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December 30, 2005

I hope and pray that Ashu has nt inherited this from her father.


My husband does not read. There! I said it aloud. How can a person not read, I don’t understand. How did I marry such a person, I definitely don’t understand! No, he’s not illiterate. But what’s the point in being literate just to read Bangalore Times? He can’t finish a book to save his life. A book with 300 pages is his ultimate nightmare. When we were engaged, he gave me a book on positive thinking for my birthday! Talk about misleading! Probably it contained some truth about him because ironically I never finished the book! He also wanted me to suggest some good books. Since I was in a Grisham spree that time, asked him to read The Firm, Client, etc... He bought a copy of Client and if I remember correctly, took the entire 10 months of our engaged period to finish it. That too only because I asked him everyday if he has finished it and he wanted to save his face to his then-fiancée. I should have got a hint at least then. But no! It was not to be. I would have read The Fountain Head a dozen times and suggested it to him. He took one look at the book and asked me to tell the story to him! He finished 2 Harry Potters in a span of 4 years and said he ll see the movies instead of reading the rest. He was pressurized by all the hype about Da Vinci code and bought the book. (He always buys the books he wants to read because no library in the world renews books for a year!) He started reading it when I was 4 months pregnant and finished it after Ashu turned 4 months old! He also brought the book with him when he traveled alone on a plane for 10 hours and still did nt finish it while I finished the whole Ponniyin Selvan Part 4 book in my flight. He finished half of Grisham's Summons and then had to return the book to the library. Till date, he has nt even asked me what happened in the next half. Are nt humans supposed to be curious? And here I want to solve the mystery involving Tutankhamun’s death! For your information, I don’t give up that easily on people. After I read the Alchemist, the first thought I had was, "This is a pretty short novel. Awesome too. I should ask HD to read". Since he spends almost 3 hours on a bus everyday, I suggested he read it then. A week and 24 pages later, I found the book back on the shelf. I did nt even ask him why this time. A person gives up sometime or the other, I guess. And when I said he can’t read, include the fact that he can’t read aloud as well. Punctuation marks don’t exist for him and he has no idea why they are used. He pauses only when he’s out of breath. It’s so annoying to listen to him read that I am in denial that he is my husband whenever he reads. I remember some students in my class at school who were very poor in reading and I used to think so high of myself and used to act snotty around them. They formed a club, chose their president and 10 years later sent his horoscope to my parents. I can hear them laughing even now! Anyway, he does nt read my blog or any other blog for that matter. I have to ask him everyday, “Did you read my blog today?” He will say no and I will read it to him. I would say, “Is nt today’s post hilarious? I got 6 comments today”. Not mentioning the fact that some blessed soul has commented the same message twice, there are 2 spam comments and one of the comments is mine! If he were nt good looking and loaded, I would nt have even gone out on a date let alone have a child with him!

Ps.
Another reason I am with him is that he took a day off and landed in Kmu today and took us all by surprise. Even though Ashu brought him here, I love him for that. Though the man does nt read, he sure listens! And now, can a woman want more?

December 29, 2005

This child is the mother of this woman.

Another lesson learnt today. Since there’s no baby cot here, Ashu sleeps on a thick mattress on the floor. She falls down if she sleeps on the cot. I also close the door as I want her to sleep peacefully without any disturbance from the TV, calling bell or the phone.(The real reason being, I don’t want her to get up in half hour and get cranky and eat my head!) Usually she gets up and cries and I go and pick her. I also check on her every 30 minutes. Today I heard her cry and opened the door a little. She was sitting behind the door. I saw her in the mirror and did nt open the door anymore. She heard my voice and stood with her hands on the door and actually shut the door again. I did nt know what to do. She might fall down and hit her head on the floor if I opened the door with force. So I opened the door an inch and asked her to move away. Of course she did nt understand. I did nt know what to do and like I always do when I’m in a fix, called my mother. She came and held the door while I put my hand through the gap and tried to grab Ashu. She sat down and I pulled her with one hand. She fell sideward and cried as if it’s all my fault. Yeah, right!! My mom was narrating another story where a child locked the door from inside and started crying and how they had to break the door and enter. I hope Ashu never does anything like that. I don’t like breaking and entering. Moreover my dad would somehow blame it all on me and take custody of her. This from the man who mistakenly put 4 scoops of kolamaavu (rice flour) instead of detergent powder in the washing machine today and was wondering why there was no froth!

December 27, 2005

Road trip.


So I am in Kumbakonam now. My dad was in Bangalore yesterday on a sudden trip and since in our family we never let cars go without filling all the seats with people or at least with luggage, I decided to join him. It was either Ashu and I or the broken microwave. Dad was very much keen on the microwave as there was a super exchange offer in one of the shops here. But Ashu's instant smile when she saw her gramps changed his mind. (Atta girl!) After lot of deliberation, HD let us go. He was worried that Ashu has to travel almost 12 hours in bad roads. But a week of bachelorhood was too enticing for him. Anyway, after 12 hours cooped up in a car we arrived last night after passing Hosur, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Namakkal, Salem, Trichy, Thanjavur and hundreds of other towns and villages on worst possible roads. The driver had the worst opinion on lorry drivers and had to prove his point time and again by overtaking the Lorries while leaning on the honk and absolutely not reducing his speed from 110 kms/hour. This got more risky once it got dark as the high-beam head-lights from the on coming traffic was plain blinding. Ashu would nt sit in her car seat and my dad would nt let her cry it out. So I was holding her for dear life and praying and hoping we will reach safely and I would live to break a coconut for Lord Ganesha. We only stopped for Lunch, tea and dinner! The waiter at one of the restaurants thought that we (my dad and I) were husband and wife traveling with our daughter. While I was looking for a ceiling fan to hang myself with my Duppatta, the cool air from the Air condition blasted in my face and reminded me that there were no fans. Damn Otis! (Oh, that’s the lift guy! I meant the AC guy, whoever he is!) It also reminded me to go flush all the hair dyes at home in the toilet. Although it did nt remind me to lose my pregnancy (and the other miscellaneous) weight! Strange!

We did nt tell my mom we were coming. We wanted to surprise her with Ashu. And we did. She was all tears and promised me that she ll wash all the dirty feeding bottles I had collected the entire day. God bless her soul.

ps. The only reason I did nt kill that waiter was because he offered to carry Ashu until dad and I finished dinner. Veechu Parotta (Hand-tossed Paratha) won over Veen Avamaanam (Shame)!

December 25, 2005

Bye, bye 2005.


Like I say at the end of every year, "this year has just flown by, no?" I think back and wonder if any year has gone slow. I don't think so. Life has been too good to me, perhaps! (Touchwood!) Last year this time, I was 4 months pregnant. We went to a Ski resort as a big group and while everyone was skiing, I was taking their photographs and laughing my ass of seeing them fall on their asses. I felt very left out, so rented a wooden sledge and started sliding down the slopes. Man, it was awesome. I did fall a couple of times and got to hear some choice words from HD. Then we both went doubles in the sledge and fell and heard some choice words from our friends. (But I’m sure Ashu loved the roller coaster ride inside my tummy! Did nt ya girl?) While going back home to Basel on Sunday, got a call from my sister while we were on the train that India has been hit by Tsunami and more than 2000 people were dead. I did nt even know what Tsunami was. Then the rest of the story unfolded. A very sad end for 2004.

The best and worst of 2005 for me are pretty much the same things. See for yourself.

1. Pregnancy
However hassle free the pregnancy was, it was still a lot to go through. That too 9 months, dammit! And you can’t quit in between. And you pray that you don’t quit in between. I ve never been committed to anything for so long without an option to quit. I am a quitter, for Gods sake!

2. Delivery
Happy that it was normal. But extremely unhappy and uncontrollable sad that something which takes 39 minutes to reach your home or money back guarantee is also called as (Pizza) Delivery. Very confusing, this English language I say!

3. Breast feeding
What am I going to say that I ve nt said so many times already in my first set of blogs?

4. Being a Mom
With great power, comes great responsibility. Oh God, my uncle's dying words and I’m going to become a Spidermom!!!

5. Leaving Switzerland.
The other side is always green. Always. Even if you know this proverb. Always.

6. Bangalore.
The other side is...

7. Ashu growing up.
I never thought it ll be so heart breaking. You want her to grow up and at the same time, freeze time. Did I say the other side is always green?

8. Living close to our parents!
Need I say more?

9. Shopping for Ashu.
Going "Aaah" and "Oooh" at the sight of a pair of cute shoes is really sweet until you actually have to buy it! I ve bought shoes for lesser than that for myself and they are big and have high heels and can use them for years!

10. Blog.
A new world. But I ve never liked to be so addicted to anything. Except for chocolates, of course!

Happy Xmas! Oh, and in case I don’t see you, Happy New Year, Happy Pongal and Happy Republic day!

December 23, 2005

Thamizh Vaazhga!


Is nt it Dhadha - Dhadhi and Naana- Naani in Hindi for Paternal and Maternal Grandparents? I am so happy that Thatha (grandpa) and Paati (grandma) denote both the set of grandparents in Tamil. Thank God for small blessings. :)

Azhagan


Watched the movie Azhagan the other day on TV for the umpteenth time. Read somewhere that the movie was nt a hit. How can it not be? Such a lovely movie. I wish I were in my twenties when movies like Azhagan, Nayagan, Unnaal mudiyum Thambi. etc.. were released. Azhagan is about a widower Azhagappan awesomely played by Mamooty with 4 adopted children. Love the way the kids say their names. (B for Baby speaking!) Three women lay their eyes on him - a college student, a teacher and a dancer. Our hero has his eyes for the dancer, Bhanupriya. Until I saw this movie, I ve never liked Bhanupriya. I ve always thought she was too loud but a good dancer of course. In this movie, she has done a superb job. There’s this one scene where Mamooty brings his daughter to Bhanupriya's dance school and she is shocked to know that he’s married. But when Mammotty says that his wife is dead, Bhanupriya turns her face away, gives a victorious, relieved smile and then with a sad face says "Sorry about that" to Mamooty. That’s totally a fantastic expression. Kudos to K Balachandar, the director. And the song "Sangeetha Swarangal" - WOW what do I say about that? The sweet nothing telephone conversation between them a whole night with the awesome song in the background and the Doordarshan TV ending their telecast and then beginning in the morning. Absolutely beautiful picturisation. Wonder how this song would be picturised now with all these 24 hours TV channels! Probably when the Sun Music channel stops saying "Hallo? Nalla irukeengala? Unga per enna?" and then start the same non-stop nonsense in the morning with "Inniki enna kurippu solla poreenga? TV volume a kammi pannunga"! Grrr......!

December 20, 2005

Changing minds and changing times!


My life would be so much happier if I had nt heard this story that circles in my family. The title "Sevuthu keeraiya vazhichu thinna vallaati" can be translated as "The woman who scraped and ate the spinach from the wall". This is a simple story of how a lady said no to spinach when being served and when compelled to taste it, threw the Spinach dish, licked her hands and actually found the spinach tasty and started eating the splattered spinach from the walls. Simple story, my ass! This one has complicated my life beyond belief! My paternal side of the family thrives on laughing at others. Be it a baby or a granny, they spare none. If you even ask what the dish is and then ask for it, you are termed the "SKVTV aka TWWSAATSFTW. (The title of the simple story, people! Catch up!) In those days when there were always more than 6 people at home and when the plantain leaves were placed with 2 cms gap and the men and children ate first while the women folk served, you better not be the first person sitting in the row. Or the last person for that matter! They will take you by surprise by starting to serve from any end! And to ask "What is it?" will be a grave mistake to make. "Ellam saapdradhu dhaan, pottundu paaru"(It’s food only! Here!) will be the stern answer. Now I understand their attitude. Poor souls. Slogging in the kitchen from early morning cooking for a dozen people and serving while starving. I would nt have even bothered to answer back if it were me. But then, being what we were - just a couple of scared kids - it used to be traumatic. The reason is that you can’t waste anything that has been served. You can’t say no, you can’t waste, you don’t want to eat. What an irony when half the country is starving!

As if this is nt pressure enough, you say no just to be safe and they spare you this time and go to the next person only to find that it is not Vendaikai thayir pachdi(Bhindi raita) but potato fried curry! But the raita is supposed to be served after the Payasam (kheer) you thought and took a calculated risk. The Maami screwed up the routine and your chance to eat the mouth-watering potato curry. Of course if your sister is sitting beside you, you are screwed again definitely as she would nt even share the roasty bit with you and once a person has started eating, sharing is a BIG No-No. Of course you can ask for it, but your uncle sitting 2 seats away is just waiting for an occasion to call you a SKVTV. No way you can be the butt of his joke, this time! You just pretend you are on Atkins diet (Have nt even heard of the word Diet let alone Atkins in those times!) and ignore the next Elai (leaf) and just hope they will serve the potatoes one more time after Rasam is served. While you are on this potato track, you find to your horror that the next Maami who was serving the raita had sneaked some into your Elai. Sadistic, starving Maamis! Why cant they just snack on the vadais or papads before serving? And then there are various issues to tackle such as ‘Sambar without the pumpkin pieces please’, ‘no thanks no kootu’, ‘Rasam from the bottom of the vessel with tomatoes please’, ‘one more papad’, ‘no vadai’, ‘only one ladle of payasam enough’, ‘no curd just some buttermilk’, ‘can I have some more pickle’ (with the comment, Nee saapdara lakshanathuku idhu porum!). Amidst praying that my mother will get the hint and serve me, as she will know better! By this time 2 people who eat faster than a Hyena have got up. The fans are switched off so that the leaves don’t fly away. You better finish fast or suffocate. And of course the maamis are just waiting to lay their hands on the Echa Elais and then start eating. Poor souls! But they of course serve themselves. SKVTVs are everywhere but now they have lost their identities in the buffet tables much to my uncle's disapproval!

ps.
This post's inspiration:

Went to a Kids party this weekend. The kids were asked if they wanted the samosas/sandwiches/chips. The kids also did not ve any inhibition wasting the food. Whole samosas and nibbled sandwiches were thrown away without anyone batting an eyelid. Wait till I become the aforementioned Maami and serve these kids some Paaharkaai Pitle! (Bitter Gourd). Probably for Ashu’s Birthday. Be afraid kids. Be very afraid.

December 19, 2005

Is jealousy a milestone too?


We bought a walker for Ashu this weekend and she is happy. Yesterday she was jumping and today she walks the entire house. It won't be a big deal now when she actually walks on her own I suppose! Everything is so gradual that there is not one moment you remember. She was trying to roll over for a long time and the progress was inch by inch. Then she crawled, sat and stood. It's one-step a day and probably I ve to fast forward like they do the flower blooming to actually see her do stuff. The other day I picked up my friends 4-month-old baby girl and was kissing her. Ashu started screaming all of a sudden and I was shocked. I have one mean little thing in my hands. This development was nt gradual though. It came out of the blue. Girls!

December 17, 2005

Condolences.


My heartfelt condolences to Pratibha's family. Sent a shiver down my spine while I read about the rape and murder. Amidst Bangalore being renamed, cricketers being sacked and celebrities getting hospitalized, we sure found another 'hot' story to hog the front page temporarily. Is there really a solution? If the company is going to employ a security, how would we know that the security won't be a wolf under a sheep's clothing? I am really ashamed that I brought a child into this filthy world.

December 16, 2005

Papa, Can you hear me?


I get this question "How are you going to bring up your child? Strict or lenient?" from some people. Most definitely they are singles or blissful couples without babies. Because people with kids know how absurd this question is. Children just grow up. You might think that you are bringing them up. But that’s just an accident. S/he can survive without food, water, milk, toys, books, sleep, diapers, wet wipes, clothes, baths, bath toys, silicone tipped spoons, high chairs, swings, ... You get my point. It has been proven. And then "Will you hit your child" question from some wise-asses. Either they accept that they do spank their little ones and ask this question with a "If you say no, you are lying" look or with a "hitting is barbaric" look.

A little Flashback here:

My sister and I got a good beating from my dad when we were young. Me a lot more than my sis and once or twice even when I was in college. Accepted that I was a rebellious teen but nothing justifies violence. Especially with kids. The embarrassment and humiliation when you are hit cant be compared to anything else. (Except when we are caught naked in public. But that’s only in our dreams, so no worries!) My mom has nt laid a finger on me or sis, not even a pinch. All she had to say was, "Let dad come home in the evening" and I would start planning to kill myself or at least pray for an accident for dad while coming home from work. (Nothing worse God, just a minor injury will do!) Some times he ll be in a good mood and would just laugh away while my mom complained about us. And the other times, they were very scary. Probably he had a bad day in office, we ll never know. Because my dad has this Mother (or is it Father) of all Denials and swears that he has nt even laid a finger on us. Watch him in the company of kids and you would believe him too. Thank God I ve my sis to vouch for what I say. Otherwise I would ve thought I have imagined everything. Anyway, I still clearly remember the times my dad hit me. Everything would be over in a few minutes but those will be the longest time in our lives. I would apologize and say "Sorry Pa, Sorry Pa" a hundred times and say "I won’t do it again Pa. I wont do it again, Pa" a hundred times not even remembering why I am saying sorry and what I won't do again. I hated him the most then. My mom would feel very guilty and stand in a corner and cry. My sister would also get a slap or two because my dad would nt want me to feel lonely in pain. How nice of him! My sister would look daggers at me. I had other things to worry though. "When will he stop?" "How many more sorries should I say?" "Should I go to school tomorrow?" "Hope he does nt find the wooden scale". "I will never ever eat anything in this house again". "Would never talk to Mom again". "God, let me die in sleep tonight so that they all suffer tomorrow". Of course, none of the above mentioned happened. The next day, I had breakfast and went to school.

Today, I think back and feel all those violence was absolutely unnecessary. (In my situation, at least!) I turned out the way I turned out. The hitting part did nothing to my life except feel a little less love towards my dad than my mom and write a blog about it. Nothing can be worth the hurt a little mind goes through because of being hit. It’s just letting out your anger and then feeling guilty for the same. I never want to go through that guilt with Ashu. I will never hit her. (I should probably delete this blog by the time she learns to read). HD does nt come to the picture at all as he does nt hurt a fly. If he can be patient with me, he can be patient even with Calvin. (As in Calvin & Hobbes!) Also, that makes me the definite enemy for Ashu and I am sure she’s going to run "Daddy!" for everything. Well, that’s completely another blog material!

December 15, 2005

Knock, knock!


At 1 pm, there is a knock at the front door. Strange! Someone was knocking instead of ringing the bell. I look through the peephole and see the watchman standing. I open the door to find my dad standing behind. Wow! I live for surprises like these. Thanks dad, even though I know Ashu is the reason you came!

ps. He did nt ring the doorbell because he was afraid he ll wake up Ashu if she were sleeping it seems!

December 14, 2005

I am a mother, therefore I am!


I heard a very cute song in a singing competition in one of the Tamil TV channels. The girl who sang the song would be 7 or 8 years old. She sang the song beautifully. This was the first time I heard that song and I did nt know if it was a film song or not. And then yesterday, I saw the song on TV. The song is "singara punnagai" from the movie "Mahadevi". MS Rajeswari and Balasaraswathi have sung the song. Actresses Savitri and MN Rajam sing this sing while rocking two babies in a cradle. Awesome lyrics.

Singaara punnagai kannaara kandaaley
Sangeetha Veenaiyum edhukkamma?
Mangaatha kangalil mayittu paarthaaley
Thangamum Vairamum edhukkamma?

Kannaadi Kannangal Kaanginra velayil
Ennangal Geetham paadumey
Pesaamal pesum puruvangal kandaal
Pesaatha sirpangal ethukkamma

Singaara punnagai...

Selvame En jeevane
Selvame En jeevane
Aadum Kodiya nagangalum
Asainthu varum neram un
Azhagu mugam kandukkondaal
Anbu kondu maarum!

Selvame Engal jeevane
Engal Selvame Engal jeevane

Thanmaana selvangal vaazhginra boomiyil
Villendhum veeran polave
Magane nee vandhaai
Mazhalai sol thandhaai
Vaazh naalil verenna vendumammaa?

Singara...

Hear it in http://tamilforkids.tripod.com under Tamil Lullaby. I know, I know. I am a great Mom! :-)


"Kuzhalinidhu Yaazhinidhu enbar Thammakkal
Mazhalaisol Kelaa dhavar."
Note that Thiruvalluvar says "tham makkal"! How true, how true!

December 13, 2005

Destined to use diapers.


Pampers and Huggies were equally good when I was in Swiss and the newborn diapers were exceptionally soft in Huggies. Now after coming to India I ve been using Pampers imported from Vietnam or Saudi Arabia. The quality is nt as good as it was in Swiss but only slightly so. But Huggies are more popular here as they are made in India and almost every Medical shop sells them. Once when I was stuck at my hometown because of the rain and my pampers supply ran out, I bought Huggies. They look nothing like the Huggies I know. Look like plastic and the quality is appalling. If you think it is cheaper, you are wrong. They are as expensive as the imported Pampers. I soon changed to Pampers and for a month using up those Huggies one per day since I bought them with good money and did nt want to throw them. Then yesterday Ashu was hit with a very bad bout of diaper rash. In these 7 months, what I thought were rash was nothing compared to this one. It was quite bad and Ashu was screaming and I could feel her pain. 2 hours of 'that' Huggie and this happens. How can the same brand have such a huge difference in quality in 2 different countries for the same price? I am baffled. And of course I am throwing the rest of the huggies in the trash.

Speaking of diapers, I am getting lot of heat after coming back here. Mothers here give me a look of disapproval for using diapers. They think I am selfish. Selfish? I would ve jumped out of a window if I am selfish. I have nothing against cloth diapers. But I just think disposables are more convenient and I am thankful that I can afford them. Changing disposable diapers are as humiliating and humbling as the cloth ones and no difference there. I can save time and spend more time giving Ashu attention then doing dirty laundry. If disposable feeding bottles were in the market, I would gladly buy them too. Try washing the bottles with your baby curled at your feet and you will know what I mean. And it is supposed to be my life and I can do what I am destined to do. The whole universe conspired to let me use the disposable diapers, so leave me alone!


ps. I have finished reading the Alchemist and needless to say, I just died and went to heaven.

December 10, 2005

I can never be a baby again. Ever.


I am having revelation after revelation after being a mother. How can something which is so obvious and just there for all of us to see as clear as the sky NOW did nt even seem like it existed BEFORE? I was always the one at home to say ungodly and unholy things and being cursed for that. Always the one to ask all sort of weird questions too. So one time I asked my dad, "If there is an emergency and you can save either mom or me, whom will you save?" After lots of diplomatic answers, Dad gives up at my persistence and admits that he will save me. I act shocked though I knew he would say it and am ready with my judgment. “You are a good father but a bad husband dad. Don’t you love mom?” By this time, mom interferes and asks me to stop the nonsense and go do something useful. Fast forward 10 years and now I would definitely want HD to save Ashu before me. I completely understand. But what I did nt expect was that I ll lose my importance everywhere at once. Last month at my parents place (weird calling home as my parents place!), the water heater burst and there were fumes everywhere. And in a second my dad picks up Ashu and is out of the house while I am blissfully sleeping in the next room. He did nt even call my name for Gods sake. So off he becomes a Good Grandfather and a Bad Father. Don’t you love me anymore dad? Is it always the youngest member getting all the attention in every family? I completely empathize with you Sis! I understand what you go through every time I am "babied"! It’s not fair. I know. I know that now.

December 09, 2005

Does only content matter?


Yesterday while browsing through books in "Crosswords", (the small outlet in Shoppers Stop), I came across Tarla Dalal recipe books. One book caught my eye. It was full of recipes for infants and toddlers. I have a copy of "What to expect in the first year" and seeing their recipes, often wanted to buy a book with Indian recipes. So I was surprised when I saw the book. Wanting to buy it, opened it to read a few pages. I was shocked to say the least. The font color was bright green (adikka vara pachai!), the quality of the paper was bad and I just wanted to throw the book. I can honestly say that the books we xeroxed when we were in college looked far better than this one. In spite of that, I wanted to buy the book for its recipes. But at the last minute decided not to. Every time I open the book, I will be losing my temper. I can’t be in a bad mood while cooking for my daughter, can I? But seriously, who designs such layouts? And is nt Tarla Dalal supposed to be one of the top names in India? I noticed that some of her other books were also quite bad to look at. Probably the contents are good but should nt they be pleasing to the eyes too?

Talking of eyes, similar things happened to me at this Opticals. I bought a new pair of contact lens and with it got the starter kit with a small Solution bottle and a lens case. The lens case was of very bad quality. I have better quality plastic in my soapu dabbas. Ashu can use them to sharpen her pencil if I allow her to. And the guy at the counter says that the lenses are original Bausch and Lomb when I complained. I explained to him that I am not complaining about the lens but the lens case and he gives me a funny look and says this is what they get. So that explains everything. This is what THEY get? I understand. Stupid me. Here I was thinking that THEY cared.

Here we are changing templates to impress strangers reading about our lives and gossips. What a world we are living in? Anyway, ended up buying The Alchemist at Crosswords and am in the 24th page and I already love it. The content as well as the print.

December 08, 2005

"A baby changes your life so much".

This is the most repeated statement I ve heard this year! Of course it does! But what people don’t tell you are the little things that make your life so miserable. I don’t mind the middle of the night feedings, early morning snack, the cleaning, the baby proofing, the staying at home part, etc. But I never expected that shopping in a department store would be such a task. There are steps everywhere. I have never noticed so many steps in my life. So taking the stroller is out of the question. She’s getting too big for the sling, so I just carry her in my arms. You get into the "particular" store, take a shopping cart, make Ashu sit on it and flex your arms. You put the stuff in the cart and then you look for detergent powder and don’t find it. You ask the staff and they tell you that it is in the first floor. First floor? Ok. So where’s the lift? No lift madam. What? No lift? Ok. So you park the shopping cart full of groceries near the stairs. Take a shopping basket, lift Ashu in the arms, climb the stairs, buy the damn detergent and other stuff while managing the wiggly thing in your arms and come down the most dangerous stair case you ve ever seen in your life. Now your shopping cart is gone, you ask the staff and find it another corner thankfully the stuff still inside, put the basket on top, put Ashu on the cart, (flex your arms!) and go to the check out. The scanning equipment does nt work, so by the time they enter the 16 digit code for the 19 things you ve bought, you curse your life, your marriage, your husband, that night 16 months back, the store, the staff and the girl in the tight Capri and high heels who buys a Gillette disposable razor and walks out of the store without a care in the world. (Except for her hairy legs!) I was her in my past life. (Minus the tight Capri that is!) Sigh!

December 07, 2005

Desperate housewife!


I hate being called a housewife. There I said it. I hate being assumed as a housewife although the assumption is certainly true in my case. Unemployed? Yes. Jobless? Yes. Stay at home mom? Oh yes! Homemaker? Probably. But housewife? Certainly not. Just the sound of that word makes me go crazy and if I get my hands on the person who coined that word, God save him from this housewife. When people use this word, I can hear a slight disapproval if that person is working, a sadistic satisfaction if she's a housewife as well, a look of pity, a look of accusation,... May be I am reading into it too much but its there nevertheless. I have to be honest here. I am slightly ashamed that I don’t work. But 4 years ago, I decided to quit my job to glob trot with my husband and now that I am a mother as well, I don’t regret it one bit. These 4 years have been the happiest in my life. I lived the life I always wanted to live, I traveled to places I always dreamed to go, had the best years with my husband which we can never have again and last but not the least, it was financially ok for us with me not working. You can’t describe this entire experience in one word - housewife!

As soon as people ask me if I am housewife, I nod my head and hurriedly clarify that I WAS working, I quit, I might go back to working, etc.. I remember once while I was traveling by train, I fibbed a long story to a co-passenger how I was working for this company (my husbands company), how I was traveling to Chennai to get my work permit visa (dependent visa), answering his questions about how "my" company was doing, "my project", "my" work hours! Man, that felt good. (Gotta thank HD here for sharing his office news with me!) I do long to be a career woman. But I did have it once and absolutely hated it. As they say, the other side will always be green. I hope I find something interesting, close to my heart, something I am passionate about to work on. I am doing nothing right now to go look for it. But someday I will and when I do, I will be proud of it. Just like I am today.

December 05, 2005

What’s (not) in a name?


I still have my maiden name, which means my surname is my father’s first name. HD has his father’s first name as his surname. Right from the moment we found out we were pregnant, like every other couple we started thinking about a name. Not just a name but also a surname. What would our child’s surname be? Shall we keep His' surname? But it’s my father in laws first name. I can’t keep my father in laws first name as my child’s surname. It will sound weird. Why can’t we keep my surname then? At least it will be my father’s first name. Knowing I was talking silly, HD made sense by telling "Lets keep my fist name then". But its too long said I. Poor child of ours. S/he (we did nt know the sex then you see) will have a tough time if s/he goes to pardes. The US/UK/Schengen visa department will have a tough time pronouncing. And s/he ll sound old with that name. Why don’t we keep the shorter version of your name just like everyone calls you? So all settled then. It's going to be the fist part of HD's first name. By this time 2 trimesters had gone and it was crunch time to find a first name for the kid. Since we could nt find the sex of the baby (Ashu was quite a lady and crossed her legs in both the ultrasounds and would nt let us know that she was a girl!), we had to look for both a boy and a girls name. As we had to register the birth immediately, we would nt have much time after the delivery. In the mean time I was having nightmares that I am unconscious and I deliver a baby and HD names the baby without asking me. So we had to decide fast. We made a short list and decided on the names at last just before going to the hospital. Anyway, coming back to the surname, now all 3 of us have 3 different surnames and we are all the same family. Why can’t we just have the initials like we used to in those days? Now we sound weirder if that’s possible.


The first ever Post Ashu got while we were in Swiss got returned to the sender because only our surnames were in the postbox. Her's was nt, And what do u think the post was? Her birth certificate! I am sure this naming business is going to haunt us the rest of our lives. One of my friends said that she’s going to keep her husbands surname for one kid and her surname for the other. I hope she keeps her word and does that. We will look a little less weird that way. All said and done, I am very sure Ashu is going to grow up and call us some pretty special names!

December 03, 2005

Kan vizhithu soppanam kanden.

You know why we have babies. It is God’s way of putting us in our places. If you have every raised your eyebrows anytime in your life at a child or his/her parents, then you ll have a baby of your own and s/he will do exactly what you did nt approve of when you were the blissful non-parent! I remember so many occasions when the parents proudly tell how their child likes this one particular film song and dances or laughs or sings along for that song alone. One time it was a popular Tamil serial's title song and another time it was "manmadha raasa". I used to think how irresponsible of the parents to expose their children to such things. Now it's happening under my own nose. And I’m solely responsible for the deed. Ashu loves "suttum vizhi sudare" from the movie Ghajini. She stops crying when this song is played and also gives this enchanting smile. She looks at the TV even if the song is played on the CD player and according to me looks for Surya! It so happened that I sang this song to her more than a dozen times while rocking her to sleep on my lap. Then one day this song comes on TV and madam turned to the direction of the sound and we all were so thrilled. Then another day she stopped playing midway and froze for a minute when this song came. She is so pleased with herself and gives such a pretty smile that I’m having a tough time not to take pride on the fact that my baby girl likes a filmi song! At least it’s a beautiful song I love. It could ve been worse. It's not "Tharuveeyaa thara maatiyaa". Anything to console myself.

December 02, 2005

The only time I hate being a woman.

When I am extremely weak, being kicked in the stomach and can't do a thing. (However tiny the kicking feet are, it still hurts!)

December 01, 2005

List of things I missed and make me feel good to be back.


Multi cuisine restaurants (Indo-Chinese! Here I come!)

Close up lemon and mint tooth paste (Can I eat it?)

Tamil TV channels (for now at least!)

Ashu's 'stay at home' grand mom (not for long though!)

Wet grinders (Home made idlis and dosas, yum!)

Auto rickshaws (irrespective of the drivers)

Fresh lime soda (sweet not salt please!)

Door delivered groceries (100 gms of mustard seeds. No, that’s all. Nothing else. Thanks!)

Seinfeld re runs on TV (Joy forever!)

Buying bangles and bindis in the fancy stores (Why 'fancy'?)

Touching both my cheeks while passing by pillayaar kovils in every street. (I once did it looking at a movie theater. I ve been away too long!)

Power cuts. (Sometimes! There should be some thrill and mystery in life, right?)

Flowers (Jaadhi, Malli, Mullai,...)

Knowing that my parents don’t need a visa to visit us. (:-)

Feeling that I am home. (Priceless!)

November 30, 2005

Today is special.


Me: I did nt get anything for your birthday. Not even a card. I am so sorry.
HD: It's ok. I understand.
Me: I absolutely did nt ve time to get anything. You know how busy I am at home.
HD: I know. No worries.
Me: I am not lying. I swear.
HD: Ok dear.
Me: I usually overwhelm you with gifts but this time nothing, nada, zilch.
HD: That’s ok.
Me: I promise that I ll try to be a better person from today.
HD: Great. That’s the best gift you can give me on my birthday.
Me: What do you mean? That I am not a better person? I am bad?
HD: No. No. You are good. But there’s always place for improvement.
Me: What do you mean I am good? I am the best.
HD: I know. Even I have to improve myself.
Me: Excuse me. "Even I??" What do you mean by "even" I?
HD: I did nt mean it that way, ok?
Me: Whatever.

Happy Birthday Dear. You are my best half!

November 29, 2005

20 things that change when you have a baby .


Something I came across in the Babycenter newsletter which I liked.

1. You look at your baby in the mirror instead of yourself.
2. You finally stop to smell the roses, because your baby is in your arms.
3. Where you once believed you were fearless, you now find yourself afraid.
4. You're less self-involved and more self-motivated.
5. The sacrifices you thought you made to have a child no longer seem like sacrifices.
6. You respect your body ... finally. (Hooray for baby-making!)
7. You have stronger opinions and are stronger willed.
8. You respect your parents and love them in a new way. (Hooray for grandparents!)
9. You find that your baby's pain feels much worse than your own.
10. You believe once again in the things you believed in as a child. (Hooray for the tooth fairy!)
11. You lose touch with the people in your life that you should have banished years ago.
12. Your heart breaks much more easily.
13. You think of your baby 234,836,178,976 times a day. In fact, you're so busy with this that you forget everything else.
14. Every day is a surprise.
15. Bodily functions are no longer repulsive. In fact, they please you. (Hooray for poop!)
16. You think before you speak.
17. You become a morning person. (Hooray for watching the sun rise!)
18. If you have a son, you no longer curse men. (Hooray for all men!)
19. If you have a daughter, you hope she won't endure your same heartaches.
20. Your love becomes limitless, a superhuman power.

November 28, 2005

Se7en.


Ashu completed 7 months yesterday. As in every month, I can’t believe my baby girl is nearing her first birthday! I know I am going to feel the same way in every stage of her life. I ll become that old person who will keep saying, "When you were young...". I truly understand now how my parents feel when I order them around. How can the little person whose ass we wiped can tell us what to do? We ll always be the little person to them just like Ashu is going to be for me. Two decades from now or may be sooner, when Ashu is going to teach me how to work the TV remote, I am sure I’m going to think the same. After all, I am always going to be older than her. I was here first. I should know better!

November 27, 2005

Solids.


Ashu has started eating solids! We had a small function at home, Annaprashnam, and she was introduced solids for the first time! Slurped the teeny weeny bit of payasam and asked for more! Since coming to India, madam has developed a sweet tooth! Every one coming to see her, keeps a pinch of sugar on her lips and she starts liking them immediately and glues to them like super glue in the hope of getting more sugar. The ignorant guests think she is such a friendly baby and shower compliments. Guess I don’t ve to teach this one any tricks! A few spoons of mashes dal and rice, banana and apple followed. She likes the act of eating more than what she’s eating. I hope the excitement does nt wear off. Carrots and potatoes followed. She is thrilled that there are so many varieties in food. It’s becoming impossible for us to eat in front of her. She sees the food disappearing into our mouths, opens her own mouth and brings her head forward. Poor thing!

She’s saying "Thathatha" and my dad is thrilled. Only once she said, "papapa" and once she said "Aathaa". Guess "Amma" is nt far away. Kid, I’m the one who feeds you, cleans you, bathes you and takes care of you while your Appa is comfortably sitting on a bus somewhere in Hosur road, so start working on "Amma". Though "Aathaa" is acceptable, not for long! Got it?

November 25, 2005

Random thoughts I was recording until I got the Internet connection today.(atlast!)

Friday 21st Oct
------------------


Said good-bye to Basel one last time and left for Bangalore on Thursday morning. The flight was uneventful. Ashu did nt trouble at all and Maya our 10-month-old neighbor was a charming little thing. Do they spray "Happy-Baby" spray in the airplanes I wonder? (Can I get some?) Reached Bangalore without a glitch. Waited an hour for the baggage and with a racing heart rushed out to meet the two brand new set of grandparents. Like expected, the four pairs of eyes were on Ashu and we just became the insignificant baby carriers! Reached home at 2 AM and after an hour of baby petting HD and I had enough, took Ashu and locked us in the bedroom. Zoom to 8.30 am next day, I got up. Gossiped with my parents (!) until Ashu and HD got up. Number of teas, Idlis and visitors followed. Ashu sneezed non-stop, caught a cold and looked so miserable that I just wanted to scoop her up and fly back to good old dust-free Basel!! It's good to be back nevertheless.

Saturday 22nd Oct
----------------------


Phew! What a day! Relatives pouring in to see Ashu. If it was dresses and toys in Swiss, it’s all gold jewelry here! Good decision we made to come back here, huh? Ashu has met her great grand parents, grand aunts and grand uncles all maternal side. Once we go to Chennai there’s an even bigger crowd waiting. There’s going to be an engagement next weekend and it’s an exciting prospect to meet everyone from our family and not to mention good food.

Some of the things I ve to put up with:

1. There’s no name called Arushi in Sanskrit. There’s only Aruni. So try to change your daughter’s name, if u cant change then at least call her Aruni at home.

2. Don’t kiss the baby’s feet. She ll run away. (Odi poiduvaa)

3. Use Gram flour to bathe her, she ll become fair.

4. Don’t make her laugh. Her stomach will hurt.

5. Feed the baby. (The most repeated so far!)

Sunday
--------

Yippee! Shops are open on Sundays here unlike Basel where Sunday is more like a curfew. Hd and I checked out the new Shoppers Stop that has opened a branch in Bannerghatta Road. (Might be old. 2 years back it was nt here, though!) Rs.10 for parking. Why would a store want to charge for parking inside their premises? As if their exorbitant prices are nt enough? It seems they ll give back the money if you are a member. You are a member if you pay Rs.100. That money will be deducted from your next bill. So when I decided to buy a dress for Ashu, they say the next bill has to be after 24 hours after the first bill. Someone had too much time on their hands to think of such utterly useless rules. Shoppers stop or stop shoppers? We went there to check out high chairs for Ashu. There was only one and I did nt like it. It was Rs.4000. I definitely did nt like that.

TV
---

I happened to see "Mayilirahe" song from the movie "Ah Aah" on TV. This is a song I ve been hearing all the time on headphones and loved it to bits. And now I see it on TV. I was too much in shock that I am still in denial. How can such a beautiful song be slaughtered like this? No sane person can do this. The director is the actor and it is easily the worst picturization ever. I ve been disappointed before. (Thannan thaniye from Rhythm) but nothing to this level. I thought I ve seen everything. But Sachein is considered for Oscar entry and now this. What is this world coming to?

HD joined office today. Exactly after two years, he is traveling to Electronic city from home. It took him 3 hours and 30 mins to reach. It seems it’s because of the heavy rain which battered Bangalore yesterday. Otherwise it takes only 1 1/2 hours it seems. I am relieved!

Note to self: Put a book, Cd player, biscuits, water bottle, water jacket, tooth brush, underwear and a bicycle in Hd's backpack.

2 weeks later
----------------

After lots of traveling here, there and everywhere we are back to Bangalore. HD came to Bangalore a week before us and missed Ashu a lot. In this one-week, Ashu started crawling, stands up on her own with support comfortably and cries if she needs anything. HD said she has grown up a lot in a week. For the first time in my life, I had to sacrifice some thing because I have a baby. I could nt attend my best friends wedding. Traveling with Ashu is difficult and traveling without her while breastfeeding is unthinkable. I know my friend will never forgive me. But one day she ll understand when she has a little one of her own. To avoid her wrath, did nt call her yet. Another unforgivable mistake. But the silence is getting longer and uncomfortable. I better call her soon before the situation gets out of hand. 8 years back if someone had told me that I would nt be attend her wedding and also feel reluctant to call her, I would ve slapped them then and there, called them names and swore on my great-grand mothers grave (May God rest her soul!) that nothing would stop me from attending her wedding. Time, I tell you!

Today Ashu was playing. My mom moved the mat under Ashu with Ashu on top to one side and she fell face down on the mat. Nothing happened but as I saw it, I had a strange feeling. The closest I can describe it is it felt like a car ramming through my heart. I am not kidding. It happened in a flash. But it was very much on the left side of my chest and for the first time in my life I actually felt my heart. Guess, this is what is a tug in your heart. Nobody can call me heartless anymore huh?

November 10, 2005

Heard the music? Now move aside!


Two years out of India and I knew I would be comparing and have dislikes. But to my surprise, I am glad I am back and enjoying every day. Well, until now. Something, which is supposed to be insignificant, is annoying me a lot wherever I go. Noise. A particular noise. Honking we all are immune to. Even if honking seems new, you get used to it. But who ever thought of reverse gear music? Can it even be called music? Beethoven, Mozart, latest film songs, ring tones, Vande Matharam and even our National Anthem are nt spared. What's the point of this piece of noise? It's not like you don't look back while reversing. And if you want to catch someone's attention, that's why the honks are for right? Or are the drivers so bored with honking that they had to go for this? Or they think honking is for the person in front and popular ring tones for the people behind? They are so loud and played so long that you thank the heaven that parking rules are nt strict here. Otherwise by the time a learner parallel-parks perfectly, you would ve heard every "kuthu paatu" currently in the charts. As if this is nt enough, my neighbor parks his car even at 2 am sometimes and I live on the first floor directly above the car parks. I could ve forgiven him earlier but not now. It's not that "your sleep is disturbed and you go back to sleep" anymore. It's "screaming and crying and feeding and rocking back to sleep" now. If you thought I was over-reacting, now you know how this insignificant thing is playing havoc in my life. As if we need more factors to lose sleep. Come on; get a mute button all of you. Or else, you will find a baby in your back seat. But you probably won't hear her screaming while reversing to Nokia ring tone!

November 09, 2005

Whats with the grand-parents?


My dad wants to resign his job and spend all his time with Ashu. My mom is ready to leave her husband and come to Bangalore with me and stay with us to take care of Ashu. My FIL wants to buy a big car so that Ashu can be comfy and my MIL shows the gentle side in her. They have all the patience in the world. They can talk to her and play with her all day long. They get excited at everything she does including the farts. Grand indeed!

November 08, 2005

1/2 year "old".


Ashu has changed. A lot. I don’t know if she would ve been like this if we had stayed in Switzerland. Probably. But it’s astounding to see how fast she has learnt new things and how fast she’s growing. There she did new things but at a slow and steady pace and we would ve time to enjoy and the phase would last at least for a couple of days. But here, she’s doing a new thing almost every minute and if you blink, you miss. She’s swimming forward, almost crawling. She gets up and stands on her own with support. She falls so much that we cant put her anywhere but the family bed and one person has to be there with her every second. We leave her alone when she is sleeping with 10 pillows forming a fortress around her. But somehow she makes a gap, moves forward and bangs her head on the headboard and screams. Thankfully she has not fallen out of the bed yet. But that day is nt far. She absolutely does nt want to sit on her car seat strapped. Her grand parents don’t want her to cry even for a second. So I don’t know how difficult/easy I’m making my life. She smiles all the time and at everyone. Her whole face lights up when she sees HD or me. She cries only if she’s sleepy or hungry. During Diwali, she liked the sparklers and smiled at them. She did nt like the crackers and cried at their sounds. She behaved beautifully during the "Annaprashnam" (Introducing solids) function and the "Thottil" (cradle) function. Everyone had something nice to tell about her. I can’t tell how proud I was. If she shakes hands and fetches a ball, I will be in heaven!

November 05, 2005

Location : India.


I am alive and Ashu is kicking. 15 days without Internet and it felt like hell. Cant google, cant mail, cant blog, cant blog-hop, ... What was I doing before I got my first Email Id I wonder?

It's good to be back. I have to say that. I owe it to all the good food I ve been eating. But the rains,..! One day of rain and Bagalore is flooded. Half a day of rain and Chennai is flooded. The roads and the traffic were horrendous. A week in Bangalore, then Diwali at Chennai and now at my Parent's place, my home town, Kumbakonam. Ashu is being a doll all the time with all the attention and everyone keep asking me why was I complaining about such a well-behaved baby! Yeah, right!

My one hour is up at the browsing center. More later. I cant tell you how excited I am to be back to blog and mainly read my favourite blogs. Thank you so much people.

October 19, 2005

Edelweiss.


All set to go. I wish I could say that! There are a million things to do. I think the list will never end. We ve sent two boxes through Post and still our suitcases are bursting out. There are still things lying around. There's still the baby cot my friend has to pick up. There are still some groceries I ve to give away. The fridge has not been emptied. I ve nt bought even a "gundoosi"(pin) for anyone back home. I can’t. There’s no place to take them. On the brighter side, I ll be home tomorrow, Yippeeee!!

Today my landlady Martina came by to say good bye. She is the nicest person I ve ever seen in my whole life. She is a darling. She is an Italian married to a Swiss and living here. Her In-laws stay in the same apartment we do and she drops in occasionally. She never comes in without notice. She sends post cards when she goes on vacation. She left gifts for Ashu on our doorstep. She is always helpful and nice. I learnt a lot from her. Today she handed a small box of truffles and said goodbye. I gave her 2 Cashmere shawls I bought for her the last time I went to India. She was thrilled. After she left, HD and I were saying how nice she is and praising her. After an hour, HD leaves for office and we found a small gift bag on our doorstep. A neatly wrapped gift box from her. A cute pair of gold earrings in the shape of Edelweiss (the national flower of Swiss) for Ashu. Take a look here. We were overwhelmed.


I don’t know when my next post will be. Hoping it's sooner than later. Miss me all of you. I will miss reading all your blogs too. Take care and be good.

Auf wiedersehen!

October 18, 2005

Bye bye Basel.


I ll miss the 'Grüezi', the 'Danke schon', the friendly smiles;
The Rhine, the snow and the sunshine;
German, French and the little Italian spoken
Nodding my head and smiling without getting a word.

I ll think about the beautiful country so safe,
The midnight walks without a fear.
The highest peak, the lowest valley,
The fog that clouded the beautiful view.

Jungfrau, Schilthorn, Titlis, Pilatus
Will be remembered only in photos.
The hiking, skiing and para-gliding
Just some things I did in the past.

The trams, trains and buses to awesome destinations
Planning every weekend to great detail.
Winter, spring, fall or summer
Always had something to do.

Bye bye Basel my second home
Here's where my stork came.

October 17, 2005

From here to there.


While my mom is already in Bangalore cleaning my 'unoccupied for 2 years' flat I am here cleaning my 'occupied for 2 years' flat. I am cramming everything I own into suitcases just to unpack them in less than 24 hours. While I am saying "I will miss you's" to friends here, I am saying "I can't wait to see you" to friends and family there. I am giving away clothes, books and frying pans here and going to buy the same there. From this airport here to that airport there. From this house here to that house there. From the country where my baby was born to the country I was born. From fond memories here, going there to make some more.

October 16, 2005

Back after my first 4 day break.


It's like going back to school after the holidays. You are excited to go back and at the same time there's a lump in your stomach threatening to come out of your belly button! Teachers, homework, punishments, detentions, bullies, gang wars, exam results, etc... scare you and the good things like best buddies, sharing the holiday news, the favourite teacher, the games "period", the culturals, competitions, etc... excite you. 4 days without blogging and it is daunting to write again. I wonder why. It is not like anyone is judging me. But still, it is public and anyone can read it is kind of a pressure. Unknown audience, if any, is the reason I guess!

Anyway, it was a fun 4 days with my best buddy Vee and co. Very hectic though. But now back to packing. I don't want to go on and on about it. Just wait until Friday and I will let you know if I made it or not. Bangalore, ready or not, here I come!

October 11, 2005

Rome! By all means, Rome.


Last night in the few moments I think incoherent thoughts just before sleeping, the last scene from the movie "Roman Holiday" came to my mind and just thinking of Princess Ann's face before she disappears choked me. After all this time, that scene is still so endearing. Why could nt she just leave and go with Bradley? Poor Mr.Bradley and poor, poor Ann. That last scene alone is worthy of an Oscar or even two, in my opinion. Audrey's expression when she spots Bradley and Irving in the press crowd, when she says "Rome! By all means, Rome", when she sees the photos Irving passes to her, and all the hand shakes with the other journalists just before shaking hands with Bradley, oh my! Writing about it is bringing tears to my eyes. I wonder what happened after Ann left. Did she marry someone and live happily ever after? Did she think about Joe Bradley? Did she think about the good times and thought of him as a friend? Did she see the photos occasionally or did she destroy them? It makes me wonder why we lose track of so many friends we have had good times with. Not long ago, I have had some terrific times with a very, very good friend. Now I don’t even know where he is. (Cyril, if by some freaky coincidence you are reading this, get in touch, will ya?) Ok now, let me see if I can squeeze some time to see the movie again. I used to wonder how anybody can see a movie so many times. If u ve seen it once, u ve seen it right? Oh, boy! Was I wrong? Roman Holiday is a movie I can watch a million times and still be hooked. I am not even close to a hundred, but I am getting there.

October 10, 2005

Atithi Devo Bhava


I am completely spoilt after living out of India on and off for 4 years. I want some notice before guests come home and feel much better if I invite them at a time convenient for me. Back home, a guest is treated like God and it’s not unusual when people drop in just like that and a 3 course meal is whipped up in less than 30 minutes for them. But the situation is different here. It’s the curse of the “people living abroad not knowing how long they ll stay to develop roots and taking one day at a time and living for just the two or three of them”. Here I ve to plan a dinner days in advance. Clean the house. Draw up a menu. Buy groceries. Plan on what utensil to use for cooking each dish. Juggle the few utensils I have to make 10 dishes. Buy paper plates if the group is more than 6!! Make the house child proof. Get the oven going. Freeze. Thaw. Clean the spills. Serve. It's fun nevertheless. It's worth it just for the compliments! (However hollow they sound!)

All this ranting because my best friend Vee, her hubby and their 1 year old are coming on Wednesday and staying till Saturday. 2 years in this place and she chooses to come NOW when all I can think about is packing and leaving. Just the thought that I am leaving just 4 days after she leaves from here is enough to give me a heart attack. Vee is my best friend since school and I can’t wait to see her. But the panic is drowning all the excitement. I am upset that in my haste to dispose things, I gave my fine carpet, my best serving set and a lot more good stuff to my sister who visited me from US a week back. Now I am stuck with a non-stick pan which has seen better days, a set of plastic bowls which have seen lots of turmeric, an almost dwindling grocery. (See! I thought I ll stop cooking once they are over and live off with pizza for the rest of the days until I leave!) I had planned this week to do the million things I have to do before I go. Now I ve to restart everything. And damn! I can’t even show off my beautiful carpet.

I wish things were like old times when either her mom or my mom cooked and we 2 used to hole up in our rooms and gossip. We did nt clean our rooms for each other's sakes, did nt ve to plan lunches and dinners, did nt ve to buy groceries or baby proof the house. We did nt ve to impress each other with our cooking or our carpets! We did nt ve to worry about packing and leaving the country.

Atithi Devo Bhava is a Sanskrit phrase which means “A guest is divine”. I agree. But I just want to treat them like divine and would need a teeny-weeny notice, that’s all!

October 09, 2005

Stuff I did nt read in any baby book.


~~> that I don't become a mother overnight.

~~> that it can take me 3 months to actually look forward for the feedings.

~~> that I will cry with the baby a lot because of frustration.

~~> that every night I will hope and pray that the baby should sleep through the night and feel guilty for being so selfish.

~~> Since I pushed the baby out and breast-feeding, that I would want to have my way in everything and with everybody.

~~> During the day, when the baby sleeps more than an hour, that I would go and check if she's breathing and feel foolish for doing so.

~~> Wonder if I would have had the same baby if I had gotten pregnant a year earlier or a year later.

~~> There actually IS a baby smell and it is the most intoxicating fragrance ever.

~~> Find out that maternal instincts do exist while involuntarily holding onto the pram tightly a second before the tram braked suddenly and would have toppled the pram otherwise.

~~> that it will take a mountain of an effort to step out of the house with the baby.

~~> that I would actually feel a wee bit jealous of the baby for hogging all the attention from family and friends and at the same time feel proud.

~~> That my baby will be the most beautiful thing in the world and I would love her more than life itself.

October 07, 2005

What mothers want!


It seems as if no mother wants to admit that her child is good.

Your daughter sleeps through the night? Mine does too!

Your child does nt? Oh, mine does nt either!

Yours rolled over at 3 months? Mine too!

Yours did nt roll over yet? Mine did only in the fifth month!

Yours is so quiet. Mine is always crying.

But yours eats properly. Mine fusses a lot.

But yours has put on weight. Mine is in the border line all the time.

But that’s good. It’s easy to carry her around.

That’s true. But I am worried. Everyone is commenting that she’s small for her age.

Don’t worry.

So, how are you managing otherwise?

Oh God, don’t ask! It’s tough! I can’t do anything with her around.

Tell me about it! Same here.

I can’t wait for my hubby to come home in the evening.

That’s so true. I am at my wits end towards the evening.

Right! It’s awful.

Horrible really.

:
:
:

This would be a typical conversation between new moms. I really wonder whats stopping us from actually admitting the (few) good stuff. Are we afraid of someone casting an evil eye? Are we afraid that we ll jinx it by admitting it? People who always flaunt are also a tad hesitant when it comes to bragging about their babies. Why is that? I will only volunteer a good stuff if the other mom also says one. But if she complains about one thing, I am more than willing to complain about two. One of my friends says that every time she says something nice about her baby, the baby stops being nice. It’s altogether another story if someone says anything remotely not so nice about your baby. You will totally start bragging and selling your baby to them. Strange huh? If you thought women are complicated, mothers are mind-boggling!

October 06, 2005

"Om Kreem" I scream!


Ashu has started screaming. So long it has been only crying. But now she screams and also cries. If you think crying was annoying and getting on your nerves, wait till the screaming starts. Mein Gott! It’s unbelievable. How can a 5 month old have so much fury? It’s not like she’s screaming for a toy or anything. That will take another month or two, I think. She screams now because she is bored. She wants to be carried. She wants to be cuddled. She wants attention. Plain and simple. She is MY daughter after all. What else can I expect? I love you mom and I am sorry for everything. Please forgive me fast and redeem me before Ashu hits her teens!

October 05, 2005

Do YOU approve of me, Sis?


This time, Sis and I did nt ve too many fights. Ashu might be one of the reasons why. I don’t know why I fight so much with her. She’s my best friend. My guide. My role model. My rock. But that does nt stop me from fighting with her. That too for all the silliest reasons in the world. (I know that now!) This makes me wonder why I go out of the way to be nice to people I hardly know but not to my near and dear ones. Especially to the person who came out of the same womb 3 years before I did. Is it the same with all sisters?

One reason we fight is because Big Sis is Miss. Know-it-all and I have to show her I am Miss. Know-it-all too! (Look Sis, I ve grown up. I can say my ABCD and count 1 to 10 too!) She thinks everything a younger child does is to get the approval from the parents. According to her, the eldest are pre-blessed and pre-approved by parents while the younger strive all their lives to be approved. (That’s why you get nicer gifts to our parents than me, she says!) I don’t know if she based this fact from some Freudian principle but I don’t approve. I should know. I am the youngest and I disagree. If I talk to her all this, we will get into yet another argument. Things are worse since we got married as we have our very own Knights in shining armour now and attacking is easier if you have someone to protect you all the time.

I think we fight so much because we know that we will remain sisters and best friends even after the fight is over. But I don’t want to take things for granted. I want to be nicer to my sis. More than losing a sister and a best friend, I don’t want Ashu to lose her one and only Aunt because of her mother's jealousy! (There, I said it!)

October 04, 2005

Portrait.


Sunday was Portrait Day! I have renewed respect for Baby photographers now. The things we did to make that little rat smile! Mein Gott! If we were on TV and you had watched us on "mute", you would ve called immediately the SPCA. (I did say "rat", did nt I?!)

So Ashu is in the car seat. The camera on the tripod and my BIL behind it. HD is the temporary light boy holding the tall lamp shade and making Ashu go blind and at the same time setting BIL's hair on fire with the hot coil on the light bulb. I am standing on one side and shaking my head vigorously up and down and shouting "Aaaaah". Sis is standing at the other end shaking a noisy rattle, hoping Ashu will smile at her antics and not mine! My poor baby is laughing alright! AT US!

And then my sis had this ingenious idea of covering herself with a blanket and holding Ashu on her lap so that Ashu will be comfortable and feel someone is holding her. I can’t say in words how much I laughed at THAT sight. Take a look yourself. (That sphinx like thing behind is my sister covered by a Duvet!!)

Now I know why most of the babies in the Anne Geddes pictures are sleeping!

October 03, 2005

Playing games.


This time Sis brought a new card game with her. Guillotine. Loved it. It is a fun game. Pretty simple rules and does nt drag. Last time she introduced us to a board game called Settlers of Catan and it is an awesome game although it takes a long time to set the board and it will take between 45 mins to 2 hours to finish a game. The year before that, she got us Quiddler. It's similar to Scrabble but a card game. The best thing about all these games is that they are also 2 players game. (Quiddler has a solitaire version too!) So it’s a great buy for a couple unlike Taboo which can be played only at parties.




Guillotine has absolutely funny illustrations of the French Revolution. The aim of the game is to collect as many nobles as possible and get the most number of points. (By hacking their head in the guillotine! No wonder it's a 12+ game!) We were playing the game back to back for hours together and with each time it was getting more interesting. I can't wait to get my own.

Poor Settlers of Catan. They did nt even come out of their box this time. But with good reason. The last time HD and I played, I lost and I threw the box and he had to pick 50 pieces from the floor. So he said he is nt going to play this game with me anymore. Why can’t he just give me what I ask for and let me win the game? Strange guy!!

This one time, my friend bought a new game called Civilization. 3 of us sat with it for 7 hours to read the instruction book and figure out the game. We could nt. I wonder if she ever did. I don’t know if it was just us or that game is really tough. That has completely put me off buying games which have nt been recommended by a friend.

All this talk about games has made me nostalgic about those good old days when we played Trade in our pre-teens. I can't wait to buy the first board game for my daughter.

This and that.


Sis and BIL have left. The house looks empty.

HD has gone out of town on work.

I have only 17 more days to wind up and leave this country. I have a million things to do but don't know where to start.

I wonder when
teleportation will be possible. If not for humans, at least for our luggage!

September 30, 2005

Needs me, needs me not!


9.00 pm
---------
Wonders of wonders! Ashu went to sleep on her own today. I dont know if this is just a one day wonder or if it will continue. All these months, I always rocked Ashu to sleep. First on my shoulder and later on my lap. First loud "JO, JO, JO", then a loud lullaby. Later a quiet humming and now she does nt need me! My baby girl is nt a baby anymore, I guess. :(

12.00 midnight
---------------
Ashu woke up and then I fed her, burped her, changed her and rocked her to sleep! My baby needs me still :)

September 29, 2005

Playing GOD is nt as easy I thought it would be.

I have never been very religious. All my life I ve done what has been asked of me by my parents when it comes to religion. If there’s a word to describe a cross between an agnostic and a theist, that’s me! I never had the courage to say I am an atheist as I had lots of exams to clear and was too chicken not to trust God. Especially taking a major you did nt want to in your undergrad and then doing masters in the same field and then hoping to pass all these exams requires trust in God. It cannot be achieved otherwise. So I was like this until I graduated. I got married soon afterwards and blindly followed all the religious customs and traditions. Once out of India I had some choice for the first time in my life and I chose not to follow any traditions plainly of out my laziness. Then after a while I started missing home and all the stuff and started doing Poojas during festivals and mainly cooking all the goodies we used to make at home.

Now I am a mother and I have been experiencing a new revelation. Every time I do something for Ashu, I can’t help but relate it to God. It seems like every question I had about the existence of God and his ways if he does exist is being answered. So many debates I used to have with my mom and bombard her with questions and argue so fiercely that she will end up crying and telling me that I ll understand one day. I think that day is here and now.

Here are some instances.

--> When Ashu cries, I don’t know why she is crying and what to do to console her and I try many ways to soothe her

--> When Ashu cries, I don’t pick her up instantly. I wait to see if she will quiet down on her own.

--> If I am busy doing something, it takes a while for me to go to her. Yes, I can stop what I am doing and go to her immediately, but I don’t!

--> I know she will happy if I carry her all the time, but I don’t!

--> I know she will be quiet if I give her the pacifier, but I give it to her only when it will be convenient for ME.

--> She is the most important thing in my life but I want some time alone too.

--> She does nt know that it’s for her own good when she’s being vaccinated. She knows only the pain.

--> I desperately want her to be perfect among friends and family and gain a good name.

--> I want to be her best friend.

--> I love her unconditionally.

Hence the title!

September 28, 2005

High Five!


Ashu completed 5 months yesterday. (Sorry Ashu. I was in a complaining mood yesterday in my blog.) She sat without support for the first time and made us go crazy for a while. I propped her in a sitting position with her hands in front for support and she shocked me by sitting in that position exactly for 10 seconds before falling on her side and crying. She looked so cute sitting by herself and looking at us with a shocked expression on her new feat while we were clicking photos like maniacs. Last month, she rolled over and now this. I wonder what shes going to do next month when she completes half a year. It would be great if she starts wiping her own butt!

Google Logos.


This month Google celebrates it's 7th birthday. I know this because it says so in the logo. I have always noticed the logo going through cute changes on special occasions but only today it occured to me to see who was behind these good ideas. Dennis Hwang. What a cool job, I say!

Here are some of the logos I really loved:

On World Water Day- On Van Gogh's Birthday- On Valentines Day- During the Olympics in Athens- On Einsteins Birthday- Leap Year- Holi- On Hitchcock's Birthday- Check out www.logoogle.com if you want more.

September 27, 2005

Mother knows breast.


Why do we become public property just because we have a baby? Why does Tom, Dick, Harry, their uncle, dad and second cousin tell me how to or rather how NOT to bring my child up? WHY IN THE HELL WONT PEOPLE JUST MIND THEIR BUSINESS? (Deep breaths! in, out, in out!) Why cant they just say "the baby is sho shweet" and just shut up? That’s what I do. And then go home and say whatever they want to their spouse? That’s what I do.

This has been going on from the moment Ashu was born. Actually even before that but it's getting intolerable since the past 2 months. To be precise, ever since we started sending videos of Ashu to India. My dad who has nt seen Ashu yet saw the video and commented that we are "torturing" Ashu. WHY? Because she was in our arms and not lying down. Because I was wiping her drool with "excessive" force. Because she was crying. Because I was making her laugh by shaking my head vigorously. Yeah, right! How dare I make MY baby laugh by shaking MY head? Have you heard anything more horrific? How cruel of me for wanting my baby to laugh? How could I do such a thing? How, how, how?

And not to mention advice about breast-feeding. Men can talk about breasts but not breast-feeding is my humble opinion. If you think otherwise, get a breast implant, get pregnant, push the baby out(without Epidural), get a third degree tear, breast-feed and then come and see me. I will tell you where you are going wrong.

September 26, 2005

Paris,Photography,Yoga, etc...


Sis and BIL left for Paris today early morning and will be back on Thursday. The flat looks empty and very, very quiet. (You can hear my sis before you even see her!!) Ashu is looking and wondering where the nice people who always carried her went. Today it's back to being strapped in the car seat while Amma is cooking. Poor thing.

Sis & BIL have a digital SLR and we have a baby. So it’s not hard to imagine what happened. Some 200 photos in 2 days and then some more of the city and the Swans (and their behinds!) on the Rhine. How did we survive before digital cameras, I wonder? What do we NOT do if we don’t ve to pay for it? (My mom HAS to use the toilet if she sees one but she won’t if it’s a pay toilet!!)

I am always happy when Ashu does new things. But even I was not ready for something like this. This weekend we realised Ashu does Yoga to maintain her figure. (No wonder she was not putting on enough weight earlier!) Check out the photographic proof here.

September 24, 2005

All in the family.


Ashu and my sis are thick as thieves already and it is nt even 24 hours yet! My sister has always been a Tomcat and seeing her with Ashu is a different experience altogether. I bet she thinks the same about me as I ve never known I had a maternal side in me. One thing which really freaked me out(in a nice way!) was how my sis baby-talks to Ashu in almost the same manner I do and singing the same old rhymes and songs to her. Guess we are nt a family for nothing!

September 23, 2005

Crazy Cravings!

Today I started to organize my files in the laptop. I say started to because I ended up reading my pregnancy journal and other stuff I had written earlier all through the day and did nt do one bit of organizing. I came across a doc where I had written my cravings just before visiting India in January for my Valaikaapu-Srimandham function. (Bangle ceremony done during the pregnancy.) I have no remembrance of any real craving and I think this is a list I would ve made even if I was nt pregnant. Anyway, here's the strange list.

Vellari pinju

adai (the one mom makes)
bhel puri (the one mom makes)

manathakkaali vetha kuzhambu, sutta arisi appalaam
javvarisi karudaam

ribbon thengozhal
thattai seedai

ps. I am sorry but I am not able to find equivalent terms for these South Indian specialities except that "Vellari pinju" is baby cucumber.

September 22, 2005

Homesick :-(


Less than 48 hours and my sister will be here. I am all excited! I have missed her terribly since Ashu came into our lives. My sister who has shared every important part of my life with me was nt there to see Ashu when she arrived. And then for 5 months. She will be here only for 5 days and then I don’t know when we will meet again. The longest we went without seeing each other was 14 months. I hope we never break that record ever again.

Months since I saw my mom: 2
Months since I saw my dad, sis & In-laws: 7
Months since I saw my BIL: 14
Months since I saw my best friend: 14
Months since I had a quiet day: 5 (Oops! That kind of slipped in!)

September 21, 2005

Labour - comes from the Latin word laborare, which means "to be tired".


If I don’t write about my labour story now, I will never do it. So let me go ahead and write it now when I have no shame whatsoever talking about breasts, cervix, vagina, etc...! So here it goes...

After going through a pretty cool pregnancy I am waiting with excitement for my due date which is 4 days away. My mom and I go for a walk and some shopping. She tells me that it might even take a week or 10 days for the baby to come as I am not showing any signs and I am really disappointed hearing that. (My mom swore she said nothing like that after I had the baby the very same night!) Around 7 pm, I have some bloody discharge. So I call HD and ask him to hurry home. The very brief phone conversation we ve ever had, goes something like this:
Me: I am bleeding!
HD: Really?
Me: What do you mean really?
HD: I am on my way.
So he comes home in 10 minutes and we try to figure out what to do. I still might be days away from having the baby. So I call my sister and then my experienced friend and then again my doctor friend and all of them tell me "GO TO THE HOSPITAL". In the mean time, I am getting back aches from nowhere and it is mild in the beginning. My mom insists I eat something. I call up the hospital and they tell me to wait for the contractions to start. But by 10 pm, my back ache is bad and I call up my sister and friends and they tell me again, "GO TO THE HOSPITAL"! So I call up the hospital and tell them I am coming. HD and I take a cab to the hospital which is 10 minutes away while my mom stays at home. I tell her that I ll be back in a while as one of my friends was nt admitted until she was well into the labour. I leave my "already packed and ready to go" suitcase and just take a backpack with some essential things.

It is 11 pm when we go to the hospital and a nurse examines me and tells that I am already 3 cms dilated (the cervix has opened 3 cms wide) and asks me if I want to go home or stay at the hospital. I don’t know why I decided to stay because usually I hate hospitals and run at the first chance I get. So I stay. HD is wondering what to do when the nurse shows us our room which has a spare bed for HD. Cool, I am thinking! It will be like staying in a hotel! I have mild contractions and I think I am strong, this is nothing; I can handle it. The nurse says it might even take 10 hours to be fully dilated. (10cms.)

But by 12.30 am, the pain is getting worse, the nurse has finished her shift and another nice lady takes in charge and I ask her for Epidural. She examines me and says it is too early for Epidural and she is not so nice to my eyes anymore. I am also hooked to the contraction monitor and that thing is supposed to record my contractions. I had always imagined it will be like one of those earthquake recording devices going crazy with the graph and showing only peaks. But this prints out graph in a boring fashion. HD and I discuss if the numbers on the top is the baby’s heartbeat!

Things are getting worse. I start cursing like I never did in my whole life. I try to breathe properly but I don’t care anymore. The anaesthetist is called to administer Epidural and I am looking forward to it. I ve never wanted anything so badly in my life. I scream with pain and I am also bleeding a lot due to all the internal examinations. The anaesthetist says I ve to hold still for a minute while he injects it in my spine but I am not able to. Who can hold still while they are going through excruciating pain? And by the way who lets men tell women in labour what to do? By this time, I am almost 8 cms dilated and they drop the Epidural idea and prepare for the delivery. I am shocked in my already shocked state. I threaten HD to get me epidural or I will kill myself. He shouts at the nurse but they say they can’t help it.

At 1.30 am, my water breaks and as it is green in colour; the doctor and the midwife are afraid the baby might be infected and ask the paediatrician to be present. I am too long gone to care. My bladder is full but I am not able to pee. I crawl to the toilet and sit there as long as possible but the midwife takes me back. I hit the stainless steel counter with my fist and my palm swells. I scream and move so much that the IV needle breaks and my left palm swells too. I call HD all sorts of names possible while he calmly asks me to breathe and says it will all be over soon and that I am doing good. I don’t care.

The next two hours are the most horrible hours of my life. I wish I could just die instead of going through this horror. Then I set my mind on pushing as pushing the baby out is the only way I am going to end all this torture. The baby’s head is visible and HD sees it. The midwife asks me if I want to touch the head and feel. I ask HD if I can pull her out! After some million pushes, biting HD's fingers to pulp and kicking the Doctor and the midwife simultaneously, the baby is out at 3.40 am! Did I bother to look? NO! Did I see tears in HD's eyes? YES! Is it a boy or a girl? GIRL!

HD cuts the cord and the paediatrician takes her away to examine while a new Doctor comes and stitches me up! I have a third degree tear and it is horrible! The doctor who delivered me says she has not seen anything like this! While I ask why they did nt do an Episiotomy, she says she did nt know it will be like this! I forgive her for the only reason that I peed on her face and she did nt mind!

HD calls family and friends. Everyone is surprised that it is a girl as each one of them had bet their last penny that it would be a boy. HD takes photos and the midwife takes a Polaroid picture of us. She says I have been really strong and she has not seen such a sweet and caring husband before! She says our baby girl is lucky to have parents like us. Even though she might say the same thing to every couple, we feel special! Then I am wheeled to my room where I would be for 5 more days with an icepack in my underwear and bleeding like hell.

The first thing I say to my baby girl is "Welcome to the family kiddo" with a wicked smile! Check out Ashu's first photo
here.