Showing posts with label Nikki's first holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nikki's first holiday. Show all posts

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend Tales, Concluding Part: Nikki's First Holi

I've just realized that when one goes and writes a post titled Weekend Tales and then goes on to add Part One in a burst of impulsive inspiration, one better come back and finish it before the next weekend rolls around. So onward ho to the second and concluding part of the Weekend Tales.

Holi morning didn't start off too well with both the maids deciding to play hooky. My part time help, who does the cleaning has been systematically bumping off members of her extended family over the last fortnight, possibly in anticipation of the long Holi weekend. "Father in law's brother went poof!" she explained gracefully two weeks ago when I looked askance at her for having not turned up the previous day. Apparently the relative in question had kicked the bucket after a cardiac arrest, and she had had to take the day off. A few days later it was the maternal uncle's cousin, who smashed his head because the ceiling collapsed on it and then the paternal chachi who met with a road accident. Just when I had resigned myself to a maid who seemed to be blessed with more than her fair share of worldly woes, she turned up the day before Holi and said that she needed the weekend off because her father in law's brother had had a cardiac arrest.

"What?!" I screeched looking at her agape. I have my flaws, but a weak memory isn't one of them. "What do you mean he had a cardiac arrest? He just died two weeks ago!"
"This is the other one" she explained patiently, the way one does to an obdurate child. "There are five of them you know."
I would have believed her too if she hadn't gone about her chores humming under her breath and swaying her hips to Uff Teri Adaa on her mobile headphones (yes, they are like that only in these parts).

Anyway I was just about dealing with that when S turned up on Holi morning and said she wanted the day off too. Now I have nothing against the help taking days off, especially so on festivals, as long as they inform me in advance. I had told them as much a few days before Holi, asking them if they wanted a holiday and they had both declined. Clearly they are more in favour of springing nasty surprises. I was telling S as much when our friends S & K landed up at our doorstep armed with colors, and S used the opportunity to make good her escape, throwing a cheeky Happy Holi at me as I glowered at her retreating figure. I fumed and fretted for a bit, wearing the living room rug thin with my pacing, when I remembered that it was Nikki's first Holi and the least I could do was make sure she had a good time.So we bunged Nikki into her pram and donning some old tees and tracks headed downstairs where our society had organized a Holi party and a glamorous sounding rain dance.

The kids from the society were spread out all over the society lawns, looking like little warriors, complete with double bottle packs strapped to their backs and strategically aimed pichkaaris, but apart from a few menacing shrieks thrown our way they pretty much left us alone after catching sight of Nikki. Nikki on her part was fascinated by all the riotous activity around her and was looking this way and that, all agape. We passed a makeshift 'Holi stall' heaped with gujjiyas and thandai and made our way towards the dhinchak dhinchak beats emanating from the venue of the rain dance. This was clearly where all the action was happening, we realized as we got there and spotted the multitudes of revelers dancing in gay abandon. Now our society is full of expats, making for an interesting fusion of Koreans and Iranians and Canadians, and they seem to enjoy all the Indian festivals even more than the resident natives. I first noticed this during Diwali, as I watched a group of expats letting off a series of firecrackers with ear splitting war cries at 3 am as the rest of the world slumbered on. They were at it even ten days down the line, making it necessary for some society members to intervene and politely remind them that the festival had ended long back and could they please postpone the merry making till next year. Clearly, the ticking off hadn't dampened their enthusiasm any and they were all out in full force to celebrate Holi the way they thought fit. One enthu chappie, who'd probably had one glass of bhaang too many was running around with a box full of eggs, threatening to pelt the rest of the crowd and the security guys were beginning to hover around zealously. We watched safely from the sidelines, till our friend S, overcome with the Holi spirit smeared some color on a passing Korean. The guy looked stunned for a minute before shaking his head wildly and charging towards us with an ear splitting shriek, and we noticed that he had a bucket full of what looked like colored muck in his hand. The sight was too much for Nikki to bear and she promptly burst into tears, making me beat a hasty retreat towards the basement parking, from where I scurried into the safety of the elevators.

P & S were not so lucky and they turned up at home a little later covered in purple goop, startling the daylights out of Nikki who refused to have anything to do with them till they were scrubbed clean.
We spent a quiet afternoon at home, playing with Nikks and were joined by some friends later in the evening. Nobody was in the mood to step out for dinner and we were considering the various home delivery options when P decided it was time to don the chef's hat and dish up some P specials. Now P is a fabulous cook but I gently reminded him that the groceries in our home that day were running dangerously low. Clearly I had underestimated his culinary abilities. Give me some onions, tomatoes and garlic, a bowl of cooked rice and a can of baked beans, and I'll be on the phone in the next five minutes dialing Dominoes. Give the same stuff to P and he'll saute the onions and garlic, puree the tomatoes, blend them in with the rice and baked beans, garnish generously with grated cheese and bake the stuff till you get a mouth watering Mexican-ish dish. And he didn't stop at that. He took all of the leftovers in the fridge, including Nikki's khichdi, kneaded them along with some atta into a soft, pliant dough and made some amazing Leftover Parathas. It may not sound terribly appetizing, but they were honestly the best parathas I've ever eaten, and the rest of the group gathered at home thought so too! The dishes were licked clean till they sparkled and we sat around, content and stuffed, singing odes to P the Master Chef.

We were slipping into a gentle, food induced stupor when the doorbell clanged, and two more friends, A & A, breezed in. Now A & A are famous for their Holi parties, where the bhaang flows freely and where the venue of the party resembles a dormitory at the end of the day with stoned men and women sprawled out all over the place as far as the eye can see. This year though A & A had not hosted a party, choosing instead to party hop all over town and partake generously of the bhaang and other beverages that other people were offering. It was no surprise then that they were in rollicking high spirits and after wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a very happy Diwali they proceeded to smear us with colors, before making an exit as sudden as their entry.

"Oh I hope I didn't use that permanent color on you dude!" A called out to me gaily as he left, causing me to snap out of any left over stupor and begin scrubbing my floors valiantly. I was lucky and the floor was spotless in no time. "Thank God he hadn't used the permanent one!" I said breathlessly to P when I was done with the scrubbing. That's when he pointed out that A had used a different color on my face. Another half hour of scrubbing later I knew where the permanent color was. And so did the rest of society, when I went to the gym the next morning with flaming pink and purple cheeks looking like a Red Indian who had forgotten to take off the war paint.
Sigh. I told you my list of embarrassing anecdotes can top yours any day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of beaches and bliss

Our much anticipated Goa trip finally happened in mid December and even though I'd been waiting to blog about it as much as making the trip itself, I'm only getting down it to after nearly a month thanks to the villainous net connection and my remarkable efficiency at procrastination. This was our first proper vacation with Nikki, not counting the one trip to the in laws when she was just ten weeks old and a few one off road trips now and then.

I'd somehow always harbored the notion that relaxed vacations would be a thing of the past after P & I had kids, and used this with great success as a handy weapon to pack many more vacations in five years of pre-baby married life that P would have normally liked to go for (just vegetating on the living room couch makes the man happy, who needs vacations?). So I was a little stressed at the thought of the upcoming Goa trip. Was it going to be one of those horror vacations with kids I'd seen in movies and sometimes witnessed first hand, at the end of which I'd need another vacation just to recover?

"No way mater" Nikki would have said if speech and vocabulary had been on her side a little more, "bring on the holidays, I say!". Right from the flight to Goa where she brushed off my concerns with air pressure, chucking the cotton balls I'd stuffed in her ears at the hapless passenger next to us and choosing to look around instead with supreme alertness, to being superbly cooperative with the meals and the naps, the child has proved beyond a doubt that she's a born traveler. *Short pause to thank the Dear Lord for his Mercies. Thank You!*
Probably the only person who was hassled on the flight was the unfortunate chap next to us, to whom Nikki decided to take a great fancy. This guy was one of those cool looking studs complete with his own neck rest pillow, eye pads and mini laptop on which he intended to watch a movie as he gorged on a box of Ferrero Rochers. That was before Nikki, fascinated by the laptop, pillow, eye pads and his egg shaped bald head tried to be friendly and babbled eagerly at him. The guy just ignored her so she swatted at him to catch his attention, but he continued with the cold shoulder treatment and not wanting to be classified as one of those irritating mothers who don't even want to try and control their unruly kids, I held her next to the window to show her the clouds which she remained fascinated with for a large part of the flight.

We reached the resort around dinner time and I fed Nikki her dinner and sat her down in the baby cot provided for us as P & I debated whether we should check out one of the many restaurants for dinner or just play it safe and stick to room service. We were just about settling on room service given the fact that Nikki had been on the go all day and would probably be getting cranky when we noticed her fast asleep in the cot! She had fallen asleep ON HER OWN. Just like that! For the first time in her life. Those of you who follow this blog would be familiar with my sleep, or rather lack of sleep related travails. Suffice to say, Nikki falling asleep on her own, without any nursing, rocking, walking up and down, crooning or permutations and combinations thereof was a milestone event, significant enough to be classified as history in the making.
"I want to relocate to Goa." I told P. "Let's not celebrate too soon" he warned, "this may just be a one off thing."
It wasn't. Our week long holiday settled into a blissful pattern as Nikki fell into an easy routine of fuss free feeding and blissfully falling asleep on her own, all beautifully coordinated with our own meals.

We would typically get up early and head to the beach for a stroll, return to our own room to feed Nikki and then go to the restaurant for our own breakfast, where she would happily play in her pram and observe the other kids milling around.The rest of the day would be spent either lolling by the pool (I did the lolling, P actually fit some swimming in) where we even managed to play our very own version of water polo or at the resort's well equipped indoor activity center. Evenings were dedicated to the beach where the resort had a superbly equipped water sports activity center; banana boat rides, para sailing, jet skiing they had it all! I even overcame my hydrophobia to do some beach para sailing and floated around for the rest of the day feeling like a total Bond.
P & I rented a bike and took turns at cycling around on the beach; windswept hair, the salty sea breeze blowing in your face, it was total bliss! I thought Nikki would be awestruck by the beach since it was her first time there and went a little berserk hopping around pointing out the waves and the sand and the seaaa, look look! and generally making a complete ass of myself, but the girl remained quite unimpressed. She looked around nonchalantly for a bit, noted said sea, sand, waves and setting sun being pointed out by hysterical mother, patted me gently on the shoulder and nodded off. Again! "I want to relocate to Goa" I said to P, firmly this time. He said he was seriously considering it himself.

Nikki stuck to her wonderful routine of turning in regularly by 8 or 9pm everyday leaving us free to conquer new territories in the gastronomic domain and we obliged by stuffing our faces at the various unlimited buffets till we could have rolled quite effortlessly like footballs from one end of the resort to another. Evenings in Goa were pleasantly balmy and we spent many of them wandering around the manicured lawns, with Nikki completely enthralled by the night sky and the large fountains gushing out water in merry tinkles in the center of the resort.

On a couple of days we took turns to baby sit while the other sneaked out to fit in a bit of pampering at the spa or working off some of the excesses consumed in the gym. We even managed a spot of shopping which I quite enjoyed, until the shop lady latched on to me and began telling me how she hated her job and had been trying for a baby for three years and how all kids loved her. I was being sympathetic till she insisted on holding Nikki who promptly began bawling her head off causing me to beat a hasty retreat.

Vacations for me normally end with a heavy heart, but this time round we had fitted in a weekend stop at our friends' B & N on the way back making it the perfect end to the perfect holiday. We braved the chaos at the Goa airport, including a run in with an obtuse airport official who didn't want us to take Nikki's stroller all the way to the aircraft like we had done on our way to Goa, and sat back in the flight feeling rather chuffed at how well we'd pulled it all off. The flight back was pretty relaxed which significantly increased the chuffed-ness and we spent a lot of time telling B & N how we'd had all our meals in the restaurant and how all our evenings were relaxed and how Nikki went to sleep on her own all the time and remained that way even when we- hold your breath!- transferred her from cot to car seat, until they got a little bored and told us to shove it. Shove it we did and and spent a pleasant evening going thru the holiday pictures and chatting about life with kids (B & N have a daughter a little older than Nikki).
The perfect end wasn't so perfect after all because that night I came down with a high fever and the next day Nikki and P fell ill too. The next week back home was pretty lousy what with battling a combination of the post holiday blues and the bug we'd got but we're all okay now.

I want to end this post on a happy note, so I've reserved the best for last :) The most fabulous thing about this holiday aside from the fact that the three of us got to spend so much bliss loaded time together was Nikki's fully loaded happiness quotient; she was just so full of joy all through that it was a delight to watch her. Whether it was the giggling on the flight, the unadulterated delight as she watched other kids splash around in the kiddy pool,the glee reserved for the towel swans on our bed every day made by the resort staff or the well fed ducks in the hotel lawns, I've never seen her so blissfully relaxed and happy before. She even broke into song one afternoon as we went for a stroll around the resort, in perfect tune with P who was humming too!

So even though the relocation to Goa remains a distant dream (I'm still working on it) I've moved to the next best thing; planning our next holiday, that'll happen hopefully sometime soon! Here's to more fun, family times ahead :)

Edited to add: *Kala Tikka* as suggested by Preeti.