Monday, November 8, 2010

And a very happy Diwaala to you too!

Hello there peeps! Its me again, here to wish you all a very happy Diwaala! That's how I've been greeting people on my second Diwaala and it never fails to send them into peals of laughter. The life and soul of the party, that's me! I thought I'd stop by The Mommy Woman's blog and spread some festive cheer around here as well. Besides the poor Mommy Woman needs a helping hand with her blog now and then, given her dismal track record at being regular with updates starring me and its been a while since I've dropped by so what better occasion than Diwaala to grace the blog with my super cute presence!

I've just had a wonderful second Diwaala and I celebrated it with loads of friends and family. I thought The Mommy Woman would be happy to note that I've more or less outgrown that little stranger anxiety thingie I went through in between but no! Really that woman is so hard to please! Take for example my encounter in the elevator with the friendly grandpa who lives right above us. Now I've always made it a point to studiously ignore any friendly overtures by said grandpa in the past but I decided Diwaala is as good a time as any to make amends and so when we happened to be in the elevator together and I happened to be standing right behind him I tried to be chummy by casually giving him a friendly swipe in the seat of his pants.He seemed quite amused too and I'm sure it would have been the start of a beautiful friendship if it hadn't been for that pesky Mommy Woman who suddenly started apologizing for some weird reason and totally ruined the moment. Or take that day in the restaurant where I was having a blast playing a new game with The Papa Man. The restaurant had these groovy chairs with big gaps in the backrest and I discovered this fun game where I would poke The Papa Man through one of the gaps and he would act all startled and make funny faces. We were having so much fun that I thought I should treat some of the other chappies in the restaurant to this fun game as well so I trotted off to the neighboring table and gave a jolly poke to a tubby looking fellow stuffing his face with some soup. He must have really enjoyed it coz he let out a strangled yelp and nearly swallowed his soup spoon and I was going to rev up the fun a few notches higher with another poke, when I noticed that The Mommy Woman had turned a delicate shade of purple and was doing that whole apology thing again. Really that woman can be such a ditz! First she was worried about my whole stranger anxiety phase, and now when I'm going all out to make my debut, as it were, on the social scene, she has a problem with that as well. Hmph! The other day that pest control chappie had stopped by and I was doing my best to keep an eye on him by following him around and giving him encouraging pats for a job well done and trying to get my hands on that goop he was sticking on the walls to see if it was A-grade material, and she got all hysterical and had me removed from the scene! I ask you! The woman has no appreciation whatsoever for a friendly helping hand around the house.

Take the other day when I saw her handing some vegetables to the cook and, deciding to offer my services, I took out some potatoes and onions from the vegetable basket in the kitchen and stacked them up on the counter, just in case the cook required them. Now how was I to know that poor chump of a cook would assume that The Mommy Woman had kept them there and chop them all? Next thing I know The Mommy Woman is doing the headless chicken act all over the kitchen, demanding to know what is to be done with 2kg each of extra chopped onions and potatoes. Really, how am I to know! She'll be asking me to look up recipes on Google next! I decided that the kitchen is probably not the place for me and went looking for that nice bai who does the jhaado pocha in our apartment and who always has a kind word for me. I love helping her out with the pocha and the dusting and I thought I'd lend her a helping hand by attacking a particularly nasty looking dirt stain on the floor with a soft cloth I found on the bed. I was happily scrubbing away (I SO love doing pocha!) when I heard a shriek and saw The Mommy Woman turning that familiar shade of purple (someone tell the woman that purple is so passe!)and then she grabbed the mop from my hands and started moaning about her beloved silk sari. I tried telling her that if she wants to avoid these misunderstandings she really shouldn't leave her things lying around like that but I don't think she quite got my point. She can be so obdurate sometimes, really. I must make some time to hop across to Landmark next weekend and get my own copy of What to Expect with The Mommy Women in the Toddler Years. I hope they have a section on the Terrible Thirties, because with The Mommy Woman behaving the way she has been these last few days, I'm going to need all the expert advice I can get!

As it is I have my hands full trying to keep The Mommy Woman busy in some constructive activities all day long so that she doesn't waste too much time idling away in front of the laptop. I try and put in an hour of reading with her everyday where I point out various objects in my picture books and make her tell me what each object is. Or I make her sing songs by telling her exactly which song I want with some innovative actions, and I get her to repeat each song a few times so that she gets each nuance perfectly right.
I even tried setting up a play date for her last week with a friend who has a Mommy Woman of her own, the same age as mine, but that didn't go so well. The thing is, being my usual helpful self, I thought I would help The Mommy Woman out with some of her household chores. I'd heard her cribbing about how she never gets enough time on weekends to do her grocery shopping, and there seemed to be a lot of groceries and stuff lying around at my friend's place, where we were having the play date so I thought I'll pick them up for The Mommy Woman and save her some time. I thought she would be happy at my thoughtful gesture but I should have known better. There were a range of emotions that flitted across her face when we were back home from the play date and she opened the diaper bag to find six teaspoons, one packet of sugar, a slab of butter and one tea cake in there, but happiness was not one of them.

Really, pleasing The Mommy Woman is next to impossible, I'm beginning to think. "I'm having a particularly tough time with The Mommy Woman these days" I said gravely to The Papa Man that evening "I don't think I can handle the pressure anymore."
"Ooh my little chatterbox, you've started talking so much these days! Chutter putter, chutter putter all day long! Soooo cute!" he gushed, cooing with delight and going into a complete mush overdrive as usual. Really is it too much to expect these people to at least try and understand what I'm trying to say for a change, instead of babbling like idiots every time I try and make a few statements? I guess not. Anyway, enough ranting for one post. I'm off now to spend some time with Chintu, my new friend and next door neighbor. He's been helping me make some delightful new additions to my vocabulary. Like that new phrase he taught me last week, "Abey Chup!" I'm not sure what it means exactly, but it must be something wonderful because The Mommy Woman went into a near dead swoon when I tried it last on that aging relative we'd gone to meet for Diwaala. Ooh I can't wait for Diwaala holidays to end and school to begin so I can try it on my teacher. She'll be impressed all right! Maybe then The Mommy Woman will finally be happy!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mommy Manners 101

Its that time of the day again. A freshly blessed diaper awaits The Mommy Woman to come over and do the honors. As she goes about doing the needful, she asks the help to stand guard as a preemptive measure against a possible attack from The Fingers That Squish. As she cleans, she glimpses a swift movement from the corner of her eye and looks up in alarm. Too late she realizes that the curse of The Fingers That Squish has struck again!! The help, busy examining a particularly fascinating spot on the wall examines her nails and yawns.
"Oh shit!" says the Mommy Woman in despair. And then as The Fingers strike again, "Oh F***!"
"Sheet!" squeals the child with unconcealed delight "F***!!!"
"Gaaahhh!" gasps The Mommy Woman in dismay."Nooooo!!! No, No, No, No! Nikki, sweetheart, please don't say that. You can say 'Oh No!' instead. Ok? Oh No, Oh No, Oh Nooooo!!!"
The child looks at The Mommy Woman with a diabolic smile. There is a definitive gleam in her eye.
"Sheet!" she trills again displaying a brilliant grasp of previously unheard of words "F****!".
The Mommy Woman collapses on the floor in a dead faint.

A few hours later, the battle weary Mommy Woman is enjoying some solitude and her afternoon cuppa. The doorbell chimes announcing the arrival of The Grandparents. Nikki falls on them with squeals of delight and they reciprocate with equally high pitched squeals. The Grandfather in particular is eager to spend some quality time with his beloved granddaughter, having been out for a few weeks on a work related trip.
"Oh how she has grown!" he exclaims fondly "So what is she up to these days? Has she learned anything new?"
"Yes!" says the help who likes to display her marked lack of common sense at the most opportune moments. "Didi taught her some new words today and she has been repeating them all day! She picks up words so fast you know!"
The Grandparents beam with pride. "What are the new words Nikki?"
A strangled cry emanates from the corner as The Mommy Woman's cuppa makes contact with the floor. She tries to speak but can only manage a few squeaks and gasps. The child looks at The Mommy Woman. She has that familiar gleam in her eye.
"Sheet" she says crisply to the part eagerly awaiting, part horror struck audience "F***". Dramatic pause. "Sheet! F***! Sheet F*** Sheet F*** Sheeeeet F********!!"
The Grandparents stop beaming. They exchange looks. The Mommy Woman sighs and looks down at her cuppa wishing it had something more potent in it.

And on that happy note, here's wishing everyone a very happy festive season! We seem to have kicked it off in our very own Nikki- Speshul style, and I'm going to need the rest of the evening to recover. Today isn't a dry day is it?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The one where I have nothing to blog about and so I shall ramble

Right, so just after I'd gotten myself all pepped up with all those noble intentions of blogging every week, I've discovered that the creative juices seem to have all but dried up. One minute I have a million ideas buzzing through the mind like Nikki on a sugar high (have you seen what a slice of birthday cake can do to an 18 month old, whose paranoid mother otherwise carefully monitors her sugar intake? *shudder*), the next minute my mind is a staggering blank. This is what happens to me when I don't blog regularly. I dunno if you've experienced this as well? When you're blogging regularly, you get so caught up in the enthusiasm of it all that as you write one post there are a million others brewing in your head like fresh espresso. And the writing flows easy, like a blob of butter meting on hot toast. And then you take a break and bam! It gets harder and harder to write and there are millions of unfinished drafts until you're convinced the blogging part of your brain has sort of fossilized because of the lack of use.

Of course in my characteristic organized and disciplined way, I regularly fail to jot down the inspiring thoughts that flit through my mind a thousand times a day providing much needed blogging fodder. Instead I just let them whir around in my head like windmills and when its finally time to sit down and do the actual writing bit it gets a tad tough dealing with all the cacophony that's flying around inside. The domestic woes that have plagued me of late haven't helped any. But its all going to change for the better soon I hope because I have finally found someone who is willing to share in the domestic burden and she will be coming on board soon. In fact she was here yesterday for a few hours and I felt rather proud as I took her down to the park with Nikki, like a coy bride, showing off her macho, rich husband.

Strange how much havoc lack of domestic help can wreak in your life. Specially when you've gotten used to them and life has fallen into a comfortable pattern and then they suddenly hit you with the disappearing act. I was quite indignant about the whole thing initially and declared to P that I was never going to depend on a bai again.
"Cooking and cleaning and child care, I can do it all on my own!" I screamed vehemently. " I don't need any of these nasty bais. What's more I'll be a super mom and a yummy mummy and a domestic goddess to boot!! I'll show 'em all!"
"Right" said P in a resigned sort of voice and went off to order pizza while I collapsed on the couch at the sheer exhaustion of thinking of it all.
Anyway things seem to be back on track now and hopefully they'll stay that away. Anti jinx chant, anti jinx chant, anti jinx chant. Dear Goddess in Charge of Bai Karma up there, I've had my share of misfortune, please bestow your blessings and goodwill on me now, thankyouverymuch. While we're on the subject of domestic help I also have to mention this fabulous dhobi I've found! Yeah, see how exciting my life is? I'm devoting a whole post to the bai and the dhobi, it doesn't get better than this! I wonder what the girl I was seven years ago would say to me now, as she toiled in a swanky office with corner office dreams in her eyes. That being as it may, this is the way life as I've chosen it seems to be panning out at the moment and I can't say I haven't enjoyed the ride so far. So anyway, getting back, this guy, the dhobi is absolutely fabulous! He's punctual and regular, does a fabulous job with the clothes quite unlike Rajkumar The Rascal and get this- he smiles and wishes me with a polite 'Good Morning Madam' when I open the door. Oh yes, life seems to be getting back on track all right. Hopefully the weight loss wagon, off which I'd fallen so long ago that I don't even remember what it looks like anymore, will get back on track too and I'll leave it at that. (Note to self: Consistency is going to the gym everyday, not once in six months). There, now that I've put it on the blog I'll have to hit the gym! Then again, I have mentioned the battle of the bulge earlier haven't I and it didn't really shame me into doing anything about it. Oh well. Onwards ho to the gym then, I'm sure that gym instructor whom I'd earnestly assured that I would be terribly regular at my last visit a few years ago is going to want to have a word with me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Random ramblings from my shatteringly mundane existence

Yeah, its been one of those days. You know. One of those where everything seems to go wrong and Murphy is disturbingly all pervasive and at the end of which you just want to kill somebody. The last couple of weeks have been a series of one unmitigated domestic disaster after another. At last count, one maid was yet to recover completely from an attack of dengue, the other was seen merrily traipsing off to explore greener pastures without so much as a by-your-leave and the friendly neighborhood rogue, otherwise known as the dhobi, burnt some of P's best shirts and promptly vanished into thin air leaving us dhobi-less and with a drawer full of burnt shirts.

The making of 'Oh boy, oh boy, oh bai!- The Sequel' is currently underway and our life currently, minus the tenuous support of domestic and other peripheral staff is in a state of gentle disintegration . In other words it is an unholy mess. The mornings start with several rounds of interviews with aggressive women in the locality masquerading as bais. I open the door with a deep feeling of dread, akin to that faced by the meek spirited job seeker when faced with the nail-chewing-for-breakfast prospective employer to find Petulant Padma or Sulking Shanta at my doorstep. You recognize them instantly: the flared nostrils, the knotted brow, the ferociously clenched jaw and the beady look in the eye. The lark that sang merrily on many a gay,dewy morning certainly never made the acquaintance of these formidable ladies.
"Bai chahiye kya?" barks Petulant P or Shady S, as the case may be, and so begins the interview.
"Er yes" you meekly submit.
"Kaam kya hai?" continues PP/SS and then goes on to ask minute details of the work involved, the timings, the pay, only to shake her head in the manner of a displeased bull disappointed with the performance of the matador in the ring, before strutting away. Some, of the less forthright variety, promise to get back only to vanish into oblivion thereafter.
I shouldn't be surprised really, given my many years of bad maid karma (right up there with the bad boss karma that affected me quite regularly back when I was working), but I continue to live with that faint glimmer of hope that someday a gentle, loving, matronly sort of woman will land up at my doorstep to lovingly share in the domestic chores. Until then I will continue being afflicted by the Petulant Padmas and Sulking Shantas of the world.

The recent hobnobbing with these unfriendly sorts has made me wonder whether the world has become a ruder place in recent times. Last weekend we were at a sports shop trying to buy some badminton rackets when the shopkeeper trotted up and barked at us to expedite our shopping immediately because the shop closed at 1'o clock sharp. On being asked why on earth the shop needed to close in the middle of the day on a Sunday we were curtly informed that 1pm to 4pm was siesta time for the owners and the shop downed its shutters come rain or a deluge of customers. He was rather aggressive about the whole thing, unscrewing the shop shutters even as he spoke and we beat a hasty retreat for fear that he might decide to guillotine us with the shutters if we lingered too long. The entire neighborhood seemed to be a fan of the 1-4pm siesta and all the other shops were downing their shutters as well so we popped into a nearby, busy restaurant for a quick bite. Frenzied crowds were thronging the place and as we searched for a place to sit or a waiter who might help us with the waiting system, a crusty old waiter affronted us with indignation oozing out of every facial feature.
"Kyaa chahiye?" he barked, swinging the menu he was holding in his hand like he'd like to swat me for crowding his space.
"Ooooh I was thinking I'd rather like to have a bath with some of that lovely mineral water you have on that tray there!" I said, only, of course, I said it in my mind.
"We'd like a place to sit" I said to him as politely as I could manage.
"Jaga chahiye to dhundo! Yaaha pe khaali peeli khada hone ka nahin mangta!" he rapped out sternly, turning on his heel as I gaped after him. Taking the levels of customer delight to new pinnacles and all that.

Then there's the afore-mentioned dhobi, the charming Rajkumar, who in times gone by would land up at our doorstep with a becoming scowl and his trademark "Kapdaa hai kya?" A reply in the negative would unleash a series of under the breath mutterings and grumblings as he sulkily stalked away, and a positive reply would get you a long suffering why-can't-these-slops-iron-their-own-stuff sort of look accompanied by an overwrought sigh. Really makes me miss my good 'ol society in Bombay where I had overcome my bad maid karma to get some wonderful staff and a happy and non shirt burning dhobi to boot. Sigh. Well, man, or in this case, woman lives in hope and we shall, hopefully, overcome these minor domestic glitches soon. Aah and now I must rush, for the doorbell has chimed as I type these words...onwards ho with the interviewing of maids then. The heavy breathing and gentle grinding of teeth I can hear from the other side of the door seem to indicate that Raging Rekha, or possibly, Depressed Devki, may be at the door,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog!

Right, so I'm back after a full twenty days, right after having passed that breezy remark of trying to blog every week! Well I guess a house full of guests, the house help down with dengue (uncanny how this ALWAYS happens when there are guests at home!) and a baby octopus masquerading as a toddler who tries to defy gravity at any given opportunity do not a prolific blogger make. Not that it means I'm going to stop trying though, I fully intend to blog as often as I can, but I guess right now taming the domestic fires that blaze untempered must take priority in my getting crazier by the day life.

Anyway the point of this post, just in case you're wondering, and you would be fully justified in doing so, given that the first paragraph and the heading of this post have not the slightest connection, was to wish my blog a very happy first birthday! For as the hands of the clock slowly crept upon midnight on the 8th of September, Hello Mommyhood turned one year old! And I found myself in the same state of semi wondering, semi amazement as I had on Nikki's first birthday a couple of months ago.
I still vividly remember that quiet September night in my somewhat lonely at the time, stay at home mum's life , when I finally quietened those gazillion misgivings and doubts and published my very first post. And the joy and elation I finally felt at seeing that post up on the blog. More than a year later, blogging remains just as exciting, with every new chronicle of Nikki's childhood captured, every warm memory shared and the fabulous interaction with fellow bloggers giving me the same frisson of happiness it did when I first started blogging. Blogging also helped me reconnect with an old, long lost love: writing. I've always enjoyed writing and used to be an enthusiastic writer back in school and college, but with time, as other seemingly more pressing matters began taking up more and more of my time and attention, my once near passion began to fall by the wayside, until I was doing less and less of it and finally was down to just jotting random musings in a tattered old notebook. Then came motherhood and along with it some other life altering changes. Suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands and a lot less to do (I'm not discounting the many demands of motherhood here mind you, but sometimes in those early weeks, when you get lucky and they do fall asleep after three hours of rocking and lullabies, and stay that way for a couple of hours, you suddenly have the luxury of time again!). I'd also discovered the world of blogging by then and was reading many many wonderful blogs and sharing in the joys and tribulations of the authors. And just as suddenly, that night of 9th September I was struck by a flash of inspiration. Here was a chance to reconnect with that long lost friend again, to rediscover that passion, the embers of which still glowed deep down in my heart.

So here I am one year later, and so much the happier for it. It's been a fabulous journey so far, I've connected with some wonderful fellow bloggers, made some friends, shared my stories with you and shared in yours, and learned some life lessons along the way as well. For those of you who like dropping by here, thank you for your comments, your words of encouragement and your interest in the snippets I share from my often times crazy world! And as we go forward into year two, do drop me a line telling me what you'd like to see more of or less of, or maybe even none at all of in the blog as we go along! Oh and the stuff you like too! Do join me then as I raise a toast to my blog, a dear friend and a wonderful reminder of a very special period in my life. Happy birthday HM and here's to many more!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some more update-y snippets

It's quite shameful how I've been neglecting my poor little blog these days. It's even more shameful when one gets round to thinking that this blog is the only productive thing that I do with my time. That and the all important task of examining the contents of Nikki's diaper with a hawk eye. Right, now that I have successfully put off  the last of my remaining readers I suppose I can go all out and elaborate on the details of the diaper and its contents just so I can bring things to a logical conclusion. Alright, not really. Come back, I was just kidding! Pretty please? Thanks. The thing is, Nikki had a recurring dash of that tummy infection she'd had earlier and that explains the ongoing obsession with diapers and their contents. And just while we're on the topic, what is it with kids not chewing their food these days? Nikki can chew, I know she can by the proficiency with which she wolfs down cookies and chocolates and jelly jujubes and other such stuff which she really shouldn't be eating but wheedles out of her hapless mother anyway, but give her some rajma chawal and she bounds into the 'I will swallow everything' mode. I sit in front of her, showing her how to chew till my teeth are clattering in my head and she nods her little head wisely and smiles. And swallows, as is evident from the contents of the diaper after the aforementioned rajma chawal meal has been consumed. But I don't suppose I should really be worrying about her masticating habits because she really isn't a fussy eater (pause for quick anti jinx chant). I hear horrifying tales from friends about how their toddlers will refuse to eat anything save a small bowl of curds for the entire day or take hours to consume one tiny piece of paratha and I thank the Lord for his Mercy that we haven't reached that stage yet. And now that I've gone and written about it on the blog I suppose I will spend the next three weeks paying obeisance to the high chair.

No, but Nikki's eating habits are the least of my worries, really. Mainly because I am much too busy worrying about her sleep, or to be more precise the amount of time, effort and energy one (the one in question being, mostly, yours truly) needs to spend in getting her to take a nap. With the added addition of a new born baby on the floor directly above us and a three year old with a proclivity to burst into song at nap times (always at nap times) accompanied by her two sonorous pet dogs on the floor below and the picture is complete, even though the nap may be far from it. And on the really bad days we also have the friendly neighborhood motorcycle man, curse his pointy little head, who revs up his bike for seven and a half minutes before screeching thorough the neighborhood on that infernally noisy contraption, ensuring that the last vestiges of sleep are wiped out from an already resistant to sleep child's mind. Even the warm bath, which of late had begun to work its magical powers in inducing a soporific state seems to have lost its charm. Speaking of which, after having gone on and on about how Nikki hates water, it is quite ironical that I now find myself in a situation where I wish her new found love for all things aqua would get tempered if only just a little bit.
'Bath taaa!' is a constant refrain heard in our house, indicating that the little diva is ready for bath time ALREADY, even if she's had a nice long bath just 0.75 minutes ago and could the mother please get to it quick. Bath taa itself is a frantic struggle to lather, rinse and scrub Nikki clean while she tries to jump headfirst into the water or rush to stand under the shower or the tap. The end of the bath sees much screaming and kicking as she is forced to leave the bathroom and toweled dry and she makes her displeasure loud and clear by banging the door down when I'm in the shower myself with indignant cries of 'Mama!!! Bath taa!!'.

Thankfully she usually gets distracted by her other favorite activity, which is standing on the grilled in ledge in the large french windows in our living room and observing the activity in the park below. Loud cries of 'caa' (car), bow wow (dog), meeeeeeowwwwwww (er, this is all kind of obvious right? Right, so I'll just stop with the brackets already) rent the air as Nikki's daily observations are bestowed on the world. S or I usually sit with Nikki while she's at this to ensure that she doesn't topple off the ledge and to point out a passing butterfly or a bird that she may have missed as we watch the world go by. It must be a strange sight for an observer; a toddler and her  mum sitting by the window, getting tremendously excited by the sight of a passing dog or a bumble bee. And sometimes, the mum rapping the window or the grill and scolding it with a stern 'take that, you naughty window!' to placate the toddler who's happened to bump her head against it. Come to think of it, I've gotten so used to being in constant toddler speak mode that I'm quite likely to talk in a high pitched falsetto even in adult company. P seems to find it cute but I don't think any dinner guests will be terribly charmed if I ask them to try the risotto because its so yummy yummy in their tummy. Sigh.

August has been a busy month so far; my in-laws are visiting for a week and P's brother, his sister and her husband were here for a few days too. Nikki seems to have overcome her stranger anxiety a great deal now and while she didn't exactly welcome our guests with open arms, she didn't scream blue murder like last time either. In fact she got quite friendly with her Bua and insisted on getting all her toys from her playroom one at a time and piling them in a heap in her lap as Bua tried eating her dinner. Don't think Bua will be visiting again in a hurry.
Playschool is also on a one week break now and its been raining relentlessly so we've been doing a lot of stuff at home over the last few days. A trip to the zoo and an upcoming carnival at school over the weekend will probably ensure that the coming days are going to be busy as well, but I have resolved that I'm going to become a supremely prolific blogger and try and blog at least once a week if not more. Ta on that note then and here's hoping I stick to that resolve!

Friday, August 13, 2010

An update-y sort of post

Perfect Posture, PERFECT POSTURE
Sit up straight, Sit up STRAIGHT
Grow up to be pr-e-e-ty
Grow up to be h-a-aa-a-ndsome
Do not slouch

Just in case you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging of late (yeah right, I know), its because I've been spending every waking moment singing the afore mentioned 'Perfect Posture' song to Nikki. Well, not entirely true, we do take a break now and then for 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and 'Do you have a Sunshine Smile?', but mostly its 'Perfect Posture' All.Day.Long. I guess this is her way of making me pay for all the times I made her listen to Dekha Tujhe Dekha, my all time fave song from Billu Barber when I was pregnant. At the time I used to think the baby was enjoying it too, considering all the activity that would start inside whenever the song came on, but now it only seems to make her angst-y so I'm thinking maybe not. So anyway, Perfect Posture is one of the many many (sigh) songs they sing at the mother toddler group and observant little Nikki likes a replay at home with the accompanying hand movements and all.
"Good Morning Nikki!" I'll say in a tremulous voice as she opens her eyes at the crack of dawn. "Shall I switch on some nice jazz for you? Or Yanni perhaps?"
"Hah, nice try!" snorts Nikki fixing me with a beady look. And then she slaps her knees in a commandeering way, signaling that it is time to start with 'Perfect Posture', the first rendition of many to come during the day.It has to be sung with the right intonations and accompanying hand gestures too, else some angry shrieks thrown my way demand that I start all over again. She remembers ever single nuance, just the way the teachers sing it at school. Of course all these brilliant powers of observation are kept on hold while we're at school where she refuses to display any of her many talents.
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" the teacher will say "Show me your stars children!"
Most of the other kids around immediately oblige with the appropriate hand gesture bunching up their fingers like twinkling stars. Young Nikki examines her nails and gives a bored yawn.
"Nikki? Where are your stars darling?" asks the teacher hopefully. "Where are Nikki's stars? Oh okay, where are Nikki's fingers?"
Nikki's fingers are promptly stuck up her nose and a particularly obdurate glance is thrown at the teacher.
"Oh all right" says the defeated woman "Maybe she doesn't like this song, ha ha!"
Yeah right. Even the  auto wallah who ferries us to school everyday can sing it verbatim by now. With the accompanying hand gestures too, considering how Nikki metamorphoses into her "Let's revise everything we did in school today" mode the minute we step out of the school premises. This also means that while we are in the school she refuses to participate in most of the activities mom and baby are supposed to do together. Most of the other mom baby groups sit in nice little pairs with the mom manoeuvring baby's hands as they sing along to the song of the day. That looks cute. In our case, Nikki flings my hands away and trots off to a corner if I so much as try to touch her, while I do the whole song and act jig on my own. That does not look cute, I can assure you.
"Roly-Poly, Roly-Poly, Up, Up, Up!" I sing hopefully, rolling my hands around like a circus clown who's forgotten how to juggle.
"Get a life mother!" Nikki seems to say as she glowers at me from a corner.
Oh well. The good part is she really is enjoying  school tremendously and is learning loads of stuff. Like she now lets me brush her teeth instead of screaming blue murder whenever I approach her with her toothbrush because that's something the teachers show at school. And she's also learning to self feed with a spoon and a fork. Speaking of which she's majorly into pretend play these days and likes to pretend feed all her toys. She has become rather attached to a large doll, almost as large as Nikki herself, which my dad had gifted her and insists on having her around at mealtimes. She then attempts to feed the doll with a little bowl and spoon, making pretend munching sounds herself :) When we read books together, Dolly is always around too to listen to the story. We take Dolly with us when we go to the park, even though all she does is sit dolefully in the pram while Nikki runs amok pulling out flowers and leaves and clumps of grass. And we even put Dolly to bed before Nikki's own bedtime, Nikki pats her to sleep herself while I sing a lullaby. Inspired by all this, I thought it might be a good idea to involve Dolly in the all important Project Potty Training which we have embarked on these days. A few attempts of "Look what Dolly does when she wants to poop Nikki!" and "Oooh when Dolly wants to poop she sits on the potty!" have followed which don't seem to interest Nikki in the least bit. Any tips on how to go about potty training are most welcome!

In other news, Nikki seems to be going through some bit of separation anxiety these days, so its Mama! Mama! all day long. If I try going for a longer than usual shower or a bit of a lie in on weekends anxious cries of Mama! begin to resonate through the house. When she first started displaying this behavior I was quite overcome at this hereto undisplayed show of affection. So the first cry of Mama! would see me emerge sopping wet from the shower of spring out of bed with an eager "Yes Nikki? Mommy is here!", only to be met with a dismissive "Oh there you are. Run along now, just stay where I can see you so I know you're still here." Then there is this other new thing of getting stuff from all over the house to me and insisting that I hold it. It won't be uncommon for random visitors to my house to find me sitting at the dining table, trying to eat my lunch with Nikki's entire collection of soft toys piled up in my lap or on the couch trying to read a book with the day's newspapers, car keys, kitchen towels, bath mats and floor cushions for company. Any attempt to dislodge this carefully selected assortment is met with instant and earth shattering shrieks so I prefer to just stay put. Nikki's also become more demanding of my time now, wanting me to actively engage in activities with her as opposed to earlier when she was quite happy to potter about on her own. She does spend a fair bit of alone time too but just when I think she's quite happy playing with her shape sorter or her doll, a tiny, red faced little person will attach herself to my hip making it quite obvious from her expression that she's rather miffed at this blatant lack of attention. And now Her Majesty is back after a (rather short) nap and its that time of the day again. And if you don't know what I mean just go right back to the beginning of this post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Of saying goodbye and savoring life's special stuff

We've spent the last two days hanging out with my sister, Nikki's C Paachi, who flies out to the US today for higher studies. While I restricted my goodbyes to a semi hug and a rather eloquent grunt in my characteristic expressive style, I'm sure C knows that we're all going to miss her lots. What makes this whole going away business a little better is that she's going to be back in under six months to get married (hurray!), an event everyone in the family is quite looking forward to. Nikki had a fun two days spending time with C Paachi and her grandparents which got me around to thinking about how important it is for kids to spend time with family growing up, to know that there are other loving, dependable adults they can confide in and look up to, apart from their parents. I'm hoping Nikki gets to spend a lot of time with close family as she grows up and have been making an effort to get together with family I have in and around town whenever I get the chance. It is specially fun and also a little touching to see Nikki bond and thoroughly enjoy herself with my little nephew R, who's a couple of years older than her. I have a photograph of C Paachi with R and Nikki in which C is holding Nikki and R is standing next to her. The snap beautifully captures R grinning mischievously at Nikki while she grins right back with an equally saucy, exhilarated expression on her little face, a testimony to the fun times they've shared. We're lucky that P also has a large extended family, with lots of kids close to Nikki's age and even though she was too small to really interact with them the last few times we met, I'm sure she'll enjoy her time with them as she grows older.

I shared these thoughts with P last evening as we drove back home after saying goodbye to C and we got around to talking about what we'd like Nikki to grow up with, the important stuff, the stuff that really matters. We were both agreed on the importance of family and close friends; I hope Nikki has a wonderful, loving set of friends she knows she can rely on and turn to anytime as she grows older. Growing up, we were always moving cities and I would often be the new girl in town or in school or in the park, the girl who was left out of birthday parties and sleepovers and movie nights because nobody knew her well enough yet. Sure I would settle in eventually, get to know people and make friends but it was always difficult those first few days when everybody was comfortable in their own little groups and you were the only outsider who didn't fit in any where. In retrospect though, I feel this has always made me appreciate my friends more and I am truly thankful today for the wonderful group of friends I have.

A love for books and reading is another thing I hope to pass on to Nikki, followed closely by a love for music. There is no greater joy than losing yourself in the wonderful world of a beloved book, retracing the adventures in an old favorite, the thrill you feel when you connect instantly with a new book or the quiet anticipation of an evening tucked up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book left half way. Except perhaps, the joy of waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the strains of a ballad by Richard Clayderman on a Sunday morning. Or some smooth jazz or perky funk beats on a Friday evening as you wait for dinner guests to arrive. Or the instant mood lift as you listen to an old favorite on a rainy afternoon or on a long drive back home. So Nikki gets a generous dose of  Floyd and U2 along with Wiggles Dorothy the Dinosaur and she seems to enjoy both equally well! Of course The Papa Man ensures that there's a generous dollop of 'Tere Liye' and 'Singh is King' thrown is as well and both those numbers have little Miss Nikki doing a vigorous shake-that-booty each time!

I am hoping to celebrate all of the major festivals in a big way now that Nikki is here. Before we had Nikki, festivals were equated with days off, a chance to get away from the stress and pressure of daily life but now I look forward to spending these special days in a leisurely manner with Nikki. Enjoying the beauty of colors on Holi, basking in the warmth of family and togetherness on Diwali, always a gala family event, discovering the magic of Santa Claus at Christmas, making modaks together for Ganesh Chaturthi and beautiful jhankis for Janmashtami. Festivals, also mean holidays and holidays are another important part of growing up happy! Long and lazy summer holidays, short winter breaks, even weekend getaways, I want to ensure we take some time out every now and then to get away from our regular routines and travel the world and spend time together, sometimes to meet new people and do different things, sometimes to just enjoy a slice of solitude.

Which brings to me to the importance of enjoying  your own company and being comfortable with yourself. That wonderful place where you know you can step out and have a great time over coffee with friends knowing equally well that you can go right back and have just as wonderful a time all by yourself. I hope I can teach Nikki that. Along with the power of dreaming big, beautiful dreams, believing in them without being afraid of failure and taking risks. Living the most exhilarating life and being the best person she possibly can be. And always knowing that two people, mom and dad, will always be there for her no matter what.

This list could go on and on so I thought maybe I'd leave it at this. Or maybe I'll keep coming back and adding to this if I feel I've missed out on something that really should be here. What about you though? What are those special things you know you want your children to grow up with?

Friday, July 16, 2010

A smelly sort of irony

Your little girl shows no sign of blessing the diaper in spite of your best efforts to help Mother Nature along: well timed meals, plenty of water, careful positioning of the pink potty, gentle coaxing. The minute you're out the door and on the way to playschool, you hear a gentle rumbling, signaling that the diaper has now been freshly endowed and will require cleaning in the car or, even worse, the auotrickshaw.

Happens without fail, week after week. Sigh. This is my contribution to the tag started by Rohini. I have many more instances to narrate of course, in fact they'll fill up a book, but we'll leave that for another day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A tag by any other name...

Blogging has been a bit slow lately thanks to the internet connection (hello you!) which has been acting more mercurial that the Rain Gods themselves. It had reached a stage where I'd become quite superstitious about switching the blasted internet switch on without an elaborate 'switch it on' ritual, you never know when the Internet Gods decide they are displeased after all and go on the blink without so much as a by-your-leave. Matters have been resolved since thankfully, and I can finally get down to the tag on gender stereotypes that Piper and Momo's Ma had tagged me to do some time ago. I've had great fun doing this tag, though I'm not so sure if it conforms exactly to the popular notion of gender stereotypes. From what I can see around me, not conforming to a stereotype is fast becoming a stereotype in itself these days, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway so here goes:

1. I DETEST shopping, and am completely hopeless at buying stuff for myself. P on the other hand loves shopping and can spend HOURS even at the local mom and pop store, shopping for household groceries. Most of our joint shopping expeditions end with me having to drag him kicking and screaming back home, when I reach the end of my tether and am on the verge of collapsing into a shopping induced dead faint. P is an excellent shopper though (I think Becky Bloomwood could take tips from him) and can be counted on for finding excellent picks in all sorts of stores ranging from high fashion to hardware.

2. I'm a pretty good cook, even if I do say so myself, but my culinary skills  fall short when it comes to making rotis; for the life of me I just can't get it right.  The dough is either too lumpy or too gooey and on the rare occasion that I get that right the rotis themselves decide that they would much rather masquerade as maps of assorted continents. Only once in my life did I manage to make perfect looking, almost circular rotis and I stored them away carefully to show them to P. When I unveiled them proudly later that evening I found, much to my horror, that they had hardened into completely inedible, rock solid slabs that would require a hammer if one were to attempt breaking them into bite sized pieces. Its all rather sad, because I really do love cooking and roti making is an art I would love to master.

3. Like a lot of other bloggers I read who've done this tag, I'm not into make up at all. Way back when we were just friends and P didn't know me too well, he'd fondly bought me a (really nice, come to think of it) state of the art makeup kit as a birthday gift from one his trips abroad,  which had stuff I'd never even heard of before(eyelash tip darkener anyone?). Eight years later the make up kit occupies pride of place; in my special keepsakes basket where I've stored stuff from the past that has sentimental value. Needless to say and much to poor P's chagrin it is completely untouched. Not that I have anything against makeup, in fact I'm rather awed by its power, but most days I just can't get myself to do more than run a comb through my hair and put on some lip gloss. Also I guess the older you get the more difficult it is to break old, entrenched habits; the one time I was coerced by a well meaning friend into wearing some lipstick and kohl at an office party, I spent the evening feeling hideously pan-caked and couldn't wait to go home and wash my face squeaky clean. The friend hasn't given up since and I'm nothing if not open to change, so you never know, I may just metamorphose into the next fat mu pro yet.

4. I love traveling, and mostly alone. I find traveling alone the best way to recharge my batteries, get my thoughts sorted and connect with myself. I haven't traveled alone for leisure for a very long time now, but back when I was working I'd enjoy even the solitary work related trips. I'd like to do a back packing trip on my own some day, though with my newly developed tendencies to get panic attacks about what might happen to Nikki when I'm in a 1.5 minute shower I don't see that happening anytime soon.

5. I'm excellent at packing and unpacking stuff and am the designated packer (and un-packer) for vacations, short trips, weekend getaways and even moving home. In fact after our relocation from Bombay last year when Nikki was under three months old, with minimal help, I think I can single handedly manage any kind of move now.

6. I'm a whiz at ironing clothes and can easily put the local dhobi out of business if I try (not sure if this is a gender stereotype but have you noticed how the local dhobi is almost always a man?). I have a half a mind to do so too considering the local dhobi in question has been trying to fleece us out of home and hearth by his money laundering ways.

7. The other thing that I'm a whiz at is giving a good head massage *Brief pause here to make a quick plea to The Lord. Dear Lord, while I truly am grateful for my blessings, do you not think in the next round you could bless me with some more conventional and infinitely more useful skills? Like singing and maybe strumming the guitar for example?* So yeah, the local champi wala is the other guy I can easily put out of business.

8. I'm not a terribly maternal person, and for the longest time I wasn't sure if I would be a good mother. Having Nikki has changed all that, though I have to say P is a whole lot better than I am at most things when it comes to her as well. I hope he doesn't read this post.

9. I don't particularly enjoy and am terrible at multitasking. The image of the super mommy who brilliantly manages home, work, social life and a gazillion other things does inspire awe but also scares me a little bit. Give me one thing to focus on any day and I'll do a much better job than if I'm trying to manage fifty other things at the same time.

10. I rather like gymming, even if I'm not the most terribly regular person around, and have constant visions of myself in a size zero avatar, dressed in the latest Juicy couture gym attire as I effortless power my way through a grueling cardio and strength training routine like a sleek powerhouse of energy and grace. In the meantime, I'll settle for plodding along on the treadmill huffing and puffing away in my current size 86 real life version.

I think the whole world and its aunt has done this tag by the time I've finally gotten around to doing it so there really isn't anyone left to tag. Guess I'll settle for the blue pants, I prefer 'em to the blue skirt any day :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Activity Schmactivity

The monsoons are here and Nikki's daily trips to the park have become few and far between what with the weather playing truant on most days. In order to keep boredom at bay I decided to try some of the myriad 'fun activities to try with your toddler' I keep reading about on various websites and in the gazillion newsletters I  subscribe to. Besides Nikki seems to enjoy similar activities at the mother toddler group, and so last week, bursting with the naive enthusiasm of the  uninitiated, I decided to try some new stuff with her myself. First up was messy play, having gone through a detailed newsletter extolling the numerous benefits of the same. "We're going to make some play dough!" I announced cheerfully as I marched into the kitchen, startling S out of one of her daydreams. The newsletter had conveniently included some do-it-yourself playdough recipes and it sounded reasonably simple. All I needed was some flour and water and voila! Stir them well together and your very own simple playdough is ready. Easy peasy. I helped myself to some flour and water from the kitchen and trotted off to find Nikki, with a curious S in tow. "Let's make some playdough Nikki!" I screeched excitedly, catching sight of Nikki in the balcony and setting my supplies down. Nikki looked up briefly from her detailed perusal of the drain pipe and marched off in the opposite direction. "Look, WHITE, POWDERY flour!!" I persisted, not one to be discouraged easily. "See how nice it feels?" Nikki poked an uninterested finger in the proffered bowl, yawned and turned away to the unexplored delights to the drain pipe. "Okay, fine. Let's make the playdough, that should be fun!" I made a great show of pouring water slowly into the flour, while simultaneously stirring it into the flour. Nikki didn't budge from the drainpipe. No matter! She would probably perk up once she saw what fun it was to play with the playdough after it was ready. I stirred vigorously for a couple of minutes and poked an experimental finger into what should have been some super soft, pliable playdough. What I got instead was a stringy, gooey mess that clung to my fingers like there was no going back. "Kya didi!" smirked S, who had been lurking in the corner all this time "Aapko to atta goondna bhi nahi aata!" "The recipe must have been messed up" I informed S coldly. Just who did she think she was with her superior atta goond-oing skills? Bah! "I will make the rotis for today evening's dinner" I continued with the best cold hauteur I could muster. I would show her too! Just how difficult could it be?! Besides I had kneaded dough and made rotis in the past, even if my efforts hadn't exactly yielded rotis that you would put up on Kitchen Champions. Still they were edible and that's what mattered. I mean its not like rotis needed to pass any tests on aesthetic appeal. S just shrugged and went off to the kitchen and came back with some atta leftover from the morning. "Here Nikki play with this!" she said making a big show of handing the atta to Nikki. Hmph, the little show off! Much to my chagrin, Nikki displayed an interest in the atta too, took it from S's hands and began rolling it around and squishing it. Regaining my enthusiasm I quickly got out the little rolling board and pin my mom had got for Nikki some time back and gave it to her, but she kicked it away and then proceeded to plaster the atta all over the sofa at supersonic speed. By the time we were done scraping it all off, nobody had any energy left for any more activities so we decided to call it a day.

The next day I decided to try a different activity: painting. After carefully assembling Nikki's new, non toxic paints, some brushes and water for fun and large sheets of white paper, Her Highness was summoned to the venue and I eagerly tried to show her the many wonders of color. She seemed a bit bored with the whole thing at first, making me look like a bit of an ass as I finger painted circles and squiggly lines with loud and exaggerated enthusiasm while she looked on disdainfully from a corner. Oh and did I mention that this spectacle was taking part in our generously open-to-public view balcony (we have to do most messy play type activities here, since it is very convenient- great play area and easy to clean afterward) , with a bit of an audience in the other balconies? No, it was not one of my finer moments. Mercifully, after about ten minutes of "Oh look Nikki! A RED circle! Look! The blue line goes up and down, up and down, side to side, wheeeeee!", she did get a bit interested and came up and started dabbling in some painting herself. My happiness lasted for precisely three and a quarter minutes after which Nikki decided that all this smearing of color on paper was b.o.r.i.n.g and paint could be put to other uses as well. One paint smeared hand promptly went into her mouth followed just as swiftly by the other one. After my various and multiple attempts at dissuading her were met with a swift but firm rejection and after I managed to dislodge her brightly purple colored foot from her mouth, I finally gave up and the painting activity came to an end as well.

"Maybe you're pushing her to try things she's not ready for" advised The Papa Man later that day. "Why don't you try something simpler? Like crayons?"
Crayons! Now why hadn't I thought of that before?! Sure she was ready for crayons! In fact if her previous artistic escapades were anything to go by she was a regular Da Vinci in the making. The following day saw me in the balcony, yet again, with some more sheets of paper and crayons. In my new, non pushy avatar I made sure Nikki was around first before casually getting on my with my crayoning and pretending I was having great fun. Luckily for me Nikki took one look at the crayons and came scampering up right away. She let out a squeal of delight and heading straight for the crayons, picked them up and began examining them with a happy look on her face. I let out a sigh of relief and was just about to discreetly edge a sheet of paper her way when she swiftly went up to the balcony railing and speedily tossed out the crayons one by one like a stealth bomber on a final combat mission. The next several minutes consisted of one very angry security guard, several displeased passers by and a few tickled-to-death neighboring balcony viewers.

We have now unanimously decided that we will a) no longer conduct activities in the balcony and b) leave the more adventurous of the activity lot for the experienced beings at playschool. However in my indefatigable enthusiasm I will continue in my attempts at engaging Nikki in more such educational and fun activities. That is, as soon as I emerge from my self imposed hibernation after recovering from the twin attacks of the Crayon Missiles and the Angry Bystanders.

P.S. And for those of you observant readers who were wondering, yes I did make the rotis that day and two things happened. First, I discovered that a roti can actually be a very useful educational tool. Especially when it come to rotis. Map of Africa anyone? I can roll it out for you! Secondly, even though some rotis may not be edible, after allowing for a couple of hours of hardening they can be very useful Weapons Of Self Defense. I can put those Pepper Spray guys out of business, I tell you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cloud Nine

This morning Nikki was up as usual at the crack of dawn and merrily prancing around on our bed, as P and I lay there, caught between that state of deep slumber and impending wakefulness, trying to grab those blessed last five minutes of shut eye before the child decided to attempt her standard early morning deep dive off the bed stunt. Suddenly Nikki bounded over to my side of the bed and began peering at me closely to see if I was awake already. I opened one eye groggily, bracing myself for a possible nose tweak or a punch in the eye, our daily morning 'let's wake The Mommy Woman up' greeting. Instead Nikki suddenly bent over, gave me a soft kiss on the cheek, then put her arms around me in a hug, buried her face in my neck and babbled something softly in my ear. I just lay there, stunned initially, then overwhelmed, holding her, wishing I could hold on to the moment forever too.

Guess who's been walking around the house with a beatific smile plastered on her face today? :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If The Mommy Woman is not alert AT ALL TIMES.....

......she may find herself drifting into gentle slumber as little Nikki plays nearby, only to awaken to the feel of some strange sort of scraping on her posterior. On closer examination she may find that the source of the gentle scraping is little Nikki herself, busy doing up The Mommy Woman's  posterior (in need of renovation, yes, but this may not quite have been what The Mommy Woman was thinking) with The Mommy Woman's favorite lip gloss. Further inspection may reveal that little Nikki is quite the budding artist and has generously given of her talent to paint the bedspread, the pillow covers, several patches of the floor and The Mommy Woman's new handbag as well. Just as The Mommy Woman is recovering from the effect these startling sights are bound to have, the doorbell may ring to announce the arrival of the not so friendly new neighbors, stopping by to ask some questions about the neighborhood. The Mommy Woman may ask them inside and offer them a cup of tea but as she walks into her living room she may hear some strange sort of squeaks and snorts and the new neighbors may quickly excuse themselves citing that all important purchase of groceries as the excuse. The Mommy Woman may feel a little perplexed at this strange behavior until she catches sight of herself in a mirror as she turns a corner and sees that her posterior, encased in white tracks, is now a brilliant, shiny, glossy PINK. Did you know that on a pristine white background pink stands out really well? Well it does. Vivid.

And to think this is a child who eschews crayons unless it is to generally toss them around.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First week at playschool and other assorted tales

We've finished our first week at the mother toddler playgroup and Nikki seems to be settling in rather well. She was a little wary of the general proceedings on the first day, keeping a keen eye on me to ensure I didn't wander off too far, but the next day on it was like she'd been doing this all along. She's already made a couple of friends and has even gotten herself a little admirer who has taken quite a fancy to her, insisting on hugging her hello and goodbye every time they meet. Nikki is quite scornful of all this attention though and brushes the poor little chap off disdainfully each time, but he is nothing if not persistent. The sessions at the playgroup are divided into motor skills, language skills and drama and no prizes for guessing which is Nikki's favorite! Its drama all the way; I knew I was being prescient when I christened her the little drama queen. She has an absolute blast in the drama class and is quite the life and soul of the music  and movement party that is an integral part of each session, with her little 'balle balle' jig and general shake that booty baybeh happening in full flow. At one of the sessions there was a puppet show and Nikki was beside herself with excitement at all the animal puppets that made an appearance. At first she was content to sit at the foot of the stage and wave a cheery 'hi' to each puppet that made an appearance but soon she figured out, from some clever peering under the screen, that there was someone back there making all the action happen and she made a beeline for the poor teacher-puppeteer's foot. I was quite enjoying the sight of the teacher hopping around to avoid her, when I noticed the other teacher glaring at me and quickly moved Nikki away. The other big hit with Nikki has been an activity where all the babies get to dress up like monkeys and prance around. Nikki took to her little monkey headgear and tail immediately,and spent a good ten minutes preening in front of the mirror, even giving herself little kisses in the mirror!

The motor skills class, with its fun educational toys is another hit with Nikki, its the language skills class with its rather large dose of structured activities that she likes the least. For this class requires the kids to sit down and go through a series of quiet-ish activities, and that doesn't go down too well with Nikki.  She likes doing things her way and any attempt at doing otherwise is met with instant and ear shattering mutiny.The teachers are finding this out the hard way. At one of the sessions a variety of toys were laid out in different corners and the mothers were supposed to spend a couple of  minutes playing with one toy and then move on to the next. Some of the toddlers didn't mind being moved around once their time was up at a particular toy, but not Nikki. She insisted on playing with the toys she wanted to, and moving on to the next toy at her own time and pace. When the teacher tried to direct her to a particular toy she promptly turned up her nose and marched off purposefully in the opposite direction to another toy just to make her point. Personally, I think its  fine if she wants to set her own pace and choose the toys she plays with, as long as she's not bothering any of the other kids but the teacher seemed to think otherwise. After a few more failed attempts at getting Nikki to play with toys in a particular order, the teacher finally decided she would try and teach Nikki to play with the toys the 'right' way instead of using her own creativity. The toy in question was a large bowl of colored  rice and a  shovel and the activity consisted of shoveling the rice into another empty bowl. Nikki was enjoying playing with the rice, feeling it slip between her fingers, scrunching it up in her fist, when the teacher tried showing her how to use the shovel. At first Nikki continued playing the way she wanted to, but soon she was done with   the interfering and the bowl of rice was emptied unceremoniously in the teacher's lap. Next, another teacher tried being helpful when Nikki was messing around with some colored play dough. She had been given a little rolling pin and board and was 'expected' to roll some chappatis with the dough. Nikki had turned the board upside down, placed the rolling pin in it and converted it into some sort of boat which she was busy decorating with bits of the dough. Pretty innovative, I thought! But the friendly teacher again interrupted her play to show her how to roll chappatis the proper way. Last seen, she was observed desperately trying to scrape off the dough from the seat of her pants where Nikki had plastered it. Overall though, its been fun so far and I think Nikki quite enjoys the entire experience. Yesterday, when I announced that we were off to 'school' she even got out her little bag and got S to pack a little box of raisins and her sippy cup of water to take along :) The other great thing about this school, like I've mentioned before, is the wonderful collection of books they have. We've been borrowing one every week and Nikki has been having a wonderful time with Spot The Dog's Big Touch and Feel Book and Itsy Bitsy Spider, which has brought her favorite rhyme wonderfully alive.

In other news, Nikki's artwork at school now occupies pride of place on our refrigerator, proudly displayed for all to see. Speaking of the fridge, Nikki seems to have developed a strong fascination with it and all that lies within it. She comes scampering up whenever the fridge is opened and trots off at top speed with whatever object catches her fancy. She's also lost interest in the collection of toys we had amassed for her playing pleasure and now insists on playing only with random household objects; kitchen utensils and fruits and vegetables being the favorites. We've had to write off many a mangled banana or a squeezed into inedible mush cucumber, after Nikki's done with them, all in the name of the greater good of learning. The Papa Man's empty beer cans are another hot favorite, but can have unfortunate consequences as I discovered recently. I walked into our balcony where Nikki and The Papa Man were playing last evening only to find our new neighbors giving us strange looks as  Nikki, in an effort to imitate her daddy, pretended to take long swigs from the empty beer can while The Papa Man chatted on his phone!

The sleep files continue to be tempestuous and unpredictable with the latest development being an abject revulsion to sleeping in the cot. Every night at 8.30ish, I put Nikki to bed in her cot. Every morning at 4am she wakes up screaming blue murder and insists on being transferred to our bed where on good days she nods off almost immediately, and on bad ones, frolics around for an hour or two. On the really screwed up days, we just give up, go with the flow and head out for an early breakfast to any place that serves extra strong, knock your eyeballs out coffee so that we're fit and fighting for the day that lies ahead. We went through a phase recently where Nikki took resistance to being put down for a nap or for the night to new levels. The Papa Man and I would take turns on the battle field before finally flopping down in weary surrender on the bed while Nikki would continue playing gleefully before tiring herself out and eventually retiring for the night. Thankfully that phase didn't last long else we would have made the dehydrated raccoon look a new fad in these parts. The resistance to sleeping in the cot has been on for a while though, thanks to which anyone who wanders into our bedroom anytime between the hours of 4 and 8 am will be spectator to the strange sight of The Papa Man and I lying at perpendicular angles on the two open sides of our bed to preempt any attempts at diving off the bed,  which Nikki is wont to do every time the thought strikes her fancy.
The other thing with Nikki is that because she resists sleep with such admirable tenacity, she often finally falls asleep in a strange pose resembling a long distance runner with her body all hunched up over the starting line. The fact that she also resembles a baby Spiderman with her newly tonsured look (although the hair is growing back at quite a brisk pace now, thank the Lord) makes this a strange sight indeed. And when she finally wakes up, oh joy!, she sits up with a great sense of urgency like she's running late for an important business meeting and starts chattering at top speed, to make for all the lost time when she was forced to sleep.

And now, since this seems to have turned into another one of those long, rambling, all over the place kind of posts ( I seem to be doing that a lot these days) and also because Nikki has deigned to take a nap, I think I will stop and catch up on some sleep myself (those 4am jaunts are TOUGH!). Will be back with bath tales 101, food fetishes, current fave activities (all I can say now is they involve cars and much shrieking) and other things Nikki!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A special rainy day recipe

Ingredients: A large helping of torrential rains, some blustering wind, one weary adult and one cranky toddler

Preparation time: Take as long as you like!

Serves: Enough to knock out an army!


1. Take a generous helping of a toddler who wakes up at 4 a.m. and promptly attempts to careen headfirst over sleeping parents into the fascinating abyss that lies beyond the bed, thereby causing parents to snap out of slumber pronto with near panic attacks.
2. Stir in some wailing and crying and resisting all attempts to go back to bed, deigning to finally do so only at 6.30 a.m. when it is time for the hapless parents to rise and shine, all bleary eyed.
3. Sprinkle some shrieking like the mother-is-an-axe-murderer when attempts are made to lather/ rinse/ wipe or any other such activity that takes away from the all important task of playing and splashing around in the bath water. Ensure that you add at least one teaspoon of getting the hapless mother soaking wet in the process.
4. Gently fold in some more screeching and prancing around on the bed immediately post-bath, wriggling out of the mother's grasp and making it a point to stay in the middle of the bed which she can't get to because of afore mentioned soaking wet status.
5. Briskly whip in a couple of kilos of the stuff babies make, making sure the diaper is freshly blessed only after the help has left the house so that there is no one to aid the defenseless mother from The Attack of The Fingers That Squish.
6. Deftly add The Fingers That Squish to the mix, making sure you use them for other purposes like touching all objects that the eye can see, thereby necessitating Operation Clean Up No. 1.
7. In the micro nano second that it takes the mother to slip on a fresh diaper, stir in the wriggling-out-of-the-grasp act again and pee in at least three empty spaces. Stir briskly to a smooth consistency.
8. Add some relentless wailing and being a general crank to taste.
8. Add some finely chopped messing around in the freshly peed in spaces, necessitating Operation Clean Up No 2.
9. Repeat Steps 3 & 4. This time make sure to add a generous helping of shrieking and relentless wailing as mother attempts to put on a fresh diaper and change of clothes.
10. Whip to a smooth consistency, stirring in some of throwing up of the dinner, necessitating Operation Clean Up No. 3.
11. Add a generous smattering of taking approximately one hour, forty five minutes and 15 seconds to go into a state of gentle sleep insisting only on the finest patting and rocking to get there, ignoring the fact that mother now looks and feels like a sixty year old on the brink of senility. Wait for the flavors to infuse.
12. Garnish with waking up at the sound of the slightest peep for at least thirty minutes more, drifting off finally into a resigned sort of sleep. We have a 4 a.m. appointment to keep after all.

Serve cold on a rainy day.

Tip: Works best in the absence of that fine ingredient, The Papa Man. Be sure to try when this ingredient is out of town, working late or is otherwise missing in action.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Of playschool hunting and stalking innocent maids

My little girl is growing up! My baby is a baby no longer *sob*, for come Friday, she will be off to playschool for the very first time! Alright, so I'm going off the deep end as usual when it comes to melodrama because its not really a playschool, its a mummy baby group and I'll be accompanying her as well but I just wanted my moment. And it is a milestone in any case; my baby's first day at the mummy baby group. I'd been toying with the idea of signing up for a mummy baby group for a few weeks now and last week I finally decided to take the plunge.

Flashback to a few months ago when I noticed that Nikki really enjoys being in the company of other children. From being completely oblivious to their presence, to slowly graduating to parallel play and then actively engaging with other kids, I realized that it would do her good to spend some time every day with kids her own age. I began by attempting to socialize with the other kids who live in our apartment complex. We live in a large society with multiple parks and there is a profusion of kids in Nikki's age group. I guess most of these kids have working parents because they're always accompanied by maids who're usually too busy cultivating their own social lives to really bother about their wards. Most of the times the kids are cooped up in their prams while the maids take endless rounds of the park, with their mobile phone or latest arm candy glued to their ear or hip, as the case may be. Anyway I decided I would make an attempt at socializing with some of the kids who looked like they were Nikki's age and with this noble intention in mind I approached one of the maids who was wheeling a little boy around in his pram and unlike the others, had neither mobile nor boyfriend attached to her. Now this is a maid I see everyday, I vaguely know the mother of the little boy and Nikki and the little boy have even played together a few times when the little boy was let lose in the garden as opposed to being wheeled around in his pram. I approached the maid, M, from behind with Nikki in her stroller. As I neared I saw her dart a quick glance at us over her shoulder and speed up. I quickened my own pace, hoping to catch up with her, but this just seemed to invoke mild panic in her because she started a semi jog, jiggling the pram in front of her.
"Hey!" I yelled surprised at this strange behavior, and then a more polite "Excuse me!"
M cast a resentful look over her shoulder but slowed down and glared at me. " We just wanted to say Hi to S(the little boy's name)" I said a little breathlessly, catching up with her."Nikki doesn't have too many friends here, so I thought it would be nice for S and Nikki to play together, they're almost the same age" I proffered by way of explanation but this just elicited more resentful glares. By now however S & Nikki had discovered each others presence and were beginning to babble interestedly and swat at each others prams. S had a stuffed camel in his hand which he handed to Nikki with a benign smile. She grabbed it excitedly and said a shy 'thankoo' followed by an excited "Hi!" as an afterthought. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
"Do you want to put S down in the lawn for sometime?" I asked M "They'll be able to play together better there."
"You want me to go with you in the garden?!" she asked in a horrified voice, casting a few more alarmed looks over her shoulder.
"No!" I replied feeling a little alarmed myself  "We can let S and Nikki play there for a bit, while we watch over them."
She mumbled something incomprehensible under her breath but dumped S unceremoniously in the garden anyway. He looked super excited at this unexpected burst of freedom and delighted to be out and about began scampering around happily. I plonked Nikki down in the garden as well and watched as she and S began playing a little game of what looked like catch the camel with each other amidst much delighted giggling. It took me a while to realize that M had suddenly disappeared into thin air, taking the pram with her. Surprised I was scouring the park for her when she reappeared just as suddenly, with S's mother in tow. S's mother approached me with a frosty smile. "Hi" she said coldly "You're Nikki's mom right?"
"That's right" I smiled back at her.
"Actually M just told me that you were trying to offer her a job at a higher salary than what I'm giving her now" S's  mom went on in a bitter voice. "Look please don't try to poach my maid, its really difficult getting a good maid here and I've found M with great difficulty. She's a huge help because she takes S off my hands for a couple of hours everyday and at least I am able to get some time to myself...."
"Dude I wasn't trying to poach your maid!" I snapped, exasperated. "I was just trying to get S and my daughter to play together since they happen to be the same age."
"Oh?" said S's mom looking completely foxed, "but then why did you ask M to join you for a walk in the garden?"


"This society is full of weirdos and psychopaths!" I complained to P when he got back from work later that day, "I tried to socialize with some of the other kids here today and got mistaken for a stalker and a poacher of maids! I want to relocate!"
"Doesn't Nikki have any friends?" P asked mildly. After more than a decade of togetherness, my histrionics are usually like water off a duck's back.
"I don't know too many people here with kids" I went on wallowing in self pity "I do know a few people and we try and catch up sometimes but it all happens on a very ad hoc basis as a result of which Nikki is being deprived of the company of other kids. She'll grow up to be a lonely, reclusive child with no friends!"
"Well why don't you join a mother toddler program? There are a few playschools in the vicinity which offer those programs for babies of Nikki's age."
"Maybe she'll be chronically shy...maybe she'll never have any close friends" I went on, beginning to enjoy the wallowing, "Eh, what's that you said? A mother toddler program?"

And so it was that the last week saw me scouting for the perfect mother toddler program in playschools in our neighborhood. My first stop was an 'International' playschool, very close to where we live which is housed in a beautiful bungalow with a lovely lawn overflowing with masses of gulmohar and jasmine. The security guard let me in only after liberally spritzing me with hand sanitizer and a thorough examination of my handbag and I went in feeling mighty impressed. The feeling lasted for all of two minutes, before I was let into an office and came face to face with a weary looking woman screeching on the phone to someone as a bunch of kids milled about her. "Oh hello!" she said catching sight of me and sighed in the manner of one who would much rather be a million miles away. "Let me tell you all about our mother toddler program. We have a state of the art, world class facility and the latest infrastructure where we nurture our children in a loving, secure environment."
She stopped and beamed at me, looking a little surprised when I continued looking at her expectantly.
"Er that sounds great" I said in what I hoped was an enthusiastic voice. "So what do you do exactly in the mother toddler program?"
"Huh?" she seemed a little annoyed at this random question. "Oh the program! Hmmm, yes we follow the Reggio Emilia approach, you know, not the Montessori one so we are far superior to the other playschools around."
"Um okay. But what do you DO exactly? You know, the activities in the mother toddler program?" I asked again.
"Oh that" she waved a disdainful hand in the air "well the usual, you know. Peek-a-boo, some music and singing. There really isn't much you can do with kids in that age group!"
Which is precisely why I'm going to pay through my nose to come to your silly playschool, said the little voice in my head. I asked a few more questions, received a few more drab replies and left the place feeling a little frustrated. The lady in question, and she was a teacher in the school, seemed either clueless or thoroughly disinterested about most things and the only thing 'International' I had noted in the school were the fees. That and the Nepali cleaner and Bangladeshi watchman on their staff.

I decided to try a different playschool. A simple, homely one where hopefully the focus would be less on the fancy stuff and more on letting the kids there have a good time.I had heard of one such school which seemed to fit the bill and I made my way there. It looked lovely; it was simple and had a warm, cosy feel and I found myself warming up to the enthusiastic headmistress, who looked rather like a pleasant bumble bee.That was till she handed me a flyer for the mother toddler program. 'Mother Toddler Program!' it screamed in a hideous shade of ochre. 'Instills Competition Spirit! Sportive Attitude! Global Diginity! (whatever that means!) Parental Advise!' and best of all, once a year the 'Free Helth Camp for Full Family!'
I staggered out and speed dialed P. "We're going to have to home school our kids" I informed him gravely. "In some far off place perhaps, where there aren't too many people. Maybe Tasmania? I always wanted to go to Tasmania."
Vision of myself in a pristine, beautiful meadow, by a murmuring brook with Nikki as I gently point out the beauty of nature, the colors and shapes and sounds that surround us. With a nursery rhyme thrown in perhaps.
" why don't you check it out" P's voice rudely interrupted my gentle reverie.
"Huh? What?" I barked into the phone.
"Why don't you check out School X?" repeated P patiently, "Its a popular chain, its well known, a colleague's kid goes there and I've heard good stuff about it."
"Hmph" I snorted, but went off to check the school anyway. Popular chain indeed, I was sure it would be as bad as, if not worse than the two other schools I had just seen. I found myself grudgingly admiring the exterior as I reached. Sure it was not as swanky as the International Playschool but it had a charm of its own. It was spacious and airy with bright cheerful rooms and a lovely play area for the kids. I met with the headmistress who took me through the carefully planned program they had structured for the mother toddler program. And then she showed me the most fantabulous library with the awesome selection of books for toddlers ever. And you could even take them home as part of the library program! She also showed me around the school, the kids there seemed to be having a great time, the teachers all seemed great, I was sold!
After a discussion with P we decided to sign up for the program and this Friday is when we start. Here's to new and happy beginnings and hopefully some new friends for Nikki!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Conversations with my daughter

Its a pleasant evening and Nikki and The Mommy Woman are out for their evening stroll. As they saunter around in the park, they run into the unfriendly neighborhood Grumpy Grandpa. Nikki fixes Grumpy Gramps with an interested eye. The mellow evening sunlight bounces off Grumpy Gramps shiny, bald pate. Nikki leans out of her pram and gives Grumpy Gramps a friendly wave. Grumpy Gramps, true to his nature, ignores Nikki and tries to walk past.
Nikki: Tak-loo!
GG (glaring at The Mommy Woman!): Cough! Splutter!...
Nikki, in a louder voice, pointing at Grumpy Gramps: TAK-LOOO!
The bright red human tomato, earlier known as The Mommy Woman, wheels the pram away at top speed, mumbling incoherent, apologetic sounding somethings under her breath.


The Mommy Woman, overcome with love for her only child, envelops Nikki in a bear hug and plants a big kiss on her face.
Nikki, looking thoroughly disgusted and shoving The Mommy Woman away with an indignant look: MIND IT!!! ( pronounced Mann-dayyy!!! in Nikki- speak)


Nikki's evening snack is finally ready. The Mommy Woman is feeling rather chuffed with her own concoction of bananas, soy milk and litchis and can't wait for Nikki to sample the stuff.
The Mommy Woman: Nikki! Something yummy for your tummy! Your smoothie is rrrrreaddy!
Nikki(looking supremely disinterested): Ohhh maaaan!!


The Papa Man: Nikki, I LOVE you!
Nikki: Aaa WUV ooo!
The Mommy Woman, jealously hovering around: Nikki, I LOVE you!
Nikki: YAWN!


Its a busy evening in a crowded suburban shopping mall. Nikki, The Papa Man and The Mommy Woman are shopping and hanging out. Nikki is looking particularly cute in a pink Tokyo Baby t-shirt and corduroys and is attracting a lot of attention from passers-by, especially young college girls who are thronging the place in hordes.
A group of hot, young college girls: Awwww SO cute!
Nikki, with a shy smile: Hi!
Hot, young college girls: SCREECH! She spoke to me! She said Hi! Awww I wanna KISS her!
Nikki: Kisssssssssssss 
Hot, young college girls surround Nikki and the fortunate Papa Man who's holding her and take turns hugging and kissing Nikki. Five minutes later...
The Papa Man, with a blissful smile: We should go shopping with Nikki more often!
The Mommy Woman: Hmph!


The Mommy Woman, back after a much needed trip to the salon, is overcome with separation anxiety at having left Nikki behind for TWO WHOLE HOURS.
The Mommy Woman: Nikki! Mommy is BACK!
Nikki and The Papa Man, looking up from a mess involving crayons and a copy of The Mommy Woman's latest copy of Mother & Baby: AIYYO!

Footnote: Nikki's conversational skills training and enriched vocabulary courtesy The Papa Man.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Leftovers from catching up

Life is slowly limping back to normal in the P-new mum- Nikki household. Nikki's tummy infection has finally settled down, S is back from her month long vacation and I've even managed to find part time help who actually gets some work done as opposed to skipping around the house with a broom and duster before calling it a day. I hadn't blogged about Nikki's tummy bug earlier because quite frankly it had scared the living daylights out of me. It began with a vicious attack of diarrhea and a horrible rash which made nappy changes a nightmare, and even though we managed to get these under control soon enough, the infection itself persisted for nearly a month as revealed by ongoing stool tests. As a result of this poor Nikki was on a rather restricted diet for a very long time though we are gradually resuming a regular diet now. She's still lactose intolerant though so its a continuation of soy milk disguised in fruit smoothies and soups, since its undisguised version tends to bring out the mutinous streak in Nikki. (As you can imagine, I have been subjected to way more than my share of "Kitni kamzor (how I HATE that word) hai!" comments this last month than I could possibly care for. Aaaaaargghh!)

What worries me more than the illness itself, even though I would be quite happy to never encounter it again, is the apparent ease with which it can be picked up. "Oh happens to kids all the time!" was a frequent refrain I heard from both the ped as well as the chappie at the pathology lab where we went for the stool tests. According to the ped the infection is often picked up due to teething which makes babies rather non-discriminating when shoving stuff in their little mouths or as a result of eating raw food like salads or outside food which may not have been hygienically prepared. Now I'm very careful, okay fine, ultra paranoid, when it comes to Nikki's food but there's little I can do about the stuff she puts in her mouth. She has a particular fancy for scouring the house for dirt, finding it in the most unthinkable places (the nearly invisible crevice between the grooves of the balcony sliding doors anyone?) and then sucking on her dirty little digits with joyful relish. Then there's the problem of friends and relatives who come over and like to feed her all sorts of stuff, never mind whether I approve of it or not. In the month leading up to Nikki's birthday our home was full of guests and I was going nuts between trying to maintain some semblance of control between what was going inside Nikki's mouth what with her own explorations (Ooh blob of slime! Wonder what it tastes like?) and what people were trying to sneakily feed her (this is a post for another day, I think!). Since I'm hoping that this particular tummy bug never makes an appearance again, I need to figure this one out fast. Suggestions and advice are most welcome (Read as SOS!!! Help me please!)

Sometime back I had got this award from Buzz, I'd now like to pass it on to some of my very special blog buddies; women whom I've never met but whose blogs I enjoy reading immensely and with whom I've connected on so many levels, albeit virtually. This is for you MRC, Aneela, Buzz, Divs, Mindful Meanderer, Priyanka, The Soul of Alec Smart and Momo's Ma. I had ALSO *ahem* got another award (whoop, whoop, whoop!!) from Shruti, and here it is proudly displayed!

Er, well actually I think that may be two awards so whoop, whoop, whoop once again!!!

I've also been thinking for sometime now of doing something a little different with my blogger template, you know, jazzing it up a bit. So do drop me a line if you know anybody who might be willing to take design requests or know of even any online resources that will enable even creatively and technologically challenged souls such as yours truly to get a spot of designing done, will you?

P was out of town for the day yesterday and I hadn't made any plans, so the weekend got off to a rather uneventful start. S had the day off as well so it was just Nikki and me left to our own devices. We spent the morning doing a lot of reading; I had picked up a few books for Nikki last weekend and she seems to be turning into quite the little bookworm :) Her current all time favorite is Sleep Tight Bunny, so it was demands for that all morning. In the afternoon it was a trip to the supermarket and the park followed by some water play in her baby inflatable pool (she's become a total water baby ever since P's little experiment). In the evening we went for a walk and I took her to a new park near our house where there's a massive sandpit. It was Nikki's first time in the sand, barring the Goa trip where she'd been too little to play properly in it. At first she ventured in very gingerly, looking quite disgusted at this grainy stuff that was sticking and slipping from her fingers all at once and brushing her hands on her clothes or dusting them off every now and then, but soon she got quite comfortable and was scooting around flinging sand here and there and destroying the sand castles I was trying to build for her. She ended up having so much fun she didn't want to leave but she got tired soon after having hardly slept during the day, so it was home for a relaxing bath, dinner and then bedtime.
I found myself at a loose end once Nikks was alseep so I popped some Wild Honey, from this album, into the music system and cooked a dinner of Sanjeev Kapoor's chicken meat loaf and a rocket and lettuce salad for dinner for P & I. The cable guy was beaming Housefull, and I remembered reading good reviews in the papers so we decided to check it out over dinner. Now I am not the most discerning of critics anymore as movies go; the long hiatus from movie watching that early mommyhood got with it as well as the supreme levels of patience I have developed post Nikki, normally ensure that I enjoy pretty much everything that I watch these days. I even LIKED Dostana for example, so that gives you a pretty good picture doesn't it? But even I had to draw the line at this Housefull trash, I mean really, what were they thinking?! I'm going to need all of today to recover!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tales from a battle weary (and plump) boulder... er, soldier

I've been feeling a little blah lately because of the ongoing and downward spiraling battle of the bulge, so in order to rev things up a bit on the fitness front I thought I'd try something different with my fitness routine* pause for hysterical laughter*. Gymming has been rather boring of late and there's only so much I can take of Karthik (with an aych, mind you) the insufferable gym instructor and his snide remarks. Now the intelligent reader's thoughts might drift to swimming at this juncture, given that 'tis the season to flaunt those well toned bikini bods *more hysterical laughter* but at this point I will take a moment to point out, gently but firmly, that when one resembles a human pudding in one's pre-pregnancy swimsuit, one does not allow one's mind to flit such like.

And so I began thinking about yoga as an alternative option. Now I've done yoga before several times even though, as with so many other things in my staggeringly inconsistent life, I've never managed to stick to it regularly. But the point, is I quite like the whole gentle stretching, rhythmic breathing, connecting with your self, feeling Zen jig and so I began scouting around for a yoga class in right earnestness. As luck would have it (and it often does) there was a yoga class right next door, in the building opposite mine to be precise and a kindly soul pointed out the yoga teacher to me at my evening j-roll. She was a benign looking lady, dressed in a pristine white salwar kameez with an unperturbed air about her even though her two year old toddler was stuffing mud in his mouth while the girl supposed to mind him was busy checking out the local male attractions. Clearly she had achieved an admirably calm state of mind where all the petty irritations of life ceased to matter. I approached her feeling a renewed sense of inspiration, convinced that yoga was the right choice for me given that I deal with S the cacophony queen & the blow hot-blow cold part time help on a daily basis and am often left with frazzled nerves at the end of  a harrowing week with the two. The yoga teacher, V, was quite happy to accommodate me in her morning batch and asked me to come for a trial class the next day on an empty stomach. I buzzed off feeling quite chuffed and spent the rest of the evening seeing visions of myself dressed all in white, in a cross legged meditative pose, meditating by a pristine beach with white sands and not a toned bikini bod in sight. With a flower tucked behind one ear, perhaps.

The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn, and donning my loosest, most flowing clothes, I shimmied across the  park to the opposite building. The crisp early morning air invigorated my senses and the morning lark was doing a dashed good job singing its merry tune, leaving me feeling rather benign myself as I reached V's house where the class was to be held. "Good morning!" I chirped with a gentle smile as V opened the door only to freeze mid-way with the g smile plastered to my face as I caught sight of V. Who was this woman who stood before me dressed in a bright red leotard, with leopard print tights?! Sure she resembled the V from the park yesterday, but, er, weren't those spikes in her hair? "Hi" the new V said crisply, ushering me in. "You're seven minutes late. Please come on time from tomorrow." I tottered in still desperately clutching on to the image of the pristine white, calm lady from the day before who would gently guide me through some invigorating stretches and  rhythmic breathing with a dash of meditation thrown in at the end. And then I caught sight of the rest of the class. They were all dressed like V, with leotards and tights and slightly spiked hair. All they needed was a 'V for Vendetta' emblazoned across their foreheads and the picture would be complete. "Go, Go Go Class!" yelled V deftly tossing a yoga mat at me as I scrambled for a place, the visions of gentle stretching shattering in my mind's eye. "Jog!" screamed V and the assembly of Spiked Skin Tights began huffing and puffing on their respective yoga mats. "On your backs, air cycling!" commandeered V without missing a beat as the SST's flopped down and legs began slicing the air vigorously. "Turn around, the air twist!"....and on and on it went. At one point V & the SST's began pirouetting through the air swinging their arms in unison at which point my choice of attire became a serious constraint, flapping against the floor with a disconcerting 'thwack thwack' as I self consciously tried to focus on the pirouettes. "Right!" yelled V after about a half hour more of kicks and swings, "Quiet Time!". Everyone perched on their mats, legs crossed, hands on knees with the thumb and forefinger in perfect O's and assumed an air of calm. "Finally!" I breathed in relief, squishing down on my mat, only to be given away by my treacherous stomach which chose this moment to make its presence felt through some persistent, feed-me-NOW, growls. Thankfully, V switched on some music which drowned the sound out and the SST's began swaying in some kind of group chant. I tried swaying with them before giving up and focusing instead on quietening the grumbling tummy with some deep breathing.

"How did you like class?" V asked with a return of the gentle smile from the park as I prepared to leave at the end of the class.
"It was, er, very unlike any yoga class I have attended in the past. Is this some different from of yoga?" I asked tentatively.
"Oh yes, this is Vow Yoga, a mix of Power Yoga and my own brand of yoga, so V for Vow." she smiled back. "We are putting up a show next week, that's why we all dress like this, it helps keep the group inspired."
"Er a yoga show?" I asked.
"No, a Vow show, more like aerobics you know. Anyway you can wear what you feel comfortable in." she patted me on the arm gently and ushered me out as a new batch of SST's began trooping in for the next class.

I flopped across the park feeling decidedly ungainly in my loose attire and greeted P who was partaking of the morning tea and toast with a gloomy hi.
"So how was the yoga class honey?" he asked cheerily "Are you feeling all Zen and meditative?"
"Er, it was more like aerobics actually" I sighed "With some mediation thrown in at the end."
"Well that's great, you get to try something new!" said P the indefatigable optimist.
"Yeah but I'd signed up for yoga you know, not Vow whatever! I miss all the gentle stretching, and rhythmic breathing and meditating with a flower tucked behind one ear."
"Well maybe you can look for a more traditional class then sweetie. And you can always meditate at home you know? With the flower tucked behind one ear too" said P breezily as he sped away to work.

I spent the rest of the day ruminating over the corruption of the traditional form of yoga that I know and love, with all these new fangled concepts before deciding that there was really no harm in giving Vow Yoga a shot. I mean there was no other yoga class nearby that I knew of with convenient timings and the only other option I had was the gym with the snide remark passing Karthik (with an aych) or the horrifying image of a blob of jelly, vaguely resembling me, by the pool.

"I'm going to do Vow Yoga, I've decided" I informed P that evening as he tickled Nikki's tummy. "I'll show 'em all I can pirouette like no other!"
"Ok honey" said P mildly "Do you need a leotard then?" ( He doesn't know the REAL reason I'm avoiding the pool you see.)
"Er no, think I'll stick to tracks" I said and retired to bed to dream of myself pirouetting to some strange chants in mid -air as the rest of the SST's applauded. 

I was woken up mid- dream to my screeching mobile to find P sitting up as well, clutching his ear. My mobile had slipped under his pillow at night and the ringer had apparently gone off right in his ear. "Its an SMS from your yoga teacher" he said grumpily rubbing his ear "she's leaving for Delhi, some family emergency, so the class is off for a few days."
"Its a sign from God!" I said feeling strangely relieved as I tucked myself in bed again "I guess this new fangled yoga is not for me!"
"Whatever" said P still miffed "And could you please change your SMS alert tone, to something other than this fire engine alarm you have now?"

It's been a fortnight since V mysteriously vanished overnight and the Vow class got called off. None of the other SST's   seem to know of her whereabouts. Quite a few of them are understandably miffed about it since they'd paid for the entire month and bedsides they never got to perform at the Vow show. As for me, I'm looking for another yoga class, a traditional one this time with no frills attached. I'm also thinking in the meantime of hitting the gym again and being regular this time round.
And so it was that this morning saw me headed toward the gym, gym bag slung across my shoulder. And that disdainful sniff that was heard as I passed by the pool replete with b toned bods which unfortunately must be passed on the way to the gym was just my dreadful, dreadful cold. Or something.