Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My son, the target audience

Last afternoon as I was playing with Adi - defined as, he was trying to climb atop the TV table and I was watching over eagle-eyed to prevent injury and soothe hurt ego - the door-bell rang. Padma answered the door. Aditya Ramanathan? - asked the courier-wallah. Yes, Padma answered a little doubtfully. She signed and took the courier, probably wondering if she should hand the parcel to the addressee who was at the very moment trying to chew his own shoe. Naturally I took the packet and deciding that it was a tad early to provide my son with privacy by not opening his mail, looked inside. It was a frequent user card!! A loyalty programme card!! For an eight month old!! Complete with his name and date of birth and a blank at the back of the card where he is supposed to sign and a couple of vouchers to be redeemed at the earliest. Talk about early consumerism and catching them young - this is really taking things a bit far, what? When I shopped at that particular kids' clothing store and filled up one of those ubiquitous customer detail forms, I had no idea I was setting up Adi for his long and arduous journey on the retail trail. But now that he is here, let us go shopping, baby!!

***

The mother is going to be in town starting today (bring on the kadhi chawal, I say). I am really looking forward to being the child rather than the mom for some time. I just hope she remembers she is my mom and not just Adi's grandmom.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A ton of nothing...and everything - a hundred posts!

So this is it - the hundredth post. I have meaning to write it for the last several days but with Padma on leave and M abroad - I was playing So-Not-Supermom and was busy dropping all my balls, sometimes all at once. This was the first time that I handled every thing on my own and the house is still standing, so that is saying something. Try not to pat me on my back though...I think I have pulled something.

Right, so back to the post. I shall now continue to ramble at will.

If I were to apply the deprivation technique to this blog - that is, try to conjure a scenario where this blog was taken away from me and see what is the extent of deprivation I feel - several things come to mind.

Who will listen to all my Adi tales? Who will be excited when he says his first words or concerned when he teeths? I just need to put in a post about an issue concerning Adi and BAM! replies pour in. I would surely miss out on some really level-headed and often varied advice if it were not for this blog.

I am reasonably shy about approaching people but that does not mean that I haven't made friends here. Other bloggers have often not just commented but also mailed or Facebooked or Orkuted me and I have never failed to feel lucky when that happens. I have even met some of them (refer Mumbai Mommybloggers Meet). To someone who is a bit of a loner, feeling like part of a community is without a doubt GREAT FUN! For someone who sometimes sorely misses adult company after an entire day of baby-talk, hearing from other women (and occasionally men) provides a degree of very welcome respite!

Writing this blog also provides me with a sense of routine, something that vanished as soon as I gave up on my everyday-brings-a-new-deadline job. Of course it is great fun lounging around in one's pjs till noon (or even all day, like today) but still...it tends to get a little rough some times. This is also part of the reason why I write regularly enough to inspire responses such as - phir se post? Abhi toh likha tha!

However, that is not the raison d'etre of this blog. The reason why I write this blog is because I like writing. This blog just happens to be a great place to write and get others to read it and get feedback. The topics about which I write (on this blog) are primarily my son, my life, my husband, my struggles with post-partum weight loss and a hundred other things....but the aim is still to just write. It just so happens that Adi and the other things I mentioned happen to be interesting to me and so words flow well (I hope!)when I tell stories about them.

So essentially what I am saying is - this is a parenting blog that helps me put to use my writing and story-telling skills. Does that make sense?

That brings me to the readers. Would I write if no one read me? Sure! (In fact, for the first few months of its existence this blog was private because I was certain that no one would want to read about some random woman and her firstborn.) But the question is - is it more fun to write when people do read and comment? The answer is a thumping OH YES! POSITIVELY! You know what they say - jungle mein mor naacha, kisne dekha - A peacock dances in the forest, who has seen him - it is always better to get feedback, to talk, to discuss and converse than...well...not.

I think this would be the right time to make my delurking request....Statcounter tells me more than twenty nine thousand hits have been made since September, people from places as exotic sounding as Gibraltar have been visiting me,...I am a girl, I get curious! So come on, tell me, who are you? Why do you read me? What do you like about this stuff? (We will leave the part that you don't like for the next post, aye? Let us not spoil this party!)

Hey, some of you asked Adi or Mahesh to do a guest post to celebrate. Adi is busy drooling all over his shirt and trying to eat an empty tissue box as I write this. Mahesh got back an hour back after visiting Frankurt, Athens, Brussels and London in a span of five days and has now gone to work. Something tells me that we are better off with me writing. Maybe for the 200th post?!!

Hmmm...200th post....that actually brings me to the next question - how long can I go on writing this blog? Many of you who are reading this have your own blog/s. Have you ever asked yourself this? How long can you go on committing a reasonable amount of time and effort to maintaining this piece? Well, I don't know. Not indefinitely, I guess. Maybe not even medium or long term...though who knows? But yes, I see myself writing here in the immediate future or till the words flow easy, no later.

Alright, now I am trying really hard to say something meaningful and profound but cannot....so I guess I will say '
see ya later' instead. Lurkers, don't forget to delurk. Regulars - leave your paw-prints as usual, please!!

See ya later :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teething troubles and one run to go...

Methinks the second toothie is going to be outie soonie soonie ....and I really need to stop talking adding an o, u or y to every word I speak, am pretty sure it provides no solace to the teething infant in this house. He is coping with it quite well for the major part of the day but every now and then the dental troubles defeat him and he starts to get cranky. It doesn't help that said troubles take place between 2:30 and 4:30 am. Imbecilic baby-talk doesn't help, I am certain.

He is just learning to wave goodbye and he is perfecting the motion. Every now and then, when he thinks no one is watching, he is found gently waving to himself, the little pudgy wrist moving about slowly with him watching it with rapt attention.... of course he stops self-consciously whenever we ask him to do it on demand or try to record it.

***

How come no one has never asked me about the logic behind the url orange ice candy, eh? Hmmpphh....and here I was thinking that it was such a delightfully enigmatic url. I am most upset about this lack of curiousity on your part and just for that - I am not telling you now. Two can play a game, you know....*shrugs elegantly and walks off*

***

*having finished shrugging elegantly, comes back to continue with post*

This is the ninety-ninth post in this blog. It means that I have spent the months since September doing precious little other than blogging. It also means that the next post needs to be special. That, in turn means that I need to think about what I am going to write in that post. Given that no ideas are jumping around at present, it implies that I am on a blogging break till I can come up with something. That is cool, as I could do with not spending so much time posting I suppose. But I will have to come back to the same problem whenever I return, so I guess it's better to just have it finished and done with as soon as possible.

Any ideas?
***

Edited to add : Okies, crowds, settle down...I am going to reveal that I am feeling rather...okay, V-E-R-Y foolish at having brought this up. There is actually no story behind the name at all...except the fact that I could eat nothing except orange ice candies when I was carrying Adi...and when I say nothing, I mean that I could not keep even water down...at least for the first three, four months...morning sickness is so sick, aye?

Now contrary to popular belief, orange ice candies are not easily available at shops...it is the sort of thing that you get at a thele-wallah outside schools. We, that is Mahesh located a shop (In&Out) at the petrol pump near our place and would normally go there every third day and buy forty, fifty ice candies and troop back home. Needless to say, the shop owner thought M was running a side business somewhere, selling these icecreams at a premium. On the days when M would get no ice candies, he would understandably bite the poor shop owner's head off.

Shop owner - Sorry sir , orange ice cream toh khatm ho gayi.

M - Mujhe pata hai, main he le gaya tha. Aapne order kyun nahin kiya?

Shop owner - Order kiya hai...ek do din mein aa jayegi.

M - Aur tab tak meri wife kya khayegi?

Shop owner - *edges away from M having decided that he is not quite alright*

Anyway, I got the lot of you to feel curious, so happy about that!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

When the phone rings....

...it is very often the call of the abhorred telemarketer who has decided that your registering for their 'Do Not Call' service was just a momentary whim and does not mean anything after all. And so I am always armed with scathing replies and quite often on the verge of losing my temper with the caller. Very often, I do not even bother to continue the conversation and very rudely and with a marked disregard for any patience disconnect the call. So, the phone call that came this last Friday was a humbling one....

*Ring, ring*

Self - Hello?

Caller - Ms PS?

Self - Yeps (thoughts to self - HAS to be *insert name of multinational bank here*)

Caller - I am calling from the blind association, madam. We work towards providing employment for blind people. For the blind people who we are not able to help with a job, we run a monthly program called Annapurna. We try to give them a few kgs each of atta, dal, vatana and so on. This month we are running short of funds to buy vatana and atta...do you think you can help?

And that is why I need to step back and just look at myself. I also need to be more patient with people. And I need to take ALL phone calls and call back people when I miss their calls.

Some of you would have run the Mumbai Marathon for different causes today. Next year, I am so seeing you there.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to basics


I am seriously running out of words here. How long can one go on talking about random stuff from one's remarkably and suffocatingly boring existence? Another relevant question - how long one can go on reading it? However, Seinfeld became popular and ran (still running in India) as the show about nothing. As a long-standing Seinfeld fan, I suppose it is my duty to carry the flame/baton of nothingness.

Right, so UPDATES!!

Adi is sprouting his first tooth. This is a development of epic proportions in this house but I will understand if you would like to make an exit now and never return. I think it is the lateral or central incisor - not entire sure which - and if I have it my way, he will not be using it (or its replacement, evntually) to chew anything other than carrots and cucumber. I have every intention of bringing up Adi as a vegetarian. Then I think about my own dad and how he let me be when I did not want to eat any meat and I start thinking how choices are important. Then I get tired with all the thinking and troop off to consume some chocolate.

Chocolate! Gorgeous, gooey chocolate!! Do you know how many calories are contained in that delectable, delicious, I-just-gotta-eat-it bar of Cadbury's Moro Gold - go on..guess. Well, I am not about to spoil your day by telling you...suffice it to say that if you have devoured one of those babies, you should not be eating anything but plain vegetable soup for the next one week. I know, what a bummer!

Back to UPDATES!!

We are giving Adi both bio-chem salts and those teeny homeopathy pills to relieve him of teething-related discomfort. Yes, yes, go on, tell me how WRONG I am in doing that. Also, do tell me what I should be giving him instead. Dude, really, I am not being sarcastic, TELL ME!! I have realized that it is a mother's lot to accept advice. So, here I am, sitting in the lotus position, very Buddha-like, completely at peace (Pantera's 'Hollow' is playing in the background but do ignore that)though having some trouble typing given lotus position, letting words of advice float all over me. Very relaxing. Try it sometime.

Talking of relaxing, what is with all this evil, vile, vela nonsense doing the rounds about being nasty to babies, huh, huh, HUH?? Well, people can be as nasty as they want. I am going to be my usual, mature, rational, grown-up self and respond with this -



This image is named manners.jpg. Beats me why.

If we had been in my hometown Meerut, this is the way I would have started to explain things - arrey bhaiya, agar achha nahin lag raha toh mat padho na (*oh brother, if good not feeling then don't read, no*). Sigh, basic stuff is good stuff.


Right, then let us move on. (Saara mood hi bigad diya - *Whole mood is spoilt*)...

I am now planning to make the best of Adi's naps by watching Desperate Housewives, Season 3 (Dirty Laundry Edition...hmmm...boggles the mind)...it is very fortunate that Adi now sleeps to loud ambient noise because he wouldn't mind the soap playing in the background. I need to make the most of this year by watching all the tv shows I like because I am guessing that next year this time, Adi will be asking pertinent questions such as, "But Mama, why did Eva Aunty ask the gardener to come inside the house?"

Adi's separation anxiety is playing out in full glory. He refuses to spend more than fifteen minutes at a time with even Padma and insists on jumping into my lap at the slightest excuse. It is very flattering, all this attention, but when he declines to sit still even in his bath-tub while I pour water over him and clambers out in a bid to come to me, it results in a rather messy situation, not to mention a dripping mother.

And now I say yet another abrupy goodbye as he calls me. See you soon, my precioussssssssss, I will be back soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

High school hi-jinks

Over the weekend, I was browsing through some of my internet favourites and I came across this article on Time-blog. This is the kind of article that compels a reader to immediately apply the concept to personal experience. And so I did. And I found -

  • In high-school - class X in India - I was a Grade Seeker. It was all about scoring. Marks, that is. It was a small town and most kids were smart enough to realize that they needed to claw their way out of the mofussil existence if they were to get anywhere in life. Resultantly,every day was a nerd party. There was no attention to athletics or theatre, just books, extra-classes, ten-year exam papers and an eye always on Getting Out. My best friend too was completely and totally focussed on academics and we did not discuss boys or tv shows or clothes as I guess normal teens do. Years later, I haven't really learnt how to have a lot of fun i.e. I am still something of a social neanderthal. However, I have discovered alcohol and that helps. Most of the other kids from that time eventually made it to sundry engineering colleges and the like and are now earning their living in various American cities, Orkut and Facebook tell me. My best friend then is my best friend today and she is now a bio-tech professional, brain-drained over to Seattle. So it all worked out just like it ought to.
  • One of the phrases that I heard about myself most often at that time, with vomit-inducing disregard for the English language was that I was 'proudy'. It used to surprise and upset me at that time, as I believed I was a paragon of virtue and therefore could not have any personality flaws to my discredit. I have heard the same trait being attributed to me over the years, described variously as arrogant, conceited and/or having a head fat enough to match the rest of my body. Things haven't changed a bit. I still think I am perfect. One of the delights of wrinkled, older skin is that it is thicker.
  • I was unhappy and confused about the relationship between food and my body at that time. Status quo.
  • Back then, I vaguely knew that I wanted children, a home and a career - the works. Voila! I have them now and I am proud to report that I am doing an admirably shoddy job of even attempting to juggle them all. Always the over-achiever - that's me.
  • I had limited patience and absolutely no sympathy for the sucker-uppers at that time. Re: point above about considering self too smart for words. So, I was sarcastic and often landed in trouble because of my tongue that ran away with me. I have realized the folly of my ways now and know that I could have scraped through Algebra had I been nicer to Mrs J, whom I still hate and will for the rest of my living days. (Hi, Mrs J! Nice weather, eh?)
  • I had no head for economics at that time. I rectified this tricky problem by marrying someone who can manage my finances and does not ask to be paid. Also, this someone can contribute towards salvaging particularly damaging P&Ls by putting in a little bit of his own. I think this was a stroke of sheer genius. (There is a program called Shear Genius, a hair-dressers' contest doing the rounds on Travel & Living, aye?...I wonder if I meandered away from the point so much in high school.)

Anyway, that was then. Now I don't know whether our high-school selves shape our adult selves or not...I think our high-school selves are just a mini-version of us as grown-ups - young morons become old morons and so on, to put it poetically. Here - try to say this really fast - we are like this today because we were like that then BUT we were like that then because we were meant to be like this today. And that, my friends is my point of view.

What were you like in high-school? Different from/same as today?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My vapid weekend

I think I have dried up as a blogger. I thought I would do a photo-post today....given old saying, that would mean that post would be swimming in thousands and thousands of words...but thanks to my slower-than-snailmail laptop, photos are taking forever to upload so I resign from that task as well. Ooh, wait, one of them has been uploaded. Here it is, this is the famous Mirwana Nature Resort where guests have the option to stay in tents. For the record, we chickened out of this unique experience and opted for a room instead.



Anyway, back to talking nonsense. I need a new laptop. I am very tempted to go
the Apple way. It is just so gorgeous. All I want is that it should be available in red. However, M tells me that people actually consider things other than the design and looks of the machine before buying a computer. I am sure there is logic hidden in this statement somewhere but I cannot find it. If something looks like this, who needs anything else, which is what Abhishek Bachchan must have said when marrying Ash. I understand him completely. This leads me to another really important question - what would Deepika Padukone have said to herself when agreeing to see Yuvi? You know, I am just sayin'.

***

The channels are all abuzz with the Nano. A car for Rs 1 lakh? That is so cool...again I skimmed through the features in TOI but could not really fathom what they imply...all I know the car looks great! But the Tatas must be losing money on each car they sell. So is it the 'A promise is a promise' at work here or just plain and simple 'I will show 'em'...whatever it is, I am always approving of Ratan Tata - he is actually a neurosurgeon disguised as a businessman. You know, I am just sayin'.

***

We have finally got a cable connection for the new tv. The cable guy is a weirdo, a lech and a crook. With these wonderful qualities at hand, he is obviously a delight to welcome into the house. M insisted that the cable work be done on the weekend when he would 'supervise it personally'. The conversation between the two ran thus:

Cable Guy - You have the option between taking a legal connection and an illegal one. The illegal connection will cost you less.

M - I want the legal connection.

Cable Guy - Take the illegal connection. I promise you nothing will happen.

M - I am sure but I'd rather not take the chance for saving...what...a hundred bucks per month.

Cable Guy - Grumble, grumble, mumble, mumble.

*Cable guy finishes the work and is saying his goodbyes*

M - So, here is your money and now you disappear.

Cable Guy - I promise you there will be no problem. If there is a problem, you call me, ok? Here is my number...

M - What problem should I expect to face? Look here, I hope your business is all above-board?

Cable Guy - Yes, yes, everything is ok. You will get an invoice when I come to collect the monthly charges. But what I am saying is - in case of a problem, get in touch with me. Don't call anyone else, just call me.

M (really psyched now) - Ok, I will call you. Now leave!

We are expecting the cable police to raid our house any second now.

***

Random person from Reliance pays us a visit. I have to be physically restrained in order not to attack him. To provide a context to this violence, when our MTNL broadband had gone under, we had approached these same Reliance truckers (you remember I don't use offensive language on my PG Advised rated blog?) to give us a connection. These guys had at that time made us run around in circles. Endlessly. Given that a circle is endless, running around one endlessly is ,to put it mildly, a lot of running. Y of YonEarthNot had had an
uncannily similar experience. And now they are back trying to sell us that connection. I need to plan my revenge and how to serve it cold.

***

Enough random blogging for one day, SOMEBODY STOP ME!!

***

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Year Resolutions

Mandatory list, this one. It is as if a new year rolls around and an auto-mechanism is switched on in people that compels them to start drawing a list of promises to themselves. I resisted the impulse the whole of last week and I thought I had conquered it but no, it rears its ugly head again. Ah well, I give up. Here it is.

  1. I will comb my hair everyday, preferably before noon. When I am combing my hair, I will make a serious attempt to actually look at my reflection, rather than absently looking through it.
  2. I will not, not, NOT start tucking into fattening food the moment I get back from the gym, thus creating a calorie surplus even before I have taken my sneakers off. While on the topic of fitness, I will eat fruits and vegetables instead of, rather than in addition to cakes and cookies and colas.
  3. I will not be an obsessive mother who needs to constantly hover around her baby even while he is being cared for by other responsible adults. Also, will not mentally refer to said responsible adults as 'nincompoops' and 'idiots' and 'morons'.
  4. I will not fight with sales staff at every store I visit thus ensuring that I have some place to go to shop without having to think 'But I fought with them too'.
  5. I will be more appreciative of my body and constantly remind myself that it only gets worse with age and what looks horrendous today will look fabulous in comparison ten years from now. Case in point being pre-pregnancy body. Note to self : Try not to get depressed by dismal scenario.
  6. I will stop wishing for a house given the positive correlation between the intensity of my desire and real-estate prices in Mumbai.
  7. I will stop planning for Adi's graduation party, wedding reception and gifts for my grandchildren and start living in the present.
  8. I will stop running M's life.
  9. I will try to be a little more tech-savvy starting with basic HTML stuff like crossing out things. (Done already and put to GOOD USE, woo hoo!!)
  10. I will stop buying clothes just because they are available in my size, make-up that looks great on supermodels but I don't wear and the 'it' shoes and bags that gather dust in the closet, books that I don't have the time to read and music that I don't have the time to listen to. And from all the money we save from my frugality, we will buy a house....oh no!
  11. I will stop supporting piracy by watching movies on and downloading music from the internet...hee hee...maybe not till Adi lets me go to the theatre though.
  12. I will resist punching our neighbours when they look at Adi and ask me 'You don't bring him downstairs?' as if that is the ultimate blasphemy in housing-society etiquette (Downstairs where? Among the cars? I can do better, thanks!)...seriously we need to move to another house...cough, I didn't say that.
  13. I will be more social, I will go out and meet people, I will resist the temptation to lounge in the comfort of home. Will be difficult given temptation to punch neighbours though.
  14. I will not be superstitious.

GAK! This is like taking all the fun out of my life. Maybe I ought to start breaking them right away.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Eight months letter

Dear Adi

So, eight months up? How does it feel I wonder, to be able to accomplish so many firsts in a matter of four piddly weeks. You do it all the time and did it again this time.

You are now sitting up with no help from us. One moment you are lying face down and the very next you are pushing up with your hands and are sitting up like a little adult! You are creeping faster than every before and this morning you actually used your hands and feet for the first time to purely crawl with no assistance from your torso as the extra limb. The very first consequence of this development is the addition of a few more gray strands in my mane, Adi because I cannot now leave you unsupervised for even a second. The pillow-barricade is not enough because you are now capable of crawling right over it. And given that you insist on practising every new skill you learn in your sleep, these days I often get up with a jolt because you have woken up and are in on your merry way to only you know where. It is very scary and makes me wish that you slept in your crib so that you would be safe. Anyway, both of us know that THAT is not going to happen.

You are so much more interested in your environment now. For one thing, you have been made to watch some television in the last few weeks and you are clearly ahead of us in this game because you've rejected it, turning your face away, probably because there is nothing worthwhile to watch on the tube anyway. And I guess it is a tad early for you to be interested in Britney's hospitalization.

Your first trip has been made and documented too, Adi. You were a delight and I proudly claim so, kid. That means that we can now plan travel again. Both your dad and I love seeing places, Adi and hope that you have the same wanderlust. I also hope that you don't inherit my ability to get lost in new places, both figuratively and literally.

Food is a new adventure too and as I suspected during my pregnancy, you REALLY LIKE green goop, Adi. The first time I ever consumed green goop (spinach, methi, chaulai etc) was when I was expecting you, probably because you used to send subliminal messages to me - "MOTHER, GREEN GOOP ALERT! WE ARE RUNNING LOW ON CHLOROPHYLL. CONSUME DETESTABLE LOKING ALOO PALAK NOW." But its a good habit, son and I am not complaining. Far from it.

No teeth yet, sweetheart and that is good because I am still feeding you many, many times a day and would rather you not use parts of my anatomy as teethers. We can wait for the pearlies, baby.

No teeth does not mean no words though and you are already a linguist. You can call me in different languages sweetheart - Amma, Mumma, Mum, Mai, Aai - my standard response to each is 'Yes, sir, your highness, sir."

I love that look of naughtiness that you have when your little tongue sticks out and your eyes sparkle and the moment your daddy or I do peak-a-boo or ape-daddy/ape-mommy which is when we waddle at you with our arms flailing - a most enticing sight -you just go off into peals of laughter. Yeah, that alone could be reason enough to have a baby. That, and intercourse, though you didn't hear it here first.

I had to cut your lovely locks a little shorter because although you looked really cute as a poodle, I was afraid you could not see very well through all that hair. Snippety snip I went before your bath this morning and your father stood by, donning the familiar expression of worry and concern that is a staple as soon as I pick up a sharp instrument. Well, I think you look great after your haircut and a la Rachel's sister in FRIENDS, maybe I can pursue an alternate career as a baby stylist. What is going to become of my career, Adi? I cannot, cannot, cannot leave you alone at home while you are doing all these wonderful things and go sit in some cubicle somewhere to earn a few rupees. At the same time, I guess you'd want your mother and I'd want my self to be more than just a care-giver, although its a great thing to be. We need to figure this one out, my boy. You let me know what you think as soon as you can. Something tells me you will be and already are a lot more sensible than I am.

It is amazing - this transformation that has come about me. Sometimes I feel I am just a little girl who is playing mother. I just hope I am playing the part well.

That is it, for this time, then. You have fun and hope 2008 is a great year for you.

Love

Mom

Friday, January 4, 2008

Rajasthan Diaries - Part 3

Adi turns eight months today. The mandatory Dear Adi post will need to take a backseat while I finish the mini-travelogue.

29th December 2007

Today is my dad's birthday and though I don't really miss him only on certain days and occasions, I can't help thinking how much fun it would have been to have him around on trips such as these.

We're back in Jodhpur, back in Fort Chanwa. There are westerners flocking the place as far as the eye can see, all here to celebrate the New Year. Somewhere close by Queen Madonna would be getting ready to ring in the new year too. But all this is of little consequence to me. What matters is that today we are back in business as far as FM is concerned. Jodhpur FM (My FM, Big FM - I am eternally grateful to you) is rocking the party! The RJs are incredibly named - Vroom Vroom Varun (why?), Sizzling, Sensational Smita (smug, aren't we?) , Aapki Sabse Achhi Dost Smita(I agree), Manchali Anjali (really?)....they are all like old friends now. We also know a fair bit about the issues that concern the people of Jodhpur, their trials and troubles...M and I are having trouble not talking about some of the stuff but when Adi naps, no one makes a sound. Both of us can now also do a fair rendition of Kesariya Balam...aa..aa..aa..Padhaaro Mhare Dessssssss...okies, maybe the rendition is not so fair when I do it after all.

The road-trip back to Jodhpur was similar to the one to it earlier, except that this time the sunglasses scam did not work. Adi did sleep in the car though, after feeding. That reminds me - I am so proud of myself for managing to overcome my ineptitude regarding bfing outside the house. On this trip I seem to be doing it all the time, possibly because there is no option. In fact yesterday, I managed to feed Adi and made him at the Taj Rawalcot in Jaisalmer. Most impressive. My pashmina shawl is coming in more handy than ever envisioned. Sue's tip came in handy. (Thanks, Suester!)

Today is our chill day. I would like to go out into the city and see some stuff but it can wait till tomorrow I guess.

And hey, we have not escaped the cultural program! The same seven pots, the same dance on broken shards of glass, the same trick of picking up the note while balancing the pots on her head, the same ruddy songs - they are all here as well. This seems to be the standard fare that all hotels and resorts in Rajasthan dole out at this time and well, who can blame them, everyone seems to be lapping it up.

We have run out of the Broccoli and Cheese flavour in our collection of Gerber baby foods and Adi is refusing to eat the other flavours. He hates the Peaches, he abhors the Bananas and Strawberry, he detests the Pears - coupled with his Cerelac strike what am I to do? Well, the hotel is providing us with khichdi and vegetable soup and our man likes that so its working out so far. And though I was feeling rather foolish carrying my hand blender along, it has come in so handy (pun!) to blend the stuff they give us further. Also, I think adi likes food warm. Maybe that Avent warmer should be bought after all...sigh, the list just doesn't end. Anyway, now we need to lug back all the heavy jars back to Mumbai where I will change them at Patel Stores. At freaking seventy-five bucks per jar, I am not going to let this go!! Oh and let us not forget that I carried Formula and Cerelac too, just in case, and both are making Adi gag. So back they go too!!

30th December 2007

Today we trooped off to Jodhpur. The idea was to have lunch at Umaid Bhawan and then go off shopping. Umaid Bhawan Palace is a delight but we had grssly underestimated how dollar-oriented it could become in this season. Lunch demands a cover charge of 2K per person. Right, we nod at them and turn about and march right out of the place. We take a look-see at the museum though and while M is trying his best to hustle me out of the place as quickly as possible, I still manage to see the lovely collection of watches and china and perfume bottles from The Monarch's collection. We also spend a fair amount of time sitting at a bench at the museum, trying to make Adi eat something but his strike against Cerelac and Gerber continues. We then made a quick stop at the museum cafe where we get a couple of sandwiches that beat the infamous cover charged lunch at Umaid anyday and started back for our hotel.

SB and SK who are driving back from Jaisalmer to join us in Jodhpur today were turned away from the gates of Umaid Bhawan Palace, hee, hee!! So pricey, what? Their friends A and A are have also joined the party for this leg of the trip. SK has taken some amazing pictures of our little bundle and they shall be proudly displayed on Picasa later on. At least some one is doing our expensive camera some justice.

31st December 2007

We have been hogging non-stop on this trip and will doubtless have a few kilos to show for it. Today we made a trip to Jodhpur and consumed Mirchi Vada...abso-salivating-lutely yummy!! Also stuffed face with imartis and other sundry, fattening savouries. These guys know how to cook! Not content with all this food, we went off to Taj Hari Mahal to do justice to the buffet there. Adi was fed and made to sleep in a quiet restaurant there. I am feeling like such an achiever after all this! He drank some vegetable soup after waking up. The others went off to Mehrangarh fort after this while we went off to shop. It was here that I met the most aggressive salesman on this planet. Sheesh, I would have probably bought more stuff had he not been that pushy. I mean, dude I am here to buy things, don't you go forcing them my throat anyway. And then, he turns on the hapless M and piously informs him,

Shahjahan ne toh Tajmahal banwa diya tha, aap inke liye sari nahin khareed sakte?

I found that objectionable on so many levels that I started spluttering. M asked the guy not to push his luck and bring him the bill already. HUMMMPPHHH!!!

Anyway, the saris and the bedspread I picked up were all rather nice and I can now add the saris to my collection of never-worn-but-nice-to-have-garments.

We of course did not stay up to ring in the new year. Adi called it a day at ten and so did we. Back to Mumbai tomorrow.

***
Been quite a trip, eh? Hope you enjoyed reading about it. Both M and I feel really confident and in-charge after doing this trip. We have also realized that we probably end up cossetting Adi too much. I mean he was perfectly happy travelling and driving around and eating out - clearly, it is us who are the bottlenecks. This over-focus and over-protection has got to stop. Right, now let me go check on what he is upto and hover around him as he plays with some harmless plastic blocks.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rajasthan Diaries - Part 2

I would have liked to post this earlier, before it all starts to fall out of my sieve-like memory but Adi is quite clingy after seven days of constantly being next to either M or I and is currently refusing to spend too much time with Padma, much to her consternation. Resultantly I have one sulky maid, one clingy baby and one husband who has to go to work on my hands and I am trying to deal with it all somehow.

ANYWAY - back to the story!

27th December 2007

We reached Mirwana Nature Resort after making good time on the road. This place is some 55 kms before Jaisalmer. Adi was put into his car seat for the first time ever and somehow I didn't expect him to take to it at all. I put him in and suddenly felt the hot sun in my eyes. I realized that I had not taken my sunglasses out at all. I put them on and started to adjust Adi. It was then that I realized that my son was staring at me unblinkingly. WHO is this woman, he seemed to ask, all cool looking with fancy shades on? My mother is a disheveled lady with mismatching, baggy clothes and uncombed hair. He stared and stared. I smiled at him. He gave me a half-smile. I bent down and kissed him. He pulled back and gave me an unsure half-smile again. A very what-the-hell-is-going-on look on his face, she smells like mama, she feels like mama, but DUDE, SHE DOESN'T LOOK LIKE MAMA AT ALL!! M saw this happening from the front seat of the car and chortled with amusement while Adi continued to stare at me. Finally I got tired of making faces at him and put my hands on his eyes. Apparently, this is what his tired self had been waiting for because he shut his eyes and WENT OFF TO SLEEP!!!! If you know Adi, you will be gasping for breath by now because in my humble opinion as his mother, this is the single most uncharacterstic thing he has done in his eight months. So he slept and I was able to just sit back and enjoy the scenery, arid stretches as far as the eye could see, stunted trees, sand everywhere and just when you think that the colourlessness is complete, you will see a couple of village women carrying kindling on their heads and wearing the most divine colours possible. Fuschia and blue, orange and red, printed skirts with white shimmering dupattas - I was completely enamored of their choice of colours. If those people never want to discard their traditional clothes in favour of jeans and tees, I will not blame them, I promise.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Manwar. An insipid and overpriced lunch buffet followed. Adi had woken up just before we reached this place so M and I took turns in eating. We then changed him and fed him and were on our way again. We crossed Pokhran on our way and the cabby gave us the mandatory spiel on the nuclear test site which I listened to with only half an ear.

We were in for quite a shock when we reached Mirwana. This place is a work in progress. Everything here has an incomplete, unfinished look and feel to it. Even the paint smells new. Surprising, considering they have been in business for two years. We had been booked into tents but once we got to the same, we quickly changed our minds. It may have been a pleasant and adventurous experience in pre-Adi days but now, NOW there was no way in hell we were willing to take a chance putting just one thin chaadar between the elements and our little baby and that too in the middle of a desert winter. So we chickened out and opted for a regular room instead. Now, the room that was allotted to us - it was round. I cannot fathom round rooms. How do you hand pictures on curving walls, for one? Thinking such deep thoughts, I almost drifted off to sleep. Adi was also really tired and we thought that we would quickly put some FM on and make him sleep. What we had not planned on finding out was that - MIRWANA DOES NOT GET FM RADIO!!! Oopsy Daisy - ab kya karein?

Our friends SB and SK (Hi guys, if you're reading this) had also arrived by then. We all decided that our best bet to provide song and dance for Adi was by attending the cultural program arranged outdoors by the hotel. We bundled Adi into his space-suit and off we went. A troupe of Rajasthani folk-artists awaited us. Some wine was ordered and we gathered around an angeethi. One of the dancers balanced seven pots on her head and danced away merrily. Very impressive. In fact, it was all very nice till the head of the troupe decided to launch into some sher-o-shairi. It was clearly not his forte but he insisted on reciting shady couplets such as

Dil diya toh Dilli chali gayi
Dilli gaya toh Italy chali gayi
Socha bijli ka taar choo kar jaan de doon
Lekin kambakht bijli chali gayi

Tragic stuff, I say.

Anyhow, this entire program served to entertain Adi enough to make him sleepy and we retired to our room where we called it a day and slept a deep sleep.

28th December 2007

It is freezing outside. Today we will go to Jaisalmer. I have been to the fort city once before on a work-related trip. I have great memories of the place. Hope it is still the same.

The Jaisalmer Fort is so very beautiful. It was built in 1156 AD. It was also covered in cow dung and boasted of open drains. Such history, such filth. SB pointed out that Machu Picchu where they had recently gone for a holiday is only about 500 years old which means that the Incas could have come to the Jaisalmer Fort and said, "Wow, THIS IS OLD." I wish we could market and preserve our heritage sites better than we do. What can I do to help, let me know, I will start with myself before cursing the world if I know how.

The Fort has five cannons, the guide tells us. Mahesh and I manage to see three of them, it is difficult to negotiate the slopes and steps carrying Adi around. Soon we are quite tired and the sun is beating down on us. M and I decide to bail out early while the rest of the group stays on to see the sunset and get some coffee at one of the nice restaurants in the place. We would have liked to see Patwon ki haveli but Adi is looking tired and we start back for Mirwana. Adi is restless and cranky on the drive back. Ah well, you can't expect such a small baby to be more patient than this.

The service at Mirwana is polite and inefficient. They mess up and apologise, both readily and regularly. I have been trying to arrange for salt-less khichdi for Adi but the kitchen seems to find the order an insurmountable challenge. M and I will cut short our stay here and return to Jodhpur tomorrow itself. In the meanwhile there is one more FM-less night which means that we will get to see the same darned cultural program again.

Incidentally, the cultural program is clearly directed at only the firangs. The performers don't even bother to look at us brown-skins. Ah well, who are we to crib if this is what it takes to fill up the tourism ministry's coffers.

It is not as if we have an option anyway. Adi needs to be entertained and if we need to watch the same seven pot dance seventy times over to do so, we will.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Rajasthan Diaries - Part 1

We got back to a delightfully chilly Mumbai after a week in Rajasthan where the winter was decidedly mild. However, since we had spent considerable time and effort getting woollens for Adi, we used to bundle him up anyway and vaguely hope that he would not bake too much in what was aptly called his space-suit.

I scribbled bits and pieces on bits and pieces whenever I could get some time off after tending to the million things that a eight-month old needs for basic survival and will be reproducing (metaphor, metaphor) them here in hopefully some sort of order.

25th December 2007

After spending the entire morning finishing last-minute packing, we finally leave the house to catch our flight to Jodhpur. We reach well in time. M checks us in while I hold Adi. I realize how under-exposed he is to the outside world when he starts screaming in a high-pitched voice, clearly overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds. I try and take him to a quiet corner and fish out a pacifier that had been bought a long time ago but never put to use. Adi is too old for it and uses it as a teether instead. I am cool with him using it as a nuclear device as long it works to calm him down.

We are thanking the flight gods that the flight is on time. This is so because we have not accounted for the vagaries of Indian Airlines flight. We have to wait nearly an hour to board. We take turns in walking with Adi who is still letting out screams every now and then to vent stress, perhaps to say - What, this is the outside world? THIS is what you've been keeping away from me? You cruel parents. Now I will scream and display my disapproval of you.

We are ready to throttle any personnel of Indian Airlines if we can just see them. There is no one around though.

Finally we board! The flight is uneventful. We have done away with the messy Pedicloryl and Adi is none the worse for it. After many months of going off to sleep with FM radio blaring in the background, Adi finds the concept of sleeping in a flying plane strange and unpalatable. However, after an hour of playing with (chewing on) the same rattle, our man decides that enough is enough, sticks his thumb in his mouth and is soon fast asleep. M and I are extremely thankful for this fortunate turn of events and spend the rest of the flight having a whispered conversation. Another first for us is actally managing to eat on the flight. We take turns of course but even that is good, very very good. We've come a long way, baby.

It is a long flight and makes a stopover at Udaipur. Every once in a while I am getting a pang of panic, what am I doing, hauling this little thing off to a new place, at an unseen resort, taking long road-trips when he hasn't been put into his car-seat even once.

Finally we reach Jodhpur. But no, no, no - it hasn't ended yet. Just to make matters a trifle more exciting, we are staying at a place that is a forty five minute drive from Jodhpur. HAH!! We don't like it easy. We like to live life on the edge. And then we jump off.

When we land Mahesh is not taking any chances with the cold though the crew has announced that the temperature outside is a measly 28 degrees. He insists on bundling Adi AND US into several layers of warm clothing before deplaning. Resultantly, when we walk from the plane to the airport, we are the only three people dressed for the North Pole while everyone else, specially the firangs is frolicking around in spaghetti tops and capris. How cool are we, I ask.

Thus looking like complete morons, we collect our luggage - all seven pieces - and find our cabby, overturn our trolley, stall traffic as we scramble all over to collect our stuff, get into the cab and drive out into the unseen. Rajasthan - I give you Adi. Merry Christmas.

26th December 2007

I have a quiet moment to write this as Adi sleeps and his father watches over him. It is past ten in the morning and we are yet to get any breakfast. The entire morning was spent in a flurry of activity getting Adi ready for the road-trip to Jaisalmer. Outside Fort Chanwa where we are right now, a driver called Kishan waits for us, doubtless a trifle impatiently, for he needs to make the return trip today itself.

Anyway, this Fort Chanwa is absolutely beautiful. It is all red stone, green lawns, jharokhas...and PARROTS!! An amazing number of our feathered green friends have been seen flying around the place. Looking at them, I miss my - what else - crows back at Mumbai, probably waiting patiently for their egg yolks that we throw out for them every morning, even as I write this.

Last night when we got into this place, the entire haveli was lit up with little twinkling lights - all rather fetching. Even if one were to look beyond the rather touristy ritual of putting teeka for all incoming tourists and the ubiquitous gang of Rajasthani women doing the ghoomar dance on the resort lawns, it is rather easy to get impressed by the symmetrical beauty of the place. If this indeed was Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's dream (the cabby told us last night that it was old BSS who envisioned converting old forts and palaces into hotels such as these, I don't have a clue if this is actually true and I am too tired to google this right now), I would have rather liked to pat him on the back and say gruffly, "Good job, dude."

Adi has fallen into his routine rather effortlessly, taking a nap every two hours. It helps that we have got our radio along (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT) and are now totally tuned in to Jodhpur FM, which I shall elaborate upon later. I had not dared hope for Adi sleeping like this, but I guess he is getting tired just taking in all these new things - grass, open sky, space. Also, I should not hex myself saying self-congratulatory things such as these given this is only the first day of the holiday.

Hey, for all the niceties, this place does not offer room service! NO ROOM SERVICE!! Clearly they think that all their guests, including ones with babies have all the time and ability in the world to saunter over to the restaurant to eat their meals. Well, they should know that in our case, we spend the hours between seven and ten pm entertaining Adi and trying to make him sleep. Last night, soon after we arrived and were shocked into silence by the absence of room service, M went to the restaurant to get something packed while I lay down with Adi. Fortunately they took pity on the rather harrowed looking M and offered to make an exception and sent food to the room. I would like to state here that after a couple of aloo paranthas, there is not much in this world that I cannot deal with. Including the fact that the hotel is in fact right next to a railway track which means that trains were whistling at us right through the night. Fortunately Adi was so tired that he decided to pardon the trains and us and slept anyway.

He is up. ON TO JAISELMER!!