Friday, August 31, 2007
And now my baby is eleven months old, and his birthday is 25 short days away. Was it only a year ago that I grumbled through the nights and made V's life miserable and waited and wondered what Fudge would turn out to be like?
Tharini's latest post made me think about my day. It has had its storms and I was about to go to bed feeling dissatisfied with life. But she just made me realise I've had a pretty perfect sort of day myself.
I woke up not too late. I missed the maid so she obviously left odd jobs undone, but nothing drastic. Managed to feed and bathe Rahul at a decent hour and yet go and see our 'new' flat. We hope to move in a couple of weeks. Once he was packed off for the morning I started my cooking. I made rice, for him and for us; dal; methi chicken. In between I chatted on the phone with Dana for a good half hour -- a rare luxury. I did the laundry, sorted out the dried clothes, sent some out for ironing. Dealt with salesmen. Cleaned up the kitchen, the living-room. Had a bath. Entertained Anupam.
V woke up and fed R. Anupam and I had our lunches in the meantime. Trouble occurred afterwards as V had a headache and R was being troublesome. I have started potty-training in the initial stages and he still makes a fuss over having to sit on his little 'throne'. It led to a nasty flare-up between V and I, and he was not talking to me when R and I left for my Calcutta Walks trip.
Anupam reached our rendezvous late.
But the day was perfect because:
1. We finally went and okayed the flat and figured out what we need there.
2. I cooked and fed my family (and Anupam who was there till lunchtime) and all the dishes turned out well (thanks be!)
3. V and I made up within twenty minutes of our departure (The Bhablet's and mine, I mean) from home. Which is not as common as it should be.
4. The walk went well. It was short but we found a couple of interesting places and spent our time fruitfully.
So yeah, home duties done, R cared for (but I'm never taking him for another walk, too much weight to lug around) and things smooth between V and I. Work gone well.
And I was offered a seat in the Metro.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
It just upholds everything I say about boys -- with them food is always high on the list of priorities, especially when they are seventeen and stupid.
I don't know why I have never mentioned this before -- but Pat's blog is an excellent place to keep track of the best non-classical concerts in Calcutta.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
This once though, I was in the mood to confide, so, faced with two warring tendencies (to retain my privacy vs. share my feelings) I told the group about how my ex-boyfriend and I (my first boyfriend, I mean) prefer not to spend too much time in each other's company. They took it to mean that I find it hard, and were all set to pat my back consolingly and suggested that I do in fact meet up with him to get over the awkwardness.
But the joke is, there is no awkwardness. The problem, if there is indeed one here, is the opposite. We get along as well as we ever did, and that was always very well at all. Now that we are both married obviously our partners know our private selves better -- but we still get along rather too well for my comfort. I'm old-fashioned. I think once you're married you clearly draw a line. I'm well aware that not everybody feels that way but I do, and I know this guy (let's call him S) is also just as old-fashioned. It's not about finishing each other's sentences or something so obvious. It's an affection that I cannot hide. I wouldn't call it love now, but it's an affection that I would rather not feel towards another woman's husband, because I really like his wife too and would not want to cause her any distress in any way at all. His wife knows our history and I wouldn't have been surprised had she been aloof towards me, but she has always been engagingly friendly and I would like to keep it that way.
Nor am I very sure how V sees this particular relationship. He never does seem very comfortable around them. This is upsetting for me, because, well, coming to live in Cal has meant a big break from my beloved South and while I love the city of my birth, it's hard not having much contact with the place of my childhood any more. At such a point in my life, when friends are leaving and I am trying to cope with it, meeting S and his wife (and his brother and his wife) added a lot to our trip last weekend. It was great to meet these two people who had known me as a kid, who had in part brought me up, who knew me and didn't need explanations or apologies. These were people who loved my son not because he was attractive or charming but because they would love any child of mine (as I would any of theirs). In Calcutta where I still feel like an outsider in some aspects, I miss this taking for granted.
And because this means so much to me, and these guys do too, I badly want things to be comfortable between us all. S too seems to be making a similar effort to not think of the past but to live in the present. It is impossible to ignore our past, of course, but one can refuse to go deep into memories better left undisturbed.
And when I read Poppin's Mom writing about easy divorces, it upset me. Because in my book, when you get married, you are aiming at a life-time with that one person. I am not saying that it will work out or even that it absolutely has to come what may -- but every marriage is worth fighting for. Would you give up your job without a fight? Your parents? Your siblings? Your children? Your home? Is your marriage worth less than any of these?
S and I married other people in the end, and it wasn't an easy decision for either of us to make. But seeing him work so hard at his new relationship helped me strengthen my own mind when I decided to marry V. If he could teach himself to adapt and be happy why couldn't I? V and I have our problems and we fight too much and we are too violent around a little Bhablet. Yes, but we also try, over and over again, to remember the good times, to remember that we have something to fight for together as well. The Bhablet doesn't hold us together. He brings us closer, I sometimes feel, but in the end it is V and I who are building this marriage. And I would fight for him any time.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
She's my best bud. I have some other good friends, but she is the one who demands the least and gives the most and understands the best.
There were three of us when we started out as a gang. The third got married this summer and didn't call me. I always knew she was ambivalent about me but it never struck me that such a situation might occur either. I thought she had been unforgivably insulting to my parents (I'm a hothead, I know) and she never bothered to mend bridges. Somehow, I don't think E would give me up without a fight. But then, E cashed in on favours and spent a lot of money just to get to my wedding for the few hours she managed to cadge. It was as unthinkable to her as it was to me that I should get married without her next to me. It used to be pretty unthinkable that she would be there without S (the party of the third part) but S thought differently and so we split ways.
I'm not saying she was entirely at fault. But you know something? If I had fought with her, and I kept up with her news (as she did/does with mine) and I knew she was having a hard time with the marriage, that she had had a baby, I would have got in touch with her. I would have done that because we have been friends for a very long time. Or so I thought. But I should have realised that when someone tries her hardest to hide you from her parents, the friendship doesn't have much of a chance.
Anyway, so S got married and went abroad. It was what she had always claimed she wanted, so I hope her husband is just the man she needs. No goodbyes there from me, but yeah, one more person gone. It was easier to ignore each other while we were in the same country somehow!
And my other best friend of a different kind is getting married this Saturday. L and I grew up together. I met her when I was 12 and she was younger, and we didn't take to each other at first (like E and I) but eventually we grew to be quite close. What I value most about her is the person she is. She has her faults and her quirks, but she's a sterling soul and that is more than I would say about almost anyone. Animals trust her, little kids come to her to be petted and all the uncles and aunties love her. Once I left home we rarely corresponded and my life went into paths I could never hope to describe to her. But every time I went home we still had these long chats and it was always very comfortable. Never any real sense of a break. Do you know what I mean? With everybody else I feel the need to fill in on what I've been up to in the interval, but not with her. With her I'm the Sue she's always known, abrasive and rebellious and a whole lot of fun, and because she makes me feel this way, I love her to bits.
Her fiance is one very lucky man and I hope he treats her as she deserves. She's off to Chicago.
And then there is my aunt who emigrated with her family last month. They are based in Atlanta now. The whole family wishes them all the very best, and they seem to be enjoying themselves, but I know it was a blow to the siblings she left behind.
People scatter and it's only natural and in the order of things. It's just that it takes me a while to get used to it. When I go to L's wedding in Hyd this weekend I know I will feel like crying, but that won't be because she's such a pretty bride or because it'll remind me of how much older we are now or any such sentimental reason. I'll feel like crying because my heart will feel the physical distance between continents once more. I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's such a long way to go!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Two landed up at my place this morning, selling dhoopkathi (incense sticks) for some blind school. I told them to come back later because I was just too rushed at that point of time, and they did return, so I said I'd take a pack.
They were selling the sticks in Rs. 20 packets, and wanted me to buy 12. You kidding me? I'm not saying the product is bad, though pretty expensive for ordinary incense, and I am willing to help out for a good cause, but honestly, I would rather be allowed to decide for myself how charitable I want to be.
They asked me to buy at least five packs, and said that a Rs. 20 sale would not do much. I felt like telling them that I value my Rs. 20, and it certainly does a lot for me. V and I are both pretty badly in debt. We are going to Hyd. on Friday for a wedding and we just found out last night that the tickets were bought for July by mistake and not August, so there went another huge sum, getting new tickets for the round trip. I am willing to help out anybody who has to go around begging for assistance door to door. But when I say that I will give so much and not more, and you repeatedy tell me it's my duty yadda yadda to loosen my purse-strings further, you stand a good chance of losing the little bit I was willingly giving in the first place.
Trying to make somebody donate by making them feel guilty is a pretty cheap tactic in my book.
Then, if I hadn't been thinking badly enough of men because of this, V went and got me into a very silly sort of faux pas. He came to me saying that his cousin and his wife were going out this evening and had asked if I would like to join them. (V has had a nasty headache all day so I assumed that he had already declined on his own behalf.) Accordingly, when I had a free moment I gave the cousins a call and asked them what the plan was.
After a few minutes of talking at cross purposes it emerged that the couple had planned an evening out for themselves, and had asked V to give them a few suggestions about where to get certain things. Imagine my feeling when I realised that I had been blithely turning down an invitation that was never made!
Glaring at V made me feel a little bit better, yes.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I read all comments in my email. Sometimes, while replying, I forget to respond to comments on older posts. I'll try to catch up on those some time soon. Not that I'm asking you to check, but just letting you know I read everything you had to say.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Just to clarify, I'm anti-walker myself. I agreed wholeheartedly with Spock's reasons for banning them -- they don't teach the babies how to actually walk, they give them higher reach without them being old enough to understand that they should not reach for certain objects, they fall and are dangerous near stairs. This one was a gift. Not very baby-friendly and I hid it away for as long as I could. Vicky finally insisted that we use it because it was getting harder to keep The Bhablet out of the kitchen and the bathroom.
It helped in that he was no longer on the floor and couldn't get at some stuff. But he could reach others, and he was no longer in complete command of his body. Also, the seat is awkwardly stitched and any baby would have a hard time learning to walk in it. And lastly, it's too low so he had to bend too far forward to be able to grab the handle as he walked. We used it purely to keep him off the floor from time to time. Now, of course, it's back on top of the cupboard.
I have been looking for a push-chair for months. Haven't found anything I like, so I've gone back to walking him myself, from time to time. Obviously, it's not the same thing. Then again, I don't really mind restricting his mobility, given how we live.
The one we zeroed in on this summer didn't work out so we are looking again. Anybody know a 2-bedroomed place, preferably no higher than the first floor, with modern conveniences and parking, for a reasonable rent?
Just when I had been grumbling about never getting any, Katy threw me with a "You're such a wonderful mother, Sunny!" Did I ever mention how much I love and admire this lady? Because I do. She and the rest of the other Roy family have given me friendship, a home, shelter in the middle of the night, food, company and many hours of comfortable laughter. Currently, Katy and Dana babysit The Bhablet while I attend rehearsals for Proof. I know they enjoy it, but it's still a big deal for me, because I know only too many other people who would not see it the same way. I think it's wonderful that I should return to acting after so long for a Red Curtain production. I'm still pretty nervous, but not as insecure as I might have been.
Still has his nasty cold.
Seems to have one as well. He was also sent some lovely clothes by a certain Mad Aunty. Hurrah for handmedowns, ses I.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I get up in time to take the garbage out. I am awake enough to supervise the maid. The Bhablet's morning routine is followed with clockwork precision, more or less. After he's fallen asleep, I too crash. (Lunch is leftovers and The Bhablet's is being sent by V's mother. Because she wants to.)
45 min later he wakes me up by crying so I pull him out of the cot, push him somewhere far away from me on the bed and go back to sleep. 20 min later the cell phone alarm wakes me up to... potty. All over The Bhablet, who is covered in it, has been wallowing in it, and seems to have eaten some as well. His freshly sterilised bottle of water is a dead loss. My bedsheet is stained for life. Luckily I had a cover over me, because that too has a generous helping spread across the bottom.
I look, scream and jump away. Gingerly tear off clothes, take The Bhablet into the bathroom and throw water at him. Once cleaned and dressed, I deposit him in his walker and start bringing things down one by one from the bedroom upstairs. All this while attending to two phone calls and a doorbell (lunch). He wails for company at the foot of the stairs then decides to make for the bathroom, where I am. It's a small space and the walker is awkward, so he falls, onto the small bathroom step, and cuts open his lip, also bleeds from his nose. The cuts are actually minor but the blood makes me panic.
I clean him up, dump him back in the cot upstairs and carry on cleaning as he wails for the next 20 min. Clean myself, get his lunch, cuddle and feed him.
Take him to doc for a checkup. Luckily, Beq's dad (his doc) stays only 5 min away.
Come back home, we both crash once more. No cash in my cell card, grimy drizzle outside, so we stay in and get bored. Evening routine of dinner, gentle massage, change, bed-time followed through. He wakes up frequently, and is not comforted by me. He looks for his Babababa at night-times.
I go to bed late.
Woken up at crack of dawn by The Bhablet. I feed him, we both fall asleep. I have a vague memory of him whining for a long time but haven't faintest idea (or interest in knowing) why. Wake up late. Missed the maid and the garbage-man. Pile of dishes in the sink. Carried away by V's absence I had dusted his work-table, so the living-room's covered in a fine mist. Can't very well plonk a baby down in the middle of that. In a filthy temper I get his breakfast, feed and bathe him. Luckily maid looks in while we're bathing, so at least I don't have to clean or wash after all. He does his potty in my lap while munching his banana slices, and the over-loaded diaper from the night before just ejects it all firmly into my lap. His tummy's upset, so it's runny.
Somehow I clean us up. Hard to keep him from entering the bathroom without the walker, but I have put the accursed thing away. Manage somehow. Pop him down for morning nap. He takes forever to settle.
I close my eyes for a short nap and wake up at 2. Lunchtime was 1. Oh well. We have a visitor (doorbell woke us both) -- Beq's mum. I feed The Bhablet. She chats and plays with him while I snatch a quick bath and lunch. She leaves at 4, and we chat for a while and then go for our afternoon naps sometime before 5.
Feed at 6, he plays on the bed while I read my book, and then we head out into the damp evening to recharge my phone. He enjoys himself in his sling at my back, pulling the umbrella spokes, looking around him. I buy us an eraser and a pencil sharpenener. Hard to believe I lived in a house without either for so long.
Dinner, massage, change, bed-time. He takes an hour to fall asleep and then wakes up because the grandfather next door insists on quality time with the toddler in the house around then. They sing songs, tell stories and play games loudly, around 11 p.m. Why???
Rahul is in a lousy mood and keeps wailing till 1. Stressed out, V and I indulge in a quick, vicious fight over the phone. Sometime after 1 he finally collapses, but wakes up again around 2 and then 3.
My periods start.
I wake up soon after 6 a.m. Feed The Bhablet some, pack his bag, get ready and feed him some more. Have a cup of milk and two pieces of toast -- breakfast! (When was the last time I mentioned having this meal? I don't know.) Leave home by 7 to drop him off at his (paternal) grandparents. I need to reach Beadon Street (North Cal) by 8, and am only 10 min late, despite taking a bus and missing a metro connection.
Calcutta Walks training carries on till nearly 11 and then Dana and I leave, I thanking my lucky stars for the early break. Dash back to J'pur Park, pick up The Bhablet. He's napped, had his breakfast and seems perfectly happy, although this is the first time he has been left in this household without either parent. I don't know whether to be happy or morose, and compromise by changing his potty diaper and stained clothes. (Note -- am I the only person who keeps checking him for potty? Why am I so rabid about it anyway?) Check my mail (no 'net at home since V left, almost), pack up and head back home.
Bathe a filthy little boy. Unpack our stuff, potter around, play with him. Lunch arrives, so I try to feed him, but he's too tired, too sleepy and not hungry enough to have more than a quarter of what he usually has. I assume his breakfast was in fact later than I'd been told. I've noticed people (i.e. babysitters) only tell me when a meal started, not when it ended, or if there was potty after it. Oh well.
He sleeps. I bathe, sit down with a book and eat. He wakes up, so lunch is fractured. At 3 I fall asleep as well, to be woken up at 4.30. I nurse him and go back to sleep, after setting his toy basket on the bed. He seems to spend a fulfilling hour biting his toys and occasionally me. For variety, he throws the odd toy off the bed. At 5.30 Cousin J arrives to take him to her place. My brother is also there and we were invited, but I declined.
The freedom goes to my head. No V, no Bhablet, the whole house is all mine! So in joyous abandon I rearrange our wardrobes. As a result there are no clothes lying around in packets right now. I pack away possible handmedowns and admire my new sarees. I accept that my wedding makeup kits will expire before I can enjoy them. Before I reach the beautiful Elizabeth Arden kit (a big one), I have to at least work my way halfway through my current travel-pack of Estee Lauder. Am I showing off here? I think so. For somebody who doesn't even remember to moisturise, I have a fantastic makeup collection.
I make a few phone calls and have fun chatting. V calls to say that there's been a mix-up and he will not get back home tonight, but some time tomorrow.
The Bhablet returns early. He dined early, and my aunt and Cousin J were convinced he would fall asleep. He upholds their faith by staying awake and playing for another hour and a half at home. I potter around, finishing the last of my chores (laundry, tidying, re-making the bed at last). Bedtime massage and change is difficult, with The Bhablet throwing some serious tantrums, but I retain my new-found patience with and goodwill towards Nasty Little Brats.
He sleeps soon, but also gets disturbed soon (that grandfather is at it again) and I run up once more. My dinner gets cold and I lose my appetite.
V calls, and I commiserate. He still has a bad cold and wanted to get home, and is understandably annoyed. I mention that the 'net is still off, and we work out that actually the router has had its adaptor pulled out. Hurrah, I'm back online.
And V will be back tomorrow. And The Bhablet is rather adorable, even is he is a nuisance. All's well with my world. How about yours?
Just noticed: this one's my hundredth post this year.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Click to enlarge. If you really need to.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
My mother organised a dinner party last night at her mamarbari (her mother's brothers' home) and we met some relatives there who I'm not close to but with whom I have shared a fairly pleasant relationship all these years. Aunt, her husband and son. My father was in a bad mood, for various reasons and finally lost his temper good and hard when we discovered that the briefcase containing his insulin shots had been left behind in the hired car parked outside, and that the driver had disappeared (despite being told not to). He yelled at us all and stormed off home.
This is a fairly common occurrence. It's distressing, and quite embarrassing but we have learnt to deal with it by treating it in a somewhat off-hand manner. Mostly, that helps people relax once more.
This time, when I sat down to eat, this uncle I mentioned suddenly attacked me for my father's upset and said he held me responsible. I had hardly any dealings with him all day so I had no idea why my uncle chose to target me, and I said as much. He said that I should have known where my father keeps his medication, that's actually my duty, my responsibility and that it was due to such callous children as me that fine men like my father lost their health.
I left home seven years ago. Since Jan last year I have been married and caught up in another family. Since Rahul was born I don't think I spare much thought for anybody else, except V, who happens to live in the same house. The way I see it, I'm already entirely responsible for one more human being's every need. If I do one thing wrong, anything at all, a little baby pays the price. So that keeps me on my toes mostly. I honestly cannot think of another person when I have such a big responsibility already. V I notice when he falls ill or needs me. I know this is lop-sided, but I also know this is temporary. Soon Rahul will not need me so much. The day is not so very far off when he can verbalise his problems and I will not need to watch him every second of every day to know what he is trying to say. And then I will go back to the rest of the world.
This uncle has his own problems, very bad ones. I can understand his lack of cheer, his change from his earlier genial self into this morose person. But still, why attack me for something I knew nothing about and was not supposed to handle?
My father is 55. That's not too old to remember his own medication. He is reminded but he often puts it off and then forgets. My son is 11 months old. Who needs my constant attention more?
We were invited to dinner tonight by some close family friends (my side). This aunty is really fond of me and I return that fondness in full. When we were in our teens it was she who constantly told us to fly, to search for opportunities, to make our own futures, to not get bogged down by the thought of marriage and families. She was as upset as my own mother when the relationship with V's parents ran into rough waters. She told me of job opportunities earlier this year, when I first began to look.
When I settled down to feed R his dinner tonight at her place it was quite late and he was sleepy and over-excited by all the people around him. So he squirmed and struggled and protested. She suddenly began saying that V always feeds him so well, why don't I let him handle R, he always handles him so much better -- you know the kind of stuff I mean. I know V handles R very well. But it was I who made sure he was involved at every stage of child-rearing. I could have told him to back off at many points and he would have let me go it solo, but I thought he would be a bigger man (and be a more involved father) if he were in step with me all the way. And I don't think either of us handles R any 'better' than the other. The proof I would say lies in the fact that at any given time (except when he is ill) R lets either of us handle any need of his.
But I'm sick of having people go on and on about what a great son-in-law and father V is. Yes, he is, but he has his faults, and such constant pokes only serve to highlight these faults to me. So I'm contrary that way... My own family keep telling me how lucky I am, his family keeps delighting over what a good father he is, how come nobody ever notices what I do except to criticise it in a negative light? My mother does notice, ok, but there's a whole world out there and she's only one person in it. And why criticise me all the time either? If he cries they all go, "Aww, did your mother not feed you? Did your mother scold you?" I know it's more tradition than a personal attack (mostly), but I'm sick of it.
Why take your angst out on me? Do I have a sign on me saying "Scapegoat Here"?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I don't know why I'm doing that, but I wish I would stop.
I can only see the negatives in my life this week, the sacrifices I made, the losses I have suffered, the hardships of my life, the disappointments I don't want to swallow. I keep telling myself that there is something to look forward to, plenty to feel good about but I can't think of any.
Yes, R and V are around and well. That should be all that's necessary, but it isn't. I miss my best friend very badly this week. It's hard not having somebody to talk to, somebody who will talk the blues out of you. V thinks I'm going overboard with the whole blogging thing, that I spend too much time on it. Well, I know that I do, but honestly, I can't focus on my own home this week. It helps to look outside my world, to read about other people and their real problems.
The clothes post expressed a bit of this dissatisfaction, but it's not shopping that I crave. It's change, and a positive feeling and some praise. I just realised that V never says anything positive about me. Perhaps I really don't give him anything to be proud of, but hell, I'm low enough to settle for a couple of white lies. Tell me I made a certain dish well, even if it was only the rice. Don't tell people I barely know that you think I'm nuts, surfing the 'net and smiling over the antics of other people's children. I think the last is what caused it all to come crashing down yesterday. It hurt, even though I knew he was joking, because I had always thought he supported my blogging at least. Blogging was a part of my life before he was.
Some days I feel as though he is steadily erasing every bit of the girl that he married. I know how stupidly paranoid that sounds, and I don't want to go back in time either, but considering that I have practically no support system here in Cal (a family I love, but that's all. Nobody else that I implicitly trust) it would be nice if he took a bit more of an interest in my life. I supported him when his mother attacked his choice of career. I stood by his decisions when my family didn't agree with them. I encouraged him to go for what he believed in. And by that I mean I helped to make it possible, I didn't just hold his hand and tell him that I thought he should go for it. Now that I'm trying to find the old parts of my life once more, I keep hoping he will show a similar interest.
Am I stupid for depending on reading a bundle of stories on the 'net for distraction each day? Probably, especially if you consider that I stay up late doing that and often can't stay awake in the mornings. But I haven't anything else that I want to do either, and the insomnia won't let me sleep.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I miss E. I miss her so much, and I don't know when I'll see her again, and it's hard to accept how far away she is living right now, and I don't seem to find anybody to fill her place, even temporarily.
Friday, August 10, 2007
What did you just hear?
Send us your list of strange, bizzare, disgusting, funny, humiliating words that have been used towards you/ your body when you were out on the streets.
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject titled, "excuse me?"
Your email responses will be listed on the blog with photographic illustrations of the responses. Email us no later than Aug 14. Let's build the 'eve teasing' vocab!
Blank Noise Team
Emails can also be sent to email@example.com (on behalf of Blank Noise Kolkata). Check out the blog Blank Noise Project.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Except for my sarees, of course. And the three new salwar kameezes I just had stitched. (Which I'm saving for Puja and can't wear now.) I pretty much loathe every single stitch of Western wear I have. I liked the pair of jeans I was bought for my birthday but after a couple of washes it has expanded (because I certainly haven't lost weight) and now need altering. And I loathe and detest and heartily dislike everything else in my wardrobe. (No, you may not have any of them, though. I may change my mind next week.)
There are sales all over town and I can't buy a blessed thing. Got no money. Got no time. Got no energy. On a holiday though I would window-shop a lot and am sure I would buy. Anyway, I hate the stuff on sale too.
1. A couple of sleeveless kurtas from Khaddar (who are closed every time I pass by) in jewel colours.
2. Some new skirts that fit me. Not like the ones I currently own which are more corset bottom than skirt.
3. Some excessively feminine, tailored-looking blouses. With lace yokes, and soft colours and pin tucks. You get the picture. All I have are t-shirts and spaghettis.
4. Some dresses. The floaty, flirty, feminine kind.
5. New shoes. I want to throw away all the pairs I currently own, which all look shabby, except for my gold sandals and my silver sandals.
6. New handbags to match these new clothes.
7. A couple of bandanas. (The Bhablet has taken to attacking my hair.)
8. Some funky hats. A fedora to wear when I drive.
9. Long earrings. Silly, pointless, sexy danglers.
10. A couple of pairs of capris. In bright red and army green, relaxed fit.
I guess what I'm saying is that I want to stop looking so mother, so damn practical all day. I don't want to wear clothes which allow breastfeeding, and aren't lacy enough to trap small fingers and aren't glittery enough to have the boy pull at them.
In case any of you who are reading this post happen to be related to me (and therefore have to buy me something for Puja) please refer to list above. Consult me about your budget, I will work it out. And if none of my relatives are reading this -- dammit, give me money this year!
Katy: So Sunny, what did you think of Proof?
I: Aaaarghh! It was great, it was horrible. I didn't know what to believe at the end of it. Each time I was so sure, and then he went and confused me!
K: Maddening, wasn't it?
I: Maddening? It was a Bhablet of a play!
I had a Bhablet of a day yesterday. Today started out that bad but then picked up.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
But when I saw the look in their eyes I couldn't complain. That look I saw in my father-in-law's eyes is pretty much what kept me going all the months afterwards, when I wanted to give in, stomp my feet and declare that R need not have anything to do with his paternal grandparents. When I remembered that look, I knew it was not a lack of love for him that kept them from calling us. And when I remembered how each grandfather had sat, rapt, quiet, for quite a long time, then I couldn't very well let my ego come in the way of mending bridges either. For there were bridges to mend on both sides. My father and I have some terrible fights from time to time, and each time I promise myself that I will walk away and never go back to him. Unfortunately, it's no longer about me, is it? It's also about a son-in-law they have welcomed into their lives, a grandson who makes their whole day brighter.
We all know that grandparents are not parents. That to them, grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your children. But it was only when I had a child of my own that I truly began to understand how important a person's grandchild is to him/her. It's the culmination of their lives in a way. It's a reward not just for putting up with your children, but also for all the hardships you went through, the sacrifices you made. It's a chance to not make the mistakes you made with your children. It's the chance to love someone unconditionally, and get that same, all-encompassing, all-forgiving, unconditional love back. It's their chance to pass on their knowledge -- when their children were young they didn't have the time, but they do now.
And it amazes me how The Bhablet is never far from their thoughts. They are in the habit of picking up random toys or funny things just because it reminded them of him or they thought that he would like it. They positively enjoy him breaking these toys because it gives them a chance to buy some more. To their credit, they hardly ever buy him anything very expensive. But they also keep him in mind in other ways. My father rushes home after a long day's work, picks up my mother and drives through heavy traffic to battle the crowds in a mall because I mentioned that a certain store there stocks these diapers which suit R. My father-in-law goes to Bhutan on work and brings back a tin of mango juice ostensibly for us, but really so that his grandson can have a taste. My mother-in-law worries that we don't feed him the fish that is vital for his brains to grow and insists on sending him a fish curry every day. (I don't know how far the brains are being helped though -- my belief is that any good the fish does is immediately challenged by the addling his brains get from his head being banged all over the place.)
My father the confirmed male chauvinist actually takes pride in changing R's diapers, even the potty ones. My mother knows all the kids' stores in Madras by now and has gone through their entire stocks looking for funny things to dress R in, to amuse him with, to bring his grin out. I believe that of the four, she is the one who misses him the most and hides it the best. She looked after him for his first three months and then for a month this summer. That does create a bond.
It helps me deal with all four parents when I think of how they treat their grandson. It's easier to remember their good points then.
To them, he is this wonderful little boy:
(This photograph was taken by my father when R was seven months old.)
Censoring blogs is a very tricky idea. The government of India fell flat on its face when it tried to block Blogger last year. I for one found my blog within a few hours, because solutions were readily available, floated all over the cyberspace by indignant bloggers. Self-censorship is an even trickier prospect. How much private information is too much? The Mad Momma, Poppin's Mom and Crazymumma have all been facing their own private demons on this one.
My take on this is fairly simple, and there's a reason for this: I went through all this last year. When I was working and it got around that I blogged, my colleagues all logged on from time to time. Many even started blogs of their own. My bosses expressed some interest and also a degree of concern. The work we did was fairly hush-hush, since we were in the process of developing a new website-analysing software, and they didn't want me telling the world about it until it was ready. This led me to quickly go through my earlier posts to see if I had ever written anything that could be taken as adverse criticism of the company. Luckily, there wasn't. But I decided to leave my work out of my blogging, unless I felt like cribbing at the amount.
No sooner was this sorted out in my head than I got into very hot water over some alleged remarks that I had made to a certain person who was supposed to be a colleague of mine, which were derogatory to V's parents and which had come to their ears. It was awful since I never did hear of it directly, but it did drive V, me and my parents distracted. I never discussed personal issues at work and all my colleagues knew about me was my South India childhood and that I was lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who packed me lunches. Nor did I discuss this with any friend, because the only people I might have talked to about such personal troubles were not in town. I have no idea where the colleague angle came in but V and I eventually concluded that some person had heard about our problems and gone around gossiping and making things worse. Since V's mother had been fairly indiscreet in her anger, this was possible. This affected my blogging for a while, or at least, it made me reread my entire archives, because Cousin T insisted that I bitched about my in-laws over here. I don't think I did or do. I have from time to time mentioned stuff that happened last year but I think I have stuck to the facts. This helped me decide that I would write about whatever I wanted to. If I got into hot water without actually doing anything, then why on earth would I censor myself?
Nor do I hide it that things are much better now, and that The Bhablet has four very proud and happy grandparents.
I am a fairly honest person by nature. My lies are more those of ommission than commission. Even then, I prefer to not lie whenever possible, because, while I can lie fairly convincingly, I have an atrocious memory and frequently forget what the lie was. This can and has led to some trouble in the past. So when I got married, I told my mother that I was done with pretending to be a different person from who I was. My own family couldn't touch me any more, and I wanted to start with a clean slate. That was the attitude I brought to my blogging. I could have gone anonymous when I shifted to Blogger but I didn't see the point. I mentioned this before -- I don't say anything here that I wouldn't say in person or defend if necessary. If you didn't know it, that was because you didn't think to ask.
So my blog is me. Well, an aspect of me, anyway. There is a lot I choose to leave out -- but what I do write about is always honest and factually accurate to the best of my knowledge. If it offends you, I'm sorry, but it is my personal space, and I didn't invite you. You chose to come so it is not my responsibility if you don't like what you read. And accordingly, I tell my family to stay away from it. I know they might find the odd post upsetting. They certainly don't want to hear about my sex life or how murderous I get towards The Bhablet. Yes, I do decide what I want to write about or not, but that has more to do with what I am interested in at the time of posting. My censorship is entirely done by myself. And V, for whom I would remove a post if asked.
I think this is what a personal space is all about. A place where you can do what you want. So long as you are careful not to offend those whom you welcome to your space.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The dancer. Playing with Uncle Tom's camera case.
An "awww" moment here. Can't remember why he looked like that, but he gets a hug every time we catch him with this face on.
A typical scene chez Niyogy.
V watches some tv, I lie around and The Bhablet gets up to mischeif.
This was taken when he was down with the 'flu.
Not that it slowed him down perceptibly, after the first two days.
At Uncle Tom's cabin on Saturday night. The Bhablet and I left early because a certain Person was actually very tired -- even though his stand was that he was perfectly capable of partying all night.
His father returned and did in fact make a night of it.
Wonder was, I was not envious or even resentful of this!
And her at last, is Uncle Tom in his cabin. It was a good party, J. May we have many more!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
I would be lying if I said I think it is vital to a marriage. Or that I always enjoy it. Sometimes I do wish V would be as openly affectionate with me as some other men are with their wives. I mean, constant teasing is all very well, but I'm one who likes the petting just as much. And I think the worst effect this squabbling has had on our relationship is that it has to some extent inhibited me from showing affection openly -- something that never did come very naturally to me and which I had to work to learn.
Having said that, it is also true that for the most part V and I are ok with our squabbling. We have a history that goes back some years before we were married, and that does spill into our marriage from time to time. When we hang out with the guys we hung out with back then, and we pull out old stories, it's hard for me not to be rude to V and call him names the way I do the others. Once it was a shock to realise that V was the man I was marrying (because you know, it's K's kid brother, for crying out loud. The nice guy in the next room.) Now I've got mostly used to him as V my husband -- but now and then we almost fall into the old times.
Our squabbling is a remnant from this past. When we were friends but he was contemptuous of the people I hung out with. When I was a brash young college kid and firmly convinced I knew most of what was worth knowing. And I think we do it mainly out of habit now. It would worry me (and it does) if V were to be nice to me for hours on end. It's mainly friendly. I say something sarcy and he tosses it back at me. We're not exactly known for our witty repartee but we do have our moments.
It bothers me when people take this to show a lack of affection between us. Honey, if I don't care for somebody, I don't waste my time (and thought) bandying words with them. And it bothers me quite a lot when people think that because we squabble, I don't respect V. I do, lots and lots. I respect his fathering skills, I have a lot of respect for the way he puts up with a madly run home, and I respect him for the courage he has shown in his career decisions. I happen to think he could do all of these things better than he does already, but that's my opinion and that certainly does not detract from my appreciation of what he does. (My rants to the contrary notwithstanding.)
But I'm not one to wear my heart on my sleeve. If I'm angry you'll know all about it. But when I'm in love you'd never know it to hear me. Unless you really knew me and knew that I curse loudest when I love the strongest. Then again, don't we all?
When V and I keep arguing, it's not too hard to know when we are in earnest and when we are being merely childish. I accept that it might make our friends uncomfortable, and we should behave ourselves if that is the case. But why can't our friends accept us the way we are? His friends are used to me calling him names. They also know I happen to love the man to bits. So when we squabble, they roll their eyes and look amused, but they accept it much as they accept me sitting in his arms while we all chat. (Ok, wait, that hasn't happened for a while now. Our arms have been rather full of Bhablets of late.) My own friends don't know V so well and most of them aren't married or even in committed relationships. I think they view the squabbling with the same awe and respect for the unknown that they show for our married status in the first place. But some friends, like these two, judge us, and I wish they wouldn't. This couple is quite lovey-dovey, but their idea of a marriage is as alien to us as ours is to them. I mean, I would hate having to ask V before I take a decision. I do ask him, but that's because I want to. When I don't feel like it (or when we have fought) I take my own decisions. I don't think V would welcome it either, having to think out all my problems. It's one thing to hear me out and offer advice -- another thing altogether to have to fix my problems for me.
Also, they have this men's role/women's role thing which annoys me. I have no problems helping out with dinner but I fail to understand why the men (including V) get to chat and drink while we do. When I ask him for help with household chores or with Rahul they always look a little surprised. I reason it this way -- I think V is capable of doing a lot of things. I think it would be disrespectful of me to slot him in a restricted role. I should hate to have anybody think I can only work or only keep house or only handle a kid. I can do all these and plenty of other things too. But so can V. He has talents he doesn't bother to hone. He can sketch and sing some and knows a lot about computers and music and movies. He can do some basic mechanical tinkering around the house. (Although, just for the record, he can but he doesn't!) He can certainly handle a baby every bit as well as I do, and with some babies I think he gets along better. So if he is multi-faceted, why should I ask him to stick to a conventional notion of his role in the house?
This has got to be quite a rant. Well, it just annoys me, that's all. I think this is especially annoying because I really like this couple and would like to hang out with them much more than we get the chance to do, but I don't feel comfortable if I think they are judging me for 'making' V change a diaper or carry some plates. I asked him to, it's true, but because I think he can. I'm showing respect for his abilities.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Anyway, so this evening V had to step out for a bit. I've got a stomach bug and a little after he had left I felt the rumblings. Now, our flat is set out like this: you enter into our living-room and leading from it is a little hall across from which is the kitchen. To the right are the bathroom and the stairs to our bedroom on the mezzanine. Normally in such a case I tie The Bhablet to the leg of the divan in the living-room (to stop him from trying to follow me) and try to get back in time to stop him from howling the house down. This evening, unwilling to make him cry, and since he seemed occupied with his toys, I placed a chair at the door (to slow him down, since it wouldn't stop him) and sneaked out.
Sure enough, from behind the closed bathroom door I heard the howls as he realised that he had been basely abandoned. I heard him howl into the hall, and then I heard the howls go to a side. I hastily ran out and couldn't see him anywhere. Not in the living-room, not in the kitchen, not in the hall, not at the bottom of the stairs. You know why? Because the blessed boy had climbed halfway up the stairs, still howling, searching for his "Emm-ma".
What would you have done?
I stood there awed, watching him climb till the top. And then I ran and picked him up.
I don't know if I'm proud or upset. What I know for sure is that the trauma continues.
Her main question was whether we have pride in our country. How do we show it? How do we plan to take it further? What kind of a nation are we actively creating for our children? I found all of this very interesting. From my CBSE school days I have been forced to parrot my nationalism in the form of little lists of How To Behave When My National Anthem Is Sung and so on. If you've had any experience of CBSE schooling you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Before I continue I would like to mention that I am by choice apolitical as far as is possible for me to be. Yes, I have voted, and I consider it my duty. But I do not discuss politics or politicians because far too often such topics go into waters I am not willing to tread. Been there, done that, been badly misunderstood and am determined to keep mum.
Barring politics, am I proud of my country? Damn right I am. What's not to be? We have our troubles, yes, but so does every other nation. I know there are horrible things happening around me, I read the newspaper every morning. And in the course of my daily events I find that I, an Indian girl and an adult, am a well-educated (we will keep my father's opinion of my education out of this), independent working woman, wife and mother. Obviously my society must have allowed this to happen or I wouldn't be here right now posting away. I can choose my career, my clothes and the places where I want to go. Certain choices will be more difficult than others, obviously, but if everything were perfect I would have nothing to fight for. (And even less to blog about.)
I think a lot about the world around me these days, because now that The Bhablet is growing up on me, I keep thinking of the world he will live in. It helps me decide what I want to teach him. Respect and consideration for women, yes. Not because they are women but because they are human beings just like him. Respect and patience with his elders. Not only because of tradition but because I am one and I know an elder like me will require a lot of patience. I would like him to stand up for those being bullied -- but the mother in me cringes at the thought of what he might have to face, should he be so brave.
I was trying to explain to Poppin's mom therefore, that since the larger world is not directly in my control, I try to influence the little world that is open to me. I give tired looking/elderly people my seat in buses. I offer to hold their bags. I apologise for bumping people on the footpath. I try to remember to thank the cashiers for their service. I try not to curse as much as I want to. I try to do as much for my parents as my brother could ever do. I try to keep families together, patch up fights and bring people together -- societies are not harmonious with estranged individuals in it.
I realise I sound quite naive here but can you see where I am going with this? I am trying, whenever I can and however I can, to make the land an easier place for my son to live in. A freer country.
I cannot stop people demanding dowries but I can ridicule and shun those who do. And I can certainly ensure that it never happens to me or mine.
I can stand up for the girl getting harassed beside me in the shop and offer the tired-looking gentleman in the metro the free seat next to me in the ladies' section.
I cannot stop female infanticide, but I can try to make people find their girl children less of a burden, and I can try my hand at giving these girls the self-respect due to them.
I can be more thoughtful of the people around me. If I can make their day easier they will be less stressed-out and that will show in their behaviour all day.
I can try my best to help out any visitor to my city/country who seems to be in trouble, and not worry about what they will think of me for 'interfering'.
I can pick up my own litter. I can and do also pick up the litter I see around me, from time to time, if I have some place to put it.
I can recycle my plastic bags and newspapers and use water sparingly and switch off the electrical appliances I am not using and force myself to use cloth nappies.
I can be a careful and alert pedestrian.
Since I'm more of a sinner than a saint I frequently slip up. But these are my goals, some of them at least. And by following this personal code of morals and behaviour, I try to show my pride in my country as well as change what I think could be better.
I plan to instill a similar code into my children, because it is important to me that they are always aware of their duty to their country. They need not contest for political office, but I should like them to take the trouble to vote during elections (and understand why their votes are important). I would count my efforts the most successful however if my children took my ideals and their own experiences and fashioned their own set of morals. I do not think I can do my country a greater service than to bring up independent, concerned and pro-active citizens to populate it.
And that is why I think I should be paid by my government for being a stay-at-home mother.
What do YOU think?
Yes, I think U2 is a great band. In case you were wondering.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
If I had given you what you deserved, remember, no jury in the world would have convicted me.
As it went, you only got a scolding and some Arnica. You didn't even have the grace to take either with any sign of repentance.