Thursday, April 30, 2009

The vote that matters

Alright, so the picture is supposed to be symbolic. Vote to secure the future sort of thing, but of course Adi refused to smile. He did oblige with a thoughtful and long-drawn 'vooooooote' though!

M and I just got back from the polling booth. I thought it was really well-managed. We had checked our names in the list yesterday so there was no opportunity to adopt a long-suffering expression and pass random comments like 'yeh kaisa system hai' etc. Five minutes and it was done. Think of the logistics, dude!

Bombay junta, go do it! Picture baad mein dekhna.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vote for me while you listen to me whine

Ok, so first things first, looks like my post is now (belatedly) part of the Mother's Day contest poll. Please click on this link to vote.

For everyone who made the effort of going there earlier to vote for me, thank you. And sorry, though friendship mein no sorry, no thank you, aargh. Just thinking, that Bhagyashree just doesn't seem to quit, huh? I still see pictures of her and she looks as good as new. Though 'good' may strictly depend on what you thought of her in the first place.

Speaking of contests, Anoop is out of American Idol and that's not nice at all. I had quite started liking the boy. In a strictly maternal way of course. For the 'other' sort of liking, I think it's now mandatory for the men-folk to sport signs of aging - you know, like salt and pepper hair. I wonder if M will get salt and pepper hair a few years down the line. I know that if I ask him, he will tell me that he will be grateful for just having hair. M is very pessimistic that way.

The dental work is going on full throttle. The doctor, a really sweet old man, is waiting for the inflammation to go down before he can perform the root canal, the joy, the joy. Aneela asked me if this is the denting painting work I am getting done before my book launch. I told her that it does not become her to make fun of an ailing old lady who is also writing exams. This is the time to send me flowers and chocolates. And LV bags. What, it never hurts to slip that in.

My mom will be in Bombay soon and I have to study instead of gossiping with her. I want you to know that I am pissed off enough for all of us. No, really, I have been smashing plates all morning and nearly bit the hand of the lady who comes to collect our garbage. It was only the hygiene factor that dissuaded me. But I am feeling better and I might be back to normal as soon as I have consumed five kilos of cookies and cream ice-cream.

Chalo, ab vote daalo.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tooth woes, exam woes, maid woes, woes hi woes

My Spanish course is drawing to an end and I have come to the conclusion that late life academics are not for the faint-hearted. Pulling the last vestiges of energy in my tired bones together, I had decided that I would spend the weekend preparing for my class-test on Monday. However, displaying a penchant for terrible timing, my teeth started hurting last week forcing me to schedule an appointment with a dentist to delve into the mysteries of my dental structure. For my efforts, I was awarded with a temporary filling and an assurance that all was well with my teeth. Feeling most virtuous, I came back home and dived into the books. Not for long though. Soon my teeth was hurting so much that I could feel radiating pain go up to my head, the most precious part of my body since that is where I store all my brilliance.

Now I know that a bore is a person who when you ask him how he is, tells you, and therefore will cut it short.

The rest of the story involves M making frantic calls to the dentist, the dentist agreeing to abandon a wedding party to come and take a look at me in his clinic, me howling with pain, M, Adi and I trooping off to find an auto that would take us to the dentist, all autos in Bandra deciding to forsake us, the trio finally reaching the clinic and then an excruciating forty-five minutes where the dentist drilled holes into my teeth and M tried to entertain a sleepy and confused Adi in the waiting room without the aid of toys or books. The culprit turned out to be my wisdom tooth. I think the extraction/root canal that I have been evading for a long time will catch up with me soon. Thanks to the shots the doctor gave me, I slept through the night comfortably numb but now, the entire side of my jaw feels sore. That buzz you hear in the background would be me whining.

Amidst all this, I can only think of how badly I will do in the stupid test tomorrow. Talk about twisted priorities. Though it does feel nice when a certain baby walks up to me and says, Mama ko toothie mein laga, uyee! Uyee, indeed. What sucks is that unlike Our Resident Ghost Bubbles I did not even eat too many sweets to deserve a toothache.

Other than the end of Spanish (for me, am sure ), May will also mark the mass exodus of the collective domestic help of Mumbai towards what is fondly called 'the native place' or to an even more suspect 'mulk'. Our redoubtable Padma will go away for a month too and that poses to us the highly worrisome question of her replacement. One of the options that I was presented with for the temp help was a lady with a dubious past. Married with kids, neat and clean, a good worker, she had been fired from her previous job because of a certain indiscretion at work. In other words, she had been sleeping with the driver while the lady of the house was away at work. Well, no problem, I said generously. I am all for forgiving people. Second chances, you know. Fresh starts. Clean slates. Pretty sure that she would not repeat her adventures under my eagle eye and feeling very magnanimous I called her and offered a job. She heard me out and then informed me that she was not interested in jhadoo-poncha. Talk about pricking people's balloons.

Friday, April 24, 2009

IndusLadies Mother's Day Blog Contest

Recently, a friend of mine asked me how one could tell if she was ready to become a mother. It's a question that has many possible answers but naturally, there's only one that is correct. Mine.

Dear to-conceive-or-not, you know you should throw away your prescription for the pill when....

  1. You understand that pregnancy weight is a case of confusing nomenclature, it lasts well after the baby is out and about, starts crawling, walking, talking and then trotting off to school. It is in fact more clingy than the baby itself.
  2. You are ready to transform into a mass of mush at your baby's first words, first steps, first bite of solids and the Mommy and Baby Whale documentary on The Animal Planet, ironical as it may be, given the first point.
  3. You are ready to believe that raunchy Bollywood songs are far better than The Blue Danube or Fur Elise because the child eats or sleeps to them and that Mickey Mouse and Dora the Explorer are actually Gods on our earth, sent to rescue hapless parents.
  4. On your first night away from the baby, you are ready to gladly give up an year of your life just to feel his warm breath on your cheek and his tiny hands on your wobbly, bobbly belly.
  5. Words like wobbly and bobbly just bounce off your tongue effortlessly.
  6. You are ready to give up all rights on your free time. For the rest of your life. In fact, you laugh hysterically when free time is mentioned in your presence.
  7. Your idea of an exotic holiday is no more lounging on the beach with cocktails resting by your side but just eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. You will also settle for six.
  8. When singing a lullaby or a nursery rhyme in a public gathering sounds like a perfectly natural thing to do
  9. Contents of a diaper are as critical as major events around the globe. Probably more.
  10. You keep feeling that time is passing by more quickly than you bargained for and that you would do pretty much everything, including time-travel to revisit all that has happened since that little one came along.
Much love,

Your friend who has been there and done that. And survived.


Err, I just figured the winner will be decided basis votes. So I guess this is where I ask all seventeen of you regular readers to go vote. Assuming of course that you liked the post.

And if not here, definitely in the General Elections, hehe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mugging in muggy Mumbai and other such relevant details

Super Maggu is at it again. 93% score on the mid-term. I bounded outside in my break to call Mahesh and share the good news and to ask him to buy a few kilos of pedas and barfi on his way back. I have established my superiority over all mankind, all that is, except the French-speaking nations.

In other news, my gym is closing down. Long time readers (how pompous that sounds) will remember that I already have the closure of another gym in the vicinity to my credit (or dis thereof). This was the same closure that brought an end to my sessions with good, old Nilesh. And now this. Maybe this is the Curse of the (ahem, Formerly) Overweight that I bring to the Temples of Fitness. Anyhow, this means that I need to go to the club and use the gym there instead. Naturally, I am jumping in joy at the prospect of getting to work out in new surroundings. Specially in this heat. Ah, blissful world.

The other day I watched Pedro Almodovar's Volver, quickly followed by Bad Education and I think I am in love. Before you ask, this was not an attempt to improve one's Spanish. In fact, I am quite ashamed to admit that I watched it with sub-titles on, the horror. But I can always blame that on M. Fascinating movies, though. I also watched the German film The Lives of Others and loved it too. In fact it impressed me so much that I might just revise my ideas about how to run the world with an iron hand. Mine.

People have been mailing me about the book. It's out soon, maybe sometime in the middle of the next month. Or earlier, perhaps. That's as much as even I know as of now. But as you can imagine, I am really excited and cannot wait to spill the beans on this space. Just hold my hand through the waiting period, won't you?

Also, while I have been worrying about Bombay might do to Adi's Hindi, I have another problem on my hands, my own Hindi, rapidly modifying to suit the city I live in. Yesterday Mahesh caught me telling a supplier - 'mero ko chaar baje nahin jamta, saade teen baje mangta hai'. Later, I was heard telling Adi that 'homework nahin kiya toh Mama ka teacher Mama ko marega' when it's an established fact that the teacher is female. Hey Prabhu comes to mind.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Around the world in eighty clicks

Aneela was right when she tagged me for this one and said it was interesting. It is.

I love being a mom. Hell, I have even written a book with a mom as protagonist. But if even anyone ever tells you that being a mom or a dad does not have it's down moments, they are lying through their teeth and you should sue them. And pay me half.

I guess there are people who are born into parenting. They are the kinds who always have all the answers and always know how to do things and consequently are remarkably anal and boring. Then there are some who would much rather party than clean up after junior has thrown up and well, they do! And then there are the bumblers and fumblers who have good intentions but make mistakes anyway. I'd like to think I belong to the last. And you are forbidden to disagree.

My question is - why does parenting have to be perfect? A beautiful experience with no ups and downs? Hell, if it was not for the other side of parenting, the one where all the flaws and darkness, not to mention the poop and throw-up exists, it would not half as interesting. Or smelly.

Right, so now let me get to work. What do I like about being a mother?

That there are so many firsts to capture and enjoy all over again, that I can shut my jaded old eyes and see the world through fresh and non-spectacled ones. When Adi took his first flight, I could feel him tensing up and then giving in to the thrill of the plane leaving the ground. It was such fun. There was some poo in this story too but I have left it out claiming poetic license and the urge to not turn readers away. To think that the world of Enid Blyton, chocolate pastries and summer vacations is around the corner - bliss! Did I mention chocolate pastries?

That having a child has given a new meaning to my relationship with my family. Mahesh is now not only the person who I can throw things at when life is not all hunky-dory and I need a stiff Caiparoshka and cannot go out and get it, but also the person who will take half the blame for all the mistakes that I make as a parent. My parents are not only the parties responsible for all that's wrong with my life but also the people who stayed up night after night to comfort and feed me. My older sister is not just someone to gossip with for hours but someone to discuss real parenting issues with and the younger one, well, she is my window into the world of the Great Hip Singletons!

That it has forced me into getting fit. When you need to carry an infant around for six months, hover over a baby for the next six and run after a toddler for the year following it, you need to be in better shape than most mountain climbers. And while we may not be quite there yet, you don't want to arm-wrestle with me either. (Interested parties please contact Mahesh for discussing wagers)

That it has made me unselfish. Well, that's untrue really. Let's just say that it has broadened the definition of selfishness to include my child. But it has also made me more acutely aware of the world around me and has strengthened my resolve to not leave the world any shittier than we found it.

That I don't need to socialise outside my home to be entertained. It's all happening right here in my house. I guess this is true only till he starts school and has a life of his own but we will enjoy it while it lasts, won't we?

Right, so let's tag some other parents for this one:

Twisted DNA for a father's perspective, perhaps?
Yashodhara in New Delhi (Bah, she should be in Mumbai)
Surabhi and Kenny in Mumbai (tres smart mothers)
Mona in Dubai (mother to a just-turned two, ultra-bright daughter)

Guys, you need to post 5 things that you love about being a mom/dad) and find someone to link to and tag - someone from your own country, if you like, but definitely someone from another country ..and to leave a link to the post at HBM, who started this tag.

You know while thinking of whom to tag, I have just realized that a lot of my readers are not moms at all. They are single, some of them students, others working. Some away from the cities they call home. So right now, I am thinking not of moms but of all you guys because you, my preciouses, rock.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Normalcy returns to the Sharma Ramanathan household but only temporarily

The blasted exam is over and like always I am beyond caring how I did, just glad that all the stress and parhai-likhai is over and done with. This is precisely why results are not and have never been positively correlated to effort.

Seriously, things and people just don't change.

More from the great supporter of our times, the one and only Mahesh.

Me: Hey, it's done. Over. O-V-U-R. (Have you seen Kath and Kim? It's hilarious!)
M: Good show, baby. So did you hand over your exam-sheet before anyone else and walk out in a superior fashion?


Me: No, actually I was the last one to leave the room....
M: After you had revised everything in your exam-sheet? Ha ha ha!

At this point, I tried to explain that I was the last to leave because unlike the others who are fluent in French, this is the first time I am learning a foreign language and it takes me time to translate everything in English but clearly M was having way too much fun at my expense to pay any heed. I am just very glad that I did not study with him in school and college.

Anyway, it's done. I can relax for a few days before I start fretting about the final exam. No, not kidding.

For a few days at least, I can go back to my passion - bad television. My favourite girl is back, this time with a swayamvar show. It is a testament to the wonderful world we live in that it makes perfect sense that Rakhi Swant should get married on television. May Ganpati Bappa Jejus bless her with a man that she doesn't need to slap on camera. But then, what would we do for entertainment and she for a living? Of course these days there is no dearth of the same, what with the Gudiya-Budiya debate running amok. That reminds me, the other day I shared some of my ideas about how to run this nation with M. He heard me out and then offered to buy me a copy of Mein Kampf. I always knew I was ahead of my times. Or behind as the case may be.

But bad TV is not my only passion. Sometimes I like good TV too. Like Highway On My Plate on NDTV Good Times. It's about food and has a lot of predictable jokes. What is there not to like, I say.

I leave you now with a favourite quote of mine from Chhoti Si Baat - zindagi ke cricket mein draw nahin hota. Somewhat relevant in the days pre-election. One of these days I am going to run a Bollywood quotes quiz on this blog. What do you think? Also, feel free to steal the idea.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It's all pretty straight-forward till the tooth-brushing stage. One simply plonks a little swoosh of the toothpaste that had caught one's eye at the store and found it's way to the shopping cart. The hands are washed with randomly selected handwash brands basis colour and sound of ingredients.

The bath is when things start to get a little complicated. Myriad products, full of promise stare at one's wet face. There are apricot scrubs that promise to do away with ghastly dead skin cells and bath salts from Lush that were bought without any consideration for the fact that there is no bath-tub in which to soak blissfully. The hair-care range jostles for space on the counter with the face-masks. There are many shampoos and their partnering conditioners and serums. Most of them have been the result of naive belief in advertising. Others have been brought home due to moony-eyed colonial hangover surfacing at duty-free shops. They have all had their trysts with her mane, some of them uprooting hair out by the fistful and resulting in loud curses under the shower. But alas, one barely manages to wash self with the decidedly unglamorous bath-gel before the toddler screams for attention. Putting undeserving thoughts of leisurely cleansing rituals away, one stands to attention in the service of the pint-sized lord of the house.

A little later, the skin stretches across the face and the dry lips figuratively scream for attention. One now approaches the dresser. The creams, oh the creams. So many. Jars and bottles and lotions and potions. All unfaithful, all liars of course but nice to have around, much like interesting people who never turn out to be good friends. Some will defy age, others genes. They will all rally around you like faithful soldiers in your moment of need. The lipsticks are there, colourful blobs of lip-dye. Pink and orange, brown and nude, all swaying to hey jude. Goodness, maybe they contain lead that messes with your mind. Brain too. The kaajals and mascaras and eye-shadows all bat their lashes at the unseeing woman in front of them. Come on, come on, they whisper. Just a few strokes and then we are done, the battle is won. No time, no time, one says and brushes them away.

But then, there are the fragrances. One knows that there are notes in there, top and heavy, bottom and light but do they really matter? Aren't fragrances a little like music, each one of us creating our own version, coating it with our own memories? So what will it be today? That bottle with a number, that eternal saviour, the whiff of glamour in a bottle? Something a little more romantic perhaps, reminiscent of a meadow of flowers? One realizes that she is writing advertising copy in her mind for each one, a result of years spent loving perfume ads. There is no time to waste though and so she picks up one bottle and spritzes the air with it, creating a small and decidedly short-lived cloud of fragrance. She quickly walks through it and in that short moment knows that however busy the days get, there will always be time for this.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I could have Rachel's sister's job

What a tragedy this was. I guess this puts paid to all my bungee-jumping plans forever and ever. Mahesh has already made me swear on all that's sacred that I will not attempt it. Ever.


I am Adi's hair-stylist of course. I know some people take their babies to professional barbers and hair-dressers but I have been quite snip-happy on my own. it helps that the boy has wavy and somewhat bushy hair and it doesn't really show if I take off a little more from some places than others. Normally, a hair-cut involves M pouring copious amounts of water on Adi in the bath, Adi shouting Har-Har Gange! and me trying to take away lengths of my baby's locks as discreetly as I can. The idea of course is to keep the scissors out of sight. Not an easy task when you are cutting someone's hair.


Adi has now graduated from playschool. When I first heard about this, I laughed aloud. Then I realized the teacher was serious. Mahesh took him to the graduation. Adi got a certificate that certifies (given that is what certificates are wont to do), that Adi is indeed a toddler. I don't know what to make of this. This also means that the days of M or I taking Adi to the playgroup are almost over. He will soon need to go on his own to a new school and with new teachers.

I know he will be fine. What about me though?


The idea behind my learning Spanish was to have fun but I have successfully sucked the last bit of joy out of the exercise. I have repeatedly spurned all offers to be taken out by the lord and master. Finally at the park yesterday,

Mahesh: Can we go for a movie?
Me: On Monday evening, after my exam.

A little later....

Mahesh: We can go to the club and check out the pool.
Me: On Monday evening, after my exam.
Mahesh: When is your course getting over again?


Adi says 'vaapis' instead of 'phir se'. I guess there is a lot of Bombay in my little boy already.


Friday, April 10, 2009

The new and the old

It's hotter than ever and I am totally tripping on....

Whoa....what am I? Some gangly pre-teen?

Rephrase, rephrase.

The temperature is soaring and I have really developed a taste for 7-Up Nimbooz.

Naah, doesn't have the same zing. Unlike Nimbooz, which I have to shamefacedly admit, i have to taken to stocking in the frig now because the rest of the world might discover it before too late and then they will buy Nimbooz too and then there will not be enough left for me and that is an unthinkable, dreadful, morbid possibility.

Is this summer giving you unreasonable cravings too? Though if you were to ask me (never a good idea), I would say that no craving is unreasonable. And what's more, nor is it unseasonable. The only way to handle a craving is to give in. There, so much so for the movement of sangharsh against temptation.

And while we are talking about food, I saw this ad for Maggi noodles yesterday where there are grainy shots of people reliving their experiences with Maggi in the last twenty-five years. Our own little 2-minutes noodles is now 25 was I believe the ruling sentiment. Now here is the thing - I am not too much of a Maggi person though like anyone who has spent years in hostels I have had my trysts with the dish. At MICA, Maggi was the staple run-to when the creative geniuses in the mess decided to prepare very un-south Indian dosas or very un-North India chhole bhature. Mahesh and both my sisters claim Maggi is soul food. See, that's the thing with good ads? They make the viewer get into the situation, feel the emotion (and er, hopefully buy the product but we will not get into that.)

Maggi with Nimbooz. Now that's an idea.

Are you getting into the situation yet? Remember that time when you would have Maggi....?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Exam blues

I have my Spanish mid-term exam on Monday. Belatedly, I have come to the realization that I may be too old for this kind of thing. Also, too not chilled out. Since this is a crash course, there is a lot that is crammed into each class. There is homework to be done and exercises to be revised. I can only get to them after Adi sleeps which is naturally never before ten in the night and that is on a good night. I can assure you that ten pm is not a good time to try to attempt conjugating verbs in an alien language. I make silly mistakes (are there mistakes of any other kind mistakes?) and then curse myself loudly when the teacher points them out to me. All in all, it is quite a challenge and I ask myself time and again about this need to make things tough for myself.

And now, this. The exam. I will need to put aside plans for popcorn-pepsi-movie and elaborate lunches with Mahesh in order to swot at the course material. I will get stressed and snap at everyone. I will get the feeling that nobody loves me and burst into tears at a single harsh word. I will miss Mom and crave for tea made by her. I will need to seek solace in food of the sugary kind. Though the last is not a bad thing at all. I will prowl around the house quite certain that I will forget everything when the time comes and be put in the loser's corner of the class with a dunce cap for company. I may even, gasp, need to miss some bad television. The sacrifice, the sacrifice. All in all, I think it can be safely said that I will not make for cheery company this weekend.

The only consolation of course is that I will be able to speak a little Spanish at the end of the course.

And then I wonder, who will I speak it to?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It develops character

I took out my hibernating-since-the-last-two-years jootis this morning and the little shadow decided to try them on at once.

Quite nice, mother, though I think I would have preferred blue.

Bad joke for today: This picture is literally unsuitable for High Heel Confidential. Hehe. No? Alright, let's move on.

My mom was a great one about letting her quarter-dozen daughters (her words, not mine) play with her things. Saris, make-up, jewellery, nothing was taboo. I remember spending hours with the sisters and cousins, dressing up and playing all sorts of make-believe games. I think part of Mom's Grand Plan (all parents have a Grand Plan, yes, you do too, you just don't know it yet) was to inspire confidence in her kids. She was pretty big on inspiring confidence. Giving kids freedom to mess around with grown-up stuff was part of this plan. Also, I think she may have felt that not making a big deal of things helps kids not give undue attention to them. Now I know why I never did learn to put on make-up.

Other parts of the character development plan included Encouraging Children to Play Sports and Public Speaking. Oh, and Motivating Them to Drive A Vehicle. We will not talk inappropriately about how I crashed my father's car at eighteen.

Music and Sports were the guiding lights of the parenting programme run by M's folks. Apart from sundry sporting activities, they made him learn how to play the violin for eight years.

So my question is this - did your parents propel you towards Personality Enhancement thus? How much of it do you plan to pass on to your kids (current or planned)?

I know Adi can play all he likes with my make-up, clothes and jewellery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Missing a husband

Poor Mahesh. He went all the way to KL for the race and it got washed out. Most of it did, at any rate. Certainly enough to piss someone who has gone all the way. Currently he is in Singapore on work and since that means he gets to spend time with his two nephews, he is feeling somewhat better. As you may have guessed, he is the more baby-crazy of the two of us.

While Mahesh was in KL, we got pretty competitive about the heat situation in the two countries. I told him that Bombay was frying, that I could not think straight because of the heat and that I was wilting by the moment. He told me that he was carrying Gatorade to the track, that he was nauseous and that he could only be thankful that he was not driving himself. We could have gone on in the same vein for even longer but it was too hot to talk.

Adi has been missing his daddy a lot. Daddy's come, he says whenever the doorbell rings. To make his feel a little closer to his father, I put on the race on the telly and let him watch. Two-two racing cars, he commented wisely before settling down and going vrooom.

Adi, all eyes on the telly.

Then, this morning, I checked my mail and this is what I had received from M.

The explanatory mail went - Baby, Sandas in Malay is called Tandas!

Is it any surprise that I married him?

Also, if there was any doubt about us giving in to toilet humour, let it be dispelled right now.

P.S. If you need to ask what sandas means, don't bother. You won't find the joke funny in any case.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Twenty-third month letter

Dear Adi,

We are now a month away from your second birthday and the revelation for this month is that parents are superheroes. Or should be. They need extraordinary powers of perception to sense exactly how the child is going to get them the next time around, a lot of strength to be able to rock the baby while still maintaining the minimum level of rock and roll in their lives and mammoth amounts of nobleness to not snap when he asks for Bubbles for the thousandth time, before the morning cuppa has been ingested.

The sentences are coming fast and furious now. 'Adi ko zor se laga,' you told me pensively the other day when you fell down and scraped your knee. Where's Pamma, you query if you cannot spot her around. Mama ka pantha (parantha) chahiye, you told me one night because you wanted to eat the thepla in my plate. I know, child! God bless Gujjus for methi theplas. I am trying to keep you away from the candy jar but I don't think I am succeeding very well. Gem balls, you say and I feel like popping a few in my own mouth. That Cadbury...nasty piece of work, really.

This may also be the time that I force you to bid adieu to the television. You are already singing along bits of songs and mouthing words to ads. But hey, you point out the rock band on my table calendar and say 'U2 uncles' and I puff up with pride. The only thing is that now it's April and the page has been flipped to make way for Pussycat Dolls. Don't call them U2 uncles, baby. Please.

You always know who is leaving the house and proceed to shower that person with copious amounts of love and tenderness, so that exits are frought with tension. Mama ko huggy chahiye, you say when I am leaving for my Spanish class. To my credit, I am able to shake myself free and say a cheery bye and get the hell out before there is a full-blown tantrum. It is much more difficult for your father. 'Daddy ko huggy chahiye' normally signals the time when Daddy seriously contemplates quitting his job and permanently sitting at home.

Then there is the fascination with the flying machines. Aeroplane verde, you scream in my ear. You speak words that I don't understand, boy! Your father, thankfully does. I would hate for you to swear and not be able to spank you for lack of understanding. That's the other thing, see? You repeat every word you hear, including the somewhat rude ones that you hear from your much older and much-adored playmates downstairs. Seems like me minding my words is not going to be enough.

I just can't get over it. How did you learn to speak? Who taught you? I never hired anyone, I swear. So then, maybe there is something to the Suzuki method after all. Bring on the pianos and the violins, I think.

Next month, two years! I am shaking my head in disbelief.

Have fun, sweetheart. Next month is time for some big news.



Friday, April 3, 2009

Son of the soil

My plants are boarding-house kids. They don't stay with us permanently. The wind is too strong, the angle of the sun not quite right. Most days they are downstairs, near the parking lot. And I am typing this and thinking exactly what you are - life in Mumbai is weird. Anyhow, so today the maali brought them up and I gushed over them, arrey kitna bada ho gaya hai, jab pichlee baar dekha tha toh itna sa tha (holding hands half a foot apart). They were placed on their temperory position on the window ledge. Later in the evening, when I was sitting like a python courtesy a huge lunch at Swati Snacks and trying to write, Adi was standing at his usual position, looking out the window and giving me a running commentary of the traffic situation on the road. Car, he proclaims. A little later, auto, he says. Two-two cars, he sometimes declares. After a few minutes, I realized that things had gone a bit too quiet for comfort. What are you upto, I asked of him. He turned towards me and my mother's words came true in front of my eyes- sab bacche mitti khaate hain.

Swati Snacks is a wonderful place. I don't get to go there too often, what with Tardeo not being exactly next door but the trip is well worth the effort. The food is absolutely delicious and although the flavours are very different from what my North Indian taste buds are used to, they are just fantastic. Panaki, the different kinds of rotis specially satapadi, gatta nu shak and the khichdi - divine! The aam panna is disappointingly sweet though, maybe I can get my Mom to give them some lessons. Actually, aam panna would be a damn good idea right now. It is frying in Mumbai. I feel like lying down on my belly on the cold floor with my tongue lolling out. The price we have to pay for all the trees that are cut.

And election day is drawing closer. After being shooed off from the election office twice, M and I have finally managed to get our names on the voting lists. These fingers are going to get the black mark, baby!

Mahesh is buzzing off tonight for the Malaysian Grand Prix tomorrow. This is his somewhat belated birthday present. He is torn between wild exhiliration at being able to see a race and sheer agony at not being able to spend a weekend with his baby.

That means Adi.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I am Bubbles, I am here to haunt you

I prayed and prayed for a child who loved to read and now when my wish gets answered, I realize that it's not going to be easy after all.

In the last month or so, Adi has discovered my bookshelf. I am we do we say this politely...ah yes, anal about people spoiling books and just because you are you are my firstborn, still in your diapers and cannot pronounce the letter 'l' does not mean you are allowed to run a wild rampage with the tomes. But then the Bubbles books are rightfully his and therefore I had to take them out and hand them over.

'Mama ko reading chahiye,' he declared and plonked himself on my lap. 'Chahiye' or want is like a punctuation mark these days. Everything is this chahiye or that chahiye. Once he demanded 'chahiye chahiye' at which point things naturally got really ugly.

'Bubbles littered...blah blah....Bubble's mom said don't litter blah blah....and then Bubbles lived happily ever after,' I read him the book.

The child threw himself on the floor and started bawling.

'What what what,' I spluttered.

'Bubbles chahiye,' said my only son tearfully.

'Oh ok, then, don't cry,' I said and opened the book again, being quite the strict disciplinarian as we know.

Since then the story of Bubbles and his littering ways and his mother straightening out her errant son is read to the Adi boy over and over again. And yet, he cannot have enough. My mouth hurts from speaking so much and yes, that is quite a feat for that overused part. This morning as I tried to leave for my Spanish class, fearing a surprise test, my child was seen running after me shouting, 'Mama, Bubbles ko red ball chahiye.' (The intrepid Bubbles, when he is not littering is seen chasing red balls). I was quite glad to escape the house where Bubbles lives, if you know what I mean.

I am quite dreading the evening when Bubbles will be remembered and sought in the pages of the books that my child loves. I don't know whether to throw up a cheer or throw myself down on the carpet and whimper.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A fish who does not eat meat

My Spanish class had a translation exercise the other day where the topic was sun-signs. It was a truly bizarre experience reading about zodiac signs in Spanish but that is not what this post is about. The teacher asked us to announce our sun-signs and then read the few lines given about each of them. My turn came. Pisces, I declared loudly and then proceeded to murder Espanol in my Meerut-meets-Mumbai accent.

Nobody said much in the class of course (nobody is really given to chatting) but in nearly every other setting, the conversation that followed would have been about how that was impossible, how I could not, gasp, be a piscean. No, no, no, I would have assured the crowds. I am truly a March born person. Perhaps a cusp, they would have queried hopefully. Naah, bang in the middle of March, I would have blown the last remnants of hope to smithereens. People would have shaken their heads in disbelief and gone home saying things to the effect of how truth can be stranger than fiction.

Right, so I exaggerate. Of course I do. It is one of the few things I do well.

But this whole you-could-not-be-a-piscean thing goes back to the time that Linda Goodman's Sun Signs first made an appearance in my peer group. Maybe a Leo, even an Aries but naah, I could not be a docile fish at all, has been the universal verdict. I have a feeling that it's not meant in a good way. Very saddening, if you know what I mean.

In fact, this whole 'she could not be a piscean' movement is right up there with the 'she could not be a vegetarian' drive. I always want to tell people who say that I do not look like a vegetarian that veggies, as a matter of fact do not wear floral wreaths on their heads. Just like non-vegetarians do not wear animal carcasses around their necks. But then you know me, polite to a fault.

Love to stay and elaborate on the topic but I have a feeling that the idea of a surprise test is firmly taking root in the teacher's head and one needs to be prepared. Also, I scored a 46/50 in my last test and the teacher wrote 'excelente' on my test-sheet. Being a mature woman of the world, I only mentioned this is passing to Mahesh.

Seventeen times.