Saturday, September 10, 2011

For my other two year old

Two years of doing something I thought I would never be able to keep up when I first started. I used to write a diary (at one point of time I even had three different diaries!) but that was different. Nobody ever read my diary, I guarded it fiercely and never let anyone so much as peek at it. The pesky younger sister was often given an earful when she was snooping around my stuff, as younger sisters are wont to (yes you are, admit it!), because I was convinced she wanted to read my diary even though it was far more likely she was just scouting around for a bar of chocolate. I found it incredibly difficult to fathom how people could blog about themselves so easily, put themselves out there just like that. I was convinced I'd never be able to do it. Then I was introduced to the wonderful world of mommy blogging and I wanted to be a part of it too. I've written about that here before; wanting to have someone who would listen, understand without judging,like I saw all the mommy bloggers doing. And so I took the first tentative steps. Without revealing my identity because I really wasn't sure about the whole thing and I really wasn't comfortable with people I knew reading what I wrote. It was incredibly comfortable to write as 'new mum on the block'. There was this strange sense of freedom. I could write what I wanted, experiment as much as I liked, be who I really wanted to be without thinking about being judged or evaluated. I miss that sometimes, writing from that safe comfort zone now that I have revealed my identity, but it couldn't have gone on forever and I knew that when I started. I'm glad I started like that though because even though 'new mum' doesn't blog anymore I still remember how I felt when I had the freedom to blog as her. And that really helped me overcome my initial hesitation at writing in a public forum and to write without any of the mental barriers I am otherwise rather good at imposing on myself.

Today morning I was out with friends and someone mentioned my blog and someone else 'oohed' and 'aahed' and said it was so cool that I had a blog, and I found myself sharing her amazement. Yes, I had a blog, me the 'guard what she writes with her life' girl, and I found that I was really proud of my little, woefully neglected in recent times, blog. Happy second birthday, blog.I'm sorry I nearly forgot your birthday and it had to take that chance conversation to remind me, that two years ago on this date I first met you. You're one of the best things that's happened to me in the last two years. And next year, I'll throw you a proper party to celebrate your birthday. For this one, lets just go out for a drink tonight, just you & I.

P.S. I wrote this post yesterday! Just had to keep it languishing in the drafts till now, because we did do a celebratory dinner for HM after all and by the time we got back it was wayyy past midnight!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Paranoia and chocolate cake

The title for this post is fully inspired by a book I read many years ago; the delightfully titled 'Prison and Chocolate Cake' by Nayantara Sahgal. Much like the author of the book, who came to associate chocolate cake with prison because of an incident in her childhood, over the last month and a half I've developed a morbid sort of paranoia for chocolate cake myself. It all started with a trip to Nikki's pediatrician around the same time, when I decided that waiting for the doctor in his clinic was probably not such a good idea given that Nikki, who now recognizes the doctor's clinic rather well and associates it with jabs and other unpleasant things, is given to start bawling her head off anytime we're near it. There's a cheery looking cake shop right under the doctor's clinic, specializing in chocolate cakes, so I decided to wait there instead and distract Nikki with the assorted goodies on display till the doctor showed up. It seemed like a good idea then, but thanks to a series of illnesses that saw us going back to the doctor again and again and, would you believe it, yet again and then a few more times, beyond a point that cheery cake shop just made me want to barf. There's something quite tragic about sitting in what should be, and is for other people, a happy place, a place where they come to treat themselves, when all you can think of is that next report from the pathology lab or what the doctor is going to say and whether your poor little sick child is going to have to take another dose of nasty antibiotics. Of course Nikki was quick to associate the cake shop with the doctor soon enough and the whole thing just blew up in my face, so I was back to waiting at the clinic again.

Anyway, so we've been battling a series of illnesses over the last month and a half. Nothing major, but its just been one thing after the other. Poor little Nikki was the worst hit, because she also ended up missing a lot of playschool and then when she was fully recovered she didn't want to go back. Anyway things are back on track now and life is slowly limping back to normal, even though the slightest sneeze, or the hint of a cough is enough to make me start shaking like an aspen. Oddly enough the advent of any new illness was always on a weekend. By the end of it I had become so paranoid, I had come pretty close to sitting in the prayer room fingering beads each time a fresh Friday dawned.

In the meantime, life went on as usual as it is wont to, and even though I realize I've been painting a pretty gloomy picture (you always knew where Nikki gets her drama queen genes from, didn't you?)there have been other cheerful things that have been happening as well. For one, my book finally saw the light of day, erm, bookstores and its already been around for nearly a month now. The initial response has been pretty encouraging and lets just say I don't have to spend the rest of my life sniveling under that cover anymore. You can read some of the reviews here, and I will post other updates soon. Have any of you had a chance to read it? Let me know what you think!

In other news, all this illness made me re-think my own fitness levels and I realized a drastic pulling-up-of-the-socks was in order. Too many late nights, cheese loaded pizza binges and not enough working out was simply not on anymore. Since it had mainly been Nikki and P who were ill, and I was the sole caregiver, I'd also begun to feel rather Florence Nightingale-ish what with all the late night bedside vigils and administering of medicines. With cries of 'I must be a hundred percent fit! I owe it to my family!' ringing in my mind, I threw myself on the treadmill in a bout of misplaced zeal and began to workout like I was training for a marathon. The tryst with fitness lasted only a couple of days because in my enthusiasm to nullify many weeks of living slothfully in just a few days, I ended up straining a muscle and found myself laid up in bed for a change. Thankfully both P & Nikki were well on their way to recovery by then so no major harm done, except to my ego and my dreams of being super fit. Just when I had pretty much memorized the 'how to max your treadmill workout' primer, the doctor has advised me to, in fact, stay as far away from the treadmill as possible. Oh well, at least I'll have more time to blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Boss From Hell

That evil smile, that sadistic smirk

He’s out to torment you while you work

Every move of yours he’ll spy on and check

You can bet he’s always breathing down your neck

Get used to feeling trapped, like a fish in a bowl

He’s going to suck the joy right out of your soul

He’ll grudge you that long lunch, that coffee break you crave

You better know he thinks you’re his personal slave

Very soon you’ll want to tear your hair out and yell

Coz honey, you’ve got the BOSS FROM HELL.

Vile Varun. Boss from hell. In ‘No Deadline For Love’…. Coming soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Deadline For Love: More Updates!

Another long overdue post. But I have been busy you know. There's the school drop off every morning, and since school is only for one hour for now, I spend the time hanging around outside, plotting ways by which I can be one up on Nikki's teacher....erm, I mean contemplating the various intricacies of the Indian education system. Then there are play dates on weekday evenings, birthday parties on weekends for which I am the officially designated chaperone, trips to the zoo and the park and the library....well you get the picture. Clearly I need to get a life. Of my own.

Okay, so before I go even further away from the original point of this post (you've forgotten haven't you? See title!)and start ranting about the house help (there is always something there), let me get back to the post at hand. Right. So, the book! It is finally going to see the light of day, or rather the light of bookstores. The good people at Penguin have informed me that it is only a matter of days now before the book is in stores, and they're also sending me a few advance copies so I can finally, finally see what it looks like instead of wistfully sighing over my much thumbed manuscript.

Here's a preview of the cover spread:

Right, so much for that. Since you can't read a word of what that says in spite of all the trouble I went to (darn you, Blogger!), here's what it says on the back:

All her life Megha has diligently done what was expected of her: the graduation in economics, the MBA in marketing and now the straitlaced job in a high-profile FMCG company. But lately, she’s been wondering if this unending routine of juggling late hours and unreasonable deadlines is really her life’s calling. Her mother’s desperate attempts to put her on the ‘marriage market’ are not making life any easier. And to top it all, Megha’s latest project has been bogged down by a complete dearth of creative ideas, giving her nasty boss the perfect excuse to disregard the blood, sweat and tears she’s poured into her job so far. The last thing she needs is having her suggestions trampled upon by the team’s new creative consultant, Yudi—gorgeous, sardonic and only too eager to disagree with Megha. And so the stage is set for a quirky battle of wits and some unexpected romance.

For all of you out there who think this is the kind of book you'd like to read, do read it and let me know what you think. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it on this blog before, but I started writing my book before I started blogging and I had no plans to ever start my own blog till I discovered the wonderful world of mommy bloggers, and then I desperately wanted to be a part of it too. I mean I could always write about Nikki's first steps in my personal diary or rant about the mealtime tantrums, but where else would I get a friendly virtual hug or a 'don't worry, you'll get through this' in return? I was convinced no one would ever read my blog though, and the husband was routinely subjected to the middle of the night crises of confidence and waves of self doubt about whether starting the blog was a good idea. That is of course when he wasn't being subjected to the routine crises of confidence and waves of self doubt about whether writing a book was a good idea too.

Anyway I started the blog, unsure and tremulous, and was convinced it would just sputter out eventually and no one would notice. But someone did, and that someone was kind enough to leave a comment! And then there were more comments, and people told me that they liked the way I wrote! And it was the most amazing feeling ever. I still remember reading that first comment just before leaving for an evening stroll with Nikki and chugging along delightedly in the park with a goofy grin on my face, attracting strange glances from passers by and even a few from Nikki herself. But the point is, it really means a lot to me that some of you out there read what I write, and like it and your comments help me cope with those routine crises of confidence and waves of self doubt that I still suffer from quite regularly. So thank you. If you do read No Deadline For Love, tell me what you think, won't you?

We have a Facebook page up and running now too, you can join it here. I did try and get a plugin on the blog to make it easier to join this, but its sort if gone and died on me and there's only so much a technologically challenged person like me can deal with. (Darn you, Blogger! Yeah I know I said it once, but darn you!)Oh, and its available on Flipkart and Amazon and a couple of others places too, links to which I will try to upload in the sidebar shortly, provided the Cyber Gods are kind to me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Playschool Ahoy!

The first day of school. I'd been dreading it all summer. For weeks before school re-opened I'd been feeling like I used to before a major exam for which I was ill prepared and when the first day of school finally dawned I woke up with clammy hands and a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Naturally I couldn't let Nikki cotton on to how anxious I really was, so I valiantly kept up my dual faced act of quivering with dread at the thought of school in private and acting all jolly and gung-ho about it when Nikki was around. I was really beginning to feel quite schizophrenic about the whole concept of playschool at the end of it. It didn't help that the week before school opened I went shopping for school supplies with a bunch of Equally Paranoid and Hyper Over Protective Moms who spent the entire time discussing all the horrible things that could happen to a hapless two year old, left alone to fend for herself in the big bad world of playschool. Or the Assorted Pesky People I met at the park who'd earlier ask 'What?! She's not at school yet?' and who had now coolly switched to 'What?! You're sending her to school so early?!'.

The whole thing was really beginning to get to me and I couldn't help feeling a pang when the day finally dawned when Nikki would have to go to school all by herself for the first time ever. As we arrived at school, I couldn't help feeling wistful and a little envious of all the mothers with younger kids who were happily trotting off to the Mother & Toddler class together. This was the same school where I'd first come with Nikki when she was just a fifteen month old baby, just about beginning to take her first wobbly steps. This was where we'd spent a whole year together attending the Mother Toddler program ourselves. And now I was expected to just leave her there by herself!

Nikki herself was seemingly unaffected by this momentous occasion and even seemed happy to be back at her beloved school. That was till the teacher showed up and tried taking her from my arms, when she promptly let out a belligerent howl and demanded that I go in with her. The teacher whisked her off nonetheless, after repeatedly reassuring me that Nikki would be absolutely fine once I was out of sight and left me at the gate feeling bereft. I took myself off to a nearby bench and sat counting the minutes feeling more and more like Cruella de Ville with every passing second. What kind of a mother was I, to have just left my baby in the wilderness like that? I mean it wasn't the wilderness strictly speaking and we had been coming there for a year, so Nikki was familiar with the place, but still! She was not even two and a half yet! My baby! I was just about to call P to tell him we were making a horrible mistake with this whole playschool thing when I saw the teacher re-emerge with a familiar looking little figure in her arms. Nikki! She was back! Was it just my imagination or did she look a little pink about the eyes? She'd probably been crying her eyes out inside, poor little angel! I rushed towards the gate as a high pitched Bollywood-esque 'haai mera bachha!' rang out in my mind and reached for Nikki.
"She was absolutely fine!" the teacher informed me with a beam.
"Oh no! Haai....Eh? What? She was fine?" I gaped back at her.
"Oh yes, she had a great time. See you both tomorrow!" the teacher gave me another bright smile before turning to another anxious mother.
Nikki had been fine by herself! She'd managed perfectly well even though I hadn't been around! Right. So that was all fine then. Except that I wasn't feeling bereft anymore. I was feeling dispensable.

I brought up the matter gently with P that evening.
"Nikki doesn't need me anymore!" I screeched "Two years of spending every waking moment with me and now she trots off with that beastly teacher without so much as a second glance, the little ingrate! She had a good time at school today! What am I going to do?"
"Er, I'm sure you'll get used to it eventually honey" P smiled weakly before suddenly remembering an important official dinner for which he needed to leave that very instant, leaving me alone in my misery.
Get used to it indeed! Bah! I was not going to just let that teacher steal Nikki from me while I stood by the sidelines cooling my heels. No sir, I was going to fight right back and show that teacher how indispensable I really was! Hadn't I been voted the most enthu mommy dancer back at the mother toddler class? Hadn't my moves for 'Dorothy The Dinsosaur' been emulated by all the others? Get used to it! Pshaw!

So I was ready for the teacher when she showed up at the gate to take Nikki from me the next morning.
"Maybe I should accompany you till the classroom?" I suggested in a gentle but firm voice "Being her Primary Care Giver, it may help alleviate her separation anxiety."
"Oh that's not required" the teacher replied equally firmly, "It might upset the other children. Besides Nikki has settled in pretty well, she's fine without you inside."
"But she'll have so much more fun if I come too!" I was desperate now "It says on the activity sheet that you have the Wiggly Woo dance activity planned for today and I'm an ace at Wiggly Woo! Why back in the mother toddler class I...."
"Er right, I'm sure you were wonderful!" the teacher interrupted nervously "But we really must go now and Nikki will be fine! Don't worry!" she shot off like a rocket with another nervous glance at me as if I was going to start doing the Wiggly Woo right there! As if! That little twitch I'd given when I was talking to her was just a muscular spasm. Or something.

I spent the rest of the time kicking up a dust storm and pretty much achieving my targeted calorie burning for the quarter as I anxiously paced up and down outside the school building, till a worried looking teacher came out to offer me a cup of coffee and a magazine and told me to 'please just relax'. Nikki came out soon enough with the teacher, beaming and looking as happy as could be. And then, instead of jumping into my arms, she turned around and gave the teacher a high five and a flying kiss! I must have turned a visible shade of green because the teacher took me aside and patted me kindly on the arm "I understand that this is a worrying phase for you but don't worry! This is a settling in phase for the parent as much as the child. And Nikki is doing well, she's with us for just half an hour now but she's settling in so well that we can increase it to an hour next week onwards!"
Yeah right! First an hour and then two whole hours! And before I know it she'll be leaving for college and telling me she needs her space! But I'm damned if I'm giving up without a fight! For starters I showed Nikki who was the real ace at Wiggly Woo with my live stand-up act at dinner last evening. And there was really no reason for P to get all upset. Okay so maybe I did go a little overboard when I asked Nikki if the teacher could do the Wiggly Woo as well as me (huh? huh?)but I mean, she was the one who started it with the high five-ing and the flying kisses all over the place! Still, P insists I need to learn how to let go and stop behaving like a sap and I should be happy that Nikki is bonding with her teacher at school. Hmph. What does he know? He has no idea about the kind of pressure teachers put on the kids nowadays- I heard some horror stories from the Equally Paranoid and Hyper Over Protective Moms just the other day. In fact some of them are even considering homeschooling for their kids so that they don't have to....Hey! Waitaminit. Homeschooling! No more sending your child away for two whole hours. No more high-five-ing and flying-kisses and 'Oh I love my teacher' more having to work my butt off (quite literally) to perfect my moves at Dorothy The Dinosaur. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Coming Soon!

Coming real soon, to bookstores near you! You remember I'd told you about it, here? Well the endless wait (for me!) is finally over, and it is going to be out in bookstores by early next month. Will post more updates once it is finally out there!

And now, I'm going to go back to curl up under my duvet to snivel and chew away at my finger nails and continue being a hopelessly nervous wreck.

On an unrelated note, did you notice that I've put up TWO posts in the same day? Prolific, eh? On a blogging spree, what? Yeah, I thought not. Its probably the first and last time this is ever going to happen.

Now back to sniveling.

Lessons from mommyhood

Okay, so I am bursting at the seams (metaphor, metaphor!)with all the stuff that's been going on and that I want to tell you, but first I have to do the 'lessons from mommyhood' tag that the delightful Noor had tagged me with a while ago. Strangely enough before this tag started doing the rounds I'd been thinking of doing a post along similar lines, a post about all the stuff that I've learned since I became a mom. Being my usual efficient, brisk, get-down-to-the-job self, the post in my mind grew and brewed and would have probably got pickled, if it hadn't been for this tag which has served like a timely kick in the posterior. So here goes; here's some of the stuff I've learned since I became Nikki's mommy:

1.I've learned that it pays to start the day sunny side up. That bit about getting off on the right side of the bed? It works! Before I had Nikki I don't really remember waking up in the morning all raring to smell the roses and soak in the sunshine. Maybe the fact that all I could really look forward to smelling was my evil co-workers' coffee breath while soaking in the artificial glare from my laptop had something to do with it, but the point is I was invariably grouchy first thing in the morning on most days. Except Mondays, when I was positively depressed. Then Nikki came along and every morning I'd be greeted by a little bundle of cooing and squealing delight. Nikki wakes up every morning super thrilled to just be awake, raring to take on a new day, chattering non stop about all the million things she simply has to do right away and her cheerful enthusiasm is infectious! My blue funk vanishes and I grin right back at her and it makes all the difference to the rest of my day as well. The bai who fails to turn up doesn't throw me into a tizzy, the gloomy weather outside doesn't make me want to curl up under my duvet and die and the million little daily irritants that earlier made me want to howl like a banshee just make me want to say tut-tut. Sounds simple really, but it took Nikki to make me realize how important it is to start the day with a smile and what a difference it can make.

2.I've learned to stop, slow down, relax. When you have a child who takes approximately one hour and thirty seven minutes to eat one aloo paratha, you can use the time to figure out what WH Davies really meant when he wrote all that stuff about leisure.You also learn that it can actually be fun to just slow down while you make funny shapes with that aloo paratha and observe the swirls it makes when you trail it in a bowl of yoghurt. And that there's nothing more relaxing than a summer afternoon spent in the park with a two year old, watching the clotted cream clouds drift past above, or make up stories about apples that dance and grasshoppers that sing.

3.Motherhood has made me an infinitely patient person. Patience was not something I listed among my virtues earlier but now I can deal with the worst of the temper tantrums and the nuclear meltdowns and the mealtime battles and then some with an abundance of calm. I just hope it lasts.

4.I've learned that I can be Superwoman when I have to. Ten years ago, if someone had told me that I would survive one long road trip with an infant, during the course of which keeping said infant well fed, clean, safe and in good humour would be my sole responsibility no matter how many times the infant pooped (and boy, did she poop!)and that I would come back home at the end of it, bone tired, to cook up a batch of khichdi and sterilize a few bottles, I would have laughed hysterically. Then I would have keeled over and died. But I did do all of these things. And then I woke up three times at one, three and five am to rock and sing the same infant to sleep. And I did not howl like a banshee. At least not out loud.

5. Most importantly, I think becoming a mother has helped me learn a whole lot of things about myself. About what makes me happy, about the things that really matter to me and the things that don't. And, cliched as it sounds, it has helped me become a better person, because the thought of that little person whose life I am responsible for shaping, at least in some ways, makes me want to be someone she can always look up to.

The whole world and its sister has probably done this tag by the time I've got down to it, but I'm going to go ahead and tag some mommies I'd like to hear from anyway. Go for it Priyanka, Divs, Sonia, MRC (hope this gets you to blog again!) and Beks! You're IT!