Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kid Lit News

Those who know me know my real love is for children's literature. This week I would like to record a birthday and a death:

1) Tulika turned 15. I have been a big fan of their many impressive achievements and ambitious vision for a long time now, and wish them bigger successes in the years to come.

2) Uncle Pai left the building. Back when our generation first started reading Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha, they were not the cool comics. We read them because they were fun and were allowed to read them because of their impeccable grammar and spelling and tasteful content. Our parents had read some ACKs in their own time too. It was when we grew up and developed into consumers in our own right that we gave these comics -- probably Anant Pai's most enduring legacy to us -- the cult status we felt was their due.

Thank you for that, Uncle Pai, and for all the happy hours I've spent with my collection. You will be happy to know that my son's bookshelf holds some Tinkles and ACKs too and will hold more.

Softness

Two cheeks rasping down, not stubble.

Two lips smacking feathery kisses.

A touch so gentle when I'm ready to explode.

Some days he annoys the hell out of me. But there is never a day when I want him to be a day older or more grown up than he is already. I know he will just be better and better company with age but this softness is something I treasure dearly. Someday, when he watches my triplet granddaughters, he will know exactly what it is all about.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Change

I've said it before and I'll say it again, what's with you guys adding me to your readers only when I stop posting? I mean, are you trying to drop me a hint here or something? I've noticed it before. I blog my little heart out and there is a comment or two, some sporadic visits, nothing much. Then I haven't the time to blog for ages and suddenly ten more people are following me. Humph.

It's been a busy two months here. First two weeks of Jan I was busy with work. I had taken on all the work that came my way and worked days and nights at one point. On 16 January Reshmi, a cousin-in-law, got married. It was a great wedding, full of fun and gossip and laughter. I picked up a new tradition or two (I had never encountered an ananda naru (a deep fried laddu made for special occasions) before, for example) and seemed to acquire a bit of a reputation for my sarees. I wore a madisar for the haldi ceremony, my purple Benarasi in the old fashioned Bengali style for the wedding and had planned to wear a peacock blue Benarasi in the Parsi style for the reception, but I spent my dressing time unpicking the seams on the blouse, so I think we should just count ourselves lucky I did not land up in jeans and a t shirt... Rahul spent a worried few minutes wondering whether I would need to become a "bou" (bride) too, but he seemed reassured when I told him all that was safely past.

The wedding festivities and aftermath took some days. Then we celebrated our fifth anniversary, Vicky and I, over the weekend, and a lovely celebration it was, too. I have finally decided to forgive him for inviting cousin J to celebrate our first anniversary with us and taking me to a Udipi for dinner for our fourth.

Shortly after that, the man moved out of his home office and set up camp in our old room in his parents' flat. While the moving out was not precisely propitious, I must say the overall benefits outweigh the cons. This almost daily contact with his mother seems to be good for them both, for one thing, and another mother and son, to wit Sunayana Roy and her son, needed this time to themselves. It's been too long since Rahul and I have had each other to ourselves.

Then followed an educational crisis which blew up into ridiculous proportions -- trust my family to ensure that -- but eventually the dust settled down. In the wake of all this we have been dealing with many changes, some big, some small, but all of them very different from what we have hitherto been accustomed to.

Small changes include Rahul gulping down a teaspoon or two of pulp in his daily fresh orange juice (the trauma!), a big one has been sitting down to study some everyday. After a horrifying conversation with his new teachers I realised that my gut feeling had been right, that despite the glowing report from his school, he did not in fact really know half the stuff he should have. so we have been working on that. Progress is bumpy, but he recognises his shapes, mostly knows the alphabet, can count to fifty with a couple of prods only and is starting to write, if writing is what I must call it. Mind you, it is hard not to beam with pride when he brings me his little slate covered with his wobbles, all delighted at having written a whole letter or a word. He has learnt some spellings too, for fun, although the logic of phonetics seems to have passed him by. It will be a while before he spells his way through a para, far less a book, but thanks to Evie, he knows his tweetle beetles.

Vicky switched streams in this period too, in a manner of speaking. He left his major clients, for whom he had worked the last four years, and went back to the less predictable world of freelancing. It seems to suit him, so I have no complaints.

And I, not content to leave well alone, have started French and Italian classes JU. I have no business in the French classes really, not at this baby level, but I figured it would give me a through brushup and since it's JU, money's not really an issue if I drop it midway (which I hope I don't do, though). Italian is wholly new to me and it's fun so far. Let us see how that goes. Come March and I will start work on Amar Ma Bolechhe Korish Na, Shuktara's version of My Mother Said I Never Should for The Red Curtain. It will be grand to be back on stage although I see difficult days ahead where I have to mug up Bengali lines.

We are developing a new rhythm to our days now. Vicky drops Rahul to school, not I, and is slowly learning to pick up the bread/milk etc. He comes home, bathes and leaves. I make the most of my two free hours before I go to pick the boy up. The daily drives still worry me, especially at certain intersections, but I stick to my beloved second gear and tell myself that at least I can't kill anybody at that speed. (Cross your fingers quick!) Vicky comes home for lunch and Rahul's bathtime and leaves once more. He returns in time for me to leave for my classes. I come home in time for dinner.

Speaking of change... one of more interesting things that happened around New Year was the N8 I was gifted as a Nokia promotion. I had to pay duty for it, but all in all, I must say I'm enjoying my new phone. I loved the packaging it came in. The courier guy dropped off a big cardboard box which opened to reveal a smaller cardboard box in which reposed a smart little leather briefcase. Inside that was a big book with colourful pages filled with pullouts and popups that led up to a little 'drawer' in which reposed this smart green Nokia N8. The colour fazed me -- to be strictly honest I'd have preferred the gray or the black, but I was too excited to care much. Besides, Dipali said this green seemed to be more my colour than the sober ones!

It has taken me time to get used to a touch phone and I still take time over the new menu options, but that's the hazard of any new phone. I was not initially impressed with the camera, but after fiddling with the settings a bit, I'm happy with the photographs I've taken. Sample this:


For some reason the Ovi site will not let me register so I'm not really exploring the whole fun of this phone but that's probably a good thing. Being online 24/7 cannot be a good thing for a 'net addict like me... but in the meantime I've been downloading games and taking photographs and sorting out my cumbersome address book. Fun stuff. And, of course, showing off my 'free' new phone!

UPDATE
I just saw that Itchy posted pics of the box and book that she received from Nokia. Go take a look, I loved the packaging, like I said. And just my luck... she gets the black and would rather have had the green, LOL!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enter the Roy Genes

Staying at home has not been quite the relaxed time I envisioned when I left the agency, and it certainly does not leave me with time to sew or bake, but I have learnt a few new dishes these last few weeks.

Pulao-kosha mangsho was acceptable, but only just (I'm a stern critic). I need practice, but at least I have gotten over my fear of working with mutton. I cooked it entirely in the kada so it took time, and the onion-tomato paste got a bit scorched, but V and the MIL were kind enough to not criticise it! The pulao, my first ever stab at it, came out less sweet than it should have been but I daresay I will learn that one by trial and error. It's an easy dish in the microwave.

Mutton stew came out well and both the boys dug in with gusto, especially Master Niyogy. I have made it once before, exactly a year ago, and put that success down to beginner's luck but now I'm starting to suspect that it really is that easy.

I have also learnt to make matarshuti'r kochuri and paratha from scratch. The pea paste came out under-spiced the first time, but the second time was perfect, and now I feel very comfortable with it. I am planning to make the paste and freeze some to see how it lasts.

I made cauliflower samosas from scratch (with help from Dipali) one day. Funnily enough, when I made them with Ma earlier, I was the one who made the dough and it came out perfectly, but when I made the samosas at home, I used the kochuri dough (I had some in the fridge and was running short on time) and working with that supersoft dough was such a pain...

Yesterday, I learnt to make labanga latika from my grandmother. One of my favourite sweetmeats. Didima made the sugar syrup, dictated the proportions and method and shaped the first one. After that, I shaped them and Ma fried them in ghee. They came out delicious. All in all, time well spent. I will make them again, once with narkel naru mixture for a filling. Sinful will not describe it.

Oh, and how could I forget. For New Year's Eve at DrD's I made little pastry parcels filled with a mixture of, let me see, cheese, olives, corn and tomatoes tossed in mixed herbs and olive oil, I think. Little circles of pâte brisée folded in half and edges crimped. Brushed with butter. They took forever to bake, but did taste good.

The women in my family have always been formidable cooks. My grandmother, great aunt, aunts. For that matter my other grandmother (maternal) may not be much of a cook but she is a mishtimaker par excellence. Anyway, Ma says I am finally showing my cooking genes. If she is right and I hope she is, my aunts will hopefully finally stop worrying about me starving Vicky and more importantly, starving Rahul.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I hate it

when the man is unreasonably nice to me. It puts him on morally superior ground and we all know how competitive I am about that space.

(While this was in draft, I came out and asked him why he was being so nice and he explained that since I was down it would only be a matter of time until I started planning to leave him, and he was hoping that if he were nice to me I'd take the boy. HAH! I take back the moral superiority. Unlike him, I was being nasty without any ulterior motive whatsoever.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Retribution

In the car, yesterday, after feeling quite traumatised by the boy:

Me: That boy is punishment for my sins, I just know it. Every single thing I ever did to my parents, come home to roost.

V: And here I am wondering whatever had I done to deserve any of this...

Bah. Humbug.

Monday, February 07, 2011

What's in a Name?

There are lots of words for 'naked' in Bengali, especially if you're a little boy and still surrounded by some remnants of baby talk -- langto, nanto, nanto-bhanto, nano, nangu etc.

So I suppose I oughtn't think it was deliberate when Rahul's grandfather asked him to identify a car on the road and he promptly answered, "Langto!"

Saturday, February 05, 2011

I am weary

let me rest.

For this last one week I have cried for my son, for how his world's suddenly swung around and all I want to do is curl up and sleep. But there is a little boy who needs the comforting even more than I do. Even as we work together to right things, even as I fight the inclination to hold the world at bay as everybody does all the wrong things, even as I fight his reluctance to accept the changed order of things, all I think of is how much I wish I could close my eyes and sleep it off.

Such a nightmare this week's been. Thank god for Vicky. He has been my strength where I -- to my surprise -- faltered. I've drawn on his infinite balance this week to restore my own. To put aside my own weariness and be the mother and not the child.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I don't have any new posts

But I do have a couple of links that may interest you.

First, thoughts on Transparency and Transition by Oh, the Joys. I get where she is coming from in the second half of the post. I've been struggling with it for quite some years now myself. What's your take on it? I do have lots of posts in the archives that are in no way diplomatic and would certainly cause upheavals were they to be unearthed. But I don't delete on principle. So I just end up hoping that people who know me haven't the time to go through 900 odd blogposts filled mostly with random rubbish.

Second, I laughed my guts out at her husband's response to spam.

Lastly, a suggestion. 2007 was my best year. The highest number of posts, the most honest ones and certainly the most though-provoking ones. Just in case my thoughts on the first link made you want to dive into my archives. (If you are a member of my family I suggest that you close this window right now.)