The decision.

So after about 4 years of staying with my mom in law, I now dare to declare that the advantages sort of overpower the disadvantages… (Mom, please ignore, you know am kidding!)

My brains get hopeless when I need to decide about small things in life. Well, I think my brains have taken the punchline ‘small things are all that matter in life’ way too seriously.

CuddlyCoo

Let me explain.

My mom in law decides about all insignificant not so significant things at home. She decides on what gets made for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She decides on what veggies to buy from where. She decides on has a say on umm…maybe any kitchenware or appliances that are bought at home. That’s all her domain.

How trivial! I roll my eyes over her question ‘what do we cook for breakfast tomorrow?!’ Seriously? How silly! Just make anything.

I give her a few suggestions and she will decide on one of it and then both of us work towards getting that on the table (yea I do my bit once the decision is taken – cutting chopping grinding and all the background work involved in Indian cooking!)

All is well till now. I am in my oblivious haven. I have bigger things to think about than what to make for breakfast tomorrow.

Then one day she announces she is going on a pilgrimage trip over the weekend.

Silence follows. I realize that am awkwardly quiet and quickly respond saying ‘Oh wow! Wonderful.’ What where how etc follows. She leaves the Friday night and returns on Monday morning.

My mind is a volcano of after thoughts. Calm down. Its only 2 days.

Had it been 2.5 years ago (Pre- Dhruv era), I would have jumped at such an opportunity – more on that later!

Friday afternoon arrives. My mind is a potpourri. Most of the afternoon is spent thinking about all the things I know to make and can be made quickly so I get to spend enough time on things other than cooking.

I send an empty mail to Sabarish, the subject of which was ‘what do you want for breakfast tomorrow?!’ to which he replied ‘Anything is ok.’

How helpful!

Idli dosa parathas or maybe exotic stuff appams idiyappams. I even googled a few breakfast recipes; not because I don’t know them but just to know the possibilities.

After spending about an hour over idli, dosa, upma, appams, parathas., I let out a heavy sigh. I can’t remember the last time I thought so much about anything in life – which degree to take –No – who to marry? – No – when to have kids – No. But apparently what to cook for breakfast seems to be the most difficult decision till date.

I think after the announcement from MIL, I felt empowered in a very weird sense – I am in charge of the house, I need to feed my family, If I don’t cook they starve and die!

Drama! (And maybe just maybe to prove that I am a better cook!)

So much research has gone into the resourcing, time estimation and plan of action for breakfast tomorrow that it gave me a headache.

I go home feeling very indecisive.

Once at home, I see MIL as excited as a little girl on her birthday would be! She quickly runs me through all the do’s and don’t’s as usual – I have been through that list so many times I can even tell it in my sleep – Make sure all the doors are locked, switch anything remotely electrical before you sleep, In case the power goes off the candles are on the yellow box on the window sill, If Dhruv gets difficult DO NOT spank him etc etc..

Just the usual home alone cautions (MIL refuses to believe we are two responsible adults with a kid, she thinks we are 2 toddlers and a baby left home alone!)

Just before she leaves, she stops and tells me – ‘I have made enough dosa batter which will last for 3 days, so just make dosa or idlis tomorrow morning; there are veggies in the fridge so you can make a sambar or a palao for lunch, and just eat out for dinner!’

I love her!! I so absolutely love her for making such a crucial decision of ‘what to cook for breakfast lunch and dinner’ so incredibly easy for me!!!

So, what are you cooking for breakfast tomorrow?

Make me proud my baby!

The 1970s 80s and perhaps 90s in India.

people-316506_1280

A nervous husband walks up and down the corridor in front of the labor room. The nurse comes out smiling and says ‘Congratulations! Here is your little one!’ – Hands over the new born to the brand new father.

The man holds the baby carefully and asks the nurse ‘Sister, How’s is my wife?’

‘All well.’

Father holds the baby close to him and says: ‘I will give you everything my baby. I will make you the biggest engineer/doctor/civil servant.’ – The aspiring dream of every middle class Indian back then. ‘You will make me proud won’t you?’

The baby opens his eyes in horror and starts crying – obviously not for the need of oxygen into his tiny lungs but at the misery his dad has thrust upon him – and then they wondered why he cried all the time!

Present day India.

Most of the then babies have grown through their misery to fulfil their parents’ dream of being a doctor/engineer etc. Well done people!

And for all defiant few who thought of something different like say being a stand up comedian, I salute you guys for daring to dream beyond what was fed.

Back to the hospital scene in India today:

The husband accompanies the wife to the labour room, stays through the delivery, voluntarily becoming a part of his wife’s trauma.

He is overwhelmed when he takes the baby in his arms for the first time and exclaims: ‘I will not put you through the kind of torture my parents put me through. I will not. I will assure that I give you the freedom to explore the world. Do what you want in life. Pause. I would love it if you become one of those bottomless pits of talent they showcase on TV – pleeease , pretty pleease! You see that’s the in-thing now.’

Bottomless pit of talent?!?! Really? Wonders the baby. Doesn’t sound too good eh??

Imagine coming back from a luxury cruise to be greeted with heavy deadlines and no real route map.

Then the baby starts crying desperately wanting to get right back into mummy’s womb. ‘Just put be back in there and let me go into my slumber!’

I am certain the baby almost accusing: ‘Atleast you just had to become what they asked you to become. I have to make you proud the talented way?? Mozart, Michael Jackson, Picasso…Damn! Should have trained under you guys before I came down here!’

And the cries get louder and louder!

If you are born with it, good for you, if you aren’t, then we’ll make sure you get there. We’ll make sure we manipulate the ‘I will give you freedom to explore the world’ bit to make you feel like you have it all but slowly stirring you to the goal we want you to reach.

Enter all the food supplements with Vitamins A –Z which ensures that the little one is enthusiastic to dance to your expectations. Enter endless coaching camps and talent hunts to gauge the child’s potential.

So if the schools back then said ‘Send your kids to us and we will churn out intellectual machine you’ll be proud to possess’; now they say: ‘We ensure the overall development for your kid; his ‘talents’ will be brewed to perfection so that you can showcase them with pride!’

Just let them be. No we won’t. Not 30 years ago, Not now, Not in another 30 years! Make me proud my baby – c’mon I know you can do it!

Tick Tock Tick…The Time Bomb!

So you are at work. It is mid-week – where you are off the Monday blues but since weekend is still pretty far, that isn’t pepping you up either. You look up the clock, it says 9.53 a.m.

432273311_57cfd9c0cb_o

You continue working and then look up hoping it is 12.03 p.m. but the damn clock says 9.59 a.m.

Then you quickly send a message on your office communicator to a chosen few because of who you sum up the willpower to come to work day in and day out – I mean yes, the work is good – challenging and extremely fulfilling – but we do get tired of routine don’t we?!

All of your close-knit colleagues feel the same – the day is as boring as boring can be. Then the ongoing conversation shapes into a plan for lunching out.

Great! Something to look forward to till noon!

However the hands of the clock refuses to budge from its stand – It ironically reflects my attitude – no amount of persuasion can motivate me to get active and shred off the sluggishness.

And so the clock says 10.00 10.05 10.07 and I just stare in mere disappointment.

Its 12.30 and I almost feel like a school girl eagerly waiting for her lunch break so she can go out and run and jump (Now the lethargy sort of indicates that running and jumping is beyond me – It’d be good if I can walk down the road to the eatery – get some sun and polluted air, then stuff myself with junk and head back).

Now that I think of it – I was hardly the running jumping type back in school too – I was just the junk loving nerd – hmm – a realization a tad bit late.

Never mind. Focus back on present.

So we walk down the road to a sandwich place and order our sandwiches.

We grab a table and were about to bite in – Enter a huge group of college goers. We sensed the impeding nuisance that awaited us. Damn these youngsters!

A sudden outburst of loud squeaks, swearing, laughing and yelling. Mm.  ‘India is a democratic republic – freedom of speech etc’ which translates to ‘I don’t care about the public space – I shall continue to squeak and howl. If you want a quite lunch with just enough gossip, then build your own restaurant!’

We roll our eyes and look at each other. We attempt to talk which went like:

Me: ‘Isn’t the sandwich made well today?’

Friends: ‘Huh?’

I point to the sandwich and animatedly show a thumbs up.

They second my opinion, nod their heads vigorously in confirmation, raise their brows and I read their mouth which said ‘Yummmm’

Wow! Now we are playing dumb charades!! Nice!!!

We tried hard to take this further, couldn’t but help listen to all the adventures the group seemed to have in Goa, how drunk they got, how ‘adventurous’ they got and how much more drunk they got.

We silently finish our lunch.

While we walk back to office we break the silence – ‘These college kids! How insensitive can they get to the place and people around – who cares about their trip to Goa – all we wanted was a happy chat over lunch where we get to gossip a bit and laugh a bit! Uff! Isn’t that asking for too much?’

And then quiet follows. We are all thinking, and reflecting.

Maybe the office clock was trying to say something.

Rewind a few years in our heads and we saw us college goers – loud and fast was what we aspired to be. Louder and faster. The world seemed to be so full of us.

Back to present. Ladies who have slowed down, who enjoy small things, don’t make such a big deal out of yourself, respect personal space in public premises.

Hmm. A few years, a wedding and a baby surely makes you feel wiser (which would translate as ‘older’ to the youngies?!)

As we walk down we notice a 40 something group staring at us – eyebrows raised, carefully examining us – listening to our small talk. Well!

I reach back, take my seat and stare at the clock… Yeah!! I get your message you three-handed monster and I choose to ignore it!

Just tick on…Stop for no one…!!

1.30 p.m. 1.37 p.m. ….

Care for some breakfast cereal and milk???

cereal-603190_640

I had an expat friend visiting me a couple of days ago.

Frankly, it was a very bizarre situation. I almost relived the culture shock of a new bride at her in-law’s.

So this is the first scene in my kitchen every morning:

  • I buy a packet of milk, cut it open and pour it into a vessel, especially designated for milk only (or else the water smells of milk or the milk may sour up and the endless possibilities to freak my mom in law!)
  • Then I put it onto the stove and watch it – patiently as if it were a work of divine art – I am pretty sure if I stared at any other inanimate object with so much concentration I could reduce it to ashes.
  • It warms up then boils and rises till the brim –which could be about 8-10 minutes. I further simmer it for another 5 minutes.
  • So that the milk is ‘purified’ which sort of translates to making it devoid of most vitamins A-Z. Any further heating and the milk might just decide to become colorless.
  • And then throughout the day I find myself subjecting milk to constant torture of warming, heating and cooling process – Heat it up for tea/coffee – let it cool so I don’t burn my tongue etc.

Expat’s question: ‘Why would you subject milk bought off the store to so much cruelty? Boiling – heating – cooling – warming – cooling??? ‘

I bite my lips and put on an intense look in my eyes and say – ‘that’s how I like it’. (Later I google and discover apparently milk is supposed to be boiled not more than once and then warmed not more than twice so as to keep its nutrients intact – Oh yea Science, I dare you to tell my MIL this!)

Thank God I came up with a conclusive statement rather than an honest justification which could only go: ‘Umm because my grandma did the same, so does my mom and mom in law – I don’t like to question existential practises. I like following tradition – quite blindly.’

The expat doesn’t stop there. ‘So, do you like your breakfast cereal with warm milk too?’

cereal-603190_640

My mind says : Damn! I may like to have boiled brown rice with ketchup or bread dipped in orange juice! Stop questioning my practices!

Instead I say : ‘Umm..Nahh of course not. However breakfast cereal is a very western concept and we believe in elaborate cooked meals – rotis, idlis, dosas, upma. (o boy! We do!!).’

The expat’s eyebrows curl up at these random syllables put together – dosa idli roti upma???

Never mind. Then, I hurriedly change the topic to global warming, polar belts melting, pollution –  anything to ward her attention off my small world and dutiful routine!

I wait for her to leave and then ponder over the milky discussion.

Really is there another way of having breakfast cereals and really can milk be just poured off the packet and drank?

What a waste of my 20mins every day (Precisely why I haven’t actually risen to the heights I am capable of conquering – those 20 mins may have made all the difference – imagine Newton boiling milk when the apple was supposed to fall on his head – see the point?).

I have never till date enjoyed having breakfast cereals. I had a pretty deprived childhood which involved all things junk but not breakfast cereal – maybe the sugary goo doesn’t really qualify as junk!

So I introduced myself to them only when I started staying alone and had little time to cook, which is when I wondered why on earth would I eat this soggy slushy mush when I could just have a toast of bread and a glass of warm milk?

Never really went back to cereals till this conversation happened.

I then poured a glass of warm milk and put it in the refrigerator (more milk torture!)

After about an hour I took it out. Emptied some cereal into a bowl and poured some cold milk into it.

Put a spoon into my mouth – Crunch Crunch Crunch – really??

My disconnected mind thinks in patches ‘cereal not equal to soggy? Crunchy – really?’

All these years of ignorance! Now I know why half the world wakes up to breakfast cereal. Bye Bye Idli Dosa Upma – I have now found my nirvana – Now my family will wake up to the goodness of breakfast cereals!

The drill.

You remember the last time you visited your friend Z who had gotten a new puppy..?

What is the first thing you get to see?

Z to the puppy: ‘Jimmy…show them how high you can jump and take this treat off my hand. c’mon c’mon’

Jimmy obediently does as he is asked to, looks up expectantly for appreciation.

Z: Well done Jimmy! That’s my boy! Am so proud of you…So so sooo proud of you…Muahhhhhhhh!

Now do you remember the last time you visited your friend B who got a toddler ..?

B to toddler: ‘Sweetie, show uncle and aunty how you can sing ‘rain rain go away’’

Toddler does an animated sing dance sequence for the rhyme, finishes it and looks up to his mom for appreciation.

B: Well done sweetie!! Mummy is soo sooo roud of you…Muahhhhhhhhh!!

God save these parents!!

How? How can they showcase their baby this way?

Ridiculous.

AnnieDog

This week we went over to a friend’s place. They have a one year old. She is giggling, smiling and doing all the cute things she is meant to.

I look at Dhruv. He is there. Just fiddling with some piece of broken toy he found. Absolutely disinterested.

I think to myself one second, and then unable to resist myself, I shoot.

‘Dhruv, what does your grandmom call your dad?’

Dhruv looks up as if to say ‘Haven’t we been through this a 100 times mom?’

But he decides to reply ‘Sabarimone..’

I dont stop there, I go on with:

  • what everyone in the house calls everyone else
  • how the rhymes are sung
  • what the neighbour’s kids do
  • how is he supposed to pray

And on and on and on…

He politely obliges all through the session.

We were almost done, I had that knowing proud smile on my face. The one of accomplishment. The one of an olympic trainer whose disciples just bagged a gold medal. I was doing the ‘Well done my baby…muah muahhh…’ in my head.

This is when my friend turns around – half amused and half scornful and says: ‘So, this is his drill huh??’

My face turns pink in embarrassment and outrage.

I say ‘Huh?’

She says: ‘So is this the drill he is trained to perform every time?’

I want to bury my face into a mud pit twice my height.But I can’t.

So I smile sheepishly, brushing my hair so that the focus is my hair rather than my face.

I wanted to tell her – No, no…am not one of those moms. I am the mom who lets her son be.

Never mind, the damn mother in me peeks out every time I want to confine it.

And so it appears that my love for showcasing my Dhruv will not die that easy. I may be one of those loud squeaking moms who hug and cry evertime her teenaged son goes for a 2 days trip to a town 2 hours from home or worse still, Dhruv maybe one of those unfortunate ones who score a goal on the football field and is embraced not by his girlfriend but by a highly excited middle aged mom who cant fit into her jeans but still adorns a cheerleader’s role for him!!!

God save you my son!

Money Money Money!!

So we spend the first 5 years of life in ignorant bliss, 17-20 years learning all the different ways of making money and learning what to do with money; and the next 30 years or more dealing with money.

7027588775_6c0dfd9500_h

Money so we can eat, drink, clothe, shelter and amuse ourselves…

Money so we can live today, tomorrow and a 50 years from now.

Money for me, my kids, grand kids and maybe even theirs!!

It is amazing how my 2 year old knows about trade. We play ‘the shopkeeper’. And he sure seems to grasp this concept better than I would want him to!

Hmm..

Next day I wake up and start about my chores.

So I need to pay for the milk in the morning. I frantically search for my purse and then notice an oversize bag instead of my purse. Same fabric, same color. Wha!! I dig in hoping that the money in it has magically transformed into gold coins – I open to find 2 bags of rice!!!

I cry out loud. Everyone comes running and we do a thorough search of all the drawers/shelves at home which has wealth in any form.

All gone. Replaced by bags of grains, spices, rolls of cloths!! OMG!!

We run to our neighbors to realize that the world as we know it is over.

Apparently the Divine has decided to just ‘replace’ all wealth as we know it from the face of earth – currency, gold, precious stones, bond papers – with necessary commodities.

Wealthy cars to bullock carts – you get the idea don’t you?!

The news is full of it. It has hit mankind at all levels.

All the world powers are praying in solidarity for the first time. Bring back money oh Lord!!

All the Arab world is shocked at how the crude oil has turned to sea water.

All the ‘other’ countries are … well…just confused as usual – not so sure what they are running after anymore.

I imagine God is now smiling and sipping a glass of his lemon tea, quite amused at his brilliance.

Absolute catastrophe! No earthquake no tornado. This is far far worse!

I love it though. I like being primitive. Farmer. Barter. Nothing fancy. No rich citizens shoving their richness onto my face! I can now live the life of my dreams, where all men are truly born equal (and I am best among equals)!

BOMP! BOOOOOMP!! BOMP! Maa! Ammmaaaa!!!

Dhruv screams into my ears. I jump up. Slightly disillusioned, I hurriedly climb down the bed to check my purse.

Damn! Just the money I had left in it. No rice. No grains!

And money is where money was and will always be…sigh!

I get up and go out to see the neighbour’s mini cooper staring at me in the eye saying ‘U wish!’

So I continue to do what I do best. Run after all the money I can’t have till money turns around and bites me!

Childhood..hmmm!!!

So childhood is apparently the best time of one’s life!

Well, I think there is always room for a better childhood…room for lesser ‘No’s and more ‘Yes’s. (I hope this post gets lost in the heap of posts I envisage myself to produce so Dhruv never reads that his mom actually said this)

jumping on the bed

I think it’s a crime to forbid a child from the following:

Playing in the rain/playing in water

  • Though it is pure bliss, I can’t do it in the middle of the road or my terrace or it’ll look like a Bollywood scene just scripted, shot and executed wrong!

Playing in mud/sand

  • For reasons same as above
  • Also I now have some amount of science stuffed in my head – which says mud = germs, so I’d rather have Dhruv enjoy his mud(without eating it!) and then clean him up

Run around – Just yelling, sorry YELLING random syllables put together

  • I don’t have the energy for that sort of ‘work out’
  • My creativity is sort of limited when it comes to new language/word formation

Just laughing nonstop for absolutely silly reasons– especially after a sugar overdose

  • My laugh would sound quite eerie faaar from cute
  • It might be mistaken for some sort of acute mental illness

Jumping on the bed

  • This is one thing I would love to do if the bed can take my load bouncing on and off it. I would love to have a spring bed though (I thought this is the right time and medium to convey this to Sabarish!)

Climbing up stuff

  • If I were a climbing enthusiast I would go hiking or trekking. There is nothing at home which would give me such an extreme sense of thrill. I suppose Dhruv thinks the window grill and ladder are the greatest heights he can conquer (I hope he never sees one of those Mountain Dew ads!)
  • I don’t fancy climbing up the window grill for I have better vision of what lies outside without climbing

Eating food – in really weird combinations

  • For me, the permutation and combination is set and done. Chapathi with Dal/Curry/Sabzi and NOT kheer (rice pudding). Let him explore and come up with his combo, unlike me who followed the tradition – blindly (though I would prefer him experimenting with less crucial things like food rather than say well..himself!!)

Yes, they may fall sick or get hurt but that is how major part of childhood passes by – play – hurt – recover – play again. If your stop them from the fear of falling sick or getting hurt you’d rather just cage them!

I also think apart from the fun bit they develop a lot of motor and sensory skill, creativity and enthusiasm from all of this.

There may be many many more. Do feel free to add onto the list so that the rest of us can realize what we are depriving our little adults of!!

Ultimately they will grow up and find these small things in life less amusing till they have their own progeny (Wha!) and they rediscover childhood!!

P.S : However I keep hoping that all the fun and laughter doesn’t really cost me a bomb which is why I havent included scribbling on a freshly painted wall!!