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.’