Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The conversation between us went like this...
Me: So what did you do in school today baby?
K: I played with S...
Amma, andha S enna chumma chumma kiss panra.. (S keeps kissing me)
The husband, deeply engrossed in the 'Classified' section of 'The Hindu' (we really, really believe in getting our money's worth) removes his nose out of the paper for the first time with a glimmer of interest in his eyes.
Me: Really? Why?
K: I don't know.
And the conversation is forgotten soon afterwards.
I went to pick him up from school in the afternoon and sure enough, as we get ready to leave, I see S hovering adoringly around him while my stupid, tasteless son is busy monkeying around with another boy. And then as we are just leaving, she helps him put on his shoes!! ( Whoa girl! Lesson one: Never, ever wear your heart on your sleeve.) Kuttan looks at me with the long suffering look of someone who's enduring something with great difficulty while I take in the sheer cuteness of the scene. And then she says bye with a nice, sweet kiss. My heart just melted and was in danger of puddling around my feet and what does my son do? Grimaces and wipes his face and nonchalantly walks off with me!!
The boy shows every sign of following in his father's footsteps...ah, well, another long story and one that I will probably never tell..:D
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I lost my father to a massive heart attack nearly 3 months back, 5th of September to be precise. Its been almost 3 months since life changes irrevocably, never to be the same again. I have stayed away from blogging because, somehow, even now it seems like putting it in words will make it too real, too permanent. The wound is still too raw and the pain is still too fresh for me to write anything coherent about daddy just now.
I will probably write about it sometime. But for now, I will continue to write posts about regular normal stuff...and go on pretending that all I need to do is press the beloved Coimbatore number to hear that beautiful voice pick up the phone and say, 'Enna kanne?'. I need to continue fooling myself. Just for a little while longer.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
* After your wife comes back from half a day spent in the beauty parlor while you pulled your hair out in desperation at being left alone with the progeny, she is watching you for your reaction every step of the way from the minute she gets down from the auto.
* At all points in time, keep looking at her face adoringly and with wonder as though all your adult male fantasies have come true in her. Do NOT try to do something as unimportant as taking your son to the bathroom as he hops urgently from one foot to the other. This move of yours may be misconstrued as lack of interest on her part.
* In the interest of your peace and happiness ever after, please PAY ATTENTION as she discusses what she is going to be doing at the parlor BEFORE she leaves home. There will be questions when she gets back and I know that its not in your genes to be able to tell when she got a manicure with colorless nail varnish and if you had just paid attention to what she said, you may be able to suitably admire and ooh and aah over her nails.
* Do not even blink or miss a beat when she asks you how her hair color looks. Whether it is a garish baby pink or the exact same shade as she always had, always, always say with great enthusiasm, 'Awesome baby!! I love it..'
* If you do not like her haircut and both of you have an open and honest relationship where you discuss everything, well, this just aint one of them...You just have to zip up till the hair grows back...
* She has spent the best part of the day wincing as her body hair got pulled off her legs and arms and eyebrows and upper lip....believe me when I tell you, its bloody painful. Do NOT tell her how boring shaving is and how lucky women are to be able to wax body hair off...You just may find your legs getting waxed as you sleep one of these days.
* Do not ask blanch, or show any negative emotion at the amount of money she spent at the parlour, if, for some perverse reason, you need to ask at all.
* And last, but not the least, do not commit the cardinal sin. As she looks at you expectantly after getting her uber-cool haircut which her stylist assures her will make her look like a bomb, if you do not want grievious bodily injury and loss to preoperty, do not innocently ask her, 'What, no haircut????'
Monday, July 21, 2008
Anyway, I digress. I have not posted in sometime and have some(ok, ok) 1 anxious reader asking if things are ok. Thanks for asking, dear friend, and things are fine and dandy at the Bangalore household. It was a combination of sheer laziness and lethargy during weekdays and total head spinning craziness over the weekends that have kept me from posting. Some random updates:
It's been a month since Hubby's MBA classes started. To say that its changed our lives completely would be putting it too mildly.
When kuttan was born 3 and a half years ago, the whole family celebrated. The parents and in-laws were elated. Aunts and uncles rejoiced and friends called up to congratulate. Hubby and I, on the other hand, went about in a daze, not quite sure about what we were supposed to do with the little screaming, pooping bundle that I had, with ample help from the husband, brought into the world.
We looked at each other and did'nt say the words but might as well have shouted it out to each other. 'What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?' Kuttan was born on a MOnday and things continued on the same exhausting vein till I came home on Friday.
I came home on Friday morning. That night, on kuttan's first night home, we sent my parents packing upstairs. And then we switched off the lights in the living room and tuned to HBO to see 'Clear and Present Danger'. Ah, bliss!! I cannot tell you how liberating the feeling was. We can still have a life after all, we thought to ourselves, as we grinned at each other like idiots, as our infant son lay sleeping in the crib near us. See, our life has changed but our hallowed Friday ritual remains the same.
Things pretty much remained the same over the last few years as well. Come hell or high water, the Friday night was sacrosanct. A week ended. Two whole days to relax and look forward to. Satuday morning to lie in and wake up at, gasp!, a sinful 9 am! The schedule never varied. Dinner outside. Stop by at the DVD shop on the way back. Pore over the collection and argue over which movie to watch for HOURS. Finally, as a compromise, pick a movie that NEITHER of us like. Come home. Give kuttan his milk and make him sleep on the couch in the living room. Bring the beanbag over to the living room. Turn off the lights and switch on DVD...ah, bliss!! It was a rite of passage followed most faithfully. Until last month.
Well, all that has changed now. Hubby has classes on Friday morning and Saturday morning at the UnGodly hour of 8. To add insult to injury, he has tests and assignments that are, invariably due on Saturday. And thus, a much loved ritual came to a quiet end in the BM household in the past month.
But the hubby has a loooot of gyan to share on microeconomics and strategy to make up for the missed Friday nights...what a GREAT trade off, would'nt you call it?? Grrrr....It's taking sooo much out of me to play the part of the supportive wife I tell you!!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
One of my closest friends tell me I am the most optimistic persons she knows. She is 2 years younger than me and when she finally became pregnant, she came to yours truly for advice. How difficult is it, she asked me, a veteran who had a year old baby by then. Oh, no problem, I told her airily. Do anything you want to. Morning sickness? I had none. Tiredness? Drowsiness? The kind of lethargy that was usually a part of the first trimester? No, no and no again. The only time I puked was when I stuffed my face with a greasy chocolate cake from a bakery with questionable hygiene. Yes, yes, I was pregnant and still went around eating from places like these quite happily. You can do it too, I told her for good measure. Just as well that she wisely chose to ignore my advice.
The delivery? Was a c-sec. The easiest c-sec ever. I did not have a moment of labor. I went in and came out with a baby and that was the end of that. When the baby finally arrived, he was so quiet on the first day at the hospital that the nurses actually crowded around his crib to see this 'baby whi never cried'. I and amma as usual worried about it and begged and pleaded with his paed to check if everything was ok with him. The doctor told us in utter exasperation that we were two women who could'nt recognise a good thing when we saw it and he was surprised that such a happy baby had come out of me!! Anyway, all that changed on day 2 when kuttan decided to give us what we asked for and let out wails that were enough to wake the dead. All night long.
But apart from doing stuff that babies must ABSOLUTELY DO, like crying and peeing and pooping the MINUTE I sit down to eat, I have had it remarkably easy all this time. He started sleeping through the night by the time he was 6 months old and I have never had a chance to fret whether I will EVER get a full night of sleep. I have'nt had trouble weaning him or toilet training him. He has always been an extremely happy baby, at peace with himself and the world.
Obviously when things are so perfect that I am beginning to think I am all set for the next one, God thinks to Himself, oh no, not that fast. And sure enough, hubby and I have been seeing some remarkable changes in his personality over the last few weeks. And they are not changes I am happy with.
I have been observing an increasing amount of aggression in kuttan. Something which was also observed by his teacher and the neighbour's maid. Every play session ends up in a fight with the other kids with amma and appa having to act as referees. Whereas earlier he would cheerfully go along with the other kids and share his toys, these days he creates a ruckus. Where earlier he would charm the trees off the birds with his smile and sunny disposition, I see him talking back to people and not very politely either.
I see a streak of unruliness in him that was not ther before. And I am worried. I know that this could just be a phase where he is trying to assert his personality and eventually he will be ok again but I miss my baby. As usual, the spectre of working mom guilt rears its ugly head again and I talk it out with the husband till he claims his ears are ready to fall off. 'Maybe I should quit my job', I tell him. As my friend says, that's my solution to everything from the Iraq war to my domestic help's failed marriage. But I do not even know how much that will help. I do get back home by 5.30 and in the software industry that is a miracle by itself. And after that, I spend every minute with kuttan, taking him to the park, playing with him and the other kids, helping him with his homework. How much more will I be able to do as a Stay-at-home mom?
We have never enforced a very strict routine on Kuttan because he just kind of fell into our routine quite easily, without much effort. But I think it's time we instilled some discipline on him in terms of listening to what we say instead of asking us a thousand questions as to why he needs to do something and arguing with us.
A part of me knows what is happening. My baby is growing into a little boy. A spirited, intelligent boy who needs to do something because he BELIEVES in it rather than because amma asked him to. A discerning boy who will fight with his friend if he does not get his turn with the bat instead of allowing his friend to take all the turns himself. A boy who rebels against his mother as she asks him to do one more page of homework before going out to play. I guess I should be happy. But wait a minute....did I tell you he is only three and a half years old? Did the teens come a wee bit early for my son?
Monday, June 30, 2008
We met in college. We were both part of the college orchestra. He was 2 years my senior. I had a crush, he hid his very well. Both of us refused to talk about it till he had been placed through campus interviews and we did talk then only to awkwardly say, 'let's see, maybe...if everything works out in a couple of years' time' and left the rest unsaid. We were both too devoted to our families to be able to make a greater commitment than that at the said point of time.
To give our parents credit, they appreciated our restraint and gave us the go ahead. No questions asked. There were none to be asked, since we both belonged to the same religion, caste and sub-caste and were even related to each other in a very distant way. And we got married, 6 years ago, almost to the day.
And that's when the real love story began, and continues to this day. This is the man who knows all my deepest fears, my greatest sorrows. The man who opens the door to our apartment simply by recognising my footsteps on the corridor. The eternal giver. My rock who holds me patiently while I rant and rage at the world, my boss, my mother and mother-in-law and waits for the storm to pass. Who senses my tears falling quietly on the pillow and takes me in his arms even when he is sleeping. The man who knows when I am rambling on looking for advice and when I am grumbling only because I need somebody to listen and let me sort it out myself. The man who treats my family with respect and love even while they are driving me nuts.
The man I discuss EVERYTHING with, who always believes in me more than I believe in myself. I have seen him grow from a boy to a man. And what a man he has grown to be. My heart swells with pride at the way he has built our life, brick by brick, with love, understanding and empathy. And at the astounding amount of success he has met with at so young an age. And how he aspires for even more, just so that we can have the best.
And more than anything else, I love the father he is to my son. When kuttan looks at his father with total adoration in his eyes and I see it reflected in his father's eyes, I send out a little prayer of thanks to God Almighty. He, indeed, has made all my dreams come true and I could not possibly want for anything more.
I think my conversation with kuttan a couple of days ago sums it up aptly. So we were lying in bed and cuddling each other as Hubby was doing an assignment in the living room. 'Amma, Avya is my friend', he spoke up suddenly. 'Very good, Kanna.' 'But appa is your deepest friend and best friend, no?'. Yes, my love. My deepest and best friend. And the love of my life. A love that burns so bright that I'm consumed by it sometimes, and is so mellow that I bask in its warmth some other times. He's everything that I ever wanted.
As they say, we've only just started. The best is yet to come. Belated Happy anniversary darling.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I am an only child as the regular (read 2 nos.) readers of this blog might know. And as Boo has pointed out in her latest post, I always thought our family of 3 was just perfect. I had loads of cousins and extended family staying in Coimbatore and even though we did'nt live under a single roof, we met up very often. I, however, was not very close with any of my cousins while I was growing up. I was always a bit of a precocious child, quiet and shy and was happiest when I was in the company of my books.
Amma and appa made for wonderful company but they were also quite happy to leave me alone in the company of my books and imagination quite often. I have never known the joy of playing long hours under the sun, getting into mischief with cousins and siblings during balmy afternoons while the rest of the household slept, of small adventures in the neighborhood. I always got all the action I wanted from my books. I lost myself in a world of mystery and intrigue, got hopelessly thrilled by the adventures of the Enid Blyton books and the action in the Nancy Drew series well. I started reading these books while other kids my age were still reading Amar Chithra Katha and Tinkle, I moved on to bigger things.
The strange thing about all this is I never felt anything was amiss while I was growing up. I was never the athletic rough and tumble kind anyways and it wasnt long after the last vestiges of childhood were gone and I was married and listened to hubby talk about his childhood did I wish that I had had a little more action-packed eventful childhood. That I had been a little more naughty, a little more bold and daring and had lived, at least for a while, a little dangerously.
Today, after all these years, I wonder if some of my timidity may have been due to lack of company as a child. And it brings to fore uncomfortable questions for me. Do I want to deprive kuttan of a sibling's company the way I was? Is another baby right for us?
When I got married, I never had a single doubt that I would have 2 or more kids. The more the merrier, I thought. Then came the c-section, the nightmarish post-partum recovery period and the intensely frustrating period of the first year of kuttan's life when I quit my job and realised I did'nt enjoy it as much as I thought I would. After a couple of disastrous attempts to get back on the career wagon, I finally succeeded in doing so by the fag end of 2006. Things, touch wood, have been reasonably stable since then.
It seems to be my nature to rock the boat when things are fine because suddenly the desire for another child slowly seemed to be forming in my mind. The famous baby shower with so many moms expecting their second babies strengthened my conviction that it is the right thing to do. When I finally found a moment of peace and quiet that is required to discuss matters of grave importance such as these, I enlisted the err...help of my partner-in-crime. He succinctly said, 'no'.
Simple and straightforward describes husband best. He definitely did not mince words. He reminded me in painfully embarrassing detail about all the times when I had whined and cried about having to stay home. He played his trump card when he cunningly asked me, 'Do you really want to give up your career after having fought for it so hard? And if you don't, can you bear to leave 2 kids instead of one in the daycare day after day? How much time can you spend with them?'. I was defeated hands down. I let things lie low for a while before deciding to take it up on a war footing again. But no matter how much I begged and pleaded, this usually sweet-natured, easy-going man seemed strong-as-steel on this one.
I don't blame him. I think I might have put him off babies forever with all the whining and crying I did. We got married when the husband was barely 25 and had a baby by the time he was 28. He had given up doing all the fun things for 2 years and now he was READY to get back his life..he deserved it. And in many ways, he is right. But that's not why I am still hesitating about this. My reasons are quite, quite different from his.
My first and most important reason is lack of support. Amma has been diabetic for 12 years now. Every year, I see her systems getting weaker and weaker as she battles with this insiduous disease. It took all the energy she had for her to see me through my first delivery. I do not think she has it in her to see me through a second one and I am worried about the effect it could have on her health. The MIL is faring no better in the health department either which basically means we will be left with 2 kids to take care of, all on our own, and the prospect is daunting, to say the least.
My career is another thing that I have to think of. 2 kids definitely means quitting my job. Double the expenses and half the income. But the most important thing is this - it takes two to make a baby and I want both the people to want it just as badly. The husband is an ambitious man. He wants the best in the world for kuttan and me and I love him for it. How can I not? He has taken up the MBA course for this very reason and he will need the flexibilty to experiment and take a risk or two when he is done with it. How can I weigh him down with a baby at that crucial point in his life?
I am not saying that we will never ever have another baby. Life is funny that way. Just when you think you have it all figured out God smiles to himself and alters all your plans. But it is unlikely that it may happen anytime soon.
And still, whenever I see a tiny baby, whenever I hug kuttan and wistfully see the baby frame disappearing and a gangly boyish frame taking its place, when I go to a toy store and see the cutest possible cribs and smallest possible booties that I am sure no human feet can ever fit into, whenever I see the tiniest pattu pavadais and I bury may face into sweet smelling babies of other people, I have to admit, the heart does skip a beat and I desperately wish things could have been different.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
frolicking endlessly on hot summer days in the inflatable pool in thatha's backyard...
Playing silly games with cousins in the morning without even having to brush your teeth....
Playing gully cricket with a very patient, indulgent much-older cousin anna holding a bat that is bigger than me.
For amma, Chennai meant shopping. Her own personal shopper in the form of appa's cousin, a self-confessed shopaholic who is recognised by her face and is called personally by the proprietors themselves whenever fresh stocks are in.
Chennai means pattu mamis and jasmine flowers and Saravana Bhavan. It means jostling crowds at Ranganathan Street and brightly lit stores at Panagal Park. It means the beautiful, ancient temples of Mylapore and Triplicane. It means little girls running around in pattu pavadais. It means sun rising at the crack of dawns and mamis from every household drawing HUGE rangolis in front of their homes. It means warm, balmy evenings in Besant nagar beach while you sit looking at the endless sea munching on hot corn. It means posh hotels and Kaiyendhi bhavans. It means the ultra hip generation and the kacheri going ultra-traditional youngsters.
Chennai means loads and loads of family and extended family milling around the house all day.
And finally as we pulled into the parking lot of our Bangalore apartment, it meant throwing a king-sized tantrum with a full war-cry of 'Chennai polam!'. 'I want go Chennai.'
So do I, baby. So do I.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
By the way, did you know that Chennai is my favorite shopping destination?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Just as kuttan and I started to leave, his teacher stopped me. Does he know how to write BM, she asked me. Gulp! The moment I was dreading and anticipating had arrived. No, I told her timidly. 'Well, I just thought I would get him started slowly, if that's ok with you', she told me. Well, how could I say it was not?
So gathering the last vestiges of my energy, I came out with great gusto, 'Of course! I was planning to do it myself but just thought it'll be better if you go first!'. 'He has already started writing number 1. We wrote a page of it today', she told me.
And then proceeded to show me the square math note book and the four-line english note-book where I was supposed to start with 'simple things' like numeric one and standing lines and sleeping lines. 'Are you going to give him homework', asked I, visions of my Sister-In-law chasing hubby's nephew with a notebook and a pencil and being repeatedly called by the school because the child simply refused to write flashing before my eyes.
Well, let's start off slow, she said. I cheered mentally. Just have him complete 1 page of homework over the weekend, if you can. ONE PAGE!! 'Well, its completely voluntary and you need to do it only if you are interested', she offered helpfully. And then pointed out the heaps of notebooks submitted by all the other parents. Voluntary, my foot!
So we went home and I gave kuttan this HUGE build up about how much fun it is going to be and so on and so forth. The notebooks and the pencil and the rubber and the sharpener were purchased in short order and looked upon with great anticipation by His Highness. After placing them in front of ummachi(God), and looking into His eyes and saying, 'Ummachi, let me study well, ok?', we were ready to go.
We sat down on the floor and carefully grasped the pencil. I gently held his hand and made him write inside the square. 'There you go. Great job!', I told him. 'Now just repeat this for a page and we're done'. This is not as bad as I expected, I told myself. Maybe it's only the SIL kid who is averse to writing. And it did seem that way when kuttan filled an entire page neatly with 1s.
Come Monday. We learnt standing lines today amma, he told me cheerfully in the car. Great. Let's practice, I told him. We went home and the snacks and other essentials were dealt with. 'Shall we start?', I asked him. 'No amma, I want to drive the car', he said. 'Do your homework and then go out to play.'
Time stopped still. I had just crossed another milestone as a parent and had joined millions of hapless mothers as they said the exact same words to their kids across the country, probably across the world just by speaking that one sentence. Fat moms, thin moms, young moms, old moms all saying the same words in many different tongues. There were probably thousands of them saying it that very minute. How many irritating times had I heard my own mother say them? Sometimes threatening, sometimes cajoling, always persuading, bargaining. Life has indeed come a full circle.
Kuttan gave me a scorching glare but settled down to write nevertheless. Today our mission was to write a page full of standing lines. He wrote approximately three-fourth. Of the line, not the page. 'I'm bored, I have finished my homework. I am going to drive my car.' Quietly kept the pencil down and crossed his arms and glared at me. I glared back. Hubby intervened. 'Let him go, you dont want to put him off homework forever, do you? I'll get him to do it later.'
The page still remains blank and I am sure we will have another page to finish today. This battle of wills has just begun. I am looking forward to, oh not much, just about another eighteen odd years of it.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
But in the 2 weeks that he was actually in Cbe, I had absolutely NO work. I spent the whole day reading blogs and surfing the net and watching the clock to see when I could get out of the darned office. Only to go home and find hubby vacantly staring at the TV. I would plonk next to him and start doing the same thing myself.
Then, the day after kuttan arrived, all hell broke loose. Everything that could go wrong at work did and we were suddenly transformed from being compeletely jobless to being BURIED under mountains of work. Amma was here for 3 days before she left to go back to Cbe. I spent maybe an hour with her on all 3 days put together. And felt abjectly miserable when she left.
Weekend came and brought no respite with it as hubby had to go away to his MBA classes. And then, amidst all the chaos, yesterday, I decided to take the afternoon off from work and go to a dear friend's housewarming ceremony. I took kuttan along in the afternoon and came back home after the function. As kuttan and I snuggled, I felt so much at peace with the world in general.
All the frenzy and stress and drama seemed a long, long way off. Like they belonged to a different world. Then, after almost a year and a half, I wished I could stay at home and be there for my son always. Be there for him when he comes back from school and feed him lunch. Be there to snuggle him as he takes his afternoon nap instead of allowing him to go off for his nap in his daycare on a small little cot with 30 other children. I know that some of the kids talk sometimes and when they do, the teachers there warn them and tell them not to talk. But my kuttan is such a light sleeper that even such a small exchange is bound to wake him up and he comes home in the evening, looking tired and cranky.
I wish I did not have to go around asking 3 different people in his daycare about the food he ate through the day and whether he pooped or pissed. Should'nt I be the one who knows these things better than anyone else? I wish I could spend lazy mornings with him without worrying about work or having to check the email.
The problem is that as far as jobs go, mine is not bad at all. My boss is friendly and understanding and allows me to work from home in emergencies. The hours are decent and the pay is good. And God knows we need the money. I have worked very, very hard to get to this stage and it has not been easy.
But, as I said, I am tired. Tired of juggling many different roles. Tired of all the expectations from all quarters. Tired of the constant feeling of guilt weighing me down. Tired of my own ambitions even. And there are days when I just want to ask the whole world to go to hell and just play the one role that is closest to my heart - that of being my son's mother. One of these days, I just might do that. Till then, the great juggling act continues.
Monday, June 2, 2008
The husband has started his MBA program and was away all weekend for the orientation course. That left me and kuttan at home to fend for ourselves. It has been a long, long time since I spent any length of time alone with Kuttan. This weekend was an eye-opener for me and I was amazed at the incredible human being this little man of mine has become.
Mom and son had the most amazing time over the weekend. On Sunday morning, we both sat on the sun-soaked verandah of our apartment and looked up at the trees and watched the birds flying in and out of branches. We spoke about important stuff like where birds sleep and why kuttan cannot sleep on the tree with the baby crows in their nests. I just love the fact that my kuttan, my baby is such a little trooper.
Whether it is giving his expert comment on mama trying on new capris in Forum (kevalama irukku It sucks!!) or sharing gyan while driving, he is such a sport and I love that about him. He was an adorable baby and then the terrible twos happened and I was floundering out of my depth. Now, I see that sunny personality coming back and am falling in love all over again.
The best moment, however, came on Saturday afternoon. I took him into our room for the nap and closed the drapes and lay next to him. While he was going to sleep, I lay next to him with a book. Then, suddenly, this sweet smell of wet earth touched my nostrils and the room became noticeably colder.
I looked down to see Kuttan looking at me. I closed the book and huddled under his quilt. Both of us lay there like that for sometime, hugging, giggling and cuddling. Basking in the warmth while he was laying sloppy, wet kisses all over my face. I want to remember the afternoon for ever. Put it in a little box and keep it with me always, to remember and cherish, while this baby of mine grows up and goes out into the big, big world.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Warning: This is a long post!
How we got In
The year was 2000. The husband who was not yet the husband then, was working in Bangalore, one of the thousands of young software professionals who start their careers in the big, faceless corporates every year. He was staying with college friends all of who left one after other for on-site assignments, job change or because they got married. The man was young and bored. And lonely.
Then, one day he gets introduced to a guy, a successful s/w professional who lives in the US with his wife, also a s/w professional by a friend. I have come to expand my business, the man says. I am looking for sharp, young people to diversify with. Come over and we will discuss. The husband, who is tired of frequenting the pubs and the bars of Bangalore and is just craving to meet some nice people, goes willingly.
He is enchanted. He finds a room full of people, young and energetic. People who are very, very succesful in their respective professions. The whole place is filled with fun and laughter and energy. People are extremely warm and welcoming. When the time for the meeting comes, people move into a room while the host shows them 'the plan'. The name of the company comes right in the end..and even then does not mean much to the husband as it is fairly new in India and not many people have heard of it.
He finds the products expensive - ridiculously so...a bottle of detergent costs close to 400 bucks. But even before the thought has fully formed in his mind, it is scorched away by the host. All the products are concentrated and will work out cheaper than the market products if you use them the way they are meant to be. And they are such WONDERFUL products, he says. And thus, the first bit of mental programming happens. This is what the husband would repeat, over and over again, during the course of the next 5 years when confronted with the high-price accusation.
The middle years
The year 2002. Marriage. Enter yours truly. Moved to Bangalore with stars in her eyes and dreams of a new life in her heart. And, to give credit to the man, he has not disappointed.:D. But I digress. My first introduction to the 'business' as this travesty is called was at a 'seminar'. A rally is a place where a highly 'succesful' person in the business will come and share his story with the more unfortunate individuals who were not yet succesful in the business and still struggling.
I found the whole setting larger-than-life. Men wearing dapper suits. Women in glitzy jewelry and lovely clothes. The 'achievers' walked on stage to the music of 'Rocky', waving their hands and feeling no less than movie stars. I was a young bride. Straight out of college and eager to please. Over-protected and from a small town. I took the bait, hook, line and sinker.
And so I sat at home for the first 6 months after marriage trying to do 'business'. 'You'll never have to work', my uplines(people who introduced us into the business), told me. 'You'll be a millionaire and will travel around the world and be treated like a queen'. 'Yes, yes', I told myself as I tried desperately to sell products to anyone remotely human that I came across.
But right from the word go, things did not work out between me and the upline lady. I remember the first ever time we went to their house and she told me, 'You have to be more submissive'!! What the fuck?? I was contributing to her business by buying 4k worth of useless products and I had to be submissive to her? That was the first time I had a fight with the husband.
Soon, the fights became regular features. I started working and suddenly time was at a premium. I would be expected to put in a hard day at work, go to the uplines' house at 7 pm for a meeting every week and stay on till 11. Or 11.30. Or 12.00. And then be accused that I am not spending enough time with the 'team'. Every friday night would end in tears and a fight.
The beginning of disillusionment
Looking back at it today, there are so many, so many things about the business that I positively abhorred. The total lack of freedom in your personal life. Whether it was buying a car or having a baby, we had to get 'permission' from the uplines for EVERYTHING. The total lack of personal time. We would have 3 meetings every week. And then we would be asked to go forth and spread the word of the business lord during all the remaining days. The expense. Whether we liked it or not, wanted to or not, we had to buy products worth 4k every month. The lack of personal choice. I could not buy my favorite toothpaste or my favorite cream from the local store. All products HAD to be from the business. We were even encouraged not to watch television and, in fact, did not have TV at home for the first 3 years of marriage. Now I am totally against TV anyways, but I am so totally pro-choice today that I am appalled I ever went with that.
The fights increased. In intensity and volume. I was horrified that this gentle, totally rational man I was married to, was, for the first time, refusing to see reason. He was refusing to quit. I did not know it then, but he was exhibiting all the classic signs of a person in a cult. Even though he was doing well at work, he had begun to identify himself in this business so much, that a life in the 'outside world' with 'negative people' must have sounded terrifying to him. Our parents were both foaming at the mouths at the 'devil' that had gotten into us. My career was in tatters.
The redemption came in 2004 when I decided enough was enough and we needed to have a baby, pronto. By that time, our success was too little and too far between and, I think, the hubby had realised that it will not work out. But even then, he was reluctant to shed the last vestiges of bondage and walk toward freedom till Kuttan's birth. Kuttan brought with him not only laughter and joy for us, but also freedom, in a way. It has been 3 years since we quit. And I thank the Lord every day. For kuttan and for the wisdom that made us do it.
If someone asked me what I regret the most about my MLM years I would say, the lost opportunity. I got married as soon as I finished college. The husband was barely out of college himself. We had 3 golden years between our marriage and the time kuttan was born, that we could have used to spread our wings and soar in the sky. Careless and fearless. There was a wealth of opportunity that we could have explored and did not. We could have travelled. We could have studied. We could have made real friends. We could have spent long hours at work and advanced our careers. Instead, we let our wings be clipped and closed our hearts to the worTld. And that is why I will never, ever be able to forgive 'the business'. And why, to some extent, I resent the husband to this day.
Well, as they say, all's well that ends well. Our 'uplines' zealously followed up with us for a few days and tried to get us to come back into the fold. When it didnt work out, they gave up and moved to greener pastures. And yes, it's a little late in the day but today we are doing things that we should have, would have, had it not been for the business. So we do it a little slowly, dragging around kuttan everywhere with us. But we will still get there. And be happy while we do. The nightmare is finally over.
Disclaimer: This has been a cathartic post for me. It has not been easy to write it but I have, nonetheless, because, well, if it helps someone, why not. It is all about MY experience and perception alone and probably someone else may have a very different take on it. If I have hurt someone's feelings, I did not mean to. Each to his own.
Monday, May 19, 2008
What started as an idea in someone's mind just gained momentum till 8 bloggers from Bangalore and one from Mumbai who happened to be in town decided to meet on 16th. The venue was decided as Aargees home. Most of us decided to take the afternoon off.
I felt like a schoolkid being let out of school as I joined JLT outside her office and drove carefully behind her car as she led the way to Aargee's place. Had a brief stopover and picked up Abha and we were off.
We landed at Aargee's place and Poppins, COS, Swati and Compulsive Dreamer were already there. I was totally bowled over by what a gracious hostess Aargee was and how beautifully she managed to maintain her home inspite of having a toddler at home, full time.
As soon as we met, it was excited chatter and conversation flying all over the place with much laughter. Little Kiddo(Aargee's son) seemed to have a lot of fun with so many people around and made sure he broke all rules which he will not be allowed to break otherwise. :D. The gorgeous and very glamorous Kiran arrived later, after having been taken on a city tour by a kind taxi-driver and having been charged thrice the regular price for it!!
I will let you read about the individual impressions of the bloggers here, as beautifully summarised by Poppins.
What struck me was how a group of women of all shapes and sizes (well, all of them were gorgeous! I just added the extra dimension!), different professions and backgrounds all came together so beautifully and had such a riot!!
There was not even a moment of awakward silence as we went yapping away to glory. Every topic from work to relationships to child-rearing to labour was discussed thread-bare and without fear of offending or treading on the other's toes. I only hope we have not put off the only non-mommy blogger Compulsive Dreamer from mommyhood, with all our talk of labor and C-Sections and what not. But she seemed to take it in her stride rather well...
When we finally left at 4, I went back all the way home with a beatific smile on my face which left the husband mightily puzzled!!
It's been 6 years since I finished college and for the first time in that many years, I had the same, carefree, girlie-chatter fun that I used to have so long ago!!
Here's to more blogger meets!!
I can't wait for the next time!!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
He was doing it when I left for work, I caught him doing the madhyayanam (or whatever they call it) when I went home in the afternoon for lunch and he was at it again when I went back home in the evening.
You might say Kuttan is brought up in a pretty neutral atmosphere and was highly amused and kept going and asking him, 'athimber, what are you doing?'. And giggling away like it was nobody's business.
All this made me wonder how I had come to form my own religious and spiritual principles in life. I remember learning from Amma very early on that God could punish you if you did something wrong. If you dont eat, swami will poke your eyes at night, she'd say...as though God has nothing better to do than going around poking eyes.
Amma is a deeply religious woman who places much importance on the symbols and the way of life that come with being a brahmin. This has meant that she has'nt missed a single Karadaiyan Nombu, a single Thiruvadirai and a Karthigai. Appa is not very religious and I have seen him remove his poonal on occasions when it got too dirty and then forgetting to wear it again. But, I have seen both amma and appa unfailingly and devotedly follow one tradition for that last 3 decades.
Every morning amma would wake up, brush her teeth, go to the Puja room and light the lamp and do a namaskaram. Appa would not come near the puja room then but later, would take a shower and come and stand in front of the Puja room and smear Vibuthi on his forehead before walking off.
Amma and appa have never had philosophical or religious discussions with me. If they did, I certainly do not remember it. All the stories I know about Rama, Krishna etc. have come from Amar Chithra Katha. And there used to be grandpa who used to spend long hours telling me how great and massive and bottomless our upanishads and vedas really are.
Hubby on the other hand was brought up in a much more orthodox atmosphere. My MIL has a HUGE database of purana stories in her repertoire and she is a very, very good story teller. Children of all ages and sizes and shapes congregate in the IL household to listen to her stories. The FIL is very closely involved in the board of committee of a local temple and is constantly going there. My hubby can rattle of each plot and sub plot of Mahabharatha in his sleep.
And still, despite all this, what amazes me is that neither of us are particularly religious people. He claims he knows the slokams for Sandhyavandhanam and I have seen him chanting the Vishnu Sahasranamam on cue when the tape is on. But for all the 11 years I have known him and 6 years I have been married to him, I have seen him to be the kind of man who rummages frantically in the cupboard for the 'poonal' or Sacred Thread and wearing it only when his parents are around.
We are both deeply spiritual people and strongly believe in the existence of a Higher Being and His plans for us. Still, we did not have a religious routine, if you can call it, at home. I light the lamps on most days but if I reach home late, I let it go. And if we go out in the evening, I dont do it at all. I forgot the Karadayan Nombu thing this year and compromised with a Naivedhyam of bananas instead of the adai and lied to amma and MIL that I had done it. (I also lied to my MIL and told her I had worn the nine yards saree and fallen at my husband's feet and gotten his blessings, but that's a story for another post..)
Hubby and I believe that the only thing that matters is doing good where you can and never, ever intentionally harming others is the closest you can come to God in this day and age. However, like I'm fond of saying, having a child changes everything. I am now increasingly beginning to understand that our spiritual maturity did not come overnight. I believe that our parents took us through a system of stories and religious functions and rituals to lead us and teach us these very values.In doing so, they have hammered into us values so strong that the rituals cease to matter and you still go on living by the values.
And that is why I believe that it is important that we establish some kind of spiritual routine in kuttan's life. Like getting up in the morning and doing a namaskaram.
What started off as a daily ritual has now become a personal relationship. So the other day I found him sitting in the puja room and talking to God. And he ended his conversation with, 'I'm going now. Will be back later, ok?'. And I was glad he had found a friend for life. A friend who, no matter where he is and what he's doing, is always watching out for him.
Amitabh Bachan apparently lashed out at the minister for asking actors to not act in scenes portraying actors drinking or smoking. 'Ask your goverment servants to stop drinking before you ask us'. he is supposed to have told the minister.
Now let me make it very clear at the outset that I do not have a lot of respect for politicians. However, on this instance, I beg to differ with Mr.Bachan, however sacrilegious the rest of the nation might think it. Alcohol and smoking are bad for everyone, period. It does not matter whether one is a government servant or a matinee idol. However, what one has to take in mind is the effect that a 'star' drinking on the scene will have versus some pot-bellied government servant drinking away in the privacy of his own home.
If the said government servant is a certified alcoholic, will his family suffer? Of course it will. But what happens when millions of impressionable young minds when they see their demi gods drinking on screen and making it look as though its the coolest thing to do and not drinking is only for frumps?
There has been a report that the average drinking age has come down from 29 to 19 in the last decade. And it further hints that it may drop to as young as 15. The idea horrifies me.
Now some people may be wondering why suddenly a harmless mommy blog has morphed into this preachy, issue-discussing kind of place. Well, I will be the first one to admit that mine is a small world. I do not hob-nob with the biggies and the decisions I take impact no further than my front door. However, my concern for this issue started because I read this and wondered if our idols have even an inkling of the kind of impact that they have on people and the responsibility that should come with it.
I wish that I need'nt allow my world to be infringed by film stars but I cannot help it. The hubby and I both enjoy watching movies though we hardly watch television. Kuttan has obviously inherited the love of movies from us. It is very difficult for me to explain to a 3 year old what 'juice' uncle is drinking. My dad smokes and it hardly causes a ripple in my son's mind. However, if Shahrukh does it, it is watched with rapt attention and stored away somewhere in the depths of his young, impressionable mind.
All I ask for is a little social responsibility from the 'superstars'.After all, there are'nt too many movies they can make in a cancer-stricken nation now, can they?
Monday, May 12, 2008
For the next two and a half years of our lives, bye- bye vacations. No Friday late-night movies. No Saturday morning lie-ins. No lazy brunches on Saturdays. No sending away the father-son duo on a purported bonding session(wink, wink) while I slouch around looking bleary-eyed and dumb. God help me...pray for me people!!
As for you, dear husband, congratulations!! Kuttan and I are very proud of you. I know you will handle this with the same cheerful irreverence and ease that you have handled every other challenge you met with..calm and composed on the outside, with a razor-sharp focus that I would kill to have and fools most people into thinking you're not serious on the inside.
Classes begin in June....Here's to new beginnings..
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
You have been living with me in Bangalore for the last month. A month filled with the warm, fuzzy, comfortable and secure feeling that I always get when you are around. For me it has been a month where I have conveniently been able to forget everything I learnt about cooking from your able self. It has meant forgetting the way to the kitchen, except to come to chat with you, perched next to the stove while you cooked one dish after the other for kuttan, hubby and myself. I thank you for that.
It has also meant that I have had some worry free and mainly guilt-free hours at work while I knew that kuttan was basking in all the attention and food showered on him by you and dad. It has meant some gossip sessions lying next to you in the bed while you were reading, talking to you endlessly about people in the family and getting to know, all over again, how witty, wise and accurate your perceptions are. It has meant that, for a month, I have been given the luxury of being something I am not...of knowing the carefree feeling of a child again, a feeling that I get only when you are around. I thank you for all that.
But, amma, for a person who judges and understands human beings so accurately, I do believe that your peceptions are skewed many times. I also know that you will never, ever admit it. But what really bothers me is that you apply the same skewed perception to me, your own daughter!
I know you belong to the old school of thought. I know you still think that the way to a man's heart is thorugh his stomach. I know you think small children should stay home with their mothers and learn the ways of the world through their mother's words. I know all this amma, because this is the way your brought me up. Because I have seen you waking up at 5 in the morning to pack breakfast for me, as I left for an early morning tution, even though there was a perfectly good canteen I could and would have loved to eat from.
Because, you have unfailingly made appa's favorite snacks for him day after day, year after year for the last 33 years. And still continue to make an extra chutney for him, unfailingly devoted. Even if you are sick and tired. Even if you really dont feel like it. I know you did all this amma because this is your way of showing us how much you love us. And believe me, I do know. And I do appreciate.
But what you dont understand is that your way is not necessarily mine. May not even necessarily be what my husband and son need or expect from me. I, for one, do not believe in making 10 different dishes in a day. I do not believe I need to feed kuttan his breakfast and then rush to get hubby his breakfast and stand over him dutifully while he eats it. I believe he is a grown man perfectly capable of getting his own cereal and pouring milk over it and eating it without my help.
I do not believe that the world will end if kuttan does not eat dinner AND two different servings of fruit EVERY single day. There are days when I dont even HAVE time to buy fruits. My house does not run with the same military discipline that yours does. I do not know when the maid took the last detergent from the store and I dont keep count. But we're ok with it.
Whatever may be said and done amma, I am your daughter and I did learn my values from you. Together, hubby and I have created a life of our own and we are happy with it. Our life is filled with joy, color and conversation. And love. I know I forget to give kuttan his oil massage sometimes but I never, ever forget to read his stories at night. I know I give hubby the same brekfast two days in a row sometimes but I never, ever forget to tell him how much I love him and how perfect I think he is. And they are happy.
The problem lies with me, amma. Even today, as a grown woman who will turn 30 in a year's time, I still hanker after your approval. I still come running to you, the way kuttan does, after making a particularly clever arrangement with his blocks, and I still look up at you with the same adoration hoping you will say something nice.
Something nice about the way I am managing a child, home and a career. Something nice about how well I am doing at work, about all the appreciation and awards that I get from my workplace. About the determined way in which I clawed my way back into a job and a career after staying home for 2 years inspite of the countless difficulties on the way. About my very big dreams and ambitions for myself and my family. But, somehow, I come to you with childish excitement amma and I always sense your disapproval.
'How long can a woman work after all? Why do you want to do an MBA?', you ask. 'No matter how well you do outside, cooking and keeping a clean home is what will make a man really happy..y do u think B is so unhappy with S even though she is so succesful? Its because she doesnt COOK at home..', you tell me disdainfully.
Now the said B is a serious psycho and given to rage attacks and is almost a split personality. And S will not even be alive today if it hadnt been for her career. And you in your infinite wisdom think some appam and kozhukattai will solve all their problems. At times I laugh at your naivete amma, but at times, it makes me want to pull out my hair and scream...
I just wish you would try to understand me a little better amma. Your only child. And that you would'nt want me to be a mould of yourself. But going forward, if I ever find that you were right, I promise you I will not be too egoistic to admit it to you.
Till then, hubby eats his own cereal and my MBA plans are definitely on.
I love you, amma!!
Your loving Daughter
Monday, April 28, 2008
Me driving the car while Hubby is in the passenger seat, for once, because he needs to get off first. He gives the word 'backseat driving' a whole new dimension. He is grimly hanging on to the seat and muttering 'Easy, let him pass' or 'Go slow!!' or 'Don't press the clutch ALL the time' totally oblivious to glares from me.
Me driving and kuttan in the passenger seat. We are getting back from office and daycare respectively. I honk at an irritating auto guy who is driving bang on the middle of the road and refusing to let me pass. 'Amma, DRIVE SLOW!!' shouts kuttan...'Otherwise you'll hit the auto guy, ok?'
WTF????? Out of the mouth of babes.....
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The one thing that I missed most when I married and moved away from my parents was the long gossip/conversation sessions that I used to have with them. I still see myself perched next to the stove as amma cooked, and appa sat on the floor of the kitchen. Just talking. Talking endlessly, about everything and everyone under the sun.
I always believed that my parents had such a rock-solid, strong marriage because they talked to each other. My earliest memories are of waking up from bed and following my parents voices to the kitchen where I would find amma and appa talking and working in happy harmony. There would be nights when there would be HUGE fights and I would cower in fright. But I would always wake up to find them sorting out their issues by really talking..and listening to each other.
When I went to my husband's house for the first time, the one thing that stuck me as most odd was how NOBODY would just sit around and talk at the end of the day. Or at the beginning of it. Or at any other time. People would come in and go out and talk in passing. The place seemed to me to be always in a state of flux and it drove me mad to see people not sitting and having a conversation. When I complained to Hubby about this he always seemed to be mildly amused and tried dismissing it as another quirk of mine. 'Your family discusses things till my ears are literally ringing with all the voices', he'd laugh!!
This time when amma and appa said they were coming and staying with us in Bangalore for a WHOLE month and a half, I knew I had died and gone to heaven in sheer ecstasy. I'll take a couple of days off from work and just laze around the house doing nothing, I told myself, rubbing my hands gleefully.
And so the D-Day arrived and my parents came. I went to work and tore back home early, eager to be held in that warm, comfortable coccoon of good conversation. And saw them watching the television. ALL evening. Its been 2 weeks since they came and so far there has not been a single evening that the television has not blared out those mindless soaps into my living room.
If it's not soaps, its the blasted IPL that appa sits glued on to. Now Hubby and I quietly retire to our rooms in order to be able to have a conversation without shouting above the din made by TV. A habit that I learned from my parents and brought into our marriage has become so important that both of us feel unsettled without those few minutes of quiet conversation. And the tragedy is that I have barely seen my parents have that in this trip. I am heartbroken. The Television monster has struck again. And the darned BCCI has SO much to answer for!!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Just when hubby, kuttan and I were all seriously in need of a change of scene, my parents came to our rescue. They are now in Bangalore for a month. A month of carefree enjoyment for kuttan, well-cooked, planned, favorite meals for the hubby (with a lil bit of stock market advice thrown in the side by my dad) and that beautiful, comfortable feeling of having the 4 people I love the most under the same roof for me.
Last month also saw kuttan growing up and maturing in so many ways that I wonder at each new development. Despair at some and marvel at others. He was a little slow at speech but has picked up SO well after he started going to this new school of his. And the best part is that he has become completely bilingual, switching effortlessly between Tamil and English as the conversation flows.
Scene at home:
His Majesty his holding court and amma, appa, Sachumma and Gopa thatha(as he calls my parents) are humbly at his service.
Kuttan(Looking at me): What your name?
Kuttan(Looking at Hubby): What your name?
Kuttan(Looking at my dad): What your name?
Kuttan(Looking at my mom): What your name?
(Pauses and shakes his head)
onnodu peru enna?
How does he know my mom doesnt speak English? My mom was most chagrined that her grandson thought she didnt know even THAT much English and answered almost entirely in English. :) And so the summer evenings pass with playful banter and lively chatter with kuttan holding court at the BM household...and that's what we have been upto. What's up with all of you?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Let me put it on record here that I HATE being late and am a VERY punctual person. And the invitation explicitly read that we were supposed to be there at 9.45 AM. Now with small children, you cannot always expect things to go along expected lines. So when you tell me 9.45, I'm thinking...hmm...9.30. And considering the Bangalore traffic and the fact that we had to have breakfast at Adyar Anandha Bhavan before we got to the venue, I had the troops marching out the door at 8.45 in the morning. Hubby's protests that the venue was only one kilometre away fell on deaf years and off we went jauntily.
When we arrived at the venue, kuttan's headmistress looked positively horrified to see us so early and shooed us out telling us to come back at 10.00. I mean, does'nt anyone respect time anymore? So there we were, twiddling our thumbs, wondering what to do - a very embarrassed and indignant me, an ironic and resignedly amused hubby and an impatient, bounding ball of excitement in the form of kuttan at 9.30 in the morning. Suddenly inspiration stuck and we decided to go to a park nearby - where all the Saturday morning joggers gave us queer looks trying to understand why 3 people who look dressed in all their finery are sitting on a dew covered park at 9.30 in the morning.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
8 things I am passionate about:
1. Snatching the phone from amma whenever she is talking to anyone ranging from grandmom to amma's irate client in New Zealand and talking their ear off for about half an hour. Throwing loud tantrums if I dont get the phone.
2.My Ice Age CD
3. Playing with Adarsh and Aarav and rushing out and opening the door if I so much as HEAR them outside.
4. Taking out my books and pretending to read them in a voice loud enough to wake the dead.
5. Music. I LOVE listening to music which ranges from MS' Ganesha Pancharatnam to the latest Shivaji Ballelakka.
6. The lastest song 'Bum Bum Bole' from Taare Zameen Par. I love singing this over and over and over again till amma's and appa's ears threaten to drop off.
7. Playing my baby drums and my toy guitar.
8. Using my water colors to paint the floor, the carpet, the sofa, the maid's ears..just about everything except for the painting book itself.
8 things that drive my mom crazy:
Are you sure I need to stop at 8? I think the number is closer to 80.
1. The way I defy all laws of nature by continuing to insist that I live on air. I mean, literally, going for days on end without food of ANY kind.
2. The way I bang my car all over the place and especially against amma's legs when she is slaving over the stove in the kitchen.
3.The way I HAVE to lay my hands on any piece of paper that comes into the household. It could be anything from a pamphlet to our apartment documents. I need to have them and say 'It's very important' and glower at amma as though she is in danger of tearing them all up at any minute.
4. The way I insist on getting off the potty every 10 secs to flush and then demand to be picked up and made to sit again.
5. The insanely long amount of time I take to chew my food.
6.The way I insist on staying awake till I make sure BOTH my parents are asleep before going to sleep myself. Now I cant trust them to be alone, unsupervised, can I?
7. The way I ask amma a thousand questions and keep on calling for her incessantly when she is doing something else. This really drives her up the wall.
8. She gets really mad if I try to express my creativity. Just the other day both amma and appa threw fits when they came back home and saw the painting I had made....
all over the wall...
Did I tell you we stay in a rented apartment?
8 things I say often:
1. Innikku school vendam (No school today please!)
2. Mammam porum(Enough food!!)
3. Innikku school la amma amma nnu azhudhen.( I cried asking for you in school today.)
4. This is very important. Ok?
5. Amma..amma...amma...incessantly repeated through the day.
6. Po..pesadhe....(Go..dont talk to me..)
7. Appa thittara( appa is scolding)
8. I ya you..roughly translated to ..I love you!!
8 books that I have read
1. Polar Bear, Polar Bear..what do you hear?
2. Good night stories
3. Panchatantra stories by Amar Chitra Katha
4. Good Manners book
5.Men at work book
6. Alphabet book
8 songs that I like listening to over and over again:
1. Smart cookie
3. Bum Bum Bole
4. Twinkle Twinkle
5. Ba Ba black sheep
7.Ten Little Monkeys
I tag anyone else who wants to take up this tag
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Should we blame the media for playing out such ghastly stories over and over again till they are imprinted on the viewers' young, susceptible minds and puts ideas into their heads? Parents for running around in a crazed quest for money and not paying enough attention to the children? Society as a whole, for not creating and nurturing strong enough role models for the children to believe in and look up to?
Actually, I am totally confused. When I was growing up, my mom stayed home all the time and appa was hardly ever home. He used to work on Saturdays. He used to work till 7 in the night on weekdays. And amma, even though she used to be a SAHM, never used to be at my beck and call. She was always busy with something. With a neighbor. In her stitching classes. With the cooking or the cleaning. I used to be left alone many days for stretches of time to amuse myself. But I never resented the fact. And I grew up never wanting for attention. In fact, I still remember the sound thrashing I got when I interrupted my mom when she was talking to a neighbor.
Today, both Hubby and I reach home by 5.30 in the evening and play with kuttan all evening. Weekends are totally dedicated to his highness. And we still feel guilty about not spending enough time with him. When he calls us, we drop everything we are doing and rush to him. And yet I am worried about the kind of teenager and adult that my son will become.
My mom tells me that raising a child was a lot less complicated in her times. You had a child, gave them a good education, taught them good values and protected them till they were old enough to distinguish between the good and the bad. You waited till the values you had given them asserted their place in the children's lives and then you had nothing to worry about.
Back then, the only thing you needed to worry about, if you had a girl was that she would fall in love and marry someone 'outside' the community. If you had a boy, you had no worries till his graduation, after which you worried that he should get placed in a good job. And oh, with boys, you had to make sure that they didnt get into smoking and drinking and other bad habits either. Raise a child without falling into these pitfalls and you were pretty much assured of your place under the sun.
Compare this with the crazed parenting styles of today. Along with choices, I believe our confusion has also increased. Today we have to worry about every decision that we take about our children's lives. Mad Momma has written about her worries on privileged childhood. I do not trivialise her fears. I understand and agree with them. I worry about my son's early schooling too. I worry that he is 3 years old and is still not able to count objects correctly. Sometimes. He gets them right mostly.
I worry that my son is not getting enough to eat. I worry that my son is growing up too aggressive. I worry about all the strangers who my son may meet in school. I worry about who is allowed to touch my son when I am not around. I worry about the lil dry patch of skin in his left cheek. I worry that I am not there for him enough. I worry that he may grow up emotionally scarred just bcos I did not get him that battery operated car which he breaks in a jiffy. I worry that he may grow jaded if I do. I worry that if I do not get him admitted into that perfect school, he will never have a career. I worry that if I do get him into the school, then he may have too much academic pressure and not enough time and space to explore his interests. I worry that I am making him my parenting-style guinea pig. I worry that I am being too staid and not trying different enough things for him.
But on the whole, I think I worry too much. I think, as a generation, we are far less relaxed than our parents used to be. I know that the threats were lesser then. I know those were simpler times. But still, on the whole, I think, if we are more prepared to go with the flow and less ready to take on the blame any time anything goes wrong with our children's lives, then, probably, our children will grow up to be stronger individuals.
This may be an over simplification of the issue. It probably is not that simple. And then again, probably our parents were only pretending to be relaxed while they looked over us with an eagle eye and pulled us up for the smallest transgression. See, I am confused again..and worried!! What if I have gotten it all wrong?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I have already talked about my struggles to get back to work and all my false starts before I finally got to this point. I have been working for exactly 1 year and 2 months now. And there is one single reason for this - my trustworthy maid/nanny/helper/mentee..the girl who wears many, many hats - Asha.
I have briefly mentioned her in one of my posts before. Asha came to me at a time when I had already quit 2 jobs because I couldn't get my son into a daycare without him crying as if his heart would break. I had all but given up hopes of ever holding down a job for more than 3 months and was at my wits' end. Then, one day, one of the other cleaners in my apartment brought her.
When she came, she could'nt speak Tamil or Hindi, leave alone English and I could'nt speak Kannada. 'She'll learn..she already understands a lil bit', her aunt marketed to me. Kuttan was not yet 2. 'Let me give her a try', I told her aunt. 'If I dont like her after a week, she'll have to go.' It was agreed that she'd come to my house at 8 in the morning and leave at 6 in the evening and will take care of kuttan and also help me in cleaning the house.
Within a week, I was ready to kick her out. 'She is dumb!!' , I seethed to the husband. She doesnt understand anything I tell her. And kuttan would'nt even allow her to come near him. Bathing, cleaning, feeding , even playing, I needed to be there for everything. What's the point in having her and giving her money for no reason, I asked my husband.
Then, on the last day of her first week, I got an interview call. In the afternoon. I can't go, I decided. Then she told me, 'Akka, you go. I'll play with him.' I decided to give her one last chance and went. I called every five minutes and made sure he was ok. I had left my number with 4 different people in the same apartment so that they could call me in case of an emergency. I came back tearing from an interview to a job I did not get....to find my son playing with great joy and having the time of his life with all other kids in the apartment..and his akka.
From then, Asha has improved great leaps and bounds. From not knowing how to speak a single word in Tamil, she can now fluently communicate and teach kuttan a thing or two in the language. From not knowing how to speak into a telephone, she now carries her own mobile. She has become a great favorite among the children in apartment. She has become an expert in our way of cooking food. From Sambhar to the elusive molgoottal to kuttan's favorite pulav and hubby's favorite bonda, she has mastered it all.
She has slowly risen in status in our household from being a mere help to a nanny to a cook and finally, housekeeper. She has been living with us full time now for over 6 months. She has taken the fact that kuttan is smaller and thinner than the other kids as a personal affront and has spared no efforts in fattening him up, sometimes to the extent that even I get chided for not trying hard enough to feed him.
Everytime she left for her hometown she has driven me up the wall with worry that she will not turn up. Too many times, she has proved my worries to be grounded in fact by not showing up for a day or two. I have screamed and raged at her at different times for not doing things right. She has irritated hubby and me no end by staying back to watch the Friday night movie with us, a ritual for the two of us where no one, not even our parents, are allowed to intrude on. But we took it all in our stride. It seemed a small price to pay in return for the amazing care she gave kuttan. The fact that kuttan, on many days, seeked her out for comfort when I scolded him was proof of the love between the two.
And yesterday, after all the battles and struggles and the triumphs, Asha handed me her notice. 'I am leaving akka', she announced. She is going home, to get married. Hubby, who had already been informed by her earlier in the day, and Asha together did their best to cheer me up. 'We'll manage', hubby told me bracingly. 'Imagine, no more friday night intrusions. Kuttan can finally get used to that lovely school and daycare which moms in our apartment have been oohing and aahing over for a while. And, the best part, no more Monday morning madness waiting for Asha to arrive!!'
Yes, I told him perkily. We'll manage just fine. 16 months back, kuttan could'nt even talk. Now the situation is totally different and daycare is right for him, I agreed. Everything will work out just fine.
And then, in the night, when everyone around me had fallen asleep, I shed silent tears into my pillow. I was not just crying because kuttan will have to let go of a way of life. The age of innocence where he stays home and runs behind Asha is over. Now he will stay outside the home all day and come home with us in the evening...all grown up like. He will talk about his day and we will have no part in it. He will be in surroundings which will, with time, grow familiar to him, but ones which I will have no idea about. The people at the daycare centre told me they teach kids to feed themselves. But all I can see is the countless times Asha runs behind him, plate in hand, coaxing him to eat 'one more vaai'. He will go and sit with the other children and hold his spoon and eat. And somehow, the image makes my heart break.
Yes. I know that a daycare is better for him and I know that it will help him in a lot of ways. And I definitely know that babies who are less than half of kuttan's age do go to daycare centres. But I guess I just need to cling on to that one moment, a moment which slips by all too quickly, before he passes from babydom to boyhood.
Goodbye Asha...You were very much loved and wanted. And you will be sorely missed.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
True, educationists the world over have said that the better a child's grasp over his own mother tongue is, the more mastery they will have in learning other languages not their own. And still, despite all this, I find that schools in India stubbornly cling on to English. Hubby and I are both Tamilians and at home, we both speak to kuttan in Tamil. When I put kuttan in school at the age of 2 and a half, he could barely speak 2-3 word sentences. All in Tamil. But he could understand English and I was not too worried. I knew he'd pick up the language soon enough.
During his first PTA, his teacher told me he is a good kid. Bright, cheerful, friendly. But he has to improve his language skills, she said. When I asked her what she meant, she went on to elaborate. He is very comfortable in Tamil. But you should speak to him in English at home so that he can pick up English well too. Why? That's what I send him to school for.
Neither of my parents spoke English at home. In fact, my mom never does and appa, strictly in the deepest official tones. In spite of that, I did quite fine for myself, thank you. Considering that I grew up in Tamilnadu, I had plenty of opportunites to speak and constantly hone my Tamil skills outside my home. But, if I do not speak to my son in Tamil, how will he ever learn the language?
When I was in school, we had a choice of Hindi/Tamil for second language. Considering that my father worked in a bank and would get transferred every 3 years or so, Hindi was a more prudent choice. However amma made sure that I, at least, learnt to read and write Tamil. The basic, elementary education was polished over the years by reading magazines like Ananda Vikatan and Kalki.
When I was growing up, I always thought it was a little uncool to speak in Tamil. I never paid too much attention. Like an object of comfort that you rarely miss till it is gone, it was always there. Only well into my adulthood did I realise how much I had missed.
The rich literature, the poetry, the sheer beauty. The musical cadence of Sundara kandam. The sheer brilliance of Kalki's works. The wondrous works of Kannadasan. The fiery passion of the dravidian writers. The intellect shining through Sujatha's works and how he manages to bring the most difficult and profound scientific concepts to a layman's level. I had missed them all. Tamil is not an easy language to master. I tried reading Kalki's 'Ponniyin Selvan' but have still not managed to complete it. But I did read his compilation of short stories and marvelled over his way with words. A mastery no less, no profound than a Somerset Maugham or an O.Henry.
I despair the fact that I am passing on even less of this great language to my son. True, we have moved to Bangalore and want to integrate. True that I want him to learn Kannada. But is it too much to dream that one day, together, we will be able to explore the richness and beauty of this age-old language, which, after all, is his mother tongue?? Is it too much to expect this child to take on the additional burden of learning one more language which is not a part of his 'syllabus' and which will not affect his marks?
Today, I remember the immortal and hauntingly sweet lines by Kannadasan.
தமிழுக்கும் அமுதென்று பெயர்
இன்பதமிழ் அந்த தமிழ் எங்கள் உயிருக்கும் மேல்...உயிருக்கும் மேல்...
Happy Mother Tongue's day to all of you...
Monday, February 18, 2008
The guests were all suitably impressed with my U.S-return cuz and would gaze at him adoringly and praise him to the skies while Amma would push me to the front, almost forcing them to notice and acknowledge me.
This state of affairs continued for many years with my cousin dearest(called DC henceforth) managing to outperform and outshine me in almost all areas almost all the time. This despite the fact that I always performed well academically and in most other areas, except sports.
All that changed when I was in the 9th standard when a woman(well, a girl actually) called Claire came to the school where both DC and I studied. This English girl was doing her graduation in Literature from Oxford University and had come to India on a student exchange program. For some reason, this girl was spending time with the kids in our school and helping them with grammer, introducing them to literature, stuff like that.
I still vividly remember the day she called all of us and said we're going to have a contest. She gave us 4 words (I do not remember them now) and asked us to write a poem of 4 lines using them. Most of the kids did not have the slightest clue what the words meant and wrote rubbish and gave in those little chits of paper with their names and their 'poem' on them. DC, as usual, swaggered away after giving his, secure in the knowledge that he would, as usual, win. I quietly slipped in mine.
Claire came back in an hour and read the results. Imagine my surprise when DC did'nt figure in the top 3. I did'nt make it, but, hey, neither did he!! I would'nt have to hear endless tales of heroism and praises heaped on his already swollen head at dinner table that night!! Yay, I was happpy!!
And then, after announcing the first 3 prizes, Claire said she has a special prize to give. Because the given words had been used to evoke a haunting quality to the poem. And she called out my name!! She gifted me a sketch pen set which was jealously eyed by the 40 kids sitting around...but best of all was the look on DC's face!! Priceless!!
But for the first time, I realised that I had a talent that was uniquely my own. Where I did'nt have to claw my way to be noticed. Where words would pour out painting whatever image I wanted to paint for the reader...happy, sad, melancholic...
I had decided I would take literature and become a writer. (I thought I NEEDED a degree in literature before I would be allowed to write.) The dream stayed on till my 12th standard when scathing peers and sarcastic parents told me to get my head out of the clouds and get myself into a professional college.
The dream was reborn in college under the encouragement of a boy, a boy who would later go on to become my friend, lover and husband, to whom I first expressed my love the only way I knew how, through words. You write beautifully, he told me. You should try and get published. I wrote some more and some even got published in college and local magazines.
When I came to Bangalore and started working as a software engineer, those dreams were again shelved. When kuttan was born and I sat at home, hubby gently prodded me, in his words "to get off my ass and do what I never can do....write!!"
I wrote a couple of times desultorily and tried to get a few things published but nothing much happened. This was the time I got in touch with C.K.Meena. C.K.Meena is an author and has her own column in Hindu. I have always enjoyed her writing and her straight-from-the-heart, no-nonsense attitude that used to shine through it. I briefly corresponded with her and she was very encouraging and gave me a lot of tips on who to contact and publishers names etc...
In the meantime, life intruded again and I came back to work. However, the dream continued. Someday, I told myself. Someday I will leave this all and will have enough time and will power and the energy it takes to belt out article after article unfazed by rejections. In the meantime, how do I hone my skills? And that's how this blog was born.
Recently, I happened to find Meena on Google chat and, on an impulse, said hello. It had been over a year since we corresponded and I did not expect her to remember this wannabe writer who wanted to get her articles published. To my surprise, she not only remembered me, she also asked me if she could read my blog when I told her what I was doing.
Well...do I want a month of Sundays? Of course I did. This was my favorite columnist and a respected author and journalist who was offering her time and advice. I had only one thing to say to her..'Please dont be kind Meena and give it to me straight..'. In less that 15 minutes, I get an email from her. Excerpts from the email below:
I find it just what a blog site should be. It is heartfelt, honest, chatty, confessional, and descriptive. I found the blog on the rabbit race quite funny! I like the way you are self-deprecating and are fully aware of your obsessiveness and don't take it too seriously (it would be dangerous to do so).
When it comes to dare-I-say Real writing (the kind that gets published as middles, columns, short stories and so on), what one does is to be more conscious of the words one uses, to avoid repetition, to edit and prune, to craft sentences for the best effect, and so on. But I am sure you are aware of it, because the piece you sent me earlier on the dilemma of working or staying at home showed that some care had gone into the writing.
Regards, and all the best.
Well Thank You Meena!! The dream lives on. And it is like Claire has given me her coveted sketch pens all over again!!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The rules of the tag are- 'Link 5 different posts of yours. Tag 5 other people to do it. The 5 posts should be about Family, Friends, Yourself, your love and anything you like!!
Well, for a seasoned person who is very religious about blogging this may seem like a piece of cake. But for a blogger like me whose posts are few and far between, well...let's see what we can do now....
Family- I am a married woman with a 3 year old son. And yet, when someone asks me where my family is, I automatically say - 'Coimbatore' where my parents live. Here is where I write about my parents and how hopelessly dependant I am on them even today.
Friends - Hmmm...nothing on friends yet. Gives me an idea to do one though :)
Me - What could be more self loving than starting a blog and forcing any unsuspecting soul on cyberspace to unwittingly read it. I have written plent about myself. One that I like the most is here.
Love - Ah...the feeling that makes the world go around....and makes a normally violent-when-woken-from-deep-sleep you just glare and quietly go back to sleep when hubby gets calls at 12.30 in the night. I have not written about how we met or too many things about hubby except in passing. But I have written one post where I have tried to tell him everything that he means to me.
Anything you like - Well...this one definitely ought to be it!! I love the way I have written it...hee hee...some one did say this tag was narcissistic...
I tag Moppet's mom, Kodi's mom, Artful dodger and Itchy..one because I have just started reading their blogs and discovered I would like to read more and two because everyone else in the blogging world has already done this tag. :)
Thursday, January 31, 2008
A love that makes me rush to his side first thing in the morning when he wakes up rubbing his eyes sleepily. A love that makes me rush maniacally through the streets of Bangalore in the evening to be with him. A love that makes my heart turn cold with fear whenever I hear anything remotely tragic involving kids. And an almost eerie sense of kinship with every other mother. Oh yes, motherhood is certainly an exclusive club!!
Celebrations have begun in a big way, with us already having had one party at his playschool today and having another one over the weekend for the kids at the apartment. I see him enjoying and revelling in all the attention and I wonder as to how this tiny creature who came, quite literally bursting into our lives 3 years ago has turned into such a little man!!
So what has becoming parents meant for me and hubby? Well, I need not even go into the on-the-top changes. Such as the early infancy sleepless nights. Or the struggle with feeding that I have had with him from the time he was just a few months old. Or the fact that usually-travel-and-adventure-loving hubby did'nt take a single trip for two whole years. Or the way I used to drive his paediatrician and myself and hubby nuts over every small perceived developmental delay. Or the nightmarish time we went through during the two earlier times I tried to get back(unsuccessfully) to work.
But wait...I am now beginning to remember the other times...Minutes after he was born and I was shifted to my room, still groggy with the anaesthetic. Hubby and I were left alone by the parents and the family brood along with the brand new baby. And through all the grogginess, I still remember the look on hubby's face as he looked at his son, still remember the tears in his eyes as he looked at the tiny bundle that was a part of us.
All the firsts after that. The first time he rolled over. The first crawl and step. The first day at school. So many moments of joy. Every single day. And I see how the baby has become a little boy today. I see how much he loves people, how good he is with people and I am so proud. I see him charming the socks off strangers and I want to shout to the world..he's mine, he's mine!!
I see him jealously sidling up to my side anytime hubby comes within a foot's radius and I laugh. I see the way he trustingly hugs me and cradles his head on my shoulder while sleeping at night and I melt...
Oh yes...there is a lot more to come...a lot many joys and happiness...probably tempered by a disappointment or two. I just cannot wait!! Parenthood is a blessing..and like all blessings it comes with a whole lot of responsibbilities and trade offs. The main trade off being that you are, for all eternity, prepared to seeing your heart walking outside your body.
Happy Birthday, sweetheart!! We love you..You make our lives go around...