Monday, July 30, 2007

Permission granted

It wasn't until I got married that I realised that at least in my maternal family there exists the 'inner circle' that I wasn't privy to until I achieved the status of being married. Within this 'inner circle' were both male and female members of my family who would often share 'non-veg' jokes, tease each other about their personal lives, make raunchy comments at the drop of a hat and pretty much discuss anything under the sun including the so called taboo subject of sex. It certainly doesn't happen on the paternal side of my family and DD's family and I don't know how common it is in other families in India. I realised that my aunts and uncles were friends and that they had a similar camaraderie amongst them as I had with my brother and cousins. It was good to finally be 'in the know' on the laughter and the chuckles that you could hear in each room.

I was happy to join the 'inner circle' and hear everybody else's stories but loath to contribute from my own personal experience. There was the inevitable teasing about my now active sex life but I always brushed it off with a smile though I have to admit I was always around when others were ruminating. After almost 5 years of being initiated into the 'inner circle' I should really have realised that I can expect anyone in my family to say anything. Needless to say I'm here writing this post because I didn't expect the following and burst into laughter thoroughly amused. Here's what happened.

In our family it is tradition for the woman to go to her mother's house for giving birth and to return to her married home 40 days after giving birth. We've been living with my parents since we moved to Singapore during the last phase of my pregnancy and finally moved out a couple of weeks ago when Squiggles was about 6 weeks old.

On Day 40, mom gave me the customary savouries and sweets alongwith some money for each of us. As I was walking out the door with DD, she called me back with a mysterious smile on her face and whispered in my ear "Today you should have sex with DD".

"I should?", I smiled back.

And she nodded vigorously, "Now you're allowed" and then followed with a caveat, "That is if you haven't already!"

And I burst out laughing. It was just so funny to hear my mom give me permission to 'do it'. Actually it was more like an order.

The next day I went back to see her and commented on how I was quite embarrased that she was giving me such advice. She said really sweetly that it was customary for aunts, sisters and friends to jokingly tease the girl as she went back to her married home after giving birth and since she was the only one here she didn't want me to miss out on the that bit of tradition. I believed her until I saw the naughty and at the same time shy glint in her eye.

You know, I love my family and I wouldn't have it any other way.

My wishlist

Everyone talks about how your priorities change once you become a parent. How the child always comes first and how your perspective on life becomes different. All of the above is true for me as a parent as well.

But I find that something else has changed. Whilst earlier my wishlist consisted of material objects, travel fantasies, visions of being a career superstar and other lofty ambitions, I now find it has reduced to something more basic.

1. A shower that lasts more than 52 sec. At the moment it's a quick get in and an even quicker get out as Squiggles is bawling.
2. A long leisurely bath, with some aromatic candles and bubbles... sigh those were the days.
3. 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (actually this is probably more like 10-12 hours really).
4. To be able to wake up in the morning and then snooze for another 5 mins (I still try but it's not the same with a screaming infant).
5. To have normal sized breasts again (not these things I have at the moment).
6. No stretch marks.
7. Not to have to gobble down a meal or leave a meal halfway because Squiggles has decided that it's unfair that I get to eat while she watches.
8. To have a meal without worrying about whether Squiggles is going to wake up
9. To be able to leave home at a minute's notice without having to collect x number of things and still manage to forget the most important thing (like diapers)
10. To go back to having a more ambitious wishlist :))

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This post on Indian writers by Moppet's Mom is the raison d'etre for my post. We're all linked :).

I've always loved books though I have to admit I haven't read as many or as widely as I would have liked to. Living with my grandparents meant that the definition of books was purely 'textbooks'. Anything with a picture on it's cover would immediately get confiscated or if I managed to avoid that it was a long lecture on the evil effects of fiction. As with anything which is prohibited, my fascination with fiction only grew and my creativity with finding ways of reading. Whether it was under the duvet with a torch (yes it's true) or on the toilet seat pretending to be constipated (in fact for years my grandparents thought I had severe problems with you know getting it out :)). I also love buying books and I have loads on my book shelf that are unread but that I couldn't resist buying!

My problem with books is what happens to me when I read them. I get so engrossed in the characters and the situation that I walk around in semi alertness. My mind is always on the book and it doesn't get better until I finish it. As a result, if it's a particularly good book it means I am absolutely lousy company. I don't want to talk to anyone or see anyone. In fact one of my very dear friends who is now a mother of twins used to complain often that I turned deaf when I was reading :). In my dream house I want to have a library with shelves stocked with my favourite books. At the moment I make do with a small shelf but it's time to get another one!

The thing I love about book tags it gives you loads of suggestions for good books. The one thing I hate the most is to pick up a book and find it not worth my time. I only want to read what's good and leave the rest for another life. There's nothing more satisfying than knowing that the book in your hands is going to give you so much pleasure... sigh.

Coming to the subject of the tag, I discovered Indian writing in the main after I left school. But my earliest memories of Ruskin Bond are the short stories that used to appear in our English textbooks. His stories were always simple and easy to read and the ones I used to read first from the list. I remember I was so happy when I found out that he was Indian through my English teacher (his name didn't give any clues to this schoolgirl). Since then a Rakhi gift meant that I have his collection of short stories which I pick every now and then when I crave something simple yet beautiful.

One of my favourite Indian writers is Rohinton Mistry. I first discovered him with 'Tales from Firozsha Baag' which was another Rakhi present. This led me to 'A Fine Balance' which I have been recommending to all and sundry. I love this book because I think it shows so well the different ways people approach life. You can either choose to take each bad thing that happens to you and decide that life is miserable or take all your misfortunes alongwith you on the journey of life and still live it up with a smile on your face and with optimism in your heart. Absolutely wonderful. A friend of mine thought that the ending was depressing but each to his own.

Vikram Seth was an author who always fascinated me when I was in college. I read 'A Suitable Boy' and immediately needed to read his next 'An Equal Music'. I remember saving my pocket money to buy it at the princely sum of Rs 500+. Though for the life of me I can't remember the exact storyline unless I refer to Wikipedia so I think I need to re-read both.

Amitava Ghosh is another writer that I enjoy reading. I picked up The Glass Palace on a whim when it first came out and absolutely loved it. And I've just finished 'The Hungry Tide' which I liked for its unusual setting in the Sunderbans. I'm glad there are others that I still haven't read.

The list can't be complete without R K Narayan and Swami and friends. There's nothing I can say which would do it justice. Simply wonderful at any age. It was the television adaptation that led me to the book, I can only be thankful to Doordarshan.

And I am going to be brave and say that Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things' left me unimpressed (yes I know it won the Booker). Maybe I had built up unreasonable expectations which prevented me from enjoying it as much.

I also enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Interpreter of Maladies' which is a wonderful collection of short stories (I like the book cover too). I can't say the same for 'The Namesake' which left me cold. It's now been brought to life on screen by Mira Nair to critical acclaim though I haven't watched it myself.

I just remembered that my brother and I also used to read Khushwant Singh on the train journey from Lucknow to Delhi and back. For some reason his books were always available at the train station bookshops. And my all time favourite, though it probably doesn't qualify under writing, 'Chacha Chowdhry' - the best comic series according to me. I simply love these and they were staple train diet

Now it's taken me 4 days to write this so I will sign off and save the rest for later.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dr. Shilpa Shetty

I watched the Big Brother show with Shilpa Shetty and all the racist hoopla while I was in London. The Brits were clearly shocked at the treatment being meted out to Shilpa. Their perception of themselves as a tolerant multi racial society was shattered. The desi expats all found it vastly amusing.

While racism is a part of life in Britain, I don't think most whites thought of themselves as racist. To be fair, I personally encountered very few racist whites. More than racism, it was a matter of ignorance of behaviour, attitudes and cultures of others. I remember a colleague once telling me about some Indian staff who had visited the UK operations and how she was disgusted that they washed themselves every time they visited the loo and that they didn't use toilet paper. My response to her was that they considered it more hygienic and that's where it ended. Later another colleague came and apologised to me because she thought the remark was inconsiderate and ignorant. I didn't feel bad about it. My colleague didn't know any better and it wasn't meant maliciously. She was in fact sharing it with me not realising that being an Indian I probably had similar habits.

People also wondered why I didn't have a wedding ring even though I was married. And I had to repeatedly tell them that for Hindus a wedding ring was not the symbol of matrimony. They just didn't know that there was an alternative to the wedding ring. I would also always buy a big box of chocolates on Diwali and keep them by my desk. As people would come by to enquire on the occasion, they would get a nice summary of the festival and its significance. My contribution to their cultural awareness :). Most of my friends would listen attentively though there were the minority who where there just for the chocolates!

Coming back to Shilpa and Big Brother, her response was dignified. And that's where it should have ended.

Instead she's now the new face of India worldwide, which I don't really have a problem with. She's making more money now, especially with all the endorsements in Britain, than she would have done in the twilight of her career. Good for her.

What I find preposterous is that Leeds University has now honored her with a doctorate. So, she's now Dr. Shilpa Shetty!!! This is where the whole drama has gone beyond silly to just ridiculous. She may be an icon to British Asians but is she really deserving of a doctorate? Am I missing something or is this really pushing things too far. To me it sounds like the Brits are trying too hard now. Let it rest people. The point was made and made well. There's also something called overkill.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

True love

A hungry Squiggles and one of the following -
1. 'sleepy' mummy,
2. 'in the toilet' mummy, or
3. 'just missing' mummy.

What does DD do?

Puts her on her side facing him, brings her close to his chest and the wailing stops. The little one has started sucking in mid-air at DD's imaginary breast!!

This is true love :).

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I hate ants. I really do. They are attracted to everything and anything. And they're really smart... a whiff of anything sweet and they are there pronto.

Squiggles cough syrup bottle is in a glass filled with water which is in a bowl filled with water and yet they brave my moat to reach the castle of sweet cough syrup. Silly things.

I hate them.

And yes I am ranting............


The reality of being a mom

The last 4 days have been really tough. Who said being a parent is easy? No one.

Squiggles woke up on Thursday morning with a cough and bad congestion. She had had it for a couple of days but stupid old me thought it was part of the myriad noises that she keeps making. It's so heart rending to see a child suffer, but when that child has only completed one month in our world, it seems doubly unfair.

The first question the pediatrician asked was who in the house had the infection. None of us did. She told us to watch her carefully for the next 2-3 days and to call her everyday to let her know how Squiggles was doing. In the meantime she would suck the congestion out from her nose and prescribe some nasal drops, cough syrup, saline spray and give me a machine to help her inhale some other medicines. All of this for a simple cold. She's so tiny, why should she have to ingest so many medicines? And what's all this bullshit about breastfeeding providing the child with much needed immunity? I might as well switch to formula.

To remove the congestion from her nose, the nurse inserted a tube into her nose and used a machine to remove the mucus. How she wailed...pitifully and in pain. It was so difficult to watch and yet I made myself do it. My mom was with us and even with her experience she had her eyes closed. Squiggles cries as much as any other baby I guess, but to hear her in pain made me feel like the lowest scum.

Unsurprisingly guilt was the dominant emotion. We shouldn't have taken her out when she was just a few weeks old. I shouldn't have had yoghurt because it has a cold effect. I shouldn't have had any juice either. Maybe we weren't wrapping her up warmly enough. Maybe the aircon was too strong. No, the bathwater was too cold for her. Or maybe we shouldn't be massaging her till she's older.

So many things that a mum is responsible for, so many things that can and will go wrong. I need to prepare myself for it. DD needs to prepare himself for it. We had so many arguments as we saw her suffer. Everything I was doing was wrong and should be done differently. A child's illness can bring out the worst in a parent.

The last four days have gone in a blur of medicines. 3 times a day for 5 days. The worst was the inhalation - a mix of medicines converted to mist ready for her to inhale. A tiny mask over her face to ensure the mist didn't dissipate. Sigh.

This experience also made me think of all the parents whose children were seriously ill. I can't imagine how they cope. It must be so hard. May God give them the strength to deal with it in the best possible way. In comparison what we were going through was insignificant in the grand scheme of life. I promised myself that I would be calm and strong. And I was. I'm proud of that.

Tomorrow we see the ped for a follw up. My fingers are crossed.

I want sex

3 adults, 1 toddler, 1 ordinary car and the road to New York City.

One statement echoes in the middle of nowhere -

"I want sex".

Emphatic. Demanding. Will not take no for an answer.

Oh dear, what is the world coming to.

And then...

"Mama! I want sex....... NOW!!!".


Where did this 3 year old learn that from?

And then it clicks....

Sex is snacks (snax) without the 'n' and a heavy american accent. The little one is merely hungry and not for the kind of things you naughty adults had in mind :))

Cast: My niece, bro, SIL and their friend.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No more PINK.... please

I started it and now there's no stopping the pink brigade. All the things that I bought for Squiggles initially were either pink or some shade of pink. In my defence, I didn't buy that many things and in my stupidity I didn't realise that most people would give her clothes in pink. As a result 75% of Squiggles wardrobe is in shades of pink. Onesies, blankets, wraps, shoes, socks, mittens.. you name it. Though it makes no difference to her whatsoever, I, the mother, am thoroughly fed up of pink and vow not to buy any more of anything in pink.

Her Atthai sent her some stuff in blue and orange and my first reaction was 'doesn't she know it's a girl?' But I'm ever so grateful because she looks absolutely adorable in blue and is a great contrast to the evergreen pink. Thank you to the other odd few who were brave and creative enough not to choose pink as the colour for her presents.

On the topic of presents, her great aunt presented her with a turkish silver black eye which I think is adorable and very unique. It hangs over her cradle to protect her. Check it out.

PS While I was colouring this post I realised how many times I'd used the word 'pink'. Henceforth, I shall refer to it as 'the colour which must not be named'. And, yes I am a big Potter fan and can't wait till the 21st for the finale.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A letter to Squiggles

It was never the right time. I was doing really well at work, and my boss had just promoted me with a chunky pay rise. As a young couple in London, life couldn't have been more fun. Lots of travelling, a great friend circle, loads of partying and a fantastic city. What more could one want?

But for daddy life had that bit missing. While for me the missing bit could come at anytime once we had finished enjoying ourselves, what was the hurry?

10 months later and that missing bit is a month old and much more than a 'bit'.

It's interesting how your perspective can change so dramatically in such a short period of time. All throughout my pregnancy I was apprehensive that I wouldn't feel that overpowering rush of emotion that most parents talk about. I didn't have any motherly instincts, nor was I over excited about motherhood. I had always liked kids but from afar. The first time I felt such a strong emotion was when my niece was born but that too didn't translate into a desire for one of my own.

And now as I look down at you, I can't help but feel proud that we have brought you into this world. My very own, a part of me... nothing at work can ever equal this. Why didn't I understand this before?

Yes, life will be very different but it doesn't mean I have to give up any of the things I enjoy. Whether it's travelling or partying or working. It will mean more effort and a lot of planning but all of these is possible... I need to find a way to make it happen.

Squiggles... I wouldn't change a thing. You came at just the right time in my life when I was mature enough to deal with motherhood and hosts of other less important things.

You're a month old now and every day has been so much fun. I've loved seeing you change each day. I love the myriad expressions you make in your sleep, especially when I kiss you in your sleep and you purse your lips in irritation. I am always speechless when I see you smile or laugh, anticipating when you will do both in response to what I say or do. I know that you will also be angry with me, shout at me just like I do with Grandma. I know I will be upset when you do that but yet I look forward to that day.

I hate it when you cry, but sometimes I find it funny too. Your capacity to make yourself heard is unique just like your name. I remember the first time you had tears in your eyes, it was so sweet. I was so proud that you could produce tears and yet so sad that there was something that was causing you to shed them in the first place. I've also figured out that everytime you cry, it's not for milk. Sometimes you just want to be held, or you're tired because I've taken you outdoors and you've not had enough sleep, or you're just getting bored.

I love the sounds you make in your sleep... the lovely gurgling sounds. You've even oohed and aahed a couple of times. You now look at me closely as if trying to understand my role in your life. You always make me laugh when you smack your lips in satisfaction after a good take after my family in that respect, we all love our food.

And most of all, though I can't honestly say that I love changing your diapers, I don't mind it. And this is a big admission from someone who washes her hands a 100 times during the day. I never thought that I would bear the smell uncomplainingly. While I can ask the maid to change you I don't because you're mine and as far as possible I want to be the one who takes care of you.

So my darling, thanks for making me realise that you're not filling a 'missing bit' but making your own unique space in my heart and in this world.

Here's a picture of the cake that you were too upset to appreciate yesterday. It was my favourite - chocolate and really yummy. Nanu and papa bought it specially to celebrate your 1st month.

Happy 1st month darling!

PS - You made my day today. You started to cry, but when I caressed your cheek and spoke to you softly, you gave me a big wide smile. Not the one that you usually give in your sleep but a full blown one only for me. Thanks sweetheart.

Squiggles is all dressed up with nowhere to go!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The clash of the titans

Sigh.... I'm caught between logic and tradition, between male and female, between DD and my mom. DD feels left out because he thinks my mom doesn't let him be with Squiggles as much and my mom wants to do more for us and hence tries to do more for Squiggles.

DD is also the male, works 12 hour days and therefore shouldn't have to change diapers or soothe her when she cries but DD wants to do all of this but who can explain this to my mom?

My mom wants to follow traditional methods with Squiggles whilst DD is trying to find a rationale for everything she does. As a result both are frustrated. This also led to a premature paediatraician's visit who confirmed that everything mom was doing is fine. But DD has found other things he doesn't like while I think he needs to see the ped himself to get peace of mind.

And guess who's in the middle of all this?

As I finish this post, I can see DD giving Squiggles her bath and my mom is NOT hovering. Is there finally going to be peace in Squigglesland?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thanks DD

DD's just sent me a a gorgeous bouquet of lilies to congratulate me on Squiggles 28th day in our lives.

Thanks honey, it was a lovely surprise and it made my day. I don't know what I would do without you.

It finally happened!

So far Squiggles has sprayed on DD three times. Till this morning my score was nil, zero, na da. Of which I was so proud. SO PROUD. But she rectified this with a mega bang half an hour ago........ sigh. I want to be so so angry..... in fact I am angry.

Today is Squiggles 28th day of life and I'm supposed to apply a black tikka and make her wear black bangles which her appamai (DD's mom) brought for her from India. I intended to take loads of pics and videos. And to pander to my vanity, I borrowed a salwar kameez from my mom to wear instead of the usual comfort clothes (read DD's old T-shirts) that I am in at home, so that I would look good in the videos and photos.

Little did I know that Squiggles had other plans for me. A regular diaper change turned into a massive poo spray on mommy dearest.. on the borrowed salwar kameez, grandmas bedsheet, squiggles cute little onesie... everything bore testimony to my darling's effort.

But I am stubborn, I have had a shower, borrowed another salwar kameez from my mom and am determined to take all the necessary pictures! Squiggles here I come :))

Squiggles Birth Story

I'd always known that Squiggles would make me wait. She was very active in the womb and to quote the doctor 'very happy inside and sees no reason to come out'. Well, she was a week late but as things turned out her timing was great for a number of reasons -

1. Astrologically it was an inauspicious time around her natural due date. Now while DD and I couldn't care less, everyone around me including my MIL were very concerned. She kept saying that I shouldn't give birth on this day... well it's not as if it was under my control. The girl has her own mind and will come when she's good and ready. I didn't want the happy occasion of her birth to be marred by negative thoughts from anyone in the family. I was really angry that people's superstitions had put me under stress. In fact I joked afterwards that we didn't want her to come on the due date so she decided to make us wait even longer!
2. My dad was away on a business trip when his passport got stolen. He got back to town an hour before she arrived.
3. My gynae was on holiday during the 40th week and the sweet darling waited for her to come back. I absolutely hated the subsitute gynae and was dreading having her for my delivery.

The 41st week was extremely frustrating. I was huge, uncomfortable and frustrated with waiting for the prize which didn't seem to want to appear. To make matters worse, a friend of mine who was due 10 days after me delivered on my due date and had a girl and named her the name I had chosen for my baby. Now I know it wasn't her fault and I was genuinely happy for her but this just made the wait more unbearable for me.

When I went to see my doc on the Thursday of week 41, she said things were moving slowly and she would like to induce labour. We could wait for it to happen naturally since everything else was fine but she wouldn't recommend it. She gave us the choice of when we would like to go in over the next few days. We decided to go in the next morning (Friday). I later found out that being born on a Friday is considered very auspicious amongst Tam Brahms. I went to the mall for a long walk in the hope that it would stimulate things to happen naturally.I had slight very infrequent contractions on Thursday night but I was later told these were Brixton Hicks (whatever) contractions (basically I wasn't in labour).

We had to be at the hospital by 8am on Friday morning which was a bit annoying as this would be my last day of being able to sleep late! We were both really excited and were looking forward to the day. I've always had a phobia of the delivery process and as a first timer everything that I had read in books seemed likely to happen to me. The one thing I wanted to avoid was a c-sec. I knew that if it was required it would have to be done, but this was something that gave me the heeby jeebies.

We got to the hospital just after 8 and went to the delivery suite. There they told us that only one person was allowed inside with me and I had to choose between DD and my mom. Now, this was not a choice any woman should be forced to make! In typical desi style, we refused to give in and put my mom forward as my doula. They were too busy to argue indefinitely (unlike us) and finally told all of us to go in and that they would sort it out later. We were shown to a really nice delivery suite with a fantastic leather couch which my mom and husband thoroughly enjoyed! I had to constantly ask them to maintain a low profile and not go out of the room lest the admin nurse remembered that there was an extra person in the room. More unnecessary drama!

The hospital staff were so nice, friendly and courteous that I immediately felt comfortable and confident that they would do the best for me and my baby. They put me on the fetal monitor for 2 hours to check whether the baby was fine and if there were any natural contractions. At about 10.30 my doctor decided to induce contractions. I was given some medicine and asked to go up to the ward and relax and have lunch and to return to the delivery suite at about 2.30.

I started getting regular contractions at about 1pm and about 2.30 they wheeled me down to the delivery suite. The contractions were getting painful but I was still only 2cm dilated when they checked me at 4pm. I was thoroughly disheartened. Somehow I had been hoping this would end soon. It seemed like I had a long labour ahead. My doc decided to break the water bag to chivvy things along as the contractions were coming regularly.

Every half an hour a staff member would come check on me to see how I was coping with the pain and offered pain relief including the epidural. My mom was really against the epidural and so I went into labour with the best intentions of coping without the epidural. One of the attending nurses kept telling me she thought I would have a short labour and so I should try to carry through without the epidural. On the other hand some of the other nurses kept offering it to me.

The pain was really terrible and by 5.15 I didn't feel I could cope any longer as the labour was likely to go on for another 6-8 hours. I looked at DD and he immediately understood that I couldn't stand it any longer. He had been telling me all along that there was no need for me to suffer when science had progressed so much. He asked for the anesthetician. My mom on the other hand was already pale at the mention of the epidural. It was another hour by the time the epidural took effect and I couldn't have been happier. As luck would have it though, the epidural worked except for a small patch on my right leg. Everything below the waist was numb but in one patch I could still feel the severe pain. I tried to manage but then my mom said I better get the anesthetician to sort it out. Her point was that if I was going to take medication then I might as well do it properly and feel no pain. After an hour the anesthetician increased the dosage and my left leg was completely numb and the pain in the patch on the right leg was gone. My mom meanwhile was looking ashen as I kept happily chatting and commenting about how numb my left leg was. She was convinced I was going to be paralysed for life.

The doc came and saw me 3 hours later and to my delight told me I was fully dilated and would need to start pushing soon. Once I started pushing I banned DD from the room. I really didn't want him to see me like that. It was weird trying to push when I was numb and couldn't feel anything. But the nurse with me was simply fantastic. She should be a motivational speaker, she was so good.

At 11.52 Squiggles made her appearance. The staff put her on my tummy...she was here finally. That moment was so surreal... she was here and I couldn't believe it. I kept looking at her, not quite believing that she was mine. She was taken away to be cleaned up and when I next saw her she was wrapped in her hospital clothes sleeping peacefully.

It took almost 16 hours but it was so worth it.......:)). I was in the hospital for 3 days as my doc wanted to be sure everything was fine with both of us. Even though we were new to town some of my parents friends and a couple of our relatives came to see Squiggles in the hospital. DD and dad arrived with a gorgeous bouquet the next day. DD even prepared a really cheesy video to send to his parents in India (and no I am not sharing that here!)

All's well that ends well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Patriotism or what?

It is widely acknowledged that I can't sing, hum, whistle or do anything musical (by some weird twist I am a good dancer but more on this later). And DD is only marginally better though I have to admit he whistles really well. And really if you heard him sing after me, you would probably think he was a good singer as well.

But I digress. Last night both of us were taking turns to entertain Squiggles as nothing (yes that includes milk) would soothe her. DD took over and started whistling lullabys which after my tuneless rendition of some old mohammed rafi number calmed her down. Now since DD is not big on hindi music, he soon ran out of songs (and no I don't know why he didn't switch to heavy metal). But the father in him rose to the challenge and out popped the Indian National Anthem!!! He whistled the ENTIRE anthem!

It did take me a while to figure it out but when I did I was in hoops of laughter... please tell me, has anyone else done this before... sung their country's national anthem to quieten their child? As an after thought, do you think I need to stand at attention if he decides to try it again?

Jai Hind!

Monday, July 2, 2007

She laughs!!!

I had no idea that tiny tots could actually laugh. Not your discreet ladylike giggles. My squiggles gives it her best shot with a big ho ho ho. Of course, she's not laughing at anything funny her ma said but in her sleep. I wish I knew what amused her so.... and could capture the moment on camera.
Each day is a new discovery and I can't wait for the next one.

Fair is Beautiful

I think it’s high time that we Indians get rid of our obsession with the colour of skin. It’s been 60 odd years and yet we determine someone’s attractiveness by the shade of their skin.

I’ve always been called pretty or beautiful by family and friends but never found anything in the mirror to justify that claim except for a skin shade much lighter than average. If you’re fair you’re beautiful. Simple.. duh.

When DD and I got married, I got numerous comments about his family and his skin colour and how they were lucky to have a daughter-in-law who was so fair. Needless to say when I was pregnant, I was told of numerous silly things I could do to ensure my child would inherit my fair skin rather than that of his father’s family. I really don’t know what my husband’s family thought about it – were they secretly praying that our daughter should inherit my skin colour?

Since squiggles birth, everyone who called to congratulate us would ask us who she had taken after. And on clarifying that she was "fair", the congratulations would become even more effusive :)). Clearly it was preferable for her to be white even at the cost of her big nose. Now I think she would be happier if she had a smaller nose and a darker skin colour. In any case, she’s going to get tanned if she spends anytime outdoors. So, what’s the fuss about.

To me she’s the most precious thing in the world, absolutely adorable and the most beautiful baby in the world. And I love her to bits. So people get over it.

Meri Beti Angootha Chhap Hai!

Now since we’re in Singapore, the DD had to get Squiggles passport made so we could get her a permit to stay in the country. Apparently, they can deport us if we don’t sort out her passport and permit within 40 days. But the question is where would they deport her without a passport?

Anyway, interestingly these are the list of things required by the Indian high commission –

1. Birth certificate – no need for rationalizing here!

2. Photograph – The passport size snapshot taken at age 2 weeks is obviously going to help fight some ID related crime especially when she’s 5! I’ve always wondered whether anyone has tried taking a child on some other child’s passport…. Maybe I should try taking my niece on my daughters passport or vice versa… the only problem is my niece is 3 years old not 3 weeks. If you know more on the subject please satisfy my curiosity.

It wasn’t possible for first time parents to take a 2 week old baby to the photographers. So, the DD decided to take her photo at home and asked my dad to print it for us. He hadn’t accounted for my dad’s feedback on the photo – ‘only one of her ears is visible’. What??? Will she be classified as an alien if both her ears aren’t visible in the photo? I haven’t heard of anyone being born only with one ear… is that possible?

To make matters worse DD’s colleague told him that his son’s passport application was rejected because one of his eyes was closed in the picture. Do these guys have any idea how much time these tiny tots spend with their eyes open in the first few weeks of life? DD flatly refuse to take another photo with both ears visible and made the firm resolution that he would throw a tantrum if they came up with such flimsy excuse to reject the passport application! He’s clearly already influenced by Squiggles even though it should be the other way round.

2. Thumb print – Angootha Chaap literally means thumb print but is more commonly used to refer to illiterates who cannot sign their name and are forced to use their thumb print as proof of ID.

How on earth are we supposed to get her to give her thumb print. I was quite naughty actually, sitting in a corner while DD struggled to get squiggles to obligingly put her thumb on the ink pad and then place it in the appropriate box on the form. As you can guess, there were several blobs all over the place but not in the box. What was even more funny was that DD was not satisfied with the blob because he couldn’t actually make out any lines on the thumb print, it was literally a blob. So here DD was struggling with his blobs and me giggling away.. not very nice I know. After the ordeal he sat back in his seat and with a dismayed expression on his face goes ‘Meri beti angootha chhap hai!’ (My daughter is an angootha chhap (illiterate). All our hopes of being parents of an over achiever down the tube and so soon!

4. Visible Distinguishing Mark (VDM)

DD: Does squiggles have a VDM?
Moi (confidently): She has a birthmark on her thigh.
DD: Great

After a pause –
So you want her to expose her thigh everytime she needs to prove her ID?

Oops… I didn’t think beyond the fact that my little baby is so tiny and that actually she will grow up one day. The thought of a 20 year old having to lift up her skirt to show her birthmark… I don’t think she would have quite forgiven me….

Well thankfully the embassy people didn’t notice our daughter’s missing ear and her passport will be ready this week.

Baby is Here!

My favourite memory from the first few days of squiggles life was when she was brought from the nursery to my room for feeding.

In the middle of the night, as I just managed to nod off I would sense a presence. The door would open and a shaft of light would appear and the nurses voice would say ‘Hi Mummy, baby is here’. And with a loud wail my baby would announce her arrival as the nurse wheeled her in from the nursery. Sigh. And this one time 12-hours-at-a-go sleeper would rise up and smile at this red, wailing THING and wonder at how adorable she was. It was so precious to hear her cries (to my defence it was still a novelty!) and to know that she was mine and she was with me.

Maybe it’s because she’s helpless and you know only you can help her, maybe it’s just that she’s yours and those moments cannot be shared with anyone. I don’t know. But these early night time feedings are my most cherished memories from squiggles early days.