Monday, 28 December 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

This year we had a quiet Christmas. I didn't bake a cake, and the day didn't begin with appam and stew. Nevertheless, the family got together at night, with everyone bringing something to the table; duck, fish, chicken, salad, bread rolls, flavored rice, and dal followed by a lemon and coconut pudding and a coffee pudding. Before this feast, we sat together, sang a few carols, watched Adiv dance to Jingle Bells, had a Bible reading, and prayed. The kids were all given presents. Adiv was most thrilled.

Adiv's Christmas began the day the stars came up in the building. He was fascinated by them. The excitement doubled, when his grand uncle showed him the picture of a Santa Claus. From then on, he only watched videos of Tantaku (Santa) and spoke about him. He thought Jingle Bells was the "coolest" song ever, and always jumped up to shake to its beat. Then on Christmas eve, we had to get the kids presents, and we landed up in a mall. As soon as we got there, we saw huge crowds gather at the atrium. That middle of the mall had been transformed into the north pole, and on a sleigh sat Santa. He smiled, posed for pictures with the kids, and gave them sweets.

"Tantakooooo, come", yelled a very excited Adiv. We immediately got him a ticket and waited his turn. When his turn came, he smilled happily and settled down on Santa's lap. When Santa brought out his sac of sweets, he put both hands in and took as many as he could. Then I took a few pictures, ignoring the Forum photographer who suggested that I pose with Santa as well. After the pictures, we picked out goodie bag from Nilgiris, and got to Landmark. We snaked our way in to find books and toys, before we suddenly spotted a dancing Santa. He danced towards kids in the store, posing for pictures and giving out presents. A few excited parents threw their frightened children towards this famished, tamil speaking Santa, just so they could get a picture. Santa obliged by smiling and holding on to the writhing child. Then Adiv ran forward, pushed away a frightened child and danced to the tunes of Jingle bells. Both Santa and Adiv danced, and Adiv got his present. Saying bye, we moved to another section in the store. Finally when the bill was being paid, we saw Santa again. Adiv ran to him blowing kisses. Santa smiled, obliged with another jig, and gave him ANOTHER present. The day had gone well. It was perfected by a pair of shades from Liliput that Adiv begged for (and got). He now zooms across rooms on his cycle, wearing these shades.


New Year, was more tiring. We were in Cochin for an engagement, and quite anxious about trying out the Cochin specials. Unfortunately, Ro ended up with a tummy upset, but that didn't deter little Adiv. He danced to the tunes of some popular mallu songs and the Vengaboys (remember, "I'm going to Ibiza?") and welcomed in the New year. Otherwise we pretty much spent our time with visits to family members in the city.

Now that the excitement has this holiday season as ended, Adiv is now preparing for the next big event; his 2nd birthday. So he spends a lot of time strumming his version of the Happy Birthday song on Ro's guitar, singing, "Happy to you...Adi"! Life sure is exciting when you are two!:)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The family that wasn't us

They got my attention, when the unusually tall and skinny mother with a saree draped around her sinewy frame rummaged through the contents of her bag and brought out an aging sippy cup. What was possibly handed down generations, the sippy cup bore tell tale signs of an earlier era. She placed it on the food tray, where it made futile attempts at balancing, before dropping to the ground. The father picked it up immediately and placed it firmly on the tray again. This time, the sippy cup slid to the side, and nestled itself between the tray and back of the chair in front. It was then picked up the next minute, and given to their 1-year-old who drank from it.
I was shocked, amused even. It couldn't be clean enough for a toddler. I wrapped a protective arm around my bag, that carried two clean tupperware bottles with Adiv's sterilized water. The bag also had some fruit and biscuits. I didn't want him trying out train food.
Making sure I had everything for the journey, I turned my attention to the family again. The man had just bought his young family cups of coffee. The sippy cup was emptied, and train coffee was poured into it, for the toddler to drink.
"They've given their baby coffee", I whispered into Ro's ears.
He smiled
The little one took a few joyous sips, before diverting her attention to her older brother. He was fighting with his father over a packet of Lays chips. Just then, an attender walked by with bottles of fizzy drinks. The father picked a bottle of fanta that his son pounced on. The baby began whining for it, when the sippy cup was emptied again and filled with some fanta. Adiv who is never allowed any fizzy drinks began asking for juice. Luckily I'd come armed with orange juice, and he was temperorily satisfied.
The next few hours went by peacefully. Adiv befriended a group of young boys, and they began some amusing games. The family next to us, settled down for a nap. From time to time they bought their kids samosas and vadas soaked in oil. After each snack, the toddler's face was carefully wiped with the curtain. They seemed fine, but I was sceptical. I was careful about Adiv's food. And his face cloth was always washed and ironed. However, these kids who were taking in all the train food and water that wasn't sterilized seemed hardy and well. They were even talking on their father's mobiles, something that Adiv isn't allowed, for fear of all the damage it can cause.
Just then it hit me....contrary to all the illusions I had about what a cool, easy going mom I was, I was just a very paranoid one! Anyway, till Adiv gets older, that's how it is going to be.

Friday, 11 December 2009


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

In Remembrance

After a very brief stint in hospital, Dada (Ro's father) passed away last week, leaving family and friends in a state of shock. He wasn't sick or bedridden. An active 68-year-old who loved to read, explore, and listen to Englebert Humperdink, he was rushed into hospital with severe chest congestion. As soon as he got to the hospital, his heart went into cardiac arrest, and he was shifted to the ICU. What followed were a series of very trying days. His heart had stopped for three minutes, and the doctors warned the family about possible brain damage. The kidneys weren't functioning properly either. Nevertheless, the family held on to every ray of hope. Prayers were said allover, and we were optimistic about his recovery. Then when he was conscious, he strengthed our faith by recognizing his family and proving the doctors wrong. He communicated with gestures, and seemed positive. Doctors were amazed at his recovery, and soon they were talking about how he'd be discharged very soon. We continued to pray. We made promises of having a huge celebration when he recovered.
Last Tuesday night, Ro called me at 3 in the morning to say that his BP dropped to 50/30. We prayed! We couldn't give up just yet. Contrary to what the doctors had feared, his brain was still alert. Now God would heal him completely. We believed He would. On Wednesday morning, the situation continued to be grim. His BP dropped further, and finally the dreaded call came. Dada was no more.
Adiv and I (with my parents) were in Bangalore then, and we took the next flight to Hyderabad. The next few days went in a daze. The funeral was the toughest, but the family pulled through. Their faith kept them going. They believed that maybe God had wanted this, though there seemed to be no logical explanation for why he'd gone so soon. They merely took solace in the fact that he hadn't suffered for too long.
His absence hit us the most in the days that followed. We wondered about how life would never be the same for his immediate family. Christmas would never be the same without his perfect lining of the cake tin with butter paper. Presents would never be the same without his skill at wrapping them. The crossword in the paper would never be filled by him again. A walker that Ro had ordered for him, would never be used by him. Ro and his sister would forever miss his quiet, strong presence.
I knew him the least, but I knew his passing would be a loss to Adiv. Adiv would never know of his intellect and simplicity. He would only hear tales of a grandfather who had all the answers, and barely remember the numerous outtings he took with him. During the funeral, I reminiced about the times I'd spent with Dada. He was a very quiet man, but we'd had a few fun conversations in the past. He didn't say a lot, but he was always very sensitive and considerate; like cheering me up with chocolates when I was the new bride, upset about leaving family to go to London.
A few days after the funeral, we had a beautiful memorial service for Dada. Family and friends gathered to talk about the man they all admired and loved. I got to know him so much more after this service. I wished I'd known him better. However, he'd gone, teaching us one of life's biggest lessons ; we had to appreciate every minute of what life had to offer. We could never be sure of tomorrow, so we had to live today and appreciate all those who were in our lives.
The family said their goodbyes with this very appropriate hymn..
Ever remembered
Fading away like the stars of the morning,
Losing their light in the glorious sun;
So let me steal away, gently and lovingly,
Only remembered by what I have done.

Ever remembered, forever remembered,
Ever remembered while the years are rolling on,
Ever remembered, forever remembered,
Only remembered by what I have done.

So let my name and my place be forgotten,
Only my life-race be patiently run;
So let me pass away, peacefully, silently,
Only remembered by what I have done. Refrain

So, in the harvest, if others may gather,
Sheaves from the fields that in spring I have sown,
Who plowed or sowed matters not to the reaper -
I'm only remembered by what I have done. Refrain

Fading away like the stars of the morning,
So let my name be unhonored, unknown,
Here, or up yonder, I must be remembered,
Only remembered by what I have done. Refrain

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Bottoms Up

With Ro out of town (in-laws unwell), Adiv and I found ourselves alone for a day and night, before my parents arrived. Not in the least bit apprehensive, I saw Ro off telling him we'd be just fine. So after he left, the routine went on as usual. We went to school, did some shopping, came back, took a nap, and then I decided to do some cooking. I put Adiv with his toys and made frequent trips between the kitchen and bedroom. Everything seemed okay. Adiv hadn't yet asked for Ro, and I promised him an outting after my cooking was done. Then I went to stir something on the gas. When I returned, I found Adiv on the bed with a bottle of his cold medicine. It was open, and empty! Fear tugged my heart. Had he drunk it up? I found a lot poured on the bedspread, but I still wasn't sure if he'd had any. If he had, how much? How did he get the bottle that I thought was far away from his reach? What do I do?
Calming down for a second, I decided to call a pediatrician who is available on the phone. He barked instructions on the phone. "Get him to throw up. Give him salt water, put your finger in, and tickle his throat. I ran to the kitchen, got some warm salt water and tried to get him to drink it. "No", he screamed angrily. Then I put my hand in to get him to puke. He resisted by biting my finger. I continued to try. After a few failed attempts, I called the doctor again. This time he was annoyed.
"How can you give up? What kind of mother are you? If he doesn't throw up, he has to go to the doctor and get his stomach flushed."
By now, I was in tears. I was scared, and someone screaming at me didn't help. I made more attempts to get Adiv to throw up. No luck. We both cried. I was scared and he was angry.
Wondering what I should do next, I called an aunt who I knew would understand the state I was in, and act calmly and quickly. She came immediately, and said we'd just have to observe Adiv. She'd spoken to some doctor friends and they said if he wasn't unsually drowsy, he'd be fine. Afterall it was only baby's medicine. It couldn't be dangerous. However if he was drowsy and not his usual self, we'd have to rush him to hospital. Adiv by then was running around and playing. When my aunt arrived, he welcomed her with a smile and showed her new additions to the house since her last visit.
"Sinx", he said pointing to a teeny Sphinx that his grand uncle brought us all the way from Egypt.
Then he flaunted his helmet, his riding skills, and eventually begged for some crisps.
"He seems perfectly okay", my aunt assured me.
I was also quite sure that he was okay. However, we'd have to watch. In the meantime the floodgates were let open. I wept; mostly because I was relieved. I prayed he'd continue to be fine. "Let it all out", said my aunt. "You'll feel better."
Meanwhile Adiv cycled from room to room.
Then my aunt suggested I go stay at her place. I agreed immediately. I had to return the next morning before the maid arrived, so I took my car. Adiv was buckled up in the car seat, and we drove to my aunt's house. When we got there, Adiv was welcomed to the sight of all my aunt's grandson's toys. He loved his car, the talking Elmo, a teddy bear as big as him, and the lawn to run on. He explored, played, ate his dinner, and eventually slept tired. The day had ended on a happy note. He was happy, and we were quite sure he hadn't drunk any of the medicine. I was exhausted from all the worrying. Nevertheless, I was happy. I made a mental note of all that I'd have to lock away with a key; medicines, harpic, washing liquid....!I had to now prepare for this curious toddler, who would explore and try to get his hands on anything and everything. For now I was just glad that he was okay. I made my last call to Rohit who had been quite worried. Then I lay down thanking God for watching over little Adiv.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The toughest part of motherhood is letting go! Nevertheless, feigning some courage, I drove Adiv to school today. He was happy. He ran in smiling looking for aunty, little knowing that I'd been asked to wait outside.
"He is friendly. He'll be fine. And he loves the teacher", the principal assured me.
They asked me to return at 1, but I decided to hang around outside. Apprehensive, I walked to the car, tried reading a book, sent Ro nervous sms messages, and kept checking the time. Half an hour later, I decided to peek in. I knocked at the door. The minute it was opened, I heard his voice.
"Mimiiii..Dadaaaaa..", he wailed.
I rushed in, and picked him up! The teacher wasn't very pleased. She argued that if i kept coming in, he'd never get over this fear.
I argued the whole point of this toddler program was that the parent would be allowed to sit in. She pointed to the older kids, some happy, some weepy. I pointed to Adiv and reminded her that they were a lot older than he was.
Ro and I share similar views on schooling. I'd chosen to be a stay-at-home mom, so I'd be around for him. Unlike a lot of working parents who had little choice, Adiv didn't need to be booted off to school early. Some argue that these kids cry and eventually get over it. I argue, why put him in school early and upset him. Adiv has always been a friendly happy child, and we weren't over-ambitious parents who wanted him to start school earlier than necessary. However, when I heard about the toddler program, I thought it would be fun. They'd let me sit in, and he'd get to interact with other kids and develop some social skills.
The first two days were good. He seemed to like his teacher, and was having fun in the confines of a room with a teacher, an aayah, the pink toddler, and me. Today when I peeked inside, the scenario was quite different. I found the room filled with older kids. The pink toddler sat on the aayah's lap with a toy, the teacher was busy with the older kids, and Adiv was stuck to the door crying. I was livid. Ofcourse it broke my heart seeing him weep. Nevertheless, I was angry that they had put him with the older kids who were learning alphabets. They tried explaining it to me by saying he was smart and therefore ready for an older class. I told them quite clearly that I wanted him to have fun with kids his age. I didn't want him in a class with older kids, feeling lost and lonely. I wanted him to learn in his own pace. I wasn't going to force any ambition on him.
I'm not sure they got the point, but I walked out with him. I said I'd return the next day and sit in with him till he got comfortable there.
Adiv cried himself to sleep in his car seat. I drove back worried! Adiv is a happy, intelligent young boy, and I didn't want anything to scare him. Tomorrow is a day I'm dreading, but I have to make my point clear just once more. Unlike a lot of parents who were preparing toddlers for a rat race, Ro and I are quite content just letting him do things at his own pace. For now I merely want him to play, make new friends, and learn something. I don't want a baby sitter for 2 hours.
Praying tomorrow is a better day for us both!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

First day at school

Armed with a bag carrying some water, my wallet, a book (in case of free time), and a snack, I walked past the school gates. Like all newcomers, I was a wee bit apprehensive, but very eager to make new friends. The teacher who was seeing off the previous batch of students, smiled and ushered us into a room filled with cars, balls, hand puppets, and several montessori kits. Adiv's first day began well.
Unlike a lot of preschoolers who were weeping piteously, the toddlers were allowed to bring in their mommies. So I sat down gingerly on one small chair, praying I'd not break it. Adiv chose a green chair for himself, before climbing off to examine the cars and the little animals. Picking one he proudly announced, "Car"! When that generated some clapping, he picked a cow and said very emphatically, "cow"! Then he went on to identify the "Bow wow", the "meow", and the "deer" (Deeya), before diverting his attention to the differently sized cars.
"Vrooooom vrooooom", the car rushed across the floor.
"Big car..there..door", he bragged to the indulgent teacher.
By then he'd decided he liked his teacher. He wasn't sure what he could call her. Since she was wearing trousers and a short top, he went with "Chichi" (chechi).
"I'm aunty", she said. So after that, he was his aunty's tail. He flaunted his language skills, opened and closed doors for her, and flashed her some endearing smiles.
The only other toddler present was a younger girl in pink. A true gentleman, Adiv showed her all the toys. "Babeee...take", he said offering her all her toys. Inbetween he looked to us for signs of approval. The teacher and I clapped, and he got even more generous. This lasted till the aayah brought out a rocking elephant.
"Ingyaaa" (his word for elephant) he screamed, hurrying to climb on to it.
"Baby's turn first", said the teacher. "Adiv, you'll get your turn."
He waited patiently, pointing to the elephant's eyes saying, "aaayee".
"eeyaa" (ears).
Soon he'd lost all his patience. "Auntee..turn", he enquired. The teacher smiled and let him have his turn. After that all chivalry was dead. He refused to budge, and the pink toddler had to be distracted with other knick knacks.
Eventually he lost interest and settled for some basketball. Everytime he missed the basket, he'd scream, "Oh noooo." Two minutes of that, and then his attention was on the handpuppets (owls).
"Auntee..owww", he said.
"Very good Adiv. Did you see the owl in the zoo?"
"Zoozoo...aaaaah", he said grinning reminicing about the zoozoo ads he loves watching on youtube.
Then the montessori kits were brought out. After stacking a few circles one on top of the other, he lost interest again. The pink toddler sat patiently with it.
During snack time I brought out neatly cut apples. They'd browned a bit, so he said, "darty" and took one. The pink toddler began begging for some. I asked the teacher if I could give her an apple, but she said they didn't encourage sharing between toddlers because different kids were allowed different things to eat.
"Get her snack", the teacher said. The pink toddler's mother had packed cream biscuits for her. Adiv immediately threw away his apple and began eyeing the cream biscuits.
"No bikkis now", i said. . Luckily, it was time to leave. The promise of leaving by car distracted Adiv who was "vrooooooming" again. He blew kisses at everyone, said elaborate byes (bey bey) and we left!
So his first day was very satisfying! He enjoyed himself, and now I'm getting ready for day two. Maybe I'll take two biscuits (just in case)...and some fruit!:)

Monday, 12 October 2009

10 Honest Things About Me

Thankyou Abhilasha for my first online badge. I'm rather kicked about it.
Anyway without wasting much time, I'll get to the 10 most honest things about me!
  • My life revolves around Adiv. We do a lot together. If we aren't playing games, I draw him images that vaguely resemble cows, television sets, elephants, cats, and cars. We go out together, read together, sing all Elmo's songs together, and fight battles during meal time.
  • I cry easily. Funerals and unpleasant events make me sad, but I even cry when I'm angry.
  • I can't draw or dance, but I do both to entertain Adiv. I might even dance in discos when everyone is either too drunk too laugh, or too blinded by the lights to notice.
  • I trained as a carnatic singer for 8 years. Now I only sing at home, all day long, for Adiv.
  • I consider "Gone with the Wind", the most romantic novel ever!
  • I don't get friendly very easily, and I'm told I exude a certain reserve that is often misunderstood for snobbishness. However, once the ice is broken, i'm told i'm quite the opposite.
  • I hope to write a book one day; the plot and characters are alive in my head. Now i have to put them on paper.
  • I'm Josh Groban's biggest fan. I wish he'd come perform in India.
  • I like writing lists. Lists give me a sense of order and direction, though I might not always complete my "To-do" lists.
  • Family comes first, and i'd be lost without them. Being torn away from family never to return to them or find them again is my ultimate nightmare. That is probably why I empathised with Kunta Kinte (Roots) as much as I did.

Others tagged with the honesty badge:




Rants and Ramble

Anyone else who wants the badge:)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Visiting the stiff and swanky

House visits are fun (sometimes embarassing) when you take Adiv. Usually it is the very indulgent family. They bring out forgotten toys and books, play music and dance along, and often grant him the permission to play with the cushions. With strangers I'm more guarded. For fear of having him destroy expensive breakables, I trail him (something I do even when we visit family) and make futile attempts at distracting him with toys I've packed in my bag. He is rarely interested, as the prospect of exploring a new home seems far more fun.
Recently, when a cousin was in town, we decided to visit family we hadn't seen in ages. So we told an aunt that we'd come by, but before that we'd decided to visit my cousin's old boss.
Living in an expensive block of apartments, Mr Boss, Mrs Boss and their kids had recently moved to Bangalore, after a long stint in Mumbai. Mr Boss was my cousin's first boss, and they'd kept in touch over the years, eventually graduating from colleagues to friends.
"He is a nice, though quiet man", said my cousin. He however warned us about his wife. When he started work, he was the only one who mustered enough courage to talk to her. The rest of the office was terrified of her. No, she wasn't the typical Mrs Boss. She was just very intelligent, opinionated, and reserved. Her reserve gave her an air of snobbishness that made her a wee bit intimidating.

When we reached their apartment complex, our simple santro was stopped at the gate, while the bigger cars whizzed past the gates. Laughing, and telling ourselves we needed the exercise anyway, we walked past the gates after signing in. We found their building, and took the lift to the 6th floor. Then we stood outside the door, rang the bell, and waited. Mr Boss opened the door, looking mighty pleased to see my cousin. (He was surprised to see us though!). He moved aside to let us in, and we spotted Mrs Boss behind him. She gave us forced smiles, thawing a bit on spotting my cousin behind us. He walked in comfortably, chatting and asking about their kids. Meanwhile Mrs Boss guided us to their designer furniture. Some polite conversation later, she stood up to get us some eats. Perhaps to break the ice, or maybe quell the growing awkwardness, Mr Boss made a strange suggestion.
"Want to see our house?"
Not knowing how to respond, we agreed, following him slowly. Mrs Boss threw him a perplexed, slightly annoyed look when she saw us wander in. Oblivious to her apparent displeasure, Mr Boss continued giving us the tour. We went from room to room, even surprising their people-shy sons who were each locked up in their rooms. Mr Boss even urged us to enter their rooms and take a look at the wood work, the balconies, the design.....!Meanwhile Adiv was running wild, exploring every nook, paying a lot of attention to the cupboards and keys that were within his reach. When I saw him climbing one of the beds, I carried him away with promises of trips in the car, icecream after dinner, and cookies in both hands. The tour ended in the balcony that overlooked a crowded, popular mall on one side, and a busy street on the other.

The eats arrived. Adiv was given a biscuit, and the rest of us sipped some juice. The conversation now centered on real estate. Not even remotely interested, Adiv chose this moment to get off Ro's lap and run. Worried he'd take (or worse break) something, I ran behind him. I gave Mrs Boss an apologetic look as I ran behind Adiv. Mr Boss assured me that they'd been through this stage. Mrs Boss was quiet. I smiled and rushed in, only to find Adiv make himself comfortable. His shoes had come off, and he'd climbed on the bed. He had even pulled out a pillow from underneath the bedspread. Shocked, I rushed forward, muttered a few threats, made the bed, and carried him back into the living room. Luckily, by then, everyone was ready to leave. An ecstatic Adiv, screamed "Car" and rushed to the door. Very sweetly he waved at everyone. Mr and Mrs Boss chose to come down with us. Mr Boss wanted to give us a tour of their complex.
"We have two pools, one indoors and one outdoors."
"We have an inhouse library and beauty parlour."
"Tennis courts."
"No badminton court", I wondered amused! We had that, in addition to a pool that we barely used now.
We feigned interest by making appropriate sounds, and hoped the tour would end. It ended eventually with a tour of the garden. Adiv ran around happily, and by then even Mrs Boss had warmed up to him. She smiled, and asked questions about him. She even waved at him with equal enthusiasm when we left. Adiv was happy in the car. He enjoyed his outing, and meeting new people. He hadn't been naughty either, except for wanting to wander around in their house. Nevertheless, we came away deciding we'd stick to family, friends, and baby-friendly homes, till Adiv got older and less curious about new surroundings.
Tomorrow we go to the Zoo!

Oh Maid Where art thou!

My trysts with the maid continue!
First there was an opinionated chatterbox who frequently absented herself from work. Then there was the well-dressed beautician-turned-cook who knew no cooking. Inbetween were two sisters and their mother who came in turns. The first sister left for greener pastures (baby aayah for a few hours that pay the big bucks), and left her sister as her replacement. The sister, a cheerful lil thing who seemed to quite good and willing. Her husband played fiend, refusing to go to work. So she eventually decided to stay home as a means of forcing him to go to work. Her mother came in her place. The mother came with a pretty high opinion of herself. "I'm the best in this locality", she announced proudly! She happily agreed to do all that I asked her to do. However, when I wasn't looking she'd miss out a few of her chores. On reminding her, she'd say, "Oh, old lady na, I forgot." The biggest problem wasn't that. She refused to get on with Adiv. This 60-something year old and Adiv would fight every single day. They'd scream at eachother, and each fight would end with her threatening to cut off his tongue. That was reason enough for me to say Bye to her. Meanwhile I'd found myself a fancy looking cook. The watchman brought her proudly.
"Madam, my wife, accha kaam kar legi."
I'd just woken up from my afternoon nap. Bleary-eyed and still dressed in my night clothes that now bore stains of Adiv's lunch, I looked at a diffident girl. She was dressed in jeans and a short top. She even wore a lot of make-up. I wondered if I'd heard right. Maybe she was one of the new tenants in the building?
"New cook madam."
"Oh", I said hoping she hadn't noticed my dishevelled look. After a conversation that I barely remember, I asked her to start the next day. She came with a confession.
"I don't know how to cook madam. But I can learn."
She didn't learn much, but she was pleasant and she came armed with a sob story. So I kept her for a month before deciding to send her off! There was no point having a cook who couldn't cook.
Then my luck changed. A matronly, kind, pleasant woman came knocking at my door. She was clean and gentle, and she said she could cook and do everything. I was secretly ecstatic. She started immediately, and she was good. Her food was tasty, and her work meticulous. I was quiet about how good she was, for fear of having my neighbours pinch her away. In the mean time I attempted to keep her happy by giving her baby food for her grandchild, cutlets for her family, and lunch on days when she had extra work. When guests came, I cut vegetables for her and did much of the cooking. I liked the woman and I didn't want her to leave. I was paying her good money and I was a kind boss. She wouldn't want to miss that.
However, I was quite mistaken. Yesterday, she said she wanted to stop. Without maintaining any eye contact, she first made excuses about the amount of work there was. Then she said she had a back problem. I didn't hear much after that. I only heard, "give me my money, and i'll leave." Angry, I said i'd give her her money only on the 1st. She agreed, finished up her work and left. While she was there, I hoped I'd acted dignified. I didn't say much or beg for her to stay. But I wondered why she'd left. Maybe someone was paying her more as a nurse or baby aayah? I didn't believe her back was hurting. Once she left, I let the flood gates open. I wept more out of self pity. How would I manage with a baby? Would I get another maid?
A few maids came by to enquire almost immediately. Sensing my desperation for help, they asked for huge sums of money. One woman said that she wanted 500Rs only to put out the clothes from the washing machine. I politely sent her off!

Since then, I've cried a few more times. I've shouted at Adiv who smeared quite a bit of peanut butter on his head. I've fought with Rohit just because I wanted to cry and feel better. However now I sit at my computer feeling rather peaceful. The house is clean, the clothes have been washed and put out to dry, the food has been cooked, and the vessels have been washed. To make things better Adiv ate his dinner without much trouble. Things are definitely not that bad.
Now for some prayers! "Dear God, please bring me a maid."

Friday, 18 September 2009

Finding Myself

With hands firmly on the steering wheel, and eyes following the traffic on all sides, I'm mildly aware of the music playing in the background. Yet another friendly RJ announces the contest for the evening, luring in listeners with the promise of goody bags filled with CDs, caps, and t-shirts. I often know the answers, and I honestly wouldn't have minded an autographed CD or two. Nonetheless, I refrain to getting to my phone that lies nestled between my notebook and Bible. I'm already late, and with this crawling traffic, i wonder if i'll ever get to church on time.
My decision to attend BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) classes came suddenly. Motherhood though extremly rewarding, was often tiring. I knew all the songs that Elmo sang, and the rhymes on every page of Adiv's books. However, I craved for some "me" time outside the house. I began this endeavour with weekly outtings to buy groceries. I'd even extend these shopping trips to a few minutes of quiet browsing at the book store in the mall. I'd often return with a book, or a movie that we'd then enjoy later in the evening.
Then I got greedy. Now I wanted to meet people; not family we ran into so often, but new faces. Friends from the distant past seemed too busy with lives that didn't involve kids, and I'd forgotten the art of making new friends. Almost suddenly, a thought popped into my head; "BSF"!

My mom had been going for these BSF classes for over a year. I'd seen her extensive notes, and I know she enjoyed her discussions there. She'd even made some friends there. So maybe I needed to get there as well. I hoped I'd get to socialize a bit, and more importantly, learn about the Bible.
I went to their website, wrote to the coordinator for Bangalore, and she got in touch almost immediately. "Come on a tuesday", said her friendly e-mail. "We'd love to have you there."
After a few weeks of postponing, I eventually got around to going there. I got myself a driver, and a map. The church in which these sessions were being conducted was far away, and with the traffic in the evening, it would take me atleast an hour or two to get there.
As soon as I got there, I was welcomed in by the friendliest people. They gave me a tag with my name, and directed me to the pews. Groups of friendly women chatted around in hushed tones. Some sat quietly finishing their homework. I was happy! Smiling, I found myself a seat.
The session began with two hymns, after which the group discussions began. I was asked to meet the teaching leader with two other newcomers. The teaching leader explained the idealogies of BSF, and how we'd learn the Bible in 7 years. We filled up registration forms and went back to our places. It was another week before we found ourselves in groups as well. The other newcomer used this time to give me her testimony. A hindu from a traditional household, she'd come to Christ after the conception of her miracle baby. By the time her story ended, the groups returned from their discussions and settled down for the lecture. The teaching leader then began her inspirational, thought provoking lecture for the day.
At the end of that day, I knew coming here had been the right thing to do. After that I got back each week with extended narratives on what I'd learnt that day. I could relate to most of the lectures. Once it was about keeping the soul clean by getting rid of hatred and resentment. Another time it was about forgiveness. Once she even spoke about how we all had our assigned duties in this world. So we just had to perform our tasks well, instead of focussing on the tasks (and successes) of others. We just had to compete with ourselves and fulfil our tasks. This particularly made sense as I'd spent a lot of time envying those who'd done a lot better professionally. I was a happy stay-at-home mom, but I missed the deadlines, the impromptu meetings, and the promotions. But as the teaching leader reminded me, despite all that I was envying, I'd never trade them for what I had, because I valued what I had more than anything else.
The BSF lessons were about re-evaluating my own life. Through God's word, I was just given gentle reminders about what was truly important.

Now I'm part of a group that isn't the most enthusiastic. I have a group leader who is rarely available. When she is around, she barely gives us food for thought. The questions are answered in hurried succession. Nonetheless, I continue to enjoy the lectures, taking back lessons from them. I even enjoy my homework, that is often completed with help with Ro and our discussions. Now I'm waiting for Adiv to turn 2, so he can also start BSF classes for toddlers. Meanwhile Ro is waiting for me to finish my 7 years of BSF, so he can start his!
And......I'm still trying to make new friends!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Pigs Fly, Swine Flu

Between diaper changes, hour-long feeds, and general housekeeping, I barely have the time to read the newspaper, let alone obssess about what's in it. So, i've been largely oblivious to the growing swine flu paranoia. Adiv and I went on our weekly trips to the farm, and I had my Bible class. Everyone I knew was well, and I had little reason to be apprehensive. Then suddenly, the death of a 4-year-old in Chennai caught my attention. Not very far from home, this little boy had succumbed to the H1N1 virus, and that news story planted the seed of fear in my heart. I began reading the newspaper, empathising with every victim, reading about their symptoms, and the ordeal they underwent. I tried memorizing names of hospitals we could go to, if we needed to get checked. Nevertheless, I prayed and hoped we'd never have to fight crowds for a single lifesaving dose of Tamiflu.

This paranoia grew quickly. The next day, I read about a 26-year-old school teacher who'd just been telling her students about the precautions they should take. After a brief battle, she'd passed away. Newspapers carried pictures of the victim, making this news story even more personal. I wondered about her children, her family, and how her death could have been prevented.

Then it got worse. We all had the sniffles. Adiv had fever for a day, and soon he was coughing. I started a low grade fever that was quelled with strong doses of Dolo 650. Then Pappa got very ill. He had high fever, a terrible cough and cold. When the crocin didn't help, he was taken to the doctor. Masked and ultra cautious, the doctor wrote him a few antibiotics and sent him back. The fever vanished almost immediately, only to return a day later. Then the paranoid doctor suggested that we get him tested for swine flu. Muttering prayers, and hoping for the best, he was the taken to Manipal hospital. There the doctor wasn't even remotely worried. He listened to his symptoms and sent him back saying he needed to finish his dose of medicines.
I spent the next few hours checking everyone's temperature in turns. Luckily, now everyone is well, and i'm making sure everyone washes their hands when they return from outside. We're being cautious as well, with limited trips to crowded places. Everyone is eating pods of garlic and cloves as a precaution, and the maid is being questioned repeatedly about her health.
This paranoia is probably here to stay for mothers of infants, but for the moment, i'm glad we are all fine.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Cruel Kids

Children are fun! With innocence so endearing, and their incessant chatter so amusing, they play the most innovative of games. Armed with an active imagination, and an insatiable need to play and entertain, they amuse all those around them. Between themselves they fight, make up, and play more games, but on the whole they are a species willing to learn and explore. However, despite being a fascinating lot, if unchecked, they are the most cruel of all species. At a party recently, I witnessed just that.


Adiv loves most kids, though he has a definite preference for older boys who appear cooler because of the games they play. However, if shown the slightest interest, he will do all that is needed to befriend them. However, being the youngest in both our families, he is used to a lot of pampering. His older cousins are very indulgent with him, giving him their toys, entertaining him with their antics, and amusing him with music and dance sessions. So Rohit and I felt he needed to interact with other kids as well; kids who'd not be as patient or generous as the kids he was used to. So I began these weekly trips to a nearby farm for a mother and toddler program, where he'd get to interact with other kids and a whole lot of farm animals.

Then another opportunity came by, when we were invited to a birthday party. As the party was in an uncle's house, we got there early under the pretext of helping. But Adiv was busy trying on all their shoes, and I was busy trailing him. In time the other kids and their mommies began arriving. Initially the kids were all fascinated by eachother. The ones who knew eachother formed groups, and smiled at the others. Then they wandered into the bedroom and began strumming on a guitar. Adiv wasn't too pleased. He trying to push the other kids away, and when they refused to budge, took refuge in some loud, angry crying. I distracted him with other toys, and the promise of a trip on a bike. He wanted to play with the kids, but he still wasn't used to kids who weren't giving in. I tried explaining that he needed to share the guitar. I told the older kids that he was only one-and-a-half, and so they needed to show him how to use the guitar and play. They didn't seem too keen on playing with him. So they ran away, and he ran behind them laughing. He followed them tirelessly, while they tried to avoid him. One little girl who wasn't in their circle, sat quietly on a table, wearing a sad, solemn face. The kids who'd formed a gang, danced around her calling her names.

"Hey, she looks like a sadhu yaa."

"No she looks a like a donkey na?"

The girl looked down, ignoring all their taunts. Adiv stood next to her, examining her bangles. "Very pretty bangles", I told her, evoking a smile in response. "Ma got it", she said. She smiled at Adiv gently, and looked up at the other kids who were screaming "Monster Monster", at Adiv. Adiv thought it was fun game and ran behind them. They tried pushing him away, but I was trailing him making sure they didn't hurt him. They screamed and yelled, and eventually began a shower of insults.

"Oh no, the stupid boy is back."

"Little boy, you are such an idiot."

I was stunned. None of the children I knew were so cruel. They were attacking a little child who was trying to join in in their games. He was smiling at them and running behind them, and they were calling him names.


I came away that evening in a state of shock. None of the kids we knew in the family ever spoke so badly. They fought like all kids, but never called eachother names. I'd never seen them bully the quieter kids. When they had birthdays, they made sure all their guests were cared for. I had to make sure Adiv was like them. I wasn't going to allow bad language or bullying, but I'd have to encourage concern and friendship. I'd have to let him know that there was nothing cool about using bad language.

I realized suddenly that i was soon approaching a phase when i'd have to explain right from wrong. I'd have to set examples at home, applaud all goodness, and discourage all wrong doing. The little one was growing up and he needed the right lessons to grow in to a sensitive, considerate, smart, intelligent young man.

In the mean time, I'd also have to reconcile to the fact that not everyone was going to be good to my child.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The end of one chapter

His death didn't come as a shock. He'd been ill for a long time, and this time it didn't seem like he was going to bounce back. Nevertheless, the family was optimistic. His swelling had gone down, and he'd begun eating. His only demand was, "I want to go home". After days, even the doctors relented. The nurses were pleased their gentle patient was finally on the mend. On Saturday night, he was coaxed into eating dinner amidst promises of going home on Monday. He even ate a slice of his grand daughter's birthday cake before going to bed. The family went home for a peaceful night's sleep. He was definitely better and coming home. Perhaps he'd live to a 112 like a relative of his? At 3 in the morning, he woke up thirsty, drank a glass of water, lay down and died. He didn't suffer.
Despite being prepared, everyone was shocked. I sat back and thought about him over the years. I met a much younger version of himself on the day when his son married my cousin. I was their flower girl, who followed them around till someone suggested I go and eat with the rest of the family. Then I saw him again over the years in either of our houses. He came over often with my cousin and her family, and theirs was the only house I felt comfortable enough to visit. He was friendly, hospitable, and the happiest if you sat down with him to watch a movie. He went on long walks every morning, and spent his sunday mornings in church. He loved a banana after each meal, and an egg with breakfast every day. At 4 he'd amble around asking for tea, and wait patiently if his daughter-in-law was resting. He pampered his grandchildren and looked upon his daughter-in-law as a daughter. A man with no formalities, he'd eat everything, sleep anywhere, and enjoy every trip he made. He liked going for weddings, meeting up with his friends, and he always looked a little sad when people left after a holiday. "Come again", he'd said. "I will also come". If not for him, I doubt if i'd have been half as comfortable going there as often as I did.
The funeral was in Coorg, as he wanted to be buried next to his wife. The family was coping well, though they'd all miss him terribly. We drove down from Bangalore to Mysore, where he had lived with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters. We checked into a hotel because the house would have been too crowded. However, even though we'd reached late, we decided to go to the house. At 11 in the night, we went there. He looked peaceful and fast asleep. Atleast the end hadn't been painful. The family was in different rooms, preparing for the funeral the next morning. Adiv was curious about why a man was lying inside a box. When he was taken closer, it scared him. After that he busied himself with a few helmets and games with the children in the house. He entertained everyone, and by 1 we decided to head back.
The funeral went off well. Despite the rains off and on, it didn't interfere with the burial. We spent part of it in the car, feeding Adiv who was quite restless. He wanted to run around, and we were holding on to him for fear of having him fall into all that slush.
After the burial, we drank some coffee, and drove to a nearby estate where lunch had been organized for everyone. We hadn't seen as much greenary in a long time. Lunch was well organized and in such a beautiful location. The lovely house lay nestled beside a pretty lake. And to get to this pretty house, you had to follow a driveway surrounded by tall green trees and reach their well manicured lawn and garden. The dogs barked furiously at being denied the excitement of having so many people over. We went to look at them, locked up in their cages.
After lunch, we said our goodbyes and drove back to Mysore. His family wept for him, but also shared amusing stories about him amidst smiles and laughter. It had been a beautiful end to that gentle soul.
As people who weren't related to him directly, we also sat around talking about him. We came away the next morning. With Adiv sleeping peacefully on my lap, I wondered if Adiv had been affected by this undeniable fact of life.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

One Morning in a Farm

Adiv's first trip to the farm was more fun than I'd anticipated. I was a wee bit apprehensive before we got there. I woke him up early for milk (so he'd poop and be done with it before we set out), and muttered hurried prayers while I got his food ready.

"Jesus, please let him be well behaved. Spare us the embarassing tantrums."

On the way to the farm, he fell asleep. Once we got there, he seemed to enjoy all the greenary, the distant barking of dogs, and Gerry's friendly welcome. We were directed to an open, cemented shed, where Gerry's wife Yamini sat mixing paints and getting the art projects ready. Meanwhile, after exchanging pleasantries, we busied ourselves with the toys arranged on the table. The other kids and mommies began arriving, and soon everyone was talking and playing. Initially Adiv wasn't so sure he wanted to share all those toys with the other kids, but eventually he got called for his art work. He sat on a little chair next to Yamini, and splashed paint on a piece of chart paper. He then gleefully dipped his fingers in paint, before giving his first masterpiece its final touches. He got off rather grudgingly, as the next child was waiting his turn. I distracted him with more blocks, while the other kids finished their paintings. Then, it was time to meet the animals. We first met and fed the geese. Adiv didn't seem even remotely scared. He ran towards them, while I tried to restrain him. Then it was time for the donkeys. Each child was given carrots to feed the donkeys. Adiv got his turn and enjoyed it. He even went searching for other carrots that he could feed the donkeys. He seemed to love Oscar, a friendly donkey who runs around, popping in every now and then for a pat or a tickle on the nose.

From there we went to the rabbits. They were fed carrots and beans. At one point, Adiv seemed to forcefeeding a rabbit who already had carrot in its mouth. I carried him out, and led him to the pig sty; a messy sight with two enormous pigs lounging in its midst. Between them, we spotted teeny piglets who were just two days old. Adiv was fascinated! On the way to the pig sty, we'd even felt the pregnant belly of a gentle cow. "Moo Moo" said Adiv, as he rubbed her patient belly.

After this enriching experience, the kids were led back into the play area, for their snack. Adiv gorged on the biscuits and watermelon, while I ate some of the delicious apple crumb cake that was served. The kids were given hot chocolate, while we mommies got tea or coffee. After our snack, it was time to pot a lily plant. A huge pot had to be filled with sand first, and the kids obliged only too happily, with little spades. Adiv merely dug into the pot with his little yellow spade. Then they used mugs to fill it up with water. Then Gerry planted the lily. The kids were then allowed to throw in fish and tadpoles. Adiv held on to his little fish for a few seconds with surprising gentleness. "Chisshh", he whispered in awe.

At the end of this activity, the kids were all tired and dirty. So we decided to part, amidst promises of returning every week for more. As we wandered out, we made one more stop. The huge netted trampoline beckoned to the kids. They enjoyed it, and Adiv seemed ecstatic, jumping on it. He laughed and ran in circles, falling, getting up, and jumping again. He was having so much fun, he didn't want to return. He was dragged back into the car, where he fell asleep almost immediately.

Thus ended our first Tuesday at Gerry's farm. Both Adiv and I look forward to more Tuesdays at the farm.

Pictures will follow later!

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Last week, we drove down to my mom's ancestral home in Mulanthurathy. We were in Cochin for a wedding, and we'd kept aside one day to eat at the Grand, and do some sight seeing. So when a cousin suggested we drive down to Mulanthurathy, we agreed immediately. Adiv slept peacefully in the car, while we enjoyed tales from the distant past. 45 minutes later, we drove in to what seemed like a developing town; shops, beauty parlors, offices! However, our disappointment was soon replaced with excitement when we turned into the road leading to the house. Suddenly it was dark, and the narrow winding road seemed surrounded by rubber trees and old homes. Part of the road had been tarred, but mostly it was a kutcha road.
As we approached the house, we saw it from a distance, standing in dignified silence. An old aging house that had witnessed several births and deaths, good times and bad, it now lay vacant. It however continued to have an aura of mystery surrounding it. The pictures in the house just made it more interesting.

My great grandfather, Kunjikora Chaly

Kunjokorah Chaly's father, Kochukorah Chaly
Kochukorah Chaly was a visionary in his time. Educated and friend to the Cochin Maharaja, he built roads, a hospital, and a school in Mulanthurathy. He did however use his influence to his advantage, when he transfered the Parimala Thirumeni from the Mulanthurathy church. The Thirumeni left, giving the family a curse. Then began the downfall of the Chalys. However, the Thirumeni also blessed another poor family who offered him rest and food in their house. That started the rise of the well known Kandathil family in Kerala.
The naalu kettu or inner courtyard

Wooden staircase leading to the top floor

Upstairs window overlooking the naalu kettu

We enjoyed this Jackfruit later Surrounded by rubber trees
We also went to this older ancestral tharavadu that wasn't very far from the house we'd visited. Supposedly haunted by the spirit of a manservant who was murdered centuries ago, this house has been desserted for years. Noone lives here anymore, and not many children come and play within its compounds. Legend has it that 6 pots of gold were hidden in this house. 4 of these pots were recovered and displayed in various homes. 2 are yet to be discovered. A house with a separate building that once housed soldiers and stables for horses and an elephant, now stands alone, an aging, tired, decrepit soul. We walked around the house, soaking up the silence and all the legendary tales that surrounded it.
Then, after this short halt, we were off to Cochin, to our next destination; Karimeen at the Grand!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the man who taught me how to tie my shoelaces and sharpen my pencils. He always held my hand while crossing the road, and when eagerly awaiting an approaching wave at the beach. He taught me how to be organized, and always be loyal to family. He taught me that no matter what your means are, you can always help someone who needs it. He gave me ambition and his temper. But he also gave me his sentimental streak and fondness for hindi songs. He taught me that money comes and goes, but family stays.

Happy Father's Day to my father.

Thursday, 4 June 2009


In the last year, surprise parties have become a way of life. It began with an aunt, who was whisked away for lunch and a movie, while her family arranged an elaborate party with friends, family, and exotic food. Suspecting nothing, she returned to a house full of people who screamed surprise. It was fun! So when Ro's sister was due to have a birthday weeks later, we decided we'd give her a surprise too.

Ro's parents were visiting then, so they were let in on our plans. The rest of the family was invited with strict instructions on when they should arrive. We got some party hats everyone, a chocolate mousse cake, and lots of kebabs and biriyani. To be absolutely sure she wouldn't suspect a thing, we decided to have the party on a weekend before her birthday.

On that day, we were all set ahead of time. The guests arrived on time, and when we heard she'd come, we all hid in the kitchen. Rohit let her in, and she came in innocently, asking where Adiv was. A few more steps, and we shocked her with our loud "SURPRISE", and a lot of blinding flashes. She seemed embarassed, but the rest of us couldn't stop laughing. We got her to cut her cake, before everyone settled down for starters and eventually dinner. The party had been a success.

Another month passed, and the next birthday was due. Ro's uncle was turning 60, and the family wanted to give him a surprise. His wife and sons made arrangements in a nearby resort, and again made sure everyone knew when they had to make an appearance. This uncle was having guests on that day, so he generously decided to take them out for dinner. His sons knowingly suggested the resort. So he walked in with his guests, sons, and wife. The steward guided him to the top floor, and before he knew it, he saw a lot of familiar faces scream, "Surprise". He seemed visibly surprised, and was at a loss for words. Everyone ran forward to congratulate him and hand him presents, before his grand nephew recited a self written poem, his grand nieces sang him songs, and his son made a speech. What followed was champagne, a lot of alchohol, cake, and a lot of food. Incidentally, his wife who was celebrating her birthday the next day, also got her own cake to cut. A fun evening!

The family still hadn't had enough! The next surprise was Ro's. His uncle invited us allover for dinner, and Ro innocently walked in on another round of "SURPRISE"! The food was delicious (it always is).

Months later, the next birthday was due. Adiv turned one and we had a huge party for him. The surprise wasn't for him, but for my mother got to celebrate her 60th on that day. After Adiv cut his cake, her cake was brought out. She was mortified, but once everyone began singing for her, it was fun.

Days earlier, Rohit's aunt in Kerala, after correcting a few papers (she is a teacher) thought she was going out to lunch with her son, daughter-in-law, and daughter. Instead, she walked into a hall filled with family who'd come from allover, friends, and colleagues. Some entertained her with stories from the past, after which she cut a huge cake. Though we weren't there, i'm pretty sure the feast that followed was the best.

You'd think this was enough! But another aunt's birthday was due. Fearing such a surprise, she announced quite early on that she wanted no presents and surprises. She invited everyone over for brunch, making sure that there would be no surprise. But the family had other plans.

We all landed up in her house at 7 in the morning. Rohit's uncle and aunt came armed with coffee and breakfast. The birthday girl's daughter let us all in. We went in quietly and stood in the living room. And when the birthday girl wandered into the living room with her cup of coffee, she was welcomed with a huge round of SURPRISE! The cake was brought out, candles lit, and flowers handed out. She was thrilled! What followed was some delicious breakfast. The brunch/lunch still went on as planned.

Keeping in this tradition of surprising people on their birthdays, we are off to Chennai tomorrow. It is my Dad's birthday tomorrow, and he doesn't know we'll be coming over. I'm sure his expression will be worth capturing on camera!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Rohan's Sendoff Party

Rohan's sendoff was fun. After the previous nights dinner (and clearing up), we woke up late on Sunday. By the time we crawled out of bed and ate some breakfast, it struck me that the maid hadn't come as yet. A frantic call to her husband confirmed that she wasn't coming. So I was forced to shrug off all laziness and get to work. Adiv got music to dance to, Ro went for his bath, and I hoped I'd be able to finish washing all the vessels. I gave up eventually, because we were getting late. Ro got Adiv ready, and I cleaned up. To cut the long story short, by the time we were ready to go it was 1.30.

"Hopefully the barbeque is still on", i said. But knowing the family's penchant for good food, we could also be sure that there would be a LOT of it, even if we were late. So when we got there, the barbeque was still on, and more food was still being brought onto the table. The guest of honour hadn't arrived as yet, but everyone was tucking into generous helpings of pork chops and chicken with honeyed-onion salad. Meanwhile, Nisha was bringing out Alexchayen's potato skins (with huge helpings of bacon), buns (home-made), fish (with an unusual, citrous flavor), Lathukocchamma's Shepherd's pie, Maekocchamma's spinach and corn bake, mutton curry, mixed salad and saffron rice. The table was full, and once we were done with lunch, a few plates were pushed aside for the desserts. Lemon meringue, apricot mousse, and cheese cake! Without revealing too much, I will just say I had more than one helping....of each!

The highlight of the afternoon was the entertainment. After a full meal, just when most people were settling down comfortably for a nap, the kids decided to start a band. Instruments were handed out, and everyone began playing. Mrinal gave this music some tune with his flute. Eventually the group settled for dance music. CDs were taken out, and one was selected. Then all eyes were turned to Adiv. Everyone was waiting for his twists.
Adiv who is usually oblivious to people staring at him, now seemed very conscious. He lowered his eyes, gave everyone a coy smile, moved his hip once or twice, and then gave up. The family decided to encourage him by dancing along. Soumtro, Mrinal, Alexchayen, Lathukoch..everyone began moving to the beat. Adiv merely smiled and ran for cover. He wasn't going to perform.

The day wasn't going too well for him. Except for Mrinal, the girls were playing games he didn't want to play. Shalaka suggested they play "marriage marriage", and Tia took out her makeup kit to dress up the girls. In turns she put on lipstick, eye shadow and rouge. Yana was the first one to get dressed up. Then Trisha, who was very excited and willing, though not very sure about what eye shadow was. Shalaka went last, and she finished her new look with a pair of funny glasses and a brightly colored dupatta. The girls then posed for pictures, before Mrinal decided to get creative with the makeup. He gave himself a black eye and then went upstairs and returned with more makeup. This time he looked like he'd been beaten up purple, blue, red...! He definitely has the talent for an alternate career.

The day ended with some tea, after which we set off to get a new rug and cushions for Adiv's room. That's another story.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

From having to exchange my late mornings for several sleepless nights, relaxed lunches in restaurants for hurried bites in turns, Josh Groban singing Per Te for Raffi singing "We're on the way to Grandpa's farm", hours in the book store for hours in the play ground, an evening at a play for an evening in a house with kids......motherhood sure had changed my life quite a bit! Nevertheless, every milestone met, every smile, every dance move, every excitable clap, and every form of communication has brought with it oodles of satisfaction and pride. Being a mother was tough, and a good one even thougher. Nevertheless, it was best experience ever!
A lot has changed since my last mother's day. Adiv walks..sorry..runs! He says a few words (or atleast makes these attempts that Ro and I can comprehend), dances to popular Bollywood tunes (and Justin Timberlake), and screams Yaaaaaay (like his mother) every time the current comes. On a not-so-windy day, he enjoys his evenings splashing in the pool, and spends his days in, driving his inflatable car on the carpet. He knows cold (co) from hot (also co), and follows every gulp of juice with a satisfactory Aaaaaah. He still enjoys Elmo on Sesame street, but also knows a lot of the ads on TV (especially the ones with pretty women and cars). He loves his bikkis (biscuits) and is force-fed one nutritious meal, but is always ready for some yummy icecream or chee (cheese). He prefers fish, though he likes his chiya (chicken), and knows that anything he isn't allowed to drink (but others drink them) is followed by a "Yuck! That was horrible"! Brushing his teeth is fun, especially when it comes with the added perk of biting Mimi's fingers, and combing his hair is fun only when he is allowed to do it himself. He loves it when we play football, and hides his books when he has had enough ABCs and 123s for the day. He can spend hours talking on phone to noone in particular, and still be very silent when someone asks to speak to him on the phone. He isn't in the least bit shy of strangers, though he prefers young women to young men, and old men to old women! He can strike a bargain in the playfield (with a bigger 3-yr-old) by exchanging 3 pebbles for a ball he wanted, and still insist that you drink or eat something he loves. In short, the small baby is growing into an interesting, fun, and amusing character. Now, this is just the beginning!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

I wrote a good omelet...and ate a hot poem

I wrote a good omelet...and ate a hot poem...
after loving you

Buttoned my car...and drove my coat the
after loving you

I goed on red...and stopped on green....floating
somewhere in between...
being here and being there...
after loving you

I rolled my bed...turned down my hair...slightly
confused but...I don't care...
Laid out my teeth...and gargled my gown...then I stood
...and laid me down...
to sleep...
after loving you

-- Nikki Giovanni

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Update to Adiv Says...

He calls me Ma-Ma or just Ma... and not Dada like i hoped he would ... that was just a one-off day. To top it off, R encourages him to call me that!!!
Maybe I'm his real "Mom"

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Adiv says...

Over the past couple of months, Adiv has been attempting conversation with the limited vocabulary that he's developed. His favorite word being KA - which would mean everything from water, a poopy diaper, a car, a bike, a tricycle and so on (Karnataka too perhaps - maybe he can read the registration number on our car ;-) ). Somewhere along the line, he also started words like mamamama or appachapapacha and we drew interpretations to what that meant. a couple of times he'd point to me and say mamma and I would vehemently correct him sayin... "I'm not mamma - that person there is mamma... I'm Dada".
Last week however, I'd tell him - "Go call Ammi" and he'd go stand near R and endearingly call her "Mi... Mi... Mi....Mi.." which is when i realized that i wanted him to call me "Dada" too. No matter how hard i tried getting him to say it, he didn't look in the least bit interested.
Over the past couple of weeks, Adiv has been on a new routine. We've been waking him up early so that he eats breakfast with me before I leave for work and I get to spend sometime with him. The routine works well, because he doesn't wake up at night for milk and is quite hungry when he is woken up at 7am.
Today however, we decided against waking him up and letting him sleep in as he had a late night. When I left home this morning, he was still asleep. However, as I was nearing my workplace, I received a text message from R which made my day - "Adiv got up and went around looking for you. Then he looked at me and said 'Dada?' "
Can't wait to get back home...

Adiv - Since Turning 1

After his birthday party, Adiv decided crawling was just too much of a hassle. Walking was definitely more fun. Then, even walking took a back seat. Running was way cooler, especially when you weren't holding Me's (That's moi) hand.

So that's my excuse for neglecting the blog. Now I spend my time running after Adiv, picking up after him, entertaining him, teaching him, and keeping him from getting hurt. The last one is a little tough though. A little bang here, a slip there, and a lot of wailing have become common now, and my mommy heart is finally getting tougher. If he isn't bleeding, vomitting or looking dizzy, he is probably okay! And to be absolutely sure, the doctor is just a phone call away!

Despite the fact that life is a lot busier now, it is also a lot more fun. He communicates rather well, though he doesn't say a lot. His first word was sadly neither Ammi/Mamma/Mummy or Dada. It was Car! He loves the car, and spends a lot of time behind the steering wheel pretending to drive. However, he never begins, unless he has worn Dada's sunglasses first. Then the music. You can't possibly drive without music (mostly Raffi when he is awake, and Radio Indigo after he has slept). After these few minutes of mimicing Dada, he is carried out amidst loud protests. Then one day, Dada decided to get a bike. Adiv wasn't sure he liked the bike as much as he liked the car. The car came with music and an airconditioner, didn't it?

At home,his cycles are his car and bike (the bigger cycle being the car, and the smaller one his bike). Like Dada who goes to work with his laptop, Adiv climbs on to his cycle with any bag that he can carry.
Yes, Dada is the big hero. What Dada eats, he'll eat, and what Dada does he'll do. ME takes care of his poopy diaper, his food, and his entertainment. Yeah, I sing, dance, and offlate, we've begun aerobics together. In an attempt to lose all my mommy weight (yeah yeah, I had him 14 months ago..but you need atleast a year before you lose the weight), I got myself a Jane Fonda video. I got the video months ago; and then told myself i'd taken the first step to losing weight (buying the video ofcourse). It took me several more months to start. With Adiv entertaining himself, it is a lot easier now. And when I need weights, I just pick him up!

Adiv is also proving to be quite a dancer. He has different moves for different beats. Now that gene he doesn't get from me. Dancing brings back distant memories of school, when I chose bharatnatyam classes over PT under the sun. I moved my fingers well, but not my body. So most often, I was just sitting around watching and applauding. Later in college, I danced only in discos (there was no threat of being mocked when surrounded by drunk people in places that had blinking lights). I did however enjoy music. I sang too, and spent a lot of time listening to music. I must take part credit for that gene of Adiv's. Since Ro is also musically inclined (he plays instruments by ear!!), I can't take full credit for the music gene.

So now, when we are in the midst of people, Adiv takes care of entertainment. Ro takes care of drinks, I pass around the eats, and Adiv dances, amusing everyone.

The little fellow is also quite the businessman in the making. On most evenings, you'll find us in the play area. Adiv sometimes takes his ball along, so he can play with his older friends (other one-year-olds bore him). I think he prefers older boys coz he thinks they are cooler, and they are also more indulgent. They usually let him have his way. But not this little fellow in the building. Two years older (though physically a LOT bigger), this innocent is a regular at the play area as well. He comes with his ball, his grandmother, and a live-in maid. In the beginning he was wary of Adiv. I'm assuming, the sight of a 1-year-old running excitedly towards you, saying gibberish is scary. Anyway, in time they were best friends. However, he still wasn't ready to share. Adiv had his own ball ofcourse, but he wanted his ball too. So he struck a deal. He gave him two pebbles in exchange for his ball. The other fellow agreed immediately. He happily pocketed the pebbles, and Adiv sat on the ground hugging two balls!
Adiv's world is fairly simple. He knows he can depend on his parents, despite all the disciplining that can be very annoying I'm sure. He loves Priyanka Chopra, prefers noodles over rice, and likes biting into an apple, enjoys bathtime, cuddles Pooh Bear and Elmo, drives his car, reads his books with as much fascination each time, messes up a well-made bed, loves shoes, knows he can melt his Me's heart with kisses, dances to Desi Girl, enjoys cooking, knows where dirty clothes should go, comes up with the most amazing games on his own, gets Dada and Me to play football.....................................................................................!

So yeah, life just become a lot more eventful! Adiv is a handful, but not a single day goes by when I don't think about what a miracle he is. Though we're teaching him about life, he has begun opening our mind to the simpler pleasures of life. In short, life is busy, but life is good!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Adiv turns 1

Admist much fanfare, Adiv turned 1! Though his birthday was on the 19th of January, celebrations began early. He had a party on the 17th with close family, where he got an Elmo cake, a lot of presents, and his first taste of chocolate cake. Both sets of grandparents, my brother from the US, Ro's sister and family, and several uncles and aunts were there to cheer him on, as he cut his first birthday cake.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Christmas in Hyderabad

Adiv's first Christmas was a lot of fun. We spent the week in Hyderabad, where Rohit's family was only too keen on pampering the little fellow. Adiv spent his days playing fun games with his slightly older cousins, walking around the house holding his grandfather's hand, listening to his grandmother's nursery rhymes, and eating very little. In the confines of our room, I made frantic attempts at feeding him, but he seemed more keen on crawling out to play. (Only later did I find that he'd lost his appetite because of a ear infection).
We visited Rohit's aunts, went to Church on Christmas day (Adiv was a good boy in Church), and gorged on a lot of delicious Hyderabad Biriyani and fruit cake (a family recipe).
I had a lot of fun too. Rohit's little nieces were a treat. I introduced them to youtube, told them tales of Santa and his reindeers. On Christmas eve, they went to bed promising to wake me up when Santa came with his sack of presents (We were going to touch Rudolph's red nose). They hoped they'd be in his "Good" list, and were only too thrilled when they woke up to a lot of presents carefully placed beneath the tree. They searched for presents that had their names, and waited patiently till we'd returned from Church to open them. I'd even written them two letters from Santa, telling them they'd been good girls, and that they should continue to be good in the coming year. They were so excited about their presents, one of them even asked me innocently, "Where did Santa buy these presents?"
Now I'm waiting for Adiv to grow up, so he'll also begin to enjoy the magic of Christmas!