Friday, September 26, 2008

Talking to the good Lord

Adi hasn't been well these last couple of days. A nasty cough that keeps him (and me) up nights. Last night as I lay awake holding him and praying to The Old Man or Woman Up There, I realized that my prayers have distinct aspects to them.

Guilt: Oh God, this is all my fault. I got the house painted and the fumes got into him and now he is sick. Serves me right. I have got to be the most insensitive parent in the whole world. I don't deserve a baby like him. Etc.

Begging: Please please please please please please please please......

Bargaining: God, please make him better and I will be good. I won't scream at people and I will try to as kind to humans as I am to animals. I will try not to make fun of people. I will give up on sarcasm. Or at the very least, I will try. (Escape clause)

Deal-making: Lord, make him better and you can make me sick instead. That is fine. And I know M would be ok with it too. But don't make us both sick at the same time because we don't have a full-time maid and one of us needs to be able to look after Adi. But you already know all this. You know I am just reminding you.

Anger: Why do you have to make my baby sick, huh, HUH, HUHH?

Trying to guilt-trip: Just look at him. He is so tiny. How can you want to make such a small baby ill? That's NOT FAIR.

Hurt: But I have done nothing to deserve this. Even so...?

Not easy, having a sick baby on one's hands.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My life as a comic strip

When you stay in Mumbai, getting stuck in traffic is as much an inevitability as ...I don't know...vada-pao I guess.

So there we were, stuck at yet another traffic signal when we had another one of our deeply intellectual and profound discussions.

M: Which all Bollywood heroes have done negative roles so far?

Now this is clearly the sort of stuff that will make or break our marriage so I immediately rack my brains and come up with....

P: SRK of course. Akshay Kumar in Ajnabee. Aamir Khan, no, I don't think so. Salman, maybe in Tere Naam, maybe. Abhishek in Yuva....

M: Very good, punter. Now lets see which top heroines have done bikini scenes.

P: Bips and Kareena and Mallika Sherawat have. Ash did one half-hearted number in Dhoom 2. Minisha Lamba is doing one in her latest. Rani? Sushmita? Lara Dutta? No. Kajol didn't either. Yes, that's it, I think.

M: Really? What about Geeta Basra? Sonal Chauhan? Deepal Shaw? Smiley Suri?

P: ???

Monday, September 22, 2008

The games people play

In my effort to beat the boredom of the gym and to lend an extra edge to my already-perfect personality I have started taking squash coaching. It is tremendously enjoyable. For me. I am not sure about R Sir, the marker who teaches me. Not to be left behind in the quest for athletic bodies and never-seen-before levels of stamina, M has joined me for the coaching. This project has been driven by J, our anorexic friend who believes that one can never be too rich or too thin (my words but her feelings).

Now as anyone who has ever played squash will tell you, it is an extremely strenuous sport. As in, after about forty-five minutes of tossing a tiny ball against a wall, one feels that death would be very welcome.


Yesterday was M's first day at the court. I sent him off at about twelve noon with a cheery wave and went off to make Adi sleep.
After about an hour and a half, I heard a knock at the door. I crept out to open the door.

"I think I am about to have a stroke," said the human tomato on the other side.


For some very un-devoted-wife-like reason, I found this hilarious and dissolved into belly-shaking laughter that lasted for at least twenty minutes. M would have protested but he was busy moaning and groaning.


Since then he has claimed that he has injured every part of his body, strained every muscle and sinew and nearly shattered every bone. All this is really funny, specially because I know that this is only a bhumika that he is preparing in order to miss subsequent sessions.


However, given the price we have paid for the Wilson racquets,we need to play everyday for the next two years to get anywhere near a good ROI.
I have a feeling R Sir is going to be a part of our lives from here on.

***

The newly tattooed and fast approaching the tiring thirties Mad Momma thinks I am brilliant and has awarded me this. Thanks MM, this is good stuff!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mera waala pink

The painting job or The Endless Walk Through Fume-filled Corridors is almost over. After my last conversation with the painters I decided that I was better off staying off as far away as possible, partly due to the fear of getting wet paint on person.

"Aaj kitchen paint hoga," Padma informed me. I nodded absently and went off into my bedroom. I was working the whole afternoon and came out only at about three to get something to eat (I am very industrious like that). In my quest for food, I walked into a pink room.

Huh? A pink room? I blinked and looked around again. Yes, the kitchen had been painted pink. Or orange. Or a colour treading the treacherous line between the two.

Needless to say, all hell broke loose inside my head.

"Yeh kya kiya hai?" I demanded of the chief painter. Note that the 'bhaiya' has been done away with. (What is this?)
"Kitchen paint kiya hai." he responded calmly. (We have painted the kitchen)
"Yeh colour kyun kiya hai?" I asked. (But why this colour?)
"Humne socha kitchen mein kuchh alag maangta hai." he elucidated. (We thought the kitchen should look different.)
"Par mere se poocha kyun nahin?" my blood was boiling by now. (But why didn't you ask me?)
"Hmmm, mumble, mumble."

You are mistaken if you think that our food is currently being cooked in a pink-hued kitchen. Of course I made them repaint the entire thing in the same boring off-white that the rest of the house is bathed in. Three coats. We rent this house and I am guessing the landlady would want us to return the house in the same colour as we took it in. Not my place to experiment with colours really. Or his.

Thank God this painting is done. Never again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Samir loves Priya and I want to lynch them both

WARNING: RANT AHEAD

The Reliance Mobile ad is what I am referring to. Sorry, I couldn't find it on YouTube. Essentially it shows one dimwit going to Simla to find an old wall (building details not specified but it could be an old place of worship or a tomb or a monument - I infer) where he and his now wife had engraved 'Samir loves Priya' in 1999, even as he talks to his wife on his cellphone the whole way.He finds the spot and finds that their deed has stood the test of time and the ad closes in what is doubtlessly intended to be an awww moment. ("Wish you were here"s and putting hand to heart type gestures are introduced in a marked display of subtlety).

I am guessing that the idea was to show that the phone network is strong and stays put even in remote, hilly areas and highways. But in case the brand team is throwing up their hats in jubilation at having their message delivered to even a moron such as yours truly, allow me to stress that that is not the point.

The point is this - clearly neither time nor marriage have lent sense to this couple who are reasonably well-off but still completely ignorant of the fact that engraving your messages on ancient or even just plain old buildings is not romantic. Its asinine. It defiles our heritage for all times to come. As it is, our monuments are hardly well-preserved. How responsible is it on the part of Reliance Mobile to project acts such as these in a romantic and desirable fashion?

Where is Archaeological Survey of India when it needs to stand up against this sort of irresponsible advertising? And where is Advertising Agencies Association of India two of whose objectives are to - To benefit Indian consumers and to protect their interests by helping ensure that advertising is honest and in good taste and To benefit the nation by harnessing advertising for the good of the country, its institutions, its citizens; to co-operate with the Government in promoting its social objectives and in the task of nation-building. Far be it from me to know such enthralling facts, this has been lifted straight from their website.

The most predictable response could be that nowhere in the ad is that wall shown to be part of an ancient monument or a site of national importance. In which case, I would like to like to stretch the same argument further and ask - why spoil a building - new or old - to declare the overdrive of your hormones at all? What happened to good old Archies Cards?

Another point of view could be that this is only the context of the ad and not the message. When I am done being pissed off, assuredly not in the near future, I promise to think about that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The old days were drunk days

Much before she was doing things like buying cycles for Bhablets, our own tall, dark and undeniably lovely Sue was amongst other things, getting drunk. Here is one of those unforgettable episodes recounted by Sue herself. Tully ho, people. Not to be confused with Main Talli Ho Gayi.

I don't claim to be much of an authority on hangovers simply because my binges usually went on until I had to go back to class (after the weekend or the night or the vacation) and then one simply did not have the option of indulging in this little luxury. But there was one spectacular day-long drinking session -- on an empty stomach -- that was followed by some fairly serious collapse. Since Parul insists on hearing the tale, I suggest you pick up some water and sip as you scroll down. Even thinking about that morning gets me dehydrated.

So there was this Sunday I spent with an ex-senior of mine in Uni. That is to say he had passed out of Uni long before I joined. Anyway, he was (and is) quite an authority on his subject -- films -- and since I was trying to pass my subsidiary course on Film Studies without having attended most of the classes, I needed all the help I could get. So we settled down to a discussion on Film Criticism Theory with a couple of beers. One thing led to another and in the way of things, one drink led to many, many more. Some were smuggled into Someplace Else; a few were drunk on the roads and I'm not very sure where the others were consumed. It's been a few years since I turned respectable now.

I went home past ten that night, with no further intention to study. Which was merely pragmatic, since I was in no condition to do so anyway. I fell on my bed and was out like a light until about 6 the next morning. When I got a call from this guy asking if I knew anything about the car papers that didn't seem to be in his car any longer. He had been hoping I'd taken them or something. Just what you do not need to hear at 6 a.m. on any morning but esp when hungover, I assure you.

As the sleep vanished I remembered that this was the day on which I had to write the exam I had gone to study for. It was all too much for one twenty yr old to take on her own so I went back to sleep.

Around 9 my boyfriend of the time, Beq (http://bibekbhattacharya.blogspot.com), started calling. To see if I was OK, if I was ready for the exam. I think I told him that exams were over-rated, that I couldn't possibly sit for one that day, perhaps even that week, and tried to go back to sleep. It says much for Beq's charm not to mention powers of persuasion that he actually got me out of bed -- he kept on saying, think of your parents, and the threat did work -- and under a shower. The cold water briefly revived me, long enough for me to take off the jeans and t-shirt I'd spent the previous day in. Pulling on another t-shirt, one I kept for home wear and which was, I remember, very comfortable, and a pair of ancient shorts I managed to collect my stuff and was about to walk out of the door at around 10 (the exam being at 11) when the hangover re-asserted itself and I collapsed once more. Beq called and discovered the state of things and by dint of much coaxing and quite a lot of cursing, convinced me to head out of the house and into a rickshaw.

The rest is sort of blurry. I did reach the Uni. Remember gravely surrounding myself with writing materials in the middle and useful stuff like water, cologne towels, mints and hankies on either side. I think I told my benchmates to wake me up if they caught me dozing off.

Oh and I passed the exam, for what it counts. Pretty badly, but I did pass.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Universally insulted

Conversations with the painter-folk. For all my non-Hindi speaking fans, I am translating every word into English. Jaya Bachhan - I know you don't need it.

BEFORE PAINTING STARTS

Parul: Bhaiya, ek room paint karne mein kitna time lagega? (Brother, how long will it take to paint one room?)
Painter: Mumble, mumble, do-teen din mein ho jayega (Mumble, mumble, it will take two to three days)
Parul: Theek hai, kaam shuru kar do (Alright, start with the work) *parts with cash*

AFTER PAINTING STARTS AND SHOWS NO SIGN OF ENDING BEFORE ADI'S WEDDING DAY

Parul: Bhaiya, aapne toh kaha tha jaldi ho jayega. Yeh toh khatm hi nahin ho raha (Brother, you had said it will get over quickly. It is nowhere near the end.)
Painter: *Strong silence, continues to rub at the walls from his safe perch on the ladder, steadfastly ignores Parul who doubtless appears to be him to be in the league of irritating mosquitoes*
Parul: *Repeats complaint at a slightly louder pitch*
Painter: Jab ho jayega toh bata denge, abhi hum kaam kar rahein hain (We will call you when we are done, we are working now)

I demand we bring back class distinctions into fashion pronto.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hello there, you

If someone were to ask what I am on, complete with raised eyebrows and in hysterical voice, I could reply in all honesty - "paint fumes". They are everywhere and I think M and Adi and Padma are on them too. We have been passing each other in the corridors with woozy smiles that suggest that we know each other but are not sure exactly how.

I don't know where this story is going so let us move on to other things.

I am pissed off at my dietitian yet again. Just because I eat what I feel like does not mean that I should be fat. I think. She disagrees. I am pissed off at her. I am looking for a new dietitian. Or a miracle.

The preparation for the Dream Run continues. I am averaging about 4 kms at a decent sort of pace these days and that makes me happy. In a coincidence, my last book was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Well, maybe not such a coincidence after all given that the title gives away that its about running. Either way, it is a wonderful book and I have discovered that Murakami and I have a lot in common. He feels a lot of pain while going for long-distance runs. So do I. Now all I need is a couple of international literary awards and you wouldn't be able to tell us apart. Except that he is Japanese and I am...not. And he is fifty-something and I am...not. Oh and also, he is a man.

The house is a right royal mess as a write this. I have been on a furniture buying spree. Well, not so much buying as walking into plush stores with unpronounceable names and keeling over as I read the price tags. Apparently they are all imported from Italy and that explains the prohibitive prices. Maybe they heard about Ambani's Altamount Road residence and decided that they do have a sizable customer base in India. Well, the Italians can keep their furniture, I say. And so can the Malaysians. I am NOT, NOT, NOT going to pay a single penny for anything that says 'particle board' or in the immortal words of a salesman "solid rubber wood". Instead I shall spend an obscene amount of time seeking out reasonably priced furniture made with Burma Teak. As you can see, this furniture expedition has destroyed me in more ways than one.

On to more pleasant topics. Adi has sprouted two more teeth. The said teeth are of good quality and will come in very useful when he needs to bite into a particularly stubborn bhutta or amrood. I say this with experience and that band-aid on my index finger is not just an accessory, I swear.

I thought we agreed on pleasant topics. So....I hope to watch a movie this weekend. Have missed everything from The Dark Knight to Bachna Ae Haseeno to Rock On to Wall E. Unforgivable.

Also unforgivable is that last night Death Magnetic was heard at The Hard Rock Cafe and I missed it. Ah well, next time then. Raising children involves huge amounts of sacrifice. There is no punchline coming up. I have said it all.

Later then.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Latkas, jhatkas and broken matkas

And today we have the hilarious Kiran of Karmic Kids telling us a thing or two about what the well-dressed gentleman is wearing....


The festivities are on us. And I mean that. With the brat, its just not about the pujas and the sweets and the absolute lack of mamma hounding him to get his homework done, its the thrill of knowing he can indulge in some costume drama to his heart's delight. And indulge with a capital I. Mine is a child who plans what he wears. And how. Down to the matching motifs on the pairs of socks he dons. He's inherited my genes. And my bourgeous sense of matching matching. And dressing for the occasion. And piling on the costume drama props. On a good day I manage to make it work. On a bad day I look like I've escaped from a Ram Lila performance in the cowbelt. Thick layer of white pancake apart, the brat does the dress up routine marvellously too. Trust me on this. Sometimes I half expect to see him marching around the house with a jewelled brooch encrusted turban and sword tucked in nicely in scabbard dangling by his side. The brat is a child who believes in the maxim, judge a book by his cover. And he makes sure his cover is one that is, to put it mildly, guaranteed to draw attention. So there we were on Krishna Janmasthami in a yellow pitambari ensemble in haldi coloured silk, with side tie ons in tie and dye fabric, a cummerbund in said tie and dye fabric, and a crown with a solitary feather stuck in to complete the dramatic effect. And the flute. Yes
the flute, which was used to whack an errant Batman action figure into performing stunts to the satisfaction of his lord and master. For Ganesh Chaturthi, we dug out our old sherwani bandhgala with brocade paisley motifs embellished by sequins and such unmacho stuff
and worn with a dupatta wrapped around the neck. And leading to such memorable moments as a dance on my pristine new bedspread with shoes on to the Partner number "Dupatta tera nau rang da" complete with latka, jhatka and one broken matka. And of course, for Navratri and the dandiya nites, we have our kathiawadi ensembles. Many of them. In bring them sunglasses out shades of red and yellow and indigo and orange and, bless my soul, a parrot green. And we have an authentic Rajasthani pagdi to top the look. We also have lovely tasselled dandiyas which no doubt will do double duty as weapons of assault and law enforcement. Aka, the enforcement of the law of the brat. We have for Lakshmi Puja, a pristine white chikankari kurta pyjama which will no doubt be rejected for its pristinity. Is boring, I will be told. And the look will no doubt be jazzed up with some Spiderman accoutrement, a mask perhaps, to add that je ne sais quoi element. That then, is the sartorial plan for this festive season as far as the
brat goes. As for me, I'm making do with sarees and salwar kameezes that have the silverfish on an orgaistic repast. But then, with a splendourous sight like the brat to behold, what hope do I have of any eyeballs turned to view moi?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sixteen month letter

Dear Adi,

Let us start with a list and let us call it 'One day in the life of a sixteen month-old' -

Refuse all food till particularly hideous example of Bollywood womanhood starts gyrating on TV - check
Run off after the crucial first stage of taking off diaper has been accomplished and subsequent step of putting fresh diaper is still underway - check
Try to get into the dustbin. Seventeen times. In one hour. - check
Try to get electrocuted by sticking finger into power socket, get rescued by horrified mother in the nick of time - check
Swing manically to Singh is Kinng convincing parents of plebeian tastes in the arts - check
Destroy item in the crockery cabinet - WIP
Press unknown combinations on TV remote, DVD remote, laptops, Blackberry ensuring weird settings - check
Foist all attempts at sleeping though the night - check, but of course!
Climb atop the sofa repeatedly till parents are exhausted and can only just watch helplessly, hoping that the fruit of their labour will not fall on his head - check

Its been an active month, this one, Adi. And through it all, you have kept up a nicely paced commentary. Its wonderful to see you communicate thus, Adi. These days, when you wake up during the night (and of course you continue to wake up during the night and will not stop till you get married and have children of your own), you ask for 'Tanni' clearly. After taking a few sips you are normally ready to communicate a lot more but given that its three am, forgive me if I am not particularly responsive and instead plead in a croaking voice to just go back to sleep.

I had wondered in the past about what your language preferences would be and whether you would be able to pick up good Hindi given that its Mumbai and good Tamil given that your Mom doesn't go past Urr cup coffee venum . I worried needlessly because you seem to know your mind already. You ask Padma 'Amma Inge?' and you ask me 'Yeh kya hai?' and I think you know that your father is a fraud Tam at best, the kind who can speak the language but do not read or write it and therefore is a very bad example to follow when it comes to language skills. Your parents' infinite capacity for sarcasm for each other is one of the essential cornerstones of your childhood, son.

I always thought Mumbai was a whacked out place to bring up kids but I saw you wave delightedly at the Ganpati processions down on the street and I think it may be not be such a bad idea to raise you in the only cosmo city in this country. Maybe I will even stop counting the potholes one of these days. The festival season brings out the forgiving spirit in me.

Your father believes that you are a kitten in disguise and often calls you that. Lately though you wake up in the mornings, walk up to him with your arms stretched calling him KIT-TUN and after climbing into his arms, you start patting him briskly, possibly trying to make him sleep. He is planning to get you registered in his name. We are extremely competitive when it comes to being your preferred parent and while your father seems to have a definite edge, you need to remember that mama is the cooler one (I think).

Kittens, puppies, wistful sighs - I want to get you a pet so badly. Alright, alright, I want us to have a pet so badly but I don't want to be cruel to an animal by cooping them up in this small flat with us. My mind knows this but visions of St Bernard puppies, Labrador puppies, Cocker Spaniel puppies....and all sorts of puppies keep floating through my mind these days. Ah well, the Old Man will show us a way, what?

Loads of illness again this month - yours and mine. Terrible it was. Awful we felt. Over it is. Hope I do. My marathon dream-run training took a blow because of it and I need to get back into the groove. But worry not child, I will do it with a walking monochrome if not flying colours but do it I will. As if all this was not enough, I had to get the house painted. You know what is worse than a three room house? A two room house, which is what we have at any given time these days. All we need is a few house guests right about now and the picture will be rosier than ever. But hey, your second Diwali needs to be brought in with style and so it will be done!

Alright now, enough. I have a book to read and I am sure you have crockery cabinets to conquer. Off to work, chop, chop!

Love

Mom