Wednesday, 23 September 2009


You know how that thing from Kentucky was supposed to be only referred to by its initials because expanding the initials made it sound unhealthy? Being of the vegetarian variety myself, it hardly mattered to me. I mean you could take a chicken and fry it beef lard and smear it with pig-fat and serve it and I would not bat an eyelid, cause you know what, I DONT EAT THAT STUFF!

So I was on this cruise right, in Pittsburgh. Apparently there are rivers and there is a cruise you go on and the boats real nice (and yes, they have bathrooms, and not bad, not bad, better than those in the Chennai airport). You see the baseball and the football stadia and a bunch of other things and this REALLY ugly building that is the Medical Center here. And yeah, a bar and a buffet dinner.

Big hoop silver earrings the girl was wearing and a black vest. I said
"What kind of beers do you have"
"Miller Lite; Coors Lite; MGD"
(What the hell? Who drinks that stuff? I mean, there are a lot of American things I like, even pasty-faced white boys with floppy blonde hair at times, but EVERYONE knows that these are crap beers. There ARE American beers I like, for various reasons. Cannot live in New England for so long and not drink Sam Adams, for one)
(And LIGHT, it is, like NIGHT, FIGHT).

Anyhow, MGD is obviously and evidently Miller Genuine Draft. As opposed to the other Millers which are fake, of course. So I say
"Fine, give me that Genuine Draft crap, whatever it might be"
(and Please, get rid of the vest and stock some real beers for a change)
"Oh, you mean the MGD"
(WTF? I am not even supposed to EXPAND initials anymore. Thats uncool now? I tell you WHATS uncool. Drinking this thing. And for nought I care. I am real tired and I can use some alcoholic stimulants to get me over my jet-lag and stuff, so here, talk to the hand, woman with the hoop earrings).

So, yeah. But thankfully, I had other opportunities to sample the things I come all the way to the land of tissue and toilet paper for: Guinness; Starbucks; and Speciality Runners Stores.

I am headed back to base today. Mind-blowingly long travel. 36+ hours. I usually drink Gin w Tonic Water on flights. And SLEEP AND SLEEP.

Friday, 18 September 2009


Today, I got my eyebrows done. 'Eyebrow Hair Cut' the monster calls it. I used to love to go to the American places since they wax instead of threading. But thats fine. Its Chennai. Threading it is. The place is called Limelight by the way. Not really sure why. The girl asked me if I am Malayali. Of course its a compliment! Must polish up my Malayalam now. Which I like, starting with the fact that it is a Palindrome. As are Dad and Mum, monster reminds me often. In Kannada the most famous ones are Ka-La-Ki and Vi-Ka-Ta-Ka-Vi. The husband disses those palindromes because they are not palindromic when written in English. But pffft.

Basically I am trying to say that I am flying out tonight. After I just returned from Kalpakkam day before (where, I was asked, are you a student? Duh. You invited me, go check your emails dude).

I am making the monster finish all the Holiday Homework before I leave. Thankfully she is feeling enthu about it. Except for the one homework I really thought she would enjoy - A Book Review. Loves books but refuses to tell them why. Go figure.

Emails! Packing! Lists! Passport! Presentation! Shirts! Cuff Links!


Friday, 11 September 2009

Breathe, Kenny, Breathe

I don't know why, it has been that kind of week. I am real glad to find myself face to face with Friday. Especially after a long discussion with Guns involving planning a run (long) and drinks and food and hanging out and as always, the benefits of exercise.

The monster, oh my the monster. She has been awful this week. The thing is, she looks so cute being awful that later when I think of her face in my mind, I feel terrible. The main issue, as is often the case these days, has been food. I have woken up earlier, been more creative, discussed at length with the cook, made stuff myself, stretched the eating time so that she is more hungry, yelled, threatened, sweet-talked, lost my temper, felt tired, nearly cried, and everything else in between as well. While all this soap opera soliloquy has been unfolding, she has eaten maybe ONE BITE.

My cook has assured me that I yell at my child too much. She is also telling the child when I am out of ear-shot, look, I am giving you just a little bit of food, your mum gives you too much (NOT. I give her like 10 chocos; of which she takes 2 and keeps in her mouth for the entire day, or something). Although she means well by it, and usually tells me later that she was hoping it would convince her to eat, I get really riled when someone says stuff about me to the monster. I do think its hard enough to respect and appreciate a parent, especially one as irritating as myself, without getting external reinforcements like this, in whatever spirit they may be conveyed. And the monster, who is extremely shrewd as kids are, picks only the parts that are convenient and forms opinions based on that. Meaning, you can sing my praises till the cows come home, and she will distill out the one negative thing you may have said about me, and latch on to that. I am sure she gets it from her dad. Hmph. Not me.

All this going on and a whole lot of travel (for work) coming up next week. Travel which is never just travel but involves serious military-style strategising and what not. And the idiots are refusing to reimburse my car-ride UNLESS I leave at 7:30 am. I cannot leave at 7:30 am because (a) my husband is out of town, as always in such situs and (b) Kid needs to be dropped in school at 8 am and I am darned if you get me to leave before that. Plus, its the tone of the voice, I am annoyed at more than anything else. Gr Gah. But yes, it does not matter. This week has been the kind of week when problems have been solved by the throwing of money at them.

Meaning. The car had to be brought in to service. It was in real bad shape and barely climbing over speed bumps (of which there are about twenty from here to home). The driver had taken Monday off. But that was OK because we still had the car and thankfully, legs, so we drove ourselves. Then on Tues the husband took it in (I swear if I had to be even marginally involved in taking the car into the workshop I would have exploded; or imploded, as the case might be). It was gone for two days. Meanwhile, I did feel as if the same legs, were cut off. I missed my Zen. I called a Call Taxi. SO MANY BAGS to ferry around. And although I am in a campus all day, its HUGE. Its 4 km to the nearest Auto. And I had class at exactly the time the school finished and other such cute coincidences. It was so impossible to manage it all and the Call Taxi thing so damn annoying with the radio blaring nonsense messages all the time and the guy burping like he was going to throw up and the car slightly smelly and the monster licking the nasty Call Taxi seat.

Although it is still making what I think are weird noises, I am super glad to have the car back. Not to mention the driver. Whom my husband suspects of driving on half clutch, and being solely responsible for the ruination of car. Thankfully he has refrained from accusing me of the same, possibly in recognition of my very incandescent mood. At least the man displays some sense, every once in a while. For that I am glad because I really would like to have gotten past the stage where I say stuff I regret deeply later, in language that would NOT make my mother proud.

Anyhow at the end of it (well, almost, there is this afternoon to contend with. The after school thing she goes to on Fridays is on break this week, of course there is a talk I would like to attend at 4 pm), I must say that I have somewhat regained my composure and equilibrium. So BRING IT ON. Just BRING IT ON.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Other things I should be doing now

Like right now,I should be packing the innumerable bags that divvy up my day into wholesome segments.

* School Drop Off: Pink School Bag (Check Diary); Pink Plastic Lunch Basket (Check Napkin)
* Freedom Office Morning: Black and Blue Laptop Bag
* Relaxed Lunch Reading Blogs: Black and Blue Stan Chart Mum Marathon Bag with Multiple Dabbas (Check Spoon)
* Hot Afternoon School Pick Up: Red Sammie Kids Backpack with innumerable items such as clothes, snacks, books to read, books to write, books to draw, and so on
* Chennai through the day: My Nasty Old Asha Cloth Handbag (Hope my mom never sees me carrying it, she will get furious) with: Mobile, Wallet, Thousands of Papers from here and there; Whisper; Pens; Pencils; Calculator; and ex-roommate
* Scary Concept Shoe Bag: With Sandals for After School (of matching colour, lest, the fashion fairy admonish me)
* Useless Dance Bag: With dance dress in three parts; and a notebook (Okay that was yesterday, and she refused to go anyway).

The other thing I could be doing is putting clothes away, uniforms by the truckload, little skirts, and undies by the gallon.

Oh hell, am out of here.

Monday, 7 September 2009


In my long ago memory, there is this thing.

My dad used to make up songs. Many were off the cuff creations. Most were set to popular tunes of the times. Several were created after hours of mulling in bathrooms and office rooms (filled invariably, with smoke), and other such irreverent situations. I was his audience, but I was not the only one, the world was his audience. His world, of course, consisting of a bunch of close relatives and us, the two children who-sadly-did-not-inherit-his-genius (or so I think he thought!).

Sure, in family folk lore, several of these songs remain. If you get my sis, me, my aunt together, we can render them for you. They are variously in: Indian English (you know, that kind, last-but-by-no-means-the-least; sincerely; pre-poned; called-as; and a final one that has really slipped out of my mind); Mysore Tamizh; Tamizh; Kannada. No child speak, I don't think, ever. Maybe a word or two out of our childhood, but not in a consistent manner. And, all the words were real words, not invented ones, in some language or the other. Though, later, he did invent words as well, or reinterpreted them- "Not a visionary today" he would say on days when his eyes were troublesome.

When I went to college, I was asked, as part of 'ragging' (which, incidentally, is and has always been, banned), I was asked to write about the various stray cats in the hostel. I was so damn happy. I tell you, I am one of those that wanted to be ragged. It was just attention seeking, I know, I wanted that attention. I thought the seniors were the coolest ever (later,I changed my mind but that is another story). So anyway I dug deep and found the crazy gene; identified six stray cats; and gave them all vaguely Amerindian names (the-cat-with-the-patch or something of that sort, can't remember). It was most un-appreciated. I even copied it out for them to read, as promised, but they went away on dates (after washing their hair), and that piece of paper was relegated I suppose, to the trash.

The Hunting of the Snark and reciting the pi upto the nth decimal occupied me for a while after that and I forgot all about the cats and only heard the crazy nonsense songs when I visited home (which was rarely). English lost its charm in the middle of word lists for GRE and Kannada was forgotten after several years out of hometown, so much so that when I met a school friend in New York it felt weird as I was talking in English and she, in Kannada. It was easy to lose touch after that, clearly, we don't have much in common anymore, I argued in my head.

Last week, battling one of those battles that are commonplace now. You know, school suddenly off, the creche made out to be a hell-hole with ants (she insists, and since I still cannot get away from Marquez' ant imagery, I don't feel like sending her there), food and 'Chew On Both Sides Already' 'Waah I want kurkure' and wailing and screaming and hand-raised-on-butt; and a sniff and a sneeze and 'Oh my god! Could it be the FLU?' later, I decided to stop stressing myself out and relapsed into nonsense speak. I am very fluent in nonsense speak, despite what my father might have believed (i.e. the crazy gene). I can hold conversations in it; complete with the proper intonation and so on. Of course children love it (at least mine does). Breaks a tense mood like anything. And for all intents and purposes you can see us and think we are having a conversation in a foreign language. Which has many repetitive sounds if I am not concentrating.

So yeah, while it started a couple of weeks ago with my inability to make sense of my brain messages, last week, I harnessed the same into real voluntary nonsense speak, and broke barriers. Sometimes, while you probe around and try to find the root cause of the arguments that we, mother-and-child, have, these band-aid methods of nonsense speak; tickling attacks; making faces; magic tricks; these work better than - yelling, screaming, hitting, furling brows (Unfurl Your Brows Amma, she often says). Now, to record this message and print it on the brain, behind the brows. There. And to start digging into my hidden treasure trove inherited from dad, and not be overwhelmed enough by the day-to-day to not even have the time to make up silly songs (set to popular tunes of the day).

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


In many ways, I would LIKE to be compe-Mommy. You know, the type that aggressively eggs on child, befriends judges, sits up preparing for the child's event the next day, rehearses lines with her at the breakfast table, stuff like that. Well, to be fair, I would not mind rehearsing lines, coming up with appropriate silly poems, writing stuff down for her, researching online to come up with ideas, putting stuff together etc. I, of course, would not be caught dead befriending judges (I have a very strong moral compass and it would not allow me to do such things). And I CANNOT aggressively egg on child. Because, she absolutely HATES it. She does. She is un-egg-on-able. That's the word now.

Three years ago, in the play school she has been in forEVER now (the Mumbai one), they had a small annual day of sorts. They used to learn songs till the cows (or parents) came home back then, and in the function, the teacher told them all to dress nicely in ghagras and sing the songs. My child was all over that one. Of course she knew all the song lyrics to perfection (was spending a lot of time there, obviously!), and was the least bit bothered about all the adults being around. In fact, she started crying at one point of time (she was only 2.5 that time, I suppose its forgiveable, somewhat) when a friend of hers grabbed away the mike. It was most hilarious. And cute, the kids were immensely good (not just mine, all the other chutkus that were there in that boisterous gang), and had NO FEAR. Whatsoever.

Then she went off to KG, and there they made a production of these competitions. I thought it was great fun. Imagine, 10 or 12 competitions, so many prizes to be had in each of them, singing, reciting, beading, story-telling, fancy dress, all cool stuff. They argued that it was just part of their regular school programming - on Fridays pretty much every week, they would have some or the other competition going on. I would sit with the monster and ask her, what about this story, or song. For the English ones, we invariably settled on Karadi Rhymes/Tales stuff; and for the Hindi ones, the play school songs came in quite handy.

As a three year old, she loved to sing and to listen to songs. But somehow that changed. I suppose it could be a disastrous attempt at having her learn music that I mistakenly got into. I was fooled by the fact that she could sing so many songs at my sister-in-law's wedding, all in very pure tamizh, that too. But the teacher was horrid (sorry to say!), the timing was all off, I made the mistake of taking her with another child, her Best Friend, and overall, it was a nightmare. That child's mother and I have been ourselves so traumatised by it that we have not talked about singing lessons at all in the past three years!!

Anyway, that, and these 'competitions' in school. The first one was beading. I bought her a bead set and we had some fun with it. I hate jewelery so it was all for her to use as she pleased. She played with it for about a month, and now its there, somewhere, in the cupboard. The second one was a Hindi song, she did fine. The third was an English song, she had to sing. Since her school is a basic school of sorts, the number of fluent English speakers was very low. I suppose it was REALLY low. Anyway, we had picked the Train Song from Karadi Rhymes, a song she knew for donkey's years (so, not much practice required!). They had a preliminary turn at it in the class, and the teacher just ADORED it - of course, it is a lovely one, I like it too. So then when the final came along, apparently, she did not sing it properly at all. I am convinced that she could not have 'forgotten' the lines, since she really knew them. I am not too sure if it was 'stage fright' (an affliction she recently claimed she suffers from). I personally feel that it was just that she did not like anyone pressurising her (even if it was in a praising manner).

Now it gets worse. The teacher, when I went to pick her up that day, says, Monster, you want to tell mama what you did today? I was sure it was something to do with climbing tables or pulling curtains (famous for such things). But it was this funda with the song. The teacher was disappointed that she did not deliver the promise in front of the Principal etc. I suppose I was disappointed too, somewhat. But then it is hardly okay to say these things to a child, right? (Someone please agree!). Anyway since then it was really like pulling teeth getting her to really prep for any of this stuff.

The worst part of it is, I would have LOVED to go up there and sing 'Chai Chai Coffee Coffee' - would still do it if you asked me. But the kid has stopped enjoying it, in fact at the mention of 'Competition' she scoots. Which brings me to the fact that tomorrow, her school has a competition about writing an essay about their teacher. I know, essay! Five year olds! But then, she is quite capable of doing that, except if someone uses the dreaded word at her. 'Exam' she does not mind, but 'Competition' she severely objects to!! Part of me is wondering I should tell her its an exam. But that sounds cruel. I have told her that she should write something about the teacher she loves so much, and when the teacher reads it, she will feel happy. Not sure it will work. I mean if the loved teacher herself uses the key-word, its game over!!

Thus dashing my hopes of being Compe-Mommy to beat all Compe-Mommies at their own game. Oh well, the things you learn from your children!!