Monday, November 30, 2009

Bake, bake again....


...till you succeed.

After the debacle of last time, we tried the same chocolate cake recipe again, only halving everything this time to minimize losses. The results were very encouraging. Maybe there is hope for us yet.

Big thanks to Sue, Aneela and everyone else who sent in recipes. They will be tried in the due course of time and results posted here.

Photograph courtesy M. I think I will buy him the tripod that he wants so much.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Random collection of news and views

I had the opportunity today of seeing a very high number of young and affluent mothers attend an event. Being by myself, I was entertaining myself by reading about global developments and international news (blogs) on my phone and looked up only when the seats had filled up and people were standing in the aisles. My eyes skimmed over the crowd and the only thought I had was - my god, they look so alike. It was like the invite had had an invisible style-code on it. All the women were thin, all of them wore jeans, all of them wore flowery tops (the occasional brave one wore a t-shirt with a slogan) with the jeans, they all wore similar shoes, their hair was straightened and coloured in the same style. For a surreal moment, I thought I was in The Wall video where instead of the system churning out children who were pushed into behaving and thinking in a pre-decided manner, there were mothers, all of whom had been fed the same idea of beauty by the same issue of Cosmopolitan. Give me a cotton sari, I wailed, or perhaps a pair of white linen pants, I begged or even a churidaar, I requested but in vain. Whatever happened to the idea of expressing one's individuality and originality through clothes? What would happen if a man like The Sartorialist were to come to the same event and try to shoot someone, anyone who looked different? He would go back a dejected man, his camera hanging limply around his neck and a sad song in his heart.

Profound thought of the day: When everyone is trying to look like each other, that is the end of fashion.

You cannot of course ask me what I wore to the event. I am the writer, I observe, I do not participate in the story as it unfolds. Humph.

Now the panel discussion. I had had no opportunity to prepare for it in any way this last one week because Adi was down with a bacterial infection. He recovered by Friday but not before passing on the cough to me. I woke up on Friday morning and responded to M's 'want tea'? with a hacking cough that startled him out of skin. You sound like the hollow man, he informed me. How will I talk in the evening, I queried of him in sign language. Hmm, he said and proceeded to make the same concoction of tulsi leaves, honey and ginger that we have been giving Adi. It worked and I found my voice again. Then in the evening, when I was getting dressed, I took a good, sound look at my face. Most of it was covered with my dark circles, the gift of many nights' worth of jaagran that has been the norm for us.

The discussion itself went surprisingly well. I felt like a fraud for the first few minutes as I sat between Annie Zaidi, who was moderating and Mushtaq Shaikh, author of SRK, Still Reading Khan. What am I doing here, conductor of focus group discussions and presenter of Usage and Attitude studies, I wondered briefly. Then when I read from BUV, a couple of people giggled and that was enough for me. So yes, I think it went well. Thanks to all of you who wished me well. And those who did not, chalo theek hai, agli baar kar dena.

Wishing well reminds me, R's Mom had done this post on BUV a while back. This is what she says...

Yep...I finally finished the book.....Its amazing...I could relate to everything that Mira was going through...the late night sessions, the weight which never went away, the worry for leaving the baby with someone else, the frustration of not getting a maid, the hope of getting Vasu into a good school.....wait am I giving away too much!!!!

For the rest, you need to go here. Thank you, R's Mom, you have been very kind.

Today we decided to break the monotony of the last ten days by going out to watch De Dana Dan. We could have saved ourselves the trouble and just flushed the INR 350 down the toilet at home itself. It was just so bad. Dhikkaar hai, Priyadarshan. And someone please hire someone other than Katrina Kaif in Hindi movies. I mean, she is haunting me in my dreams. No matter where I look, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, or Blue and now this, she is everywhere. Omnipresent, however hard one tries to brush her away. Like dust in Bombay.

I shall now take your leave but not before asking you this - is a Twitter friend called a Fritter? After you finish rolling in the aisles, don't forget to vote for Bringing Up Adi which is nominated in the Indibloggies 2008, yay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Look how far we have come, my baby!



I got an email from the folks at Indibloggies, saying that Bringing Up Adi has been nominated for the IndiBloggies 2008. I went over to the website and sure enough, it's no joke, we are featured right there in the Best Personal Indiblog category, keeping great company with the Sidins and the Bikerdudes of the world. This proves two things - one, the folks at Indibloggies comprise a bunch of very smart people and two, the meek shall inherit the earth.

There is no hope of winning of course. I mean, just look at the other nominees. Here, you can see the whole set of nominations across categories here.

I just did. Again, this time with a view to take this as a challenge that a woman like me, confident, mature and accomplished can handle very well. And only one word comes to mind.

Gulp.

This is the part you jump in to pat me on the back with kind words to the tune of - Nonsense, old girl, no point being realistic, I mean, fatalistic. Of course you are as good as them.

If you have had fun reading me, you could always vote for me by clicking here. If not, hush, don't let the others know. Oh and some link love would be nice too. Anyone who does posts on their own blog to further my cause gets my undying gratitude and heartfelt aashirwaad.

This is great fun, I feel like Sea-Biscuit. Tikrum, tikrum.

P.S. Once you put in your mail id, they will mail you for the confirmation. Pliss to click on the link to confirm your vote.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Living and loving Bandra

That I love Bandra is no secret. One of the best things about this house is that I am only a few minutes away from my beloved Bagel Shop, Basilico, Crossword, Anokhi, Chemistry, American Express Bakery and the hundred other shops, stores, restaurants and bungalows (yes, I count bungalows as one of the prime sights of Bandra, in fact I still dream of living in one, heh) that make this place utterly charming and a sight for sore eyes.

Anyway, so the point of all this rambling about Bandra today is that the Celebrate Bandra Festival is currently on. We are having shows and plays and readings every day. The Carter Road promenade is abuzz in the evenings these days when we go to Joggers' Park for our evening walk, with live bands playing and joggers (and walkers) stopping to look at them. Incidentally, good thing I missed the deadline for the Mumbai Marathon in January 2010, given the pregnant status. I would really like to know what is M's excuse though.

Back to the festival, I have been invited for the literature events, being a real author and all, you know. Last evening, I toodled to Olive, having deposited the boy with the husband. A panel discussion was on with Rekha Nigam (scriptwriter of Parineeta and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag), Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan (famous blogger eM, author of You Are Here) and Anita Jain (author of Marrying Anita). The discussion was quite enjoyable and the three panelists were all confident and sassy and both eM and Anita wore great dresses, verrra sexy. I guess I should have hung around a little bit after the discussion and met some people, networked a little but god, I gave up on that life years ago and I want to believe that one of the perks of being my own boss is that I don't ever have to make small talk or engage anyone (except the kid/s) again. There, I have put it on the blog. Now all that is left is what it to come back and bite me in the posterior. I think one of my resolutions for 2010 ought to fight off the anti-social, reclusive part of me that seems to be overtaking the rest of me completely. Then again, why bother?

It is my turn next. I will be participating in a panel discussion among debut authors from Bandra and we will be talking about two of my favourite things - writing and living in Bandra. I haven't had any book readings or events thus far so I don't really know how these things go. I mean, I am quite certain that being up on the stage and talking about your work is vastly different from sitting in the audience and dreaming about the free booze to arrive post the session (what, am I the only one who does that?). So yes, it will be interesting to see how this goes. I hope I don't end up mouthing my usual witticisms (usually funny in only one person's opinion - mine). I won't have M in the audience either to cheer me on, given that he will be tending to the currently unwell Adi. So please wish me luck and I will let you know how it goes.

In other news, the plumber who broke a mirror in my house had to be called back due to another paani samasya in the kitchen. Wait a second, I never did tell you about the broken mirror, did I? So I am having some work done in the guest bathroom (the work in this house will never end, Adi will be getting married and the baraat will be leaving and I will still be fighting with some carpenter or haggling with a plumber). I needed to have the bathroom mirror, very large and expensive moved a couple of inches. Be careful, be careful, I told the plumber and his terribly skinny flunk, you people don't look like you can handle it, are you sure I should not be calling a carpenter instead? Arrey, nahin, nahin, madam, we will manage just fine, I was told cheerfully and chased out of the bathroom. A little later, the senior plumber ambled over. Ho gaya, madam, he told me, but sorry, we cracked it a little. WHAT WHAT WHAT, I screamed and rushed to the bathroom to check on my poor mirror. Yes indeed, it stood cracked. I reacted quite violently to this turn of events, I am ashamed to admit. I raved and ranted and generally threw a tantrum that was befitting a case of remarkable PMS, except that I am pregnant of course. I don't know whether it was really a dread of seven years of bad luck (in which case, one wonders whether it will befall the owner of the mirror, namely me or the actual culprit, the plumber) or the shock of losing good money thanks to their carelessness but I was quite upset for some time. The plumber left in disgrace with me resolving to never ever call him again.

Well, as it always happens in my case, I lived to eat my words along with some humble pie. The problem is that this guy is quite good and has been working in this apartment block forever and so when the kitchen sink started misbehaving, I had to bite the bullet and call him back. He returned, bearing a goofy grin and something of an apology and so we are on good terms again. As long as he doesn't break any more mirrors, obviously.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What is traditionally called 'good news'

Two years and a bit is sufficient time to develop amnesia about the nights when one wishes that the baby's growth could quickly be accelerated to college-going age, about the time you touched new depths of inadequacy and were equally useless at feeding, bathing, diaper-changing and spit-up cleaning, about fretting about whether you were starving the baby because he never seemed to get enough, about waking up (if you ever got to sleep, that is) in a cold sweat worried sick about whether he was alright and had not flown off in the night.

Yes, two years and a bit is sufficient time to forget all that and just stare at the little boy in front of you and wonder where the time went, when did he learn to walk and talk and ask questions and demand treats and in general behave like the master and commander of the universe.

Two years and a bit allows you to get away from this little being that dictates every moment of your life and focus on that person who lives with you - your husband/wife.

Two years and a bit is enough to fool you into thinking that you are a pro at this game now and could prove it if you had the chance.

So yes, Adi, two years and a bit will welcome a baby brother or sister in late April/early May 2010. Badhayian and Mazel Tovs and Mubaraks all around!

As for Adi's reaction, I have tried telling him about the impending change in his life and I don't think he gets too much, other than repeating 'be carful of Mama's belly, there's a baby inside' several times each day. Whether this is an advantage or disadvantage of getting the second one when Adi is two years and a bit, only time will tell.

I kept thinking that I would announce it once my nausea had settled and the glowing skin and lustrous hair phase had started. That usually happens at three months. But more than four months into the game, I am still not there yet. Perhaps, this week, I keep telling myself.

But I guess now is as good a time as any given that M and I celebrate our fifth anniversary tomorrow. In fact, I think I will scribble a short note to him right here.

Dear husband of five years,

As we brace ourselves for the next exciting journey, I want you to know that I love you a lot and that your diaper changing abilities are unparalleled.

Happy anniversary.

Love

Me


As for you, gentle reader, the champagne is on me today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Los numeros

Adi was watching a numbers song on YouTube this morning, you know where they create rhymes and songs around numbers. At one point, I clicked on a new video that he wanted. A little later, I looked up from my book to find him smiling, nodding sagely and saying, 'yes, yes, ok' to every number that was being shown on the screen. In Spanish!

This was most heartening. He already knows how to pretend his way through stuff he knows nothing of. And more, he actively participates in the same. Oh he is a chip off the old block alright. It would be unfair to say that I whispered 'my son, my son' while choking back tears but I did puff up like a toad in insurmountable pride.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to bake a cake and end up with a mess in ten easy steps


Step One: Complain ceaselessly about the lack of an oven in your life and conjure images of the goodies that you would produce if only you had the right equipment at your disposal.

Step Two: Buy an oven (Morphy Richards, not recommended) after about five years of of Step One.

Step Three: After due consultation with the planets about the correct mahurat, decide that today is the day the oven gets unpacked and a chocolate cake baked.

Step Four: Make the driver run around in the quest for unsalted butter and fresh cream and such like and collect all the ingredients.

Step Five: Place laptop in the kitchen and play Nigella Lawson's recipe for homemade chocolate cake on YouTube, secretly wondering if one would become the same size by eating such copious amounts of sugar, flour and butter.

Step Six: Mix everything just as the good lady says, open the refrigerator to take out eggs when she commands you to add them to the batter and realize with horror that you in fact have only one egg at your disposal.

Step Seven: Snatch the security man of the building from his guarding duties and send him off to buy eggs, proceed to wait impatiently.

Step Eight: Put batter in glass baking dish in the absence of a cake tin and wait impatiently as it bakes, take a peek every now and then and feel very thrilled to see it rising mightily.

Step Nine: Take out cake after the oven pings and bid goodbye to dreams of presenting tempting photographs of perfect cake on blog as cake is baked only from the sides while the center is completely uncooked.

Step Ten: Scrape out the sides and put remaining batter in to oven to bake again, let the (new, sob) glass dish slip out of hands after the oven pings and spend the next forty-five cleaning glass shards mixed with the still-uncooked batter off the kitchen floor.

I am left with two alternatives:
  • Give up on this domestic diva nonsense and stick to things that I do well. Like watching cookery videos.
  • Go with the pro-mediocrity 'the woods would be very silent if only those birds sang that sang best' school of thought. This is a roundabout way of saying - continue making messes and you will get it right at some point.
Added after the initial tiredness and disappointment have worn off and some semblance of sanity and appointment (heh) is returning.....

Looks like I did not bake the cake long enough, that's all. And Adi polished off the parts that were baked ("Mama, this cake is not spicy"....thank heavens for that, my child). Hmmm, so maybe it does warrant a second attempt after all. Plus I guess, once is not enough to get a suitable return on that blasted oven.

Fool-proof recipes of chocolate cake are invited from readers. Plain sympathy will also do.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A little less conversation

Yes, so where were we? I was most thrilled with all the appreciation that you people showed for my abode and attacked my remaining house projects with renewed enthusiasm. One of these involved putting up some extra shelves in our bedroom (and when I say our bedroom, it really is just ours now and not an extended nursery but more on that remarkable feat later).

It started when I decided that we did not enough shelves in our bedroom. I need a place to hold my things, I told M. What things, he asks. Err, my water-bottle, my book and my glasses, I told him. If he was looking at the bedside stool, trying to communicate that that ought to suffice for my modest needs, he wisely kept his counsel. I proceeded to call a carpenter. I have fought with the last half dozen carpenters who have worked for me so this was a new guy. He looks remarkably unkempt, like there is an invisible hurricane perpetually blowing around his person. What he lacks in presentation, however, he makes up for in confidence. I showed him the narrow passage in the bedroom where I needed him to put up shelves.

Me: Blah, blah, blah. Put shelves here.
Carpenter: No shelves, I will make a showcase.
Me: I don't want a showcase, just a couple of shelves will do.
C: No, you need a showcase. I will make it. First class it will look.
Me: Er, ok. Now go away and start working. How long will it take?
C: Five days.
Me: Cool.

The money was decided on and he took over one of our parking places downstairs to start sawing and hammering. Five days came and went and he seemed to be nowhere close to done. I thought I would have a word with him, though normally it's my policy to stay as far away as possible from self-congratulatory, smug types.

Me: Arrey, kaam finish nahin hua?
C: Ho jayega, Madam.
Me: Theek se bana rahe ho?
C: Madam, aapne mujhe theek se pehchaana nahin. Main bade hisaab ka aadmi hoon.

Finally, three weeks after he had started, he came over to fit the unit into the room. Except that the door wouldn't close after it was put in. The hisaab ka aadmi had apparently miscalculated badly. What will you do now, M asked of him (fortunately for him, I wasn't at home when this fiasco was unfolding). After scratching his head for sometime, he dismantled the unit and took it downstairs again, mumbling something about having to saw a couple of inches off. The amount of activity that is going on in our parking lot, one would imagine I was planning to have a couple of windmills constructed.

A couple of days later, he came by again with his colleague/flunk, a singularly pitiable character carrying the two parts that constitute the shelf unit thingummy.

They put in the unit and what fun, the door still wouldn't close.

Me, with what Mills and Boons called a sardonic smile: Now what?
C, more scratching of head and consultation with colleague later: I will be back in half an hour after fixing this.
Me: Huh? What will you do now? Saw off more?
C doesn't reply and goes away

He came back after half an hour and the unit was looking really strange. Then I realized what had happened.

Me: Oh my god, you sawed it off from one end and attached to the other!
C: Yes, nothing else could be done in this time. But look, the door shuts now.
Me: But it's looking so ugly plus it's messing with my mind, this non-symmetrical....thing.
C mumbles some more and saunters off.

This time I followed him downstairs. He was telling his flunk to hack off some part and attach it somewhere else. The flunk looked really unhappy at this and came up to me.

Flunk: Madam, give me another day, I will fix it.
Me: Whatever. I just wanted a ledge to keep some books and things. I don't know how I got pulled into this.
Flunk looks ready to burst into tears at which point I hastily give in. Sheesh.

At the time of hitting publish, the original carpenter seems to have disappeared and has delegated his work to his flunk and some other fellows who are at it even as I type this. I have mentally written off both the shelves and the money that I have foolishly already paid them because you know a sky-high BP is not worth some planks of wood. Growl.

Now about our big achievement. Adi has now started sleeping in His Own Room and in His Own Bed. We bought him a new bed recently and made a big deal out of the new! big! fantastic! ness of the bed and big! brave! good! ness of the boy. He did not seem to buy any of it during the first daytime nap when he told me very clearly that he'd much rather stick to Mama's room and Mama's bed. I cajoled and coaxed and brought out the various teers that rest in a parent's kamaan. Beta, so ja warna Gabbar aa jayega, being my favourite. Finally sleep overtook his protests and he starting dreaming of a house made of Alpenliebes and Cadbury's Dairy Milk and completely free of parents constantly trying to put the fear of cavities and durrty durrty germs in his innocent mind.

The night duty has been taken over by M. The idea is to lie down with Adi and tell him stories till he drifts off but more often than not, when I go to check on them, I find M sound asleep and snoring loudly while Adi is wide awake and perks up when he sees me, often asking in a clear voice - Hi Mama, what are you doing? Finally about an hour after this circus is kicked off, the child falls asleep and I drag the husband back into our room.

One would think that now that I don't have to carefully contain my girth in the two feet of space that the little master used to afford me, I would sleep well and deep. But that doesn't take into account the maa ka dil. At first I was waking up every half hour, worrying that he would kick off the covers/saunter off outside the house/get bitten by insects/other bizarre fears but now I am sleeping better. Plus he walks into our room whenever he wakes up and climbs in. The best part of this gradual weaning from co-sleeping was that there were no tantrums and no tears, which I find very difficult to handle these days.

Oh and my second book has been approved by the publishers (remember, I was nervously awaiting news from their end?) and after doing my usual wild jig around the house, I decided that the time had indeed come to start work on the third one and so I have. It is different in both scope and style from the first two so I guess budhaape mein kaam karna parega. Judging by the previous two, more reclusive and anti-social behaviour will be part of the writing process. I know Agatha Christie wrote a book every year; I wonder if she ever needed to lock herself away from the outside world.