Friday, December 14, 2007

Given a chance...

to live my life all over again, would you do anything different? Is'nt this the kind of facetious question that interviewers ask celebrities all the time? To which the celebrity replies 'Oh! I would'nt change a thing! I just love things the way they are!!' (all the court cases and boyfriend/girlfriend problems not withstanding.)

Some people have kindly delurked and hastened to lift my sagging spirits by leaving a comment or two on my last post. To my surprise, all of them are footloose and fancy free people who seem to be single and loving it. And all of them have said something to the effect that they enjoy my writing. Thanks for that. And have said that through me they are beginning to realise how chaotic/difficult a marriage, career and a kid can be.

So that brings me back to where I started from. I met hubby at the tender age of 18 and was married to him at 22. Given a chance to live my life all over again, would I do things differently?

The answer is a simple but resounding No. I love my life the way it is right now. I love being married and I love being a mother with all the attendant complications that it brings. So for all the single people out there who are trying to decide whether to take the plunge or not, here are

My Top Reasons why someone should get married:

1. If lucky, you will get the best friend that you have ever had in your spouse. The kind of relationship which starts with passion and fireworks and grows and matures through the years like fine wine, till it touches everyone who comes in contact with its warmth.

2. You get an extended family through the marriage. A family that you may love at times and hate at others but who will enrich your life and broaden your horizons (and test the limits of your patience!;-))

3. The family that you create through the marriage, namely, your children. From being mere dreams in your heart, you get to see them take shape and grow into such wonderful human beings. I think the joy of sharing your child's special moments with your spouse has to easily be the best and finest moments of life.

Anyway, the disclaimer to the points above is that the above are true only if you are smart enough or lucky enough to find yourself that perfect guy or gal. I was. And am eternally thankful for that!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Its been a year since....

I started working again. To the day. Ok, that's not actually true. It's been a year since I am working continuously. Before that, had two false starts and two jobs where I worked for 4 months and 2 months respectively before quitting. But anyway, I have successfully crossed the 1 year milestone today and have nothing but sheer gratitude towards God above for helping me through this. And prayers..for him to help me through the years ahead..hopefully.

See, the thing is, I am a very confused person. When I was growing up and while I was in college, I always wanted to have a career. Then came marriage and then a job and I was floundering along quite helplessly with a home and a job. Add to that a boss straight from hell and I vowed to myself that I will end it all the minute I had myself a baby.

The baby came and I quit my job of 3 years quite happily without a second thought or a backward glance. And settled down to be a happy housewife with a gurgling, chubby child like the ones they show in ads. Neither happened. My attempts at being a housewife were hopeless. My attempts at making my son chubby are something I have already written about here.
Anyway both were disasters. I was edgy and discontent and launched myself on hubby with a ferocity that never failed to stun the poor man, no matter how prepared he was, as soon as he came back from work everyday. Those were the days I realised how impossibly difficult it is to be a housewife and how incredibly great amma was for being such a great one. My respect for SAHMs has gone up tremendously since then.

When kuttan was barely 10 months old, I decided to get back to work and recklessly plunged headlong without thinking of whether I was ready to leave kuttan in a day care or with a maid for a whole day. The result? 4 months of eating amma's and MIL's head into staying with us and quit my job the minute they left because I just COULD'NT bear to leave kuttan in a daycare.

After another couple of false start such as this, I am finally here today. When I look back at those years today, I know I should have done things differently. Oh, but how easy it is to be wise in hindsight! I should have just stayed put at home for the first 2 years of kuttan's life and then ventured to look for a job. That would have given our family(meaning Hubby's parents and mine) and Hubby a lot of peace and happiness. And me, a lot more hair on my head.

But still, I am here now and I cannot help feeling pleased with myself. I am finally doing what I want to do. I am working and I am managing a house and a child. Never mind the fact that I do do it with complete and unashamed dependence on my maid(s). Never mind that hubby pitches in almost(and at times more) as much as me in running the house. Never mind all the times I cry to amma for help and she drops everything and rushes to help me. Never mind that every 2 days my favorite refrain seems to be 'I am going to quit my job.' as though that is the root of all evils. I have made it through an entire year.!!And am touching wood right now and hoping that I will bumble my way thorugh many, many more!!

Postscript: Does anyone read this at all? A few days back, I used to at least get at least like 2 comments or so and its been a long time now since I got any. In need of some serious encouragement people!! Delurkers, if any, please leave a note!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another first!!

Having a child brings with it an entire world of firsts..the first time the baby smiles, the first time he sits, the first step. Each of this opens up a world of infinite possibilities and almost boundless joy to the proud parents as they watch, their hearts in their mouths, while their precious one crosses yet another milestone, conquers yet another challenge with blithe ease. This weekend was one such precious capsule of time for us, to be stored away and cherished forever - kuttan's first sports day!!

The preparations had begun almost a month back and we had received invitations with detailed instructions on everything from what the child should wear to what they should have had for breakfast. Since we had gone on vacation for most part of the practice sessions, I was a little apprehensive about how kuttan will fare. I mean, I did'nt want him to embarrass himself by coming in last or anything. (Ok, ok...I did'nt want to be embarrassed if he came in last. I have this hopelessly competitive streak in me, especially when it comes to kuttan against other kids and can't bear for him to be less than the best in anything.)

I can almost hear my hubby saying 'obsessive compulsive moron' and shaking his head but this is my blog and I will write what I want to. Anyway, I am digressing. Coming back to the eve of the big day. I ran around the house and retrieved all pieces of kuttan's outfit as specified in the letter. Had it all laid out and gave a BIG build up to kuttan about how he needs to get up early and how exciting its going to be. Glared at hubby when he asked me, 'You mean for yourself, dont you?'. Bullied the couple of them into bed by 9 in the night despite loud protests from hubby coz I did'nt want to wake up late the next day morning. Spent half the night trying to sleep becoz I was too excited to sleep.

The next day morning dawned, all sunny and crisp. I love mornings like that, you know, all cold and bright. We headed off quite early to the ground where the meeting was supposed to be held. According to the letter, we were supposed to 'go to the ground, hand over the children to the staff and hide ourselves in the stand. Oh, and clap loudly in case we wanted to have a good time.

So anyways, there was us and all the other parents (read bakras and bakris who got dragged out of their beds on a saturday morning) and all the kids got whisked off to a makeshift shed. Kuttan kept peeping from under the shed and making sure we were'nt going anywhere. Some kids clung to their parents and refused to go into the shed. Some went into the shed and cried so hard that the caretakers came and took their parents too.

I sat there half proud and half hoping he would cry so that I could go and be with him too. Finally the MC arrived and the function started. The first event was going to be 'Rabbit race'. A ripple of laughter went through the crowd and everyone waited expectantly.

The MC said 'And the participants are, Arjun Mehra, Angel, kuttan and kiddo4' whose name I dont remember. My heart stopped. What does Rabbit race mean, I asked hubby desperately. Because if it means hopping to the finish line like a bunny its very difficult and kuttan will come last. In the meantime, they called for one parent to come and stand in the finish line so that the child will get inspired to come running fast towards us.

As usual, the shy person that I am, I nudged hubby forward. And there came my baby among a round of cheers and applause, looking so small and vulnerable in that big ground that it almost broke my heart, trying desperately to locate us among the sea of faces.

The crowd waited expectantly to find out what 'Rabbit race' was. I prayed. The whistle blew. And....nothing happened. 1 kid never got off the start line and stayed there crying. The other 3 ran in slow motion, all the while searching for their parents without realising that they are standing right there in the finish line.

I am very proud to say, that of the 3 who ran, kuttan came in second. I did a mental victory jig. Kuttan and hubby came back and I whispered to hubby, 'he came in second, you know'. Hubby looked at me as though I had said something in extremely bad taste..I mean these are all 2 and 3 year olds and who is even looking who came first. And then he leaned over and whispered to me, 'He almost made it to the first. A photo finish.'

Ah!! The parenting pride bug really does not spare anyone does it?

We went home a triumphant lot. Kuttan with his first certificate and a brainvita game that he broke in 10 minutes and Hubby and I with our memories. What a perfect day it was!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Leavin' on a jet plane

Except that it is not some guy leaving his lady love. And not on a jet plane either, but on a bus. Amma is returning back to Coimbatore after a short, unexpected visit for a week which was brought on due to Asha's sudden disappearance.

And I know that she needs to go coz appa is sitting there all alone and she has a lot of stuff that she just dropped to come to Bangalore for our help. But I cant help feeling all sad and bereft and lonely about it. In fact, I have always been a home bird. Happiest when I am at home with my nose buried in some book. And I always felt at peace with the word when appa came back from work and all 3 of us were just hanging around the house.

My earliest memories of school are when I was around 5-6 years old. I was studying in a school in Tiruchi. Every morning was a BIG ordeal and appa had to literally peel me away from amma's arms and drive me to school on his trusted green Chetak scooter. And always had to stop at a certain 'Aradhana stores' for bribing me with a wooden scale and a pencil every single day. Why a scale everyday, and a wooden one at that, you might ask. No reason except that I was ridiculously fond of them and appa was a sucker for my tears...still is.

'Don't go', I used to cry clutching at appa's hands as he dropped me off.

Since I did'nt turn into an axe murderer with a wooden scale or anything despite such overindulgence, it figures that I had at one other very firm and strict parent. Mom was never moved by such drama and I always knew I could'nt go too far with her.

Anyway, I digress. I was talking about how I was a home bird. Amma used to come to pick me up from the school in the evenings. And she was never, ever late a single day all her life. In fact, she used to come quite early, while my last period was still going on. And I could look out the classroom and see her standing there. I used to sit in the last bench and hang my head out the door for most of the last period making sure she would'nt leave me and go anywhere.

Fast forward a decade and a half. Me in college. Appa does not have to bribe me with wooden scales to go to college anymore, but its still close. But being all grown up and all, I can calculate exactly how many days I need in the semester not to have attention deficit and make sure I go exactly those many days. And on the days I do go, I expect her to come right upto the gate to wave goodbye. And she'd better be around to open the gate when I get back. I remember throwing mega fits just bcoz in all those years, she probably missed for, like 2 days or so because she was on the phone.(I am not proud of my confessions, but I am determined to get it all out.)

Fast forward another decade or so. I am standing near my hubby in Bangalore and waving my parents goodbye as they go back after helping us setting up our house in Bangalore. Amma is crying and appa looks pretty close to tears himself. I am newly married, excited about starting my life with Hubby, the love of my life for the last 5 years. The whole world looks bright and full of possibilites. 'Leave early so that you can reach by afternoon', I nonchalantly tell them. They drive away, amma sobbing all the way.

Fast forward another 6 months. I have just joined my first job and am clueless but how to run a home and manage a job. Amma stays for a fortnight and gets ready to go. 'Don't go', I cry clutching her hand in the railway station. It was so convenient to have her around. I didnt have to worry about food or the house or anything. She would just take care of all my worries.

Fast forward another 5 years. Today. I have a toddler, a full-time job, a husband and a house and 2 maids to manage. I am still clueless. 'Don't go!' I want to cry clutching her hands like I was 3 years old.

Not only because its convenient to have her around, but because there is no one else I can talk to the way I talk to her. No one else I enjoy shopping so much with. No one else I can share my smallest achievements and my biggest dreams with. No one else who senses my deepest disappointments, even before I sense them myself.

Dont go, I want to cry. But I know she'd better. Because I will become one lazy bum otherwise and because appa really needs her there. Go now..but come back real soon. End of december, maybe?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And Life Goes On....

Thanks Aargee and Poppins for your support and wishes....And yes, I have good news. She is back...for now.

But now I find myself quite short changed. I have agreed to a lot of her demands and have increased her pay for the third time in the last 6 months. Ah well, as they say, this too shall pass.

In the meantime, I see a strange behaviour change in kuttan. I went back to work when he was 22 months old and its been exactly a year since then. In all this time, he has never ever cried when I left for work and used to look quite content to be left with his nanny.

Sometimes, if he was busy playing with Asha and I tried to interrupt, he'd kick me out of the house saying..nee officekku po(You go to office.) If either of our parents were visiting, he'd give both of us such a cold shoulder that we'd freeze over. And he has stayed with my mom in Coimbatore on many occasions without bothering himself too much over me or hubby.

During times when it was just the 3 of us, he has always attached himself to hubby and left me alone. He has always cried more when hubby left the house to go out and when he did'nt come back early.

So many people have commented on how lucky I am, and how clingy some kids are and how they never let their moms go anywhere, that providence seems to have heard it and decided to balance the scales...against me.

Ever since we have come back from the vacation, I find kuttan clinging to me all the time. Even when amma came last week, he seems quite incapable of settling with her and keeps asking for me, I am told. I call home yesterday and he picks up the phone and begs me to come home 'fast a'.

Now I find all this rather disconcerting. It was easy for me to pretend that I liked my life and my job when kuttan seemed quite happy without me. But to have to wrench myself every morning from his clutching hands...that is more than what I am capable of. I hope this is a phase he is going through because of all the time we spent together during the vacation and I hope this passes soon.

But deep, down inside, I like it. For the first time, my son is showing me he needs me and I like the feeling. Though I hate not being able to fulfill the need to the fullest. Earlier when my friends used to tell me how lucky I am that my son is not clingy and how horribly clingy their own kids are bla bla, I used to exclaim with horror and cluck my tongue in sympathy in all the appropriate places. But deep down I used to feel..'why is'nt kuttan missing me as much? Am I doing something wrong?'

Are'nt women the most perverse creatures ever??

On a less emotional note, I know I have been really lazy about blogging the last few weeks and promise to be more disciplined in the future. Watch this space for more regular blogs.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I am back (sigh)!!

I am back!!( hoo)

Instead of the drum rolls and the roaring applause, all I am left with is abject misery!! Why oh why, I hear you asking...was the trip not nice? The trip was terrific. Everything I hoped for and more. Someday I will get out of my deep depression to write about it. However, the events that followed were so calamitous (did I get the spelling right? It's my new word!) in nature that it just sort of overshadowed the whole trip.

What happened, I hear you asking with great concern. We came back on a Sunday morning, all tired but exhilarated from the trip and raring to go after a day of rest. And the I began my vigil for her. She'll be in at 8, I tell myself. No? 9 then. 9 and no sign of her. I start fidgeting.

10 and I start running around the house muttering to myself. There is this window which looks out into the road and I hang on the window bars hoping to catch a glimpse of that much loved figure walking towards our apartment. 1 in the afternoon and I am beside myself with worry and anguish.

Hubby meekly approaches and tries to pacify. 'Dont worry baby, she'll come...', he says. 'What if she does'nt?' I ask heatedly...he has no answers. He retreats. By now I think most of you women, mothers especially would have guessed who I was so eagerly anticipating.

It was my son's caretaker and my most undependable(Is that even a word?) household help-Asha, who, nevertheless has been with us for over a year now and who kuttan has come to love and regard as a part of the family. Now unless she came in there was a very slim chance that both Hubby and I could go out for work the next day. And sure enough, my worst nightmare came true.

Five days later, still no sign of Asha except for a brief interlude where she came to tell me she is quitting and had me almost falling on my knees and begging for mercy and rashly promising to hike her pay yet again..(very soon she will be making as much as me and it won't be necessary or make sense for me to go to work. Yay!!). She agreed on the condition that she would go back home and return only on Sunday.

So here I am, awaiting Sunday with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Will she, won't she? EGADS..what if she does'nt? I am hyperventilating at the very thought. Whoever reads this, spare a little time in your prayers for me, will you? I am too psyched to do anything except wait for Sunday. Will let you know what happened then. In the meantime, please pray!!

Monday, October 29, 2007



Its finally 30th!! Do you notice how incredibly slowly time passes when you are looking forward to something? I am off on a vacation to Manali and will not be back until the 12th. So Happy Blogging in the meantime people...and Happy Reading!!!

Will have lots of posts when I get back, I promise!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bangalore Blues

Y had left a comment in my last blog about the terrific Bangalore traffic. Now before the Bangalore lovers go after Y with a bludger, let me hasten to add that she had very nice things to say about Bangalore and was merely inquiring about the state of traffic as it is today in Bangalore.

As anyone who has heard anything about Bangalore would know, talking about traffic in Bangalore is as good a conversation filler as talking about the weather in any other part of the world. Everyone cribs about it, everyone hates it but everyone will go out and purchase two cars for the family and think it is beneath them to use public transport.

Y's comment set me thinking about all my favorite traffic peeves that I come across everyday. My office is 3 Kms from my house and I make 3 trips between my house and office. I have been driving in Bangalore for almost 5 years now. Given my background, I think most of you will agree that I have some right to comment on the state of traffic and the general attitude of Bangaloreans on the road. So here they are, my pet peeves:

1. I hate the auto drivers. They are rude and arrogant and do not come anywhere. And when they deign to, they almost always spoil it by not giving the change back when you pay them. Needless to say, most of my auto journeys always end up in unpleasantness. They are my most favorite peeve to date.

2. I do not like the way Bangalore treats its pedestrians. I mean, for heaven's sake, you do not want to drive in the maddening traffic and so you decide to walk. And what happens? You literally are putting yourself in mortal danger by crossing the road. Apparently, the 2 seconds that the car guy has to wait to let me cross the road will cost him his life.

3. The other day, hubby and I were driving and we saw this most horrifying sight. This poor guy who was standing on the edge of the platform suddenly had a swooning fit and fell on the road. A car almost trampled him but thankfully stopped just in time. And NOT ONE motorist stopped to help the poor guy back on to the platform. (In our defence, we were quite far away when this happened and by the time we got there, some pedestrians had helped him.)

4. I completely go nuts at the insane one ways that Bangalore Traffic Police dreams up of. Its like Vadivelu asked in a famous comic track...okkandhu yosippangalo(I think they strive to come up with more and more innovative ways to pain the population more!)

But just when I thought the soul of the commuting Bangalorean is tainted beyond redemption, I noticed certain things over the last few weeks which have given me hope.

* Like the time when a dog stood in line at the Zebra crossing and crossed with great aplomb when it was its turn and everyone stopped for a second to smile.

* Or like the time when a cop stopped the menacing traffic on all four sides to hold a bunch of kids by their hands and help them across the road.

*And today morning, where this maniacal Toyota Innova guy almost pushed me off the road to overtake me, only to stop a few yards later, to let an old woman cross the road.

*Or the calf, which just sat nonchalantly, bang in the middle of Banerghatta Road and the laughing cop who was trying to move it.

So you see guys, there is still a flicker there somewhere. There is hope yet. I think if we all made an effort to stop everytime a child or an aged person is trying to cross the road and just let them, we will make Bangalore a lot less petrifying for them..and in the process, we will learn a wee bit of patience ourselves.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A day in the life of a working mom

The last couple of days have been absolutely crazy at work!! My prediction about life being crazy after kuttan comes back have come true!! I hate it when I have to sit idle at office the whole day and then just as I am getting ready to go home, some weird issue pops up and I have to stay late to resolve it.

No matter what anyone says, I think it is best for the kids if they have some family staying with them. However, what is best for the kids may not be what is best for the adults and so you end up making compromises and convincing yourself that it is ok for you to work, it may be even good for your son to see you go to work (It helps young males respect women, apparently!Findings of a popular women's magazine, not mine.)

And then on days like this when you are sitting in office at 8 in the night trying to convince some gora saab of some totally inconsequential thing, and your hubby is doing the same from his office, and it is raining cats and dogs, and your son is all alone at home with the maid....that's when you wonder what the hell you are doing with yourself.

You decide to think seriously about taking up an alternate career, may be part-time. You drive through the crazy, maniacal Bangalore traffic and add to the chaos by leaning on the horn all the way home coz you want to reach faster. You go home and do not discipline your child when he is breaking things and throwing tantrums because
a. You are too tired for a confrontations
b. You are already feeling guilty about staying late at work and dont want to spoil everyone's mood by scolding during the little time you have together.

You go to bed edgy and too tired to even talk to your hubby...

You wake up the next morning at the first ring for the alarm, for once. Your son behaves like an angel. He wakes up on time, drinks his milk and eats his breakfast, like a charm! Hubby is in a good mood and the maid is remarkably efficient. You start to work early and find a mail that the issues of last night have been resolved.

You spend the whole surfing the net and blogging and you think..'This is nice!! And they are paying me for this!! Is quitting such a good idea really? After all, there are the EMI payments to think about. And I just got appreciated for the delivery I made last week. I'll surely get a good performance review this year. Maybe I made a hasty decision last night.

You decide to start early and are eagerly waiting for the clock to reach a decent hour at which you can slip out without raising too many eyebrows. And then...5 minutes before that time, you get an email. The subject says ...bug#125472. Priority: High.....

It starts all over again!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kuttan is back!!

My son is back in Bangalore, after vacationing for 3 weeks with my mom and dad. Life is not always easy when you have a full time job, a home and a 2.5 year old to look after. Add to this the issues of managing the domestic help, the nanny and keeping the home fires burning ( 3 hot meals a day on the table is all I mean by that!), and you have a pretty much exhausting 24*7 job. Please note that managing to spend some meaningful time with hubby did'nt even get into the list above. I am talking survival folks, not luxury!!

That was why when my mom offered to take my son to her place in Coimbatore for 3 weeks, hubby and I sorta jumped at the chance to get some time for ourselves. I had the nagging feeling that its not going to be quite as easy as I thought but hubby assured me we had plenty to do. We would enrol ourselves into new classes, I could work late whenever I wanted to without feeling guilty and we could get some quality time for ourselves. Now, I am sure you have no clue what I mean when I say quality time, or, if you do, you are getting it all wrong.

By quality time, I mean the simple pleasure of being able to talk about our mutual financial bankruptcy without being interrupted a dozen different times. When my son is around, a typical conversation goes like this.

Me: Hey, dont we have to pay the LIC premium?
Hubby: Yeah, I...
Son: Where is my ball?
Hubby: Goes off searching for the ball
Me: Go after him, prompting...yeah, what abt the policy?
Hubby: Yeah , you transfer the money...
Son: (shrieking) Play with me, play with me, play with me
Me: (Calling out to the maid) Play with him for sometime, Asha
Me: yeah, so should I transfer the money?
Hubby:(Who is busy by this time watching India getting thrashed again by the Aussies) Huh?
Me: (very softly) My policy?

By this time, my son has had some kind of a fight with his nanny and I go off to referee the two and hubby is left alone in peace to watch that retarded game they call cricket.( Seriously, I have to write one on that!).

So now you know what I mean when I say, quality time. A little bit of uninterrupted silence to bug hubby a little more on the long pending issues. Now after we dropped our son and came back we actually enjoyed the peace and quiet for the first couple of days...hubby enrolled himself in swimming classes, I got to sleep late and still be able to get up and not miss my morning walks , and, the best part, I did'nt have to cook!! Our son was obviously having the time of his life back home, being spoilt rotten by his grandparents. Everything was fine!

Earlier, being able to walk down a mall and browse through the dresses was a long forgotten luxury. I think all moms get a little cross-eyed from trying to keep an eye on their hyper kids running crazily around and eyeing that 'I-must-definitely-have-that' dress on the display. So after the first couple of days, when the house had become too quiet for us, we went to malls. And for some reason, I could'nt find any dresses which were the 'I-can't-take-my-eyes-off-you' kind. And hubby and I would keep talking about how much kuttan enjoyed the escalator and the McD's mascot.

By the end of the 3 weeks, I was just pining for my son to be back with us again, where he belonged. No matter how naughty he is, no matter how topsy-turvy he turns our lives, he gives our lives so much meaning. He gives us a reason to go on. Life is back to its crazy old self. I had to work like a whirlwind to get everything ready and then had to run behind him for 40 minutes trying to feed him breakfast. And then, I had give specific instructions to my son's nanny about what she needs to feed him for lunch and his evening snack. I was rushed and late by the time I was out of the door in the morning. But you know what, I'm Loving It!! Life is right again!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mami, Sundal !!

Yay, the weekend is finally here!! And I am off to my mother's house for Saraswathi pooja. I will be seeing my son after 3 weeks...can't wait!!

Navarathri is a very important occasion celebrated with a lot of gusto across the country. A lot of people talk about how it is a celebration of the sacred feminine and 'Shakthi', the female side of all things. But for me, navarathri is associated with golu. For the uninitiated, golu is a practice where they arrange dolls in steps in as artistic a manner as possible. Not all families do it. I dont. But my mother started this a long, long time ago and still continues to this day. The story is that when I was 3 years old, I went to someone's house to see their golu and came home and cried that I wanted one too. And she started it. And kept on doing it year after year. Amma started off small, with just 3 steps and kept on accumulating dolls with each passing year and the golu tradition grew and flourished along with me.

I remember, we made a park once, with a lot of grass and sand and little dolls of people and animals. I know that everyone who has ever had the tradition of Golu must have made a park at least once. But my mother did it long before it was in vogue and huge crowds from the neighborhood turned out to see it. I could'nt stop smiling, I was so proud of it!! I still have a photo of me standing on a chair alongside the Golu, clutching my bunny rabbit doll.

Sundal is a very important part of golu. Navaratri, more than anything, is a social occasion. You go to people's places and invite them to come over to your place. And when people come, you give them the usual kumkum and vethalai, pakku and stuff and sundal, which is a navarthri special. When I started learning carnatic music, it became a PAIN to go to these golu affairs. I was going through this shy, anti-social phase and wherever I went, people would tell me, oru pattu padina dhan sundal.(You get sundal only if you sing a song.) Well, some of those mamis' sundal was so bad that I'd shut up and not open my mouth at all. The other mamis made sundal that was to die for. Amma and I would go house to house and collect our booty and bring them all back home where appa would be waiting with all his tastebuds in readiness. And then the analysis would begin...some looked so bad we would'nt even open the covers. And there were others we would fight tooth and nail over.

As I grew up and moved out for college and later to Bangalore after marriage, amma could'nt maintain the scale of the festivity all by herself. Down came the number of steps again, till they became nothing more than just symbolic golus with just one step and a few old dolls. This year, I did not eat any sundal at all. Usually, I make it a point to at least invite a couple of people over but work was so crazy that I could'nt even do that this time. But I did one bright thing. I sent my son over to my mom's place. I could see a spring in my mother's step again this time. She tells me she has a very pretty golu this year again, after all those years. And she tells me my son has had his heart's fill of sundal. As for me, I am going to get my first sundal of this year tomorrow from the mami who makes it best in the whole world - my mother.

What's with being thin?

No, this is not a post where I would talk about the benefits of being the correct weight or the correct BMI or the correct waist-to-hip ratio or any of the other hundred different ways they seem to have invented to make you understand that you are FAT!! In this post, I am going to talk about...babies.

You know, in the last few years, there has been a lot of focus on child obesity. A lot of things are being said about it, a lot of things are being written about it. And a lot of doctors are warning parents about its ill effects. Unfortunately, this whole 'movement-to-reduce-child-obesity' seems to have COMPLETELY bypassed ALL the people I have ever known. And by that, I mean, right from the woman I buy vegetables from to my own mother. Ok, also includes me.

The moment I found out I was pregnant, I went into ecstatic dreams of this rounded, chubby, little baby who I could hug and cuddle. Now, where did I get that picture from, you might ask. If you had seen me, you would'nt need to. I am pretty much the adult version of my idea of a dream baby. So, considering that, and considering that hubby was also quite chubby as a baby, and considering the number of ice creams I ate during my pregnancy (I swear they opened a branch of Corner House just for me!), you would think that the least I can expect is a nice, round baby. And with all this build up I have given you, I think you might have guessed what happened next. My son was puny. He weighed just 3 kilos (which I later found out was quite decent by Indian standards). Needless to say, I was crest fallen. Went into desperate measures to fatten the poor guy up.

People did not help. Let me put out a pearl of wisdom into the universe from my blog here...I, or anybody else in the world, do NOT like being told that their baby is ugly. And another thing...all babies are ugly. They are just the most beautiful things alive for their parents!! And that's ALL I heard from all the people(invited and otherwise) who came to see the baby. Oh, how come he's so dark? Why is he so thin? Is he feeding alright? What, the doctor has told you not to give him water? What sort of an idiot doctor is he? Both of you are so fat, how come your child is so thin? Try giving him ragi. Try giving him cerelac. Try giving him that and this and every bit of crap under the sun.

And you know what, fool that I was, I listened to ALL of them. Started ragi when he was just a month old. Started cerelac when he was two. Did EVERY bit of experimentation on him possible. And grew more and more despondent by the day. Why was'nt he growing fat? Look at all the other babies..they look so big and chubby. And look at how scrawny he is. It never occurred to me that my poor baby obligingly put up with all the stuff I tried on him and never fell sick once in protest. Oh no sirree, I had given up my job for this baby. The least I could do was have a socially acceptable 'beautiful, chubby' baby. I obsessed about his weight. I read every book from 'What to expect..' to 'Dr.Spocks'. I was convinced that my baby had a condition called 'Failure to thrive' and made his doctor suggest a bunch of tests( I think he just did to get me off his back). And we put him through a blood test and chest xray and a whole bunch of monstrosity. And he was fine. BUT HE STILL WOULD"NT GET FAT!!

My son is close to 3 years now. He is still small for his age. It took me a long time to realise that he is thin but its ok. He is fine in every other way. I still get pangs of regret when I look at other chubby babies. But I know I am lucky in so many other ways. My point is this....I almost missed enjoying my son's baby months because I was too busy listening to what other people were telling me. No matter what people tell you, don't let them spoil those magical days, gone in the blink of an eye, for you. Your child is the most special, precious, perfect gift God can ever give you. No matter how fat or thin or fair or dark or slow or whatever else people think he is. Enjoy him..and enjoy your life with him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Me and my world

Now for a little bit about me and my world. I live and work as a software engineer in Bangalore along with my husband and my 2 and a half year old son. And before anyone asks, no we do not have any immediate family living in Bangalore. Its like women all across Bangalore are linked by an invisible thread running through them. I get and ask the same questions everywhere I go, by and to everyone I meet.

Q: So, are you working?

Q:You have somebody living with you?
A: No

Q:Oh! Who takes care of the child?
A:I leave him in a daycare/with relatives/with a maid.

And then they launch into a lengthy dialogue about all the good/bad/ugly experiences they have had with that particluar brand of child care. I think all this stems from a genuine desire to reaffirm to yourself that you are doing the right thing for your child. That your child is not going to turn into some dark character or deprived for love because you chose to work. That, given the circumstances, you really have chosen the best way that there is. As for me, I always ask other women these questions because I am hoping that someone has a better solution than I do. Or because I am always hoping that someone will tell me that its ok. I really am doing everything I can and my son will turn out just fine. I am still waiting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Look...I am blogging!!!


The first time I heard of the concept of blogging was in the year 2001. I think it was all the rage and this friend of mine sent me his blog with his name on it and I remember being very impressed. After a few lame attempts at writing, and uploading a few of his favorite songs my friend gave up. I did not follow on the blogging phenomena after that till fairly recently. For the past few months now, I have been reading some VERY well written blogs. And I felt the urge to blog again. Whenever I thought of it before, I always would think ..What would I write about? I mean, my life is so regular. Just like thousands of other people living in the city. But then I realised that that in itself is a reason for me to attempt to reach out to a lot of people like me.

So here it starts. I think for most people like me, trying to balance the needs of a career, home and a child, there must be enough adventures to write least once in a while.:) Hope you enjoy reading.