Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Letters to a little girl - eleven

Dearest Ragini,

Late for the eleventh letter. Small problem, given that you and the big brother have been diligently falling ill. I need to do something about you two. Perhaps a drastic change in diet and nutrition? Or maybe I should send out a mannat into the big, bad universe promising to give up ice-cream if you two show some semblance of staying well for ten days at a stretch? What, what, I ask, little girl, what?

Alright, so the troublesome facts out of the way, let's focus on the good things. The boy was always fascinated by the dining table, spending hours pondering over the problems of the world under its wooden canopy. These days he likes to lead you under his small desk and looks like bumped heads are a small, small price to pay for getting to be in such a marvellous, luxuriant little nook. Sometimes I think I will never understand kids. Specially my own. Sometimes I also wish I could get to spend five minutes under a table of my own before the world came crashing down.

The battle with food continues. I wish you were less of a gourmand, who likes to turn up her little button nose at everything that the kitchen has to offer. Uff, this soup, take it away, I cannot bear to look at it. You expect me, ME, to eat this kheer, you incompetent blot on the face of chefs the world over? Ha, ha, nice joke, thinking I will partake of this fruit because here's the thing, see, I will not.

I did say we were going to talk about pleasant things. Just a minute while I tackle one last thing. What is with the sleep, huh? How can you stay awake between 5 and 6:44 am because 6:45 is when the alarm goes off for the other kid. I can almost hear you murmuring in your sleep.

Must. Not. Sleep.

Must. Stay. Awake.

Up. Till. 6:44. Oho, that's the alarm. Finally. I shall now snooze while bhaiyya takes over, zzzzzzzz.

At least I have seen all of this and then some more before so yes, you are fighting with an experienced hand, punter.

The good stuff is also aplenty. For one thing, the two of you can and do spend a lot of time playing with each other. And since Adi is most proprietary about you, proclaiming to the neighbours the other day that Raagu is his daughter and always, always referring to you as my baby, going as far as looking most worried and saying, I have to teach my baby so many things but she just doesn't listen to me, what do I do, what do I do, complete with much hand-wringing, I am hopefully looking forward to the year when both of you will keep each other entertained by discussing your parents' many flaws and said parents will take off for a nice little vacation somewhere. Hope springs eternal and just keeps springing.

I tried dragging you to watch Rio yesterday but thanks to the phlegmy, eww, chest and what-not, you and I had to beat a hasty retreat, leaving the world of cinema to the old and venerable four year olds amongst us. He told me later that he had rather imagined Rio to be about cars. Rather unfair, given that the poster had a gigantic blue bird spread over it. Oh well.

Right then, on to the messy world of advice, little one.
  • Everyone comes across a lovely bathroom every once in a while where there are small, individually packed mini-soaps in a silver dish, perfume bottles, flowers in delicate vases, a case of lovely make-up and folded, fragrant hand-towels. You will feel a slight sense of adventure, a rise of the inner criminal. You want to do something that is not altogether right, something that needs to be carefully executed. One word of advice. Resist. (She will find out.)
  • Spare a second look for old houses. They say so little but hide so much.
  • It's perfectly alright to ask the waiter to pronounce the dish for you. Even if you are dining at the French Laundry. Consider it part of the bill.
  • There is no point in stating a problem again and again. Either come up with a solution or keep silent while you figure out a solution.
  • If you have to start a sentence with 'I don't want to say I told you so but...', stop right there.
  • Ditto, 'I don't want to hurt your feelings but....'
  • Don't laugh at people who cry while reading 'Love you forever'. I have my reasons for this one. Ask me sometime.
  • Have ambition. Plenty of it. How else will you change the world?
  • All of us run the risk of ending up as characters in someone's book. That's just the way it is. 
  • It is alright to treat astrology and palmistry and janam-patris as guilty pleasures. Just don't take them too seriously. 
  • The ocean is a pretty good show. Watch it alone for maximum enjoyment. 
  • A fight will intensify in direct proportion to the frequency of the words 'always' and 'never'. 
That's it for this time. Next time will be the last letter. But not the last of the wisdom, heh.

Love,

Ma

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's cracking Mahesh up

This. I don't get a lot of the references but still, TamBrahm readers - yennjoy! I hope someone will come up with a UP rage equivalent of this soon. We also have tons to rage about, you know?

Also, quick request. A friend is diving into the thrilling world of market research and needs us to fill in this survey. It's not boring and will take two minutes max. No, you will not get a plastic tumbler if you answer all the questions but not everything is about free gifts, yes? 

Have a thrilling Tuesday, all.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Look Ma, One Hand

I am not going to waste the limited time that I have describing the reasons of absence from blogging. Suffice it to say that M has been travelling, the maids have been more absent than present, the kids have been...well, kids and I have discovered that while there are many things that I can do with one hand while a baby hangs from my hip, there are some that I cannot. I can eat a sandwich if I don't care too much about the sequence in which bread, filling and chutney goes into my mouth. I cannot however change the bed-linen. I can pull Adi away from whichever dangerous adventure he has decided to embark upon just in the nick of time. I cannot however give him a bath. I can answer the door with one hand . I cannot sign the courier slip though. And so on...

We have been going to a lot of birthday parties. Somehow I always thought of Adi as being quite shy and reserved in school. So when I get these phone calls from mums gushing about their son or daughter's best friend ever, namely the youngest Mr Ramanathan, I am quite flummoxed. I see him in social settings now and while he is still quite hyper-energetic and needs a tight leash to prevent bodily harm, it is quite something to see him have something that I still haven't managed to master, i.e. emotional maturity. He has all these friends and they seem to have conversations and bonds and relationships that exclude me, ME, the mother! Didn't I start this blog just...oh wait, it has been almost four years. That explains it.

After seeing some really fancy parties that brought to life jungles and beaches and various Disney films, I struggled with what to do with the kids' upcoming birthday party (joint, obviously). So I ventured into a discussion with the boy.

Me: So hey, your friend must really like animals. He had an animal-themed party? What do you like most, Adi? What kind of a party would you like?
Adi: I want a regular party.
Me: Really? What is a regular party?
Adi: With wafers and cake, that's all.

And so it has been decided that we will have a 'regular' party. Sometimes, I am so proud of him, I feel like someone is pumping air into me at a furious rate and I am going to blow up. Not the best analogy for overwhelming maternal pride in the offspring, I agree.

The kids have been falling ill at quite a pace too. The days just buzz by and sometimes I feel like I have had the toughest bloody day of my life and then the next one dawns and is a greater exercise in character development. The tragedy here is that this is also possibly creatively the best phase of my life. Possibly because I spend so much time on my own, I am brimming with story and novel ideas that are begging to be put to paper. But obviously, that's the one thing that I cannot do with one hand.

Not technically, otherwise.

This is the time that parents of two older kids should step in and tell me that it does get better.

I have been shouting at the kids a lot too and feeling miserable about it later on. They seem none the worse for it but still, I am never one to shy away from a generous helping of mommy-guilt. Recently, I had another one of those little chats with Adi.

Me: Adi, do I scold you a lot or a little bit?
Adi: A lot.
Me: *face falls* And do I love you a lot or a little bit?
Adi: You love me a whole lot.

I am hoping that means that he knows that all that yelling is coming from a place of love and consideration. Sigh.

The only consolation is that if I make something of a career in writing, I will be able to look back and say I did it my way and I did it on my own.

Monday, April 4, 2011

See you again, next world cup

It's too important an occasion to not record in the blog. I was six when we won the World Cup in 1983 so memories are a little hazy. It was a different India, celebrations were loud I think but not riotous. But what kept it alive for me for many, many years to come was a story in Target. I think it was called 'See You Again, Next World Cup'. I don't remember who wrote it either, possibly the altogether brilliant Sigrun Srivastava. The story was about a young boy who is alone at home, watching the World Cup when a stranger, a boy of similar years knocks at his door. The stranger's scooter (bike?) has broken down and he is afraid he will miss the match. The rest of the story was about two boys bonding over cricket and forming a friendship that went beyond everyday ordinariness. A powerful story, simply told.

Twenty-eight years since then. We have lived an entire life in the meantime. School, college, jobs, marriage, kids before we relived the overdue magic of success and victory and celebration once again. Given that the BFF was a cricket buff of the worst kind, I used to be a pretty avid cricket watcher till life got in the way. Also, I am intensely aware of the fact that I don't get the technicalities of the game, unlike a true fan. But hey, I can't read musical notes either but that doesn't keep me from enjoying concerts and the lord knows I have trudged some fair distances to see my favourite bands in action.

We watched the quarters, semis and finals, all in the same way. At home and the latter part with the telly in our room on mute as Ragini slept, stirring once in a while when I let out a particularly loud epithet. Maybe in another era, the same match would mean friends, pizza and much beer but both the kids were unwell and we had to cart them to the doctor in the morning. Medicines were dispensed and they were both looking better by the afternoon when the match started. M and I settled down to watch and curse and whoop and pump fists and got very excited when we spotted friends in the stadium on the telly.

Of course, there was much tweeting happening alongside and it was great fun. A sample of my tweets:

I think I will give my hairband to sreesanth. His need is greater than mine.

(Yes, we were not only about the cricket.)

Incidentally, after the semis, at one point, I tweeted at Rahul Khanna and people, he replied! Much excitement followed. Rahul Khanna. Imagine. Rang rang mere rang rang mein and so on, you know.

Now of course we are soaking in the post-World Cup bliss. In a country that is rocked by scams, a gender-ratio that has us bowing our head in shame and inflation through the roof we need to grab at every small chance at happiness. I am.

What about you then? Did you have fun?