut as tight as it could be.

The now slightly muffled beep-beep of the Microbe started up again, every 30 seconds for the next several minutes.

I just buried my head under the pillow and tried to block it out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

But I WANT to lean on the Brudda...

Peanut tends to get upset when we ask her to be gentle with her brothers. She is very fond of them and wants to kiss them and clamber all over them, all the time. Especially when she caught an infection, we tried our best to get some distance between her and them but it didn't really work.

She displays amazing resilience -after a brief sulk in a corner, wherein she tells anybody passing by that some offender (me or Vijay usually) had the temerity to tell her 'Not to lean on the Brudda', she bounces back and comes back to do the exact same thing.
Admirable tenacity. Admirable.
That's my girl.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

By the Water Cooler

I am republishing an old office post as part of the By The Water Cooler Contest.

Read, enjoy, participate and spread the word about Parul's new book :-)

My Office Story: Get Well Soon, Bhani

A most unfortunate incident has occurred. I feel almost bad making fun of it.Almost.But seriously... it is quite terrible. Vani had an accident two days back. To cut a long story short....( click and read original post here)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Work-Life Balance

Ever since I went on maternity leave this time round, I've noticed a pattern amongst my friends.
Basically all of them are working in corporates, and they don't seem to have lives.
It's strange. Especially after the twins arrived, there were so many people who were enthusiastic about coming over. One particular weekend, four different friends - Vani, Shome, Manav and Anirudh had promised to come over.
None of them showed up. Not one. And the amazing thing was that none of them even bothered to call.
I realized that when they had said 'I'm going to come and see you and the babies this weekend' - they didn't really mean it. I, on the other hand, had taken it quite literally as their planning to come over. In fact, it was quite funny because here I was thinking 'How will we fit in so many visitors on one weekend' - and then all of them bailed.
I think there is a lot of insincerity creeping into our daily interactions. Some of it is of the type where you meet someone you knew a while back but don't really care too much about anymore, and then you go 'Oh give me a missed call, I'll save your number' - and you know pretty well you're never going to call them or hear from them again. But this particular thing - ''I'll see you this weekend, for sure''- occurred to me with people who happen to be amongst my closest friends. And I know they don't mean it -and I also know that perhaps I am guilty of exactly the same behaviour - but still, it's kind of sad.
The basic issue seems to be that very few people know how to manage their lives outside of their work. The companies that we work in seem to be taking it all out of us. Squeezing out all the energy that we have. Leaving us with only a day or two here and there in which to manage all our household chores and other family committments - and giving us hardly any time and space to nurture any other type of relationship.
I'm sure a lot has been said and written about some sort of social transformation in the big cities in India and the resulting loneliness of the urban working population. But it's only become obvious to me personally during this time that I've been sitting at home feeding my babies.
Incidentally, all these people eventually came and visited. But it took each of them an average of two cancellations and re-schedulings to eventually make it.
Surely there is a better way. There must be a way to hold down a job - no, to be pretty damn good at your job - and still find a way to make time for your family - and the, above and beyond that, still find time for your friends.
You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.
Or am I?

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's a Twin Thing

Occasionally over the last few weeks, I've been taking out Pickle and Papad for a walk in the little park inside our complex.

I was gifted the nicest twin stroller by a complete stranger - basically, a lady in the park has a friend whose twins are now grown up. The stroller she had used for them was still in good shape and she didn't know what to do with it - so when the park-lady mentioned it to her, she was only too happy to offer this stroller and I was only too happy to accept.

The thing is that there is no concept of a peaceful walk with the twins. Everybody wants to stop and look at them and ask questions about whether they are identical, how old they are, and so on. The little kids and old aunties alike are equally fascinated by them.

I must say that as a mother it is gratifying to hear things like 'They are sooo cute', and 'How Gorgeous are they'...and so on. Especially since the first few weeks I was hearing comments like 'alien' and 'rats' - and the fact is, they were very alien-and-rat-like in those days.

But now, they are growing well, both over 5 kgs and chubby with the fattest little dimpled thighs and cheeks you ever did see. They are well within the normal range, and their difficult start in the nursery seems to have done them no harm, but in fact has made them much easier to deal with than Peanut ever was. They don't cry or fuss even half as much as she did and they are in general very peaceful little creatures - sleeping, playing by themselves, feeding, burping loudly, pooping and doing all the things that little babies do.

Of course, they are not sleeping through the night but I'm convinced no kid ever does! They wake up every couple of hours for a feed even now, although they are almost 3 months old. I wake up dutifully to feed them and they fall back asleep after a solid burp or two. The fact that there are two of them does make it a fairly continuous process through the night but it bothers me surprisingly little. After the last 3 months being the way they were, little things actually bother me a whole lot less!

Anyway, no one is happier when I bring them to the park than Peanut. She is typically playing football with the K or a friend when I land up with them, and she runs squealing all the way across the park and insists on pushing the stroller with me. She guards them jealously and gives the evil eye to the other tiny girls who bend over too close and -gasp-have the temerity to kiss them. I haven't learnt the art of telling little girls not to do that, despite the risk of infection - they do it so sweetly.

One new lady at the park saw me strolling them around and asked me a couple of questions about them including 'How do you manage?'. There is never an answer to that question so I just laughed and told her that I, in fact, have one more child - and pointed out little Peanut running around in the distance.

Instead of saying anything about how difficult it must be, all the woman said was 'Wow! You are one blessed lady!'.

And I thought 'Yes Ma'am. That I am!'

This is one of those Kala Tika posts, isn't it! All Jinxes, Go Away! Go on now - Shoo!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

8 Years and I Still Don't See It Coming

Y (working on laptop on bed, next to lazing husband): Honey, my laptop battery is running out...
Vijay: Hmmm...?
Y: Please plug the charger in for me...
Vijay (Unwilling to move even half an inch): What? plug it in.
Y: (Annoyed because the plug point is just behind his head and this hardly requires any effort on his part) Come on, just plug it in behind you.

( Slight pause as Vijay chooses his words carefully)

Vijay: Honey, you'll find plenty of natural gases there but no electricity...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Admission for Peanut!

So like most other parents of 3 year olds, we have been doing the rounds of various schools to get Peanut admission into Nursery for next year.

But being the very lucky people that we are - one of the nicest schools on our list did a draw of lots a couple of days back, and Peanut's name was the fourth in a list of five girl names drawn for our group that day. It's one of those rather progressive schools and we really liked their approach to education - very different from all the other schools. Now we will spare ourselves the hassles of going to most of the other schools, and only consider one more.

There were a total of 12 names out of a group of about 40, so we are definitely lucky.

Or IS it luck?

I firmly believe it's because I wrote out a cheque to the school BEFORE we went for the draw that day. Yes, I was rather sheepish about trying to apply something that 'The Secret' said, but hey, it clearly worked.

Or DID it?

Vijay claims it's because of his cleverness - he says that when he folded the paper with Peanut's name on it to drop it into the box, he didn't quite fold it all the way - so that it would 'kind of stick out and whoever was drawing the lots would be compelled to pick this paper up'.

Balderdash, I said. It was my cheque-thing!
Nonsense, he said. It was his paper-folding thing.

We argued all the way back home. But we held hands and we were both. very. happy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The month of July

The month of July 2010 was one of the toughest periods I've ever had to face.
This pregnancy in any case had been a turbulent one. The first few months were bad - it was surprising for me, considering everyone always said a second pregnancy is significantly easier. Of course, what we didn't know at the time was that it was a twin pregnancy.
The week that we discovered it was a twin pregnancy was Week 20 - we went through a range of emotions, from shock to elation to worry to fear - and almost complete despair when we were wrongly told that it was a monoamniotic pregnancy - which usually means a survival rate of 50% for the babies. A final ultrasound by the best ultrasonologist in Delhi cleared that one up.
The last few weeks of the pregnancy were difficult in a way I hadn't experienced before. The babies were growing quite well for twins, but their combined weight was bearing down on me and hurting me, and it was all terribly uncomfortable.
But all this was a breeze compared to the month of July.
The reason I am writing this post is to remind myself of a few things that I learnt during that time.
So on the 2nd of July, I had an ultrasound that showed that it was unlikely that I deliver before end July.
The next day, I saw that I was bleeding - it was 8.30 a.m. on a Saturday, and I had been woken up by Peanut, who sort of kicked me awake and then went back to sleep herself. I went into the bathroom, saw the blood and told Vijay. Two hours later, we were in the hospital. The doctor said she would like to do a C-sec, though she had always said till now that we should try for a normal delivery.
In the OT, the anasthesia started to work, but suddenly I started to panic. I felt like I couldn't breathe and felt extremely claustrophobic and frightened. I started chanting the names of my three babies and calmed myself down. A short while later, I could feel a weight being lifted out of my body, and the doctor held up Pickle and said 'It's a boy'. One minute later, I felt some more weight being lifted out, and the doctor held up Papad and repeated 'It's a boy'. They were brought close to my face, and I felt a huge gush of relief. But I could easily see how tiny they were, and it was scary. They were 2.1 kgs each.
The next few days were tough. The babies were in the nursery and I was on bedrest. After the first day, I started to go and visit them every three hours to feed them. My doctors weren't happy with this, but the neonatologist was adamant about not sending them to my room due to the risk of infection. I was taken there on a wheelchair each time and each time, everybody would stare at me, and check to see if I still had my legs. I made a game out of it soon, and would stare back and remark loudly to Vijay - 'look at him! look at her!' - and even count out loud all the people who were staring at me. '1...2...3...oh, look another, 4...'. It was funny. For a while.
The babies had jaundice. Common enough. But the levels that Pickle were reaching were not common. His bilirubin count reached 18.5 one day, and they prepared him for a blood transfusion, because above 20 means possibility of brain damage. So it was terribly scary.
He was under phototherapy for many days. Seeing him lying there like that, naked under a bright white light, always managing to struggle and pull off his blindfold - and my being unable to breastfeed him for a couple of days - was really awful.
In the meantime, my condition wasn't improving. The pain in my abdomen continued. I developed a fever. Basically, there was something wrong and I was constantly on antibiotics.
Finally, after 10 days in the hospital, we were discharged. I was still not well. Antibiotics continued at home through IV - but an ultrasound then showed the large blood clot inside that was pressing against various organs. Two days later, I was readmitted to another hospital and a surgery was carried out on the 16th of July - a mere 13 days after the C-section to remove the clot.
My sister-in-law - Vijay's eldest sister - performed the surgery. Before the surgery, she had got various tests carried out, which included an MRI. I wasn't prepared for what it would be like and when I was inside the machine, with the loud noise, and my nose anyway half-blocked as usual, I started to panic again. I never realized I am actually semi-claustrophobic.
Anyway, after the surgery, this time under General anasthesia, I woke up in a lot of pain and screamed for my husband. He was brought there and I was crying, for a variety of reasons. After this surgery, the pain in my abdomen was almost completely gone, but I was terribly weak.
During all this time, I had periods of hallucination. I could feel myself blacking out. I was too weak to go to the bathroom by myself or bathe. Through all this, Vijay never left my side and tended to me and basically nursed me back to health. My mother, sister and the rest of family were all there too but Vijay was unbelievable. I really lucked out with this marriage. Must have done something right sometime. Must have been in a previous birth, don't remember doing anything that great in this one!
However, this time round, the twins were admitted in the hospital with us. It was great to have them with us in the room - but it was also not great because it was far more tiring to manage everything. Well, I was only feeding them, Vijay - with help from my mother when she visited, and of course, his brother Ajay- did everything else. But by this time, I had been in the hospital for so long that I was even more depressed, cranky and overall emotional. Plus, the first surgery had the carrot of removing two little babies and bringing them into my life. The second surgery was to get out a not-that-attractive 200 grams of clot plus 200 ml of blood. It gave me huge relief, but the infection continued for many days after that, too.
A hundred injections. Being away from the babies. Pickle's jaundice. The pain. Being away from Peanut. Being away from home. Blood tests, urine tests. Being on a catheter. Having a drain pipe attached to me, which drained out the remnant blood after the surgery into a bag that I had to carry around with me even once I was able to walk. The hallucinations. The frightening feeling of almost blacking out. The yelling at members of my family who were only always trying to help. My abusing the doctors as I came out of GA. This and much, much more. All this was the month of July.
And then I became better. I am home now. Things are still terribly chaotic because Vijay's mother is very, very unwell. I don't have full time help for the twins yet. We are a lot of people staying in a 2-bedroom house. But still. I have my health back. It is amazing to feel healthy.
Simple things mean so much now - Being able to walk around without pain and discomfort. Being able to feed the babies in the comfort of my own home. Being back with Peanut and spending loads of extra time with her to make sure she adjusts well to the babies. Being able to just breathe in and out. Fingering my surgery scar and feeling it heal. Not having that damned canula stuck to my hand. Being able to take a long, hot shower. Eating a Peanut butter and Jam sandwich instead of hospital food. Not having to remember which antibiotic to take when and forgetting what 'OD, BD and TDS' mean. Not worrying about bilirubin counts and other blood counts. Not having IV antibiotics three times a day. Taking a walk in the park. Lying next to my husband instead of alone on a hospital bed with him on the uncomfortable attendant's sofa. These and a hundred other things.
And yet, it's so easy to forget what it was like, and to get bogged down by the various daily issues that we face. This is just an attempt to try and remember one simple thing: without your health, you have very little. So I try and celebrate a little everyday now, even if it's only a couple of minutes in my head of thanking the universe that today I have my health. It's an upredictable life. So basically try to be less stupid about letting the little problems overwhelm you, and just remember how good it feels to feel this way.
That, and the fact that I have a great family, especially a great husband, mother, brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Just lucky, I guess.
So that's what July 2010 was trying to tell me.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm blogging!

Yess!! I have time!! TIME!! I can do this! All three kids are asleep - finally! I am super-mom.

Chalo, got to go now. I hear crying.

I think it might be me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hello there People!

So here we are, then!

We discriminate. Period.

I really hate to say it, but it's really ingrained into our thinking.
Fair is Lovely.
I always believed that I was someone who would never support this view. I was one of those people who would tend to get indignant at fairness cream advertising that showed success and happiness being achieved by a woman's skin becoming a few (many) shades lighter.
But recent events have made me realize that in all this discussion, there's less black and white and more shades of grey. And some amount of hypocricy too.
A couple of years ago, when I was on a consumer visit with some young girl's family in Mumbai - This family was not a very well off one at all, and I was quite interested to spend the day with them and observe how they lived. At one point, the young girl's little sister came home from school, took one look at me and said (in Marathi, translated for me a minute later) 'This lady is very fair - she must know good english'.
Not that I am 'very fair' in any case, but I was truly surprised at her reaction, attributing knowledge of english and presumably many other things to my physical appearance. It only reinforced my belief that we need to somehow stop this discrimination.
But then Pickle and Papad came along.
Pickle, the one who has been through much with serious jaundice, prolonged periods in phototherapy in the nursery and many, many injections for the first few days of his life. Pickle is the dark one. The black sheep.
Papad, not only looks like a tiny Peanut and therefore has always been easier to relate to, is also the fairer one.
I looked at the two of them and felt bad - they are supposed to be identical twins! So why this difference, anyway? Pickle would always be compared to Papad and remarks would always be made about it.
I found myself wishing that they were more alike, at least in terms of skin colour - they may grow to be more alike as the months pass, everyone knows that babies look very different at different ages. I thought, why doesn't Papad just become darker with the passage of time! That will solve things.
And then, he did! For a few days in the middle, Papad turned quite dark and his colour was actually identical to Pickle's. This didn't last though, and now he's back to being the 'fairer one'.
But the thing was, when he turned darker, I looked at the two of them and found myself actually wishing that Pickle had become fairer instead of Papad becoming darker. Isn't that just sad? But it's the truth.
Sometimes the truth doesn't make you feel good at all.
The thing is, I relate a lot more to Pickle. He's the 'middle child' like me - older by one minute than his younger, smaller, fairer brother! He's been through so much. I actually feel very connected to him. He's somehow different from the others. He's resilient, he's a fighter. Despite his poor start, he's actually gained more weight than his brother, and become very round and cute very quickly. He's more difficult, sure, appears to also have colic, but in general, I can tell he's going to be the tough one.
Yesterday, a very wise and well-meaning close relative looked at him and said 'Bahut pyaara hai. But Papad is cuter, because he is fairer'.
I was quite shocked to hear this from him. The words were right out there, hanging in the air between us. I laughed incredulously and said 'You can't really have just said that. That's so discriminatory'.
He laughed, too but didn't really take it back. He just added 'Papad is also the smaller, younger one. You somehow feel more for the younger one'.
I said 'Not me. I feel for the middle child. It's tough'.

We left it at that. But while I feel very blessed to have such beautiful little baby boys, this is one thing I am not looking forward to - and I do hope they start to actually have close-to-identical skin colour. Even if they don't, that's okay. Pickle can be the tall, dark and handsome one - like his father.

In the meantime, we lovingly refer to him as our Gulab Jamun, Papad as our Rasgulla.

And Peanut as the Rasmalai.

Yummy little ones.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sweet Exhaustion

Vijay is up till 4 a.m. almost everyday handling the babies. After that, till about 10 a.m. is my shift.
At one point, Vijay remarked 'Honey, this Zone defense thing isn't working - maybe we should try Man-to-Man instead'.
(We both used to play basketball - in our colleges - and even after we got married. Before the many children).
I was thinking, Fine, I'll say I'll take Papad, but he quickly added 'I'll take Papad'.
It's pretty obvious Pickle is the more difficult baby to handle.
So anyway, the Man-to-man thing didn't work out either, so we're back to 'Zone' and continue to take them on in shifts.

Vijay also has configured the sleeping arrangement - one bassinet near the bed and one other little sleeping basket on the bed. Initially the bassinet was further away from us, by the window, but eventually, he brought it closer and closer to his own bed as it's easier to just pick up the wailing baby from it.
However, even the most patient man has his breaking point.
Vijay (lying back exhausted, listening to the sound of Pickle starting to work himself up again) : Should I move the bassinet one more time?
Me: (sleepily) where? (wondering how much closer he can bring it to our bed)
Vijay (gritting his teeth, pulling his pillow over his head): To where we can't hear him anymore....

Friday, July 30, 2010

Seriously, though. Teen bachhon ki ma??

Seriously? Me?

The thing about having blogged for a few years now is that the blog serves as a reminder of what kind of a person you were and have now become. The time I started writing this, I was the kind of person who couldn't understand why anyone would ever have kids. Now, while I'm not exactly the opposite in terms of saying I can't understand why anyone would choose not to have kids, I certainly do understand it. And how.

Anyway, Peanut turned 3 years old a couple of days back and we had a little party for her. She cut a Noddy cake and was generally quite happy even though it wasn't a kiddy party - her two cousins being around is a party for her anyway.

She's at an age where she's a complete mixture of angelic and sweet behavior and complete and utter defiance. Too late one is realizing that the last few months of pregnancy and the last month of being away from her have resulted in lack of enough routine and attention in terms of instilling some sort of discipline. Well, she's hardly devoid of all form of discipline but it's not been enough. Her eating and sleeping and playing routines are completely awry resulting in really late bedtimes, crankiness, too much TV (and Vijay's iPhone - man, can that kid operate it or what!) and will take some time to correct . But I'm at a stage where I know I need to pick my battles, so will have to take it slow.

But she is incredibly sweet in many ways and very sharp about observing and picking up things, and sometimes exhibits such great understanding and maturity that I'm only left marveling at her and hope that somehow these qualities don't get inhibited by anything that we do. Overall, I think she's going to be okay.

It's clear she's going to be a great big sister - she's already very fond of her brothers and kisses them often, giggling at their funny faces and noises and looking quite stricken when one of them starts to cry.

The next few months are going to be very, very interesting to say the least. And did I mention that the concerns now about getting proper help to take care of the kids are now striking me hard? I have a really good part timer who is currently staying till about 7 p.m. to help and she's actually brilliant - she's been my cook for the last two years so there is also that basic level of trust with her. Unfortunately, like so many in her situation, she is saddled with a husband (with the usual drinking problem) who is shouting at her about being away from home and is 'forbidding' her to work here for too long, so she may not be able to keep it up beyond a couple of weeks. So what is someone to do?

Some practical advice here would be much appreciated. Please do share your experiences with help through agencies - would really help me. I've been lucky enough to have the K to help with Peanut but now she is barely able to manage her and the twins are going to be far more work. I need to fix this in the next few months before going back to work - so yeah, the word would be 'help!?' right about now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Suddenly Mother of Three

We finally returned home with Pickle and Papad, a couple of days ago.

I was in the hospital with the two of them and the ever-loyal Vijay for quite a few days. I started to feel distinctly better and was subsequently discharged.

The second day after being home, it turned out I had developed another infection, and it is still ongoing. However, I'm hoping that this is the last leg of this whole illness affair.

In the meantime, it feels good to be home. The first couple of days weren't great because I was unwell and because Peanut was behaving like...well, a 3 year old who is suddenly saddled with the reality of little twin brothers, just like I was behaving like a (half-crazed, post-double-surgery) 30 year old who is suddenly saddled with the reality of little twin sons. Basically, I ended up smacking her bottom and still come dangerously close to doing it whenever she has a meltdown. I know she doesn't know any better and needs time to adjust and am trying my best to control it and am digging into the deepest untapped layers of my being, where I'm hoping lie hitherto untapped reserves of patience and tolerance. Somewhere deep, deep within.

It's obviously a round the clock job - well, a single baby is a round the clock job. Two babies are ...what, round two clocks? One wakes up hungry, the other wakes up hungry a few minutes later while I'm feeding the first one; they do synchronized potties; they cry in unison. Even when they don't cry/poop/feed in unison, one still doesn't get much rest because you've finished with one when the other starts up! Surprisingly though, I think we're doing pretty well now - it doesn't seem new, for one - having Peanut 3 years ago was quite an eye-opener. Secondly, it's miles better than being apart from them, as we were for the first ten days when they were under observation in the nursery; and it's better than the last ten days when we were all admitted in the hospital together, and the four of us were away from Peanut. The very fact that I've found a few minutes to blog says something, doesn't it?

So let me tell you about my new sons.

First of all, they are identical twin boys, a fairly rare variety as far as statistics go apparently. They don't look quite identical though - Pickle is darker - he was at birth and this was compounded by extensive phototherapy for his jaundice - and his nose is more like Vijay's - while Papad looks more like me, and in fact, more like a miniature version of Peanut - we often joke that he is her twin, 3 years later! I don't quite know how it works in terms of their starting to grow more alike as the months pass, but time will tell. I did double check with the doctors to confirm they were actually identical, though - it's actually a blessing to be able to tell them apart easily at the moment. There are still times when I have asked, when being handed one to breastfeed him 'Who is he?' in a zapped manner. Vijay also has been known to observe them closely and them remark with a beaming proud smile 'Bilkul twins jaise lagte hai' ( roll of eyes).
Pickle is the older one, and he's also the one who is growing bigger faster - he's already almost 2.5 kilos while Papad is about 2.2 kilos. They were both born a minute apart, and were 2.1 kilos at 35 weeks, 3 days.

Personality wise, and yes, it's never too early to start labelling them, is it - Pickle appears to be slightly crankier, and has already started exhibiting a strong preference for the phenomenon known as 'Godi', refusing to just lie still. Papad is more peaceful and lies back and looks around interestedly at things around him, although he can probably see just about the end of his nose.
They are both terribly cute and ugly little creatures and so, so very small - Peanut was 3.5 kilos at birth and so having such tiny ones around is a bit new - but we've already adjusted to it and handle them fairly well. I still bristle inwardly when someone remarks 'Abhi to bahut kamzor hai' ( who likes hearing that?) but have surprisingly not reacted to it much, and even the inward bristling passes after a moment.

Vijay's brother has been a key support during this time. He had flown in from the U.S a few weeks back and the timing couldn't have been more perfect -for us, that is. He has been helping babysit almost continuously and changing diapers, making up formula bottles and the works like a seasoned pro - which he is, considering his younger son just turned two this month. He's been amazing, as has been Vijay, and of course, the rest of the family. What do people do without family!? It's great to have them around.

Back to the twins. Papad, while being the more peaceful one, sleeps way too much and has to be coaxed into waking up to feed often enough. He is also the guy with the biggest range of dirty expressions, although both of them are pretty good at conveying the emotion 'What the hell are you guys doing with me? Are you seriously my parents? Is this seriously my life?' when troubled enough.

I am still marvelling at the fact that I have 3 children. I had never thought it would ever happen.
Twins, especially. Who knew? Who thought? Not even my dumbass ultrasonologist who informed me of the single fetus at 12 weeks, who was doing well.

Either ways, twins are a curiosity for most people and bring out really offensive behavior. There was this 'mother's room' at the first hospital where I would go to breastfeed the kids every few hours, while they were in the nursery. One day there were these Punjabi aunties who were so tickled by the fact of the twins, and so fascinated watching me feed them simultaneously and expertly that they forgot their own daughter who was struggling to breastfeed her baby - and had the nerve to call out to their waiting son-in-law/son outside 'Amit, Camera lao, inki photo kheechte hai! Dekho, do-do ko kaise pila rahi hai'. I was seriously shocked by this - no matter how cute and endearing my own husband had found the sight of my feeding the two of them, he didn't really seriously contemplate recording the moment for posterity on film, and here were these shameless strangers wanting to do the same, without the thought of even asking - although, even asking would have been bad enough!

Basically, lots has happened in the last month, but clearly I'm not going to be able to write one coherent post about it, so look forward to more instalments over the coming few days whenever I'm able to snatch the time.

See ya!

Edited to add: No, they didn't end up taking the picture. Because thankfully 'Amit' had left his camera behind in the hospital room. Even if he had sent it in, the fat Punjabi cows would have not got a picture, but a couple of black eyes courtesy Y. I didn't put on 24 kilos during this pregnancy without gaining a bit of strength too.
( 14 kilos are already gone of the same though - Yay! Irrelevant side note, but it makes me feel good)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So it turns out C-secs aren't supposed to be so difficult, normally.
I was really wondering what people had been talking about 'I was up on my feet within a week/3 days/24 hours' - I was thinking, what's wrong with me? Why is the pain not going away? Why is this fever persisting? What's going on? Is it my threshold level for pain that is just lower than others.
Turns out not. Turns out clot. Hey, that rhymes.
A big clot developed and was surgically removed a few days back. I had been home for just about two days when I had to be readmitted to the hospital.
For someone who has never had a surgery ever in 30 years of life, and has otherwise been in pretty good health throughout, the last 3 weeks have been quite a learning experience. 2 surgeries. About a 100 needles. And lots of other things.
But I'm on the recovery path now, and hope to be home again in a couple of days.
As before, the kids are doing fine, and that's the most important thing. I just want to get back home and be with Peanut so that our family of five can start life together.
Yeah. Quite a ride.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quick One

Just to thank everyone for the comments on the previous post welcoming Pickle and Papad to the world.

The good news is that they are doing okay as per their first post-hospital doctor visit. Will repeat after a week.

The not-so-good news is that my infection is not so hot and am being readmitted to the hospital tomorrow.

However, here's hoping for the best and that I'll be back soon and that I will not be away from my many babies for too long now.

Ciao for now. And Thanks again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hello to Pickle and Papad!

It's been quite a couple of weeks.

An emergency C-section at 35 weeks 3 days.
Two beautiful little baby boys.
An infection after my surgery.
Waiting for release from the hospital.

But yes...two beautiful little baby boys. Beautiful to me and Vijay, that is. All four of us have been in the hospital for over ten days now. Little Peanut has been at home for a week with Vijay's parents and brother. We've never been away from her that long.

And today we're ready to go home. So yayy!

Their jaundice will need to be monitored carefully but the doctors say it should be all fine now. So ... as before. Give us the good vibes, people!

And thanks for all the good wishes in advance, just in case I can't log on again for a while.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be Careful What You Say to Peanut

...because almost 3-year olds may take things literally.

I was snuggling up to her last night and trying to express how I felt about her, and thought I would use terms she would understand.

Y: 'Peanut...I love you...more than I love chocolate, you know? And icecream...and...'
Peanut (eyes wide open with alarm): 'NO, Mama!'
I was taken aback by this reaction, until she continued

'You have to NOT eat me!'

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Yes, this seems about right. Even from the last pregnancy, I remember the last few weeks being the most frustrating.
I have now completed 35 weeks, and while twins are considered full term at 37 weeks and most twins are apparently delivered before then, I may even go close to 40 weeks (gasp) which will mean end of July.
My doctor says she'll do an internal exam tomorrow to get a sense as to how long, but frankly, I don't believe here, because I remember her doing that 3 years ago and saying 'by 11th July, definitely!' and towards end of July, there I was, still overdue.
Anyway, the upside of all this is that I will be spending more time with Peanut. She's a bundle of laughs to be around now because she's talking and saying all sorts of things, including:

* ( When Vijay and I are hugging and she is dutifully trying to unentangle us, and we're frustrating her by linking up our arms again once she's unentangling our legs and vice versa)
'Thass not funny!'

* (Another time when Vijay and I were standing in front of her and smiling down at her, with his arms around me, she suddenly brightens up with an idea)
'I kin take a picture of you!'

* ( When her favorite uncle, Ajay draws a big fat man on her little slate, and asks her to guess what it is)

' Thass Mama, she got a fat tummy'

* (After biting into my cotton skirt and tearing a small piece off with her teeth, and seeing the horrified expression on my face, which is wiped out by her immediately following words)

'It was a mistake, Mama'

* ( After telling her Masi to put on the Annie DVD for her, and being told that they would have to ask me first whether it was okay)

'But Maasi! Why don't we just ask YOU?'

* ( After unsuccessfully trying to persuade me to let her watch TV in the living room at night, since it's 'dark and time for us to be in the bedroom')

'I gottan idea…ask what your idea is? ( I ask her what it is, curiosity getting the better of me) ...The idea is... let’s get Daddy to bring TV here in this room so we can watch Ceebeebies'

So I guess if I focus on this stuff, the waiting isn't going to be that bad.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Post on My Marketing Blog

I'm actually quite kicked that I have written more than one post. Ha ha.

Read here, if you're interested.

Oh, the URL is

Appropriate, eh?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bro!

I have this elder brother called Abhi. I also have a cousin called Abhi and a best pal named Abhi. Many Abhi's in my life. Guess what neither of the twins are going to be called?

But a lot of people who know me express surprise when I mention my brother. I guess I don't talk about him that much.

He's three and a half years older than me, just the same age difference that I have with my sister. But I spent a lot more time with my sister in my growing up years than with him. Frankly, we didn't really get along as kids. In fact, I remember glowering at anyone who made any passing reference to any resemblance between us.

Thankfully, there's this little concept called 'Growing up', which we're still in the process of doing. And I must therefore say a few things I've never said before. The reason I'm doing this in public on my blog is to make sure it doesn't go overboard and get all senty, which we both would hate.

So here goes:

* I really admire my brother for how responsible an individual he is. After my father passed on, he sort of seemed to grow up overnight and took care of a lot of things.

* He is really caring about the family. Despite being so far away, in England, it's pretty clear how much he cares to be around when it's really important.

* I think it's fantastic that he always knew what he wanted to be, and followed that dream to become a doctor. One of the oldest, noblest professions. I on the other hand, am in Marketing. Bah!

* He's a great father, and seems to have a way with kids in general. Is quite the fond Abhi Mamu, although he hardly gets to see Peanut. I'm shipping the twins to him, though, so that will make up for it.

* I think that's enough. He still manages to irritate me at times, and I think that will hold true till we're in our eighties.

But I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love him. Aaarrrggghhh!

Happy Birthday, Abhi. Big sloppy kiss on the cheek.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So where are the Twin Moms? which of course, I mean mothers of twins.

In general, it's really been hard to find good resources for twins. There aren't that many books that I've been able to find here, and even online resources have let me down. For one, do you know that in Babycenter, you can't even sign up as a Mom pregnant with twins? Ridiculous!

I mean, I know we're a minority, but still...there are just such few websites I've found that give you a proper week-by-week development update for twins, especially identical ones. Double bah!

So just do me a favor, huh? If you're a mom of twins who blogs, or know of such moms, could you please leave a link to direct me to the appropriate blogs? Would be much obliged.

I know a couple of such moms have already commented on my recent posts, will dig them out, but repitition will not be minded ( mound? nah...but minded doesn't sound right either...damn...should avoid the passive always).

Thanks muchly!



Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm only happy when it rains...

I was so tired of just sitting around at home that I insisted that Vijay take me to Landmark yesterday for some browsing.

I also put my foot down about not taking Peanut along. For one thing, everytime we go there with her, she picks out DVDs, toys and books ( based on whatever colors strike her fancy at that point of time) and most of our time is spent running around behind her, replacing the items. Although the last time I gave in, and let her take home this tiny Mickey Mouse, and it's really cute because she puts it to bed every night next to her. Consequently, we are now four people on one double bed already. Pickle and Papad can so go get their own rooms!

I digress.

Anyway, so the two of us went off to Landmark and I was looking forward to just being able to browse, and enjoy myself, pick out a nice read or two, you know, the usual thing?

About three steps into Landmark, I asked Vijay 'Er, is it really hot in here?'.

He shivered for effect and told me 'No. It's really cold with the AC and all'.

Uh-oh, I thought.

Sure enough, after wandering listlessly through the Indian Writing section (and seeing four names of people I personally know, two of whom I personally can't stand, right next to Rohinton Mistry's Such a Long Journey), and failing to find anything on Twins in the Parenting section, but attracting enough smirks simply by virtue of standing there looking like I am about to give birth any second, I figured it was time to go home.

I finally spotted Vijay, thanks to his 6 feet 2, browsing blissfully somewhere in the non-fiction section and told him I was ready to go.

'Already?' He said. 'I thought you didn't want to take Peanut so that you would have time to browse?'

'It's HOT' I said, weaving unsteadily.

'No it's not', he said but took my hand. He felt my clammy palms. 'You're sweating!'

We left, with our meager purchases. Clearly, I have figured out how to save money at Landmark. Never mind the other expenses that come along with pregnancy...and babies!

However, when we got outside the basement parking, we discovered it was raining! Beautiful, slanting rain. Driving home, my mood lifted considerably. When we parked, I waddled out into the rain, which was by now just a drizzle. I remembered the time a year or so back when we took a very befuddled Peanut out into pouring rain, and had a blast getting totally drenched. We're great parents, like that!

Next year, going to hopefully be five people doing that. Three taller ones having a blast, and two little befuddled ones.

I love the rain.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

So Giddily Happy.

...that's me being sarcastic. Again.
And by the way, as for those who really believe 'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit' - it's probably just that they don't have the gift. And I challenge them to tell me about a higher form of wit than sarcasm. Go on!
Anyway, I'm giddily happy because I think I've cracked almost all possible pregnancy problems between my two pregnancies:

* Acidity and heartburn - check
* Breathlessness - of course
* Backaches - yes indeedy-do
* Bleeding Gums - got 'em
* Blurred Vision - whassat..? can't see...
* Bustline increase - well, everything's's like 20 kilos, people!
* Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - just developing it. Can't blog much!
* Clumsiness - can I blame it on the pregnancy? oooh...
* Complexion changes - yes sir! Freckles as never before happening
* Depression - err...well...why not, I say!
* Fainting and Dizziness - Dizziness, I got. Fainting, I got not.
* Fatigue - absolutely. In fact, I can't possibly go on right to the end of the alphabet, I got upto only F!

Here's a promise from me to me. No more whining about how fat/uncomfortable/pregnant I am for the next few weeks. Just focussing on the positive side of life. Positivity. Spiritual self-healing. Meditative thoughts shared.

I guess I'll be back after 6 weeks or so then. See ya!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Peanut Hates School

When I put Peanut into her playschool last year, she had a settling period of a few weeks. She was barely two at the time, but after she settled in, it was mostly no issue getting her there for a few hours everyday. I would drop her on my way to work, and it was pretty cool.

Then, a few weeks ago, the protests began. She started informing me 'The gates are closed' very firmly, and made up all sorts of excuses to not go.

Her teachers usually write progress updates as short notes in her diary, and a day too late, I noticed that the timing for her 'Swimming pool day has been changed' because 'She has been moved to another class'. Another class? Why would they do that, I thought. That day, I went and checked with them about it.

Turns out Peanut is one of the few 'advanced' kids who was developing faster than the others and was therefore automatically shifted to a class which was a few months ahead. Unlike a couple of the other kids of this type, she didn't kick up a bloody racket and therefore they assumed she is settling in fine over there and just merrily kept her there.

Ummm. Isn't this the kind of thing that should usually be discussed with a parent, I thought.

I informed them that the changeover probably wasn't going as smoothly as they thought, considering that she now was disliking going to school. She was used to the the kids in her class, and had made a couple of close friends there over the last year, and the other big plus was that her fantastic teacher from the previous year had also moved into the higher grade when she moved a few months back. I requested that she be put back to her old class.

They made a fuss and tried to talk me out of it. They insisted it was for her own development. Would eventually help her when she went for admission to the 'big school'. Each child had to be given time to settle in. I felt a bit guilty, a parent who was holding her child back. I said maybe we'd give it another couple of days. After all, a kid does need to face changes in life and has to adjust anyway, I told myself reluctantly. Also, I knew at least part of my reason for wanting a shift was my personal bias for the old teacher and the slight dislike for the new teacher.

The next couple of days were still an issue getting Peanut to school. She started saying 'That boy she pushed me'...and 'That uncle is bad uncle'...and all sorts of things, including at night, dreading sleep. I had no idea if the issues were related, but I knew this wasn't working out right.

Vijay and I went back there again to talk to the principal-in-charge - she listened but was mouthing pretty much the same words about 'giving a child the space to adjust'. While we were talking to her, all the kids were outside singing something in some sort of morning assembly, right outside the office. I saw Peanut standing there in a corner, in line with her classmates while her old classmates and teacher merrily sang along at the other end. She looked around confusedly, and her face began to crumple, and her eyes filled up with tears. She finally caught sight of me staring from the principal's office and the tears started streaming down her face. I pointed this out to the principal, she looked out and immediately went and brought her into the office. While Peanut sobbed into Vijay's shirt, the principal agreed they would put her back.

The issue was that there were now only a few days left for school to give out for the summer holidays. We still had to face reluctance taking Peanut to school in the morning ( reluctance is a mild word), although she was happier when she came back. But the episode ruined our chances for Happy Summer Camp Time - as soon as school ended, summer camp in the same premises - with the new teacher supervising, unfortunately - were to start up. I had enrolled her for the first two weeks, but I think she ended up going only for six days. So now I've given up, and she's going to be at home till the 4th of July.

I just think that that's about the time the twins are coming, and there's going to be plenty to adjust to in any case. Not really looking forward to re-selling the idea of school to her. Even now, after a week of not going to either school/summer camp, she still starts blubbering at the idea and says 'I no want to no go to no school' and reaffirms 'The gates are closed, Mama'. I've told her she's not going for a while. But eventually, of course, she has to. And all this is before the saga of the 'big school', which I've merrily put off thinking about, even begins. This parenting stuff is great.

Anyway, I somehow had a feeling about some of these teachers. While the playschool overall is great, I've heard some of them being a little snappish with the kids. Very...teacher-like. Not warm, like the old teacher, who really is a sweetheart and who at the last PTA meeting, actually welled up while talking affectionately about the development of the kids in her class in general.

But net-net, about putting her back into the old class? All my qualms disappeared when I was looking through her recent craft work, which she apparently 'diligently and quietly' did in her new class. As against the usually encouraging and overly-enthusiastic remarks about her progress from her old teacher, the new teacher had tartly remarked on one poorly scrawled on drawing 'Needs to improve her coloring skills'.

I actually laughed out loud in disbelief. Needs to improve her coloring skills? Really? Towards what end? Eventually restoring the Mona Lisa? So what should I do? Tutor her painstakingly myself, smacking her hand everytime she wants to colour an elephant orange or her crayon goes out of line? Or maybe just send her to Special Coloring School?

Yeah, give me unrealistic and overenthusiastic and warm, anyday. I'll take that over 'advanced'. After all, the kid isn't even three years old yet!

Clearly, there's enough of that crap coming up in life later.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So, Due Any Day Now?

...umm...well, not really. It's only the 30th week or something. Another 6-8 weeks to go, one hopes - but yes, I am about as big as I was with Peanut when I delivered. Gah!

Big, clumsy, uncoordinated and irritable. More than my usual self, I feel. No wonder they've been giving me subtle hints at work about staying at home and working from there. Subtle hints including 'It's embarassing to see you in office'...and 'Go Home Now!'. Whatever, people. Be careful or the fat lady sits on you.

Of course, there's no point in whining about it, but the fact is, I'm running out of people to whine to so I might as well whine on the blog for just a minute or two. I recently saw some videos of myself from months ago where I'm running around in a pair of fitting jeans and T-shirt at 58 kilos. Now, at almost double that weight ( oh all right, it just fees like it), the only thing I can actually wear out of the house are my good ol' Mom's salwar kameez's.

I'm going to have to keep up the weight gain over the next few weeks so that Pickle and Papad grow properly. Thankfully at the latest ultrasound a week or so back, they had both grown well - the month before Pickle was substantially smaller than Papad - but now, Pickle is the bigger one. We were quite surprised by this development and I was examining the previous ultrasound reports with some curiosity to make sure we hadn't mixed them up earlier, but Vijay mildly informed me '' Confusing them may be a lifelong issue anyway'' so I gave up.

So yes, the most important thing is that they grow well, and therefore the cribbing about the weight gain ( and the pain and the discomfort and the heat and how nobody including Vijay will ever know what it feels like...ooops!) must stop. Therefore, stopping.

(Thin People Piss Me Off).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pickle & Papad

In a pregnancy which you believe is going pretty normally, you don't really expect to be told in your 20th week - halfway through for those of you not so quick with the numbers - that there are not one but two babies inside you.

Quite a roller coaster it is then, and the Highlights include:
''Here's one's the other''...
''What? My baby has two heads?''

''Of course, it's a twin pregnancy. Who did your earlier ultrasound?" ( tone implying it must have been some incompetent buffoon)"
"It was YOU, Doc"

....more mumbling and digging out of earlier ultrasound records and explanations of how ''this almost never happens"

...and followed by ''You're not going to cry, are you, beta?"

...and numerous other less funny incidents including your regular doctor going ballistic on you, saying things like

Ultrasound waale pagal to nahin ho gaye??....

Ek minute, Mind if I sit down, I'm reeling from the shock (?!?)...

Ab hum kya karen...?

Gee, I don't know doc. Kya karen?

...and even less funny ones like the scare that they are in the same amniotic sac ( they are not, a later ultrasound confirms), that they have Down's syndrome ( the test apparently has no meaning for twins, again recommended by our super competent doc and pooh-poohed by others)...stuff I'm too tired to even go into and am past caring about.

So at the end of it all, how do I feel, a month or so after the discovery of an extra baby?

Thrilled, frankly.

Tired, yes. Very heavy, yes. In some pain and discomfort, yes. But all that's quite irrelevant.

Three kids.


Anyway, task is now to keep them inside for at least another 8 weeks - so have been advised taking off work from Mid-May. Am thinking will listen to the doctors this time round, kind of important.

Net-net: send good vibes my way, eh? I need all the good luck I can get!

Finally: Papad was picked because the other options were -

Pickle and Pretzel
Pickle and Popcorn
Pickle and Parantha
Pickle and Pepper
Pickle and Patty
...I forget the others, but they were pretty forgettable.

Yes, they are identical.

Goodbye for now and remember... let the good vibes flow...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More tales of the Harassed

Peanut: I'm KING of the Jungle.
Me: Well, I'm QUEEN of the Jungle, then.
We both look over at Vijay - 'And what are YOU, Dad?'
Vijay (extremely glumly): I think I would be the Jungle.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When your Pregnant Wife is Mad at You

Phone conversation:

Husband ( Trying to make up) : Honey, would it help if I bought you a dart board and put my picture on it? Huh? Huh?

Wife (Huffily) No ! ( Brightening up suddenly) But how about you just get the darts?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Things Peanut Says

Thought I'd just list a few:

* 'Mama, you cheeks soft like a bay-bee.
...and You got be-yootifool pimples'.

Yes, one of the various side effects of impending re-maternity is a return of the acne. In the form of a few bright spots on either of my cheeks - which show no hope of getting better since Peanut enjoys pawing them with her grubby paws while snuggling up to me. Oh yes, and once she broke into 'Pimples...pimples...' to the tune of 'Fimbles...Fimbles' on Ceebeebies.

* 'No, Mama, you no gorjus. Baby gorjus!'

We're kind of vain when we're dressing up in the morning for school and office. We like to look in the mirror when we're ready and admire ourselves and fight about who's more gorjus.

* ' are so very nangu!'

Err...kind of stating the obvious when we're having a bath.

* 'Daddy, aapi-aapi karo'

Said very matter-of-factly when Vijay is pretending to be helpless and trying to get her to feed him some fruit.

*' Nappy aaya...Poo-poo pehna do'

We're trying with the potty training and keep her out of her nappy most times, but she insists on wearing it for pooping. She of course means 'Poopoo aaya, nappy pehna do' but is under a bit of stress at such times so mixes it up.

* 'My baby sister in my tummy...and he gonna come ouuut!'

Umm...Yeah. I'm glad we explained the concept of your baby brother/sister Pickle just right. Well done, Vijay and Y.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Y Gets Old

30 years old. Sigh, Cry, Moan and Groan.

There, I said it. I'm finally old. It no longer matters that I'm a 'Child of the 80's' as some of my friends born in '79 refer to me. It's all downhill from here, my friends.

This was a rather unusual birthday, though. Thanks to my loving family and friends, who I think were mindful of the fact that I might get a bit depressed thinking about the fact that I'm now at the half-way mark. Mid-life, you might say.

Anyway, so Vijay got Peanut to sit with him for an hour and coaxed and cajoled her into singing 'Happy Birthday Mama' - it was really sweet. He played it at midnight for me. It began with a slightly freaky shout though. I think he had asked her to say it so many times that she got frustrated and screamed 'Hippy Burday Mamaaaaa' - he then looped it five times, but not before adding an echo to it. Then the song began, and it was heartbreakingly cute. If I could figure out a way to upload it, I would.

Then, in the morning, Peanut and I woke up really early and found that Vijay was already up. He insisted that we go for a walk together. I thought it was a good idea but didn't quite get the hurry. I asked him if it was okay if I went to the bathroom first. While I was in there, I noticed an SMS on my phone. I picked it up and it said 'God, she takes a long time in the loo. Bet she's reading a fat novel'. I looked down guiltily at my fat novel - Jeffrey Archer's 36 - and got out quickly to ask him what the hell he was up to and who that SMS was meant for. He looked a bit stricken and then quickly recovered to tell me that it was my sister, who wanted to know the plan for the day.

We stepped out for a walk, and I was in a contemplative mood. I was chatting with him as we took a few rounds of the park, and then he suggested that we go back. I said I wanted to meditate, as it was my resolution to take better care of myself in a more wholesome manner now that I was so old. He reluctantly agreed and after about 3 minutes of deep breathing, he broke into my reverie and said 'Let's go'. I had been thinking in the last 3 minutes about how I needed to make some changes and become a better person for the remaining half of my life and started to discuss it in earnest with him, the biggest being how I wished to become a kinder person and stop getting annoyed by the little things. He made a pretence of listening to me for a while and then abruptly stood up saying 'Ya ya, let's go back now'.

By this time, I was really annoyed with him and sulkily got up and followed him. In a bit, he realized I wasn't happy and immediately tried to make up for it 'Oh, yes, meditation will help you be a kinder person - I have something on my Ipod, 17 minutes of Loving Kindness, it will help you, I will lend it to you', he blathered on. I ignored him. He tried another card 'Just now, you said that you wished you didn't get annoyed at little things. Isn't this a little thing?' He beseeched me. We'd reached home and I didn't bother to answer him. I opened the door and went in, and to my shock, my sister leaped out towards me from the right - the shoe closet-type room we have there, with a 'Happy Birthday'!

I had just about recovered, managing a mild 'Oh-aah. Thanks', when there was a flash of blinding light from right in front of me, and the phenomena responsible for the same was my very own mother who materialized from one of the rooms where she had been hiding, holding a video camera to capture my stunned reaction. Scarcely had I got over this when my sister's friend A popped out from Far Left, from behind a sofa, with a digital camera that caught my open mouthed reaction. I think my exact words were 'Aa' and 'Gaa', respectively.

They then pointed out the breakfast table which had been set for me in my absence - with a sumptious breakfast of saugages, eggs, pancakes and maple syrup, brown bread - and of course, there was a dabba of alu-paranthas exclusively for Vijay. We dug in, but not before they made me open my presents, which consisted of about 18 sweaters. Very nice, they were too, and I was only sorry my birthday comes at the end of winter( and subsequently pretty happy about the continued cold-ish wave).

My sister informed me that they had been waiting in the car downstairs and then up in the house for about an hour, a consequence of my unusually early rising, Vijay's phone being unreachable, his failed attempt to get me out of the house on time, and his failed attempt to get me back into the house on time. Peanut had been excessively amused and delighted at the fact that the three of them scrambled to hide everytime a sound floated in from outside the house.

Frankly, I was really surprised. The evening surprise parties that have been a fixture for every birthday in our home for the last few years have surprisingly, ceased to surprise, although they continue to delight. This was really unexpected.

And the effort it took on the part of my mother and sister, who are not exactly early risers ( and presumably Friend A is not either) , to get up at about 6.30 a.m. and come over all the way, wait in the car, mystify the driver by saying 'Don't go near the house' when he decided to get out to stretch his legs a bit and generally make all the fuss, did a lot to make me feel loved.

(My sister also said that my mother's first reaction after they woke up was to look at her witheringly and remark 'What a dumb idea'. Shows how much effort it took, eh?)

Of course, there was the party in the evening at the club, to which I discovered Vijay had forgotten to invite some of my best friends ( I rectified this, embarassed) , but which turned out to be a roaring success primarily due to Vani's purchase of a White Board on which we all played Pictionary ( in two opposing teams - the silver hats and the pink hats) - and then a little dancing, the highlight of which was Peanut dancing with great skill to 'Ibn-e-Batuta'. Very cute. I also noticed that Vijay, my sister and A had done up the place with Balloons and Streamers, as if I was about six.

All in all, it was a fantastic birthday, and hard to remember that I was 30, and not 6. More importantly, I think I have the most amazing family and close friends ever possible.

Not bad, for the half way mark.

P.S - I guess I might as well tell you now. When I blogged earlier, I never really mentioned being an expectant mother and one day there was a post 'Oh guess what, I gave birth earlier today, here's a picture of the new baby'. Well, anyway, Peanut will be joined by Pickle, sometime in the next few months. But let's not make a big deal about it, shall we?