Thursday, 30 October 2008

Liquid Diet

I occasionally joke that we are still on liquids. I mean when people start eating their dinner and as far as I can tell, the husb. & I are still sipping (uhh gulping) our liquids. And startlingly, the child has inherited my capacity for liquids and solids. She does pretty well with juices and milk and lassi and so on but is particularly annoying with chewy things like naans and tofu and so on. Anyway we met up with a big bunch of friends over the break and it was great fun as usual. Other than that we drove around all over Chennai and met with all nearby relatives, which was a lot of fun too. The little niece was there and boy, she has a TON of hair. We all took turns coochie-cooing her and of course missed her like crazy when she left early one morning. Somehow the entire family was united in stating that he fully deserved it when she unleashed some potty on the husband. He was acting all smug and showing off and saying look she is so comfy with me; she is hanging out in my lap; she loves her big uncle and so on and really, we all felt very satisfied at the end of it. MIL and I are generally pathetic in estimating the amount of rice required to feed a normal family. This time was no exception and much to everyone's mirth we had about three times as much puliodarai as could feed a small hostel of teenagers. But it was yummy. With great enthusiasm, the husband and I, in one voice, decided to stop denying crackers to our child. It is her decision to abhor and avoid them in her later years, obviously. We bought her some flower pots and those swirly wheel things and of course sparklers. I was quite surprised at how brave she was with all of it, and, how unnecessarily worried I was (I am turning into my own mom, heaven help me). I wore saris like it was no one's business. I even took a nap wearing my sari. Of course the monster was all over the paavadais. We had two exercise sessions (I prudently wore shorts to those; not the sari). A 5k run followed by stairs one day. A 7k run and a game of basketball the other day. The latter with two old buddies from college; it was just too poignantly happy an occasion. We were all back in the old alma mater and lo and behold one of the markers (the guys who put that rangoli white thing to mark the tracks and so on) whom we know from our days as students showed up. He got us a ball and some water. We played. It was nice. I held back my aggression though regretted it later when in the night drinking session the boys felt smug on winning the game. Pssh. Food-wise, apart from mountains of puliodarai, I was very careful and cautious. I ate two pieces of Kaju Katli. One very small piece of thattai. Two vadais (that MIL made); and two more vadais (from Saravana Bhavan, with the breakfast idlis). When we ate out, I ate rice and sambar and curd. In small quantities. I ate one Gulab Jamoon that a relative offerred us (she had made it herself). BUT I woke up yesterday and my stomach was lurching around. I am still in bad shape. Tired and stomach is cramping. Must test how the lunch will work out... See, liquids are better.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Is it Red or Pink?

I had a party to attend last night. One of my friends at work got married recently and threw us a dinner party here to celebrate. He said no gifts please. Most of us stuck to this, some people did not (not my problem!).

I, of course, decided to wear a Sari. She picked a nice traditional paavadai for itself. I asked her for colours (yeah, we pretty much have one in every colour). I veered her towards the pink one as it was right there, no need to search. Then she recommended Orange for me. I took out my two orange saris but was not inspired. So I picked my bright red one. Maybe its sort of pink. Not sure. Everyone commented on how similar we both looked (HA!).

This is an old sari. Although its not the maroon that I love, its definitely one of 'my' colours. Nowadays of course I do much brighter colours than before - lime green, full red, yellow - as well. But I used to like this sari even earlier when I would not even touch electric blue.

If memory serves, my grandparents gave me this sari. It must be at least ten years old. Probably more like fifteen. They bought saris for all us (hopefully something for the guys too) ladies. I was quite pleasantly surprised to qualify for this because it was a first for me. People would get me dresses and paavadais and stuff but not saris (meaning, they thought I was too young for saris). It is a nice soft silk, with minimal work in the body. The border is a very thin bit of black (as is the pallu). The border and pallu are worked in thread of several colours. There is no zari at all. All of these features meet my approval. I have many saris with zari, I don't dislike it per-se, but...

So I dragged the sari out, it was neatly pressed and stuff from the last time I wore it (very long ago which was). The monster girl was pretty excited for some reason about this party. She dressed herself (mostly) while I draped. The sari is so soft (compared to my usual stiff Kanjeevarams with their miles of zari) that I did not even need to switch the fan off. The pleats came out perfect, or nearly so. The last pleat, my usual nemesis, had an iron crease which worked out well. The pallu pleats did good to. My plain black blouse fit well. Recently this blouse thing is a nightmare. I definitely need new ones. Everything is sort of loose in some places (i.e. chest) and tight in others (i.e. my fat muscly arms). Thankfully this one was good. Its a new-ish one so the sleeves were exactly as I like them (super short).

Of course I could not find any bindis. I always make it a point to wear bindis when I wear saris. Usually I wear two. And also bangles, usually two. Thankfully the monster recently got, as a gift, one of those things with liquid bindis in all colours. "Never mind amma you can wear this" it said. Cool. I picked a spot of red and a spot of black and felt well pleased with the effort (though it was a bit off-center and all). My hair was a mess, with some oil going on in it. I washed my sticky face after draping the sari. The monster went potty after my entire sari operation was complete (so what? I am used to it now. I can handle it, only cotton saris that get squished easily get ruined, the silks handle all such monkey tricks OK. Anyway what is the choice? I HAD to wash its back-side).

When I returned home from the party, where she had exhausted herself running circles around people, I was changing and was thinking "Gosh! I do LOVE saris." Then WHY don't I wear them more often? I really don't know. Shoba Narayana in her MINT column recently insisted that the sari was dying out. She was talking about the professional world. I made my husband read it and he started telling me I am sell-out because I wear pants when I make my presentations. He strongly feels I should wear a sari. I always feel guilty about it too, especially since I do like saris, and am generally comfortable in them.

Anyway for now my excuse is that all the saris I own are too bright to inflict upon hapless engineers in their black suits. In real fact I would not even wear footwear with any bit of bling on it for such occasions. I don't do cotton and other materials of saris too comfortably (I generally only wear silks though I LOVE Bengal cotton saris and admire them wide-eyedly when someone wears them). I absolutely only wear saris (no salwar kameez or such 'half measures' as I like to think of them) at weddings and such occasions. I have even happily worn the nine-yards sari whenever the MIL thought it would be nice to (and tied it for me - I dont know to do the proper Iyengar nine-yards sari). And, to be sure, I am packing saris for my Deepavali trip to Chennai!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

We are gathered here today...

to defuse a situation. The best thing is to say sorry and move on.

What's diffuse?

ah. make it all light and happy. defuse a situation means to change it from all tense and angry and crying to an all smiling and happy and hugging type scenario.

What's scenario?


What's situation?

occurrence. event. you know.

Okay. So why do night creatures come out at night?

because its night.

So what if its night?

the night time flowers have bloomed.

Oh! Like lotus and lily and lily and lotus.

Huh? Yeah like that.

What about roses?

What about them?

Do moths like roses?

No, but butterflies do. Which is why they are morning insects while moths are night insects (ah-ha!).

How about dragonflies?

Dragonflies are super fast.

Faster or slower than cheetahs?

Ah. Good question. Lets go google it once we reach home.

NOOOOO. Lets NOT google it.

Okay lets not. But stop changing the topic and tell me, did you push this here little boy today?

But but he is NOT listening to aunties. WAAH. WAAH.

Can you please answer my question. Dearly beloved. Did you push this boy?

Waah Blubber Waah blah.

It is good that you feel guilty about pushing him, now just apologise.

Waah Blubber Waah blah. BLUBBER.

(I really don't know how one is supposed to operate these creatures. Can someone put together a manual for me? Use words of two syllables please).

Sunday, 19 October 2008

I am a monster myself

See many of you have been complaining to me off and on-line about calling this one a monster. But I mean it in the nicest way. And just so that you feel a bit better about it, I will tell you about how I have become a monster myself. Its like the childhood game where we would 'So if I am a monkey and you are my sister then you are a monkey too so ha ha ha' (well I doubt anyone else had as deprived and weird a childhood as I did. but well, that was how it was with me).

So this is of recent vintage. On Tuesday I went out of the house thinking of a nice calm walk around the place as I was feeling a bit funny and had my period. I thought of all my calcium being lost and the fact that I really do suffer some pain and decided that one day of a chilled out work-out in a week is a good thing. So I went and walked a bit in the park downstairs. Then I got very inspired to see some people running and started running like crazy. I ran three or four rounds and then felt serious stomach cramps. Okay so this is a first. Usually I have cramps at night. Or mid-morning. But this one was sort of really painful and going on as I was running. I must have looked a fright. But hey this is Mumbai, people went on their way. I sat down on the grass for a bit and then lay down for a bit more and then it passed and I was fine again. Now a non-monster would then go home right. Well, I did go home too but I climbed twenty-four floors to get there. On wednesday was my kick boxing. Thursday I went to the gym and did a crazy biking set. Friday, thankfully, the husband went out of town, and since the kid and all that and school, I just slept a bit extra and hung loose (and ate chocolate!). Saturday is our weekly uphill run. Which was good but not satisfying in a way as I felt NOTHING after it. I mean legs should ache after your exercise. To me thats the point. So saturday evening, yesterday that is, I had a whole day of work, came back to find the kid all wide-eyed and so on and husband fast asleep (at 5 pm). I dragged him awake after much nagging, stuffed all nature of things into that reluctant little mouth (apple, milk, etc.) and we went off to play basketball. (Un)fortunately, there was a game on. Alumni match or some such. Based on his height, the husband got recruited and given a t-shirt. Based on my lack of height, my gender, and possible the monster vibes I was exhibiting, I was not. I had SO much energy that I just could not sit down. The kid was in a similar mood and climbed up and down a bunch of stairs about a million times and skitted over to the sand-pit and back a zillion times. So then I started running, and I kid you not, I just could not STOP. I ran and ran and sprinted and walked and walked and sprinted. Since there was no one around (jdb that means you) to run with I had to force the kid to race with me. I had to give her a 15 m handicap for a 50 m sprint (as she gets real irritated when I defeat her - silly girl does not realise that this can happen only for a few more years now; as my body ages and hers reaches its peak athletic form. oh well, kids, you got to indulge them sometimes). And FINALLY the game started and I forced myself to sit down and watch. I stunk it up big time as of course I sweated gallons after all that running around. Mosquitoes nestled comfortably in my legs. We returned home and I had a good relaxing evening with my homies and this morning again, EXCESS energy. Kick boxing was good I thudded the bag fairly hard. And we are going out for lunch. But all I can think about is going to the stadium in the evening.

These are the times when I feel I should just quit my job and do two sets of serious exercise every day and be a mommy and change table-clothes in between. Then I have to remind myself that (a) I am not Sania Mirza and never will be and (b) I studied and studied so I could do this job and I really like it and (c) Heck! I am a middle aged hag.

Monster genes man. Monster genes.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Should hide my head in the sand...

So it has come to pass that the monster has school only up to 11 am these days. For the entire week (and some). Preliminary to a two week vacation for Diwali.

On Monday, I did not realise this fact. I went as usual to get her at noon. She was forlornly sitting alone in one of the other classes. Well, not alone exactly. Some other kids were around, as were all the sundry aunties and teachers that constitute the school. The teachers were polite enough to tell me that she was well entertained and that many parents came an hour late, so I was not the only idiot around the place. Suitably chagrined nevertheless, I went on overdrive from Tuesday.

I showed up bright and early to get her back. She jumped off the steps and held my hands. Now, by any stretch of the imagination, 11 am is not a time one can start lunch break. There is just no way I could argue that one out in my head. I was reluctant to take her to the creche - over the past two months, we have been eating lunch at home, and I have begun to really enjoy it, although it IS a test of my patience. I am loathe to start the whole business of packing dabbas for the both of us in the mornings. I am getting shivers thinking of eating alone in my office from my sad old plastic box. I am positive that I would rather eat lunch with my daughter than anyone else (despite the crazy things she gets up to).

So, I did what I thought was the best possible thing. I took her to my office. Today I went one up. I had the driver fetch her from the school and bring her to my office (which is about 100 yards away from her school), while I finished up my lecture. So the past two days, we have spent about an hour and half in my office together, with the idea that I would get caught up on some work or meetings, and she would, well, just hang out and colour or something.

I have four highlighter pens in my office - pink, yellow, green, and blue. She invariably makes the sky, with a sun peeping out, and grass on the ground that has sprouted flowers. This drawing has already adorned my white board several times. I strictly told her that she may NOT make the same one again. So that occupied her for about ten minutes. She made some pink houses, with classic triangular roofs and rectangular bodies and square windows, you know, the kind of house that she has NEVER seen in her life, in this concrete jungle of looming skyscrapers.

And then it began. I was in the MIDDLE of a meeting when I felt something, such as the head of a cobra perhaps, loom over my head. I looked up to see the child perched on the back of my chair and about to launch. I excused myself and tried to get her to behave and sit down with her colours. Nope. I managed to continue the meeting, although in a highly distracted manner, only to find her walking across my three tables. Of course, with her sandals off, flung on the ground. I was slightly embarassed but in a way glad too as the person who I was talking to by that point of time, seemed to have the intention of spending half an hour with me if it killed him. I had long run out of things to tell him (about the marathon; why this topic is a relevant one for a half an hour discussion in the middle of my work days is anyone's guess. The man is some 75 years old, it is hard enough for me to be rude to younger people...).

My table started thudding. The computer, my brand new Sony Vaio, already in bad enough shape, was first on the casualty list. My also brand new HP All in One printer, a close second. Thankfully I managed to avert disaster, and wrap up and shut down and head home. Counting the positives, in all that time, she utterred not a single word; not a solitary sound came out of her mouth. But for all the world to see, I have given birth to a monkey; a climber of office desks; a destroyer of delicate electronic items.

As I am typing this, the self-same person is peering over my shoulders. Actually, she is sitting shoulder to shoulder with me, occasionally leaning into me. I suspect she has read some of this, for sure, she has gleaned what this whole thing is about. So here is the promise STRAIGHT from the horse's mouth

"Tomorrow I will sit quietly in my chair and read my books, do my homework, or draw and colour something"

Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. I have faced worse embarassments in my life for sure!!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Shuttle Bus

I had a real nice time riding around in this shuttle bus from my hotel to anywhere in Pittsburgh. Of course I had only the other hotel where my work was happening, to go to. Nothing adventurous or exciting for sure. But then the ride itself was always invariably fun.

The first day I was driven by a pimply chap who asked me where I was from. I reluctantly told him and they all oohed and aahed. I was quite tired and out of it but still managed to catch glimpses of dinosaurs which was cool (I knew their names, which was strange). In the evening, I expected to take a cab back but on a limb called the hotel and voila! there was the shuttle to bring me back! I was real surprised with this. It was just so convenient, I hardly needed to know the address to my hotel...

The best was over the next few days, I became friends with one of the shuttle drivers. She was so cool in her leather jacket making fun of all the 'vertically challenged' people. Hey! that means me! I told her. We talked about daughters. She has three. The eldest is sixteen. I imagined myself twelve years down the line. Talking about my sixteen year old girl. I missed her a bit whenever I was with Tracy. I was wearing my conference badge one day. So you are of course going to the same place she said. Oh I feel like a geek I said. I kid you not, we were so upset the day I left. I thanked her profusely, wished her well, she assured me she would miss me a lot, and we both decided we would survive somehow, despite the distance that separates us.

And one night I was driven by this young chap. Two huge looking guys got in all giggling and clearly pretty drunk. Don't tell my mum or anything, it was 9:30 in the night (well, I was technically doing conference things, including the dinner), and I suppose I would have felt a bit uncomfortable but I was not thinking anything. So the guys went on and on about some woman called Honey and so on and finally I got irritated when things started getting just a bit too lucid and said 'Okay you guys, don't mind me' They suddenly noticed me and started asking me the usual stuff. Where are you from. Mumbai of course. Back in Indi-er. So this fellow, goes "Do they have pot in India?" I KNOW mum would have advised me to keep my trap shut. But I am nothing if not completely foolish. So I tell him "Of course! Why do you think the Beatles went there?" That took them off in a loop about Maharshi (which they could not pronounce), and Maha Gandhi (OH HEAVENS), and so on. It was appropriately the Second of October and, instead of feeling it was absolute sacrilege, I encouraged them on. I felt like Ice Maiden or something when I refused their offer to go out for a drink with them and went back to my room and watched "Married with children" and "Full house" in a loop.

That apart (or that experience included?), my shuttle bus rides rocked. It was topped off with a nice ride back to the airport during which the driver assured me that my parents must be super proud of me. When I told him that my dad has passed on, he says, "So what? The dude is walking around looking at you from above, and telling his friends, that's my girl! and feeling ten feet tall"

I do hope so!

Monday, 6 October 2008

October is time for...

uhh halloween?
anyway I am back, all in one piece and so on. The national airline flight that was strongly recommended by husband (why does he hate me so?) was well, no surprise. I mean, on the way out they forgot to give me my alcohol. And I subjected myself to Om Shanti Om (UGH!). On the way back I was next to a guy who wore a denim shirt (I do hate denim shirts) and wore dark glasses the whole way through. The flight was smelly as hell. There were fifteen babies per square meter of aircraft. I don't mind that generally but somehow I was in no mood for so many babies and all. Thankfully I did not feel the need to be nice and help out with the babies beyond changing my seat about six times so all the parents and kids and sisters could all be in one row all together in that over-full flight. Safety considerations were all thrown out of the window (not literally!) in my opinion as there was luggage everywhere the eye could see. The lady scared my fellow denizens of seat 32 like crazy with her 'Listen carefully now. This is an exit row. You have to open the door and slide out and so on if the flight attendant sitting here is, for some reason, incapacitated.' Denim shirt 'Does this happen often?' Girl on my other side 'That sounds really scary. How do I get the TV monitor thing to pop up like that?' Me 'Calm down hope this shit does not happen. PLEASE do not open out your monitors till we take off' I was hemmed in the middle seat throughout. But at least there was alcohol, and the tendency for my feet to swell in such situations is now history.

But otherwise my trip was real great. Watch this space for my ruminations. Meanwhile, let me sign off with 'Jet Lag is for losers. Not for me for sure.' I am back and in full form (except for slight amount of nausea). Reunited with child and husband and mum. Feels like I never even left. Oh well.