Showing posts with label special days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label special days. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Holiday

School's out! Well actually it was out almost a month ago, but the point is I'm writing about it now and not after the next school year has begun. Which, if you consider my track record, was not entirely an impossibility. The thing is, what with all the recent bai woes and the daily school run, life had become pretty darn hectic. Nikki's mother toddler group which we started when she was about fifteen months old had progressed from an hour, thrice a week, to one and a half hours, all five days a week and the timing had also shifted from a leisurely 11.30am to 10.00am, which is a whole lot more demanding when you live a good half hour away and have a toddler who likes to ponder on the various intricacies life throws up while chomping away at the morning meal for a couple of hours each day.

Most mornings thus saw me scrabbling though the two hours I had at hand after Nikki woke up to get self and child ready for school at breakneck speed, get aforementioned breakfast down Nikki's gullet at a pace that would put the most steadfast snail to shame, and cram some toast down my own throat before whizzing off to school. Needless to mention, Nikki would choose exactly half past nine, designated we-need-to-leave-NOW time, to bless her diaper, necessitating operation clean up and ensuring that we reached school just in the nick of time. Since the program we'd signed up for was a mother-toddler one, the one and a half hours we spent there everyday demanded equal participation from both me and Nikki and much vigorous moving-to-the-music and building sandcastles later we'd go back home to bath, lunch and nap time for Nikki and about two hours of downtime for Mommy. Except that the two hours downtime tended to bear an uncanny similarity to weekends; Sunday evening strikes before you've properly begun to savour the beginning of Friday night, and before I could park myself on the couch to vegetate or open that latest book, Nikki would be up, bright and chirpy and raring to go to the park. Some days there would be play dates or birthday parties to go to, and all in all, my post baby life was beginning to get almost as demanding as my pre-baby corporate one. Except, of course, that this time round I have a boss who is wayyyy more demanding!

I was quite looking forward to the onset of the summer holidays therefore; glorious, lazy days filled with endless hours of doing nothing and I was quite unprepared for the summer camp frenzy that routinely strikes most mums this time of the year. I got my first taste of it on the last day at school where a bunch of mums were earnestly exchanging notes about different summer camps and poring over brochures of the same. They were aghast when I told them I wasn't planning to enroll Nikki in one, with reactions ranging from 'you're compromising on developing a strong educational base for your daughter' to the more pragmatic 'you'll go nuts with her in the house all day', but I resisted the impulse to go check out the summer camps in the neighborhood. Not that I have anything against summer camps, I don't know enough about what goes on in them to really have a strong opinion for or against them, but I'm home this summer with Nikki and I don't see her losing out on anything by just enjoying the holidays at home, the way I used to when I was a kid. Besides she's just two years old and there's enough time for summer camps later, even though the average age for summer camp where I lives seems be to thirteen months, so going by that her educational base seems to be compromised quite a bit already!

We've had fun so far too, Nikki and I. Apart from a few weekend trips we haven't really gone anywhere so most days are spent in and around home. We spend the mornings either in the 'big' swimming pool or in Nikki's smaller baby pool at home, with her toy ducks, fishes and her paddling dog Pogo for company. If Nikki's not in the mood to be a water baby, we bring out the paints and shaving foam and play dough and muck around in the balcony creating various works of art. The only person who doesn't seem too happy about us honing our artistic skills is the maid who gets to clean the balcony when she comes around every afternoon. No surprise then, that she's recently announced a ten day trip for some 'sudden' wedding in the family. No problem, coz cleaning-up is Nikki's new found passion! Give her a sponge and a bucket and she can keep herself occupied for hours. We'd gone out for lunch recently to a bistro which had a little fountain in the seating area and it took all my persuasive efforts to keep Nikki from ripping off her tee and mopping the tables with the fountain water!
Evenings usually see us headed out to a nearby park or the zoo or a play date with some of Nikki's school friends and before you know it another glorious summer day is over and another one has begun.

All too soon summer will end and it'll be time for Nikki to go to school on her own, as she 'graduates' from the mother toddler program to playgroup. Time for me to let go a little. And so, this summer I just want to enjoy every little bit with my baby while she's still a baby. Enjoy the feeling of waking up in the morning with nowhere to go and nothing to do, soak in the early morning sun in the balcony while Nikki makes me a cup of tea in her kitchen set, go for an impromptu picnic to the neighborhood park when the mood strikes with banana chips and nutella sandwiches, luxuriate in long afternoon naps and spend hours in the mellow evening sun studying the interesting shapes clouds make. Here's to summer holidays then! How're you spending yours?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We were there! Along with Nikki and her loaded diaper...

I HAD to blog about this before it is too late. With my dismal record of updating this blog of late it wouldn't have been surprising if I finally managed to write about this by when it is time again for the next world cup to roll around. So yes, we were at the world cup finals! In Wankhede! With Nikki!! If anyone had told me last year this time that a year from now I would have attended the Bryan Adams concert and the world cup finals I would've laughed hysterically. From not seeing the inside of a restaurant or a multiplex for over a year, to going for concerts and cricket matches I sure have come a long way. Or maybe I've just been propelled down the path by an intrepid P but it's the result that counts!

So anyway, back to the world cup. It was the most awesome, amazing, mind blowing experience and coming from a cricket non enthusiast like me that's saying a lot! I used to be a cricket fan many years ago, more because I had a massive crush on Hansie Cronje, the then South Africa captain, than for any real love for the game and I used to watch all the SA matches so I could drool over him. Since then I have caught the occasional match, even going for one of the first IPL matches thanks to the cricket crazy P, but I've never avidly followed the sport. So when it came to the world cup this time round, I had never really planned on even following the matches on TV let alone going for a match! I did watch the India Pakistan semi final because, you know, it was the India Pakistan semi final and I was planning on catching the final in Bombay with friends, since we had already planned a trip to Bombay over that weekend to catch up with an old friend who was in town. Now this friend in question had planned a trip all the way from Hong Kong for the sole purpose of watching the match in Wankhede and he'd been set for this a whole two months in advance.
"What a cricket crazy guy!" I scoffed to P the night before the finals "Imagine coming all the way just to watch a match! So what if it's the world cup and India is in the finals? Who wants to sit through a full match out in the open when you can catch it in the comfort of your own home?"
"Er there is a slight possibility that I may get two tickets as well" said P meekly "I didn't mention it earlier because I wasn't sure if I would, but there seems to be a good chance of it happening. Would you want to go?"
"Tickets for the match? THE match? Live? In Wankhede?" I screeched, my eyes the size of cricket balls "Do I want to GO? Yes! YES! YESSSSSSSSS!!!"
The next door neighbor, enjoying a leisurely gin and tonic in his balcony nearly choked on a slice of lemon as my screeching ricocheted off the walls and all around the colony and I beat a hasty retreat indoors to plan the logistics of the trip with P. The match was slated to begin at 2pm and could go on till as late as 11pm or thereabouts. We had no babysitting options in Bombay which meant that we could either take Nikki along for the match or just one of us could go for it.
"You go" I said to P, sighing heavily, as the inner Mother India in me rose up to the fore in full melodramatic form. "I can hang out at friend X's house with Nikki while you watch the match live in Wankhede."
"We'll all go." said P switching on the TV.
"And maybe you can spare a thought for me sitting at home, with the baby, while What did you say?" I goggled at P.
"We'll all go" P repeated patiently, flicking channels.
"What?" I screeched again, Mother India having given way to the Kiron Kher-esque mommy from Dostaana "We'll all go? With Nikki? Are you nuts?"
"It'll be fun. And I'm sure she'll enjoy herself. And if she gets tired we can leave" said P, calm as ever.
I spent the rest of the evening dithering and worrying and finally decided he was right. Saturday morning saw us headed to Bombay, me brimming over with an equal measure of worry and anticipation. By the time we began nearing the stadium I was tremendously excited and was seriously considering buying one of the multicolored clown wigs and getting the tricolor painted on my face like the hundreds of people thronging to the stadium around us. Only the paucity of time and the possibility that Nikki might fail to recognize her mother stopped me. We alighted at the stadium and I bounded up to the ladies entrance with Nikki, a happy smile on my face.
"Where do you think you're going?" said the singularly unpleasant policewoman manning the entrance.
"To watch the match of course!" I told her indignantly.
"And where do you think you are taking that suitcase? Do you really think you will be allowed to enter the stadium with that monstrosity?" She pointed a mean finger at Nikki's cute little diaper bag, which has replaced all my favorite handbags since the day she was born, and which I now carry with me everywhere.
"But..but..but I have a baby with me" I sputtered "This bag has all her basic stuff that I'll need. I can't possibly get through the next couple of hours without it!"
"No bags allowed" said the policewoman without batting an eyelid. "No exceptions. Who told you to get your baby? You should have left her at home."
A cheer rose from the stadium as the opening ceremony kicked off and I fought the urge to just jump over the turnstiles with Nikki and make a run for it.
"But I've come all the way from Pune for the match!" I yelled "And this is just some basic baby stuff! I have to take it in with me!"
"What's going on here?" said another voice as a slightly groggy looking senior policeman walked up. He had just finished a long argument with a lady who had been trying to persuade him to let her carry her 'lucky charm' perfume into the stadium with her and seemed a bit disoriented.
I explained the situation to him as best as I could given that my mind was already in the stadium doing the mexican wave with the thousands of crazy, cheering fans whose voices were reverberating in my ears, and appealed to his better judgment to let me in.
"Let me have a look at this bag" he sighed heavily in a resigned sort of way. "What's this?" he asked, pulling out a diaper.
"It's a diaper" I explained, by now desperate to get in, as the cheering touched a new crescendo "For when my daughter does potty. That is, if she does potty, I will need to change her into a fresh diaper. And these are the wipes for wiping the potty, and this is the hand sanitizer for me to clean my hands after I've cleaned the potty." I took a deep breath and looked hopefully at the policeman who seemed to have turned a faint shade of green.
"Fine" he said in a strangled sort of voice. "Take it all. Please go."
"Oh thank you so much!" I beamed at him "Oh just one last thing" I added as I noticed Nikki's bright yellow muslin square peeking out of the bag "I forgot to show you this..this is the towel with which I'll wipe my daughter's bum after she's finished doing her pott...."
"Just GO!" barked the officer suddenly sprinting off in the opposite direction at top speed.
"What a strange man" I said to myself as I finally walked through the entrance with Nikki, where P was waiting for us.
"Let's go!" I said enthusiastically to P, but he was looking at Nikki with a strange look, slightly wrinkling his nose.
"Er..has Nikki blessed her diaper in the recent past?" he asked wrinkling his nose again.
"What?" I screeched as I bent down to check. "Yes she has! What are we going to do now? I TOLD you this was a bad idea!"
"We'll find a place to change the diaper, and then we'll change it and watch the match" said the indefatigable P.
Easier said than done though. One look at the restrooms in the stadium was enough to dissuade us from even contemplating Operation Clean Up there. After taking several rounds of the stand, and walking up and down the four levels with an increasingly stinky diaper we finally found an isolated counter on the last level which looked like it would serve the purpose. After taking permission from the lone security guard in the vicinity we got down to (dirty) business. Within three and a half seconds a vague looking chappie popped up out of the blue.
"Are you serving water?" he asked hopefully.
"We're not serving anything except a stink" I snapped back, rather unnecessarily, but I was itching to finally go and watch the match!
He'd been gone for precisely thirty seconds when another guy appeared.
"Water counter? Gimme five bottles and one Pepsi" he barked. I didn't bother replying. The delightful aromas from the open diaper swiftly assailed him and he passed out in a dead faint. Nikki, meanwhile, decided that she'd had enough of this nonsensical behavior and started bawling lustily. The security fellow started shooting us wary looks.
"I TOLD you this was a bad idea" I barked again at P who was busy changing the diaper while I did the all important task of supervising the general proceedings. Seven minutes and fifteen water counter requests later we were done. I felt a surge of excitement as we walked past the pile of bodies around the counter (OK, FINE, I exaggerate, but seriously, you should have seen their faces!)and finally headed to watch the match.

Nikki cheered up considerably on seeing the general festive atmosphere all around and joined the rest of the spectators in cheers of 'Indeeeyaah! India!' We settled into our seats with the boxes of scrummy food and drinks provided by the organizers and proceeded to have one of the best evenings of our lives. There were a fun bunch of people sitting around us along with a couple of kids and Nikki had a blast with all the cheering and the whooping all around us. She thoroughly enjoyed all the music (and there was a LOT of it, even during overs!)and could be seen shaking her booty with all her might.
"There's Kohli and Yudi" P said in an awed voice as the afore-mentioned cricketers took fielding positions close to where we sat.
"Yawn. Whatever. I'm not one of those cricket crazy fans who go berserk at the sight of a cricketer." I said in a lofty voice.
"Then I guess you wouldn't be interested in getting a glimpse of Sachin" sad P looking over my shoulder.
"Sachin?" I squeaked in a small voice.
"Yeah. He's so close if you reach through the grill you may be able to touch him...." I didn't catch the rest of his words because I was too busy climbing over the people ahead to get to the front so I could get a picture of Sachin. I was feeling a little sheepish when I headed back, unable to understand the strange adrenalin charged cricket lover that the match seemed to have unleashed in me but the husband remained impressively straight faced and continued to be so even when I made a spectacle of myself by whooping loudly during the multiple mexican waves, jumping up and down in my seat, and at one point even standing on my seat,and generally behaving like a complete dork.

The weather was playing along with the upbeat atmosphere, it was a pleasant, breezy, beautiful evening and there was a palpable buzz in the air. I never thought one of the nicest evenings I'd have with Nikki would be in a cricket stadium with thousands of screaming fans, but there we were, the three of us, having an absolute blast. Nikki certainly had the time of her life and was quite disappointed when the whole thing was over. The sight of ecstatic fans spilling over the pavements to dance on the roads, processions on bikes holding aloft replicas of the Cup and the general party atmosphere seemed to cheer her up on the drive back, even though she was a tad disappointed when we went back home instead of heading straight for another cricket match!
And now, several days later, even though memories of that wonderful evening are fast fading, on many a mellow summer afternoon a tiny little voice pipes up 'Indeeyaahh! Indiyaaa!' and it never fails to bring back a smile to my face :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Its been a long break...

...and it feels good to be back! A personal mini-crisis, coupled with multiple disasters on the domestic front of the boy, oh boy, oh bai! kind (strange how this stuff ALWAYS hits you all at the same time), added up to the long absence from the blogging scene thus far but I'm back and I've promised myself that next time round, crisis or no crisis there aren't going to be any more long breaks.

So anyway its been a crazy, crazy couple of weeks and a LOT has happened in the last one month that I was away from the blogosphere. My last post was just before the trip to the in-laws and I was bubbling over with a strange combination of dread and anticipation over the impending mundan and ear piercing, given that there was no running away from either. Well all the bubbling over was rather pointless as it turned out, because we ended up doing neither! The trip to the in-laws came and went sans mundan, with the in laws averring that the numerous merits of a bald and shiny pate notwithstanding, it wouldn't look good on a girl on the eve of her first birthday. And so it was put off till the birthday party had come and gone. The ear piercing met with a similar fate. Now this whole ear piercing thing is custom in my part of the family but not so much in P's. The mother in law looked suitably aghast when I mentioned that we were considering getting Nikki's ears pierced, reacting rather like I'd just mentioned the French guillotine and proclaimed that her own ears had been pierced on the eve of her wedding! And so, given that the in-laws were to return with us to celebrate Nikki's first birthday, and stay on for a couple of weeks, the ear piercing too was postponed till after they had left. On the basis of that happy principle that what they don't know won't hurt 'em and we could always get it done later and present them a few months down the line with a pair of happily pierced ears. Yes we are very adept at dealing with situations like these, P & I. And so a month down the line I find myself once again faced with the prospect of an impending mundan and ear piercing yet to happen. Sigh.

The trip to the in-laws went off fairly well, albeit hectic and a bit tiring, given that Nikki was down with a touch of fever. The mundan ceremony turned out to be pretty good fun, since tonsuring of the scalp had been wiped off the agenda. Just a lock of Nikki's hair was snipped off, which she didn't even notice being busy trying to shove some grapes down my throat at that moment, and that was that! Afterward we feasted on halwa and aloo-puri, bought some toys- a drum playing monkey, a large yellow inflatable ball which Nikks instantly fell in love with and some wooden blocks and went back home happy and well-fed.On our way to the in-laws home I had got the chance to catch up with an old and dear and verry pregnant friend in Delhi and on the evening of Nikki's mundan we got news that she had delivered a bonny baby boy. What's more he had been born at pretty much the exact same time that Nikki's solitary lock was being chopped off, making my friend and I believe this is surely a sign from the Lord ordaining a long and beautiful friendship between our offspring!

We got back home a few days later, just two days before Nikki's birthday. Her birthday was on a Tuesday and we had planned the party for the weekend following it so that friends and relatives from out of town could be there too. A couple of them chose to come down earlier, on Tuesday, staying on for the party over the weekend, making it more of a celebration week rather than just one day! We celebrated at home on Tuesday with friends and family. I baked a special cake just for Nikki, made with the stuff that she eats on a regular basis: atta, ghee, bananas and powdered dry fruits and my mom got one of the more sinful cakes for the rest of the crowd from a local bakery. I'd wanted to make the day special for Nikki and so taking a break from her usual porridge- khichdi we had special food for her that day: eggy bread for breakfast, pasta with cheese sauce for lunch and rice kheer for the evening snack. She loved all of it except the cake, which she refused to even take a nibble of, preferring instead to squish it around on her high chair tray but the rest of the group loved it so it was worth the effort! The day went by in a bit of a whirl what with all the people around but I took some quiet time out with just me and Nikki at 4.08 pm, the exact same time she had been born a year ago. We went for a quiet stroll in the park and sat in the grass for a bit, Nikki frolicking around, me just trying to soak in the overwhelming feeling that enveloped me as I relived all the experiences I've been through over the last one year. One year of being a mommy, the most beautiful one year of my life :)
Later that evening after P was back, we had a small pooja and celebration at home and after Nikki had gone to bed we spent the rest of the evening poring over all the pictures and videos taken over the last one year.

The birthday party (Hallelujah, its FINALLY over!) a few days later was a big hit too. It started on a less than pleasant note with Nikki having a major meltdown as soon as we reached the venue. The house had been buzzing with guests for a few days and the morning of the party had been particularly hectic as a result of which Nikki's nap schedule had gone awry, making her terribly cranky at the start of the party. Thankfully she calmed down before the cake cutting ceremony, making for some splendid photo ops and even obliged the cheering crowd by smearing the cake generously into P's hair and shirt. From then on she got progressively cheerier and by the time the last of the guests had left she was positively having a blast. A few snide remarks were passed about how she seemed to have inherited my anti-social gene, given that she was horribly cranky at the start of the party and then got progressively happier as people started leaving, but I overlooked them all. After all, the last one year has been all about The Maturity That Comes With Motherhood, and I am nothing if not changed by the experiences the year brought with it!
Anyway, getting back to the party, it really was a smashing success even if I do say so myself! We had changed the venue rather last minute to a new place we chanced upon quite by luck and it turned out to be a superb venue for a birthday party. The ambience, the food, the music, everything rocked and there was even an exclusive children's play area for the little guests. The service was super fast, with all the waiters making it a point to whisk my plate or glass away if I so much as put it down for an instant, so what if I was still midway through my meal, but I managed to stuff myself to the gills with the good stuff nonetheless.

And oh, I almost forgot, we had our verrry own caricaturist! We did too! After all that mindless dithering over magicians and tattoo artists, we finally discovered a caricaturist who could entertain all- young and old, and so we hired him for the party where he proceeded to do just that. He soon had a crowd gathered all around him with people waiting patiently in line for their turn and soon almost everyone had gotten their portrait made. I got mine done at the fag end too and was rather upset by the sketch; he'd made me look like an angry, old she-bull who's just discovered that she's been gypped by the matador in the bull fight but what made it much, much worse was that everyone promptly began oohing and aahing and saying that it looked just like me! Thankfully the party ended soon after giving me time to rip the travesty of a sketch into itty bitty shreds and we drove back home to the much awaited gift opening ceremony.Much awaited by me that is. Yes I shamelessly admit it, I was looking forward to the gifts more than anyone else! Definitely more than the budday gal who was quite happy playing with the scraps of gift wrapping paper instead. We spent a happy evening, Nikks and I, me lovingly unwrapping each gift and Nikki playing with the assorted boxes and gift wrapping paper they'd come in. There were some pretty neat gifts but my pick of the lot was a red Minnie Mouse swimsuit and pink sunglasses that a friend had gifted Nikki. She took to the sunglasses almost immediately, putting them on and taking them off with a one-handed flourish, like quite the seasoned diva and had all of us cracking up for the better part of the evening. One of the other gifts was an inflatable swimming pool, so we're all set for some summer fun now that all the gear is in place. That is, if I can get the child to overcome her fear of water anytime soon.

Life is kind of back to normal now with the grand first birthday with its ensuing chaos and excitement having faded away into the backdrop, leaving us instead with some bitter sweet memories. For the next few birthdays though, I'm thinking a quiet holiday someplace nice will do just fine. That is of course until Nikki grows old enough to start demanding Hannah Montana themed parties replete with birthday planners, personalized invites, farmhouse venues, party favors that cost a bomb and a fleet of entertainers. Gulp. Maybe I should start planning for them already!

Monday, March 15, 2010


I got my verrry first award!!! Yippeeeeeeee!!! Thank you so much Buzz!

The snappy headline notwithstanding- I read in the paper today that if you want people to like your blog the headline needs to be snappy. Crisp. Say it in as few words as possible, if you know what I mean.
Er, getting back to the post at hand, so where was I? Right, my very first award! GLOAT GLOAT GLOAT.
Ahem. I mean, you know how I normally handle these things with my trademark grace and equanimity, so after I had finished putting Nikki to bed (she got a tad frightened with all the whooping and war cries and running around the house yelling about my first award) I bounded up to P as he walked through the door, screeching that I'd been awarded.
"Really? How? Where?" he asked with a puzzled look, scanning the living room for signs of a trophy.
Bah! What does he know? I bet he's never been anybody's blogger buddy!
I think I need to pass this award on to my other blog buddies, so I am going to come back and do that properly, giving it the time and (mind)space it deserves. Am all out of both now what with the impending trip to the in-laws and the million and one other things I need to do for the upcoming mundan and ear piercing and first birthday party and.... aaaaarrrgh!

Thank you SO much again, Buzz, for the award, you've totally made my virtual day, and come to think of it, the non virtual bits of it too :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nikki, Me and some Sunshiny Moments

Waking up in the morning and savoring the cuddly little bundle in delicious slumber next to me for a full half hour before getting out of bed.

Sipping a leisurely cup of adrak chai and watching the now bright and active little bundle zip around the house on all fours with an indulgent eye, as the husband runs helter skelter desperately trying to get ready for work on time, trying not to trip over the zippy little bundle himself. I really don't know which one I enjoy watching more.

Giving Nikki a feel better kissy as she watches her Daddy leave for work, her baby face looking broken hearted. Distracting her with a silly game and watching her cheer up. Reading 'Peek-a-boo its Winnie the Pooh!' to her a million times and then once more.

Zipping down to the park to catch up with the flowers and butterflies and the occasional friendly doggy. Lying down on the grass and watching Nikki enjoy the mellow midday sunshine and gentle breeze and generally be super excited at being out in the park.

A nice long massage with warm coconut oil, enjoying the feel of Nikki's soft baby skin under my fingers and blowing raspberries on her tummy as she coos and giggles in delight. Following this up with a relaxed, warm bath at the end of which both of us (for different reasons!) are ready to embrace the land of nod. Cradling Nikki in the crook of my arm and rocking her gently to sleep, watching her eyes close as she nestles against me looking blissfully content.

Catching up with P on his cell as he shuttles from one meeting to the next. Often P hears Nikki babbling away in the background as we talk and he misses her something terrible. And even though I wish he could be with us then, I also feel really happy that I'm not away from her too.

Trying a new recipe for a fruit smoothie and churning (literally so!) it out with painstaking effort (yeah I KNOW its just a smoothie but I'm no Nigella Lawson, and I mean that in more ways than one.Right, moving on to more cheery topics). Watching Nikki relish it to the last lick and feeling her nicely rounded baby tummy. Sitting out with her in our sunny balcony waiting for the big burpy. Feeling just as pleased as Nikki, or maybe more, when the burpy finally does emanate.

Being there for all those precious firsts: the first time Nikki showed her budding sense of self identity and pointed to herself when asked "Where's Nikki?", the first piggy face, the first time she learned to clap, the first wave bye bye...mostly just being there.

Running into the room when Nikki awakens mid slumber, crying. Feeling all warm and sunshiny inside when she stops crying and looks at me with a happy, relieved smile. You're here mama! Everything's okay!

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.

Friday, January 8, 2010

That bittersweet chocolate called life

Since I was cruelly cut off from the joys of blogging last month, many a post that I had penned on the happenings in December didn't get its fair share under the blogosphere sun. Here's one such that I intended to post the day we got cut off, a snippet from some happy days spent in December:

Nikki and I have been having the time of our lives these last couple of days! My grandparents, Nikki's great grandparents, are in town and right about now life totally rocks! I've always been very close to my grandparents since they pretty much raised me when I was little, with both my parents away at work. Even though they lived far away from us, between the two of them they always made sure either one was at home with me, so that I didn't have to be alone with the maid. I'm sure it wasn't easy for them, shuttling between cities and managing two homes. Their youngest son, my uncle, also lived with them then and was a student, so they had to manage that bit as well.
Additionally my dad was in the Navy which meant frequent transfers were a way of life, but they were always there when I needed them. As a result, some of my fondest childhood memories are built around happy times spent with my grandpa and grandma.
Like learning to read with my grandpa which got me started on the never ending love affair with books. Or playing house with my grandma who went to great pains once to organize a doll's wedding for me replete with miniature puris and aloo bhaji for the dolls :)
Or my first day at kindergarten when I was howling for my Aajoba (grandfather in Marathi)and the teacher who didn't understand a word of Marathi (my dad was posted in a little coastal town in the South then) thought Aajoba meant mother in Marathi. I don't think my mom was very amused, when, a few weeks later the teacher addressed her as Aajoba at a parent-teacher interaction!

As I grew older and started spending more time in school, my grandparents started coming to stay with us less often. But I would meet them at least once a year during the summer vacations when either they would come to stay with us or we would go to the little army town where they lived with my uncle. Those summer vacations were the stuff dreams were made of. Apart from the full on pampering that my sister and I received large doses of, our grandparents also let us live our Enid Blytonian fantasies to the full by joining us in 'nature walks' (romps in the nearby park), organizing tea parties with the neighborhood kids and pretending not to notice when we would prowl around the house spying on other house guests, on an over dose of Five Find Outers or Secret Seven.

The annual trip to my grandparents remained a regular feature over the years, even though with time the duration of the visits grew shorter every year. With mounting work pressures and crazy schedules, it became difficult to fit in enough time for a long, langurous vacation at my grandparents but we still tried to squeeze in at least a weekend or two. But when I found out I was expecting Nikki even that became impossible what with my doctor's strict travel restrictions.
After Nikki's birth we decided we would take her for a visit to my grandparents' once she was three months old, and I started looking forward to the trip eagerly. But as luck would have it the swine flu wave hit hard just then and Nikki's pediatrician warned us against traveling with her, especially to far flung places where it would be difficult to get immediate medical attention. So we decided to postpone the trip to when Nikki was a little older. My grandparents were having none of it though and decided they had waited long enough to see their first great grand child. They took matters into their own hands and those who know my grandparents well, will tell you that when they do that there's not much one can do but give in quietly.
And so it was that early December saw a 90 year old great grandpa and an 84 year old great grandma get on a plane and travel halfway round the country to meet their great grand daughter.

I felt a surge of emotion when I saw my grandparents at the airport, they looked so frail and vulnerable emerging out of the airport even though my dad was right beside them, so lost among the throngs of people swarming around them. It had been some time since I'd met my grandparents and I was a little taken aback when I first saw them; Aaji (Marathi for grandmother) was bent over slightly with age and Aajoba looked much older than when I had last seen him. But all my anxieties were dispelled after we'd spent some time together, they were as full of life as ever! It's a testament to their superb fitness levels that even at this age my grandparents are supremely fit and can enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer; they don't have too many restrictions on food even though they eat light, they can read & write just as well as the rest of us, enjoy music and movies and my 90 year old Aajoba still wakes up at 5am every morning, like clockwork, for his 40 minute daily walk. It's like a virtuous circle; with all their faculties in the pink of health they enjoy life to the hilt, which in turn boosts their fitness levels.

Nikki took to them almost instantly, especially Aaji whom she greeted like a long lost friend before bounding into her lap where she stayed for the rest of their stay, choosing to give me the complete cold shoulder. Aaji took to feeding Nikki all her meals and even insisted on giving her a massage or two which she did with great adeptness. Aajoba would entertain her for long stretches of time, sitting with her in our little balcony and singing silly little ditties that would have her in raptures. I loved watching Nikki with them, feeling so blessed that she could spend so much time with people who were just overflowing with love for her. And it was so amazing to see how effortless they made the whole parenting thing seem; whether it was handling a minor bump or bruise, a feeding related frenzy or sleeping troubles, Aaji just breezed through it all, making it seem like a total cakewalk! She also had this wonderful repertoire of age old games that were a fantastic combination of fun & learning, and that Nikki thoroughly enjoyed.

And yet amongst all these slices of happiness I just couldn't help the occasional morbid thought that flitted in persistently as I watched my grandparents in the twilight of their lives. Was this going to be their last trip to my home? Would this be the last time they saw Nikki? When would they get to see her again? When would I get to see them again?
Thankfully I snapped out of this morose space soon enough to snap back to reality, where I was surrounded by so much love and happiness and decided that I was going to make the most of the here and now. I've also resolved that I'm going to try and ensure that Nikki gets to spend as much time with her great grandparents as possible, so we're going to see a return of at least some bit of that annual summer sojourn.
I've also been extremely trigger happy the past few days, with my digicam constantly appended to my right hand as I click snaps to the galore and make tons of videos to capture all the memories so I can show them to Nikki later or watch them myself a few days down the line, on a lonely winter afternoon when I feel a little bereft thinking of my grandparents thousands of miles away. In fact I think I'm going a little berserk with the picture taking coz Aaji just remarked that in this trip I've seen them more through the lens of the camera than through my own eyes.
So for now, I'm going to set the camera aside and just go and soak in the sun while I watch Aaji & Aajoba play with Nikki, and fawn over her every move even as they reminisce about my own childhood so may years ago and make it sound like it was only yesterday that I was a little girl myself. And as for all those precious moments that remain unshot by the camera, I'll just capture them in my heart.

Monday, January 4, 2010

We're back!

At long long last! After one whole month of being cruelly cut off from the blogosphere, the powers-that-be at the ones who provide us with our internet connection finally deigned that enough suffering had been bestowed on our hapless household and re-connected us today.

About time too since I was on the brink of completely and totally losing my marbles at this random disconnection of my life line and support system rolled into one. It all started in the first week of December when I logged on in a particularly chirpy mood, my heart singing like a bluebird, a new post on my fingertips. 'Problem with server' said the screen when I tried to log on. "Pish tosh" said I, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. "I'll just try again later". 'PROBLEM WITH SERVER' said the screen a trifle more forcefully the next time I logged on, just in case I'd missed the point the first time round.
"What the hell!" I said forcefully and did the first thing any strong woman in her right mind would do in a sticky situation such like.
I called P.
"The internet connection's not working!" I wailed theatrically and then proceeded to tell P how my blog would now die a slow and painful death. "I'll lose all my readers, all 1.5 of them!" I screeched. "DO something!"
"I'll look right into it honey" promised P and promptly forgot all about it. A few days later we figured that our connection had been cut thanks to a little mix up at the service providers end. Namely, they had misplaced the cheque we had handed over by way of payment and had then gotten rather confused because while the register clearly stated that said cheque had been received, the payment hadn't come thru since post receipt the cheque had gotten lost. In their wisdom they promptly went ahead and canceled our connection and then sat back twiddling their thumbs waiting for us to come knocking at their door as they knew we would.

After much deliberation and back and forth and also thanks to the complete absence of any other solution we've had to make the payment all over again thanks to the lousy little buggers (you know what I really want to say) but at least I'm connected again and it feels good SO to be back!

Much has happened in the real world while we were away from the virtual one. My grandparents (Nikki's great grandparents) came visiting and much fun was had by all. After they left we went off to Goa for a holiday and had the most fantabulous time ever! Of course we came back and promptly fell ill, all three of us, but we're all fine now, and it wasn't swine flu, so all's well that ends well! We've also had a rather nice festive season this time round with a lot of quiet time with family and friends and Nikki's first New Year was brought in in style. And 2010 begins on a celebratory note too, since Jan happens to be the month in which I celebrate my birthday and P & I celebrate our wedding anniversary. So here's to many new beginnings and many more good times ahead and on that happy note wish you all a very happy new year and hope you have a fabulous year ahead!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nikki's first Diwali

This Diwali was really special for us as it was Nikki's first. It was also one of the few times we've celebrated Diwali at our own home, Diwali usually being a time in the past, when we would scoot off to either of the parents' homes for a much needed break from the grind. I was determined to ring in Diwali day in style, and forced a grumpy P to rise and shine at the crack of dawn, well actually more like 7am, for the traditional ubtan bath for us and the not so traditional top-to-toe one for Nikks. That done we did a small pooja at home and proceeded to decorate various nooks and corners with the collection of diyas we've acquired over the years, paper lanterns, string lights and even a traditional rangoli replete with Goddess Lakshmi's feet drawn just outside the main door. Lunch was at the parents, so we zipped off there and proceeded to gorge on the traditional spread of aloo gobhi, rajma, matar paneer, rice kheer and the not so traditional ones of cheese balls and baked vegetables contributed by my dad, a recent convert to Nigella Lawson's 'style' of cooking.

Some of my aunts & cousins had also come over so we got to catch up with them after ages. Or rather they got to catch up with Nikki, since post her birth nobody seems even remotely interested in me or P. Her Majesty was plonked down on a mattress expressly deployed for her repose and surrounded by a circle of her admirers, who then proceeded to entertain her with a variety of weird noises and facial expressions. I overheard one of my uncles wryly remark to someone that the cacophony took him back to his recent trip to the Amazon rainforest. But it was great to watch Nikki bask in all this affection, as she bestowed benign smiles at a particularly impressive cluck (the eldest aunt) or facial expression (cousin M doing her rendition of a baboon).

The love fest had to be wrapped up soon though coz we had to head back to our own place for Lakshmi Pooja. On the way back P insisted on spending the better part of an hour shopping for all kinds of ghastly crackers, and we reached just in time to light up the house and all its diyas and then do the traditional pooja. It was Nikki's first pooja but the young spitfire was way more interested in the crackers. I was a little worried she'd get scared by the noise but she was enthralled instead by the spectacular show of firecrackers on display, courtesy several society residents. As a rule I detest crackers but the thrilled look on Nikki's face as she gaped at the crackers going off, mouth all agape, made me forget my usual anti cracker rant and I found myself joining in her wide eyed joy. The noise and smoke that all those crackers were generating however killed our plans of venturing out for a stroll, so we spent the rest of the evening at home. Then Nikki sprung the big surprise of the evening by falling asleep on her own (!) and staying that way in spite of all the noise! Must've been my Diwali gift from someone up there!


P is extremely cheesed off about the fact that he didn't get to burst any of his lovingly purchased crackers and is threatening to make up for it next year, along with 'his girl' who will be a sprightly almost-two-year old by then. Time to start planning a vacation for this time next year, in a cracker free zone!