Sunday, 14 December 2008
Ro and I mostly listen to Charlene's "I've never been to me" in the car. We sing along, dissect every line in the song, and listen to it over and over again till we've reached our destination. Eventually we debate over whether this song is more tragic than Brad Paisley's "Whiskey Lullaby"! I think it is.
Now, before you think of us as a much-married boring couple, I must let you in on another favorite of ours, Besame Mucho. It was Sanjaya who first entertained us with his version of this Andrea Bocelli hit. Ro learnt it up, and would sing it on demand. For a while, Ro's version was also my ringtone. Romantic eh?
Now that Adiv is around, he decides much of what we listen to. In the car it is almost always Raffi (Ro and I have learnt up many of his songs).
And when we're home, Adiv and I listen to songs on youtube. He moves to Justin Timberlake (Bringing Sexy Back) and Shakira (Hips Don't Lie), but he also enjoys Sesame Street. In our list of favorites we have Elmo and the Goo Goo Dolls (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=SAR5Vw9Bvts), Feist (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=9fciD_II7NI), Andrea Bocelli (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=lv38j4lPzd0), and Norah Jones (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=-c3fvqNlFvc&feature=related) among others. Other favorites include the Elephant Song that I hope to perform with Adiv when he is older (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=yihq8BIhL9c), Papa Pinguin (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=eKG08z85DtY) and the Lonely Goatherd (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=CaD9Ozdthg8). So if I'm online, it usually means we're youtubing.
Ro is hoping I won't steer him away from rock music, but for the moment I'm introducing Adiv to all kinds of music.
Anyway, now that Adiv is fast asleep and Ro is at work, I'm off to listen to favorite of mine! Isobel, by Dido (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=I6KVDbDDreI)
Saturday, 6 December 2008
The train journey was tedious. The newly curtained and upholstered second AC compartment was a huge let down. The AC wasn't functioning, the berths were narrower, and the compartment was filled with roaches. Adiv who is used to a lot of space, found sharing a berth rather annoying. He woke up quite a few times, drinking water and tugging at his clothes. He was drenched in sweat. Eventually, I sat up, deciding to give him more space. A pregnant fellow-traveller who was snacking then smiled at me.
"Few months later, i'll be in your shoes", she whispered excitedly.
That was all the encouragement I needed. I flaunted my experience. I gave her parenting tips, reassured her about her fears, and marketed my pediatrician. While we we chatted, Ro lay on the top berth reading "The Last Lecture", waiting patiently for Palghat, where he hoped to have his fill of appam and mota roast.
A few coffees, and some disappointing idlies later, we were welcomed into Cochin Town by the scorching heat, and the excited faces of my parents. Adiv immediately jumped into my father's arms, looking rather pleased. They gushed about how much he'd grown and how sweet he was, while he lapped up all the attention with a smug expression on his face.
What followed were numerous visits. First there was breakfast (the second one I must add) in my uncle's house, followed by a bigger spread (lunch) in my aunt's house. I gorged on the chicken, took numerous helpings of the salad (with lots of mayo) and handed out presents I'd brought for all the kids. The children were curious about Adiv, who was fast asleep by then. When he woke up, he caused quite an uproar. He upset a 4-year-old by putting his toy in his mouth and rearranging his pillows. But in no time they were friends again, sharing toys (Adiv did much of the taking) and asking questions (Why is the baby making that face?).
A 2-year-old was more open about displaying her displeasure. After her byes to Adiv went unnoticed, she pulled his hair. He put up a brave front, refusing to cry. However, when noone was looking he pulled her hair. That cemented their friendship.
That evening, we went to the pre-wedding party, where there was lots to eat and drink. A disco had been set up on the second floor, and it came alive hours later when the groom-to-be began dancing to some popular tunes. For the first few hours, the room with loud music and blinding lights only saw groups of men (with their drinks), standing against the walls, gently tapping their feet.
The wedding itself was a much-awaited, grand event. Preparations had begun months in advance. For me that meant trying out my blouse every day, to make sure I didn't gain too much weight. Adiv wore a silk kurtha, but not for long. After the first set of pictures, I changed him into a more comfortable t-shirt. Then I travelled with the groom in the best (read "nicely air-conditioned") car. I handed out some last-minute marital advice, amidst yawns (the car was so comfortable). The groom who also claimed to be tired, yawned and feigned pre-marital jitters, till he saw his beautiful bride-to-be. Then he could barely disguise his pleasure. They gave eachother special smiles across cars, a private moment that was rudely interrupted by the numerous photographers. I also smiled, and waddled out (yes, I've been told I walk like a duck in a saree)hoping I'd not trip.
The wedding was long. Ro and I spent our time looking at the clock in front. My duties began after the thali was tied. The bride's sister who was standing behind her moved away, so I could take her position. All I had to do was make sure the bride's mathrakodi saree didn't fall off her head. And after the wedding, I had to fold the saree she was going to wear at the reception and put it on her arm. They smiled, and posed for pictures, while we rushed to the hall. I also had duties in the hall, where four of us were to help the newly-weds cut their cake.
The food was excellent. Beef, fish, chicken, veggies, rice, Appams, romali rotis.....4 different kinds of juices, dessert, etc etc! Despite the heat, we tucked in and continued praising the food even when we were leaving.
After that we rushed back to change. Ro and I changed into comfortable clothes, and Adiv was allowed to sit around in his diaper. He moved from person to person, only too happy with all the attention he was getting. He smiled and cooed, much to everyone's pleasure. He clapped, closed his eyes, and showed them his feet (as trained by us before we left) much to everyone's amusement.
The trip consisted of many visits to many houses. We were fed everywhere, and I was glad the wedding was over. Atleast now I didn't have to worry about the blouse. We had fun meeting people we hadn't seen in two years. We were tired, but we enjoyed the trip.
Now we're gearing up for the next set of holidays; Christmas in Hyderabad, New-Year in Chennai, and Adiv's first b'day in Bangalore. Can't believe how time flies!
Friday, 31 October 2008
"Wakey wakey time Tuttoo," I said loudly.
Finally I played a song on my mobile, and he jumped up smiling and rubbing his eyes.
The maid wasn't coming, so we had the day to ourselves. I made our beds, gave Adiv his breakfast, and brought out his toys. I turned on the radio, and danced to a popular song. Adiv looked up, smiled, and moved to the beat, his hands up in the air. Just then, we heard the friendly radio jockey, lure her listeners with a grand prize. To win it, we had to tell her a ghost story.
"This might be interesting", I told Adiv who was contemplating between putting either Gladys the cow, or a big red block into his mouth.
The first caller was on air.
"We went into the woods, and suddenly I heard a baby cry. It was spooky. It just had to be a ghost."
"It could have been a baby", said the RJ, trying to stifle her laughter.
Anyway, after thanking him, she played a few more songs.
"Maybe I should tell her a story", I thought to myself. I pulled out my mobile that was now in Adiv's mouth, and sent a quick SMS.
"You can't not believe in ghosts, when you've been to the most haunted place in the world", I typed, wearing a smile on my face. She would definitely call after that message, and I'd get my 40 seconds of fame (even if it meant only the jobless were tuned it at that time!).
As I predicted, she called.
"Hi Roopa", said a chirpy, friendly voice. "How are you?"
"Great. How are you", I responded with an equally chirpy, excited tone.
I gushed(lied) about how Adiv and I spent our days listening to radio.
"How cute", she responded.
We eventually got to my message. "So you have a story for me?"
I told her about our three-day holiday in York, a place that is marketed as being the most haunted place in Europe. In York, we'd visited all the museums that boasted of ghost sightings, walked along the city walls, and eaten the best doughnuts ever.
We'd heard many ghost stories while we were there. Sadly, we hadn't seen any.
Anyway, I was eventually on air telling my story. I told Bangalore about the eccentric old man, who'd built a huge house near the cathedral. He lived in his house with several servants, and no family to speak off. Anyway, in his will, he promised to keep his house open to tourists.
"But if you move anything, I'll haunt the place", he threatened. But this isn't the Ghost story I was going to tell Bangalore.
This house had more ghosts than it's beloved owner. An electrician working in the basement claimed that he'd seen a group of roman soldier marching across the room.
The ghosts seemed oblivious to his shocked presence. Interestingly, they took a path that was once a roman street. The city of York as we know it today, was built over a roman city. Archeologists are still working on the remnants of that era.
"Wow", said the RJ. "That was amazing. I've never heard about foreign ghosts," she laughed. I laughed and disconnected after being told that I might just win the grand prize.
What followed were frantic calls to Rohit and my mother. "I was on radio. I might win a prize." I didn't think the guy in the woods stood a chance. My story was definitely better, and I wanted that grand prize.
I waited for them to call back, telling me I'd won. I couldn't listen to radio, coz an excited Adiv had meddled with the radio, while i was bragging about my 40 seconds of fame.
Anyway, as with the cookery contest, I didn't win the big prize here either. Ironically, I was hoping for a prize I'd never have used. If I'd won, I'd have got a gift voucher to the hard rock cafe; hardly possibly with a baby having the sniffles. I was making generous plans of giving it to Rohit's young cousin.
Rohit believes they might still decide to give me the prize. So the wait continues!:)
Monday, 20 October 2008
After my wedding, I went to London armed with a few handwritten recipes and three books by B.F.Varughese. It was there that I began my culinary experiments on Ro. He encouraged all failed attempts with positive criticism, and praised all of my hits.
I've come a long way since then, proving to myself that if I can cook, anyone can. With this confidence egging me on, I took part in a cookery contest on Sunday. The enthusiastic association at my building complex was organizing a cookery contest, after a series of other fun events such as the inhouse olympics and the onam celebrations. I was hesitant initially, but Rohit insisted we take part. I agreed immediately, thinking he was going to make his signature dessert, the banoffee pudding. The palpitations began when I saw my own name in the list of participants.
"Why did you give my name? I was going to help you," i told the dessert expert in the house, Ro.
"You can do it. Why don't you make your bengali fish curry," he urged.
This bengali fish curry had by now become a hit. I'd made it on a few ocassions, and the guests had left licking their fingers. But I wasn't sure I could make it for 100 people.
"Okay, how about that pineapple pudding", he asked.
"For 100 people, it would be tough," I responded.
"Okay, I'll make a biscuit pudding. Get me some rum", I offered.
"Maybe we'll get the judges drunk enough to make us winners," I joked.
"Great! I'll get the rum", replied an excited Ro.
However, Ro's aunt was also making a biscuit pudding, so we had to change our plans again.
"I'll make the coconut loaf cake in lemon sauce", I said.
"Okay. So shall I send that in?"
We were both excited.
The contest was on Sunday, and I was going to spend my Saturday baking. I decided to bake 4 cakes, and Ro was going to look after Adiv. We woke up late (despite the alarm) on Saturday, and after tea and late breakfast, I went to buy vegetables. By the time I got back it was time for a yoga class I'd promised to attend.
"I'll be back in an hour's time" i promised. "I'll start baking after I return."
Yoga class went on for longer than I'd imagined. By the time I got back, Adiv who was happily playing with his Dada realized he was hungry and demanded that he be fed. Ro had already made his lunch, so he was fed, then we fed ourselves, and then it was time to bathe Adiv. After his bath Adiv fell asleep, and so did we. I got up grudgingly, deciding to check my mail once before getting busy. I checked my mail, finished two games of Word Twist, and by then Adiv was up again. Anyway, to cut the long story short, no baking was done on Saturday. At 12 in the night, I panicked, and got Rohit to grate 4 coconuts for me.
The alarm was set for 5 now, but I woke up with much difficulty at 6.20. I brushed my teeth, drank some coffee, and then began work. The ingredients had all been bought on Friday. So i measured the right quantities of flour and put it through a seive. In a mixing bowl, I creamed butter and sugar, seperated egg yolks in another container, and before I knew it the first cake was ready.
"It is any good."
I was apprehensive.
Ro cut us both a generous piece.
"Umm. It's delicious"
"Cut a slice for the maid. She was watching me make it."
"Bahut accha hai Didi", she responded.
The next three cakes were made in quick succession. Adiv peeked in from time to time wondering why Ammi wasn't giving him as much attention.
After quick lunch, I bathed Adiv and put him to sleep. Then Ro and I quickly made our lemon sauce. Everything seemed perfect, and we were already discussing the grand prize. By the time Adiv woke up, we were all set. The three of us got ready, packed our food, and set off to the basement of the other block where the food fest was going to be held. The aroma guided us, and we were shown to our stall. I was placed between the gaajhar ka halwa and a multi-coloured custardy, fruit dessert. In comparison my coconut loaf cake seemed rather dull I thought. But we had plans of serving each slice with a generous helping of lemon sauce, and some grated coconut.
Unfortunately, the organizers hadn't named my stall. They probably didn't know what I was making, so they merely wrote dessert there. This worked to our disadvantage because most people thought I was just giving them cake and custard. I told everyone who came by what I had made, but i'm sure my voice was drowned by the loud music that Adiv seemed to enjoy so much. After a while I gave up, focussing on all the food I wanted to eat; chennai chicken, chettinad chicken, orange chicken, prawn curry, crab curry, bengali fish curry, kerala fish curry, stuffed chicken, chicken roast, shahi paneer, stuffed capsicum (prize winner, but this winner is a chef at the Taj and so we weren't surprised), chaats, barbequed chicken, chicken stew, fish mollee, carrot halwa, kheer, biscuit pudding, fruit truffle, irish pudding, dahi vada etc etc etc. The stalls were endlness, and we just couldn't wait to taste them all.
My dessert was a hit with the kids who wanted a piece of cake, but no lemon sauce. The adults went straight for the puddings. So at the end, I had one big spoon (i lost one) for participation, and 2 uneaten cakes (I made 4). Rohit and Adiv clapped enthusiastically as I went to pick up my spoon, and Rohit promised to finish up whatever was left. I brought back the grated coconut that I'd left for garnishing as well, after emphatically correcting someone who thought the grated coconut was my dessert. Nevertheless, we had a great time. I met a lot of new people, and when we were back we had a lot to laugh about.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Monday, 8 September 2008
When I knew her, she was a lot older, though no less fun. She enacted out various nursery rhymes, made futile attempts at dancing, sent me letters filled with drawings, encouraged any sign of talent, and pampered me even when I feigned illness.
For the longest time, I always thought of her home as mine. A fairly inhibited child, I was myself only in her house. I played games in her backyard, watched Sesame Street on her ancient Black and White television set, and had my fill of bread, butter, jam (continues to be my comfort food today) during tea time. Occasionally she let me listen to her heartbeat with her stethoscope. Once we even performed surgery on a doll she made herself. She wrapped a piece of white cloth around a bottle, and drew two eyes, a nose, and a mouth on it.
I enjoyed going out with her. In hand-pulled rickshaws, we'd go to the market. I'd carry a small bag for a few vegetables, and we'd stop over at a sweet shop nearby, where she'd pick laddoos for the evening. One birthday, we went to the bakery instead, where I stood on a stool watching the baker carefully mark a beautiful cake with my name.
In the kitchen, she let me help even if i was being messy. I'd monitor the maids, authoritatively, pointing out corners that hadn't been swept. Otherwise I'd play with my dolls, listen in on conversations she had with Mummy, stare back at Mona Lisa (Mona Lisa Kochamma, as she tutored me to say), and hang from the windows talking to anyone who cared to listen. At times I'd wear a sari, she'd kept aside for me, and walk around with an air of importance. In the evening, Mummy, Ash, and I would walk to the park, where I'd look out for the ice cream vendor. We'd return in time for tea, when the family gathered in the dining room, talking.
As I grew older, she continued to be involved in my life; showing an interest in the books I read (She read one Nancy Drew before she died), making me chicken soup on a day off, and talking to my teacher about why I disliked going to school. When I began having fun in school, she was the most interested. I'd tell her about that play in which I merely had to drop dead, or the school choir that I'd become part off. I resumed my Carnatic music classes, but rarely ever sang in public. In a dilapidated building that housed minimal furniture, a mat, and an old harmonium, I sang without any inhibitions. A shy child, I promised I'd sing to her when she returned from Bombay.
A lot changed after her death. I found the courage to sing in competitions, and act in plays with spoken parts. I won prizes, and continued singing in school. In college, I began writing short stories and articles, some of which made to the college paper. For a short time, I even wrote a weekly column for a website.
“I wonder if she knows”, I wondered aloud.
“I'm sure she does,” responded Mummy.
Since then I've stopped singing. I ran out of teachers, and the will to wake up in the morning for my riyaz. I wrote from time to time on various blogs, but I was mostly just reading (a hobby that I barely have time for, since Adiv's birth). I still think about her from time to time, wishing she'd been around to calm my nerves before my wedding, hold my baby soon after he was born, and enjoy a holiday in my house discussing Prince Charles and my stint in the UK. It is unfortunate that she missed meeting Ro and Adiv. But, It's a pity Adiv will never know her as I knew her, or understand her prominence in my childhood. To him she'll remain just a story, a gentle face in a photograph!
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Mysore was fun! Better roads (and climate), less crowded streets and power cuts just made it better. With some help from people on the road, we got to my cousin's house in time for lunch. An animal crazy home that once housed a great dane, her 6 puppies, three geese, two cats, and a chicken with an identity crisis, it has always held a special place in my life. I went there on holiday alone, for the first time, when I was 15. I went there again from time to time, but this was the first time I was taking Ro there. This time we were welcomed in to the sound of their joyous chatter, the curious barks of their friendly Rottweiler, and the feigned indifference of their pregnant cat.
An hour later, another cousin and her two boys arrived on the afternoon train. Adiv who was lapping up all the attention from everyone took to the younger boy immediately. He gave him generous kisses, and gurgled loudly when the 9-yr-old played "Super Baby" with him. My heart was in my mouth, as I followed the excitable 9-yr-old running around with my even-more-excitable 6-month old in his arms. They were later grounded to the confines of the bed, with one of the adults watching over.
In the evening, everyone was rudely woken up from their siestas, so we could drive to the Mysore Palace grounds. The minute we got out, several horse driven carriages approached us. The america-returned boys were ecstatic, but Adiv was strangely oblivious to the sight of a real horse. Anyway, we climbed into three carriages and went for a ride. Adiv sat on my lap with a big smile that never left his face. After the ride, my cousin's daughters fussed over Adiv some more, while the boys were lured into buying cheap chains by a roadside hawker. Their embarassed mother mouthed, "lets leave", and we were off to the Philomina Church. By the time we got there, Adiv was hungry and it was beginning to pour. So after a quick peek inside, we decided to head back.
Back home, the men opened up bottles of beer and whiskey, while we sat around with the kids ocassionally sipping our breezers. Adiv was changed into his night clothes, and he was happily following his new hero, 9-year-old P, on all fours.
P and J are both typical american kids with an unusual fondness for appams and stew. Their holiday was ending now, and they couldn't wait to get back to Newyork. They spoke about home, their room, their Dad who was still back home, and their friends. At 13 and 9, they were both unusually business minded. On his 8th birthday, P took home-made brownies to school. After giving them to his friends and teachers, he sold the leftover brownies for a dollar each. His older brother was smarter. After collecting his pocket money over a period of time, he'd bought all the candy at a nearby store, just so he could sell them to his friends...at a profit! We laughed ofcourse, but his mother explained to me that they were at a stage where they had to explain to their kids about right and wrong. We have a long way to go I thought, looking at Adiv who was sitting on Nindiya's lap, examining her watch.
The next day, my birthday, was filled with phone calls from allover. I got calls from my family, Ro's family, and friends. My in-laws sent me my favorite chocolate truffle cake, and my cousin's daughter Nimisha baked me a chocolate pudding. 30 candles were carefully placed on the pudding. I blew them at one go, before scooping out some delicious pudding into my bowl. The lunch that followed was a feast. After pigging out, and relaxing for a bit, we then decided it was time to drive back to Bangalore. We both had work the next day, and we couldn't afford to be too late.
We got back at 8, after a break or two, ready to flop into bed. Adiv was being fed, and I was still answering calls, when Ro's uncle and family arrived with a book I can't wait to read, a CD i am listening to, and some delicious Goan food.
So yeah, the weekend was wonderful! Turning 30 couldn't have been more fun. However, now I better think in terms of burning up all the calories I collected over the weekend.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
"You will feel good about yourself", said Mom gently.
"You won't get this opportunity again", said Dad more firmly.
"By the time Adiv grows up, it might be too late to start again", said Ro kindly.
I wept, reminded them of the time when Adiv was crying and I was on the phone discussing the offer. I said emphatically, "I don't want him to suffer."
Then Ro and I began discussing the possibility of hiring a Nanny. Initially, I wasn't too kicked about the idea, because I didn't really know if anyone else could do a good job taking care of him. Ialso didn't want to share Adiv with a random stranger. Anyway,I gave in eventually!
The Nanny came via an agency. As my parents were in Bangalore for a week, my mom had the responsibility of training her. As with most nannies, this one came armed with credentials and experience. I wasnt impressed, the mother rarely is. "I've taken care of many babies. I know exactly what to do", she said, wearing a big smile on her face.
Anyway, her day eventually began with the mother hen clucking around her nervously. Adiv took to her immediately, and that eased my tension. In her early 30s, the nanny wore bright colors and some shiny gold-plated jewellery. He was loved this jazzy woman with the loud, high-pitched voice.
"Enna baby", she said and picked him up immediately. After that, she didn't say much.
Limiting herself to the confines of our pool-facing balcony, she walked up and down.
"Talk to him", I said.
Then she wandered out of the bedroom and walked to the kitchen. The top-worker cum cook was only too pleased to see someone she could talk to. With Adiv in her arms, the nanny spoke to the maid in whispered tones.
I was livid.
"No taking him to the kitchen. It isn't safe, and I don't want him growing up between two servants", I said firmly.
"Play with him. Talk to him. Don't just walk around quietly."
"No madam. He is only 6 months old. No use talking to him. He probably won't understand anyway."
"I've been talking to him from day one. He responds. So talk to him. Sing to him. Show him his toys and books."
After another hour of working, I decided to peek again. I could hear her talking loudly, but I wasn't sure if it was for my benefit.
She was standing by the bed, talking loudly to noone in particular. Adiv was on the bed, with his cloth book in his mouth.
"Talk to him", I urged again. "What do you think you are doing?"
Eventually Adiv got bored with her. The whining graduated into loud sobs.
"Why is he crying?"
"Maybe he is hungry."
Picking him up, I told her where his flask was, and how the bottles had to be handled.
"I know Madam", she said placing the bottle teat on counter.
"That has been sterilized. Why are you putting it there?"
When Adiv drinks his milk, he likes to hold on to something. That day he was holding his favorite rattle.
"No No No" she said, snatching away the rattle from him. After a few seconds of looking rather shocked, Adiv screamed and cried.
"Let him hold it if he wants to", I said irritably.
Adiv was too irritated to care. By then he didn't want the rattle or his milk.
"I'll put him to sleep now", she said picking him up.
She sat down, forced his head on her lap and rocked him violently.
"DONT", I screamed. "He doesn't like it like that."
I picked him up and took him to my parents who were quite fed up by then. I then told her she could wash and iron his clothes. She did that quite well. When she was done, I told her to sit with him on his mat.
Adiv likes to crawl, and we always put him down in longs, so he can explore. He even likes holding on to things to stand up. So someone needs to watch him constantly. If not he'll either put something into his mouth, or bang his head against tables.
"Let him crawl, but just watch him", i said going back to my laptop.
I sat down for a minute, and I could hear Adiv crying again. She wasn't letting him crawl. She was holding him with both her hands and restricting his movement.
"Let him go", i said.
She let him go, but began following him very very closely. He was irritated.
"Give him some space."
Bath time was no less traumatic. She held him upright with one hand, soaped him and pour water over his face. He was horrified.
"Lay him down and be careful. He doesn't like water on his face."
I'd given her a demo the day before, she seemed to be doing her own thing.
"I've bathed many babies. I know how to do it."
"Leave your experience outside. I don't want you to spoil his bathtime for him. He usually enjoys his bath."
After this much crying, Adiv was tired. I quickly wiped him, put him in comfortable clothes and told her to put him to sleep gently. She rocked him gently, but instead of singing to him, she chose the horrifying option of screaming, "Bah Bah Bah Bah."
Adiv was crying again and I was tearing out my hair.
"Leave him alone. Don't you know any songs?"
After her first day, I was begining to wonder if working had been a good idea. Anyway, we had a chat with her. She was being paid to keep him happy, so she had to do what we wanted her to do. She agreed, because she wanted to stay on. I decided to give her another chance, because I realized she needed some time as well to get to know Adiv. Three days later, things are gradually improving. Adiv seems happier, and she is making more of an effort of playing with him. I'm however continuing to keep a close watch.
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Made from material that was originally intended for the altar in a church, Adiv's christening gown had a special story to tell. After Ro's birth two women came to see the baby. They had a present for him; material that his grandmother used to make him his christening gown. After she'd begun, the women returned apologizing for a mistake they had made. They'd given baby Ro the wrong present. The material they'd given him was intended for the church. By then it was too late! The material was already being stitched into a beautiful gown that Ro and Adiv would wear.
The service was small and sweet, and Adiv didn't bawl as expected. When the pastor wet his hair with blessed water, he merely smiled. Eventually he fell asleep, waking up only for a feed.
What followed, was breakfast. While the grownups ate, Adiv lapped up all the attention that came his way.
Adiv with two of his God parents (Onke Ash couldn't make it, so he is God father by proxy!)
Adiv with his cousins
It was his day, and he was having fun. The breakfast ended with him falling asleep, tired!
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
It wasn't easy in the beginning. He was wary, and the children appeared too noisy. He was happy just playing spectator. In time he began flashing smiles at anyone who would look in his direction. Eventually he wanted to sit on the swing and merry-go-round just like the older children. I'd put him on the swing and push it gently while holding him firmly with my hand. He'd put his head up and smile with half closed eyes, enjoying the breeze that hit his face.
These evenings in the play area grew longer with time, and soon Adiv was on the merry-go-round and the slide, and I got some much needed exercise in the process. Going in circles while holding him upright on the merry-go-round, and then sliding him up and down on the slippery slide, wasn't so much fun for my back. However, he was having fun and I was having some much needed adult conversations with the women.
Getting initiated into the play area was no different from being accepted in college or the workplace. We'd begin with smiles and introductions, but after that you had to fit in. People chose different ways to do that. Some resorted to memorizing the names of those children who'd been there longer, just so they could call out to them and eventually befriend their mothers. If you spoke the same language and had similar tales to share, it became easier. Also, as with any group, this one had the dominant mothers and the submissive mothers. The loud mouthed leaders walked around asking the rest questions about what they were feeding their children, and why they'd chosen the names they'd chosen for their kids.
"You call her G? What an old fashioned name. Ha Ha. My son is called R (a name popularized by Shahrukh Khan on celluloid)."
From a safe distance, I watched for a week, mimicing the bullies each evening for Ro's amusement. Then one day I began to steer in. I knew that if I was friendly enough I'd have someone to turn to if i needed help. So I began making my own attempts. I smiled, asked questions about their lives and kids, and let Adiv do the rest. He smiled, cooed, and charmed them, forcing a friendship between us. Yes, if they liked him, I decided I could like them. Before I knew it, I was part of a smaller group that was made of mothers of babies. We had a lot more in common than I had imagined. Oblivious to the seniors who ruled the play area, we walked around with our infants, put them on the swings and slides, and had fun. And when it was time for the fathers to return, we'd walk back to our flats.
I've been here two months, and i've now begun looking forward to these outings. Apart from the fact that Adiv enjoys these outings, I've come to realize that you can be friends with all kinds of people; even those who don't speak the same language.
Thursday, 26 June 2008
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
The maid has been fairly good! She sweeps, wipes, dusts, washes vessels, puts out the clothes from the washing machine, folds clothes, washes and irons the baby clothes, cuts and cleans veggies, and cooks dinner (her beef curry and alloo parathas are to die for)!
The pediatrician proved to be even better, though it took a while to find him. Our hunt first led us to a tall insipid looking fellow who ran his practice close to where we live. Let me confess that I tend to be rather wary of male pediatricians. Will a man ever understand a mother's fears and concerns? This first doctor didn't! Every question was brushed aside. He seemed more keen on the expensive injections. "Let's give him one today. Come back after 2 weeks and we will give him another one."
"No! Let us think about it", I responded, after whispering to Ro that I needed a second opinion. Still not very happy, we asked more questions. The man answered, as if recollecting from memory. Staring into space, and using his fingers to list the milestones the baby should have reached by now, he recited what he'd no doubt mugged up well in the past. Then he decided to check Adiv's length and weight. While holding the measuring tape against Adiv's wriggling body, he muttered to himself, "Should be between 48 to 54 cms."
"Oh, he is 62 cms", he said looking confused. "Going to be 6 footer i guess."
Anyway, the meeting ended with Adiv wailing, and us promising to return after 2 weeks. We never did. Thankfully, by then my aunt had introduced us to a friendly (again male) doctor who wore an amused expression in his eyes and a permanent smile in his lips. I knew I liked him as soon as I saw him.
"Put him on the table" he said. As soon as I did, Adiv turned over to explore the contents of that examination table. When I tried to hold him back, the doctor said, "Let him do whatever he wants. Don't stop him." Then he began bonding with him. He made these clicking sounds with his tongue and spoke gently to Adiv, who smiled and cooed in response. Then he picked him up, examined him and carried him with one hand to the weighing machine. Adiv seemed thrilled at the prospect of flying to the weighing machine. The doctor in turn seemed pleased with the huge gummy grins he was getting. They liked eachother, and I was relieved!
Two weeks later, we went back for Adiv's vaccination. The doctor gave him a grand welcome by picking him up and playing with him. "Tickle Tickle" he said, while he tickled Adiv who was laughing loudly by now. Amidst all the fun, he suddenly gave Adiv a poke that he didn't even notice. He got his injection and he didn't cry! Everyone in the waiting room was surprised. "He didn't cry?" The older children who were either crying or close to tears, seemed a little sheepish as we walked out with a "still smiling" Adiv. He was the star of that clinic!
Now that both the maid and pediatrician are taken care off, I can finally say I've settled down in Bangalore!
Friday, 25 April 2008
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Anyway, my brother and I spent little time praying. Through separated in Church by our mother, we managed several giggles and serious conversations that centered around the skin on some unsuspecting individual's neck. Then my brother would feign the need to pee, and we'd eventually leave with a triumphant expression plastered on our faces.
As we got older, things changed. I began enjoying service, and I now knew quite a lot of the hymns. I began praying each Sunday for a wonderful new week, and when we moved to a bigger CSI church, the pastor sealed my relationship with the church, with his interesting sermons. However, it was a cousin's wedding that got me to declare that I wanted to have a CSI wedding too. That is just what I got.
I will refrain from bragging about our beautiful wedding service again, but I must confess I was thrilled the long drawn services in a Jacobite church were over.
After our wedding, Ro and I went to church whenever we could; and after A's birth we decided to initiate him into church on Easter Sunday. No, we didn't sneak out hurridly, muttering apologies under our breath. Instead we sat through the entire service, singing to an ecstatic A who made his own attempts at singing like his Dad.
A loved the service, and he was blissfully oblivious to his mother's inherited "yakoba" heritage.
So when a Yakoba acchen made an appearance two days ago, I saw the look of shock on his teeny face. The CSI acchens are by far less intimidating to look at. They sport kind, clean shaven smiles (most of them), unlike their Yakoba counterpart. The beard caught A's fancy, but he also seemed like he was deciding whether to cry or endure the Yakoba Acchen's visit. The acchen attempted to be befriend A who stared ahead at him with feigned courage. Not getting a smile, the acchen then turned his attention on us. "Why is he in pampers?" That began a lecture on how we were taking the easy way out by putting a baby in pampers. Wasn't child rearing meant to be a difficult task? So why would we put him in pampers. "Put him in cloth nappies" he declared. "Unless ofcourse you were taking him out", he added as an after thought. After this lecture that seemed to go on forever, he eventually put his hand on A's forehead to pray. "Now he'll cry", I thought. But as always A surprised us again. That gesture led A into thinking that this beared giant was a friend. Thinking it was a game, he reached out and pulled the Acchen's sleeve. He continued tugging at his sleeve, till the poor Acchen was forced to cut short his long prayer. The CSI acchen hadn't interested A half as much. He'd merely smiled at the CSI acchen. He barely even noticed the CSI acchen's hand on his head during his blessing. Was it the cool beard that caught his fancy? Maybe!
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
It was 5.30pm When I rang the doorbell on Friday evening. R wasn't expecting me (as usual, I'd made her believe that I wouldn't be able to make it until saturday morning) and she was depressed all day coz of that - but seeing me walk in the door - she was thrilled. So was I... Thrilled that my weekend with my wife and son had officially kicked off. A had just been bathed, and was being groomed by his mother as I approached. It took him 10 minutes to warm up to me. It wasn't coz he didn't know me - it was quite obvious that he recognized me... but he hadn't seen me in two weeks and was suddenly very shy. He refused to give me a second glance, fixing his gaze on his "Amma" no matter where you moved him... finally, about 10 minutes later, he gave into all the coaxing, and everything was normal in the world again. He smiled, laughed, giggled and kicked the air in excitement as I played with him for a bit. This was pretty much how the weekend was spent. When he slept R and I would either talk or play our silly word games on facebook and if I was bored doing that, i'd pretend to try and wake him up (this would get R all worked up, coz she would have just rocked him to sleep). R kept reminding me she couldn't take care of two kids at the same time and that I would have to grow up and I would quote my erstwhile friend, S, here.... "Growing old is mandatory - Growing up is optional".
A made my day that night... he normally turns towards R, cuddles up to her and then goes to sleep... that night, he turned towards me, cuddled up and we both slept that way until his feed time. After his feed, he turned the other way and slept with his "Amma" till the morning. He already has a sense of fairness. He wanted both of us to feel special.
Saturday was a quiet day- lazed around with A as per his schedule- A's "A-M" had arrived the previous night. We went out to dinner on saturday. "A-M" was treating us all. As usual A was a well behaved kid all through the evening. As long as he had his bottle of milk, he didn't care what was on the menu. He spent a lot of time looking around at the lights, the paintings, people and when he had enough of looking around, he quietly went to sleep in his car seat.
Sunday was again another lazy A-centered day. He woke up to be fed, played for a bit, then took a short nap and it was time to feed again. What a wonderful life - he gets to do that all day for the next couple of years. I hope he's enjoying it as much as he can - once he gets to the point of running the rat race in about 2 years, it will be a while before he can look forward to his retirement.
That night as I lay down with him, he cuddled up to me... but the moment R got into bed, he rolled over and went to her - R was thrilled - even though she didn't show it the previous night, she did feel bad that he'd ditched her the moment i'd arrived on the scene :-). I guess he senses these things and makes sure no one feels left out - smart kid eh?
Monday came by and it was no different from the previous lazy days. R kept saying the weekend's almost over, and I kept wondering if I should just take an extra day off coz i wasn't ready to leave my wife and son and head back yet... the only saving grace was that I was flying back on the early flight on tuesday morning so that I could get to work on time. This would mean i would get to cuddle up and sleep with A one more night... the day was quite uneventful, except for A's antics when he was awake, and the delicious cake that R baked, and some wonderful crumb fish for lunch, in hindsight, I should have brought the two pieces of cake that were left over to bangalore :-( (R.... *hint* *hint*).
A slept snuggled up to me all night- as if he knew I'd be gone when he woke up in the morning. As I kissed him goodbye while he slept, I wondered if he'd miss me as much as I would miss him. I guess he would... he's just not able to express it yet - plus being a boy, he probably won't express these feelings even after he grows up :-). Men have this problem with expressing themselves. They do different things to show they care, but will never be straightforward about it.And I understand that... After all - I'm that way too. Someday he'll read this blog and wonder if this is really how his dad feels... and i'm fine with the way this post has turned out, as he's still a baby - I'll probably change the tone of these posts, as he grows into a young lad. :-)
Evidently, three days were totally insufficient, though some might wonder why I'm complaining. It comes with the territory and I can't wait for them to join me, which will be pretty soon! As I spend the rest of the day thinking about R & A and this past weekend, I console myself saying that I'll get to go visit again in two weeks... and I'm already looking forward to that.
Friday, 4 April 2008
Cause the air is filled with gold dust
And fortune falls like snow flakes in your hands
Now I don't recall who said it
But we'd lived so long on credit
And so we headed out to find our promised land
Just poor Smoky Mountains farm folk
With nothing more than high hopes
So we hitched our station wagon to a star
But our dreams all fell in on us
Cause there was no land of promise
Though it's a stuggle just keepin' sight of who you are
Oh and these northern nights are dreary
And my southern heart is weary
As I wonder how the old folks are back home
But I know that they all love me
And they're all thinking of me
The Smoky Mountains memories keep me strong
You know I've been thinkin' a whole lot lately
About what's been and what awaits me
It takes all I've got to give what life demands
You go insane if you give in to it
Life's a mill and I've been through it
I'm just thankful I'm creative with my hands
Oh and these northern nights they're dreary
And my southern eyes are teary
As I wonder how the old folks are back home
But I'll keep leanin' on my Jesus
He'll love and guide and lead us
The Smoky Mountains memories keep me strong
If I'll keep looking to the father
Keep our heads above the water
While the Smoky Mountains memories keep me strong
Monday, 31 March 2008
He also grew up amidst animals. His family even had a monkey at one time. The household was crowded with his 8 brothers and sisters, their children, and relatives who flocked by from everywhere. Though he was used to having children around, he didn't have too much patience for them. He just about tolerated the child who took a fancy for his socks and his niece's kids who sat under the dining table playing with everyone's toes.
They loved the children in their family ofcourse, but they were going to really enjoy only their own kids. They got together and the kids arrived. She joked about how she loved her dogs as much as she loved her kids. Nevertheless, they were both very good parents. Then one day, the grandchild arrived. An interesting, chatty infant with moods and a mind of his own, was sure to turn their lives upside down; and that is exactly what happened.
Now they were both sitting up at night, entertaining the little one with their songs and games. They carried him around the house talking, when he suffered from colic. They invented little games for him, and spoke to him for hours. He sometimes got off from work early, just to be with his grandson. He even watched cricket with his month-old grandson, explaining the nuances of the game. He was never too tired for him. He woke up early, did his exercise, read the newspaper and waited for the grandson to wake up. He'd then walk him around the house, showing him the paintings on the wall, the pictures in the house, and the leaves outside. And when he got back from work, he'd head straight for the baby. He had a special smile reserved for the grandson, and his eyes always lit up when he saw him. Considering he was never very demonstrative, he showered the little one with kisses. The baby was definitely the best thing that had happened to him.
She was no different. She was the crazy grandparent, who danced and sang for him, even entertaining him during his bath. She taught him action songs that he enjoyed. She even made up songs for him, and he now sleeps to one of those songs. A reader, she stopped reading. A literati addict, she was now playing only after he'd gone to sleep. She taught him his first prayer by holding his hands together and praying for him. When he was sick, she was the calm one with solutions to every problem. She enjoyed getting him teeny clothes and then dressing him up. And when he slept she'd spend some time just looking at him. If she once claimed she preferred animals to babies, this was one baby she loved more than anything in the world. Not much has changed now.
The little one is 2 months old, and as I write this post, he lies between his doting grandparents cooing and gurgling with laughter, while they entertain him with songs and stories he doesn't yet understand. But he loves my parents, and to them Adiv means the world.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
That Earth can offer to a declining man
Brings hope with it and forward looking thoughts.
- William Wordsworth (Also used by George Eliot in "Silas Marner")
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
I like giving R surprises - so I thought she would be thrilled if I landed up at 10.30pm on Thursday instead of early morning on Friday as I normally would. I was also hoping I'd get to spend a little time with A before he went to sleep - however it was not to be. The bus gods decided otherwise - first there were traffic delays and then passenger delays (one absent minded chick forgot to board the bus, so the bus owner instructed the driver to wait, while she was raced in an auto rickshaw to where we were waiting) - following all this drama, I finally made it only at 12.30. A was already asleep - but R was happy nevertheless.
Around 4am, A woke up for his feed - I was very curious if he would still recognize me (it had been two weeks since i saw him last) - As soon as he was fed and put on the bed, I shoved my face in front of his with some baby talk. I expected him to show no sign of recognition and probably start crying seeing this strange person in his bed....but he gave me the sweetest gummy smile, turned towards me and went to sleep. It was a feel good moment, but at the same time it was also a feel guilty moment. It's sad that the little one doesn't get to see me for 2 weeks at a stretch at times - hopefully it won't be too long before he moves to Bgl and then things will get better.
The next two days were pretty uneventful - mostly revolving around little A and mentally preparing ourselves to take A to Church for his first Easter Sunday Service. We had everything planned. We planned to leave early for Church and find seats near the side entrance so that we could rush out immediately if A throws a tantrum or gets cranky. We got there in good time and got the seats we wanted - A was still catching up on his beauty sleep so he was put on the pew seat in between R and me. The service got underway and about half an hour into the service, A started his usual stretches getting ready to wake up. As we anticipated this would happen we were prepared with a bottle of milk, and quickly gave it to him - once he's fed - he's a happy child - he just looked around to check out the new surroundings.
At this time, the pastor announced the next hymn and as the music played and everyone stood up, A was visibly excited hearing the opening bars... R carried him and as we stood singing, A had a huge smile on his face- He obviously loved the music - He also kept trying to nudge closer to me - so R said - "he wants u to carry him" - I put down the hymn book and carried him in my arms and continued to sing. At this point, A seemed to have got the hang of the tune, and he actually started opening his mouth trying to mouth the words looking at the way my lips were moving - It was such a cute sight. Everyone around had their eyes on this little two month old baby excitedly smiling and attempting to sing in time with the tune and enjoying the music... and of course when I looked at them I gave them the usual "proud parent" smile. A was awake for another 45 minutes and then fell asleep during the sermon and the other boring parts. He only woke up on our way back home - but he did have one heck of an outing on Easter Sunday.
I could go on and on about how he enjoyed the service in church, but a voice inside my head says, stop being the show-off dad... people will stop reading your blog. Anyway, R has said that she plans to take him to church every Sunday - maybe we were just lucky this one Sunday and he decided to be well behaved, next Sunday might be a different story altogether.... I'm waiting to hear what happens, as I'm missing out on some bonding time with my son this weekend just so that he has a decent home to come to in a month!!! The tradeoffs one has to make is sometimes unfair... but life's unfair - Right???
Monday, 17 March 2008
When he isn't talking, he attempts rolling over, and now that he is plagued by the Chennai heat, he either tries to pull up his tee-shirt, or he calls for the AC to be switched on. Then we curl up on the bed talking, till either one of us falls asleep.
Adiv enjoys his bathtime, that has now been shifted to the afternoon. By the time i've stripped him off his clothes, his smiles have become bigger. And once he's been placed on his bath sponge, his excitement knows no bounds. To the sound of us singing to him ( The ABCDs and other Rhymes), he gets to enjoy the feel of warm water being poured on him. After his bath, and a feed, he usually takes a cat nap. (I'm not complaining as long as he sleeps at night. )
At night he doesn't sleep on his fancy cot anymore. The night light, the vibrating mattress, the music, and the colorful animals hanging from above aren't incentive enough for him to sleep in his bed. He'd much rather sleep with me, on the same pillow, with one hand either on my neck or holding my nose. Sometimes he spends minutes examining the cross I wear, touching and feeling its rough edges. He'll then move in closer before settling down to sleep. In the process I end up frozen in one position, for fear of smothering him.
In the morning he wakes up to the welcoming hands of his grandparents, who are only too keen on entertaining him.
His grandmother sits down with him by the balcony window, so he can lie down and look out. He is fascinated by the leaves outside, and the noises that sometimes startle him. Staring at the friendly squirrel or a moving branch, he eventually falls asleep. If he isn't too keen on napping, he is soon transported into his play gym. After a round of cycling, and some conversations with his gym pals; the octopus, a starfish, and a tortoise, he then decides it's time for a nap or a feed.
His life therefore is pretty simple. He is happy as long as he is fed, kept clean, and given enough attention. As simple as all this might seem, he has made a world's difference in all our lives. My life surely has more meaning now, than it did before.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
I brought Adiv in this world kicking (not really) screaming, and holding on to Ro's hand begging him to take me home. None of the breathing techniques learnt previously at the maternity studio seemed to help. Ro's gentle reminders about breathing during a contraction merely caused irritation. Eventually the pains got worse, the intervals shorter, and the screams louder. The girl behind the partition delivered minutes before I did, after a series of orgasmic moans that didn't seem very amusing then. Her tiny baby(whom she named Princess) arrived to the sound of my screaming as well, before Adiv decided to make an appearance. When he did, the mood transformed completely. Suddenly there was an air of jubilation in the labor room. Ro and I were smiling, and the team of doctors and nurses were relieved the screaming had ended.
"It's a HE", said the gentle doctor, while I stared at the baby.
"You can touch him", she said, because I seemed unsure about touching the delicate one. I touched him with a finger, smiled, and turned to a beaming Ro saying, "I told you it was going to be a boy."
Almost immediately, the baby was taken to the pediatrician, who Ro thought was the "baby cleaner". After Adiv was cleaned up, he was brought to me once more, so I could whisper "baby tuttooos" into his teeny ears. For a second, he stopped crying, and that moment made up for all the pain i'd endured. It was a special moment, and I was glad that Ro was there to share it with me.
A mother was born that day, though not a particularly skilled one. I had to learn to carry the little one, feed him, change him, and comfort him. And when he was shifted to the neonatal ICU with jaundice, I wept (infact I wept every time he wept). Finally I was spending hours in the ICU. Every time I was called to feed him, I'd also sit around to burp him, talk to him, and put him to sleep, before being driven away by the nurses. Ro didn't get as much time with him, but a kind malayalee nurse did sneak him into our room a few times so Ro could hold him as well.
A lot has happened since then. Both Ro and I are getting better at our parenting roles, and Adiv is now a 50-day-old responsive baby who is curious about the world around him. He is a chatty baby who loves his play gym, but hates it when his soiled diaper isn't changed immediately. He loves being carried from room to room, so he can look at the pictures and shadows on the wall, the curtains against the window, and the moving leaves outside the window. When left alone, he'll even engage in a conversation with his toy cow, chicken, and pig that hang from his baby cot. He likes his duck rattle as well, but from a distance. Bring it too close and he is scared.
I've also changed quite a bit in the last 50 days. I'm more comfortable as a mother, but just as paranoid. I make frequent trips to the pediatrician with doubts about what is normal for a baby. When I'm not at the clinic, i call her on her mobile. Fortunately, she comes armed with oodles of patience, and since I'm a regular at her clinic, she's even stopped charging me now.
Anyway, both Adiv and I are well, and Ro makes a wonderful dad. In short, life is good!
Thursday, 6 March 2008
now its almost 7 weeks and i think we're living up to the challenge of being responsible parents - R spoils Adiv rotten all week, and on the weekend i get there and pamper him some more :-) ... I can't help it if he wants to have these long conversations with me - he talks about the trunk on the loft in the bedroom that he inherited from his grandma (she gave it to him coz he was always starting at it and he's thrilled about it - though i'm not lugging it to bangalore now - he can go collect it when he's old enough to drive), the paintings on the wall in the living room, the shadows that the incandescent lamp casts when all the other lights are turned off, the fans... he just has so much to talk about and the weekend is barely enough to get through it all.
he actually turned and gave me a number of kisses a couple of weeks ago and this is one of those moments that i'll treasure forever - all credit goes to R for capturing it on camera in time! :-) - The one at the top was taken the day after he was born. And for those of you who are wondering - Adiv means "gentle" in Hebrew (thats what a website said)