Sunday, November 9, 2008

FIll in the blanks

'Tick Tock Tick Tock
I'm a little Cuckoo clock'

This is a little nursery rhyme that DD and I have spent the whole weekend trying to teach Squiggles. We play a game with Squiggles where we will say a rhyme like Twinkle Twinkle and let her say the last word in the line. E.g. 'Twinkle Twinkle Little .........." and she will pipe up with "Star"; "How I wonder what you ......." and she wil pipe up with "AAArrrr". I guess you could call it the 'fill in the blanks game'. It's kind of addictive. So, either one of us will launch into the rhyme and wait patiently for Squiggles to say the last word.

Well, now that you know what we were doing, let's get back to the rhyme in question. She obviously found this one quite easy because without much prompting she was able to say the first line and quite clearly. It was the second line that she decided to add a little twist of her own to.

Sq: Tick Tock Tick Tock
Silence.
DD: I'm a little .......
Sq: Baaaby

!!!

Everytime we played the game, she kept saying baby. And it wasn't a random conincidence. It was quite clear that she knew what the sentence meant. This is because she has spent the last few days spending the day singing, quite tunefully, the first line of a rhyme which her nanny sings to her when she's trying to put her to sleep.

'My little baby'
'wants to sleep'

And the funny thing is that she says it in the same accent as her nanny. So, 'baby' is pronounced as 'Baeyby'. It's super cute to see this one foot something creature saying 'My little Baby' :).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Story of The Little Girl and The Baby

At the tender age of 16 months, one little girl’s world was rocked. Everything was hunky dory in her world one day, and the next day, the world was definitely greener. And we’re not talking about more trees here.

It all started when two giants and two normal people turned up at home one day with Daddy. She had never seen them before. They were kind of interesting. They had some big boxes with them. Everyone seemed kind of excited but that was lost on this little girl. She hid behind her Mama for a while but she soon lost her shyness and ventured to find out a bit more about the two normal people.

One of them was a little taller than her. She could not understand that this was a boy. And the other was a lot tinier than her, with big eyes. And a ready smile which immediately captivated her Mama and Ba (for the uninitiated, Ba is her nanny). This was ‘The Baby’. She ventured a conversation with The Baby and was immediately rewarded with some excited shouts which she found fascinating. She laughed in delight at The Baby, all the while unaware that the world as she knew it had changed. She was unhappy when Mama dragged her to bed. She kept wanting to know where The Baby was. She dosed off dreaming about The Baby. And woke up to a different kind of morning.

The little girl was the first one up the next morning. Ba went through the morning ritual with her, all the while explaining the importance of being quiet so that The Baby wouldn’t wake up. When Mama managed to pull her eyes open, she was wisely advised ‘Shhhh, Baby’. Mama was clearly meant to understand that she had to be quiet or else The Baby would wake up. In the meantime, dark clouds were gathering on the horizon.

The Baby woke up but her Mama was still asleep. So, Ba went and picked her up and brought her out to play. This was great because the little girl wanted to play with The Baby. The morning progressed smoothly. Mama had the day off and so it was a special day. The other normal person also woke up and soon it became apparent to the little girl that The Boy was equally interesting. As he came up with crazy ideas, she realized she could have fun playing with him as well.

Except her attention kept getting distracted by what The Baby was up to. The Baby seemed be fascinated with the little girl’s things. And with things belonging to people who the little girl considered her own private property, like Mama and Ba. This was not right. What right did The Baby have to play with the deflated balloon? Full of righteous indignation she walked across to The Baby and admonished strongly, “Nooooooooooo”, and snatched the balloon away. Next The Baby went for the toy train. “No Touch”, screamed the little girl and took away the train. The Baby was bewildered. Why were these tempting things being snatched from her?

The Baby was not one to dwell over the past or such rude displays of temper. She merrily went about picking up toys and chewing on them enthusiastically, only to face the righteous indignation of the little girl. Mama and Ba kept telling the little girl to share with The Baby and told her not to be rude, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Stronger action by either person was rewarded with big tantrums. Things came to the crunch when The Baby decided to chew on Ba’s slippers. This was the height of injustice. Ba’s slippers symbolized going down to the park. They were a symbol of freedom, playtime and going out. Taken beyond anger, she marched up to The Baby and snatched it away from her and looked at her angrily and mouthed incomprehensible words. The Baby’s face crumpled. And Mama scolded the little girl.

The little girl couldn’t get it. Why was everyone shouting at her when it was The Baby who deserved a licking? She liked The Baby. She really did. But she didn’t think it was very nice of The Baby to touch her toys. It’s not that she didn’t want to share; it was just that when The Baby started playing with any of her toys, she had an indescribably strong urge to play with it herself. She still liked hearing The Baby laugh. As long as she wasn’t being held by grandma. Most times she was even OK with Ba taking care of The Baby. But there were enough times when she was not OK with it. Life was so unfair. She expressed her frustration and anger and jealousy by whining, throwing tantrums and clinging to Mama. The world was definitely greener.

The verdict was out. The little girl was jealous. She was cheerfully and loudly declared as ‘High Maintenance’ by Mama and not so loudly by other more polite giants. Let’s pray that God gives Mama some extra reserves of patience and humour to deal with the little girl because The Baby is here for a week and the little girl has just got to deal with that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The experiment that did not work!

Let's just say that Squiggles howled through the 2 min ordeal. It was a fun thing to have tried though....... I am still trying to convince DD that I went for Squiggles' benefit and not my own! But he's having none of it :(.






Credits to Avanti. Thanks a ton for the pics. It was such a wonderful surprise to find them in the mail.

Ashtami comes around again

Remember her 1st Ashtami? Here's a picture of her a year later, in a gorgeous salwar kameez.



All grown up :). She was invited for puja by an Indian family in my mom's condo. Mom says she behaved rather well which was certainly a surprise. She's also done well for the day, picking up quite a bit of cash along the way! Not to mention loads of fruit so I'm glad I didn't bother with my grocery shopping this weekend :).


Monday, October 6, 2008

16 Month Update

It's been forever since I did a monthly update. Mainly because I would forget to do one on the DAY and then think it wasn't right to do a monthly update on any other day. Now that I'm older and wiser I recognise that I can do a monthly update within a one week vicinity of the monthly birthday, which basically means whenever! Hah, I'm smart. Actually, this one probably wouldn't have happened either except that I am doing it two days early and I don't care. At least I am doing one. And to compensate for not doing as many as I should have, I am going to do a super long one. In fact, I am going to tell you 16 things about Squiggles, her antics, habits, whatever comes to mind.

In no particular order..............

1. Squiggles has discovered tickling. Please note, not being tickled, 'tickling'. She is tickling us. She will poke one finger in our armpit and wait for the thunderous belly shaking laugh that DD has taught her to expect. Or she will lift DD's shirt and poke her tiny little finger in his navel and laugh like the silly girl she is. It's quite funny actually, watching her do that. She loves it.

2. Her favourite moving object has got to be the bus. Whenever she spots a bus, she exclaims loudly, 'Buuuuusss' and claps gleefully or just shouts and screams. She especially loves the red local buses and the blue Comfort buses. We took her on the bus this evening, 2 stops, from our condo to one down the road. She was surprisingly quiet inside it. I bet the other people in the bus thought we were weird when we kept saying loudly, "Wow, Buuuusss". And of course, we looked a sight when we waved 'bye-bye' at the Bus. Who said sanity has anything to do with being a parent!

3. She has started playing football with DD. In the house. This is how it usually plays out. DD will kick the ball in the air till it hits random points of the wall and bounces over all surfaces that it shouldn't and displacing all objects that are precious. Squiggles will giggle in delight and then attempt to kick the ball back. Sometimes she will put her foot on top of the ball and then wonder how to kick it. Sometimes she gives it a good old push and sometimes she gives it a good little kick with visions of 'Bend it like Beckham' flashing through my mind.

4. She loves books now. This is the ONLY thing that she has inherited from me. We put up three colourful shelves in her room where her books are kept. She will drag me to her room, point at her books and say loudly 'Book, Book'. Considering how hyper she is, she is quite happy to sit down and look at her books. Some of them are in a state of disrepair but who cares. She loves books! Now I can buy her more books without feeling guilty!

5. She has all of DD's food habits and none of mine. Which is probably a good thing. She loves savouries, papad, chips, fruits (specifically bananas), kishmish (raisins, just like her dad), idli (!!), dosa (!!!!!!!!), rice. Basically, what DD likes, she likes. I love sweets, she doesn't like sweets much. Unless it is a lollipop. But that's point no. 6.

6. Watching Squiggles eat her lollipop is eye boggling. Because it is impossible to keep track of all that sugar syrup down her chin. She licks it, but then struggles to swallow it, So, it all just drools down on to her clothes. Basically, lollipop = change of clothes. And if you (meaning I) take it away from her, there is a HUGE unending wail.

7. She has started going for these music and play sessions once a week, in a nearby condo with my mom. To put it simply, she hates it. She can't sit still and pay attention. All the other children sit quietly and listen to the story telling and the singing, while she is doing something else. I'm hoping it'll grow on her. *fingers crossed*.

8. She got her first black eye last week. She hit a table just below her eye. She didn't hurt her eye thankfully, but she had a fantastic shiner. Damn, should've taken a pic. Anybody else can beat that?

9. She also managed to hurt her toe thumb nail on Sunday. Culprit - Living room door and DD.

10. There are moments when she can just go on and on with what I call the 'mama papa song'. This is how it goes. 'Mama Papa, Mama Papa, Mama, Mama, Mama Papa, Papa Papa', in varying tones. You get the picture.

11. Instead of asking for stuff, she now catches my hand, pulls me and takes me wherever and then points at the thing she wants. So, if she wants to look at the boat from her bedroom, she will come up to me, grab my little finger, pull me till I move and then take me to her room and the window and say 'Boat!'.

12. We bought a cabinet recently for DD to store his liquor. There are two drawers with handles (!). Her favourite game is to lift the handle till it rests in the opposite direction, at which point she claps her hands and laughs gleefully. And keeps doing it.

13. She had fever over the weekend and we have a digital ear thermometer. Since we had occasion to use it several times on her over the last couple of days, she has observed and figured out how to use it on us! Last night when we woke her up to give her her medicine, she attempted to put the thermometer in DD's ear and then promptly went back to sleep.

14. She can identify everyone's shoes. This morning as were leaving for the doctor, she pointed at DD's shoes and said 'This Papa shoes'. I asked her "Where's Mama Shoes?". Since I'd already worn mine, she couldn't find them. She didn't point out anybody else's shoes though. And when I showed her that I was wearing mine, she gave a big laugh as if it was the biggest and bestest joke. I know bestest isn't a word, but your point is?

15. DD has been trying to teach her how to jump. Jump up and down, you know. I told my mom this and her reaction was 'Jump out of the balcony!', hence the clarification. It was funny seeing her try it. She couldn't jump, but she bent down and shook her little tush. Very cute.

16. She can create chaos in the blink of an eye. This needs no further explanation. There was something else, but it's completely slipped my mind.

We're having a blast with her. Playing, doing silly things, talking gibberish. It's like there are many children in the house. The more that she's interacting and responding, the better it gets. I can't believe that she was so tiny once. Seems impossible and yet I have seen it with my own eyes. And this impossibility is so common.

That's all for now. Good Night.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lessons be damned.

A few days ago DD and I were playing with Squiggles before her bed time. We were all playing with the ball together. Sometimes, she picks up things and hits people with them excitedly. When she does that normally I will say to her lightly, 'Be Gentle'. And she will usually calm down after I repeat it a couple of times.

That day, accidentally she hit me on my forehead with the ball, very close to my eye. To test her reaction and to teach her that her hitting could hurt other people, I scrunched up my face and pretended to cry. I told her she had hurt me. She stared at me for a couple of seconds and then suddenly her tiny little face changed and she had fat little tears in her eyes. She was crying earnestly. Obviously, I wasn't expecting that reaction! I felt so evil for making her cry like that. I told her that since she was sorry, it was ok and that she didn't need to cry. But she wouldn't stop! A lot of hugs and kisses later, she calmed down. But I continued to feel like a heel. She's only 15 months old. Lessons be damned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Whining in full glory

It seems to have coincided with Squiggles' ability to finally acknowledge me as her Mother verbally. For what seemed like eons, she kept calling me Papa. She refused to say 'Mama' except in very dire circumstances. In fact, until about 2 weeks ago, she'd probably said 'Mama' not more than 5 times. This from a child who has been chattering since she was quite little and said 'Papa' when she was 10 months old.

But now that she's figured out my importance, the word 'Mama' is used incessantly whenever I am around and not very pleasantly, I might add. It's all in this little whining tone. 'Maaaama, Maa..ah huh..aama, Maaa......hhhhhh.....ma......ha......'. You get the picture. And she keeps following me around, hugging my leg as if it's a lifeline, rubbing her face against my leg.

So, I wait almost 15 months to be addressed as 'Mama' only to find it's being over-used and in not very exciting ways either. While 'Papa' is still being used for DD and with great curiosity (Papa?, Where's Papa?, Paaaaaaaaaaaaaapa). Lucky bugger.

It's a mystery

For some reason whenever we take Squiggles in a taxi (which I'll admit isn't very often since we have our own car), she starts crying and won't stop until we get out, when she will tearfully wave goodbye to the cab driver. The same thing happened when my mom took her in an estate agent's car yesterday when they went house hunting. She wailed the entire time she was in the car and stopped only when they reached their destination.

Now, she likes going in the car i.e. our car. And she is also very comfortable in my parents' car. And when she spots other cars on the road, she excitedly keeps repeating 'Caaaar, Caaar'. So, its left me baffled as to why she has this peculiar reaction to other people's cars. And she's always been with one of us in our laps, when she's been in someone else's car. Maybe it's the strangeness. On the other hand, she loves going by bus. She doesn't have the same anxiety attack when we take her in the bus, which is more crowded and bigger.

Anyone else faced something like this before? I'm trying to puzzle this one out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Squiggles can talk.....

ALOT! Ever since S has discovered the power of the spoken word, she has been practicing religiously. She's now progressed to linking 3 words together and is quite often found muttering to herself.

She can point out things and say 'This is shoe'. Substitute shoe for any other word in her ever expanding vocabulary. She has been pointing out the nose for a while, but can now say 'Nose' (This is nose) as well. Alongwith 'eyes'. We're now working on the 'ears' and 'lips'.

She also said 'Good Morning' yesterday. And the really cute thing that she has picked up is that if you give her something, she will spontaneously respond with a 'Than U', said ever so shyly with a sweet smile.

Her other favourite phrase (if you can call it that) is 'No touch'. She goes around the house looking at things and admonishing someone 'No touch'. Sometimes she will touch something which is supposed to be 'No touch' and then shake her head and say 'Oooo' followed by 'No touch'.

Her intelligence is also increasingly rapidly. She will take things back to the original place, if you ask her to. She knows when it is time to go out and will excitedly point out everyone's shoes to them, in case they'd forgotten they need to wear it before heading out. She initiates peek-a-boo herself and then laughs loudly when you 'spot' her. She will point out my dad's briefcase to him before he leaves for work.

Something funny happened the other day. S was playing peek-a-boo and suddenly I noticed that she had this weird hiccupy kind of laugh. Laughing, I pointed out to my maid how weirdly S laughs. She laughingly shook her head and told me that I laughed exactly like that. I laughed back disbelievingly until I heard myself laugh and realised she was absolutely right. So, it's official folks, I have a terrible laugh! Sigh, it was better to be disillusioned :)).

You know the other thing I realised about myself recently and I know this is going to sound really weird but it's true. I went to get a hair cut a couple of months back and I was lamenting about how unruly my hair was and how everyone in the office was perfectly groomed with beautifully coiffed hair. The hairdresser said to me that it was because I had curly hair. I was taken aback. I remembered another conversation with another hair dresser a few months earlier who had said the same thing. All along, for more than 29 years I have gone along thinking I had straight hair! The question begs to be asked, what do I see when I look at the mirror? I guess I always assumed curly meant like really curly. I always thought my hair was 'wavy'. I guess there is no 'wavy', it's all curvy!! Self-deception, that is my middle name.

But coming back to Squiggles, she is also more and more spontaneous with her affection. Not just towards us, but even towards her stuffed toys or 'Toto' as she lovingly calls them. She will also point out to the flowers on the bedsheet and bestow a smacking kiss as if it is the real thing.

She has suddenly developed a need for attention and praise. Yesterday, I plonked her down at the piano and she normally will hit random keys for a couple of minutes before she gets bored of it. But yesterday, she would hit a couple of notes and then start clapping and turn around and look at us for appreciation. And she kept doing this. She wouldn't play for more than 1 second and there she was clapping again.

She has also started fake crying in earnest. If she falls down, she will start whimpering and if she doesn't get much response, then she will carry on as before. Or if she wants to be carried, she will whine for a bit. She also knows who are the suckers in the house :). The vulnerable lot get to hear more of the whining and demands!

Oh, and she now admires herself in the mirror. Often you can spot her walking towards the mirror, staring at her reflection, smiling, saying something and then turning back to whatever she was doing.

She's growing up too fast.................

Monday, September 1, 2008

And.... it was alright!

For a change I was travelling light. But I had baggage of a different kind. Half a suitcase, a light handbag but loads of guilt and worries. I know you all know that those fears and worries were unfounded and you can smile and shake your head because you knew all along that it would be fine. But in my defence, I didn't know that!
We left for Tokyo on Wednesday night. We went to my mom's place straight after work, with the intention of putting S to bed and then rushing home to change and pick up our stuff before heading to the airport. And for some reason, maybe sensing the activity around her, Squiggles refused to go to sleep at her regular bed time. I kept trying to put her to bed but it wasn't working. She must have been uncomfortable with what she had eaten because she let out the contents of her tummy all over me! An impromptu shower later, we left even though she was awake. Her cries followed us all the way home. DD kept saying that it was a bad idea for us to leave her when she was so little and how we should have thought more about it. He is the over-protective one of the two of us. I kept remembering how The Mad Momma had left the Brat and the Bean with her parents a couple of times and that gave me comfort. If the Bean could survive, then Squiggles would be fine too. In fact I remember MM writing that the kids didn't want to come back home! With that reassuring thought in my mind, we left.

We were excited about the flight because we were flying in the A380 for the first time. Rather, DD was really excited. And I'm glad for his sake that it did live up to his expectations. Otherwise, I would have never heard the end of it.
The first thing that we did when we landed in Tokyo was to call home to check on S. Since we were an hour ahead of Singapore, she was still asleep. Mom told me that she had gone to bed shortly after we'd left and had slept soundly through the night. Nothing to worry about yet.
Narita airport is miles from Tokyo and the best option is to take the bus which drops you at your hotel. There is no direct train to the city and the cabs are ridiculously expensive ($150+). So, we bought our bus ticket but had to wait an hour for the next bus service. By the time we got to the hotel it was nearly 11am. We checked in only to find we had been given twin beds! Sometimes you have to fight for romance :).
Since we only had one day in Tokyo, we quickly headed out to explore. DD has been several times but this was my first visit to Japan. We spent the morning exploring Ginza which is the main shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo. It was burning hot though and it just seemed a good idea to get lunch. DD picked up a sandwich in a local shop while I had lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant where I had a bento set lunch. Then we went to the food section of a local department store and ended up buying loads of cookie boxes. The Japanese really know how to bake and their packaging is amazing. Every little cookie or biscuit is individually wrapped to maintain freshness. The cookie tins are so pretty too. After spending a ridiculous amount of money on what are only cookies after all, we headed to Tokyo central station to exchange our rail pass voucher for the pass and to make reservations for our onward journeys.

The Japanese are really friendly. Somehow, I had expected them to be rude and impolite (i.e. racist) but they were not. In fact, wherever we went, they were warm and friendly even though language was a barrier. After sorting out our tickets, we headed to Ueno which is in the north of Tokyo. Saw a temple and explored the local food market. And headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. Set out again in the evening for dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant called Gonpachi, which is actually quite famous because Kill Bill 2 was shot there. Followed that with a short visit to a bar and then walked back through Roppongi to our hotel even though the heels were killing me because DD kept saying that the hotel was 'just after the building'. Right.

The next morning we left early to go to Kiso Fukushima where my aunt and uncle have a lovely holiday home. They happened to be on holiday and we'd arranged to spend a day with them. Kiso is in the Japanese Alps and it's simply beautiful. While Tokyo is an urban nightmare, Kiso is all that you imagine traditional Japan to be.
Traditional Sake Shop
We spent the afternoon exploring a local post town, bought local lacquerware, had lunch in a local noodle place which was absolutely yum.
Cold Soba (Noodles)
After exhausting ourselves, we reached their house in the evening. Spent a lovely evening, chit chatting, drinking draught sake and having a great teppanyaki meal. Woke up late the next day and lazed around.
View from the house
Took a spin in my Uncle's Ferrari (yes, it was red!) and then got dropped off at the station for our train to Kyoto.


Kyoto is simply beautiful. Somebody described it as an elegant city and it truly is. It used to be the Japanese capital before Tokyo for over a 1000 years. All the history centres around this beautiful town. After checking in, we decided to explore Kyoto on foot.
A couple of local women in Kimonos
We walked from our hotel all the way to Gion (the Geisha district).
Gion
It has this old wordly charm, old wooden structures. You could sense and breathe the history there. We even spotted a Geisha / Maiko but DD was slow to take a pic, so unfortunately we don't have any pictures. The next day we took a day sightseeing trip around Kyoto. Here are some of the pictures of the day.
The Golden Pavilion
Entrance to a castle
Shinto Shrine in Kyoto
No trip can be complete without shopping. Despite promising myself not to go crazy, I did buy loads. Bought a cute little kimono for S (Dottie - See, I listened to you) and myself (even though no one asked me to). Bought loads of Japanese pottery, a couple of vases, beautiful lacquer jewellery box and a lovely tray. Basically, have given a good fillip to the Japanese economy!
In case you were wondering, S was perfectly fine without us. No crying, nothing. Maybe she missed me a little but it was definitely not evident in her behaviour in my absence, according to Mom. When she saw me after a gap of 5 days, she was happy but no super excitement. Though she didn't leave me that evening. Always returning to make sure I was around.


Now you will ask, how did I fare. Actually I surprised myself. Except for the first day when I kept worrying, I was absolutely fine. When I saw other kids, I would wish she was there and my heart would squeeze that much. But I didn't spend the whole weekend wishing I was back home :). If we'd taken her, we would have seen more of the toilets and restaurants and less of the places. Plus, it was good to spend some time alone with DD after such a long time, if only to remember that we are better off as a family. LOL.
Thanks Sue, for nudging me out of my lazy state to post about the trip.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Home Alone

Not quite, but close enough. Actually not even close enough. I refer to the title of my post. Squiggles is not to be home alone. She will be with her grandparents. While we are off. To Tokyo. Sans Squiggles.

Yes, sans Squiggles. I mean, without S. Really. I know! For 5 days. The grandparents have the pleasure of her company for 120 hours. That should sort out the enthusiasm and complaints about not having her overnight. I'm just worried they won't ever volunteer again!

I'm not sure how I am going to cope. I see you can spot the selfish thought here. I am worried about S but I'm not worried about her being worried about me not being around. Right. Well, what I mean is that I think she will be fine but I will keep worrying that she's not because I think she will miss me. But in reality she will be fine. The evidence is here.

It'll be strange being on holiday without her. I haven't been away from her for even a day for the last 1 year, 2 months and 5 days, but who's counting? WHO?

It would be a good question why I'm doing this if I'm so worried. Well, because it would be a bit difficult travelling with her in Japan. She's usually in bed by 7pm and that basically takes the evening away from us and it's a bit crap if you have to spend the evening in crappy hotels in Japan where the rooms are like a tiny match box. We will be using public transport primarily and I'm not confident of doing whole days out and about with her. And who am I kidding, it would be rather nice to explore the place as we would in our pre-baby days. Not having to worry about anything or having to miss out on key bits because its not baby friendly. Excuses I know.

I will stop justifying myself and say that I am excited. We're going in the new A380. We will go to Kyoto for a night Go for a day to Mt. Fuji. And spend a couple of days in Tokyo. I leave on Wed late night and am back Mon evening. I'm looking forward to picking up some nice Japanese lacquerware but I have promised myself that I will not spend too much time looking for it. And the food should be fantastic. I'm not worried about DD even though he is vegetarian because really, who asked him to be veggie? Huh, not me! Selfish, I know :).

And I will not call S too often. I think.

Sayonara!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A day at the bird park that we will never forget

Now Squiggles' first visit to the bird park is not something that I would expect to forget. But she made sure that even when I am senile I will not forget what she did on this hot sunny Saturday afternoon.

The Singapore Bird Park is a popular tourist attraction and DD's aunt and uncle were very keen to go there. The plan was to go shopping in the morning, come back home for lunch and then head out to the bird park about 3pm. So, I just picked up Squiggles' water bottle and one diaper, not really expecting to need anything more since we would be back home in a couple of hours. And just to make things easier, we didn't take the pram along either. DD had a super bright idea and decided half way that we would go to the bird park first. Despite my subtle reminders that it wouldn't be convenient because we weren't carrying the requisite baby stuff, he over rode me and we headed to the park.

The afternoon sun was at its peak at 1pm and I had no sunscreen for Squiggles. With visions of a pink sunburnt Squiggles flashing through my mind I attempted to provide as much shade as possible through my hands and the miniscule cover of the rented pram.

We saw some beautiful birds. Amazing flamingoes, pelicans, parakeets, parrots, mynahs, birds of prey and many more. One of the displays was this huge open air net canopy which was just like being inside a rain forest. The birds couldn't escape because of the net but it was still big enough for them to flutter around. They also had paths that enabled us to walk around amidst the vegetation and feed the birds. The colourful birds were clearly used to humans and instead of flying away were quite happy to come up and be fed.

Of course they hadn't reckoned for little Miss Squiggles. DD was holding her hand and showing her all the birds. At one point she let go of his hand to explore with a bit more independence. And suddenly out of the blue, she reached out and tried to grab the parrot's beak! The poor terrified and shocked parrot responded in reflex by biting her finger. Thankfully, she wasn't hurt (Squiggles, I mean). But she sure had a shock of her life. And was wailing and whining for a while after. I was torn between laughter and concern. Once I knew she was unhurt, I couldn't help chuckling. Only our original character could make her first trip to the bird park so memorable. We were joking afterwards, that we couldn't take her to the zoo because she would try to take on the lion and that wouldn't be a good result!

The rest of the afternoon was uneventful in comparison :).

Is it always black and white? Or is there a deep grey somewhere?

It was a super hectic weekend. It had me wishing there was a bit more time to relax and that is not me at all. Nathan's aunt and uncle had a stopover in Singapore on their way to Australia and they were staying with us over the weekend. If I'm honest, I wasn't looking forward to their visit. For a number of reasons. Recently I had heard only negative things about them from DD so that obviously put me off. I was really wondering why I should spend my weekend taking care of people my husband wasn't even close to. But the weekend was an eye opener.

The main reason DD felt like that was because his maternal grandmother (Naani) was recently asked to stay in an old age home by this aunt and uncle and he was very upset about that.

DD has 2 uncles and 1 aunt from the maternal side. His Naani has always stayed with the middle son (the uncle who was visting us) because the eldest son didn't want to keep her. She has taken care of their children while both husband and wife were working. Both their children are overseas and the couple took VRS a year ago and now want to spend their time visiting their children. They can't take DD's Naani with them as she's very old and she doesn't have a passport. The flight to Australia or the US would in any case be beyond her. Plus, they were looking for a bride for their son and kept needing to leave town to go check out eligible girls. In addition to the above, they live in Kerala where apparently domestic help is difficult to come by. And DD's aunt had recently had her uterus removed so she was unable to do much house work for a few months. In addition to DD's Naani, his aunt's mother was also staying with them. So, they had the responsibility of both mothers which they felt they were unable to deal with. So, they left both mothers in the old age home.

It would be unfair not to point out that DD's mom hasn't paid a stellar role either. When she found out her mother was staying in an old age home, she was upset and shed loads of tears but didn't take any steps to either confront her brother or take action and bring her mother to stay with her. In fact, I was in Delhi at the time and I remember I asked her why she wouldn't keep her mother, and her response had been that DD's sister was expecting and we were in town so there was not enough space and she didn't have enough domestic help to take care of her mother. What utter rubbish. It made me furious to hear her say there wasn't enough space in the house. Not enough space for your own mother! And this is a god fearing woman.

Anyways, we were in Delhi again in March and we'd gone to visit his Naani in Cochin and stayed with her in the old age ashram. It was such a difficult experience. This place was full of old people who were there because there was no one to take care of them. Either their children were overseas or they were childless. They were so happy to see us and of course Squiggles. We made it a point to talk to most of the other inhabitants of the home and enquire about their lives. They all seemed happy there but it almost felt like a place where people come to die. Not that it was a depressing place but there is no purpose to being there. You have only one another (if you're a couple) or no one at all that you can really call your own or spend time with. How sad. We spend all our lives chasing after material things and yet when it comes to a time where we really have material comforts, that is all that we have and it's not enough.

After we returned back to Delhi, DD spoke to his parents and impressed upon them the need to ask his grandma to stay with them. They maintained that they were always in favour of the idea but that his grandmother was the one who wanted to stay with the SON and not with the daughter. She was afraid that if she made a mistake her son-in-law might not be happy and ask her to leave. Not that his parents would ill treat her but this was the old fashioned notion that his grandmother was carrying. DD spoke to her and convinced her that he would buy the room in the old age home for her so that if she ever felt that his parents weren't treating her well, she would have a place to go to. We even considered bringing her to Singapore but the logistics of getting her a passport wasn't going to be easy as she didn't have a permanent address etc. And asking her to adjust to a foreign country just didn't seem like the right solution at her age. After a lot of convincing, she has finally come to stay with his parents in Delhi.

Now I compare this situation to what has happened in my family and is it any wonder that I look at DD's family with disappointment? My maternal grandfather was suffering from Alzheimers and was extremely difficult to handle. And yet my eldest uncle and aunt took care of him like they would of a new born baby. At the worst of his illness, he would hit them, verbally abuse them, not recognise them, call my aunt a slut and tell her she was having an affair with sundry men. He would leave home and run away without telling anyone and they had to deal with the stress of looking for him. He would pass urine and poo all over the house and they would clean it. He was extremely violent and yet would cry inconsolably like a baby sometimes. I don't think there is anyway that I can explain in mere words what they went through with him for the last 12 years of his life. And yet they took care of him with love and affection. They treated him with dignity. That is why I respect them so much. So, this is my standard of how children should take care of their parents. It's a very high one but it is the only one, as far as I'm concerned.

DD was very upset when he first heard about his Naani being all alone in the old age home. He's very attached to his grandmother because she has brought him up when he was a baby. For a few years after DD was born, his mom was working and she would leave DD with her mother for the day. As I found out this weekend, this uncle was staying with his elder brother at the time. The elder brother refused to let his sister (DD's mom) leave DD with them during the day because it was too disturbing at home. That's when this uncle left and found another place to stay even though he could ill afford it, just so that DD's mom could leave DD with her mother and continue working.

This is the same person who has now left his mother in the old age home. I don't condone his behaviour but I think having spent some time with them this weekend I realised that not everything is black and white. They were very nice. They stayed and were comfortable just as they would be at home. His aunt cooked and fed us. I was ill last night with a terrible stomach bug and she made dinner even though we had been out the whole day and she was tired. She even made some home remedy for me so that I would feel better. I kept thinking that she probably expected me to do much more for them and is right now thinking what a crappy girl her nephew has married who couldn't even make a simple meal for them. But even if she thought that she never let on. After dinner, they were regaling us with stories from their youth and telling me stories about DD as a child. It made me realise that DD and his aunt and uncle had a bond. It was there for me to see in the stories that they were telling so effortlessly. Maybe the recent events weren't great, but it wouldn't do to forget the past either. Maybe there's a middle ground, at least in the way we relate to them. It doesn't have to be all animosity. It was a comfortable evening. And we did have fun the whole weekend with them.

There is a deep grey somewhere.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vocabulary and other bits and pieces

Squiggles' vocabulary has been expanding of late. She finally has something from me...... the talking genes!

She can speak four languages. Honest. She can say four words from four different languages.
1. Nahin (Hindi)
2. Ada (Tamil)
3. Uda (Indonesian)
4. Flower (English)

Most of her words are in English though, even though I speak to her primarily in Hindi.

Some of the newer words she's picked up...
1. Hello - she enunciates it very clearly and since this is the mot du jour, she practices it constantly.
2. Flower - again very clearly pronounced.
3. Two - She said it for the first time today. And almost said 'Th...' (three).
4. Leaf
5. Shoes
6. Juice
7. Hi ya
8. Dudhu chahiye (want Milk)
9. Nahin Chahiye (don't want)
10. Ball
Seem to have forgotten the others :(. Will come back and edit this post as and when I remember some more.
**************************************************************************************

She can also point out the nose on anyone's face. The eyes are a bit tricky at the moment because we're all wary of her poking her finger into our eyeballs! I'm telling you, it hurts. A lot.

***********************************************************************************

She loves playing with balls. She has two tennis balls which she holds with both hands and then lets go of both of them by throwing both her hands simultaneously. We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon recently with DD and me at either end of the passage which all the rooms open in to, and Squiggles was in the middle running around throwing the tennis balls at us. We had so much fun. All three of us were giggling and throwing the balls all over the place.
Tennis Balls - $2, Family Fun: Priceless.

*************************************************************************************
Squiggles is also quite a friendly child. Maybe even a tad bit over friendly. She manages to scare people off. The other day in the park, she approached a group of 6-7 year olds and went and poked one of the older girls (nicely). It was more of a little touch than a poke really. They looked at her in disgust and walked off! It was quite funny actually because they were kind of scared of this unknown entity :). They didn't know what to make of her, so ended up running away. Obviously I wanted to kill them first for ignoring my child but I got over that pretty soon to see the humour in the situation. A one year old chasing away a bunch of 3 footers!
**********************************************************************************

Can't think of anything else earth shattering. Till next time. Have a super duper week.

It's plain ridiculous

I go to pick up Squiggles from my mom's place after a long day at work, with visions of playing with her and having fun. There's a smile on my face as I head home. I spot her in the park with my mom's maid walking around admiring the flowers. As she spots me she smiles widely. But the moment I step forward to take her in to my arms, she turns her head away and lets out a wail. She doesn't want to come home!

This is the second day in a row that it is happened. She's happy to see us but doesn't want to go home. She does the same with DD. She smiles at him but the moment he reaches out she turns away. She cries, flaps her hands and legs in protest. Some ingenuous tricking is required to buckle her into the car seat and even then she's calling out for Aunty Pari.

I tell you....... crazy crazy child.

It's the a similar story every morning. Once she's had her milk in the morning, the shoes are worn. And she's bustling about doing nothing. When she spots me coming out for breakfast she realises it's time to go to Grandma's house. And then the drama starts. She rushes to Aunty Yeti (my maid), points out her chappals to her, makes wild noises asking her to wear her shoes. Then she heads to the door and starts banging it, wanting to leave. Finally we head out the door where she excitedly points out my shoes to me. All the while constantly chattering. As the lift door opens, she rushes in and stands in a corner waiting for us to enter. Sometimes she stamps her feet in excitement. Her manner is that of a self important old man! A lot of movement, arms moving back and forth, walking fast, almost running in her excitement to reach the car. And once she's in the car, she sits quietly till we reach my mom's place which is just a couple of minutes drive away.

As soon as she spots the building, she again starts chattering excitedly, straining to get out of the car. As the car stops, she says bye-bye and waves cheerily. If I'm lucky I even get a flying kiss.
I let her go with a pang in my heart. But I'm happy that she's so happy to be there.

Wish she was as happy to come back home in the evening!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Eating can be fun.........honest.

Hi everyone,


Mummy has been trying to get me to eat all kinds of yucky stuff. I have maintained that eating is boring. So, I usually have my lunch in the park, on the balcony, or while playing in my room. I hate my high chair. At least I did. Until Ma made it more fun. But it was only the ONCE. It hasn't been repeated since. Why? I want to know WHY? Tell her to let me do it more often. Please. Pretty Please.


Squiggles

PS: I have some pictures as proof of the fun!


The piano series

I wanted to update you on Squiggles' musical progress :).
At 8 weeks
At 16 weeks

At 11 months

At 13 months (check out the finger poised above the key)


What fun :).

Squiggles goes bald

I completely forgot to mention that we shaved Squiggles' head 3 weeks back. She howled and howled. I don't think it was painful but she really objected to being held tight. Well, here's a picture of her with her new hair style (pun intended). I prefer her with her hair. I don't think the baldie look suits her. What do you think?

Before


After

Squiggles' Birthday Party Invites

I have this need to avoid commercial mass produced stuff. It doesn't mean that everything I buy is one of a kind. Let me try and explain. I don't buy Squiggles books that are produced by Disney etc. Mainly because I feel that the raison d'etre for these books is not to provide a good story or great illustrations which fire the child's imagination but they are there as part of an over reaching marketing strategy to create cartoon / brand loyalty in the child's mind. Now I know that a year down the line when Squiggles thinks the world of whichever character I will be eating my words but the control is still with me at the moment.


Now you're wondering what this has to do with Squiggles' birthday party invites. Well, in a misguided attempt to avoid all the Disney invites, I actually created all the birthday invites for Squiggles's 1st birthday from scratch. Now, this was a by-product of me having too much time. But more that I wanted to do something really special to mark her birthday. Create something. This was particularly a challenge because I am not creatively inclined. Really. Not. Plus, DD was particularly discouraging! So, that meant that I had to prove him wrong :).


So I asked around and found out about a couple of art and craft stores that I could source my materials from. When I got there, I was gobsmacked. There were rows and rows of stuff. That really is the best way to describe it. I had no idea where to start from. Finally, a staff member seeing me looking more than a bit lost, came to help me. After a super fast 10 min introduction to the world of craft, she left me to figure it out myself. Let's just say that by the time I left, I was out of pocket by a sum which one shouldn't really spend on birthday invites. I tried to justify it to myself by saying that I could re-use some of the materials, but I had to return 2 more times because I ran out of 'stuff'!


I think they came out quite well. Each card was different. Some had the child's name on there. Some had 'It's a Party'. Each was unique. And I took pictures to show Squiggles for when she grows up!

Here's a sample of a few of them.



Friday, July 4, 2008

Jam packed

The problem with not blogging for so long is it's difficult to decide where where to start. Hmmmm. At the beginning then.

I started work at the beginning of June and it has been super hectic. Which explains my absence these past few weeks.
Before I started I was full of misgivings about whether I was being selfish about going back to work, leaving Squiggles with my mom and the whole guilt business. I must say though that in all of this Squiggles has surprised me the most with her ability to adapt. If I'm honest then I will admit that from day one she didn't miss me. At all. She sees me off happily, waving cheerily and receiving my presence in the evening with equanimity. Sometimes a little excitement, but nothing overwhelming. But once I am home in the evening, she won't leave my side till she's asleep. I guess that's the only sign she shows of needing me or missing me.
What was tough about the first week at work was that Squiggles came down with a serious case of the flu. She had high fever (103 deg F) and just wasn't well. This meant that I was up with her all night, checking her temperature, medicating her and then heading out to work in the morning. It really tested my resolve about going back to work. But she soldiered through after a course of antibiotics. I don't think I could have continued going to the office if I didn't have the support of my mom. I think I would have just left.
The daily routine is something like this. I leave by about 8.30 in the morning. My dad comes and picks up all of us. We drop Squiggles with my maid at the my mom's and then DD picks me up in the evening and we pick up Squiggles on our way back. I then spend an hour or so playing with her. She has her milk and then she's usually out by 7.30pm.
I've gotten over the guilt phase now. I am enjoying being back at work though I do miss Squiggles and one part of me continues to wish that I was the kind of person who could be happy at home so that I could spend more time playing with S. The hours are quite long but I make it a point to leave by 6pm. I'm home by 6.30pm. And if I need to work then I spend a couple of hours after dinner. Or put in more time over the weekend. My problem is also that I cannot accept going to work for timepass. I need to keep proving myself, giving my best. I can't do the 'chalta hai' attitude. Which means that sleep is a precious commodity.
I'm still struggling with the new organisation. I've been given a lot of responsibility and really there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. So, I'm spending a lot of home time thinking about work related things. Which if I wasn't gunning for a promotion within 12 months, would be all right. But if I really want that promotion I have to bust my gut. Sigh. Convoluted thoughts here as well.

Let's move on to more positive stuff. Squiggles is just a lot of fun these days. She has developed a keen sense of fun and mischief and is seen busily pottering around the house all day. From the moment she wakes up, she is up and about. Cheerfully exploring the house, running around re-discovering her friends and things that she hasn't seen since the previous night. We play games, sing songs and she joins in. Enthusiastically.
Her vocabulary is also expanding. She says 'flower' quite clearly. And if she doesn't want something then 'nahin nahin' is very emphatically stated with a clear shake of the head. A couple of weekends ago I told her to go in and wake papa up. Off she went from the living room to our bedroom, and a few seconds later I could hear her saying gibberish to DD who was sleeping in he middle of the day! Kids are so intelligent. I couldn't believe that not only had she understood what I was asking of her but she was able to do it as well.
Whenever we get into the lift, she loves pressing the button and seeing it light up. It always brings this big wide grin to her face. She also knows that before pressing the button for our floor, she has to swipe our security pass which allows us access to the lift.
I've been taking her to this indoor playground the last couple of saturdays and she loves it there. My mom was with me one day and she had S's lunch with her. I would ask her to go to grandma and get a bite before returning to the playground and she was very obedient about it. She would hobble along to my mom, get her bite and then promptly return to the play area. By the time she got there, it was time to turn around and get her next bite. It was so cute.
She loves going down to the park and mom tells me that she goes down at least 6-8 times every day with the maid. She will point to the pram and tell them to put her in it. And if they don't put the seat belt she cries because she equates the seat belt with going out. If I ask her to go find her shoes, she promptly disappears to look for them. And then will proudly hold them up when she finds them. Obviously this means we have to take her down. She almost hyperventilates when it is time to go somewhere. She gets so excited, flapping her arms and legs wildly. Almost a bit crazily actually :).
She has really come into her own this last few weeks. She has her own personality and she's displaying stubborn streaks. She's very clear about what she wants or doesn't want. She observes things and remembers them.
She can open all the drawers now and she loves exploring them. But she will not explore the one drawer which I have created just for her - the one drawer that does not have any important papers or harmful object. This drawer she doesn't touch.
Oh and I forgot to tell you, she pointed at our wine rack the other day and said 'nahin nahin'! She knows she's not supposed to touch that!
So much is happening every day......... Every moment that I spend with her is precious because there are so few of them nowadays.
Do I regret going back to work? No.
Do I regret spending less time with S? Yes.
Where can the two meet?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Squiggles

Did I expect the rush of intense emotion when I first saw you. Like a feeling of awe. One second you were inside me, and the next you were your own tiny person. Covered in stuff that wasn't very attractive, if I'm honest :). The rational part of me registered that. Like clocking all the facts and filing them away to be retrieved later. Another part of me was amazed. I guess it was difficult to register that you were safe and sound with me. All my fears of whether I would be able to carry you to safety, put to rest.

What can I say about the last one year that wouldn't sound like a cliche. Every mother goes through this experience and yet each experience tends to be unique. Because each of us is unique and each child more so. You changed my life and you changed me. In all the wonderful ways. Ways, that unless I actually experienced it myself, I would never have believed in. I'm a convert. Motherhood suits me. I love being a mom. Actually, I love being your mom :).

How would I describe the little person that you've become over the last year. From a tiny helpless thing with only one expression to a little person with a surprisingly large repertoire of expressions, antics and intent. I remember the early days. Your needs were very basic. And I was struggling to cope. Dad was hounding me about things that should have been sorted later, when I was more ready. You were having colicky phases which only Grandma knew how to sort out. Sore nipples, episiotomy wounds, feeling fat and frumpy... the list is endless. And yet through all of that what I remember most is the gorgeous little smiles you would give in your sleep. Sometimes even the sweet sound of your laugh. It fascinated me that you expressed all this in your sleep. Grandma said the fairies were visiting you and I like to believe that.

One of the biggest changes in me is the increasing wealth of patience that I have developed. It surprised me to see that I could cope with all the demands you made not just with patience but with a well of love that I didn't believe myself capable of. The other thing that I have become is irrational. My fears for your well being, for your safety can only be called crazy. I have imagined every scenario and worse. This fear will never leave me, I recognise that.

How would I describe you today?
Full of energy. You hate sleeping. You want to play all the time. Now that you're walking, you want to walk all the time. You're also very social. Very keen to introduce yourself to absolute strangers. Other children fascinate you. You prefer if they are older than you but anyone will do as long as they are not a giant! You love the water. Bath times are fun times for you and have been always. You recognise the fish in your tub and point them out to me every now and then. When you were littler, you were fascinated by the water gushing out through the plug hole. You would spend fascinating minutes trying to catch the water gushing out.
You've also learnt to show your affection voluntarily. I can now expect a hug or a kiss. Of course, if I initiate it then you may or may not deign to allow me to smother you with hugs and kisses. You love going out. You could spend all your time downstairs watching the people, dogs, flowers, plants. You love 'Toto'. Your word for a dog which has now expanded to include all animals you like. Daddy bought you a white and blue stuffed dog which you adore. That's our saviour for when we need you to sit in the car seat. You pounce upon the fellow and pummel him mercilessly. But he's survived pretty well.
You're capable of the most impressive tantrums. If ignored, it's equally impressive to see them subside on their own :).
We have so much fun, you and I. We play games, go out and do stuff. Now that I'm working, you've amazed me by showing how less you miss me! Here I was imagining tortuous scenes and there you're busy playing with your Aunty. You love her to bits. She plays with you, feeds you, makes funny sounds and you love her for that. She's your favourite person. I'm still wondering where I stand in the pecking order when she's around :). You're a special child. Special to me in ways that you will never understand nor appreciate.

I love you, baby. More than you can believe. Remember that always.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mama

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Change is in the air

Publishing an old post in the draft box which I never got around to completing. I wrote this just as I was about to go back to work.

Things are going to change. For better or for worse, only time will tell. I start work on Monday. Finally, after 15 months away from the corporate world.


A lot of people ask me if I'm feeling excited and I think about it and the answer is no. It surprises me that I should think so. Getting this job took over 3 months. The whole interview process was tortuous and made more difficult by the fact that we were travelling and I had to do telephonic interviews. It's with a really good firm but I'm not too sure about the role. I decided to try it out so that I could see how both Squiggles and I would adjust to me being away from home. And also, with the current economic environment, there just aren't enough good senior roles going around.


I don't think I am too worried about S. I will drop her off at my mom's before I leave for work (she lives 5mins away). My maid will finish off her house duties and head over to look after S in the afternoon. And I will bring them both back with me in the evening. I have left her for 4-5 hours at a stretch before and she's been ok. This will be different in that it will happen day after day and she will realise that I'm going to be gone for a large part of the day, everyday.


I guess why I remain uncertain is that despite a really tough start to mommydom, which was worsened with my PND, in the last couple of months since I snapped out of it, S and I have been having loads of fun. She's a fun child, full of energy and always wanting to do things. As long as she's busy, she's happy. She has been crying only when ....... (this is where it ended).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The celebrations begin




For the next 10 days we will be celebrating Squiggles' birthday. Starting with her Star birthday (according to the Hindu calendar) this morning, to her birthday party next Saturday and her actual birthday on Sunday (8th June)!

We had a havan (prayer) for her this morning at home. It meant waking up at an unearthly hour of 5 in the morning but it's nothing compared to the many nocturnal feedings I've given her so I guess in comparison we're doing really well if I only have to wake up at 5 in the morning! The previous day we had got all the things that were required from Little India. I'm always amazed to find the most obscure ingredients that the shopkeepers manage to source for their Indian customers. Anything that is required for a havan in India was available here.

DD's parents are visiting us for 2 weeks and her star birthday was the defining moment of their trip. They were really excited about the event and were busy planning it since they landed. So, they were at their element in the Tam store, haggling and negotiating quantities of ingredients required for the havan.

DD showered first and then went to get the priest. Once he had vacated the bathroom, I showered and then went to wake up Squiggles. She's usually very eager to get up but this morning it was an hour before her usual time so I indulged myself in cuddling her without having her squirm away. I wished her happy birthday as her eyes were tightly shut and gently cajoled her out of her sleep. One second she was asleep and the next she was up and scampering around. Once she's awake she doesn't stay still for a second!

I fed her and then took her for a bath at the very early hour of 6.15am. She was a trooper and went about enjoying the unexpectedly early downpour :). I then quickly dressed her up in a brand new Pavadai (South Indian lehenga/ethnic dress) which DD's parents had custom made for her in Delhi. It's a beautiful deep orange. Even if I say so myself, she looked lovely :).
I then quickly donned my saree. I chose a dark green Kanjeevaram. I'd last worn it on my wedding day and hadn't found an occasion since to do it justice. Well, it found it's way out of my cupboard this morning! It's a partciular favourite and I loved wearing it after so many years.
We had to start the puja before 7 due to some inauspicious hour etc. Since the priest was a bit late in arriving, everyone was scampering around to get everything ready so that we could start in time.

Squiggles sat in my lap as we began the puja. And she stayed there for the next half an hour without complaint. We kept her occupied by handing her a biscuit, some flowers and other miscellaneous items which only she could find interesting. I was impressed that she wasn't crying. In fact she was very cheerful. Good girl. As the fire was lit, the smoke started bothering her and she started whimpering. She was then whisked away to be entertained by two sets of grandparents and two maids while we braved on!

An hour and half later the puja and havan was over. DD went to drop the priest off and the two moms started getting breakfast ready. My grand aunt and uncle were going to join us for breakfast since they couldn't make it for the puja itself. And what a feast it was! Dal Pakwan and Sweet Sevai and Masala Aloo from the Sindhi side of the family. Idli, Dosa and Vadai from the South Indian side :). No contribution from me!

Everyone dug in and enjoyed the food. I continued eating in spurts throughout the day. Squiggles had her regular apple porridge for breakfast though she managed to wrangle some Idli and a bite of everything else out of all of us as well. We wound up around 10.30 and then spent some time clearing up.
After a break of a couple of hours, we then took her to a goldsmith to get her ears pierced. DD was all set to examine the equipment and check for sterilisation policies. I had to convince him he had to be discreet else we would be blacklisted in all the shops in Little India. We entered the first shop but they sounded a bit vague about what was required to be done.
On DD's insistence, we went to another shop next doors and they seemed more knowledgeable. We quickly selected tiny gold tops for her. The shopkeepers marked her ears with a tiny dot where they would pierce her ear. I held her in my lap and held her chin while DD held her arms tightly. Counting together, the two shopkeepers simultaneously pierced her ears. Squiggles' had already started crying when we held her tight but with the the gun pierce she let out a whelp and started crying in full measure. I tried to calm her down and distract her with all the gold displayed in the shop. After a few minutes she was better but still refused to go to anybody else (which I was secretly pleased about... I know I'm sad, OK?). The two moms did some vegetable shopping and 15 minutes later we head back home with a calm little angel.

She's been ok with the piercing so far. I've made sure no one points out her newly pierced ears to her because I know that the moment she spots those shiny gold dots in her ears, she's going to try her level best to get them off and that's when it will get really painful. So far, she's handling it pretty well.

Overall she was a star child. She was cranky in bits during the day because she wanted to sleep but the bouts would last a short while and she would revert to her normal cheerful self shortly after. I would go so far as to say, I think she really enjoyed her day despite having to wake up early, have a bath at 6 in the morning, bear with smoke in the house and have pain inflicted on her!

It was a day that went off really well. You know sometimes you plan things and still something will happen to alter the mood of the day. Either you will be rushed, or things will not turn out as you planned, or something will happen. I can say as I sign off, that today was an exception :). And this obviously means something will go wrong on her party or her birthday next week! So, here's Dottie's anti-jinx!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Post Natal Depression - Sounds familiar?

It seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. The responsibility of having a child, feeding it, looking after it, entertaining it, nursing it through sickness and through health. All of that was mine, and mine alone. No one understood how dificult it was for me to deal with nappies, breastfeeding, staying at home, holding a crying baby. Everyone was out there having fun. Husband included.

He was the worst culprit. He didn't know anything about being a parent. Nothing. He didn't have to put on any weight. His nipples weren't sore from breastfeeding. He wasn't stuck at home. His job ended in the evenings. He wasn't eating like a pig. Maybe I should have divorced him. I didn't like him anymore. I hated all his habits, his quirks. Anything he said, annoyed me. I was miserable. Whereever I could see, I would see bad. Everything was wrong with my world and none of it was my fault.

I didn't want to get out of the house. What was the point. With a small baby all that meant was that by the time I reached wherever I was going, it would be time to feed her. Then she would poo and I would need to change her diaper and then it was time to get back home. My room was my comfort zone. I was happy to sit on the bed and surf the net. I wouldn't step out of my room for hours. Life was one big hell and none of it was my fault.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can say it was no one's fault. Post Natal Depression (PND) is a killer. It's a vicious circle that is very hard to get out of. Everyone seems to be conspiring to make you miserable. Nothing seems right.

I suffered through the worst of it for at least 6 months after Squiggles' birth. I started breaking out of it when we went to India in December. Meeting new people, doing different things helped. But Squiggles was a clinger, so it didn't help as much. If I'm honest, the distance from DD helped as well. If only to remind me that I loved him and that I was just loony to consider any other option in my hormonal state.

Things continued like that for a few more months. Sometimes good days, sometimes bad days. It was hard to predict when I would feel low. There were more good days than bad days. And then suddenly it just snapped and I was a new person. Maybe it was the fact that I was offered a job and it restored my self esteem. Maybe it was Squiggles who grew up and was less of a baby. Maybe it was the month long vacation with DD in March. Maybe it was something else. But suddenly, I was like my old self. I was happy and content. I was enjoying Squiggles more and more each day. We were doing fun things together. My relationship with DD started resembling our old days. I wasn't nasty to him anymore, and he was effortlessly nice. We were a family and were enjoying it.

I can only breathe a sigh of relief now. It wasn't nice being who I was for the longest time. I was hell to live with and I didn't want anyone's help. I'm so glad it's over. It never felt like it would end.

If any of this seems familiar, then I just want you to know that you're not alone. There are others who have been through it and come out fine. Just don't give in. Keep trying to get back to your true self. You'll find yourself again. If it seems tough, get professional help. The difficult bit is recognising the symptoms. I kept asking myself if I had PND, but I didn't want to acknowledge it. It's better to take help for it rather than suffer through it and let others around you suffer as well.

I'm glad I'm back.

Of Squiggly things

Once S figured out that she had to put one foot in front of the other, bas, that's it. Even though it was only 5 days ago that she took her first unaided step, she seems like a pro.
The first day, she was still hesitant but still managed 4-5 steps a few times. After that she reverted to her super fast crawling antics. But after that as her confidence has grown, she is able to travel longer distances (sounds like she's preparing for a Marathon, doesn't it?) without falling down. Several feet, in fact. It's so much fun to watch her with her uneven gait, stumble along. Sometimes as she realises she's going to lose balance, she hurries to reach some support with an extra burst of energy! It makes me feel so proud though I am not responsible for anything. But, oh, it's so much fun watching her.
*************************************************************************************

Squiggles has also discovered 'Mama'. Finally. Only a few months after 'Papa'. Only a few months *grits her teeth*. But it's such a sweet feeling when she goes in her whiny little way... Mamamamamammamam... and on and on till I pick her up. I never thought it would be so hard to resist that call. I'm wondering if I was better off without that :). She's going to get away with crazy stuff, this girl.
**************************************************************************************

When DD comes home, she goes running to him, squealing Papa Papa and jumps into his arms. While he's at work she keeps pointing at his photographs, as if reminding me that he's around here somewhere and will be back soon.
*************************************************************************************

She looks at herself in the mirror shyly and then gives herself a big grin. I think vanity has already arrived!
*************************************************************************************

Friday, May 16, 2008

We're walking!!!

I mean Squiggles. Obviously I've been walking for a long time but it's Squiggles. She's walking. It's been on the horizon for a while and she may have taken some unaided steps the last couple of days but they were over so quick, we were never sure.
Last night DD came home and enticed her with the credit cards in her wallet and she walked a couple of steps. But since I missed it, that doesn't count. It's only when the historian decides that the event happened :)).
But today when DD came back from the office and tried the same trick, it worked and this time I was at hand to see it (actually if I'm perfectly honest then I missed it the first time today again but then DD tried again; what is it with Squiggles, she will say Papa but will not say Mama, will walk for DD but not for me).
As you can imagine we've been busy with the camcorder since the last one hour. My baby is now a toddler! Aww......
She's growing up. It's too fast.
I'm so excited.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Papa

Paaaaaaaapa,

Happy Birthday! I'm missing you. Come back soon, with my presents :).



I've been quite busy while you've been away and I have managed not to break another one of your wine bottles. Honest. Mama has become a bit more fun. She's taking me down to the pool everyday and she's bought me loads of new toys. But she doesn't do the whoosh quite like you do. I miss my rides, the view from your shoulder is fantastic.



I'm trying really hard to walk. But I think I'm a bit scared of letting go. I think I may have taken a tiny weeny step on my own today but I'm not sure, it happened so fast. I think I might wait till you come back.



Aunty Yetty is a lot of fun and she plays with me all day long. Aunty Pari keeps coming over too and I think I like her now. Grandpa has been quite busy but he made up for it over the weekend. He keeps saying 'Ale, mera Sona' in that old man voice though. Mama keeps telling him to change the tone because it reminds her of the old man in the old Bajaj light bulb advert ("Roshan hota Bajaj") but you know what Grandpa's like. I don't mind it too much though.



We've been going out pretty much everyday. Ma is trying to keep herself and me busy. We've been meeting loads of new people and I'm enjoying it. Ma says I have to try and not squash other children's cup cakes. She said it wasn't very nice if your cake was pawed over by another child. I've said I'll try. But just between the two of us, I really don't see how THAT is going to work!

A big hug and a big kiss for you Paaaaaaaaaapa.


Squiggles

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bhai

Cross posted at Desi Momz Club.

Bhai (brother in Hindi)

Bhai and I have always been close. Despite the 7 year age difference. Or maybe because of it. I remember being advised of exactly what boys thought about when they were talking to girls. And yet my head was unceremoniously buried under a pillow during the age inappropriate scenes of 'Pretty Woman' and 'Basic Instinct'. Bhai would discuss his relationships though he wouldn't kiss and tell. We would talk about anything under the sun. He's the one who introduced me to Western musicians and told me to like it if I wanted to be cool :). I turned to him when I needed a shoulder to cry on. I went clubbing with his friends and him. We have been drunk together. It's that kind of relationship.

And yet, as he faces the toughest challenge of his life, I find myself looking for excuses to bring up the thing that I know disturbs him the most and yet not finding any. I know that talking about it brings him pain and anguish, so I let it be. And yet I know the problem continues with no solution in sight and I long to talk to him, to understand what he's going through. For my peace of mind. And maybe to be of help.

Temperamentally we are very different. I'm the firebrand. The one who always knew what she wanted and went after it. I was never too bothered about what my family or friends would think as long as I was convinced of the rightness of my path. He, on the other hand, has always been devoted, and the ideal child. Always concerned about how his actions will be viewed. Making sure that our parents were happy and their dreams for their children fulfilled. The 'good' boy. Popular among all our family and friends. Leaving me feeling many a time jealous of his easygoing nature and his ability to attract people.

The last few months have been tortuous as the reality of his situation has become clearer to us. Clearer, only because it has become too much for him to bear, and he has chosen to share. But that too in snippets. All of us feel it acutely and yet don't know how to help him. He doesn't want to talk about it. I feel helpless. We all feel helpless.

You're wondering why I'm writing this now. Changing the pleasant tones of this wonderful blog.

Because I need to say this to him (even though I know he won't be reading this) -

"If you need someone to talk, without judging you, or forcing you to take action, then you know where to find me. I love you, Bhai".

I can't say this to him directly though I talk to him about random other bits regularly. It's one of those things. But I'm so glad I have him and I know that I can depend on him anytime. And he has me. Always. That's what siblings are for. This is my parent's best gift to me, ever.

Squiggles Mom

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Holiday Series - Chennai

After the slight melodramatic experience of the previous night, we got up early the next morning to head out to visit DD's Atthai (Bua or father's sister) and her daughter. This was the reason for our day trip to Chennai. We had last met her at DD's sister's wedding, a year and a half ago. In the meantime, she had lost her mother, DD's grandmom, whose funeral DD had been unable to attend.


Amongst all my in-laws, DD's Atthai is my absolute favourite. She's a gentle sweet lady with a generous heart and a gracious manner. Whenever I've met her, she's embraced me with an open heart. There is no artificality, no fakeness. Just genuineness. Unlike DD's maternal family, who have more money but no heart. You'll hear more on that in the Cochin episode. But that's later.


DD's Atthai isn't well off. She lives in a poorer part of Chennai in an old run down colony. But we didn't go there. We agreed to meet at her daughter's place as they felt that would be more convenient for us to find. From the moment we entered till we left, we were constantly plied with yummy food prepared freshly in front of us. They took Squiggles from me and fed her. DD and his aunt and cousin, kept chatting, sharing news, including me where they could. Even though there was a language barrier (I know no Tamil), it didn't prevent us from enjoying each other's company. As they say, communication is only 10% verbal. Through all that was at their disposal they made us feel warm, loved and very welcome.


I'd also made an effort to wear the sari that Atthai had given me at my SIL's wedding. She was so pleased and I was happy to have made the effort. I'd even remembered to wear my Thali like a good South Indian bahu :)). Not to mention the bindi that I always forget to wear. I guess I could've worn a salwar kameez and it would have been perfectly fine. But I wanted to wear what she'd given me. I don't know when we will be visiting her again and it seemed right to show in my own way, that her present had been worn, that I had liked it and was happy to wear it.


I guess I'm feeling nostalgic so I'll put up a picture from our visit. It doesn't feel right to put their picture up but edit mine out, so you can finally see what I look like :). I'll probably delete it later. Photo deleted.

And no, that handsome young boy is not DD! He's way too young, thin and good looking :)). DD's probably twice his size *grins*

Sweetheart, if you're reading this, you know I love you, don't you?



And the generous soul that she is, she had presents for each one us. Money that they probably needed for medicines. She refuses to take money from my father in law. She has too much pride, she wants to fend for herself within her means. Despite knowing her nature, my mother-in-law bought the cheapest sari for us to gift her. And my MIL can definitely afford much better. I don't understand why people give gifts according to the income of the people they are gifting to. Surely it should be according to what you can afford. Judgements like 'they will not know how expensive it is' always irritate me. Feeling deeply uncomfortable about the presents my MIL had asked to give her, I had urged DD to buy something for her grand children when we were in Delhi. And I'm so glad we did. Of course, we were no match for her or her blessings.



The day passed way too quickly. DD's nephew was sweet enough to play the violin for us. And when I requested, his Atthai also sang a couple of songs for us. It's very traditional, isn't it, in South Indian families for everyone (who can, of course) to perform for guests? And people are so appreciative too. It's something that is missing in the North, I think. If at all there is a performance, it is invariably linked to the latest bollywood numbers. Some kid shaking their chest to 'Dhak Dhak Karne Laga'. It reminds me of the snake dance from 'Bride and Prejudice'. Which was hilarious :).



Some people know how to be happy with very little and I can only hope to learn from that.



Next stop: Kalady, Kerala (near Cochin)

Thank You God

For creating daughters.

For finally giving me someone who realises that I have been to a nail bar. Who not only notices the bright cherry painted on my toe fingers but also appreciates the subtle french manicure on my hands. Someone who doesn't take 5 days to comment on my now pristine feet. But someone who comes at a super fast crawl and tries to take off the nail that's just been painted a bright red. Someone who even tries her luck with the subtle cream on my hand nails.

Thank you God, for giving me a daughter. Now I no longer need to depend on my husband for appreciation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Holiday Series - '100 days' in Chennai

We were so glad that we hadn't missed our flight from Pune to Chennai. But this was soon followed by irritation when we learnt that the flight was delayed by 45 mins. After all that drama! We got to Chennai quite late and went straight to our hotel. We had a lovely room though none of it registered at the time and we just crashed.

Of course, the paisa vasool person that I am, when I learnt they had a jacuzzi and steam room in their health spa and it was complimentary, I couldn't resist heading down there for a short while before retiring for the night. This, despite having been on the road since 6 that morning. After I convinced DD that he really wasn't interested in that kind of relaxation, I left a sleeping Squiggles in DD's care and went down to the spa.

It was 10pm. There was an attendant there who kindly showed me around. I don't know why, but I was surprised to note that there wasn't anyone else around in the ladies section. I had the whole spa to myself. I was quite pleased. The chap switched on the jacuzzi and the steam room and left me to it.

I quickly changed and got into the jacuzzi. As the water was gushing around me, I closed my eyes to enjoy.
*I know this post is supposed to be about why we were in Chennai but I think the digression is worth it. In any case why am I justifying myself. It's my blog. huh. How you people manage to influence me without even a word, I don't know. Anyways, let me get on with it.*

Maybe 30 secs passed, maybe a minute. There was no sound except the sound of the water bursting through the jets in the jacuzzi. And yet on its own, images from a movie I had seen at least 10 years ago floated in my mind. I opened my eyes. There was no one there. It was eerily quiet. Somehow I felt I would have felt better if there was someone else around even if it meant that I would have to share the jacuzzi with a stranger. This was a top hotel in Chennai and really I had no reason to feel uneasy.

I closed my eyes again. And the image of Madhuri Dixit, Saeed Jaffery, blood and more from the movie '100 Days' flitted in and out of my mind. If you have seen the movie, then you may remember there was a scene with a murder in a public swimming pool. Let's just say that by this point I had ridiculous visions of potential safety issues. And really I wouldn't call myself a fanciful person. But sometimes you don't know yourself.

I got out of the jacuzzi and decided to use the steam room. I love the steam room. So, I bravely conquered my misgivings and entered the steam room. The steam was thick and heavy. I could barely see anything. I groped around and found the bench and sat down. Alas, my mind had lost it. Or maybe it was fatigue. But within a couple of minutes I was worried that I would faint and die there and no one would be the wiser. Or worse, I would be unable to get out of the room because I couldn't see much. So, with a resigned sigh, I got up and left. It was not meant to be.

And this from an educated, sensible, non-fanciful, unsuperstitious person. What can you say? I'll come to the point of our Chennai trip next time.

Until then.......