Sunday, December 24, 2006

Very Busy

No posts till Tuesday earliest. Will explain later.

V's here. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Apologies in Advance

As you may have noticed already, I've switched to Blogger beta-that-was. Now that I'm here though, I'm a bit lost and haven't found the time to really rootle around and see what I can do. But there are changes I want to make. I've had basically the same template for over a year now and am pretty bored with it.

So, for the next month or so I will be trying out stuff. If the pages don't load properly please let me know. And I really must finish updating the archives.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Duchess Decides

It's been nearly three weeks since The Bhaeblet decided to revert to his nocturnal habits, and I'm nearly dead of the effort of staying up with him. (Hence the low profile on Orkut, this blog, and even the email.) I wouldn't mind if he stayed up and played by himself, but no, that would be too nice of him, wouldn't it? I have to stay up, play with him, rock him and generally make a fuss over him. Since I cannot do that when I'm half dead, he cries and I bury my head in the pillow and try to will myself into snatches of sleep.

The one thing I really object to in such a little baby is how he fights sleep. It's just not on! He shakes his head from side to side, in an effort to shake the sleepiness out of him, and he gets crankier and crankier the sleepier he gets. He keeps fighting until quite suddenly, worn out by the tremendous effort all this entails, he falls fast asleep.

You know what's worse? He has his own spot on the bed, banked by pillows, and so long as he is in it, all is well. But if he is outside, if I let him sleep alongside me (sometimes, in the middle of the night, I feed him lying down and we both nod off while that's happening), usually I am woken up by kicks. Fast asleep, he keeps on kicking me. I keep moving, so as not to inadvertently fall asleep on top of him. This goes on till I find myself falling out of bed.

You know what this means, don't you? This means WAR.

He has already begun the offensive, mind you. He goes tale-tattling to my parents, and even my grandmother (who is visiting us) gets to know of all my 'perfidities'. The little fink.

I have decided that in a short while, as soon as he is a little older, I shall give him two hefty thumps as soon as he gets up each morning. He is bound to justify the spanking during the course of the day, is the way I see it. Of course, when I announced my intention at the lunch table it was met with cries of horror and consternation, not to mention improper threats against my person. (I'm married, dammit and a mother, I will not be scolded if I decide to thump my own son -- who definitely asks for it.)

Ever since V left, over a month ago, I tried to show unusual (for me) patience, love and affection, figuring that he's a Very Little Boy who would undoubtedly have been spoilt by his father, and since the father isn't around, he mustn't miss out on the spoiling. Well, hah! From now on, my theme song will be this one:

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dilemma

What does one put in a Bhaeblet's 'stocking' for Christmas, keeping in mind that he will be turning three months old on the day, and that the garment in question is less than 3" long and 1"wide?

I could, of course, use one of his booties, but I prefer his wee socks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Got Him!


This one's for Grafx, because she asked. Finally got a pic of him smiling. After a bath, of course.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And I'll Turn Right Back Around

Was watching Fools Rush In, one of my favourite movies. It's realistic and magical all at once. Ok, maybe magical is too strong a word, but it's about a kind of romantic magic you really feel can happen; and it has Matthew Perry in it -- 2 reasons to make me watch it every time I catch it on tv.

The girl, Isabel, lies to her husband in order to drive him off. Later she rationalises that by saying she had to leave before he did, because she wouldn't be able to take it otherwise. Makes me think of the two relationships where I left. I always did feel bad for the men involved. Not because I thought they lost a great deal but because it must suck to be the one wondering what you did wrong. I left though, because I always run. Anything goes wrong and I leave. Somehow, I believe things will always be better in a new place. That distance helps heal wounds. That new people in a new place will be best for a fresh start. Even when I know that these things don't necessarily work, I hope they will and that hope is good enough to keep me wanting to run.

Wonder why I do that?

And yet, as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be held, to have something to make me stay. I've never really been able to walk away when I wanted to. Mostly, I run and come back, hating myself for running, and run again and come back again, and keep on doing that until one fine day I run far enough away to be able to stay away. But all I want to do is find myself a place to call home and stay in it.

That's why I wanted to have a family of my own. Make that a husband/ partner I can trust implicitly. Your children will grow up and go away to lead lives of their own (they'd better cos I ain't supporting them all my life) but your husband stays. In theory at least. And I know that's what everybody wants, but for me, trust just doesn't come easy. One lie leaves me convinced everything else was a lie too, even if I have no reason to think it was. One lie leaves me thinking this is not the relationship I wanted -- so what I'm looking for must lie somewhere else. That's where the running away part comes in, in logical sequence.

But I wanted a husband all the same, because I thought, since I do believe in marriage, a commitment that strong would make me stay and keep me steady. I may not make that commitment willingly, but once it's made, would I break it lightly? It remains to be seen, of course. V and I haven't even been married a year. But I keep my fingers crossed and hope I don't let myself down.

Men Wear Them Too

This Season's Latest Accessory -- Now for MEN






Fathers wear them with pride.









Grandfathers are trying them out too.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Query

Is it unfair to call a Wee Bhaeblet a Pooplet? Particularly when you consider the amount of shite I take from him (metaphorically, too)?

What the Well-Dressed Mother Is Wearing


A Bhaeblet

-- The season's latest fashion accessory










Up close

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Public Displays of Affection

When we flew down to Madras from Calcutta three weeks ago, the trip from our flat out was a troubled one. First the prepaid cab didn't turn up, then the car we were offered blew a flat twenty minutes from the airport -- and we needed to go early because we were flying Air Deccan, who have free seating, and obviously, with The Bhaeblet in tow, we wanted first row seats, if possible. Also, we had nearly double the amount of the luggage we were allowed on three tickets. (You can't travel light with my mother, no matter how hard you -- or she -- try.)

We eventually made it to Dum Dum, checked in, paid the excess, and went through Security. There was another 45 minute wait before we boarded, when WB decided he had been without food long enough. So I hopped into the restroom, which was luckily dry and looked clean, and the security lady in there offered me her chair and I settled down to feed. Plenty of women looked, all of them cooed at The Bhaeblet, all of them expressed shock at such a young baby traveller, and all of them expressed concern that he might catch a cold in the AC. Nobody found it offensive, though, unlike a certain Delta flight attendant.

Later, as our flight was taxing down the runway preparatory to taking off, one of the hostesses came up to me and said I might wish to give WB something to suck, since that would help him cope with the pressure change. I gave him some water, which I was carrying in anticipation, but my son wasn't having any of it. After some vehement complaining on his part I gave up the battle, sat by the window, pulled a light blanket over us and settled to feed.

The cool thing was, as I got over my embarrassment, I noticed that not only was nobody paying me any attention, but that I was actually ok with the whole thing. I was surround by men and women, but yeah, they weren't any of them young, so they probably were more comfortable with the sight of a baby being nursed than my generation is.

It did have a funny side-effect -- the blanket was made of a synthetic material, which, because of falling off and being pulled back on, generated a fair amount of static electricity. Therefore, when The Bhaeblet landed in Madras, all his hair, and he does have a lot, was standing straight up!

P.S.
In case you're wondering, yes, there was potty too, and I finally got to use the plane diaper changing table. Was quite handy, actually.

Rather an eventful journey, all told.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Bhaeblet's Story

It has been written by some wonderfully understanding woman here.

The only thing is, she has mixed up the right and the left. And that it took a couple of days and not a month to get to know his dad.

But she got everything else right, including the diaper fixation.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Romance, Version III

This post was not kicked off by Rohini's latest, but rather by the SMS I just composed to send to V in Calcutta:

Potty! I miss you so much :(

Poignant, wouldn't you say? Especially if you look at the time I'm posting.

I'm coping without him, and my parents do help. Come to think of it, The Bhaeblet has brought about a few things I wouldn't have expected to see. He actually got a hard-bitten chauvinist like my father to change his diapers, even after potty, and see it as a talent to be proud of. Grandparents, I say!

I miss V all the same. Only, I'm never entirely sure how much I miss him as a husband and how much as an assistant child minder. I suppose, if Laura reads this post she really never will get married. The last one psyched her out badly enough. Heh heh heh...

Baby Update:

The Not-So-Wee Bhaeblet turned two months old yesterday and is therefore going to be referred to as Rahul from now on. He weighs around 4 kgs, and is getting ruder and more impatient by the day. But what can I say, I'm a sucker for that smile, so I haven't thrown him out with the rest of the garbage yet.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fond Ramblings

Since a lot of The Bhaeblet's friends-and-relatives and other kinds of well-wishers frequently want to know more about him and expect me to tell them stuff, here goes:

1. He smiles. Frequently while he sleeps, sometimes when he is awake too. It ranges from a lop-sided grin to a full-cheeked faceful of joy. I don't know what he dreams of, but I find it reassuring.

2. He cries before he pees. I don't know why he does that, various people have suggested various reasons, but I like it, because it gives me warning when he's not wearing diapers. (I try to avoid diapers as much as possible because of the fear of diaper rash. During the daytime, anyway.)

For reasons known only to himself, he prefers to save his potty up for a couple of days and lets it out in a marathon session each time. I wouldn't mind, were it not for having to clean up after the marathon sessions. Not for nothing is he called Pottybabu and Pocha Pontla (that's Bengali for 'rotten bundle', to translate loosely).

3. When he takes time off from howling, grumbling, sleeping, feeding, peeing or potty (his daily preoccupations) he likes to lie on his back and contemplate the world. At such times he is quite chatty and likes to put his word in, in whatever conversation is going on around him. If there is nobody around he calls out loud. Quite the party animal, really.

4. He is LOUD. He might be skinny for his age, but there is absolutely nothing the matter with his vocal chords, not to mention his lungs. And when I tell you he can cry for hours on end (3 was the record, V and I measured it one night), you will understand why this is not something I'm particularly excited about. When I watch those other babies mewling away (relatively) quietly at the paediatrician's, I often feel a pang of envy for their mothers.

5. He probably has more exciting clothes than I do. He has button-down shirts, with and without sleeves, kimonos, rompers, t-shirts, hand-knitted winter outfits, pants, the dinkiest socks (ok, I bought those), shoes, lots of booties, caps, even mittens. He has blankets for every conceivable occasion. He has bibs to match those blankets, feeding bottles to match his clothes and three different diaper bags of varying sizes. He has more toiletries than I do, I'm sure, and uses them more than I do, too.

No, I'm not jealous. I only sound like it. I'm way too grown up to be jealous of some dumb kid.

6. He likes going out. He loves going on drives in particular, but out will do. He has been travelling around town since he was about a fortnight and a half old, come to think of it.

7. His favouritest people used to be his Didima (my mum) and his father; now that V's in Cal and Ma had to stay away for a while when V and I took him back to our flat and therefore became a bit of a stranger, I seem to have become his favourite whipping post.

8. He is awfully good about taking injections. The last lot of vaccinations, on Saturday, was rather nasty, being a 3-in-1 combined shot, but he took it very well. Certainly better than my father, who first left the room and then came back, only to squirm around him all the while.

9. He likes to look out of windows. I'm not sure why, since he still doesn't see too well -- moving objects still make him go slightly cross-eyed, when he looks adorably cute -- but I surmise the light and shadow fascinates him.

10. He SNUGGLES when he sleeps. This you have to see to understand. He makes himself into this wee ball and digs deeper and deeper. Yesterday, when my mother was patting him to sleep, he nearly burrowed under her armpit.

11. He loves being bathed. Not that he'll admit it, but he goes all quiet and has a look of witholding judgement all the while he's in the warm water. It's only when you take him out that all hell breaks loose.

12. He doesn't like being hugged or cuddled. Dunno why, but he wriggles out of all attempts. Just to spite him therefore, I take pleasure in giving him loud, smacking kisses.

I needed to write this post, you know. Not just because you've been asking, but because the stress of feeding him for hours gets to me, and then I let my horrible temper loose on him, poor mite. I do wish he'd feed properly though. The pain is a killer.

It's nice to be able to focus on the parts that I do like about motherhood. Like folding tiny clothes, and smelling his milk-scented breath. Or watching him while he sleeps.

Also, it's nice to picture his embarrassment when he grows up and reads this post. There'll be plenty more like it, Rahul-my-boy. Nowhere does it say a mother is not entitled to revenge!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Beautiful Boy

He doesn't smile inanely or stare at 'mothers' with vapid burbles. He just looks very, very handsome.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Miss You Nights

V left yesterday. He's gone back to Cal, leaving me at my parents' mercies for the next six weeks. Not to mention having to take on WB all by myself.

I could just sit down and howl, thinking of it. I can manage staying up half the night, maybe even make it till the morning. But I cannot wake the morning too, and handle a howling baby and feed and soothe him. Besides, I've got kinda used to having somebody wait on me, and now I actually have to get my own glasses of water and things like that. Most depressing.

And yet, despite feeling sorry for myself, I'm a little relieved. I have grown so accustomed to his face, to having him around, I've got out of my habit of independent thought. I have focused so hard on him and his life, I've made things claustrophobic for both of us. Now though, I am letting go. And it's not as hard as I thought it would be. Alongside that, I also try not to get too wrapped up in the son and heir. I'm afraid I'm spoiling him a little more than I would, 'cause of his father not being there, thereby leaving some spoiling to be made up, (well, why else would I do it? Huh?) but I try not to worry about him so much.

Babies are worrying things, you know. Especially if you happen to be a champion in this fine art. I worry that WB doesn't feed enough (even though the paediatrician said that demand feeding is all about days when all he'll want is to feed, and other days when he'll hardly have anything at all) because his weight gain is negligible -- 400 gm in five weeks; when he has manic feeding phases like yesterday morning, I worry he'll stuff himself to death, like Gerry Durrell's baby hedgehogs.

I worry that he's too cold because his hands and feet get exposed with his restless turnings as he sleeps. When I put him into feet-covering rompers, I worry he's too warm and will sweat and catch a cold anyway. I worry that baby talk will leave him incapable of clear speech as he gets older, and I also worry that too much grown-up language will deprive him of a happy childhood. I worry that he gets too dirty and also that perhaps I keep him too clean and am not giving him a chance to develop his immunity.

You see, this worrying thing is a fairly simple task for a hardened pro like yours truly. So when I attempt to rehabilitate myself, there really is a lot of work to do.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Reprehensible, I Know...

Only, I really, and I mean really, want to get very, very drunk and smile happily for a few hours and then come home and hug a sleeping baby and go right to sleep and not have to wake up every 90 minutes to feed, change, or do whatever.

In other words, I think I'm done with parenting. I guess I've seen all it has to show, so... I'm about ready to be a grandparent now. From what I see, they have all the fun.

Oh and I think I prefer boyfriends over husbands after all. For reasons I choose not to explain. And no, you really cannot guess what they are, even you happen to be V, reading this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not A Johnson's Baby

The Bhaeblet is what I would call a bon manush. Literally, a jungle man. Not Tarzan, King of the Apes kind of jungle man, but more like one of the apes in question. If you believe, as Rimi does, that I suffer from a bad case of reverse parental bias, you only need to watch the infant feed to understand why I say what I do.

He has his moods, see. Sometimes he's a quiet feeder, content so long as his nosebag is on. And sometimes he feels playful and smears the milk all over his face. If he can make it reach his pointy little ears, why, so much the better! (Until I encountered my son I would never have believed any baby could require a bib while breastfeeding.) And then he has his quarrelsome phases, where he will grunt into my breast and swear at it, and pinch it with his sharp little nails, all ten of them, heaven help me, and try to get in a few swift kicks in my ribs if he can manage it. It is in this last phase that he becomes an absolute little animal. He even, on occasion, howls with his mouth full of breast. When he first did that, I removed it, not wishing him to choke, but that enraged him more than ever, so now I just try to stop his legs and fists and wonder what I did to deserve it all.

Anyway... we are in Madras now, of course. The Bhaeblet has already visited a paediatrician for a checkup. The gentleman confirmed my father's worst fears by being a shaven-headed Telugu with sindoor on his pate, but he seemed to know his way around babies nonetheless. He gravely said that WB should have gained far more weight than he has -- he is obviously underfed -- but I refuse to worry about this. Everybody says he doesn't feed nearly enough, and I'm sure they know all about it, but none of them seem to be able to tell me how I should force feed a baby breastmilk. I can stuff the breast into his mouth, but if the brat sits there with his mouth full of milk and eventually spits it out, what on earth am I do? We've tried the bottle and we've tried the jhinuk. Both were successful, but in the end there was only one conclusion: if he wants it, he will have it (at his own sweet pace); if he doesn't, he won't, weight concerns notwithstanding. So be it.

N.B.
Bon manush is Bengali for 'orangutang'. Literally, 'jungle man'.

Jhinuk is a feeding device, shaped something like a diya.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Notice

We are off to Madras today, all three of us. V returns in ten days' time or so. The Bhaeblet and I will return later, exact time undecided, so don't ask.

Posts and Orkut photos will continue, but of course.

Packing now, so see you later.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Videos

The Bhaeblet was on the internet, in photos and video, within a few hours of his birth. As soon as his father could reach the internet, in fact.

Here are the video links:

His first appearance on camera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgnCQM5UbRM

Bonding with Baba: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnUKHeJ1hG4&mode=related&search=
(Sorry about it being sideways. I took it, and forgot we can't turn these videos like we can photos.)

Clowning around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDC3G0l0Jdg

The Bhaeblet shows signs of starvation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqOgM0nQgH8&mode=related&search=

Fatherhood Becomes the Husband

One of the factors that helped me make my mind up marry V was his way with children. (Yes, it's true that works for most women. Certainly does for me, because I always wanted a family and never meant to take on the task of raising one all by myself!) He does get along well with them, and it shows in his handling of the WB.

I was lucky enough to be in a nursing-home which allowed the babies to be kept in a cot alongside their mothers' beds, so WB was always accessible to all visitors, including his father. For somebody who wanted a daughter and refused to think of a son, I must say V gets along with The Bhaeblet only too well. Far too well, I think sometimes, because even this early I'm afraid WB shows signs of being the congenital MCP his father is. The day is not too far away when they gang up on me, I suppose.

While we were still in the nursing-home V learnt to clean and change him. Within a week of our coming home V had worked out ways of soothing him when he got cranky at night. I would have been jealous perhaps, were I not busily sleeping.

But it's true that apart from breastfeeding him, V can and does attend to his every other need. From patting him to sleep, to cleaning up really stinky messes, to feeding him at nights (I keep the milk bottled for then), to burping him after feeds, to playing with him when he is awake, to sitting up with him when he falls ill, V does and enjoys doing it all. I like watching him, in part because it's lovely to see them together, and only a little bit because it means I get a break. WB, in return, shows a sense of comfort and security with him that he does not show with anybody else, except perhaps my mother.

I know men these days are more involved in their children's infancies, yet it still comes as a pleasant surprise to me each day. The men in my family came to the fore once we kids grew up enough to actually interact with, but till then, it was our mothers, aunts, ayahs and grandmothers who ruled our lives. WB though, from the beginning, has shown a strong attachment towards his father. I should have realised, when I was still carrying him and he would kick me all night, and V could still him when I could not, that it could be the sign of an all-male understanding as well as of a spoilt daughter.

The one thing I take strong objection to is V's habit of being entertained by our son. It's all very well to mimic his faces and cry back at him when he revs up, but needs must he discover that the WB shows a distinct resemblance to Master Yoda? (No, that is not complimentary!) I have forgotten all the other things he said WB looked like, but they were all highly objectionable, I recall.

That apart, as a father he impresses more than most.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hibernation

It's a cold day and The Wee Bhaeblet appears to be hibernating. He hasn't woken up except to pee, once, and appears to be busily snuggling every time I've checked.

He's growing so much and so fast, it's a bit disconcerting. I was looking at his first photos the other day and I want to know, what happened to the beautiful baby I gave birth to? The one I'm currently dancing attendance to is a clown with a face to match. He makes the silliest expressions all day. Even while he sleeps he smiles and pouts and winks and swallows.

I didn't realise I had been putting up photos only in Orkut, so here are a couple for the blog:






That's WB yawning. In case it was hard to figure it out.










And that's our little bundle of joy (?) after his first bath.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Feeding A Bhaeblet

… is no mean feat. The one we have at home, in particular, is a rude, messy and downright impertinent feeder.

I should explain at this point at that I’m handicapped by an uncle and a paediatrician who are both vociferous breastfeeding fans, and who have lost no chance to tell me that I should not give The Wee B anything but breast milk, otherwise I will have a sickly, ailing, cranky baby.

Any mother reading this post knows at this point just why I’m feeling so blue and bitter; all others may not be able to empathise, but sympathy will do just as well really.

So. The WB wakes. He has peed, his tummy is empty and he wants his food. He wants it right away and the lackadaisical handling of these idiot adults who take over 30 seconds to change him leads to a buildup of righteous anger in a tiny body, which finds expression in ear-splitting howls. You must understand, the new man in my life is the macho kind. He does not cry in front of people. What he does is throw extremely loud temper tantrums.

Anyway, back to feeding. After he is changed he is still howling of course, when Ma sneakily stuffs his mouth full of breast. Stumped mid-howl he abandons rage and settles down to playing around. For, of course, it wouldn’t do to start sucking right away, only wimpy, goody-goody babies do that. So he whips his head away, licks everything in reach, pretends there’s no milk available and in general makes a nuisance of himself. All this while anxious grandmothers and great-aunts wonder (to Ma’s indignation) if Ma is eating properly, perhaps the poor baby is not getting sufficient milk, and whether what Ma thinks is fooling around is actually a desperate search for nourishment.

Then he finally latches on and starts pulling in real earnest. When I say pull I also include chomping, sucking with the power of a mini Hoover and other related activities all guaranteed to cause the maximum pain one Wee B possibly can. To cap it all, the horror falls asleep with clockwork regularity ten minutes into a feed and then on, sucks lazily, at long intervals, for an hour or more. Let the woman wait. (Those who are wondering why I don’t put him down once he is awake, don’t forget the Hoover-strength vacuuming power; others who are wondering why I don’t wake him up – well, he slept through the Diwali chocolate bombs a hundred odd yards from our bed.)

But what really gets my goat is when he finishes, after ninety minutes or more, stretches, smiles, pees and is instantly hungry once more. That treatment has been known to drive a strong girl like me to hysterical tears.

So you see, I’m doing my duty the best I can. But in the meantime, anybody coming to me asking me to sign any petitions championing breastfeeding will probably find themselves being chased with a hatchet.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Bhaeblet is MEAN

The Bhaeblet is out to get me. Us, rather. His father and I are convinced of it.

He saves the potty up for the 3 a.m. nappy change. And unlike any normal human creature, a good bout of clearing only serves to wake him up -- so, in the pre-dawn hours we are faced with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed baby.

These days, that gleam in his eyes scares me, not that I let him know it.

After three weeks of sharing the night shift with me, V collapsed yesterday.

If you are wondering, yes, The Bhaeblet has been thwacked. Sometimes, parental love and affection only stretches so far. The good news is, as I realised later, that what I thought was a bone-jarring thwack for him (and which gave me lots of guilt-ridden hours) was in fact a comforting, soothing thump on his back.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lapses

Somehow, over the last year or so, I’ve become insanely vague. And I mean insanely. They tell me pregnancy does that to you, but is that all that’s the matter?

I keep mixing people up, for one thing. I talk to a body, all the while as if I were talking to another person altogether. I do it more and more. Yesterday I was talking to one of V’s cousins, when she started sounding increasingly puzzled. I was asking after her change of job etc. – only, it wasn’t her who has been doing all the stuff I was talking about, but another cousin of theirs. I’m afraid she may have been a little offended.

About two months ago I met this girl on the road whose face I recognized. The recognition was mutual, so we stopped and chatted for a minute. But she looked completely blank when I spoke of the stuff we’d done together. Today, while going through some Orkut pics, I realized I’d mixed this girl up with a completely different person. They don’t even look alike! At least, not much. The scary thing is, both the girls in question are people I liked, and they are from two utterly separate spheres of my life, so you’d expect me not to mix them up like that?

It’s unnerving, and in the end, not really very amusing. I keep making one faux pas after another, and somehow, people aren’t as forgiving as they might be. And I don’t feel like I can depend on my memory any more.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Has He Been Named?

Ah. I invited, as most of you may remember, your suggestions for names. Since none of you took me seriously, I allowed the two grandfathers to do the fell deed. And therefore F is facing the world (and more immediately, his paediatrician) as Sharabh Niyogy.

Now, Sharabh means ‘cheetal’ in Bengali. You know, the deer. I thought that was apt enough, because he does have nice-shaped eyes, and he moves around quite a bit for a prematurely-delivered newborn. Actually, he moves around quite a bit for any baby. Anyway, so I thought that was that.

My father returned to Madras last Monday, looked into the matter more thoroughly, and found out that not only does the same word mean ‘octopodal dragon who eats lions’, but is also used, in rarer usage, to refer to camels, crickets and baby elephants.

My poor son!

In the meantime, he had already been given his informal name, what we Bengalis call the daak-naam. The day he was born, an uncle of mine got tickets to a play called Bhaebla-i Bhalo. That means, say, “Bhaebla is the good one, after all”. V saw in it an omen, of course, and promptly christened his son Bhaebla. Non-Bengalis may inquire, what is the matter with that? Well, it amounts to a Southie calling his son Gundu, or Pandu, or some such nonsensical name. I can’t think of an equivalent in Hindi offhand, but there must be one. And of course, in no time at all he was called Bheblu, and Bhabbles, and Bhabs and even The Bhaeblet. I fought it, and have decided in time, when he acquires a shade more dignity say, I shall call him Rahul. You know, because it means ‘son of Buddha’ (stop that grin right there, WT!) and like his father, The Bhaeblet has longish ears.

Of course, ‘The Bhaeblet’ kinda grew on me, so that’s what I’ve been calling him as well. But I daresay I shall work myself up to the Rahul in time.

Anyway, the latest update on The B, as the blogworld will know him, is that he had his first real bath this morning. For once, we did something at which he didn’t try to scream the roof off. Felt quite surprised. In fact, he seemed to tolerate, if not actually enjoy, the water splashing over him. He didn’t like being dried so much, and showed no inclination whatsoever for the Mohawk I kindheartedly made him.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mum. Me.

Well, whaddya know, I’m a mother. I think I really will have to accept it now.

F, V and I are back in my mum’s place (Moore Avenue, Tollygunge, if you want to visit). The kid is a fortnight old, and learning new tricks everyday.

Lots of people mailed, messaged, called and scrapped, congratulating us. Thanks, if I haven’t already acknowledged. Lots of others had plenty of questions, some of which I answer below:

How did I feel when I first saw him?
- Kinda shocked, he was so good-looking. Now V and I aren’t exactly mirror-cracking material (no matter what the man says in his Orkut profile) but such a fair, good-looking son was still a bit of a shock. That and the headful of hair. One of my earliest (and very groggy) thoughts was, they must have given me the wrong baby! Then I saw all the similarities he has with V, and accepted the state of things. Since then, the poor kid’s had a form of jaundice newborns are prone to, where his eyes and skin turn yellow, so his looks have suffered a mite. But he also looks more like a son of mine. :)

Who does he look like?
- He looks mostly like V, but the lower part of his face is much like my paternal grandfather’s. As I told my mother, it takes somebody like me to combine two such unlikely people. My grandfather died fifteen years ago, but I see his temper in my little baby. And I see V in the way he sleeps, with one hand tucked under his face, his head slightly upward-looking; in the way he whips his head from side to side without any warning; and perhaps most of all, in the most wonderfully charming smile.

Is he healthy and doing well?
- He was born with a lowish birth weight (2.8 kgs, 6.something oz.) but his legs and hands are quite strong. His lungs are pretty healthy too, considering the strength and duration of his yells when we do what he hates worst – bathe and change him.

Does he sleep nights?
- No. He ensured what I could not, viz. that V took last week off from work to help me out after I left the nursing-home. He simply left him too drained in the mornings!

What is his latest news?
- He had his first paediatrician’s appointment yesterday evening, where he was given his first polio drops and BCG shot. V and I were quite apprehensive and I was rather upset at the idea of anybody sticking needles into such a wee body. But after his first, surprised scream of outrage, he calmed down pretty soon and slept peacefully all the way home.

You will notice I have carefully refrained from giving him a name. We shall continue to refer to him as F for today. But he has been named, and that story will be the subject of the next post.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Journal in Shorthand

Hello, world.

Was an eventful week, this last one. Monday night dinner was at the Sumit Roys, where a fantastic time was had by all. Tuesday was a Tired Day and I was miserable because of, er, marital discord following on from the previous weekend. Wednesday I went to see Intro. I meant to give the kids a writeup, but their last show was yesterday evening – despite the crazy rain, which actually necessitated their having to bail out the driveway leading to the gallery – and they have been going houseful and more anyway, so I’ll just excuse myself, after all. It was grand though, and I think I forgive them for editing my baby out, although of course I will never tell them that.

Not surprisingly, Thursday was a Tired Day as well, and I had a horrible tummy upset to boot. What with the sudden attack of nausea and the diarrhoea, it was also a miserable day. V though spoiled me lots, so it was better than it might have been. Friday was his holiday, because of Mahalaya, and we had a lovely day lazing around and getting nothing done.

Ma gave me a shaad of sorts yesterday, i.e. Saturday. Since it’s actually meant to be a sasurbari thingie, and also because of the tummy upset, we kept it small, but she made me ilish machh’er tak and rice payesh, both of which I love, so it wasn’t too bad. Baba flew down the same time, so he got an eyeful of me dressed up in a saree and sindoor and all that jazz. Seemed to console him considerably. Probably the first time he’s seen me thus togged up since the wedding. (Not that I don’t do the whole saree routine, it’s just that he hasn’t been around to see it.)

I just wanted to jot down a quick summary of this last one week to look back upon.

Have been feeling awfully tired all day today (so what else is new). Took things easy all morning, will be packed off the nursing home in an hour. Am awfully nervous, now the time’s almost here. I know it’s a routine operation and all that – but they are still carving me open, innit? Also, lots of horoscopes in the Sunday papers this morning promise V that things will go his way, that he’ll get what he wants. I’m rather afraid that means it will be a girl after all.

Keep your fingers crossed tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. then. Will let you know more as and when I can. Or V will, as I said before. Ciao.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Traumatised, but Thankful

Was lying in bed staring at the ceiling one morning last week when Katy called, chuckling and giggling, and said I really should tune into Oprah Winfrey, there was much to learn. So I turned the tv on. Oprah was talking to parents of out of control toddlers, about some system devised by this lady who calls herself Supernanny. Confirmed my belief that most of these American parents are pretty clueless, really. Seriously. What with not wanting to harm the psyche of their kids and all the psychological stuff – I’m sure there’s sense in a lot of it, really, but I don’t think the parents get that either – they end up being purely terrorized. On the other hand, my parents inculcated, rather nonchalantly, lots of manners and discipline in my brother and me, purely through a careful use of scorn, derision and outright intimidation.

Of course, it traumatized the two of us for life, but as children at least, the two of us were known for our company manners. We were the only children in our colony who said please and thank you at the slightest provocation. We carried our parents’ shopping. We were, in short, the kids your parents threw up at you. Not bad for a system of discipline that was based more or less on pure meanness.

We were laughed into speaking decent English. When we did things that our parents considered we shouldn’t be doing, they used to ask us, did we really want to be like this girl or that boy? Yes, rank racial discrimination, but it worked. If we fussed over the food, we were made to eat what was on offer or allowed to go hungry. If we talked in the car while my father negotiated traffic, we got yelled at worse than the other drivers who were getting on my father’s nerves. We had to do things because we were told to, none of that explanatory business for us. Everything was always our fault, no matter how many other kids were involved. I spent an entire childhood convinced that my parents were selfish, cruel and unjust people. They were, of course. But they also got me to acknowledge to myself (if to nobody else) the consequences of my actions.

When I see all these kids running riot, I wonder what their parents are thinking. They (the parents) were probably brought up as strictly as I was, and I suppose they want their children’s youths to be different. But letting your children grow up thinking it’s a fair world is in itself not preparing them for the hardships they will face.

I know, I’m not a parent (yet!) and perhaps you think I’m in no position to talk. But I’d rather be mean to my kids and bring them up to obey their elders than to have them dictating terms to me at the age of seven.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Star is Being Born Only

Well, folks, only 6 more days to go. Delivery's scheduled for Monday, 25th September, at 10 a.m. (subject to change depending on my doc's fancy.) We will be at K. D. Cure Nursing-Home, Jodhpur Park, and not EEDF. If you go down the Post Office lane from Dhakuria, take the first right, and then the second left after that.

What with one thing and another, I didn't get around to mentioning that F is attaining fame and fortune (well, one out of two isn't too bad) rather early in life. Our baby is participating in Intro, Kanti's new play, starting on Wednesday.

From the 20th to the 24th of September, you can go and see the wonder that will be F, twice daily, at 6 and 8 p.m., at Uma Art Gallery, Kolkata. Tickets will cost you Rs. 30, from the venue or at the British Council. Cheap at the price, if you ask me.

Apart from my star mom shill talk, I'd still urge you to go check it out. I haven't seen any form of the production so far, but I do know the people who have created it, and to my mind, that's recommendation enough. And Uma's easy to find. It's on your left on Lansdowne, near Lansdowne Towers, just before you reach Minto Park.

Rimi has more about the play here.

(Kanti, you may pay me by cheque please, made out to my ICICI bank account.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fidgety Fudge – Unity in Diversity

As you might remember, a certain small baby was given the name of Fidgety Fudge as a working title until another, more appropriate name could be bestowed. That was soon shortened to Fudge, or more popularly Fidgety, by my parents, uncles and aunts. In this blog, which is generally noted for its cleanliness and wholesomeness of language and content (well, more or less), I cut the F-word down even more ruthlessly and used only the alphabet F.

This afternoon my parents had fun over the telephone figuring out what their precious grandchild that will be, will be called if we live in:

Maharashtra – Fidgeya

Bihar – Fidguwa

Uttar Pradesh – Fidgetylal

Rajasthan – Fidgetyram

Tamil Nadu – S. Fidgeyanan (S. for father’s name, of course)

Andhra Pradesh – Sai Fidgety Srinivas (No AP name is really complete without a Sai and a Srinivas in it, trust me.)

West Bengal – Pheeju, but of course

and Pheejeya in Bangladesh

I petulantly declared that I rather fancied calling my child by a Muslim name. My pet name (one of the two) is Arabic in origin and anyway, I like the sound of most Muslim names. My father, not to be outdone, called back in a couple of minutes and announced that I could call the baby Fiza Ali.



Since then, it struck my parents that they will be having a granddaughter. (It's a battle of wills between me and the rest of the world. Everybody wants a girl, so I've decided the baby's a boy. Won't they look stupid on the 25th, hah!) So anyway, my father sent me the list, edited. The bits in blue are for the girl, of course. Including the names contributed by you guys, here it is:

Maharashtra - Fidgeya - Fijibai

Bihar - Fidguwa - agey Phiji gey

Uttar Pradesh - Fidgetylal - Fiju Khatun (All UPites are Muslim)

Rajasthan - Fidgetyram - Fidgeshwari Devi

Tamil Nadu - S. Fidgeyanan (S. for father's name, of course) - K. S. Fijulakshmi (K for Kolkata, i.e. place of birth)

Andhra Pradesh - Sai Fidgety Srinivas (No AP name is really complete without a Sai and a Srinivas in it, trust me.) - Satya Sai Fidgika

West Bengal - Pheeju, but of course - Pheejoo

and Pheejeya in Bangladesh - Haramjadi (All girls are thus addressed)

Readers' contributions:

In Gujju land it would have been Fidgesh Shah - Phijuben Suratwali

in AP would be A.V.S.K.P.Fidgugaru - Satya Sai Fidgika, BE (Comp Sc)

And in Punjab, it would be Fidginder Singh AKA Fijjy - Gurfidge Kaur

N.B. All political incorrectness is from my father. Me, I'm usually far more diplomatic, but I didn't want to edit his comments here. Take it in the spirit it's meant.

Oh yes, and since I bet you're wondering, I was and still am usually called haramjadi. Occasionally bojjat maagi. When he's mad at me, or upset at my various negative points, he usually calls me by the names of his sisters. Go figure.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Knitting Up the Ravell'd Sleave of Care (or Something Like That)

Yesterday was a Tired Day, today even more so. And last night, after a couple of nights of being a good little baby, F decided to remind me that motherhood is going to be one long, miserable series of broken nights. I was kicked around till well past 2 a.m.

Anyway, what with one thing and another, I completely empathise with Andy for once!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

…That Baby’s Got New Clothes

Spoke to Aunty Hy this morning to see if she’s still in touch with the lady who was making and embroidering new-borns’ clothes when I helped Aunty out at the Loreto fête last year. Good news is, now Aunty’s getting them tailored herself, and she offered to fit out F with all kinds of things. So V and I are to go to her place this weekend and see what exactly she has in mind.

Which brings me to the superstition… My mother, after a lifetime of being a fairly sane if pig-headed lady, turned all weirdly superstitious last year. The wedding-planner (diary) could only be written in in red. (If you didn’t have a red pen/pencil/marker, you wrote on a piece of paper and stuffed it in the pages till the red thingie could be found.) The wedding could not be on a Saturday or a Thursday or on any day at all, seemingly. We could not travel during poush maash (mid-Dec. to mid-Jan. – which is when we did eventually travel, thanks to my beautifully timed stint of typhoid, hah!) Stuff like that.

And now it’s all spilling out again over the baby. She almost did something to me in the fifth month (I forget what you call that ceremony) but I was in bed and couldn’t have ceremonies done to me. Then she fluttered around trying to give me a shaad, but a dida put a stop to that, saying, “Don’t tire the poor girl out, she’s having a tough time anyway. Do whatever you want after the birth.” Good, because the very idea of having more than two or three people fussing around me is tiring in itself. And then, she wouldn’t allow me to ask the ultrasound doc whether F’s a boy or a girl. Now I ask you, how can I curse with any degree of fluency if I don’t even know what I’m cursing???

The one superstition everybody’s agreed upon though is the one where you don’t prepare for the baby. Everybody sorta (metaphorically) puts their hands in their pockets and whistles airily and claims not to know that a baby’s on the way and will need embroidered blankets, and wee dresses, and booties, and things. I felt very deprived, I can tell you. But everybody works around superstitions, I find. Ma’s been sneakily stocking up on old cotton sarees (for nappies, Wishful). Cousin J started college this year and got some new shirts tailored for that. Her mother ensured that half a metre was cut from every bit of cloth; she’s not actually making any dresses, of course, but she’s all set and ready to go when the dresses need making.

Ma and I have come to an agreement: I can plan whatever I like with Aunty Hy, so long as I don’t tell her I’m doing it. Because, you know, if she doesn’t know about it, it’s not happening.

Mothers!

(I don’t have a daughter yet but I can hardly wait to drive my own up the wall… *nasty smile*)

P.S.

That doesn’t mean F’s a girl. Everybody wants it to be, including V and all my friends-and-relations, so, if my contrariwise genes hold out, F’ll be a boy. Hah!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Experiences of Us Muchly-Marrieds

Rimi’s latest post amused me enough to post back in response. For one thing, I’ve got far too much to say to stuff into any poor little Comments box. For another, I disagree with as much as I agree. So read on, and don’t forget to check out the original, because I’ve only posted extracts here.


****

Practical Problems of Potential Young Brides
vs.
Experiences of Us Muchly-Marrieds

Life, ladies, is tough. Tradition demands you be pretty and he be rich, citizenship preferably marked in green. If you’re not pretty, buzz off. We do only the class act here.

I'm not pretty and V's not rich. We couldn't even make 'pretty rich' despite combining in a joint venture. And even in ‘love marriages’ everybody has an opinion. Comes down to the same thing. Nobody’s ever really happy with the chosen young man. (That’s till he becomes the jamai – the change only takes an hour, dammit – and then your entire family spoils him silly, be he rich or not.)

A quick surreptitious recon of the family and a few direct questions about banking details seems to please the older folks enough. Which just goes to show how little they know.

Which is why so many of them are (secretly) happy these days at kids deciding on own partners. The responsibility, thank heaven, is not theirs.

Take mothers-in-law.

You can have mine. She has her points. And she wants a daughter-in-law who will live with her.

And let's not even get into the rest of the new family. I mean, haven't you seen enough Ekta Kapoor to know what I’m talking about?

Ah, but having married into a family huge enough to satisfy even Ekta Kapoor, what I learned very quickly was that in larger families fewer people pry. Not speaking in terms of percentages even, but in actual numbers. In my own comparatively smaller family, everybody feels lost if they don't know each others' businesses.

And so, thanks to the new cool mums-in-law, there’s this new trouble. Like it or not, you have the cares of a household landing *smack* on your shoulders. And you know how it is...

If you don't, you can always ask V. When the two of us set up household in April, I knew how to make rice and tea. For dal I had to consult the cookbook. Luckily though, I did know enough about running a household to buy the washing-machine and microwave even before I got the gas connection. With a washing-machine, a microwave, an electric kettle and some optimism, you can defy the world. For a while at least.

I’m, like most, an only child. Spoilt silly, as everybody unfailingly tells me. Sure, we’ll tell people I'm an old hand at the housewifely arts – but shall deftly overlook to mention small details like the relative lethality of my dals and the charred designs on my rotis.

*Huge grin* When my relatives ever got around to showing me off, they had to fall back on an average academic career and unspecified extra-curricular activities. I even heard an aunt say in resignation one day, "O onek kichhu kore beraye. Ki shob natok kore, shunechhi. Kagoje-o lekhe naki. Khub independent to."

[“She goes around doing a lot of things. Does some kind of theatre, I’ve heard. Writes in the papers too, I believe. She’s very independent, na.”]

Which, if you realise, is damning very effectively with faint praise. Particularly in the marriage mart, where independence is just not a substitute for fair skin. Especially not to mothers-in-law, no matter how much she might want you to live with her.

Speaking of tarts, dammit to hell, you're supposed to glide along life wrapped in stunning belly-button baring saris now, aren't you? Because whatever it is people say, sweetie, if you stick to those knee-length skirts and frayed jeans even after you're married, be ready for more than just a dozen raised eyebrows a week. And disapproving glances and corrective phonecalls from chiefly feminine moral tsk-tskers. I mean, hello, did you not read that paragraph about our culture and stuff? Us spoilt only daughters of permissable households, I tell you.

Allow me to (gently) point out that you spoilt only daughters of permissive households are not the only knots in the fabric of our great traditional society. Us spoilt daughters (with siblings) whose permissive mothers actually buy *shudder* skirts for our trousseaus take our place proudly alongside you in offering fashionably – and more importantly, comfortably – dressed targets to the moral police.

Which brings us to the feminist dilemma: to change or not to change the (last) name. First, you can make up for the embarrasment of marrying young (“but he was too good to let go!”) by retaining your own name. Making a statement, as it were. Second, he might actually have a surname that compliments your name better than your own. In which case you might just invest a little in stamp papers and sound prettier for the rest of your life.

Or perhaps your Rs are prettier than your Ns, and therefore, in the interests of good handwriting, not to mention having no wish to go running to the various government offices to have your name change recorded on your driving license, your passport and your voter id, you choose to retain your Roy over the Niyogy. This usually complicates matters at some point when well-wishers who only know you, and only met you after your marriage at that, call your husband Mr. YourSurname. I have yet to meet a man who sees the funny side of this. Ironic, na?

What about the being fruitful and multiplying angle, though? Is he... um, your kind afterall, or should you conceive quickly and turn the marriage into that kind of a relationship?

I do believe “that kind of a relationship” went out with our parents generation. All married people I know are either on contraceptives, trying to conceive or getting it on with somebody else. But sex is all around.

Decisions, decisions.
Singlehood suddenly looking a lot better, isn't it darlings?

Notabit. Try living by yourself, not with your parents/cat/dog, but solely with yourself. Then the prospect of having another human being sharing your space, however remotely and however occasionally, does get brighter.

And we haven't yet gotten to the bits where both of you prefer the same side of the bed, he snores-you're a light sleeper, you hate his dog, you meet his single and available drop-dead gorgeous cousin three days after the wedding because he just couldn't make it suring showtime, he keeps forgeting to brush his teeth before bed, his addiction to lesbian por... er, erotica…

That is when you turn to your female relatives and find out the methods they’ve evolved for coping with all these ‘little’ marital bumps. Those nagging aunts and nitpicking grandmothers finally come of use, and you’d be surprised how useful they are, approached right.

Sigh. Still and all, better than being left on the shelf – to borrow a phrase from decades past – I suppose. This way at least you have a whole new family to bitch about. We offer our thanks for small mercies, amen.

And also this: once you’ve become onyo bari’r bou, you really can treat your own family just as you like. They actually won’t have that old hold over you any more. You can finally tell them to go to hell and best of all – your parents can’t/won’t force you to take it back.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Charulata Episode

I felt a bit like Charulata this afternoon. I was sitting on my bed, trying to finish my lunch. V had gone to see about the security system for Ally-the-car, and I was alone at home. Suddenly I heard the drum of the monkey-man and went to the window. As I watched the man and his monkeys turn into the lane in front of ours, I suddenly realized that that famous first scene of Charulata hadn’t been much different. I was looking out, not exactly through wooden shutters – although our windows do have them – but over a lace half-curtain; I didn’t use opera glasses either: we live on the ground floor and the only thing between my window and the lane is our verandah – but that sense of being utterly alone on a hot afternoon was strong.

The man stopped just in front of my house to chat with a young girl from one of our neighbouring windows. I couldn’t hear all that was said, but eventually she came out, and shyly asked him to come by on another day, because she wanted to see the monkeys dance. They were rather cute, too. There were two adults, a male and a female, and a baby. The entourage had halted because the young one seemed hungry and didn’t want to let the mother walk. Anyway, while the man and the girl were talking, it suddenly started pouring with rain. They took shelter under the roof of a garage in front of my verandah, but there were all these ants bothering the monkeys. So I called them to at least sit out the downpour in my verandah.

Made some tea for the man and myself, but I don’t think he had any of it. I saw him pour most of it into a saucer for the monkeys. For that matter, I didn’t know monkeys have tea. He wouldn’t take anything else though, either for himself or for them. The baby tried to get into the flat from under my feet, but since the mother showed no signs of following him there, he changed his mind.

Sometimes, loneliness is alleviated in the most unexpected ways.

V called in between, and asked me to take a picture, so here they are:

Friday, September 01, 2006

Of Confidantes, A Compliment and An Invitation

Laura, her boyfriend and Nunu came over today. Despite her phallic nickname, N is actually all woman. A scrappy sort, but feminine with it. We chatted for a few hours; now that she’s gone, I know what I really miss here in Cal: a woman buddy. The girl I’m closest to is far too busy to have much time for socializing, particularly since I can’t hop out and meet her places, and my other confidante has gone far, far away. *Sniff* (That’s because I’m yawning, mind. No other reason.)

Seriously though, the nicest part about chatting with N was the fact that she’s the only one of my friends who has actually got married, and therefore understands the stuff I say. I mean, when I crib about V, and moan about relatives, and worry about the housekeeping, it’s so very easy for my single friends to block it out and tell themselves that I’ve gone “all domesticated”. Maybe I have, but this is as real a world to me right now as their jobs and pubbing is to them. What I resent the most though is a certain assumption on of their parts that, since they don’t understand my world, I wouldn’t understand theirs. Silly mutts.

I really miss having girlfriends around. V does what he can, and he does it very well too (yep, we aren’t fighting at the moment) but some things men just don’t get. He doesn’t understand the importance of having new clothes even though I’ll probably be spending my Puja at the nursing-home. Nor does he ever feel the need to just sit and chat with me mindlessly. When we’ve got things to discuss, yes, but some nights, my greatest confidences have been greeted with a snore. It is a mark of how greatly I’ve mellowed that I do not poke him awake in indignation any more.

My nit-picking earned that sloppy Joe I married a compliment today. Laura walked into our flat, looked around and said, “Wow Sunny, this is the neatest room of a pregnant woman I ever saw.” It’s true that V does the picking up, but he certainly wouldn’t bother if I didn’t nag him into it.

...

Oh, and to answer everybody’s question:

The baby is due sometime around 24th, 25th September. The delivery’s been brought forward a month because my doctor does not wish to risk an emergency during the Puja chaos.

We’ll be at EEDF, Jodhpur Park, so if you’re in Calcutta, come visit.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Not Another KANK Review

For good reason: I haven’t seen the movie and am not likely to, given my life as it currently is. But I have read a lot of people’s views on it, and these two got me thinking this morning on the premises upon which people get married.

(I’m perfectly aware that most of the people who read this blog are single, nevertheless, what I’m, uh, sharing, might give you something to think about.)

V and I, we started out with the idea that we would get married. That’s a huge shift from the previous relationship where I hoped it would – one day – end in marriage. It’s not even as if we were particularly good friends in the years we knew each other prior to the decision to get hitched. We knew each other a little vaguely, and liked what we knew, but that was really all. But during a fit of depression, when I was doing fairly random things to distract myself, I ended up hanging out quite a bit with his gang. I wanted a change from the usual people I spent time with, and so ended up seeing a lot of his life.

That’s where it all began, I suppose. Even when he did indicate that he was, what’s the word, épris, in this direction, I took it none too seriously for a while. But I was very lonely at that point in my life, and I began thinking, what was so bad about getting married to him? I know, it sounds pretty insane put like that, but by then I did know enough about him to consider marriage as an option, certainly as much as I could ever hope to know of any prospective groom before an arranged marriage. So I thought it over, rather cold-bloodedly, I’m afraid, and weighed mutual tastes, and points of dissension and things like that. In the end, his unwillingness to be shaken off carried the day. It’s always nice to have a faithful admirer to call you in the midnight blues, or be ordered to take you places, or you know, be a general factotum. And the darn man did it so well, it felt like I was on to a good thing.

The only condition I made was that our families had to approve. I had had enough to trying to make relationships work that my family had problems with; but I did believe I was playing with loaded dice all the same, because this time, I had considered what the family wanted as well as what appealed to me.

(Not only did they approve, but our castes and sub-castes and stuff like that ended up matching – if I’d ever known there was any danger of that I’d probably have never had anything to do with him. A girl’s got some principles.)

Now why did I get into all this detail? Apart from the pleasure of reliving the good old days when my word really was law? Well, it was all about the ideas of friends getting married, and marriage as a means out of loneliness. V and I, we’re proof that neither is totally a bad idea -- so long as you don't think just getting married will solve all your problems.

To me, the loneliness was really a strong enough factor. I wouldn’t have married just about anybody, but yes, it made me consider a person who I may have overlooked otherwise, simply because I didn’t know enough about him. To him, the years of knowing me, first and second-hand, probably gave him the confidence to follow up on an attraction he might have ignored otherwise. I’m guessing of course. But when I think of all the ridiculous reasons why people get married, I like to think ours weren’t entirely daft.

But the real reason why I wrote this post was to reassure some friends of mine, with whom I’d had similar conversations earlier: it doesn’t matter so much where you start out, the moonlight-and-roses can always find a place in later.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Romance, Version II

Part of the reason I clung on for so long to memories of my first boyfriend was because that was such a deliciously romantic relationship. He damned the sniggers and sent me cards for Valentine’s (he had moved to another city by then) and he took me for long drives. He gave me single roses with the most charming of gestures. We looked meaningfully into each others’ eyes and plotted all day to find ways to be together without being conspicuous (the relationship was a ‘secret’).

Blah blah. Boyfriends 2, and then 3 (familiar to the cognoscenti as V) followed a similar pattern and the romance was still around, if rather diluted. Being mushy me, I had fond hopes of marriage, don’t you know. In fact, most of the fights between V and me these last seven months have been explained by my tearful “You didn’t do that before the marriage!”

This morning I realized the old romantic clouds are still around, only they look different. When I held up my face to be kissed as V was getting ready to leave for work, he gave me a harassed, “Later, let me finish dressing or I’ll forget stuff.” I pouted, but truthfully speaking, I hate being interrupted myself while I’m trying to sort out all the stuff I need for the day.

When I did get my kiss after all, we were all of 1.3 sec into it when the man suddenly cried out, “Garbage” and madly dashed out of the flat. And I cheered him on, because you see, the garbage hadn’t been collected this morning, and was lying outside on the verandah that’s our entrance, and an aunt had threatened to visit, and I really didn’t want hear about the housekeeping, and…

When the garbage takes priority over being kissed and dressing is more important than whims, you know things have changed. Only, as I realized this morning, the more they change, the more they remain the same.

Note to all women silly enough to be considering marriage:
He got me flowers and a huge teddy when he came to pick me up for dinner to celebrate our six-month (non-wedding) anniversary; but ever since we did get married, not only have we consistently fought every 22nd of every month, he also didn’t get me anything for my birthday, although God knows my request was simple enough. Don’t say nobody told you what to expect!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

An Armed Truce Prevails. For Now.

Warning: Not to be read by children below 18 or anybody who grosses out easy. There, now don’t say you weren’t warned.

It’s awfully nice, the way you’ve all been so cheering. But let’s face it, there’ll be good days and there’ll be bad. I’ll try not to gloom all over the blog. But I’m making no promises, because on the bad days I’m a selfish pig. But when you read the depressive bits, you can always console yourself with the thought that you’re better off. That, and the knowledge that you aren’t V. Because it’s all his fault, as we know, and I make sure he doesn’t forget it.

The baby and I have a love-hate relationship, really. There are days when we are both convinced we’re the best thing that happened to each other, and I lie in bed fondly patting my tum and watching the kid flooble across it. It shows as a bit of a ripple, which grosses out some people and makes others go, “Oh, how sweeeet!” Of course, and then there are lots of days, which are usually kicked off by the night before when the kid kicks me halfway across the world. I don’t know which is worse, the soreness in my poor tum or needing to rush to the bathroom every ten minutes because the kicks appear to be entirely targeted at my bladder. The mornings after, me and the baby aren’t on speaking terms usually. Hunger is signified by a few swift, cold kicks at appropriate times and I ignore it entirely when it does the flooble thing.

What I find really difficult to forgive is how I’m required to pat about a million times before all is quiet once more, when all V has to do is to reach over and pat a couple of times. I’m the mothership! I demand more respect, not to mention fear! V’s just external entertainment.

We are on a truce at the moment. After two days of hostilities, I’ve stopped playing it depressing U2 songs, and it seems to be kicking a little less.

In the meantime I appear to have scandalized my friends-and-neighbours by offering them F for adoption. I first offered her (him? it?) to my parents. I even offered to throw in V, gratis, as a chauffeur. (I figure if F’s a girl, he would rather be with her anyway.) Then I saw all those cute newborns at EEDF and thought I wouldn’t mind one of my own after all. I mean, they are almost as much fun as dolls! Since then though I’ve had plenty of time (and kicks) to reconsider.

So that’s how it is. I’ll probably grumble a lot, but it’s only for a month more. To answer a question a lot of you have asked, the Caesarean’s planned for a month from now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blessing, Huh?

Decidedly, adversity, mine that is, does not bring out the best in me. I’m rather good at helping out folks who have problems, but when the problems are my own, it is my worst side that comes uppermost. Oh well, never claimed to be perfect.

The thought that has single-handedly ruined my peace of mind for months now is, what happened to the me I was last year? I was neurotic and depressed, but hey, I’m always both in some form or another. I was also free. The other evening I woke up from one of my ‘power naps’ feeling utterly disoriented, and in a way, almost schizophrenic. I’d woken up expecting to see my old room, in the flat I lived in while at Uni. I woke up making plans about meeting friends and classes to do, only to find myself much-married, pregnant and well, really depressed, if you must know.

It was too many things all on top of each other, perhaps. I did want kids, and I wanted to start one this year maybe. But now it feels like I’ve not stopped feeling ill and weak since the typhoid last December. Considering I’ve been carrying F since Jan, I guess that’s not so far off. Besides, the news of F being on the way seems to have had a rather negative influence on the in-laws. And sometimes I think, V and I hardly got any time with each other. Four months after the marriage I was back staying with my mum. He was there too, but it’s not the same thing, is it?

I was ok with being a mum, all the same. I figure kids can be fun, and really, giving up the job was not so tough. What continues to sting is the loss of my personal income, having to depend on somebody else to get my meals, things like that. Sometimes it all gets too claustrophobic to bear. Puja is coming and I can’t go around the shops. There are evenings when I stare outside the window watching the world go by and pretend to myself that any second now I’ll put on some nice clothes and go join the crowds. Days when I cover the full-length mirror because I don’t want the constant reminder of my ungainliness. How come they don’t discuss this in Everywoman?

I really don’t think I’ll end up what Vijeyta calls an Uber Mom. Or even a Mean Married Monster. V cares for his own personal space far too strongly for me to ever make him the sum total of my universe, and anyway, there are lots of things in my life he will never be a part of, by mutual agreement. The Uber Mom remains to be seen, but again, I’ve never been one for spoiling children. Somehow, the sight of a misbehaving kid brings out the sternest part of me – as Beq will have experienced time and again, no doubt. And V and I agree that kids dancing to tacky songs on the telly is just plain crass. Also that the tv and computers are our provinces, not the children’s. From the appearance of things, F has quite a will of his/her/its own already. But then, for a few years F’ll only be a dumb kid and I intend to make the possible use of that time. I say that with confidence, because I had the best possible example shown to me. Meri paas Ma thi.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rainy Days Turn My Mind to Worry

Today’s been one of my ‘tired’ days so far. It’s been like that quite a lot this month. Some days I feel just fine and full of beans; others all I want to do is sleep. I somehow stay awake till V leaves for work, and then I sleep through most of the day. I’ve slept through lunch-times even, and if that seems unimportant, I should mention that the baby’s very strict about being fed when it’s hungry. (It kicks me awake, and no, that's not cute. It's actually quite painful.) It was named Fidgety Fudge as a working title a few months ago, and since it does kick me all the time, the name stuck. Ma shortens it to Fidgety, which is what I’ll use here. Or F.

It was a full weekend. My mashi and her family are in town, and on Saturday we went out shopping with them. I saw Persepolis I and II in Landmark, but had already allotted my birthday money elsewhere. Oh well, another year. My eight yr-old Cousin E tried to buy a Pink Floyd (audio) CD but was persuaded by her father not to (with ‘love and affection’, I understand). I told Mashi, let her buy, she wouldn’t understand what the songs are all about, and anyway, better for the family if she gets over the Floyd phase before she even hits her teens. Mashi said that was all very well, but it would be the entire family who’d have to listen to the album now, if it’s bought. Cousin E isn’t so much precocious as rather cute. She has no idea what Pink Floyd is, anyway.

Yesterday we took her and her elder brother (Cousin B) go-karting, but the tracks were closed. Must be all this rain. So we decided to drive up to the Second Howrah Bridge. We eventually found it, and then promptly got confused and nearly went back on it after we’d got off. By and by we made our way out of the area and went looking for a ferry. But since the river was so choppy they weren’t running. We comforted ourselves with French fries and sundaes at Scoop (on the riverside) instead. French fries are very comforting things in general, unless they are the bland, plastic variety you get at burger joints.

Sometimes I worry, what if F grows up to be a teetotalling, vegan, classical music purist biography reader? I mean, I like classical music myself, but what if he/she/oh what the hell, it decides that the Beatles are shite? Or, horrors, that M’n’Bs aren’t literature? What if F demands eggless cakes and abominations like that? I comfort myself by saying that V and I couldn’t end up with a child like that, even if we wanted to… but what if we do?

N.B. 1. Mashi is my mum's kid sister.
2. Writing this post, it emerged that neither V nor I am quite sure just how to spell Hooghly. Is there even a definitive spelling or does everybody just write whatever they can and hope for the best?
3. There are two volumes of Persepolis, but I only linked to a review for the first one because I'm really rather tired and F's kicking up a fuss about not having been served her/his/its evening snack yet.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Here's Lookin' at You, Kid

What with all my comings and goings, a little anniversary I’d planned to celebrate quietly has been entirely passed by. Sunny Days is now over three years old. I’d started the blog as a lark during a brief holiday in Bombay, and I only did it because I was staying in the IIT-Powai campus, where the internet connection was so good and therefore surfing was a lot of fun. The name came partly from Gavaskar’s book (Mum’s a fan) and mostly from a Uni nickname I’ve tried hard to lose entirely. (I gave up the fight when little freshers wet behind the ears took to calling me Sunny’di – I ask you!)

Sunny Days was originally in Rediff (the old posts can still be seen there) and the tagline reflects the dialup connection we used to be dependant upon then. Ah, the slow old days…It’s seen a lot since then. If anybody had hopped along back then and told me I’d end up being married to V, not to mention carrying his child, in three short years, I don’t know who’d have been more startled, the man, his brother or me. (I knew the brother-in-law before I knew the husband, in fact I love telling people I married my friend’s younger brother.)

The old blog saw me through the mad days between BA and MA, when I suddenly decided to start on a career. I had begun writing for The Statesman by then and the blog records my journalistic endeavours as a serious of panic-attacks about overdue deadlines. Then followed the phase where I did only theatre in various forms and that too is chronicled, in fits and bursts. The parents had moved to Madras around then, so a lot of posts have to do with my ‘discovery’ of life there. As I neared the end of my Masters, the people I used to hang out with in Uni scattered all over the place, since they had mostly been seniors of mine. Something of my loneliness of that period shows. The person I thought was the love of my life got married, and it was only in my blog that I ever recorded the depression that put me through. And then there was a brief period of wildness, what I like to call my own version of a lost weekend, which has probably the most fun posts of all.

A year ago I moved to Blogspot, on Rimi’s urging. I suspect that had a lot to do with the kid trying to get me to read her blog in the first place, but after I’d got used to having to actually navigate the marshlands of HTML, I realized I was having quite a good time. So, I moved and have been here ever since. That’s the story, more or less.

I’d begun archiving the old posts from Rediff over here, but it’s still not complete. In the meantime, thanks to my last job and Blogspot too, I’ve actually understood what HTML tags are. I even put up one or two little thingies on my sidebars by myself, including the counter, and the weathergirl, and the little marquee at the bottom which everybody misses. (The term sidebar though I picked up from the graphic designer I married.)

Seriously but, three years, huh? Makes you think. And if you thought the blogging has been sporadic the last three months, I’ve got to tell you it used to be far worse earlier. But I think it was over here at Blogspot that I got into the public nature of blogging, and realized the attractions of writing for eyes other than mine own. So I guess Sunny Days is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Happy birthday, kid, and may you have many more.

Monday, July 24, 2006

This Time, for Longer.

I wanted to get back to blogging, but it’s not really working out. There are too many things I don’t want to talk about, and much to explain before anybody has any idea what I’m saying.

So, till I’m ready, this is goodbye.

In another way too, I’m letting all of you who read this blog (and I understand quite a lot of my friends do) know that after Friday (28th July) I will not have access to the internet once more, and this time I anticipate a break of some months. So, please call me if there’s anything to say.

The first week of August I’ll be in EEDF (a nursing-home here in Cal) while my mother goes home to Madras for a bit. Afterwards, I hope to return to my own flat, if possible. If not, I’ll be back wherever my mother stays.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hush

Sometime after I came to Calcutta, I stopped singing. I often wonder why. It used to be my one real talent. Everything else I was only ‘good at’, or interested in, but as a singer I was better than most, even if I say so myself. Actually, why the false modesty, everybody who heard me used to say it too.

Something about this city, the loneliness, the peer pressure (not knowing the right music, the in songs), the lack of things to sing about, they all somehow put an end to it. Time was, when I not only had a song for every mood, but could almost conduct entire conversations purely through songs. Now I hardly remember any of them, and the ones I do remember I do so in parts.

I used to sing even when I was sad. I actually had a song to sing when I felt low (no, I’m not going to tell you what it was.) These days though I only sing to V when his sleep is disturbed, and since the whole point is to get him to stay sleeping, I’ve forgotten how to belt ‘em out. My voice just doesn't do it any more. The other evening I tried singing Animal Instinct, and suddenly I realized my voice was wavering. You can’t sing The Cranberries with a wobbly voice!

Staying in apartments does make a difference. I don’t feel very comfortable singing as loudly as I used, because I don’t want the attention. Since when did I become so adult that I minded unsolicited attention?

TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

I really am too busy having my child to spare the time to bomb Bombay these days. I fully anticipate even after delivery I shall be much too occupied with far more important things to be able to give my time to "subversive activities". So, even though my blog has been judged too revolutionary to be viewed in my country, I do assure you my intention was not to bring down the government.




TO EVERYBODY ELSE:

I have received the following message a million times today, but just in case there are any people out there who are wondering how to get around the ban, please read on:

In the wake of the recent terrorist strikes in Bombay, the government of India has covertly started blocking access to all blogspot.com, typepad.com and geocities.com pages. Many of the leading ISPs in the country are doing this, and although governmental intervention has neither been acknowledged nor confirmed, calls to some of the ISPs have confirmed that the government has asked them to do this. Should terrorists wish to use the internet, there are much better and easier ways of doing so than blogging, which is a very public space. Do spread this message throughout the world so that everyone gets to know about this subversion of the right to freedom of speech in what is supposed to be the largest democracy in the world.
In addition you can go to www.pkblogs.com and type in the name of the blog you wish to access, if your ISP is blocking direct viewing. All those who have blogs should post extensively about the ban so as to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Also send by snailmail a request under the Right to Information act to the Government of India querying the block. For details on how to do this go to http://groups.google.com/group/BloggersCollective
Calcuttans, Lansdowne PO will accept these requests. You will have to pay Rs 10 at the PO.

ALSO:

V and I have been using Torpark (a proxy browser that works via the Firefox engine, I believe) to access blogs since yesterday. Download it from http://torpark.nfshost.com/download.html

UPDATE:

Techies or would-be techies might wish to check out this page for more ways to circumnavigate the ban. I'm enjoying this!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Princess Returns

The Daily Journal of an Elephant

0630: Woken up by the lorries thundering past my bedroom window. Wondered, for the hundredth time, whatever happened to the quiet locality this used to be.

0634: Poked V awake.

0635: Went back to sleep myself, with the quiet satisfaction that comes of a job well done.

0730: Disturbed by phone alarm. Turned it off and went back to sleep.

0757: Woke up in a panic and reminded V-the-sleepy I needed to be bathed and generally attended to, before he could do his morning stuff. (Which is why the alarm had been set for half an hour ago.)

0830: Bathed. Feeling clean and fresh I contemplated the morning mug of milk. V went off for the morning nose-bag.

0900: V set off for work, casting one last, longing look at the inviting bed.

1000: Having done with breakfast, I fell asleep.

1353: Woke up and considered calling for lunch.

1415: Called for lunch. Was served.

1500: Done with lunch, settled down for a spot of surfing. Got nothing done, since all I did was hop around Orkut.

1813: Wondered what happened to the afternoon. Decided to lie down for a while.

1830: Surfed the net, flicked over various tv channels. Read some. Contemplated my room. Decided contemplation is not the road to nirvana, not for me.

2035: V came home so I got my first kicks of the day by poking fun at him. A girl needs some occupation.

2200: Dinner

0000: Bed


That, more or less, is how my life has settled down. The story is as follows:

A week after I left my job, my mum (who had come down, if you remember) took me to the family gynaecologist. That traumatic interview led to me being booted out of my dear little flat and being installed in the family vault indefinitely. I was ordered strict bed-rest (not even a visit to the bathroom, I ask you!) and that meant Mum having to stay back here in Cal and looking after me. So the family furniture was again pulled out from under the dust-sheets and the utensils hauled back to the kitchen, servants interviewed and hired, and voila, the Princess was back in her bape’rbari and hating it. None of us live here, you know, this is the guest-house where my parents stay when they visit Cal.

V shuttled back and forth between here and the flat for many weeks, but eventually gave up and brought his beloved Mac over and now is more or less an inmate of the Roy residence.

I threw a million tantrums, endured one horror of an ayah after another and wondered miserably if it wasn’t really possible to kill oneself by willing it. Because, with the best will in the world, I was still alive each morning and that meant yet another horrible day in bed.

In other words, I was miserable and gave nobody else any peace either. Hah!

Ok, you can mop up your eyes now, though. Now it’s a bit better. I have a cable tv connection, my laptop’s (finally!) on the broadband and I’ve decided that enough is enough, if I wish to sit up I jolly well will sit up. I still feel like an elephant, but it bothers me less.

Things are due to change at the end of this month, but more on that later. In the meantime, if anybody wants to know more about placenta previa, ask me! I have had a thoroughly nasty time purely because most docs are too busy covering their own butts to think of their patients’ comforts (which has much to do with their general well-being, thanks, Doc) and am perfectly willing to help another poor soul escape the myths and superstitions. Do you know, after 2 months of being told that I had a life-threatening condition, I only found out last week that till the 28th week of pregnancy (which I haven’t yet reached) one can’t even say with any degree of certainty that it is indeed a case of placenta previa or not!

I end in indignation but will be back with more. The 'Journal' above was to reassure all the people who've been worrying over misleading reports of my hospitalisation etc. I'm fine and in perfect health, barring the boredom. So not to worry, folks.