Friday, December 31, 2010

... and a Happy New Year!

Rahul has been singing "I wish you a merry Christmas, I wish you a merry Christmas, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year" for some days now. So here he is, wishing you. And if you can't see his face that is because he is too busy doing a Cleopatra.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dekhun!

Rahul has been using aapni for some time now. I have been trying to teach him to use it when he speaks to his teachers but have not got anywhere with that. Out of the blue though he started referring to all of us as aapni. When he is tired or excited he mixes it all up and the ensuing conversations can be really funny.

"Babu, eta dekhun!"

"Baba aapni amake Horlicks debey?"

"Diddi, tui amekey khelna diye deen."

It's rather cute though. Especially when he gets it all correct. I have always liked the sound of little children saying aap/aapni. When he calls me aapni in his own inimitable way it sounds absolutely adorable.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fallout and Finger Fries

After I wrote Thrift, I got scolded by E for fretting about money without cause. It made me think a bit about why I had fretted so much and here is what I think: for the first time in years I did not earn a rupee all month. I am no good at spending money that I do not perceive as mine, which is how I view the money Vicky earns and gives me for the household kharcha. So, yes, every time I went into a shop I started feeling a little low because I could not justify a single impulse buy, not even a wee chocolate since I wasn't earning. (This does not mean I did not buy myself any wee chocolates though!) Anyway, that is a temporary state.

The other fallout was that I jinxed a perfectly good weekend by writing about how good it was and promptly fought with Vicky. Sometimes, just sometimes though I wish he would see for himself how tired I get and how the answer to my tiredness is not tell me to take it easy but to help out with the chores.

Anyway.

I fried my finger yesterday and life-altering experiences like these change one's perspective on life. I am now a bigger, wiser person. I shall celebrate my new lease of life (didn't expect to survive the night) by spending the day exactly as I wish. Those Niyogys and the rest of the Roys can jolly well go amuse themselves. You would think a fried finger merited some sympathy but thus far Vicky told me I was being a baby; my mother laughed at my death agonies; my father patted Vicky on the back when I called him an unsympathetic pig for calling me a baby; my Kaku (uncle) congratulated me on a job well done; even the boy was more engrossed with grabbing my ice bag than consoling me on (nearly) losing a finger.

When I win the Nobel, guess who will not be invited to share the fame?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thrift

Leaving work sooner than I had initially planned, and the vagaries of Vicky's freelancing has meant that I worried more about money this month than I have all year. We haven't exactly been broke or come quite close to it, but I suspect that I like worrying about money. Like a hobby perhaps. Nothing else explains why I do it with such passion and for so little reason.

Anyway, so my thrifty thinking this month had some unexpected benefits:

I baked and baked and baked. I didn't know I could make all these things. When we went to New Market with the girls, Evie took me to a shop which had the most adorable baking ware. Pans and tins of all shapes and sizes, with loose bottoms and without... I bought myself a dozen cupcake cases only, because I was feeling broke. (Otherwise my soul has been yearning to try out souffles and as we all know, those need wee glass ramekins... hmm, I do have an anniversary coming up!) The cupcake cases came in very handy this Christmas together with the silicone cupcake cases Ma got me from Vizag because all I did for Christmas was bake cupcakes by the dozens. I experimented with a choco-bourbon bundt recipe from Dot to make chocolate rum'n'raisin cupcakes which are only getting better with age. I baked mocha chocolate chip muffins which raised my eyebrows by the amount of choco chips they called for but turned out better than anything I've had from a bakery along those lines. My last batch was eggless brownie cupcakes which disappointed me a bit because they were the very first things I had baked with oil instead of butter and I could taste the difference. They were very chocolate-y though, so I will probably give them another shot with butter.

The joy of all this baking was counting what it cost me to make these forty cakes. Yes, chocolate and cocoa and sugar and butter are all very expensive but considering that I not only fed guests and ourselves but also sent out cakes to friends and family, I think it was all very cost effective. In addition, this time I finally got around to using local cooking butter which was cheaper and made no difference to the taste.

I have also cooked a bit more in recent times than I would have otherwise. I ended up making things like chilli chicken and pasta and keema sandwiches which I haven't made in a long time and obviously, since I made them at home, they were the healthier alternative to restaurant food. (I tend to go easy on the oil etc when I cook.)

The other area in which I did not go overboard was Christmas gifts. Last year Rahul had a boatload of gifts under his tree. This year, my only contribution was adding my handful of Mr Men books to the two Aunty Ro (and Ayaan and Tarana) had brought him. Apart from this he got a 3D Cars book from the Mad Momma, a 'big boy' book of poetry and a Santhal bow and arrows from Li'lpet, Payal Jethima and Suhrid jethu. He also got a small gift at the tree decorating party on Christmas Eve, not to mention cartloads of gifts when Christmas came early, so I didn't feel particularly bad for him. But he did mention to his dad that there were fewer gifts this year. :)

And what did I get? A clean fishbowl -- my only request to 'Santa'! -- and a sleep in on Christmas morning. Diamonds wouldn't have made me grin bigger when I finally did get up.

Here is a pic of our tree that I took this morning. Funnily enough, it looked taller somehow last year when the boy was shorter. This year he hasn't quite towered over it, but next year he will.

We decided to anchor it inside Rahul's little tub this year, held in place by Louis the Bear and Srinivas Teddy, ringed around by Rahul's new anaconda toy. You can see the Santa Claus Vicky made last year, Art's Jagannath at the base (it's too heavy for this tree's branches) and a sock ornament and a moon higher up from Ro last year. It's funny how we have only had our tree for two years and already it has its own set of traditions. Breaking with these 'traditions' we did not have the angel on top, but stuck a star with its own little story up there instead. Keeping with the 'tradition', Li'lpet and her parents came over to help us decorate the tree. It's all lopsided from the kids' efforts but it's damn cute.

It has been a good Christmas. A good month. A good rounding off to a year that has seen more good than bad.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Deja Vu

I slept till the last possible moment, so I had no time for lunch. Picked up my papers, ran out of the house in a breathless rush, with a bar of Perk to see me through until I could make it to the canteen for my first meal of the day.

Only, I was 28, not 20, and the Perk was handed to me with a kiss by the husbandman while the boy waved goodbye, and not snatched from the bare fridge in my empty apartment.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Day to Remember

Today I made pancakes from scratch and served them with chocolate ganache and gur as an alternative. Lunch was at the new Just Baked on Anwar Shah Road, but dinner was alu ke parathey a la Dipali that even my father liked. (Ma says he was mellow from not having had home-cooked food for the last three odd weeks -- he just returned from Vizag.)

I was Archangel Gabriel at a children's birthday party hosted by our neighbour and family friend and wore little pink and white wings with a shiny dress and carried a silvery 'wand'. I had fun dancing around with Santa and helping hand out gifts.

We had a singalong in the party and I was complimented on my voice and asked to sing a little solo by the professional singers and people in general were most flattering. It has been ages since I heard my voice on a mic and it didn't sound half bad.

And I've saved the best for the last: my little post that I started so long ago and never finished metamorphosed into a proper piece for Pyrta. Do go check it out in the Prose section. Thanks, Janice, for the push. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feeling Christmassy Yet?

It's surprisingly cold this winter and my handful of plants are dying. I have no idea how to save them.

Mornings need a shawl on top of other warm clothes and nights need socks. I have finally broken out the fun socks I got from my personal Santa Claus last year (my Shejomama in Miami) and can be seen with feet adorned by multicoloured checks, Argyle diamonds, bobbles, stars, bows, the works.

No Strings Attached played at JU last night. Same old stuff, same great play. Wish the boys would pass some recordings around.

Started yesterday morning on an awful note. Walked out of the house in a huff and stalked off to my mother's, where Rahul was. He didn't want to go home either so I left him there and went to Beq's. Kakima fed me apple cake and sandesh and Beq and I walked down to Sen's where we saw millions of pics from Sen's holiday in Bhutan. Now I want to go to Bhutan. At least, I don't want to go just now, perhaps a month or two later when it's warmer.

Then Beq and I went to Alpine behind Dey's Medical to buy him a new knapsack. I love the rucksack he has bought from there too.

Home and the cooking of lunch. Then a bath and JU. The day passed, they all do.

The Christmassiness of things is slowly starting to seep in at last. Our tree will be up in a few days. I've decided not to wrap up Rahul's gifts this year since he has seen most of them already and been allowed to open two! Looks like Vicky and I aren't getting anything from Santa this year but Christmas came early for us two, for all three of us actually, so I'm not complaining. I need to bring out the ornaments and Santa Claus. The lights, thanks to Diwali, are at hand.

Need to start baking today.

Christmas party at a neighbour's tomorrow. Dinner with parents after that. Wondering what to make. What plans do you have for the weekend?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Post

When was the last time I wrote one? I wrote three today and a couple more this week but after ages and ages.

Writing has not been a fren of mine all month. I wrote for a client who sat on the copy for three weeks before finally confessing they had decided to go in for something else.

I wrote a story last month and got all fired up because after years I had written a story I actually liked -- OK, so I had written no stories in the interim -- but that was followed by no more stories. My head's filled with them, the boy gets more than his fair share of my mad stories (recent efforts included a Ramayan for Rahul which had Vicky raising his eyebrows at Ravan telling Sita she must divorce Ram and marry him but really, divorce is a part of Rahul's world and if Vicky keeps raising eyebrows, will be a part of the little dude's life, so he may as well get used to it) and where was I? Oh yeah, no more stories.

Another dead end -- a huge one -- has been Sunny Days. I don't know if I can keep blogging here. I can't see myself blogging elsewhere but I've been writing another blog, off and on, for some years now, and I like people not being able to trace me on networking sites or photos or whatever from there. Every time I try to write here I imagine some of my readers and sorry people, that makes me go read posts instead of writing them.

(Great work there Sunny Boy, insult readers and blame them for your writers' block in one quick thrust.)

Well, anyway, so that was that. No pomes. No stories. No work. (One quick sample for another client doesn't count.) No posts. Ergo one very unhappy me.

On the other hand I have sewed and embroidered. Feel free to diss these and get back at me for saying you make me want to not write.


Here are the cats, all six of them, that I planned as a wedding gift for Vicky. I finished the last one well in time for our fifth wedding anniversary, so notabad even if I do say so myself. I know, it's a lousy pic.

Here are some mangoes I sewed to match the coasters. This one got better light so you can actually make stuff out.


And here are some hankies I made for the Cal blogmeet. Feel free to guess which hanky went to which blogger.


I also made a pretty pair of felt baby shoes but unfortunately I packed them before I remembered to photograph them, so you'll just have to take my word for it that they were cute.

I also baked a chocolate tart (finger-licking good), a quiche (buttery goodness), brownies (with Godiva dark chocolate), orange pound cake (smelled heavenly too) and choco-rum cakes, among other things. They all, I am happy to report, tasted very good. Despite some of them scaring the living daylights out of me.

Anyway, hopefully by now you've forgotten that I was rude to you. Either that or you've thought up enough nasty things to say about my babies to not feel sorry for yourself any longer.

Talking about babies, have you seen the beauties produced by Sreetama Ray? To think they were about to make a lawyer out of her.

And that, my children, is an object lesson in how to write a respectably long post going on and on about how you cannot write. Just don't insult your readers while you are at it, of course.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fox in Socks

Evie very thoughtfully gifted Rahul a copy of Fox in Socks last weekend. If you don't know the book, it is one gifted to the pre-school children of people you wish to do harm. I have had to read the blasted book from cover to cover thrice at a go and I fear my poor tongue will never recover.

Returning the kindness, here is a little version of Fox in Socks and the other characters doing Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Haffun, Evie.

Discontent

I give my maid Sundays off just so that we can all, in theory, sleep in. (I nudge Vicky out of bed to put the garbage out.)

Bloody-minded neighbourhood people started testing mikes at 11 last night and started lousy slow songs at 7.20 this morning.

I wish I were in the Vizag colony I grew up where the only sounds in the morning were the cacophony of the birds, the blasts of the siren and the roar of Caltex burning. At least one could sleep in.

P. S. This is very interesting. I cannot seem to find a good link of the HPCL/Caltex fire. I'm told it is one of largest industrial disasters in Indian history.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jingle all the LAY!

It's funny how a three year old can sing a song perfectly and mangle it into bits the very next year and giggle at how he doesn't 'know' the song. When I say it's funny I don't mean I am laughing. I mean I am wondering what I ever did to deserve this.

Rahul's report card arrived the other day. His school assures me he can recognise his alphabets and connect them to their phonetic sounds. The homicidal feeling started to grow in me, like it can only in mothers who have patiently repeated "R for Rahul, see, R says RRR for Rahul" only for him to look blankly and call R an O three seconds later. When I reached the bit about him counting quantities and keeping his teacher happy with his pattern-writing -- seriously, writing? writing?? -- I decided that what my son and I needed was even less involvement with his education from my end. He, clearly, lives up to my uncle's explanation of finding it quite unnecessary to display school knowledge at home.

There are moments when I have a horrific vision of being mum to a twenty year old who can't spell his own name far less out of school but come, at least he has the sense to be fascinated by tweetle beetles. A chap who knows his tweetle beetles from the dead spiders under the dustbin who curl up like crabs and ostensibly scuttle sideways cannot be considered entirely ignorant.

He makes up words all day long now. He puns and twists his sentences and every time I swell with pride, dammit, he sings nonsense words for every song and every rhyme and insists he doesn't know any better. A big favourit du jour is Puff the Magic Dragon. He is mangling the song now as I write, putting in great effort with the "OH!" and balancing a multitude of things on his pirate ship. No wonder none of his toys survive his love. I just found a new helicopter in the dustbin although I have not yet been able to ascertain just what it did to earn his wrath.

I seem to be absolutely useless when it comes to teaching him his letters and numbers, so I restrict myself to teaching him to sing, cook and sew. He has a useful voice although it seems to lack power like Vicky's, so I occasionally try to get some actual tunes out of him. He is a nuisance in the kitchen but helps me sort rice and dals, mix batters, beat eggs, pour out pancakes, that sort of thing. It is, of course, not safe letting him grate the cheese. He hasn't tried to lick the grater yet but it's only a matter of time. In the meanwhile alarming amounts of cheese disappear if he is 'helping' me in the kitchen. And, of course, if I am working with dough it is taken for granted that he gets his 'hafta'. He used to make me tiny parathas and rotis which I fried and roasted, but nowadays he makes snakes and dragons.

I once rashly promised him his own sewing getup because he was constantly getting among my sewing supplies. He kept reminding me about it (no problems with the old memory there) so I eventually gave him a wool needle threaded with a length of blue wool and let him 'sew' the plastic mesh dishcover. The beginning was not promising but who knows, I may yet have a grateful daughter-in-law come thank me one day for creating a man who knew how to do the useful things.

Unlike a certain Mr Niyogy whose skill tends towards things like making arrows. Seriously, arrows. He ordered bamboo from Guwahati. Spends his days sanding and painting and tying on feathers and shaping arrowheads. Arrows. Because, you know, they come in so useful in the average household. Excuse me while I go wonder what I was thinking taking him to Shillong. Next vacation will see us firmly established in Digha (or Puri) like every self-respecting young Bengali family.

The boy just interrupted to show me a scratch on a pencil that is apparently "E for Bheblu". Don't tell me Bheblu has an 'e' in its middle. Not unless you want an arrow through yours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ayaandada, Krishdada and Chhotto Baby

They came to town, you know, bringing along their respective mothers. 'Radsmashi' came too, to make up one mad, merry gang.

The preparations were chaotic despite all the planning and lists I had made. I had decided to sew the girls my 'geefs' to them and you'd think I would be done in time given that I knew they were coming from, oh, months ahead? But no, till the last possible moment I was sewing like a maniac, working on baby shoes and writing out postcards. And only then did I start on the cooking and baking.

The brownie I baked for the kids (with Godiva dark chocolate, yum) came out well, while the rum chocolate cakes for the menfolk seemed to do fine. For the girls I decided to take the easy way out (I thought) and went for a large quiche and a small chocolate tart. The idea was to pre-bake the shells and then fill in the quiche on the morning the girls arrived. Imagine my horror when I saw the sweet shell 'dissolve' in the oven leaving me with a bubbling mass of butter... Luckily, something was eventually saved from it all and I must say that damn tart tasted delicious after it was filled with the ganache. The quiche was an easier baby and came out looking gorgeous, bless its buttery bottom.

Dipali's car arrived soon after and the famous Arun and I zipped smartly off to the airport from whence emerged a Rads. Since I had muddled up the arrival timings despite her sms it was a good thing I reached early! Chattering all the way home we had bhuna khichudi for lunch -- where she roundly scolded us for 'terrorising' the boy -- and she incidentally made the boy's day by bringing him a whole set of firefighting vehicles, from helicopter to police car.

We went shopping at Dakshinapan after Rahul's nap. He skipped along with Radsmashi who received a first-hand introduction to commerce as practiced by Bengali government employees ("It's not about the money!") Vicky and I then took Rads to have her first Cal phuchka. It wasn't by our neighbourhood genius but his lower-grade substitute was adequate and our only real grouse was that we had to leave space in our tummies for the big dinner at Dipali's afterwards.

Evie came by to pick us up, all togged up in sarees, and then we were at Dipali's, hugging travel-weary Ro and Kiran, teasing Ayaan and Krish, coaxing Tarana out of her mother's arms. I seem to have earned Ro's eternal indignation by dropping everything and rushing over to greet Tarana first while Ro who was holding her waited to even be acknowledged. Hee. In my defence, dude, have you seen your daughter? It was a mad medley, that evening, with Dipali rushing around trying to get dinner on the table for the hungry kids, the kids in question running around trying to play while dodging the adults, the aforesaid adults running around handing out and receiving gifts, helping lay the table, running after the kids. Did I say it was mad? It was lovely.

Rads and Rahul and I stayed over at Dipali's that night, so I had the memorable experience of putting the boys to bed together. Krish, like the utter sweetheart he is, fell asleep holding my finger in no time flat. Ayaan, like the little dynamo he is, wriggled around in bed until he too fell sleep suddenly, like he were switched off or something. And Rahul, like little owl he is, kept popping his head up to have one last laugh with Ayaandada (Krish was already asleep) until my last snarl had its desired effect. It was painful sitting quietly in the dark room while I could hear the girls chatter outside but I was more than compensated by the three little boys snuggling up to me as they slept at last. When they are all forty and swaggering about the place I shall remember this night.

Despite staying up to nearly 3 am around Dipali's dining table we were up with the lark and even got milady to work making us ginger tea. Ayaan was up and he got Krish out of bed in short order. Rahul had moved into the next room with Ro, Tarana and me in the middle of the night (he woke up and thought I who had put him to bed had turned into Kiranmashi who was actually with the boys then) -- he woke Tarana up by snuggling up to her. Such an adorable sight. The rest of the morning passed in the flurry of breakfast and getting the kids ready and bathing ourselves.

11 am saw us at New Market, where Kiran and Vicky were roundly scolded by a shopkeeper. Rads hunted around for elusive shadow work cloth and junk jewellery, I tried not to buy up New Market (an internal struggle I face every time I go there) while Ro impatiently waited for us to get done so we could go to Good Companions. GC has special memories for me and I find for Ro too because we both wore clothes from there as children. Ro shopped to her heart's content while I kept Tarana occuppied and tried to stop Rahul from throwing Ayaan out into the street for commandeering Rahul's helicopter (never mind that Rahul had done the same to Ayaan's aeroplanes a few hours earlier!) Ayaan though made his way right back into Rahul's good books at lunch by giving Rahul first a little plate and then keeping that plate filled with goodies from Ayaan's own plate.

Come to think of it, the kids impressed me on so many fronts. Krish was a little gentleman through and through, undemanding, uncomplaining, helpful and polite. Ayaan knew so much about places and the people living in them. It was he who explained to Krish and Rahul that Rahul was speaking in Bengali and that people in Calcutta spoke in Bengali and that Nagpur was the heart of India and Mauritius was an island and oh, so many things. I cannot believe he is only an year older than my little illiterate who refused to speak any language other than Bengali. And Tarana, with her "Nay!" (No!) and her "Gee!" (Give!) and her "Buddy" (name for people) and her "Mama, mama" ate her food with such gusto, played with Aunty Rads and flirted with Vicky and the SRE and just charmed the birds off the trees. Rahul wasn't too bad either, come to think of it. :)

After lunch at Kewpie's I packed my boys off home and went saree shopping with Rads, Evie and Evie's two daughters. With her usual partiality Evie bought her older daughter the prettiest tangail but refused to buy me the dhakai jamdani I fell in love with. Just because Evielet #1 is her own daughter... You would think a mere 3.5k price difference wouldn't matter, right? We all had coffee after this and then I went home to get ready for dinner at M4's while Evie and the Evielets went to drop Rads at Dipali's.

The spread M4 had put out was simply unbelievable. It's the kind of grub I haven't seen since the last time my pishis cooked together. Flakey bhetki paturis, tender malai tiger prawns, mutton curry, pomegranate salad. There were options for the vegetarians but I never made it beyond the salad. I had sung for my supper earlier, forgoing the adult chatter upstairs by feeding the boy with the other kids downstairs. Rahul was in a foul mood and wouldn't eat so I tried to distract him with the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (EO and YO had the table mats from Rahuls's party). All the other kids joined in and I suddenly found I was designated storyteller, having to tell them one after another. I have to admit it was fun though.

All too soon the evening ended and I sent the boys home once more. The late night chatter was more relaxed and we kept telling each other that we really should go to bed but we ended up sitting around till past 3 yet again. And then there was another mad scurry in the morning and whoosh, suddenly the Bombay lot had left and there were just Rads and I being fed consolation alu and dhaniya parathas by Dipali. Vicky and Rahul arrived soon after and things got a bit more cheerful. Eventually we all went back to our place where Rads the namkeen addict lunched off paneer parathas, packed some kancha golla and patishapta for her family and then we were back on the road to Dum Dum. The weekend was over.

The funny thing is, I miss the kids the most. The mums (except for Rads who is travelling) are available online and over the phone. The kids, though... well, I just miss them.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I dare not agree!

Both Vicky and I have a bunch of cousins of what is deemed 'marriageable age'. So I tend to have a lot of conversations about marriage and its requirements and their requirements with both my mother and my mother-in-law. One such phone conversation recently was going very well, I thought, as I nodded and agreed with most of what the mother-in-law said. She was talking about a prospective 'boy' and how eminently eligible he was because of, oh, the usual reasons.

Then she said, "And you have to consider, he has no mother. Having no mother-in-law to be bossed around by can only be a good thing..."

What makes her such a delightful person to know is that she says something like this with not the slightest sense of irony to her own daughter-in-law!

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Reversal of Roles

I was feeding the boy his lunch a few minutes ago and it was all quite picture perfect... He was eating up his 'tanka maach' (tengra fish) and rice like a champion and I wasn't spilling anything and I was feeling pretty good about life.

Right up to the moment when he leaned over, looked lovingly into my eyes, caught up my chin and said, "Funny!"

I thought he was the joker in these parts but clearly I was mistaken...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

This feels unaccustomed...

I know it's not been that long since my last post, but my life took an abrupt turnaround in that cute way it has, and, well, I'm still coming to terms with the changes.

On November 30, you see, my agency and I parted ways and it was a couple of months earlier than I planned to. This should have been a great development in theory because this is the holiday/party season, I have friends coming to town next weekend, other festivities on the cards and I have a great many baking and sewing projects lined up. In theory, the extra time is delightfully welcome.

In reality however, I find myself waking up in the mornings with my usual sense of urgency and it is somewhat deflating to find that I do not need to complete my chores before 10 am or that I will not need to find myself clothes that coordinate or... you get the drift. Ma and I went shopping at New Market on Friday and I wore a kurta with jeans, pinned on matching earrings and then -- just because I could -- I added completely mismatching shoes and handbag. The sense of freedom was sporadic and I kept feeling awkwardly dressed, which, indeed, I was!

I cooked a hot lunch for two days and drifted off to sleep on the others. My baking projects were filed away this morning because I won't have the time this week and I strongly suspect that I was starting to get depressed. After all, I worked for two years exactly at this place and although I had planned to leave because I couldn't cope any more with all the juggling and also I wasn't feeling motivated by the work any longer -- Sujatha, now you know why I was so interested in that article you posted -- the fact remained that mentally I simply wasn't prepared yet to stop working. The good news though is that the week ahead promises to keep me far too busy to allow myself to welter in a half-understood morass of self-pity.

The odd thing was, I really had expected Vicky to understand my confusion. After all, he has made the switch twice before, and he knows the pros and cons of shifting from an office environment to working out of home quite as well as I do. But this wasn't his week to do the whole understanding husband thing. He was his usual self and at times like this, that wasn't enough. Or, maybe, I'm just being even more demanding than usual? But if I don't demand from him, who should I turn to? My father, retired six months ago, knew how I felt and that was comforting.

I have some writing I need to send in, both pieces have been waiting for a month. I do have a lot of time to spend with the boy. There are a lot of things to do and given that I spent much of last week catching up on my sleep deficit, I will perhaps feel more sorted out. I just need to stop feeling that my 'weekend' is ending and I need to hurry, hurry to finish the laundry, clean out the flat etc etc ad nauseam.

I could go back and edit this post, you know. Make the changes to suggest that I'm loving this life already and have loved it from the first minute. That the boys welcomed me back home with open arms. (Rahul did, Vicky, for understandable reasons, did not!) But this is an exercise in banishing my demons by naming them, something I haven't done here in a long while. So I'll let the post stay. Happier ones are in the pipeline. You can just sit back and wait awhile. I'm sort of 'netless, and no doubt that is rubbing in the change harder than necessary. I mean, my laptop no longer connects to our router and using the Mac usually means Vicky sitting around glowering until he gets it back (now you know why he didn't want me back home!) so my time online is somewhat limited. I'm slowly slipping into a routine though, so it won't be very long.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Young Blood

1. I recently met an author I greatly admire and he turned out to be quite as charming as he should have been. I came away from the meeting patting myself on the back for handling it in a mature, restrained fashion, polite, entertained and entertaining, neither monopolised nor monopolising. Dana told me I giggled and bridled like a starstruck teenager.

2. When one listens to Jumping Jack Flash as one walks down the road, it is impossible to keep the sashay from the steps or the rocking from the head. Jagger may be a reprehensible old git but boy could he sing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

just to let you know

the boy is back, work and household keep me busy. may be a while before i post, although i'll try not to let that happen.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Let's Talk about Contraception

Or, if you're Canadian, "aboot" contraception. Sorry, South Park on my mind.

But seriously, let's talk about contraception, shall we? I sometimes feel that I have spent the last fourteen years talking sex, discussing the hows, whens and whys with girls and boys of all ages and backgrounds. Shuki's FB status yesterday reminded me of something related that is frequently on my mind -- using protection. She said that she

wishes Morning After pills in India were not advertised as if to imply they were just another contraceptive. It's quite alarming how many young women are developing uterine and ovarian cancer and ileostomies on account of msunderstanding how they work. And as much as she is manic about women's rights and empowerment, she's not sure making them OTC drugs is necessarily a good idea.

What I think most of us tend to forget is that protection is not just against pregnancy or AIDS. There are plenty of other nasties that we don't wish to have any truck with, quite common STDs like gonorhhoea, candidiasis, herpes and crabs, to name but four. Please, read the link, read the related links. This is stuff every sexually active person needs to know about.

We live in an age when sex outside marriage is more widely accepted than ever before and people have less hesitation in going in for casual sex. It's a freedom I greatly appreciate -- I wouldn't want you to think otherwise. But here's a thought: if the person you are sleeping with does not want to use a condom, odds are that that person refused to use one with his/her previous partner(s) as well. How gross is that, seriously? Just because the person you are sleeping with seems clean, hygienic and healthy is no indication that their previous bed partner was also clean, hygienic and healthy or that their previous partners were so.

Remember, STDs are called STIs these days because a person may be carrying the Infection without appearing Diseased.

So, seriously, if the person you want to sleep with is not somebody you are in a monogamous relationship with, I strongly urge you to insist on condoms. The ordinary kind, Rs 3 per piece, does the necessary, is easily available and does not spoil the sex. And if you are in a relationship, a condom saves you so much stress... take it from one who's been there!

A friend of mine pointed out that twenty years ago students

known to buy condoms while in school uniform forever tainting the image of our venerated [school]. I think they were being sensible.

I couldn't agree more. Back in my schooldays the very idea of buying a condom (or more) was quite scandalous. Sex seemed simpler. After all, sex involved only you and somebody you liked/loved. It did not need the involvement of shocked chemists and scandalised fellow customers. It, hopefully, did not lead to a trail of gossip that eventually reached your parents. Buying condoms, being of necessity a public act, was too scary for most to contemplate and most guys I knew chickened out as well as almost all the girls.

Now, of course, department stores sell condoms and we girls have long since stopped buying our tampons and sanitary napkins discreetly packaged in brown paper. Chemists will discuss the various kinds on offer with you in a deadpan tone and other shoppers try to mind their own business.

Me: A big pack of KS plains, please.

Chemist: I'm sorry, I don't have those, why don't you try the dotted instead?

Me: Nah, I don't care for those.

C: But these are good too.

Me: Sorry, they don't work for us. I'll pop in later, then.

(That's an actual conversation.)

Vicky has bought me pregnancy kits from the pharmacy where he's bought stuff almost all his life. I've bought the Pill (Loette) from there although I've luckily never had to buy the Morning After pill from anywhere. Speaking of which, here's what an older relative remarked:

a few days back while waiting at the Chemists to buy my blood pressure medication, 2 girls around 15/16 came in, boldly sought for and walked out with I-pills non-chalantly. What category would this fall into? Use, misuse or precaution??????Curious

I said that I found this incident both worrying and reassuring. You see, I believe that all kinds of contraception, including the emergency kinds, should be available on demand. Here are various statements from people I know which bolster this belief:

1. I remember how difficult it was for me as an unwed/soon-to-be-wed girl to get any advice/ information about them. The gynaec I consulted was very unwilling to even discuss them with me, let alone prescribe. Told me to come back after I was married. I was lucky I found another doctor (a family friend) who sat down and discussed cycles, safe periods and everything else with me and then gave me a packet of pills to take should I decide to do so. She even listed the pros and cons. but I wonder how many girls might/must get pregnant right after getting married just because they don't have access to the right resources and their husbands don't want to take the burden of contraceptives on themselves.

2. A gynec, no less, advising me not to take the OCP before I had my first pregnancy, she was talking like an old wife, not like a doctor. I insisted, having researched about the effectiveness and side-effects, and really appreciated that it worked and gave me a free year after our marriage, while I watched my condom-using friends all get 'accidentally' pregnant.

Since I had a sceduled C-section for my firstborn after we lost our first baby, my doc in the US asked if he should do a tubal ligation while 'he was in there'. I hesitated, because at that point I didn't have a living baby, wasn't sure if [this one] would survive but was sure I would never want a third pregnancy. So he made the decision for me not to cut...a decision that I regretted later.

So after about 3 years of more OCP, I got an IUD inserted. Only the idiot gynec in Bangalore didn't insert it properly, and [...] it was self-aborting anyway, but I had to have a D&E done to 'clean out the uterus'. A totally avoidable and regrettable situation.

After that, we dithered, and used double protection, until finally we decided that my husband would have a vasectomy, since I was phobic now of surgeries and procedures. It was done, and was I glad. Apparently very few men opt for this, and it's a pity, since it's so much easier and safer than tubectomies for the women.

3. 3 [of my friends] have had MTPs, and 3 opted to have the third child, but were quite in shock for a long while.
4. [A friend] adopted, and then got pregnant, asked her gynec to do the tubal ligation cause she was having a C_sec. To her shock he refused, saying they could not ethically do that until a woman had had 2 children. I mean he acted like the adopted first child was not her child, it was so insensitive, she changed her doc.

Makes you think, doesn't it? Two very close friends of mine have had to choose to terminate pregnancies because they were unplanned. Both were already mothers, and money, family concerns, health and other obligations helped them make this impossible choice. They know they did what they needed to, but one mourns a lost child... it doesn't seem to make a difference whether you lose your baby by miscarriage or an MTP, the pain of losing a baby is something you seem to carry for ever.

A third dearly loved friend has just made the decision and there's nothing I can bring myself to say except to wish her the strength and courage she needs. I know a woman who has kept the ultrasound scans of the baby she had to abort because those are the only 'pictures' she'll ever have of this child of hers that she wanted so badly. I know a woman who closes her eyes and sees the daughter she never gave birth to, growing older in her head.

This is the thing that I always say to people who are alarmed at the high rate of abortion and would like to legislate against it -- nobody chooses abortion lightly. Even if they say they do or they seem to do so, it is never the easy option. It takes a huge toll on the female body, is hard to live with and I have seen for myself the effect this can have on men too. For every attention-hungry nut out there, there are thousands and thousands more of women who lead saner lives because they have been able to manage their child-bearing themselves.

And this brings me back to what started it all off, the Morning After pill. Let us understand how emergency contraception such as the iPill works, shall we? When taken within 72 hours of actually having sex (time periods vary depending on the pill) it inhibits ovulation, fertilisation or even implantation. The process is somewhat different from an abortion because medically, one is only pregnant (and can have an abortion) if the fertilised egg implants itself to the wall of the womb. The terminological quibbling is less important though than the importance of understanding that

1. when you use emergency contraceptives you are releasing additional and external hormones in your body. Please, do not underrate the importance of this. Hormonal balance is not easy to maintain and imbalance has a host of effects which we do not fully understand yet. Knowing this, I cannot understand why women would want to pop, say, the iPill on a regular schedule. Emergency contraception is carefully engineered to get your uterus to 'clean' itself out, so to speak, and that is an act that leaves the body requiring a great deal of time and TLC to recover.

2. when you have an abortion you are subjecting your body to what amounts to a certain degree of invasive violence. Depending on your doctor, it can be quite traumatic. The subseqent bleeding and cramps will be brutal even if you do go about your daily tasks in a day or two. And this is only the physical side of things.

3. even the Pill when prescribed can and usually does have certain side effects. When prescribed by a careless doctor, the side effects can be horrific. Witness this testimony:

one doc prescribed pills for me without thinking about my thyroid condition - I gained 13 kilos in 3 months in reaction!!!
So even if you're on the pill, be vigilant. Pay attention to changes in your body, to mood swings and hunger pangs. If your doctor does not pay you attention, get a second opinion. (I speak as one whose gynae has given her a lasting horror of pregnancy.)

4. [later addition] if you are depending on the rhythm method or similar ways, please remember that these do not guard against infection and they don't entirely guard you from unplanned pregnancies either. What the rhythm method does do, is take away a lot of the fun.

There is a book I recommend: Everywoman: A Gynaecological Guide For Life by Derek Llewellyn-Jones. It is easy to understand, extremely matter of fact and very informative. My mother bought it when I was a teenager and encouraged me to read it. I still went ahead and made my mistakes, but this book kept me from making bigger ones.

I don't preach from a soapbox. Just, you know, be kind to your bodies. The one you have is the only one you'll get in this lifetime. There is a great deal of information on this subject and all others related to women's health, available in books, magazines, websites and other media these days. Remember advertisements are not manuals -- they will not tell you everything you need to know about this stuff. Contraception is easy and affordable. There is no excuse for this level of ignorance.

UPDATE:
Sachinky wrote about it last year.

If any of you post or have posts or links on the subject that you would like to share please feel free to send them to me. I'm happy to add as much information as I can to this post. There is a lot I have not touched upon because I think this one is quite large enough already.

UPDATE 2:
Amrita gives you a little more to think about. I'm particularly fascinated by the calculator but do watch the video as well.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

By The Water Cooler

It’s time for Parul to pop out her second (book) and while I’m willing to bet there’s no way it’s going to outdo her other second (baby) I’m also willing to put my money where my mouth is. That is, I mean to buy her book because dudes, I really enjoyed the first one. On the other hand, why buy if you can get for free, right, so here I am zooming in with my entry for her ‘By The Water Cooler Contest’. Autographed copies for prizes, woot!


Now, I don’t have very many funny work tales which is weird because I have worked in some seriously funny setups. I have worked, for instance, in a call centre, and I have even worked as a caller but instead of offering credit cards or free holidays, I was performing in a play.

This play, Call Cutta, had us in a large room of a busy call centre. We worked mainly European hours since our audience was mainly in Europe (both version 1 from 2005 and version 2 from 2007). The idea was of a ‘call centre worker’ (us) talking over Skype to a theatregoer (them in Europe). Unlike them though we ‘chatted’ from a script and while variations were welcome, major deviations were not.

This format led to a wide variety of experiences and some degree of generalisation. For example, I found the people of Hamburg mostly dull and those of South Korea glued to their other, actual phones to the exclusion of the show they were paying to experience. Belgians were fun but not so much the Parisians. The people in Zurich, mostly an older lot, were interesting and fascinating in how they took for granted that machinery and systems would work, that life would not, at the slightest chance, tumble into inchoate disorder – I, living in India, have no such conviction at all!

Mexicans were incomprehensible but enthusiastic while the people of Berlin were wistful and demanding in turns. Copenhagen turned up fun ‘customers’ but I can’t tell you about the Irish voices from Dublin because I went on holiday and missed that month. The people of Helsinki were, for some strange reason, frequently quite scared of us. This despite me promising not to sell them any credit cards or holidays.

Obviously, these are broad brush strokes and there were plenty of people who stood out for various reasons, not least being that they didn’t conform to the generalisations. There was, for instance, Axel the Brazilian with whom I naturally discussed Guns’n’Roses; Frank from Switzerland who started the show with a yodel (Judihui!) and later sent my teddy bear a teddy bear by mail; then there were the Hindi film fans merrily chattering about Shah Rukh Khan; the girl who wept on hearing me sing 'Waqt ne kiya'; and the guy who grew his own marijuana and told me about the care needed for the plants.

It was fascinating work, not least being the water cooler aspect of things. For one thing, in version 1 we had the room to ourselves but no bathroom. So we had to pop downstairs to the call centre/office whenever we needed to use the loo, which could be quite the problem when one had only a couple of minutes free.

In version 2 we shared an office space with people to whom we seemed to be slightly more exotic than a bunch of Vulcans. I could see why they would think so… version 2 ended with us dancing to Hindi film songs on video chat and I clearly remember a hush falling over this huge room in the early days as telemarketers stopped mid-sentence to gape at the sight of us swaying in front of our monitors.

What with one thing and another, perhaps you can understand why I find my current job at the ad agency rather humdrum. Advertising has its moments but nothing beats directing a bunch of strangers down unknown roads in another continent only to have them confuse their rights and lefts and end up anywhere except where you wanted them to go.

So, anyway, that’s my entry. You can read more here. And if you’re planning to write too, please remember that the contest ends on 31 October. That is this Sunday, folks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Art of the Metaphorical Insult

Li'lpet, the 4 year old Suzie Derkins to Rahul's Calvin, mostly manages to wind Suhrid, her father, quite easily around her little finger. But every now and then Suhrid feels the need to Take a Stand and accordingly, tries to do so.

Recently he felt such a need and told her categorically that she couldn't have her way because he was bigger. Unable to fault the awful logic of this, Li'lpet stomped away in a fury.

Just as Suhrid was starting to breathe again, about to congratulate himself on a job well done, she stomped back up to him, pointed a quivering finger in his face and said, in ringing tones, "Tui Made in China!"

(You are Made in China.)

You may have heard a more inventive, comprehensive and altogether wittier insult.

I have not.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy birthday to the Ace!

When this post goes up, with any luck we'll be rounding off an all-nighter, our biggest party in a very long time.

Moore Avenue was free of all inhabitants this weekend, so Vicky celebrated his 34th birthday with a rooftop party there.

Hope you had a good one, Joe, and here's to many more such celebrations.

love,
A


P. S.
Here's a bit of advice: LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE. It will make your life immeasurably easier. Because, dude, she's always right. And when she isn't, she's still more likely to be right than any silly husband of hers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When the child was born

... if anybody had asked me if I knew quite what a cartoon he would grow to be, I would probably have said yes. However, I don't think one can ever anticipate such heights of hilarity as he reaches with alarming frequency.

What they are doing in Vizag

OR

Why The Boy Does Not Miss Home Or His Parents

I got a call from Ma this morning, in which she related a monologue by Pintsize:

Amra aajke kothaye jachchhi?

[no response from fagged audience]

Oh, amra kothha-u jachhi na? Amra aajke haan korey baritey boshey thakbo?


Translation:

Where are we going today?

[no response from fagged audience]

Oh, we aren't going anywhere? Are we going to sit and stare at the walls today, then?

Of course, you need to hear him say it in his own, inimitable, utterly charming way. He had no real fault with the programme outlined above, merely wished to know if that was the plan.

Heaven help us when the little gadabout returns.

I read my horoscope as I eat a chicken roll for lunch

It is about time that you cultivated healthy eating habits [...] Eat vegetables or salad for a healthy lifestyle, suggests Ganesha.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Wear a Saree – Madisar, Iyer Kattu

First off, do you have a madisar? A madisar or madisaar is a Tamilian saree that’s about 9 yards (as compared to a normal 6 yard saree). You can only try this drape with cloth that long. There are many tucks in this drape and it took me several trials before I remembered them all, but once I understood the logic behind them, it wasn’t that difficult. I learnt it from an aunty who is a Palakkad Iyer so for all I know it is not quite what your grandmother wears.

Now, let’s start.

Wear your blouse and skip the petticoat &/or panties. You won’t need ‘em with all that cloth around you.

Take the non-pallu end of the madisar and make 8-10 3” wide pleats in your left hand. Shake the saree out as you go to ensure that the pleats go down to your ankles. Pleats can be more or fewer depending on body types, so I suggest you try 8 to start with.


Take the pleats in your left hand behind you to your left butt and turn slowly while guiding the saree with your right hand to make this circle:
left butt -> under left arm -> across midriff -> under right arm -> across back (over the pleats; pull the pleats out a bit over the new circle to keep them in place) -> under left arm -> navel.


Your grandmothers didn’t turn in circles but turning is easier to describe! (I stand and turn the saree around me.)

NOTE: In this step, if you look at your ankles, you should see the reverse side of the zari. Ensure this is so when you place the pleats at your left butt. If it doesn’t happen, you’ve pleated the wrong tip of the non-pallu end and need to fix it now. As you will discover, I do it a lot!

Tie a knot at the navel, with the long, long free end and a bit of the circle that you gently tweak loose.


Tuck a bit of the saree under your right heel and make sure you don’t let this go until your drape is completed. If you let it go then the drape reveals an unseemly degree of leg!


Now, cross a few inches of the saree to your right and tuck beside the knot.


Stick your left hand under all that material flowing towards your left, maybe 6-8” from the far border and make a wee ‘tip’.


Pick up that tip – no need to turn the saree – and tuck it to your left, beside the knot. The saree border, which has been horizontal all this time, is now mostly vertical and there is a U-shaped bunching below your tummy.


Now gather that material flowing down firmly in your right hand – keep those pesky left butt pleats out of the way with your left hand – and send all that material between your legs to your back.


I’m holding the left butt pleats with my left hand and the cloth I just sent between my legs is in my right hand. My right heel holds the saree down and the pleats at the left ankle hang free.


Tuck in as tightly as you can at your spine and use as much as you like, say 6-8” of cloth.

Now, at your back, using your right hand, pull a bit of the border to your right hip and make a small tuck. The border returns to horizontal.


Ease it back over your butt to finally bring it out front under your left arm. Cross it over your front (l -> r) to cover that U-shaped swathe you made when you sent the cloth between your legs.


In the photo I’m making small horizontal pleats to narrow the saree at my left so that it hangs above my left knee for easier movement.

The border will be the right way out now. (The photo above shows the wrong side because I had made a mistake in the drape. Went back and corrected it but forgot to photograph that particular stage!)

Now, send what remains of the saree under right arm -> across your back -> under left arm -> over your chest.


You need to have a little more material behind your shoulder than I do here. Also, note that the material needs to be higher over my left knee for free movement.

Bring the saree across your back (r -> l) -> under left arm and tuck at right hip keeping the border horizontal and displaying the pallu to best advantage. I ran a leetle short of cloth as you can see.


To end, curve the left butt pleats (remember those?) into the left 'leg' created by the drape, to cover most of the left ankle. Check to make sure that the portion of the saree that went between your legs is visible neither from the front nor the back -- showing it is considered indecent.

And that's it. Go show off to your grandmother. And if you need to use the bathroom you'll find that the cloth parts quite conveniently.

This post comes with apologies to SM for not being up last week – things were quite, quite mad here. In a nice way, I hasten to add.

EDITED TO ADD
M says

Wanted to add - if you're over 5'6" tall or built on er, generous lines, you can get special 10 yard saris. Secondly, for taller/heavier women the amt you tuck in the back (6-8" recommended in this post) - makes a big difference. Experiment with as little as you can get away with. For taller women, since you're tucking in less material, you may want to tie a nada around your waist as an added assist for tucking stability.


Reva recommends the nada too. I haven't found it necessary myself but I haven't worn a madisar for more than a couple of hours ever.

Also, Boo suggests short tights (cycling shorts) underneath the madisar for, um, modesty, should certain people worry about being left drowning chaddi-less in a sea of saree.

Instructions for the old-fashioned Bengali drape are available here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Obliging

Rahul went to Vizag with my parents and brother a week ago and will only be back for Kali Pujo. He's driving them batty in his own inimitable way... here's a sample:

Diddi, tumi o-dikey takao tahole ami dushtumi korle tumi dekhtey parbey na.

Diddi, if you look that way then you can't see me if I happen to be naughty.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Fourth Birthday

Rahul celebrated his fourth birthday a day early with a wee banana cake for him to cut at school and cupcakes and cheese straws from Cal Club and orange Tang (courtesy Dadu) for his classmates in lieu of goodie bags. Baking the wee cake was rather traumatic what with a series of oven disasters (that YFMY, I tell you!) but his teachers were kind enough to say it tasted good. Here it is, before and after a coat of supremely garish yellow icing. He had four little racecars for candleholders alongside but I don't have any photographs of all that because it happened at school.


He celebrated once more with an insect-themed party on that Saturday morning. I had a great time looking up ideas on the 'net and even managed to implement a few. Vicky, on some coaxing, designed invitation cards (soft as well as hard versions) that were duly sent out to friends and classmates. The work is all his, including the funny, apt lines.


He also designed placemats as a return gift for each child, an idea of Aunty Kiran's that gelled rather well with the spoons that Giga had bought for this express purpose last December!


Before gift wrapping and packing in homemade newspaper bags, I taped a spoon and some 3D insect stickers on to each mat. What I really liked was how Vicky managed to fit in the story as well as most of the pertinent pictures from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a book that has been a huge favourite of Rahul's ever since Aunty Cee sent it to him two years (?) ago.


Not all the invitees turned up but the ones who did managed to fill our small flat to bursting. From grandparents


to the mama (my brother)

to people like Dipali, Evie and M4 with her duo. (No pics for privacy reasons, I'm afraid.) Ratul brought his mum and charmed the company, as he did the last year. I have no idea how any child of Dr D's can be quite so beautiful. All credit can and does go to Mrs Dr D.


To Rahul's intense excitement, Chinkydidi came along. Unfortunately, his excitement precluded him from wanting to be photographed. After all, all these kids were playing with his toys. Not the time for posing with mothers!


I'd settled for a 2 hour party from 11 am to 1 pm. Around noon almost everybody had come -- Taishan and his folks came late and I can't find any photographs of them or of "Sheejan", Rahul's very best friend from school who turned up with his grandfather despite not being very well and whose appearance was greeted with even more excitement than before, ending with Rahul lying flat on the ground from sheer euphoria -- and by then everybody had had some tea/coffee. So I started herding them towards the cake.


Kim the Caterpillar was made for me by my mother and aunts for my 6 or 7th birthday. Ma managed to actually dig her cookbook out in time for me to figure out how to replicate their efforts. It's not a patch on the original but I thought she looked rather nice, all the same. You can see the step-by-step creation here. Two ring cakes (sponge bundts) sliced in half and aranged in a wave, then iced with buttercream in sections and decorated with biscuits and Gems.


To the right are the candy snakes I saw by chance at the mall. Guess who loved them the most? Dipali and Evie! Rahul spent much of the first hour trying to sneak off with one. I told him he had to wait until his guests arrived so the appearance of almost every guest needed a fresh explanation as to why he couldn't have them just yet!


There were also egg and lettuce sandwiches made by my mum, mac'n'cheese, 'worm cakes' with honey (buttermilk pancakes piped into worm shapes, with raisin eyes), popcorn, tutti frutti ice cream (Rahul fell in love with 'orange' ice cream in Shillong), chicken patties and mushroom-corn cups from Cal Club and apple juice, orange Tang and lemonade. The idea was to arrange the sandwiches as butterflies and macaroni is known as pasta poka (pasta insects) in the house but I ran out of enthu.

I loved how all the kids got together and blew the candles out. As a kid I remember all of us being rather proprietal towards this part of our respective parties.


I was a bit worried as to whether M4's EO and Chinky would not find the party a bit childish what with me not providing any games or anything, but they seemed to have a merry old time with the toys. EO charmed the old Thomas the Tank Engine set out of me and even got me to give him permission to paint my fridge!


He extended his painting skills, this time with actual paint and not just water, to the box -- but I drew the line when he asked if he could paint his younger brother! It was a great party and Rahul got lovely gifts, all of them. Thank you guys for making it so much fun and thank you Evie and Dipali for the photographs. :) Oh, and Vicky, thanks for all the unwilling Photoshopping.

When Pintsize is away

... first the mother goes all damp-eyed and stifled sob-ey at Howrah Station.

Then she parties all night.

Then she goes into deep, deep depression for the next four days, emerging only when Sir Beq in shining red cloth comes marching up and scolds her and mocks her until she snaps out of it.

Then she ignores the silence in the house and decides to blog again.

Then she goes to meet Ratul-boy and cuddles him and tickles him and makes him giggle and starts missing Pintsize all over again.

*sigh*

On the other hand, this I suppose is the ideal time to tackle the house. I'll do that. Eventually. Also, great time for sex and late night socialising.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Query

I did a lot of cool things last month. Apart from wearing teeny dresses to children's parties, I mean.

One of these was learning to wear a madisaar from a friendly neighbour. I was thinking about blogging the method but given the time-consuming photographic session that will be required, I'm asking you, is anybody really interested? If you are, please let me know. My post on wearing a saree shadharon bhabhey probably gets the most hits on this blog, even overtaking the Survival Guide for DILs. Hence my indecision.

Are you ever likely to want to drape a nine-yarder, huh?

*That* Mother

When we were in high school we were all deliciously scandalised, albeit mildly, at hearing of a classmate's mother who wore jeans -- jeans -- around town.

Now I'm the mother who hosts parties for pre-schoolers in a deep-necked, strappy, short little number, to the consternation of various grandparents.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy Fourth Birthday, Rahul!

At the moment this post goes up I'll be thinking of the same moment in time, four years earlier, when a beautiful little boy was born.

At the time of writing that ex-infant is busily making faces at insects sent to him as a birthday 'geef' by Aunty Ro. The centipedes are fighting the 'shaNrk' his dad got him yesterday, you see. He's also admiring the 'gragunflaai' and wondering how best to sneak away from the breakfast I will no doubt thrust upon him any time now.

He's not yet used to the idea of birthdays being 'do as you like' days. Long may it last!

'Bondoos' (friends) and doting grandparents are due to invade the house in a couple of hours. We'll see you on the other side of a very buggy party. In the meantime, here he is, not quite four years old and walking through a dense forest in the hills of Meghalaya, discovering mushrooms and insects and bowl-like ferns aplenty. His long, long walk was rewarded by this, his very own little waterfall.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's really amusing

... how I pull Rahul up for doing precisely those things that I do myself and suffer over.

Like looking up at the sky while walking down streets.

(My toes still hurt where I stubbed them.)


This is a belated post for Ro's tag on the Little Ironies of Motherhood.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Second Children

Vicky and I were arguing over having another child a minute ago. We have this argument every now and then: me for, because I'm sick of ex-babies who turn into smart alecky young boys and him against because according to him we haven't the money. Like I died and made him king of the household finances or something.

Anyway, so I said, "Your parents had a second child!"

He retorted, "And don't think of a moment that they didn't regret it!"

...
For those who don't know know, Vicky has only one sibling, an older brother.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nessie in the Box

A recent Babycentre mail recommended giving Rahul a box to play with. Funnily enough, a couple of days before that, I had done exactly that. My new microwave oven -- I call it You Fabulous Machine You, affectionately shortened to YFMY -- came in a nice, big box that I wanted to turn into a play house for him. But the days blurred on and the box remained untouched so I eventually just gave it to him, suggesting he make a house out of it himself.

He loved it. Stored his favourite toys in it. When Li'lpet came to visit, he dragged her into it and shut the 'doors' so that she wouldn't leave at bedtime. And when I got home from work one day, he showed me who else had made it home... the Loch Ness monster, no less.


An inner view of the 'house':


Note the stool that he has more or less appropriated. Also the "Poocruck" (Pooh truck) on its side.

Last seen, the box had become Vicky's bullseye for practising with his new bow and arrows.I suppose it's true what they say about the Y chromosome gang never really growing up.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Road+Movie

Yes, yes, so I'm on a bit of an Abhay Deol trip at the mo. Blame it on Aisha last week with Shuki.

On Saturday we're off to Shillong for a week, us three plus the parents plus the brother plus my Pishithamma, a great aunt. It promises to be quite the trip and I'll be surprised if any of us are on talking terms by the time we reach Dum Dum. On the way out of Cal, I mean. Sen is running away to Bombay so I won't be meeting him, bah. Anyway, so that's the road part.

The movie part comes here. My friend Dhruv Mookerji has directed a one-minute movie that has been featured in the International One-Minute Film Festival, no less. Tin (Tanaji), of Tin Can fame, is in it, as is Sumeet Thakur of Madly Bengalee. If you let the movie play, then the voting button appears. If you like the movie, please vote for them. On behalf of Dhruv and the gang, I thank you.

See you lot after the 12th. Till then, I suggest you all cross your fingers and hope we survive this holiday. You may uncross your fingers briefly to vote for Gone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In Which Vicky Is Left Speechless. Again.

Vicky admires his latest acquisition -- a Burrago scale model of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR MM 1955.

"Oh no," says he, "the gullwing doors don't open up that much."

"Hmm" say I.

"The steering doesn't work properly," says he.

"These Italians clearly don't know how to design cars," say I.

"!!!" says he.

...

I get into bed and catch him reading some kind of trash by our night light (the streetlamp outside our bedroom window.)

"What is that you're reading?" say I, "One of my trashy Mills'n'Boons?"

"Certainly not," says he with withering scorn.

"Well, that was the only stuff that was there on the bed." note I.

His response is to show me the cover of his Irving Wallace.

"Same thing," say I.

"!!!" says he.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not Meant to Be Mothers

Rahul has begun cheeking us back these days, telling me to do the chore I assigned to him, a far cry from the days when I melted into a disgusting puddle on the floor because he brought me water.

As always, I firmly support Calvin's mum. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We were on a BREAK!

That was Ross, of course.

Looks like I'm on one now. Don't feel like blogging. Be back when I do.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Dirt. And Smutty Thoughts

Rahul spent a week with my parents in Madras last year without Vicky or me. I was aghast when Baba told me that one of his favourite activities in the Gymkhana Club playground was to pour the sand over his own silly head. I didn’t see what my folks found so hilarious about it.

But, you know, it’s just sand. It’ll wash off or dust off. Even if he brings some into his bed, it can be brushed off.

If there is one thing I would change about my parenting, it would be this – I want to let him touch things and explore them more than I can actually bear to let him do. Every so often I let him mess around with more than before but I’m quite as likely to get annoyed at the mess.

I spent some time today at Free Range Kids and this article struck a chord. Also, all those guys talking about how inhibited they feel these days. I had a talk with Vicky about this once. Here where we live people are far less inhibited and in this case I was the one to tell him to not instantly rush to help out an unknown little girl. I've seen ayahs and mothers look at him askance because he helped a little girl off a merry-go-round and played with some young children whom he didn't know, at a party. When he’s with Rahul or me there’s no problem, of course, but he’s a dad with a young kid and a helpful chap in general. The last thing he needs is a paranoid parent hauling him over the coals for it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

In Which Even Vicky Is Left Speechless

V: Tumi bondhuderke bolo je tumi doodhwala'r moton botol niye jao ar ora [censored] moton botol niye jae.
R: Ami "doodh-kala" na... Ami doodh na...!
V: O, tumi "doodh-kola" nawo? Toh tumi ki?
R: Ami shudhu Sharab-i Niyogy.
V: !!!

Translation

V: You tell your friends that you carry your bottle like the doodhwala (milkman) while they carry theirs like [censored -- Vicky ought to be ashamed of himself, really]
R: I'm not a "doodh-kala" ("milk-banana")... I'm not a milk...!
V: Oh, so you're not a "doodh-kola"? So what are you, then?
V: I'm only Sharab-i (Alcoholic) Niyogy.
V: !!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

On Principle

At ten o' clock this morning I threw a hissy fit because Vicky's new insurance policy listed his nominee as 'Sunayana Roy Niyogy'.

My hissy fit was not because I object to being called Sunayana Niyogy, because I don't. Lots of people address me as Mrs. Niyogy or even Mrs. Soubhik Niyogy and I quite enjoy it. But since I have chosen to retain my maiden name only (I don't like the rhythm of 'Roy Niyogy') I make it a point to call myself only Sunayana Roy on all official documents. Especially in insurance matters, where I've had a claim dismissed on a lie (their lie, not mine), where I recognise the importance of what might seem like a minor aberration.

So I was mighty pissed at the officiousness of the agent who had added the Niyogy to my name despite us giving him a piece of paper with our names written down the way we wanted them. And because Vicky was stupid enough to tell me it wasn't such a big deal, I took it all out on him. This from a man who has objected to being addressed as Mr. Roy, mind you.

So anyway, there was my hissy fit and I went to work simmering. Calmed down over the course of the day -- the agent has promised to rectify the name -- and I came home.

At ten o' clock this evening I was trying to teach Pintsize some alphabets. So R for 'Ra-gul', P for Phuli, L for Lattu, G for Giga... N for Niyogy. I mentioned that he was a Niyogy, as was his father and grandmother. And he consolingly hugged me and said I was one too. And I peacefully agreed and mentally laughed over my hissy fit twelve hours earlier.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Modesty, Thy Name Is

... not Rahul Niyogy, for sure. Or "Ra-gul", as he refers to himself.

I was in a bit of a snit earlier this afternoon and Vicky decided to fix matters with a hug, which was sort of working until Pintsize came up from behind and said, "Ami o aador korbo!" (I will cuddle too!) although if he were being strictly honest he would have said "Ami o aador khabo!" (I want to be cuddled as well!) because his idea of cuddling us is to present us his cheek or his full self to do with as we wish.

So where was I?

Oh yes, first he attached himself to our legs and then, as we pulled him up higher, he beamed and annouced, "Ami Babu-Baba'r "fav'rite" Bheblu." (I am Babu and Baba's favourite Bheblu.)

Ahem. I do not know if Emily Post would think this was quite in the best of manners.

Although I admit that it was entirely accurate, as statements go.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Psycho Suitcase Stickers

I wouldn't use the heroin sticker anyway, but this?


Go check out the comment thread at the article. (Link via Jezebel.)

I must have a real runt of a sense of humour.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Best Friends

Once upon a time a little girl came home excited in her first week of school and announced that she had a new best friend and the friend's name was "Rupkini". Her mother tried to gently suggest that perhaps she actually meant "Rukmini" but the little girl insisted that she had it right and got quite indignant at the idea of not knowing her own friend's name.

A couple of decades later her son came home from school everyday with tales of his best friend "Abhishal". She gently tried to suggest that the name would probably be "Abhilash" but since her son seemed determined to go with "Abhishal", she thought of her own childhood and gave up.

This post should have been written a year and a half ago. They were inseparable (as Rukmini and I once were) and when Abhilash moved to another town at the end of last year, it hit Rahul hard. He has a new friend but keeps referring to Abhilash. He knows that Abhilash now lives in another city but speaks of him as though he were in school. It's hard not to feel sorry for such a little boy. Reminds me of the first time I watched him go through such heartbreak.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Days

My father-in-law's first death anniversary was on May 1. Since then there was a continuous stream of deaths and death-related ceremonies that hopeully ended last week. First Pinujethu's prolonged illness and eventually passing away. Kajolmami's father's passing. Then P mashi and mesho's batshoriks. Shejomamidida's shraddha and niyam bhanga last week. Other deaths in the extended family and friend circles. Thankfully, all the people in question had been seriously ill, largely suffering from incurable cancer, so one is relieved that they got out of it rather than otherwise, but it never fails to surprise me how these things come in streaks.

Rahul is finally starting to speak in English a little or at least is less stubborn about refusing to speak it. It probably has something to do with me speaking to him in English now. I made it a point to speak to him in Bangla for the first couple of years so now I need to remember to use English in my dealings with him, but I do and he's responding. He is also picking up many Bangal pronunciations from Vicky which tend to jar me but I suppose that's what you get when you give birth to Undivided Bengal, as I have been known to refer to him.

It's been a busy time at the agency. Also, when Rahul was away for all of June I got into the habit of staying for longer hours at the office and it is now a bit of an effort to wind up my work in time.

Last Wednesday Vicky succumbed to a nasty attack of flu that started with a badly upset tummy. Rahul started his version the next day. I started mine on Monday. I'm feeling quite sorry for myself. Rahul started antibiotics last night though, so things should look up soon. Also, Vicky's doing much better now, touchwood.

On the other hand, my parents reach Cal tomorrow. My dad retired and this time, they are coming here for good. This weekend promises to be hard work. Moore Avenue, where they will live, is an unmitigated mess, with cartons half unpacked all over the place, cupboards overflowing with decades of 'treasures' and I have rashly promised my mother that I will help her sort it out. I went over on Saturday to see the state of things and discovered old letters and cards and schoolbooks, projects and records from high school. I need to dispose of much of that before Vicky sees them because there is enough in there to keep him laughing at me for the rest of my life.

On a related note, I cannot get over what a cheeky young kid I was. When I think back I recall a sober and sedate young lady, very conscientious and, well, sober and sedate. The letters, from friends I made in different cities as we moved with my father, tell a different story and are such fun to read. I even discovered a book of rules for a club we once formed when I was 10 or so. Ridiculous stuff. A card I got for my mother when she had her hysterectomy and was away in the hospital. I missed her very badly so Mejopishi took me to the shops and we got her a card and flowers to welcome her home. It's funny how the card brings it back so vividly. Birthday cards and letters from Shejomama who always remembered to send one in time every year.

Tonight promises to be fun. A bunch of us friends are going out for dinner, if all goes well. Tomorrow my parents will stop at Lake Gardens on their way home from Howrah for lunch so I need to make sure there's enough food and clean bathrooms and so on.