Monday, December 31, 2007

Catching a ray of light

Only a child can make you look at something that's a part of your everyday life with fresh eyes.

We were visiting some family friends for lunch. Squiggles was very sweet and slept right through lunch. Just as I'd finished dessert she woke up. I brought her out to sit with everyone in the living room.

I sat down on a two-seater sofa and I propped her up against the cushions next to me. She lay back and was observing her surroundings. She was all words, mumbling sweet nothings. A beam of afternoon sunlight streamed through the balcony door and passed in front of her. Suddenly she noticed the light and reached out with her soft pudgy hand to try to catch it. As her hands closed, she found nothing. She reached out to grab at it again. Again her hand closed around empty air. And so it went on. The air particles must have become illuminated and caught her fancy. She was arrested by the sight. Her concentration was complete and she was totally focused on grabbing this elusive thing. It was just such a beautiful moment. There were tender smiles on our faces as we watched her. The desire to hand it over to her clear on our faces :). Her fascination with it was unexpected and gave all of us such pleasure.

The image of her curling her hand, trying to reach out for the sunshine will remain etched in my mind forever, and if I forget, these words will remind me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Squiggles in Chandni Chowk

Squiggles is having fun.

Squiggles is loving her car rides on Delhi streets at the moment. Unlike boring Singapore where her view is severely restricted in the car seat, here she has a great view in the lap of one of her indulgent family. Smiling strangers, waving at her at red lights. Pedestrians, cycle rickshaws, goods being transported, Cows, Donkeys, Birds - All provide immense stimulation. She's been to the local market in her pram and enjoyed her walk amongst all the hubub and activity.

Today we took her to Chandni Chowk and she rode with us on the Delhi Metro. There isn't a Metro station close to our house, so we got a lift to the closest Metro station. It made me so proud to travel on the Metro. It was clean and well maintained. I'm so happy that it has turned out so well and provides much relief to millions of commuters. Squiggles loved the ride. She was squealing at a beautiful lady on the train and cooing very prettily. Obviously I felt like strutting at such 'cute' behaviour by my child. As we stepped out in to the galis (lanes) of Chandni Chowk, she happily absorbed all the noise and activity and looked around curiously. She was clearly enjoying herself, so we did as well.

Chandni Chowk was great fun. Squiggles was in her Baby Bjorn and was jiggling her hands and legs vigorously. The two stores that we patronised found themselves the proud recipient of some fragrant poo filled diapers. This was her way of showing she liked them. We enjoyed some yummy dahi bhallas, paneer pakodas, grilled cheese sandwiches, Indian style espress coffee. Yummm. One of the shop owners was mentioning how business had improved with the advent of the Metro since people were no longer afraid of a slow and arduous commute. Since we'd already pigged out on so much food, we couldn't try the parathas in Parathewali Gali. Maybe some other time. Since it's so easy to get there now, I think I will be going again before we leave.

Milestone Alert - Backward Crawling

Squiggles Atthai (DD's sister) was playing with her this morning and dangling some gold bangles in front of her. My greedy daughter, in a bid to grab the gorgeous bangles, ended up crawling backwards. On all fours. Two steps back. Witnessed only by her aunt and no one else. Her grandma held a small ceremony to mark the occasion. She held Squiggles under a door and poured some sweets and coins over her head!!! I know, it does sound funny but it was kind of cute. I love the fact that for every achievement in a child's early years, there are simple little traditions which make it so much fun. And it made me feel glad that we were here when it happened, so we could follow the tradition.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Milestone Alert - She has a name for me!!!

Imagine a goat going 'maaannhhhhh, maaannnhhh'.

That's exactly what Squiggles says when she spots me or my breast. She goes, "Maaah, Maah" in this little whining tone as if she's asking for some milk. The first time she did it was on Thursday morning and says it once or twice a day now.

Yippppeeeeeeeeeeee ..... she said mama first, she said mama first.....

*grinning widely*

Delhi Tales - Part Two

Since it was my aunt and uncle's silver anniversary, as usual, there was a big bash planned. Besides that, my cousins had also organised a bridal shower for my aunt. It is customary in our family to throw a bridal shower for the bride. This is just another excuse to have fun really. I have no idea how it originated but it is religiously followed and mostly hosted by my mom.
This time too we held one for my aunt though it was unanimously agreed we would have it at their place. It wasn't meant as a big affair. The agenda for the night was to do 'shringaar' and make her wear flower ornaments. And of course, sing, dance, and eat.

When we got there Squiggles was already asleep, so I quickly put her down in one of the spare bedrooms. Everyone excitedly followed us in.

"Ohhh, she looks just like her dad"
"Yeh to uski carbon copy hai"
"No, no she looks like her grandpa"
"Thank god rang to maa pe gaya hai" Thank God, she's taken after her mom on colouring.
"Eyes bilkul baap par hain" Eyes are just like her dad's.
"She's so tiny. She looks very big in the photos"
"My baby" That was my 3 year old niece who took no time in hijacking my daughter.

Finally I managed to evict them from the room and we got on with the evening. My uncle was the chef of the day and had used one of the rooms as the kitchen for the evening. He had dished out his HUGE hot plate / grill and like a khansama (chef) was busy grilling and frying different meats and veggies. Inevitably there was a food fight between my cousin who would only eat the fish and the rest of us who wanted a bite of her fish even though there were plenty of other things going around.

After we'd had our fill, we started with the ceremony. All the women surrounded my aunt and started the 'shringaar'. Then, we decorated her with all the beautiful ornaments made from roses and white flowers - kamarbandh, maathe ka tika, bracelets, earrings, necklace, anklets. She was all teary eyed and sniffling through the whole ceremony but then that's what traditions like these are for. We'd even sent her to the parlour to get her mehendi done, just like a bride would do.

Obviously no evening is over without song and dance. My cousin played all the latest dance numbers off the laptop and all of us danced, mostly a bit crazily but it was alot of fun. In the middle of all this chaos, Squiggles woke up. And she was immediately descended upon. The dancing momentarily stopped in her honour. But then someone had the wonderful idea of dancing with her. And then it began. Each one vying to hold her and dance with her. If she would start whimpering and clamouring for me, somebody else would push the others aside, confident that with them she would quieten down. The fact that she came out with some stunning smiles was quite cool actually. I was afraid that she would scream the house down. But she seemed to be enjoying herself. She was comfortable with the loud music and all the weird people looking at her, making funny faces and dancing like idiots.

I took her to feed her inside and everyone followed me inside including one of my male cousins. When we pointed out that he shouldn't be around, he just shrug his shoulders and said that really he didn't see any reason why he should have to leave just because he was born a male. Since we have all seen each other in chaddis since we were kids, I let it be. I was well covered with a shawl and he was watching the TV. It got a bit too much though when my uncle trooped in as well. He was asked to leave but then he looked at my cousin and wanted to know why he was allowed and not him!!! He was pushed out the door :).

At some point Squiggles fell alseep and we continued with all our silly antics and finally collapsed in the wee hours. The next day my niece hijacked my daughter. Squiggles was her baby and she kept dragging all the visitors and help to my room to see her baby. It was really lovely to see her with Squiggles. She would constantly stroke her cheeks, or kiss her, smile at her and want to hold her and play with her. Squiggles responded well to all this adoration and cooed and gurgled in response. It was lovely to watch the two together. They spent the day together, literally in each other's pockets.

The evening was all set for the big bash. I wore a borrowed saree since none of my blouses fit me anymore and I had a chance to wear some jewellery for the first time in a year. The last time was at my baby shower almost a year ago. Squiggles went to bed at 7.30 that evening in a chic dress but then didn't wake up till 4.3o the next morning. She slept through the entire party!! I was glad because this left me free to enjoy myself but everyone else was so disappointed because they all wanted to see her, play with her etc. My dad's sister tried her level best to wake her up but I think all the travelling had finally caught up with her and she was zonked out. Every half hour someone would troop in to her room to see if she had woken up or could be woken but it was not to be. As a last ditch effort another cousin of mine tried waking her at midnight but couldn't succeed either! I had to check her breathing because inspite of some really loud music and the constant kissing and petting that was going on, she kept sleeping. She got loads of presents despite not having met anyone. This only means I now need to troop around and visit all my family because none of them have really seen her! I'm not sure if I'm happy with this outcome...hmmm.

We're now back at DD's parents and Squiggles is warming up to them. They're really enjoying themselves with her. My MIL was a tad upset when Squiggles showed a marked preference for the maid but I think she's over it now :). For all those of you who read my list of petty fears, you'll be pleased to know that all my fears were unfounded and my MIL did run the washing machine for Squiggles clothes without my even mentioning anything!

Ta da

Monday, December 10, 2007

Delhi Tales - Part One

Hiya folks,

It's been a crazy crazy few days. We landed safe and sound in good old Dilli in the wee hours of Thursday. Squiggles' first time here...yay!!! Of course, we almost didn't get here thanks to the world's worst airline - Jet Airways - but that's another story which deserves it's own post and I just don't feel like going on a negative tangent right now. I feel positive. Sigh... it's so good to be back. Full of black yucky mucus within a few hours of landing :) but good.

As I have hinted at, the flight was aweful but we will gloss over that for the moment. I have to say one thing about us middle class desis, we're not helpful at all. I think Delihites have fallen pray to the big city syndrome. As a mom travelling alone with an infant I was suprised at the lack of helpfulness or courtesy displayed during the flight and after by my co-passengers. People hurriedly trying to overtake me to save 30 sec in the security queue and in the immigration line, not letting me through while alighting from the plane. When we landed we were taken to the airport terminal in a bus from the plane. A sweet security chap helped open my pram and put it on the bus for me. But when it came to alighting all those fat men just got off the bus without the slightest consideration. In fact, it was a woman with a big suitcase of her own who offered to help me get the pram off the bus. Thank you, whoever you are.

Squiggles' tatha (grandpa) was waiting for us just beyond the immigration counter. It was quite obvious that he had eyes only for Squiggles' *wry grin* and was pleased as a punch that she was awake. Suprisingly, immigration, bags and customs was really quick. It couldn't have taken us more than 15 min to clear everything.

As soon as we got out of the terminal the chill hit us. Even though the pilot had announced it was 14 degrees, it felt much cooler. We quickly got into the car and headed home. There is so much construction going around in Delhi, and roads have changed so much over the last few years, that even though I have driven on Delhi roads extensively, it all seemed a bit confusing. We got home at about 4 in the morning where Squiggles' grandma was waiting. I promptly offloaded her into those waiting arms. As can be expected, she didn't stay put. But after a really crappy flight I can't blame her. In fact considering the circumstance she did really well.

I'm really glad Squiggles was awake though. She cooed and smiled a bit. Enough to soothe eyes that had been waiting for her for the last few months. Obviously they would have loved it if she had jumped all over them but this wasn't too bad either.

The next morning the madness began. Phones were ringing all morning. All wanting to know whether we had reached safely and of course when they would get to see Squiggles. I missed most of the calls since Squiggles was a bit overwhelmed and super tired so she wouldn't leave me for a moment.

A very dear friend of mine from WIMWI (Well Known Institute of Management in Western India) was in town and due to head back home the same night. We got in touch and she came over to see us after the customary grumbling about why I couldn't have married someone who had the decency to be live more centrally :). Stuff that only a good friend can get away with. I hadn't met her for 5 years. The last time we met was at my wedding in Chennai. In the meantime, both of us have become mommies. It was so good to see her. I realised I miss her. I know she's very busy with her life at the moment but I wish she would make more of an effort to be regular with her email and I said as much. It was so weird to see each other and the kids. Weird but nice. Kind of surreal too. As she left I was hit by a strong wave of nostalgia. The thought of god knows how many years it would be before I would see her again left me holding back tears. She's expecting her second child now... :). I wish we lived closer.

In the evening friends of my in-laws came to see Squiggles. They stayed for a couple of hours and I got so hungry that I had to discreetly gobble the leftover Gajrela (Carrot Halwa) in the kitchen. I haven't done that in ages... hiding in the kitchen from guests and eating. Squiggles finaly condescended to sleep at 10 that night. I then got down to the phone and spoke to a few of my aunts and cousins who had been chasing me since morning but was just heard mumbling incoherently.

The next day we tried to get ready early but inevitably it was noon before we could leave home. We went to Squiggles' aunt's place. My SIL is expecting anytime now so there's a lot of excitement and nervousness around. We spent the afternoon there. The plan was to then head to my mom's place to join in the celebrations for my aunt and uncle's silver wedding anniversary. That's when Squiggles would get to meet my side of the family for the first time. I could visualise the scene. It would be worse than a zoo, all these faces staring at and crowding Squiggles, talking loudly and commenting on every feature of her face, passing her around and snatching her from each other and worse. And it all happened just as I feared and worse! But more of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An appeal

I'm massaged at 8 in the morning. That is simply not on. Things are getting crazier in this household every day. If that wasn't bad enough, I'm bathed soon after and made to wear a new dress. This is all so strange and bewildering. This NEVER happens in our house. I mean massage is usually mid-day and I'm given my bath whenever the mood fancies, sometimes even as late as 4pm. In fact sometimes it gets so late that lazy mama gives it a skip altogether. Since I don't have to do anything myself I'm kinda OK with it. But it's set me wondering. I know we're leaving for Delhi tonight but surely there's no reason to bathe me that early, our flight is at 11 in the night after all.

It gets worse when Mama goes for a shower as well. Now really it is a rare sight to see her all nice and fresh at 9 in the morning. Usually she's bleary eyed, stumbling along and dressed in her pyjamas that have seen better days. But today she's ready and wearing a blue salwar kameez. Something's definitely up. She starts gibbering something about where we have to go but I'm kinda ready for a nap. I woke up at 4 this morning and again at 7 so I'm feeling a bit tired. Mama is older so she can better cope with such erratic hours. For me it's really hard.

I wake up to see Mama grinning. Apparently her friend called from the US to say that she's expecting a baby. A baby is someone smaller than me, according to her. Must be kind of weird I'm sure. Not that I'm interested I assure you. I'm unceremoniously picked up and hustled and bustled about. We head down to the parking lot and Papa and Grandpa are there waiting for us in the car. That's a surprise. I rarely see them during daytime. I beam... maybe this is what it's all about. But they don't get out and we head along. Mama puts me in the car seat again. How many times have I told her in clear terms that I do not want to sit in it. But does she listen? No! Sometimes she is really slow. It's exasperating.

Well, we finally reached where we were supposed to be - the temple. This is really weird. Ma is not a temple person at all so what are we doing here? We trudge in. Papa has a few words with a guy with long hair. The really weird thing is that he's wearing nothing on top.... not even a ganji. Mama shushes me and tells me not to be irreverent, as if I know what that means. He smiles at me so I'm OK.

And then I get it. It's a magic show. The long-haired man does some hocus pocus and there is some fire. He gets together loads of flowers and says lots of things in a nice loud voice. I have no idea what it means. But papa keeps telling me to look towards a really beautiful statue. It's covered in really pretty clothes. I wish mama would get me one of those. She's busy clicking photos and papa is telling her not to. She tells him to relax since no one else is bothered. Typical conversation between the two.

Meanwhile the man applies something on my head. Mama takes me from papa and sits down. The man asks papa for his gold ring. This magic show is turning out to be quite expensive, I'm thinking. He dips into a beautiful silver bowl full of yummy looking rice. Sigh...I'm never going to get that. I've been asking for weeks but they always move my hands away. I'm ready for disappointment again. These pigs, they keep stuffing themselves and just keep me on a milk diet.
I was about to wail when I spied the gold ring filled with the prasadam heading towards me. Before I could blink, it was in my mouth. In the shock of it all, I almost dropped some. I quickly ate it lest mama had any funny ideas of taking it back. She did manage to get some out of my mouth though but I held on to a few grains. Finally.... finally these jokers actually give me something decent to eat. And it didn't stop with the long haired man. Papa fed me, then mama, then grandpa. Of course daddy was most particular about not giving me any more. He just touched my lips with a little bit. I did lunge but he was quick to remove the yummy prasadam. Grandpa was much nicer than these two modern parents of mine. He gave me a nice big lump which I enjoyed immensely. He asked mama to give me some more but papa played the party pooper and gave loads of reasons why I shouldn't be given any more. In the same breath he asks mama to save the prasadam for him so he can eat it when he comes home from office in the evening. The nerve of the guy.

While all this was happening inside, it started raining. Papa and grandpa were mighty pleased. Apparently it's a good omen. I could see Mama rolling her eyes. It was kind of funny. I hope they won't stop at this now. I could really do with some food. I'm sooooooooo hungry. You will appeal with ma won't you on my behalf?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Of embarrasing moments in the gym

I don't know why I'm doing this. If I feel like having fun, surely it shouldn't be at my expense?

It's my second time at the gym post baby. My personal trainer hands me a skipping rope as part of my cardio session and announces '100'. Skips, he means. I'm not too sure I can manage even 20 but since I'm paying him I decide to give it a shot. 10, 18, not bad so far. Skip no. 22 oooppps... I can feel something. One little drop of water escapes. Skip no. 57.....the drops are changing to big fat drops.....Uh oh. Should I stop??? Skip no. 81....I better stop. This is fast getting worse. I just pretend that I've had enough and hand back the rope to him. I look down and there is a big stain down there! I just mumble something to the guy about muscles down there being weak. He nods understandingly, "You should do your Keigels". ?!!!? Hide me somewhere please.......... I carry on with the workout as if nothing weird has happened. Why didn't anyone TELL me that this is another price for being a mommy?

I'm lifting some heavy weights, doing a chest exercise. I'm looking at myself in the mirror when I realise my breasts look a bit wonky. It's as if my left breast has moved to the centre of my chest. I quickly readjust my bra and realise there are 10 other people in the gym and I have been walking around for the last 15 mins like this...sigh.

I'm bending down doing another stupid exercise. One moment there's nothing and the next second there it is, in all it's white glory. My breast pad! The one with the super adhesive. Lousy stuff. Never bought that brand again.

I'm doing a set of sprints to warm up. I bend down, hands on the floor, heads up, waiting for the go ahead to start. "You've dropped your pad", announces the ever-so-helpful trainer. What? Where? Again! It's lying there on the floor in all it's pristine glory. I quickly sweep it up and crush it in my palm and curse the pathetic excuse of an adhesive. I hide it in my hand and discreetly throw it in the bin as head back to the gym.

After a stressful back exercise, I stretch. Hands behind the back, hands clasped, strrrrrrrrrretch. POP! My bra has unhooked itself. Naughty little thing. I stumble backwards, careful not to turn around lest my fantastic trainer figures out why I'm walking out the door with a quick "I'll be right back". As I head out the door, he starts following me! "Are you alright?", he shouts. I nod vigorously, "I'll be right back". "Are you sure? Do you need any help?". Help!!! Noooooooooooooooooooo.

C'mon tell me I'm not the only one. Pllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeassssssssssse.

Tharini - Now you know :)