Saturday, August 30, 2008

Getting to the glass

Adi has moved on with his all too brief love-affair with the dining table and has now taken to worshipping the crockery cabinet, a flimsy particle-board box from Hypercity (Ikea, get your ass to India already!). What secrets the cabinet holds, Adi wonders and then proceeds to find out by jerking one of the doors open. Ah, glass stuff! Wine glasses! Shot glasses! Champagne flutes! A couple of vases that Mom has hidden from my eagle eye! Bowls! Dishes! HA HA HA! Let me see what happens if I fling one down with all my force, hmmm, my lovelies?

"ADI! ADI! NO! NO! NO!" shrieks the mater and runs to the rescue of the mentioned glass items, picking up the boy just as he gleefully selects one goblet to commence the experiment.

"WAHHHHH!" protests Adi at being separated from the magical world the charms of which he was just beginning to discover.

"ARREY MERA BACHHA! KISNE MAARA?" screams Padma, running from the kitchen.

Maybe I should buy more child locks, I wonder crossly as Padma soothes Adi's ruffled feathers. Fat lot of good they will do though. All he can think about when he sees one of those is how to take it apart, piece by piece, sytematically. And normally succeeds with impressive speed. There is no other place to put the glass stuff in in this tiny house.

These days I have taken to putting my chair in front of the cabinet and sitting on it like a jealous and zealous naag-devta guarding his mani from the eyes of the evil wannabe icchadhaaris. Adi is circling my chair in a predatory manner, telling me in no uncertain terms that sooner or later, mother, I will get into your glass shelf and then, and then...HA HA HA!

We will keep you posted on what happens next.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How time flies

SC, my batchmate and friend was one of the most popular figures at MICA in our time there. Everyone adored her. She cooked amazingly well - and was the only Mess Secretary who actually cooked for the entire insti on special occasions. She was older than most of us by a few years and married to boot.

And at the beginning of the second year, after we came back from our respective summer internships, she was also pregnant.


If it was tough, she never really let anyone know. She went for all the classes, continued to finish assignments ahead of deadlines and continued to grow. If she had cravings, I would not know. She tells me now that she never felt sick, something I find hard to believe, having spent the better part of my own first trimester with a toilet bowl for company. All in all, it could not have been easy.


The batch was supportive and we even came up with a name for the little one - Gappu. Well, the time came and Gappu was born and is now a precocious seven-year old. And guess what, he is also the youngest blogger I know. Talk about early starts! Do hop over
here and against all the lurking instincts in your body and soul, PLEASE INTERACT!

Oh, and don't call him Gappu. Apparently he doesn't like it anymore!

Memories that are so bizarre I wonder if they did actually happen

In my effort to shake things up a bit, I asked a bunch of fellow bloggers to come do a guest post here. Nearly everyone agreed and the ones who haven't have me to reckon with so they will get around to my point of view sooner or later. The first one to bite the bullet is the lovely Surabhi from Sur Notes. She pulls out a childhood memory that she cannot believe is real. Well, I can't blame her...read on!

Young Sister Juliet teaching a bunch of ten year olds 'Ra Ra Rasputin lover of the Russian Queen' for the convent school annual function.
The reason I wonder if my brain has mixed up the details is not because why was Sister J teaching us this, of all, Boney M songs, but because I doubt I would have been in the group being tutored to sing in ANY function.
Something is not quite right with this school memory. Though I do remember the words clearly,
Ra Ra Rasputin Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on......
Sister J, what were you thinking ? I can not hold a tune for heaven's sake!

*This may be a good time to delurk and leave a comment for my guest..thanks!*

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brilliant!


The brilliant Kiran from Karmic Kids thought me worthy of this:

I received the award with the grace and dignity that is synonymous with me and immediately thought of a unique and novel way of celebrating. Actually, Kiran is not entirely responsible for what followed. I had been contemplating learning the right way to apply make-up for a fairly long time now. We decided to start small and started with eye-shadow. When I say we, I am referring to YouTube and myself. Well, you know what? They say that you should not trust the internet for a reason.

The lady in question wanted her willing followers to wear something called MAC Family Silver and some Purple Drama and apply it with numbered brushes. I have only Lancome silver and pink eye-shadow and no brushes. However, I am not called The Resourceful One for nothing and so I used my fingers. If you will bother to open the link, you will be amazed at how easy-peasy the lady makes it look. It's not. IT'S NOT. A few minutes later, I could have been roaming the streets of Transylvania, a black cape billowing about my legs and blood streaming down the corners of my mouth and no one would batted an eye-lid, unfortunate pun, possibly shrugging and saying - Oh, the Count's had a good dinner today.

So, if I am not feeling particularly brilliant right now, you will forgive me, won't you?

It's a good thing that I am already drop-dead gorgeous and don't really need any make-up. Well, actually I wanted M to say that but given that it has already been a few hours since he got into the house and did a double-take (in a bad way) on seeing me, I have a feeling thats not going to happen.

Anyway, coming back to the award - I would like to give it to the following decor/design blogs. Just looking at the homes in these makes me produce copious amounts of drool. Take a look if you haven't already. They are all brilliant. Like me. Allegedly. Woo hoo.
Oh Joy
Design*Sponge
Absolutely Beautiful Things
Desire to Inspire
Hoping for Happy Accidents
Apartment Therapy
Decor8

These blogs are really successful and popular so I don't know whether they will acknowledge my piddly gesture of goodwill and admiration but in case they do, here are the rules, people:

This award is for blogs whose content and design are brilliant as well as creative.

The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.

1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

***
Everyone's been raving about The Dark Knight. I wish I could also watch it. While I am at it, how about some other equally desirable movies such as 'Chak De, Bihar' and 'Bihari Mafia' - both starring Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishen? Or is it Kissen? Or Kisshen? Talking of unsavoury characters and misspelt film-titles, how about the capless-but-still-unpalatable Himesh Bhai in Karzzzz? Why stop at four zees though, I ask of you? With a man as boring as HR, it should be zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

***

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The mousetrap sans the mouse

Except the mouse in question is one bandicoot of a rat. I discovered him one night at about three am, waking up with a start (me, not the rat) and wanting to check if I had really, really, really put the leftovers in the frig and instead running face to face with the said rat. It is difficult to say who was most startled but the odds seem to be in my favour. Since then, everyone in the house, my sister, staying with us for a few days, M, Padma, Shilpa and Pramod have had their own versions of trysts with the rat. In fact, he has been around for so long that we should probably name him. And nick-name him.

I think he is the same rat from last year, come back to tell me exactly how rewarding it is to not be cruel to animals and instead shout from a safe distance

"DON'T KILL IT PRAMOD! JUST DEPOSIT IT AT A SAFE PLACE FAR, FAR AWAY!"

Clearly not far enough because the rat is back to terrorize the shit out of us again.

He - and I call him that in my understandable ignorance of his gender - acts like he owns the place. He has eaten quite a bit of the Mortein Ratkill that Padma deposited in the preferable party places for rats in the house, namely behind the frig and all that but he has shown that he is made of sterner stuff.

Incidentally, last year when I tried to order the same Mortein Ratkill from our local baniya, he sounded most disapproving and told me

"Arrey Bhabhi, woh toh Ganesh bhagwan hai."

WTF? I almost expected him to assure me that it was actually Mickey Mouse, come to pay me a visit straight from Disneyland.

The rat in the meanwhile runs amok all over the place in the dark of the night, upsetting things and getting into the most unexpected places, like medicines for example. Anyway, I ordered the glue-trap from the Pest Control people yesterday, not one, but three. Just in case. And deposited a cube each of Amul Cheese to tempt the animal. I mean, I get tempted by cheese alright. Do you know what this glue-trap looks like? It is a flat board with lots of glue spread over it, the idea being that the animal will come to get the food and then not be able to leave because MWAHAHAHA the glue has got him.

He ate the cheese, romped about a bit on the glue (the footprints were there for all to see) and was understood to still be making merry this morning when I last checked.

Any ideas?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Diet disasters

On Saturday morning, I had an appointment to keep with the dietitian. I landed well in time, trying to make up in punctuality what I had messed up in nutrition.

Dietitian: Now you have a new fitness goal to meet. You have to run the mini-marathon so you need to build stamina...blah di blah
Parul: Yes, yes...absolutely, I could not agree more.
D:...must have protein shake...
P: *rapidly losing interest*...correct. correct....hmmm, hmmm
D:....also, pomegranate juice before work-out....
P:*day-dreaming about a thali-lunch at Dakshin*.....yea, yea....of course...
D:...and then climb up on a cow and jump down a few times....
P: of cou...huh? what? what did you just say?
D: Just checking if you were paying attention.

If you think this conversation really happened, you need to take this blog a lot less seriously then you do.

D:So, very good, P. Why don't I make some changes to your diet while you finish your workout?
P: *sheepish grin* Actually, I am not working out today.
D: *most disapproving* And why not?
P: Actually, no maid at home because of Raksha Bandhan. Need to go back to baby.
D: Oh, alright.
P:*gets out of gym and furiously dials a number* Hello? M? I managed to get out of it! Lets go eat!

Clearly, we are not above using Adi to get out of...err...situations.

A little later, at the foodcourt of a suburban mall.

M: What do you want to eat?
P: *looking frantically from one high-calorie item to other* ...chhole-bhature!
M: Ok, one chhole-bhature please.
P: And the rajasthani thali looks good too. Daal! Baati! Choorma!
M: Well, I will order that too and we can split both.
P: *now openly salivating*....jalebis! and kaala jaam!
M: Ok, anything else?
P: No, that's it. I am done!
Lady at the counter: How about some moong dal halwa? Here, taste some!
P: *tastes*....and moong dal halwa!
M: Anything to drink?
P:*now giving this up for a losing...or gaining...battle*....err, chhaas? My dietitian told me its fine to have chhaas. Very low-calorie and nutritious.

I swear if you tell this to my dietitian, I will kill you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Conversations real and imaginary

Revised nomenclature in this household:

Apple - App-oo-ee
Pear - App-oo-ee
Umbrella - Ubb-aye-dee
Baarish - Bye-tee
Diaper - Bye-tee
Bye-Bye - Ba-Ba
Sheep - Ba-Ba
Dog - Bow-wow
TV - Teeyah
Nani - Manni

How cool it would be if both M and I could quickly adapt to this new language? Some samples:

M is leaving for work in the morning

P: I think its going to bye-tee.
M: Sorry, I am toilet-trained.
P: Not bye-tee. Bye-tee.
M: Oh? OH! Yes, it does look cloudy. I better carry an uh-bye-dee.
P: Yes dear. Ba-ba.

Discussing evening snacks

P: Lets eat healthy. How about an app-oo-ee with your tea?
M: Umm, no thanks, aloo-paranthas with butter would do just fine.
P: No! Ok, how about an app-oo-ee instead.
M: ?

Random conversation

M: ....and so, I think money hai toh sab kuchh hai.
P: Great! I will ask my mom to move in.

Clearly, I need something a little more constructive to engage me. So how about this - I have signed up to run 6 kms at the Mumbai Marathon on January 18th, 2009. I am almost ashamed to admit, but not enough to refuse butter-toast, that as of today I can run a measly 2.2 kms at a stretch. And post those those 2.2 kilometers, I can be sold off in the subzi-mandi for a nicely plump tomato.

There, now I have put it on the blog. There is no way I can chicken out now.

***

There is a satsang ground near our place. That essentially means that nobody in this house ventures out on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings when the Satsangis are let loose on the world, Suitably satsang-ed, they come out in droves, shopping for fruits and vegetables and namkeens with a vengeance. (I need to stay away also for the fear of being sold as a nicely plump tomato). Out of nowhere, a full-blown market emerges on the street with vendors plying the satsangis with their wares. Overweight aunties who should be running alongside me at the gym rather than shopping for deep-fried chiwdas bargain furiously. Of course, I am only jealous because I cannot bargain for the life of me.

Anyhow, we were lounging at home, looking out of the window at all the sansangis running riot downstairs and M looked at me idly.

M: What do you think these satsangis do at the satsang?
P: I dunno. I guess they sing bhajans and some discourse....
M: *Splutters* What are you saying? What nonsense! That cannot be!
P: Huh? What else will they do? Bhajans and discourse only, no?
M: Oh, DISCOURSE. I thought you said disco.

Since then the image of satsangis rocking their rather ample booties to Usher refuses to leave my mind.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Messy massages

A blissful weekend is over. We have weekends again, people! Real no-work days with shopping and parties and meeting friends and couple-time (ya, right) and finishing off Season 3 of Lost. I am beginning to realize that there is life after having a kid after all. Of course it changes such that you do not recognize it as your own even if it stares you in the face and punches you in the nose but well, it is there. And that is what counts. I began to feel this way after I successfully attended my concert last month and the theme continues. And this is where I chant my customized anti-jinx mantra a hundred and one times.

For one, I went to a new Thai foot massage parlour and got myself a sixty-minute long trip to heaven that involved all sorts of fragrant oils and hot compresses and an adept masseuse. Alright, that didn't exactly come out as planned but surely you know what I mean? M took Adi to his playgroup while I delved feet-first into this luxury. I think a foot-massage is one of the greatest inventions of mankind and if I had enough balls I would totally kidnap that masseuse and get her to give me one everyday and then be arrested for abetting bonded-labour and spend the rest of my years languishing in a high-security prison.

My first experience with a Thai foot-massage was in... SURPRISE!.... Thailand. We had gone to Bangkok for our annual conference where we did very little conferencing and a lot of shopping. There was no time to get to the beach and get a massage there so we, my friend D and I, opted for getting it at one of the parlours at the airport instead. We didn't have too much time before our plane left for Mumbai so we ordered the twenty-minute ones. Twenty minutes later, D and I were feeling several kilos lighter. All the tension and tiredness has disappeared from our feet. Those girls were magic!

My next run-in with a Thai massage took place when I was about 27 weeks pregnant. Here, let me pull out the entry that I had put in my pregnancy journal at that time.

Date: 2007-02-15 (27 weeks)

TITLE: Thai massage....ouch!!

So today was the day that I went for my first (and what will in all likelihood be the last) pre-natal massage. I was first asked by the masseuse what was I looking for. Considering I dont have any problem I told her that I just wanted to feel relaxed and didn't really suffer for (from) any ailments.

Masseuse to herself: Ah well. Not so easy, baby.

Masseuse to me: Why don't you get a Thai massage done? Its of great therapeutic value to the mother and baby.

Me: Really? Bring it on.

Now for those of you who don't really know the finer points of Thai massage, the following lines may be relevant.(Parul of today says: Useless gyaan on Thai massage follows and am editing it out)

Me during massage: Yeow. Ouch. Ouch. Yeow.

I am pretty sure energy in all the sen in my body is now flowing freely and well. And if isnt , TOUGH. I have been pummelled and pushed, exerted and stretched. The masseuse didnt forget to remind me that this was in fact great preparation for labour. AAAUUUGGHHH!!

Seriously though, whatever happened to the ideology of treating pregnant women as tender, frail creatures who needed to be fed and pampered. Since the day I have gotten pregnant, I have eaten healthier than ever before, exercised everyday and now....instead of being oiled and stroked as in the maalish of days of yore, I have had this!! And my mother isnt planning to feed me desi ghee ka halwa post delivery. I am pretty sure that I will be expected to have boiled veggies and salads and lose all this weight PRONTO.

Do I sound bitter? Nothing a chocolate brownie couldnt sweeten...hint hint...

End of entry

Not pampered after all, eh?

After Adi ambled out, I half-expected Mom to get hold of a maalish-wali to come in everyday. Things took a different turn when she took an instant dislike to the woman who is the building regular at these tasks and was found murmuring darkly to herself about 'not liking the look of that shady woman'. I would have questioned her snap judgment but hey, I have read 'blink'!

Kalpana, the ex-cook and merry widow who is now happily remarried used to moonlight as a masseuse. Kalpana was a very slight woman who did not look capable of inflicting too much damage but when I tried out her massage skills, I realized that she was actually hiding a featherweight boxing champion inside, so strong was she. Fifteen minutes at her mercy and I was begging her to let me go, promising a fat tip if she just ended the session there and then. Ha, ha, ha, didi, Kalpana had said, yeh toh kuchh bhi nahin hai, mujhme to aur bhi power hai. AAAUUUGGHHH!!

After yesterday's experience at Aroma Thai, I think my luck is turning. And finally getting comfortable again.

Stuff

Hey mayG, I know I have taken ages to do this but still, thank you very much.

Non-mayG readers, if you have to know, I thank her because she gave me this a while back.



In her kind (AND TRUE) words, "PARUL: you can never leave her blog without stocking up on your share of cheery good feelings for the day!"

Dude, if you continue saying such nice things about my blog, I will be forced to make it a pay-and-read. On a less mercenary note, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

***



I was tagged by Munchkin's Mom to (I think) put up my favourite lullaby a while back. I am truly stuck on this one because no one in this house knows or sings any lullabies. We only put the FM on and while we are the absolute cats on the latest Bollywood blockbusters, there has been no scope for putting Adi to bed while humming gentle melodies in his ear. In other words...err, a more hardcore approach was needed. I keep sharing his current favourites on this blog from time to time. They have moved from Nagada, Nagada to Do you want a partner to Sinngh is King in the last few months. For more updates on this enthralling topic, please check orangeicecandy regularly.

***

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The fifteen month letter

Mumm-aah!

Its my turn to write the monthly letter again. All my fans, settle down, you will all have your turn to gush so don't crowd me.

I am so full of words lately. Of course, I use the same word to mean many things, puh-tee for example could mean paati (grandmother), potty or party but hey, don't tell paati that. For obvious reasons. I can now call the paternal parent Appa, Papa and Daddy and I do. In rapid succession. He puffs up like a toad every time I do. What else does the poor sod have to live for anyway. I can now also turn up my nose at things and call them 'dirrrty'. Yea, I am a regular hygiene nazi. I call Padma Akka 'Akki' and Nani 'Manni'. All my subjects realize the privilege that is bestowed on them thus and are thrilled.

I had my first taste of international travel recently and I could get used to it. Everyone cribbed about the lack of vegetarian options but given that I was on my staple diet of oats and porridge, all was cool. Of course, Mom had to divide her day into three hourly slots which is when I ate but then, that is her lot. I saw the sights from my stroller without once fussing to be let out. And when Mom wanted to go for her concert, I stayed back with Manni without a single tantrum. At this, Mom fell to her knees and started counting her blessings (there were twenty-three). I flew like a pro and on the Brussels-Mumbai flight really gave it off to everyone, specially the man who sat across the aisle. I ensured that he got no sleep whatsoever. But I liked Bhakti the air-hostess. She was pretty and was willing to ferry me around. What was there not to like? What is that noise that you are making about gender-stereotyping, eh? I am only a baby.

How about a picture of my new toys from Belgium?
















Lately, I try to ape everything that the oldies at home do. I try to speak what they do and when they laugh, I break out into a loud exaggerated guffaw too. Not the greatest examples to follow but then what choice do I have?


These last few weeks were full of illnesses too. I didn't quite relish the fevers and the runny noses and the restless nights but being me, I bore it all with admirable fortitude. Of course, sucking my thumb helped too. You ought to try it sometime.

Other cuteness-quotient increasing things accomplished this month:

  • Making screeching sounds when a F-1 race is telecast, sending Dad into paroxysms of delight
  • Putting a mobile phone to the ear and babbling endlessly, ostensibly having an involved conversation with an unseen friend
  • Holding up a hand, fist tightly clenched as soon as the supremely melodious strains of Sinngh is King waft through the air, grinning manically. Oh beautiful Katrina Aunty. Sigh.
  • Slapping chest caveman-style and shouting 'ADI'. As if there was any doubt.
  • Snatching a hair-brush from Mom's hands every morning in order to comb hair on my own. Mom asks if I could start changing my diaper on my own anytime soon but that privilege is still hers and boy, do I make it a challenge or what?!
  • Piously proclaiming dut-dut-dut (dot-dot-dot) as soon as snow appears on the TV screen. Mom is making some noises about limiting my TV time already. Have to zap that idea outta her head.
  • Looking delighted at getting a piece of apple and then going about the house holding it in one hand like the Olympic torch all the while saying 'Appy'. Oh and that applies to pears and all other fruit too. Appy, Appy - that's me. Sheesh.

Slumber related issues, I continue to be the reigning champion of sleeplessness. Parents are waiting for the two year mark now, hoping and fervently praying that that would bring them nights of uninterrupted sleep (no, they don't hope for anything more).

Is it a surprise then that whenever talk of a second baby comes up, Moms looks alternately horrified and wistful?

Later then. I have other worlds to capture.

Adi



Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lets get the travel post done with

This holiday was different from all our earlier ones in that we took cabs so freely. I mean, God knows I am supremely stingy on holidays abroad. All that furious multiplying by seventy just fries my brains. However, this time, with Mom and Adi with us, there were no backpacks and there were cabs being ordered and I even allowed everyone to have their own individual coffee instead of asking M to split a cappuccino with me. I am serious.

So where were we? Yes, we were going to San Gimignano, a beautiful town in Tuscany. I had to hold myself from jumping from the bus and running off into the grapevines shouting "Michael Corleone, I am here finally, the love of my life" but could not considering that I had done the same to James Hetfield just a day back. The fickle minds of women.

San Gimignano is not very big on the hotel scene having only four within the walled city. For some reason we had been very hot on staying within the city and so parted with a premium for the same. The hotel looked very old and very well-kept, like the rest of SG but hey, I am an Indian. Even my mom's ancestral house in Meerut is three hundred years old so its a little difficult to impress us with age. SG was great fun though. We walked up and down the tiny town tens of times and bought some leather bags and wine and were left with just about enough euros to fly back to India. No, it was all really nice.

Having seen all there was to see of SG in the first couple of hours, we decided to do a day-trip to Florence on our second day there. Aha, not so fast, punter. We were told that buses leave from SG that can take one to Poggibonsi from where we need to catch a train to Florence. We bought the tickets and waited and waited.....and waited...and waited. A beautiful girl who had forgotten to take off her bath towel and put on some clothes that morning and an inevitable Japanese tourist waited with us. They had more patience than us though. We gave up after forty-five minutes and returned our tickets. The girl and the tourist are probably still there, waiting for the bus to arrive.

The two days flew past and we now had to return to Brussels (via Florence, reached by cab) to take a flight back to Mumbai. Mom and I wanted to look at the airport shops and so we landed up well in advance. How were we to know that we would be stuck with the dumbest airline executive in the history of mankind? She could not find Adi's ticket in the system and we spent the next hour ensuring that our kid would be allowed to go back with us. Anyway, it set the tone for the flight. It is IMPOSSIBLE to engage a child as young as Adi on a day flight. He fiddled endlessly with the buttons next to the seat, making me lie flat on my back and pressing the massage button at the most unexpected times but his patience gave way after a while.

I think this is the time I should also apologize to the overworked and sleepy executive in whose eyes Adi insisted on directing the reading light consistently and gleefully. Dude, I understand why you changed your seat. I also hope you have five kids of your own and you have to fly abroad with them every month, all on day flights.

We got back to Mumbai late on Saturday. Fortunately, Padma ended her leave and came to work the next day. Adi slept and woke up at weird hours on the first two days upon our return and then promptly fell ill. He recovered as quickly though and this morning I was finally able to hold the hawan that I have meaning to for the last three months. The house still smells of the smoke from this morning. Nice.

Yeah, its good to be home.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Back in Mumbai

Factually we got back a few days back but given that monsoons and our internet connection are mutually exclusive, I had to forsake blogging and facebooking in the interest of harvesting a good crop. As you can see, a worsened sense of humour is one of the side-effects of Europe.

Alright, so how did the trip go? My response is essentially the same as that of music show judges - AMAAAAAZING or MIND-BLOWING or AWESOMMMME. Yeah, it was really that much fun. For one, Adi has turned out to be one hell of a traveller. I was positively freaking out before the fight to Brussels took off. Our boy though decided that enough was enough and conked off the moment the plane started taxiing. Adi and I were travelling business class while my Mom and M slummed it out in economy. As soon as I made the seat flat, Adi decided that the whole bed was for him and sprawled out at a strange angle. I looked this way and that but for the life of me could not figure out a way to fit my five foot seven frame into a 2"X 2"piece of airline cushion. I contemplated drowning sleep in some Dom or champagne cocktails for some time before sleep finally took over.

Brussels is a nice enough place, if you ask me. It has plenty of gray, sarkari-looking buildings where Belgian babus must be typing away merrily all the while wearing the European equivalent of safari suits. But Brussels also has Godiva and lace and the most beautiful city square in the whole of Europe, all of which were internalized in copious quantities. The weather was great and Adi's stroller was put to use as we walked up and down the streets. He tasted everything that we were eating but his staples were still oats and sooji and dahi and boiled eggs when I could find them.

We took a day-trip to Brugge the next day and I cannot recommend the place enough. It is a medieval town, carefully preserved and I think it roughly houses one-eighth the people living in Bandra. The streets were deserted although it was a brilliant day according to their standards. We finally saw some sign of life when we went to a market square where everyone was eating french fries with some sort of cream. Brugge also had some really pretty wooden toys and I picked up some for Adi as a memento. Adi decided that he had had enough of the stroller and started running about on the cobbled streets, giving me a number of coronaries. He seemed to love the place as much as my Mom did, the latter telling me in no uncertain terms that she would like living in that city for the rest of her life. Anyway, so if you can, do visit Brugge. Its lovely.

The next morning was when we took a train to Florence flight to Bologna. I first visited Italy in 2005 when I saw Rome, Florence and Venice. This time though we did not stop in Florence at all, needing to catch a train to Bologna almost immediately. Bologna is where my concert was at, so my temptation to run away from it all and become a Metallica groupie was getting stronger by the moment. We arrived in Bologna and realized that it was a dismal sort of a place. Of course you may have been there and had had a fabulous time but that is where I will have to disagree with you, shaking my head sagely. Our hotel was located at a fair distance from the city center, fair distance meaning a twenty minute walk under the blazing hot sun. This may appear like a strategic mistake but this same hotel was an arm's throw from the concert arena and given that the entire trip was planned around the concert, it all worked out and there was no point trying to pin the blame on someone, anyone. I would have forgiven Bologna all its faults but what really ruined it for me for that there were no decent eateries even near the city square, serving up the pasta and pizza and gnocci that I had taken for granted during the last trip to the big cities. Maybe it was just us, failing to spot the spot where all was right. It did have some lovely 12th century towers though that I would have loved to explore in another lifetime but given fourteen month old in tow, climbing up and down hundreds of steps was not tremendously appealing.

Anyway, so the day of the concerto dawned (by then I was naturally speaking fluent Italian) and after spending the day pottering about the city and looking into the shops lined in a gallery eerily like Connaught Place and after depositing a happy-looking Adi with a happier-looking Mom, M and I took off in the cab specially called for the purpose, Bologna not knowing the meaning of public transport. We reached the Arena Parco Nord just before six and got caught up in traffic comprising the cars bringing the metalheads to their place of worship. Finding a place at the top of the slope, we drank beer and waited for the opening bands to start performing. Sword and Dawn were actually pretty good and though it was evident what the crowds were there for, both of them were given a patient listening. And then...THEN...suddenly...with the strains of Ecstacy of Gold, Metallica was on the stage!! The noise was deafening, thousands of arms raised in tribute to the best band in the world. I was completely lost after that and truly realized the meaning of being overwhelmed. The set they played was incredible. The music was so flawless that even M, whose knowledge of Metallica does not go past Nothing Else Matters, Master of Puppets and Enter Sandman enjoyed himself thoroughly. The crowd was fantastic. A lot of outstation people had come to watch the show because the next morning, the train station was full of people making their way back to their own towns and cities. I stared wistfully at their t-shirts, proudly proclaiming Metallica.

And later, after the concert was over, I thought to myself, well, that's it...guess I need to have another dream now!

The next morning we went to San Gimignano. More about that later....