Friday, 30 May 2008

You’ve Ruined My Entire Day

Clearly, the knack for hyperbole is well-picked up from me. The past two weeks have been rocking fun. We met friends. I took the child to the pool. Not to swim but to ‘walk’ in the water. So far so good. Not making an Olympic swimming champion or anything. We went to the sports stadium, I played some basketball, she missed looking at all the shots I sunk and cribbed about all the ones I missed. I hit her on the nose once with the basketball and then pretended it was no big deal. No pain no gain. I made her do German drills. Which are when you run from one end to the other, bend down and touch with one hand, run back, bend down and touch the ground with the other hand. Its excellent exercise for basketball. I bought her a swimming cap (we are using the sunny yellow suit that my niece outgrew; now with a bright new purple cap). Her friends visited us at home. I took them to the park, fed them some biscuits. We ate mangoes, made a special papaya-mango juice that really tasted bad (but we finished it anyway, sitting on the bed drinking from the same cup, like two girls in college sharing a cigarette. By we I mean the monster and myself; the friends would not have been caught dead eating anything healthy).

Yesterday was not a spectacular day, I admit. I dragged her to the play school by ten in the morning, after a ridiculous amount of breakfast (of something, can’t remember what). She did not complain much about the dress I picked out for her for the day. I might have forgotten to comb her hair. We went back around six and she found these seeds she has been collecting and played with them for a bit. I forced her to eat a banana. Yes, I forced her for sure, but I ate one too and it was REALLY yummy, and would have gone bad by today. My head was hurting immensely but I nevertheless took her to the park, a bit late in the evening. She played around and collected more seeds and I read my book. Dinner was typical dhal and rice and cabbage and curd. The rotis were the especially pink beetroot rotis which she grabbed from me and demolished saying they taste good. I read her some Busy Bearcub and Rasha stories. She wrote several messages to us on her white board. ‘WLL YOU CM TO C DLFINS?’ and stuff like that while I tried to ignore her and read my book (P.G. Wodehouse. Aunts aren’t gentlemen. Mine are quite nice though, not scary or anything).

And then, like at 10:30 when my eyes were sort of closing and I had gone in and out of the room a zillion times having forgotten, in turn, water, medicine (calcium supplements I feed her when I remember to), my mobile, yadayada, she started making a fortress from pillows. Our pillows have long given up the fight. They are like limp lumpy masses. Her aim was to create a small room by making the pillows stand. I was desperately clutching my one pillow with my fat head and reading with one eye open. We got into one argument regarding her need for a fourth pillow (viz. mine) and my suggestion that she can kindly go outside and get one from the other bedroom and her claim that she was afraid of something outside and my assurance that there was nothing there and the light was anyway on in the kitchen, etc. Then when neither of us would budge I suggested a triangular room with three walls. That was interesting for about three seconds, but still problems persisted since (a) the pillows would not stand and (b) her butt did not fit within the triangular room and (c) she was quite sleepy (at least in my estimation).

So I told myself, Kenny, you are the mother, the adult, do it now. Finish this thing off before it gets worse. So, all adult-like and all (though sort of disappointed that my fantastic triangle idea was so poorly received), I gently (yeah right!) took away the pillows, put them back in their places (one on her crib; two for the one-who-was-still-stuck-at-Chunna-Batti-and-talking-on-his-blackberry-to-Singapore) and said, lets go to sleep now. That’s when she said this ‘Look what you have done, you have ruined my entire day now.’

I was trying to be calm but I was quite irritated (and daaaamn sleepy) by then. But I could not help laugh, and vow to be more careful, not about saying stupid or fucker or shit or shit on fucking toast (which are things I routinely say under my breath, Ha!), but about untrue things about the ruination of days and such other exaggerations.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A friend indeed

She sat on her mobile and managed to send four blank messages to a person on her contacts list. Next thing she knew said person was asking if things were okay and what not. He actually called back because he saw strange messages. She had no clue what was going on, not having realized that she was sitting on the mobile before the lock thing set it. But, then, if she was indeed in some distress, now a new number to ring.

It reminded her of a long ago trip on a dark rainy night through flooded streets in an auto. The driver seemed chatty. Nice, if a bit weird. He told her he suffered from incontinence Or was it impotence, it was difficult to understand, over the rain, the usual barrier of language, vocabulary, and background. But she was nervous. They were taking side roads. The rain was lashing, the flood was rising. The child was waiting at home, only a year old. She was flipping her fingers between two numbers, one of a friend she knew she could depend on to rescue her if required. The other, her husband, who was out of the country, but would need to be informed, if she required rescuing. She clutched her laptop closer, and wondered, was it really valuable by itself, should she strap it on and run or jettison it?

And now, it feels like its time to update the quick dial numbers on her mobile. Since there is another possibility. Someone else who cares. But she decides to wait a while. See where this friendship goes. Sometimes it grows and becomes nicer. Sometimes it fizzles out and stays as an ache in the bottom of her heart, and a barely-used contact on her mobile.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Glory Road

In continuation of my underdogs and basketball theme. Glory Road - this a movie based on the 1966 NCAA tournament. Which is the college basketball hungama in the US of A. In general, compared to the professional league, the NCAA has good solid basketball, the kind that is a team game and not just one person of elephantine proportions pushing to the hoop with his buttocks. I I am a purist right (thats what my mum says) so I really like the college tournament, overall. There are occasionally some guys who are really short (which is like five and half feet or so!) so I feel somewhat vindicated in my choice of favourite sport!!!

Anyway, this is back in 1966. All the players were generally white. This particular team, Texas Western, had seven black players. They were good. One was a particularly jazzy center; the shooter was short (5ft 6in) but amazingly accurate, and so on. No one believed that this team would go anywhere in the tournament. Lots of fun was made about how basketball was a thinking game and just muscle and physical size could not a champion team make. The media seems to have been quite a bit biased against the African Americans players.The coach, called Don Haskins, was a white guy who really believed in his team and his players. But it was just not the done thing, with the colour prejudices of that day, especially in the Southern states. Of course, the team made it to the final that year, with a spectacular in-season record. The movie does a great job of showing us this stuff, sort of real, I am sure a wee bit jazzed up, but not much. The final showdown is with this real arrogant coach Adolph Rupp's team & defending champions, The University of Kentucky Wildcats.

The odds are stacked against the Texas Western Miners. The crowd routinely boos and throws tomatoes(?) at them when they enter the court. Some rifts and general fights between the white and black players have erupted. They are playing the defending champs. They have never been in a final before, of this or any other magnitude. In a completely gut-wrenching moment, Haskins declares that he will only field his black players in the final game. That means that the seven of them will play the entire duration. While it is his way of making a phenomenally huge point to everyone, it is rather sad for the white players, who have worked equally hard, and have families watching out for them.

Of course, the real story is that this team actually picked up the championship that year, creating a HUGE, unprecedented upset. Victory to the underdogs in a basketball game is one thing, but this went way further than that in creating history.

I LOVE these sports movies. This one especially, cause of the message, the real story behind it, my undying support of the underdog, my hatred of arrogant men. But as the end credits roll, they show us what each player of this team went on to do. The coach went on to bring an incredible number of championships to the college. Some of the players were recruited by professional basketball teams, and did well. MANY of them went on to be teachers and coaches. To me, this was the most important message of the movie. These were phenomenally good players, and the type of momentum they had from this tournament could have taken them anywhere. The fact that so many of them ended up in the teaching profession made me feel real good!

Oh yeah, apologies for the spoilers, but come on, these movies would not have been made if the outcome was any other! Some of the facts are sure to have been distorted for cinematic effect, but the basic funda is true. Comparisons with recent bollywood churnings such as Chak De and Goal may be made of course, but keep in mind there is no Shah Rukh Khan in a goatee wheeling a Bajaj scooter, and, better still, no John Abraham and Bipasha Basu dancing. I saw it this weekend on TV, imagine that, now I want to find the DVD of the final game itself and watch it ...

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Root for the underdog!

I love the underdog - has my support always. In sports & games, and in life. It helps of course that I see myself as the victimized underdog in most situations...

Have been playing some basketball recently. Its an old love of mine. Not played in ages though due to being otherwise busy and not having the right company. Last week I decided that I would go shoot some baskets, by myself. Break a sweat. Get some fresh air in my lungs. I love the game (did I say that already?) so it is also useful in improving my mood. But it brought back memories. Which are not always a good thing. Here I was, not bothering anyone, with my own ball, alone at a ring, shooting. After my initial warm-up, I was really nailing the shots. Then some guys showed up. Young people, part of the team, whatever. They were forced to shoot at one of the other rings, which was not that great (the net was torn). They were just two of them, the full team was presumably going to show later. But still, these guys, some ten years younger than me, came up to me and said, do you mind shifting to the other (torn netted) ring. I am very non-confrontational these days, more so than before even. I moved. Same thing the next day. It was fine, no big loss since the monster was getting antsy so I left soon after anyway, and really, a lone person needn't hog the one good ring on the premises. At the same time, I did feel that, if I was a taller, younger person of the opposite gender, without a kid in tow (she was not playing, she was running around the place, mostly) they would not have been so presumptuous. Or something.

This has always happened. Back in college, we girls were always relegated to the very rough tar court on the side, while the boys played in the nice new concrete one. This per-se did not bother me as much as the fact that the boys were always late for practice, and always disrespectful of the grounds staff, and generally quite obnoxious. Not all of them, I suppose, but once they are together like that I cease to view them as individuals, think of them just as a single homogeneous mass. Anyway, I wore out the soles of several shoes that my parents could ill-afford, on that tar court. I even remember owning a pair of PINK power shoes at one time, bought carefully in the Bata Seconds store in Mysore. The one near the single movie theatre that played English movies (and no, did not watch a movie). That one, despite the colour (it was only available in that colour in my size), served me reasonably well. Although I bled on it one time when I fell.

Now I don't worry about my shoes. I can buy new ones easily. Meaning, there is a store nearby with a decent selection of women's shoes in non-offensive colours. But I do like to have a nice net on my ring. I like the ring to be not slanting. I don't like patches of water on the court. I don't like people coming up to me and asking me to move. I really don't. I have as much right as anyone else on those courts, and, looking at it from certain angles, am, possibly, maybe, in some sense at least, better than them at the game (not that that needs to be any consideration). Even if I am older, shorter, and whatever. I don't mind moving, heck, those kids need their practice for sure since they will play matches. I am not going to stay there shooting baskets till dusk becomes dawn. But I don't like their presumption that they have more right over there. Its just that easy to be nice about it. Ask if THEY can join me and shoot there (since I reached before they did), and also incidentally mention that once their team members show up they would need the whole court. That would be just fine. I would feel good.

There is another ring there, as in, another good one. Some hotch-potch mixture of people are usually playing a crazy-ass game at that one. Like ten people playing together in one half court. That is nuts. I guess I could do that. Find a crowd. I have arranged countless number of games like that back in graduate school. We had loads of fun, and no one (typically, unless it was a tournament) asked us to leave. But I am not in that place now. The husband's back is in bad shape. I don't have enough time to make numerous phone calls, wait around for everyone to show, deal with traffic delays, whatever. I just want to go there, shoot around a bit, break a sweat, hear the sweet swoosh when I hit it just right, practise the behind the back dribble, and, at least for a half an hour at a time, forget all about office, home, child, husband, trips, cholesterol, calories, letters, forms, interviews, whatever.

I guess its not meant to be. The odds are stacked against me. The thing I could do is, I could go there in the mornings. No young person in his senses (there are VERY few women there, believe you me) will wake up at 6 am for a game of basketball. Ha! The trick is to be an underdog who is not only clever, but also crazy enough to wake up at 5:30 am. Ha! I will have nature's own light. Fresh crisp morning air. Dew on the grass. Monster safely out of the way, sleeping. And me and the good ring (with the net). Bollocks to the pimply boys then. Here I come...

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Waste Not!

Okay, I have been tagged by the exuberant madmomma to provide one tip we could follow with regards to the food crisis. I am going to go ahead and interpret it, with some disclaimers.

I live in an idealistic world inside a utopian bubble. I rarely, rarely, form opinions about things that are currently happening in the real world. Keywords swirl around my head from newspapers and discussions and conversations with mum. Over the years, I have discovered that the moment I form a strong opinion about something, an argument comes along, usually from the other side, that make sense, sort of, and makes me want to think again, a little deeper this time. In resolving conflicts in one of the roles I play at work, I come across this almost every day. I am tempted to agree to something because it sounds logical, but then boom! someone comes along and tells me the other side of the story, and then my decision does not sound so good any more. Its like, the person should be shown no mercy for the murder committed, but then, if the person was, perhaps, insane, then, perhaps, you want to re-think your initial harsh stance. Not that I am screaming murder now. But just saying that the Kenny of the twenties that tended to shout out from the roof-tops is replaced by a more cautious one, who relates events to herself, and tries to lead her life differently rather than tell others anything.
So, if you tell me that suddenly the world has woken up to the fact that food should not be wantonly wasted, then, I will think, yes, I was always aware of this, but, let me go in and examine my refrigerator, my kitchen cupboard, and really, I must do something about the banana situation at home (they go from raw to over-ripe in seconds..).

Besides that, are some recipes. The thing that is carried over to the next meal in my house is invariably rice. We are veggie freaks and, as such rarely allow much (cooked) vegetable to carry over. In recent times, due to an unpredictable up-and-down in my husband's appetite for rice, we have had a lot of rice hanging out in the fridge. The recipes are not original by any means, but just stuff I make and find tasty.

1. Puliodarai/Puliogre/Pulihora. Call it what you want baby, this one packs the punch. Traditionally made from old rice. Put the rice out from the fridge for half an hour or so. Just so it thaws a bit. MTR makes a mean Puliogre powder. But very spicy. I get mine made by some enterprising individual back home. Rice-Til Oil-The Powder, mix it all up evenly. Eat with curd.

2. Pakoras. This due to mum-in-law. Consumes small amount of rice. Cut up onions, coriander, chillies (if you wish), mix with the rice, mushing it all up with your hand. You may add some rice-atta or rava if you want. Deep fry*.

* For deep frying, I typically don't bring out the giant kadai, although its admittedly more convenient. I use a small (non-stick) tadka pan, so that the oil that gets used (and left over) is small in amount. Used oil can clog your arteries, blah blah. I have never been able to pour it away for this reason though. Indians are classic re-cyclers. Ask my colleague who tried to get used cooking oil to make biodiesel out of. Five-star kitchens sell to three-star ones to small hotels to roadside stalls and so forth. I am like that. Or rather, being somewhat cautious of my heart and what not, I tend to deep fry very rarely so the question of what to do with the oil does not arise too often. And when I do deep fry I painstakingly use the small tadka pan.

3. Rice Pancake. I found this in a Tarla Dalal book (I think). Grate carrots, cucumbers to the rice. Add in rice flour, some water. Pat it thin with wet fingers onto a kadai, or non-stick pan. Cook, adding in some oil to the edges as you would to a dosa. It browns & becomes crispy in parts when its done. Eat with chutney powder.

Whatever the current situation, whatever the current prices of things, I think wasting food is *not* an option now, or ever. I used to be a picky and poor eater as a child, and the thought that I used to be wasteful of food fills me with shame. The story of the rice grains going up to god and crying because I wasted it still rings in my ears. My husband was far less tolerant of this, once we were together. He just gave me a nice good yelling, and would insist I finish what I took on my plate. The child is pretty much just not given an option. Sometimes when she has spent an hour eating the same thing and its ice-cold and nasty, I might allow the remainder to be popped into an adult mouth. On a daily basis, its easy to be disciplined.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Ironman Triathlon

Well, I wish I could do that. I don't know to swim (contrary to popular perception, I have learnt three times and forgotten all three times). I am wary of cycling. But I can run. Anyway, the triathlon is surely wishful thinking as of now. The Ironman is, well, just completely out of my league. But be that as it may.

Yesterday, I suddenly realised that the iron-board was creaking under the weight of clothes sitting atop it. Skipped the morning exercise thing (anyway the gym is closed on Mondays; my running partner has scooted to the US for the summer; my walking partner (mum) is back home) and decided to attack the creature bravely.

First, the tiny little t-shirts, mostly pink in colour. Have to be ironed ulta so the graphics and letters don't melt.

My dad was a chronic iron-er. He needed EVERYTHING, by which I really do mean EVERYTHING, neatly pressed. His shirts and pants went to the dhobi. The lazy old man in the place opposite. They got stacked in the godrej. Prior to wearing the shirt, just prior to it, he would fire up the box and iron out the wrinkles where the sleeves were folded and so on.

Okay, moving on to the handkerchiefs. Whats this? Holes in all of them where they were safety pinned to the t-shirts? Oh well.

His bathing was a ritual. Most irritating when I was next in line. Recall it fondly now. Towel, undie, banian, dhoti, all white with that ridiculous Robin Blue happening all over it, all ironed and folded in specific ways had to be kept ready. He would take eons to bathe. Drag this huge copper pot of cold water over himself PSCHAAK. Mum would yell. DON'T LIFT THAT HEAVY POT. To no avail. Later, mum did the needful and hid away the pot so the man had to bathe using a mug like a decent human being, or at least a human being with a heart condition.

Uff. These interminable shorts. Why bother ironing stuff she wears only at home? At night?

Me, on the other hand, was (still am) quite a casual bather. Not to mention demonstrating a distinct tendency to iron my school uniform salwar knee-down only (which is the only part that showed under the kameez; and yes, in 11th and 12th, we had to wear these horrid salwar-kameez uniforms). The skirt with pleats was at a younger, healthier time. Dad would try to iron it for me but usually the pleats frustrated him. He would mutter disapprovingly if I suggested we give up on the ironing totally. I did not care much. But, he would not hear of it.

Ah, beautiful frocks that the monster cribs so much about wearing. What's this? White lining material? Nice. Irons well.

Mum has, in their long years of marriage and togetherness, picked up the ironing bug. She is markedly more efficient of course (mum is almost synonymous with efficiency. bustling with efficiency is a good way to describe her; in her walks, cooking, cleaning, gardening, everything). For long years she maintained a semblance of normalness at home, ironing the towel and so on quickly, so that it would seem that the only reason dad did not get to iron his own clothes is that mum got to them first. Not that his shoulder was dislocated last night. Not that this morning he is still reeling under the medication. Even when he was in the hospital for the nth time, he was allowed to wear his own clothes, and they were pristinely ironed.

The pants are all of varied lengths. Barbie proclaims this one (yeah right! bought it at 50 bucks). Everything is short for her. This devilish creature with her daddy's long legs.

Although it has been years since a dhoti has been ironed in my presence (or, for that matter an undie), everytime I stand here at this nice ironing board (bought by my father-in-law, a man I have never seen in front of an iron-box. When we go out for dinner though, he is the most smartly dressed, his sons look like crumpled heaps next to him :-)), I remember those days. The smell of a long time ago. A snaking coiling iron-box wire that I burnt innumerable number of times. Our special, sturdy, huge, ironing table with the cabinets below that housed my 'home clothes.' Oh, even those patches of Robin Blue Blue on dad's white towel.

I WILL iron the monster's clothes myself. Next year, I will have her school uniforms to do. I do hope I remember how the pleats should be done.

Friday, 9 May 2008


I should really be working, but something ludwig said prompts me to write this. choxbox has previously expressed displeasure at my calling the monster monster. Here you go, my justification.

* It all started with airspy. Only she was not spying much those days. Was a straight forward single plaited girl in a green salwar kameez. Kids are monsters she was fond of saying. Her dislike of children was the stuff of college legend. She used to claim that she had three children locked up in a safe in a bank. I know, these things are politically incorrect now. Like you can look at me and go 'Hi Kenny' but you are forbidden from saying 'Hi Kenny... Oh! You are standing up, I thought you were sitting.' Like that. But in the early 90s political correctness was not big on our agenda. We called bald people bald, short people short, and fat people, well, fat. We called young looking people Kiddo, also.

* I was never one to say anything very bad about children. I have a young cousin whom I loved very much; even back when she was a rat-like baby a day old and smothered in kajal and stuff (who, it turns out, is a charming and beautiful adult now). I have other little girl cousins slightly older than her that I love quite a bit (but did not meet as often). Children in and out of my home were treated reasonably well by me, except for a brief year or so when I tried to scare them using my teeth braces and crazy hair to advantage. The younger sisters were always treated (I hope) well, indulged, fed, dropped to dance class and so on when I was old enough to do such things (since they occasional read here they can of course let the skeletons out of my closet and inform the junta about my ill-treatment :-)).

* Airspy went on to have her lovely little children, long before I even thought about it. Many of the other girls from college stepped in and met that challenge too. I was still wary of the whole thing. Until one fine day, the forces conspired and then I was finally mentally ready. Don't worry, corny lines won't show up here. :-)

* And then my sister had her children. I was bowled over in love with them. I adored the ground they walked on. I used to take like a hundred pictures every time I visited them. My husband loved them too. I guess we were just in that place in our adult life. When I was pregnantly fat (there I go again), I used to vaguely wonder if mine would be cute like those two. Was it even possible to exceed that cuteness, I used to wonder, looking at old pictures of the two of them and so on.

* I absolutely love and adore my little girl. I was fully expecting a boy (everyone had predicted as much, based on shape of tummy, my general ugliness during pregnancy etc.) but heart of hearts I wanted a girl. Which is this one. She has a very special name. She is named after two of her great-grand fathers. Both of whom we loved immensely. I cannot use that in this public space. Rather I don't want to. I can't get enough traction with other forms of endearment, it prevents the writing flow you can say. So I recalled the monster bit from college the instant I needed to refer to her here, and it stuck. Yes, its an 'endearment' - like you say sweetie pie, I say monster! (sloch used to call her brat) Of course, it helps a lot that she is quite monstrous in her behaviour. At least as she grows older, and we find ourselves in several more disagreements in our views on things. Many of them are my own making and fault, a something I admit to once in a while, but still there are these traits that she has...

* In conclusion, she is a monster and will be one till she is big enough to see eye to eye with me. Which should take a year or two at this rate. But when I call her on that I don't mean any harm so the animal rights type people needn't worry. At least I have not tapped into my scatological sense and used those names here. She is loads of fun to be around, I love hanging out with her. It is only difficult being her parent, cause her parent has to discipline her, scold her, listen to and answer her questions, and feed her. Those are hard things. I work really hard at them and therefore vent about it. So please, just go with it? Don't report me? Please?

Wicked Wizard

The wizard was a dude wearing sunglasses and a naaasty banian (the kind I hate, with the long arm holes and tendency to show too much man cleavage). He strutted around with a broom and sang well and danced well too. Except that the pelvic thrust thing when they are in naaasty off-white pajama pants is well, a bit off-putting to put it mildly. Dorothy was good, nice high voice and that ability to carry a note strongly and for long (always makes me wonder what is inside their throats when they do that). I think the lion & Dorothy had a thing going, they seemed to hug far more than was really required. The lion was quite funny, and behind the painted whiskers and inside that orange suit, he must be a nice looking (if thin) boy, with a very good sense of humour.

Yeah, so I went and did one of the things I promised to do. The play was quite nice, if a bit weird for a four-year old (she was damn scared of the wicked witch). I laughed a fair bit. She hung on to me for dear life throughout. The bearded dude sitting next to her was totally going crazy cause mine child was whimpering like Toto for some strange reason. But it was a good bit of fun. Something different.

I managed to avoid all the expected melt-downs due to missing of the afternoon nap through clever strategies. Oh yeah, I did manage to get back to the missed calls I had had during the show so that the massive machinery that is my office-life did not come to a thorough stand-still due to my one afternoon of frivolity. I was expecting a very hep mother-crowd. But no. Most people smelled, including this little boy (ten years old maybe), who was stinking so much that I considered moving to the back of the line. Its called talcum powder and is available in handy sizes in every road-side shack-shop, people, please go line up now.

I drank a nice warm coffee in the ride back and she ate the white cream part of the mousse cup. Fine, I got some calories from that mousse thing, should have known that it was coming to me before I bought it. My resolve to be super-super-cautious through the week about junk food has gone a tad bit off, but hey, no regrets now! Though I do regret this morning's 'Laziness and Sloth' diatribe. I had woken up at 5:30 and done all the things I do of a morning. It was 10 when I reached office. I KNOW I said I am sort of taking it marginally easy what with it being summer vacations for the monster and all, but I just HATE spending so much time at home in the morning. I like to wake, efficiently go through the morning routine, get dressed, and get to work. BAM. Anyhow, I should have breathed deep and moved on.

Today afternoon I plan to unwind into the weekend by working from home while she sleeps. I usually end up being much more efficient when people are not coming up to me with their inane ideas and suggestions every few seconds. And I really need to be efficient and write up this very important thing that I have been putting off for eons now. Lets hope monster will co-operate and not (a) get coughing bouts during her nap (b) insist on neck-strangling me when she sleeps.
Deep breathing will surely be required.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Crazy Kenny

Usually my motherly duties leave me gasping for breath and breathers and (mostly figuratively) reaching for that Vodka Chilli Shot. The monster has consistently gotten one over me. Sleeping habits. Colds. Food. Chewing. Teeth. Clothes. Shoes. Hair. TV. We are always in a tussle over everything. Constantly carping. Even before she could utter words and would just sort of drool at me if I said anything she objected to. And then break into plaster-shattering mode.

Of course we agree on a lot of things. Being nice to people. Using our key words. Eating healthy & not pigging out on junk. Books. Obsession of books. Hatred of TV sports and action-adventure AXN type movies that the male in the household watches. We keep at each other (now that she can talk, and boy can she TALK!) and make sure we follow these rules. Keep each other straight. Thats too much chocolate Amma, she will say. And she is of course right.

But the things we are perpendicular (err maybe concentric?) to each other in seem to far outweigh the other stuff. So my brow is routinely scrunched up. Her brow is also starting to scrunch now. I do tons of introspection, read here and there, decide on a few strategies to deal. Simple things like don't sweat the small stuff; give her options; explain the situation in simple words; and so on. Minute I conquer one of her crazy things she comes up with another one. I have not had the foresight to come up with a strategy for that yet! Heck, I don't even know what its going to be. When she was a baby, I sort of knew. Okay folks, the potty thing is going to change in consistency, watch out now. Bingo. She will hate her solid food initially, but we have to keep at it. Bingo. She will get out of her morning nap habit. Bingo. She can use bigger shoes; longer stories; writing/drawing stuff; puzzles; speaking, crawling, walking well I was all over those things. Knew what and when to expect, and most importantly, how I should behave.

But who the hell knew I would have to have a 'discussion' with her on clothes? Naively I thought I would stick to my golden rules (100% cotton, everything in the cupboard washed and ironed, a banian inside every dress, etc.) and all would be fine. But matching shoes and rubber bands and why not to wear shoes and socks when its forty degrees out and mix-and-match (my favourite style mantra) vs. matching (her favourite, pink tee with pink pants; green spagetti 'stripe' monstrosity with green shorts) vs. contrast matching (our usual meeting point and middle ground)? I shudder. 'Boys clothes' is another big one. I used to shop in the Young Boys section (for myself that is) till quite recently. They have groovy sports clothes (which is all I usually care for). She will not even wear this spectacular yellow spider-man tshirt. Her preferences are lacy, flouncy, asymmetric, pink, blingy sets. Much to my horror she has recently taken to looking for the tag that says 'Lilliput' in anything I suggest she wear. My preference (especially in this weather) for her are boys shorts and colourful Tantra t-shirts. Problems galore, as you can see. Yeah I know I should just give in, wear what I want and let her wear what she wants. I do that. But I hate it okay? I absolutely detest fussy clothes and loose noise making jewelry. Its so damn distracting.

Recently though, like say, oh, in the past week or two, we seem to be on real good terms. We eat mangoes, we love it. She wants to take mangoes to school. I refuse saying not unless we buy enough mangoes to feed all the children. I will sit in the kitchen and eat she says (she means the kitchen in her play school). You can sit in our kitchen and eat it I say. But finally I promise that I will check with the teacher and get mangoes for everyone one day. She is happy. I try to push it and say why don't you and I make a big cauldron of fruit salad to give to all the kids (what a fantastic summer idea eh?). She won't have any of this though. Thats okay, she is likely more sensible than I am, it would mean plenty of work on a week-day early in the morning. I am not so energetic these days in my old age.

I explain to her about how her school aunties, our maid, our cook, all wake up early and make food for their own families and then show up to help her through the day, and are working hard but smiling all the time. She likes that. She promises to work hard. She quips that Appa is lazing usually. I ask her when he leaves for work. Early. When he returns. Late. See, I say, he is working really really hard at office so he needs to laze when he is home over the weekend. It makes sense to her. What about you, she says. Now this is where I have the choice of upping my quotient right, 'cause she is so receptive right now. But I don't, thank heavens. I tell her I work a bit at office and bit at home so it adds up to hard work. Again it makes sense. But children are playing and being silly all the time she says. Ah-ha. Well, this one is easy to tackle. I do. The whole conversation is nice, I am not frustrated, I think I know this girl a little now, just got to explain calmly and logically, she understands.

A friend came over yesterday evening. This girl used to be our neighbour and it would drive me nuts that they were all constantly in and out of our houses, disturbing the elder sister who was studying and messing things up and what not. I mostly went with the flow and let them do what they wanted at least in the evenings and on weekend mornings, but it used to drive me absolutely crazy. The past week since they moved away to another flat has been quiet. We both go to the park. Talk about snails. Do some writing. Practice eating by hand. Make a salad for Appa (only for him somehow although I quietly wolf down a large portion :-)). I was sure she was missing her so I put in extra effort to be fully free to hang out and play with the child. Which was really therapeutic at least for me (in my defense, even if I was free she would not give me time of day when the friend was around so I slowly gave up on it). And yesterday, I invited the girl over, she spent an hour or so and somehow it was much much better all around. No fights with each other or me. Both quietly drank some milk shake and ate a biscuit and wrote on parallel white boards for almost the entire hour. Then we adjourned to my computer and they nicely asked for music from Race (!) and I obliged and they danced. After a long time I felt like things were in control, and I don't hate anyone and things are not going to reach boiling point. We ate dinner with my father's version of the Blue Jackal.

I know that most of the problem originates with me. What the hell is my problem with pink? I don't know. What is the big deal if she sleeps a bit late one day (well, she gets real cranky the next day and everything is doubly difficult when she is tired from lack of sleep. At any rate she is not a very sound sleeper and has been known to wake up and yell 'Appa stop torturing me' at 3 am when the husband rolls her in her sheet and tries to overpower her into keeping herself covered). Oh well, maybe it is not a big deal. So what if she eats lunch a bit late (same reason as above). Is it the end of the world if she punches a child who has been annoying her? Am I a bad mother if I turn away when she kicks sand back at that one (she sucks at such things and usually misses anyway)? Is TV SOOOO bad that two minutes in front of it will fry her brains (I sort of do believe this though it does not make scientific sense. :-)). So what if she asks questions like 'If you fainted one day in Cambridge while jogging with Appa how come you are still sitting here?' (Her friend - same one above - told her that if anyone fainted they died and never came back. This was further reinforced in some serial grandparents were watching on TV a long time back). Should I project into future heart-breaks and worry my ass off simply because she cries her lungs out when someone leaves the house? (she stops the absolute next second anyway). Why do I STILL RUN into the room when she cries out for me? She is FOUR and can possibly run faster than little old me considering her long legs and is more than capable of coming over and finding me if she wants me, really.

I guess its up to me, mostly. At least for this month I resolve to chill out and enjoy this whole business. Cut the stress. Make a scrap-book thing about snails. Watch a play (or two). Cut out of work a few days (mental health days we used to call them back in Grad School), just like that. Be productive. Eat healthy cause that is the best way to get her to eat healthy (meaning eat fruit we already consume immense amount of veggies). Enjoy year four (and thirty four).

Monday, 5 May 2008

I discover my age...

Life has been roller-coaster-ish of late. I seem to have gone through the past two months with little to show for it. The brushteeth-tea-office-lunch-evening drive back home-dinner-bed routine was unbroken. I managed to actually spend more than a month in Mumbai, no, not even a quick trip to Pune. My last trip out was on Mar 15, to Delhi (I think). It was a definite decision, based on the theory that all the whizzing around the country-side was too tiring for all of us.

And then I had house guests. Thanks to mum being around, they were pretty well cared for without much done by me, but they were there. I had to watch out and clean up a tad after myself and monster. So I stuck on in Mumbai.

Finally, on May 1, we set off again (Wow! Entire month of April in Mumbai, that has not happened in a long while. I usually get so Arian impatient). To Bangalore. Sorry dear blog-friends whom I did not call or meet. I had my reasons as I will explain if you will read on.

May 1st. We were met by the very-pregnant sis-in-law and her husband. The car ride mitigated somewhat the misery I feel every time I breathe (or try to breathe) Bangalore air. It was their anniversary so we went out to dinner. The monster & I wore matching kurtis (seriously, I had this big bolt of cloth for a kameez. I am sick of these printed salwar-kameez sets that tailors ruin routinely. So I had it made into two kurtis. We both wore it with black pants. Despite her initial reluctance, she enjoyed it, and, of course, hers looked insanely cute and mine looked lumpy as usual). I ate a lot of Goan Mangalorean type stuff. Good fun.

May 2nd. We got into a car (Indigo) at 6:30 am and whizzed off to Mysore. We met many cows along the way. I managed to get us a bit lost in Mysore (I do suck big time at directions), but a 15 minute Mysore-Darshan later we were back on track. My uncle (whom we went to meet) did not look as sick as I expected him to. Thank heavens. He seemed to be recovering well, so with relief we hung out with my aunts and messed around in my mum's flat for a bit, laughing and admiring how she had cleaned up stuff and covered them up for her long Mumbai stay. On the way back, we again got lost, but this one was costly, Bangalore is no Mysore. The Bangalore-darshan was scary, wet, dark, and totally unfamiliar. But the husband proved that he actually has in-built GPS and somehow led us back to sis-in-law's flat.

May 3rd. I had jet lag. Seriously. The long Mysore trip, the slight eye irritation, my vague back pain all conspired to leave me sapped of energy. I slunk around the whole day doing minimal stuff and following the monster around on its rounds. I even took an afternoon nap to no avail. The monster woke up and demanded a visit to the park & club house. They were all very hep and happening but the mosquitoes were plundering so we soon head back. Oh yeah, I visited the very cool office of sis-in-law and drank some juice there. I peeped into the labs and all and was like, 'wow so this is what I am missing' (well, that and the pay-check I guess). The only marginally productive thing on May 3rd was the discovery that my little four year girl can eat a cone ice-cream with ease, even as I struggle and drip it everywhere.

May 4th. Retail therapy. The best kind. Baby stuff for the new one on the way. Tiny clothes and booties and tubs and nappies. Stuff that I dont have to worry about housing in my bursting-at-the-seams flat. Pink or blue? A very tough decision. Does not help that my parents-in-law see no colours but pink. And the father-to-be is shitting bricks at the thought of his son in chaste pink stuff. Anyhow the experienced hands, viz. the husband & I, gave detailed feedback on our experiences. In the car ride back, I gave more directed advice too. Poor things, hope they are talking to some non-crazy parents as well, cause whichever way you look at it, we are wacko. We travelled on the 21st day after the baby was born. Our six-day old baby would wake up if we switched a switch on. Her hair was in perfect ringlets when she was born but then turned needle-straight in a couple of days. She used to time her potty so that the second her father, all spruce in a clean t-shirt after a refreshing gym session and bath, carried her on his shoulder. She is in general so very over-stimulated... not to mention perfectly silly (she giggles insanely if you try to play catch with her). I did share all my findings with her but then wished she would talk to other people.

The Kingfisher flight back, the monster was so very excited, you know, because of the TV. She was wearing three pony tails and this really sweet skirt and top (in pink & brown) from Fab India. The KF girls were all ga-ga. But then she was sleepy and irritated that they did not have Tom & Jerry (!) or Pingu (!) but thankfully nodded off a few minutes in.

It was good to get away, although I lacked the energy to do many things and did not even visit my grandmom after having gone all the way there. I can feel myself aging, really. No energy even to pick up the phone. My bones ached (really). Bangalore traffic scares the living daylights out of me. I was supposed to meet so many people when I was there. But then we had to keep the trip short due to some commitments today at work, and given that, I gave up on it totally. And, of course, I was busy enough last week that I did not inform any of them I was going to be there, so they were totally clueless. Imagine his surprise when sloch walked in to meet his sister and we jumped at him! I had forgotten to tell him even!!