Hum along!!

It appears having a toddler at home can have more dire consequences than you’d think and the situation will leave you googling about ‘focus’ ‘attention’ et al.

Let me clarify – If you have a toddler at home, you get used to repetition – same game over and over again, same story a million times and the worst is the same set of nursery rhymes day in and day out.

So you wake up in the morning listening to ‘5 little monkeys jumping on the bed..’ Do your house chores listening to the same, listen to the same one in your car and drift off to sleep at night with ‘5 little monkeys jumping on the bed..’ playing in the background.

Click on to listen : 5 little monkeys Be warned though. it will haunt you for the next one week!

CuddlyCoo

You listen to it so many times a day that even if it doesn’t play in the stereo; it is always playing in your head. You wake up and you want to say the morning prayer but you can only recollect ‘5 little monkeys jumping on the bed..’; that friend of yours ask you about that song from that movie and you blabber ‘5 little monkeys..’

Worse still; rhymes have rhythm…so you are working at your work station and the rhymes go off in your head. You nod your head sideways and up and down; you go to collect a print and the nod continues with maybe a side to side sway and you find yourself calling for all your colleagues’ attention for the wrong reasons.

But the worst is yet to come.

There I am in between my appraisal meeting, trying really hard to prove my point and that I really need that promotion but all I have in my head is ‘5 little monkeys…’ which sort of shows on my face and when am expected to advocate, am only smiling to myself and nodding my head!

So I know am not getting any worthy appraisal thanks to the monkeys. And I am frustrated but the monkey song would not let me be, it forces me to smile and nod!

It is like a bug. It isn’t even appealing like that hip number stuck in your head from a famous album. Because you need to be extremely careful not to let it slip out of your mouth because then you give off way too much about yourself than you intend to.

So you stop by at the petrol bunk to refuel; you are still nodding and swaying; then the rhyme slips out in a hum and there the world knows that you are no longer just a woman – who may or may not be married – who may or may not have kids. You are a mom and you listen to the rhymes more than you have listened to everything else cumulated over the years!

Thank You Come Again!!

So when you meet those umpteen number of family and friends in some wedding; you meet, greet and when it is time to say good bye you casually say : ‘ You must come down to Bangalore sometime. Visit us when you do. It will be fun.’

CuddlyCoo

It is evident that you don’t really mean it.

But some of them think you do.

Friday evening, the phone rings.

MIL answers and all I can hear is “Ehh?? Haan. Okay. Tomorrow?? What time?? Who all??’

Then a detailed conversation about kids, family, extended family ensue.

After about 10 minutes into the conversation she is about to hang up when she pauses and asks again ‘Who did you say you were??’

Whaa!!! What was she thinking all this while???

Now I was almost sure that she may just say ‘Oh sorry. It is a wrong number’.

She hung up. I was staring at her, eyes narrow and sarcasm brimming out of them. I say ‘So you talk to someone for all this time – everything from my son’s potty habits to his grandfather’s property – and at the end of it you don’t know who you were talking to?? Well done!!’

She rolls her eyes and says ‘How am I to know if they say – ‘Hello Ganga….I am Hari from your hometown, we are coming to Bangalore. We will visit you tomorrow. How is Sabarish and Geethu??’

In her favor, she advocates

  • He called her by her name – Ganga.
  • Asked about Sabarish and me by our names.
  • Spoke about all of my father in law’s relatives. More bad than good.

So obviously he knows us, especially after point 3.

‘But who is this Hari??’

‘In my defense, in a clan of some 50 – 60 cousins, their kids and grand kids, how would you differentiate a Hari from a Ravi??’

True. Hari Ravi Sashi are all just the same. Can’t say one from the other when you have only seen them in wedding and funerals.

So we know someone from Father in law’s family is coming to visit us tomorrow, with family. They say it is a casual visit.

And so we hope.

We also hope that it wasn’t an appointment taken by some spooky crook who got to know of us from some social media site and thinks he can rob us of the million dollars (because million rupees doesn’t sound that cool) we have locked up in our Godrej locker and flee away to his happily ever after land.

Next afternoon, Sabarish gets a call asking for directions to come home. He tells them promptly.

In about half an hour, at about 3.00 pm the doorbell rings. We open hesitantly.

We are greeted by 1…2…3…16 smiley faces – not 4 or 6 but 16!!!

16 – 8 small ones, 8 adults – 4 families!

I scan across every face – my eyes going up and down like a Bharatnatyam dancer as I do so.

Nothing familiar. I reach the last 3 and recognize finally! 2 smiley kids and 1 smiley woman I know.

The smiley woman says ‘Geethu was so sweet when she called us over at the wedding last June, we just had to come. We are all family. You know all of them don’t you?’ She points out to the crowd.

I could see MIL and Sabarish stare hard at me from the corner of their eye. Damn! I was just being nice to your relatives for God’s sake!

This world is not meant for soulful and compassionate beings such as I…I wish I could vanish.

She introduces everyone to everyone. A lot of gibberish happens..

I can only vaguely remember what ensued. Maid hurrying off to the grocery store to buy milk, juice, goodies to feed 16 tummies.

Hyper active kids climbing everywhere and everything. Strangers walking in and out of all the rooms..I could see they felt very much ‘at home’ – quite effortlessly.

It was dinner time and they were still very much at home. So food had to be ordered in.

By now we were almost certain the crowd is here to stay and that we would be stuck entertaining total strangers for the rest of our lives!

By 11.00 pm, we somehow stuffed all 16 into the minivan they came in and packed them home!

They yelled out and said – We had a nice time. Will visit again!!!!!!

Hell no.

After they went, we scanned the house just to make sure they haven’t left any little one around.

The house looked like a zoo. We sat down for an afterthought. MIL and Sabarish on one side and me on the other. I feel like a criminal being questioned.

Fine!!! It was a genuine attempt gone grossly wrong! All I said was ‘visit us sometime’ which got interpreted as ‘pay us a surprise visit along with all your acquaintances in Bangalore. We love entertaining unknown people.’

Yes. I shall use my words more judiciously henceforth..

Those watchful eyes!

So generally you affectionately pick up your toddler son, swirl him and kiss him and he would in turn probably hug you tight, laugh and giggle and tell ‘Maa I lovee you..’

I wish!

CuddlyCoo

I pick my toddler and do the same. He does laugh and giggle and then says ‘Maa you have this black hair sticking out of your chin.’

Shocked.

He then tries to pluck it with his tiny fingers and finds it thoroughly amusing. Repeats it over and over again pinching my chin in the process.

Embarrassed.

I look around to assure myself that we are alone and MIL, the maid or Sabarish are nowhere in the audible range..

I put him down and run to the closest mirror, switch on all the lights and inspect.

There. One black pointy hair on my wheatish chin.

Yes, I had noticed it last morning and I chose to ignore. It is technically just one hair and not a beard yet. I could have just plucked it.

But no. I chose procrastination!

See! This is why they have those umpteen articles to how procrastination should be overcome…

Too late, by now Dhruv was running around the house calling out for his dad, grandma and the maid ‘Achaaaaa Achammaaaaaaa Pap…come see..Amma has a black hair on her chin.’

Everyone comes out of their harbor in a split second.

Really?! Are you kidding me?

I bloody yell out to everyone in the house just 15 minutes ago saying: ‘Tea is ready..’ but not one person comes before a line brown layer of butter forms on top of the tea and then I get ‘Oh! It’s cold!’

And people jump out for a tiny hair on my chin??

There are 2 sets people who ensure I am self-conscious at all points in my life:

Set 1:

My mom: Groom, dress, stop looking so poor! Don’t embarrass me in front of my friends… (She is as good as 10 people hence she forms Set 1)

Over time I have learned to face this one liner. Nope I don’t defy. Not an option. I make sure I am groomed when she is in a 1 mile vicinity.

Set 2:

A few really good friends who are miraculously groomed at all times – Even if a catastrophe struck, they would still excuse themselves to get their pedicures and manicures because what if Yamraj (God of death) thought it is too cruel to kill these damsels and chose to go back empty handed.

They have given up on me and call me plain lazy.

But now I realize I have a new traitor in this battle of life, a 2 year old whose needs me to groom him, but is now smart enough to spot a black hair on my chin, realize it is inappropriate and yell out to the world to mock me!

Damn! What am I breeding at home?!

Lure my mind not!

CuddlyCoo

I am driving my way to work and I am fiddling with the various buttons/switches on the car still trying to figure out what many of them do anyway.

All I can hear the radio scream is:

‘Wake up to the chirping birds. Step out into a garden full of lovely flowers; Buy a property at ABC villa properties and this dream could be yours..’ – says the realty commercial on one FM station this morning.

I roll my eyes and punch the next button to hear silence. I increase the volume. No use. Utter silence.

Damn! My stereo is broken, another unexpected money drain, I think.

Just then the radio blares: ‘Is this the silence you wish greets you every morning?! We assure you a silent, most peaceful haven – far from the hustle bustle of the city…’

Whoa! 10 secs of air time wasted on … silence???!

I hit the next button again and I hear:

‘Can’t find like-minded people? Buy a home at —— and be sure to find neighbors you can go jogging with, who you’d love to call home for tea….’

OMG!!!

3 radio stations – 10 minutes of drive – that is 30 minutes (?!) of airtime for realty commercials??

So apparently the ingredients for my Dream House is as follows:

Main ingredients:

  • Chirping birds.
  • Flower/vegetable garden to step out into.
  • Silence – even if it feels ghostly – is a key factor.
  • Jogging park.
  • Like minded neighbors.

For Garnish :  a club house, sports amenities and so on.

Now at the next signal, I do a mental analysis of My Home versus the Dream home.

  • Bird Chirping..well..crows count as birds don’t they?? – check.
  • Flower/vegetable garden – I can potentially convert my limited space on terrace into the Hanging garden of Babylon and then step onto it first thing in the morning OR I can continue to step out into cow dung/dog shit et al that welcomes me on the road my gate opens into. Well, either way it is nature and there is nothing more Holy than cow dung – Go Mata Ki Jai!
  • Pin Drop Silence – Hmm. Hmm. Don’t know how that feels. The closest I can remember is my 1st grade teacher holding a cane in her hand and saying PIN DROP SILENCE, and all of us felt small and helpless. NOPE. No silence thank you.
  • Jogging Park – Well, the treadmill has successfully been transformed into a clothes line. So now I imagine a clothesline as long as the park – the New Dhobi Ghat!! Wha!!! Maybe I can do the same with the park some 5 minuted from my home?
  • Like minded neighbors – I believe I am unique. I do not want any other like minded person around me because that would mean people who can read my mind around me. My world would then come to an end. Moreover, I am happy with the absolutely diverse crowd around me by all means – social economical cultural and religious diversity is what we stand for remember??
  • I can however do with a clubhouse and sports facility; not because I will use it but because I can brag about it – I need something to brag about don’t I?! I obviously can’t brag about the dung or the crows..

Voila! The conclusion thus formed is: my home is my dream home. Well done!

I must admit that this reflection struck in only after I saw a hoarding which stated – Register now for Your Dream Home – starts at Rs 88 lakhs only!

That is quite an expensive dream and then when I thought of all the maintenance required to keep the dream house dreamy – damn I’d rather not have it!

I rang up Hubby to tell him about my realization. He is Euphoric about my transformation from a thankless wife to a content one. I almost saw him jumping hooting and doing a Naa Nana Naana to the commercial people.

Noone can mess with my mind now, he thought. I am past all the material love – a halo appears above my head.

And then the next 2 minutes of my drive enlightened me about how ‘Diamonds are forever’ and if Raymond is for a complete man then diamond is for a complete woman..umm..yes..I somehow am willing to be called a ‘woman’; a huge step from the ‘girl’ or the ‘lady’; for a diamond.

And then I ring Hubby dear again, His voice was still buoyant from the previous call. I then tell him: ‘So my darling husband, I do not need that dream home. Not now.However I could do with a diamond set for now, because the commercial says and frankly I can’t come up with an argument otherwise and if you wish to differ hubby dear, then tell me why am I not ‘Worth a Diamond!”

And he sighs! Not quite there yet! Some day..

Dad’s an easy job!

So it’s a weekend afternoon. Dhruv and I are just up from a nap. Bored. Just dragging ourselves around. The Dad is out for some work.

Dhruv hears the doors of the car close and runs downstairs yelling Achaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (Daaaadddddd) !!

The Dad is obviously euphoric to see atleast one person get excited about him reaching back home, while the rest of us just say ‘Hmm. Hi..’

CuddlyCoo

The Dad has a toy store bag with him, Dhruv identifies it immediately and showers him with kisses repeating the question ‘whats in it..whats in it…’

A lot of run and chase happens – The Dad running with the cover and dhruv doing his hop skip jump thing after him..

Oh God what is in it?! Just let him have it and give me back my lazy Sunday afternoon!

Finally the Dad opens the bag and reveals a Chotta Bheem soft toy (Indian equivalent of the superman – child version though).

Dhruv’s happiness knows no bounds. At last, at long last Bheem is here.

The next 10 minutes are magical – all work is done – milk is drunk, bath is over – because of course Bheem is watching him and he needs to be impressed to make friends.

Then we declare that Bheem likes Dhruv and they can play together.

The trauma begins – for the Dad.

Dhruv and Bheem want to play, but since Bheem is immobile (should have gotten a battery operated one!)he needs to be propped!

Rule : Whoever has gotten him home (the Dad) will be the prop. Why? because:

  • MIL and I have very few things we agree upon, this was one of them since we don’t want to trade a lazy afternoon for anything in this world!. Hence the rule was made and enforced that minute. Veto isn’t an option if the Dad chooses to continue living with his wife and mom!
  • Also Bheem is the strongest ever, both grandma and I don’t gauge up in terms of muscle power and physique in contrast to the Dad who is pretty fit and muscular being the ideal prop for Bheem.

The Dad wants to escape but MIL and I get into our lazy Sunday mode and switch off. So left with little option, I see the Dad (or Bheem):

  • playing run and chase and hide and seek.
  • feeding Dhruv and Bheem dinner
  • putting Dhruv and Bheem to sleep at about 10.00 pm.

It was quite hilarious  to see the Dad hold Bheem and do all the above craving for a minute’s rest, for a sip of water and so exhausted that he chose sleep over dinner!

So the Dad is out in the hot sun for most bits of the day, returns home to surprise his toddler with a toy, props for the toy and ends up playing, feeding, bathing and putting the toddler to sleep; while mom makes a quick fix fun lunch with the toddler gobble it, cuddles and sleeps with him and wakes up to find the dad taking over.

Am sure the Dad will think a million times before he buys a toy next time, calculating the toddler’s energy level and excitement and carefully weighing it against his own.

But being the Dad he is, he will still choose to get it home just to see the toddler eyes popping out with happiness and excitement!

And being a dad is damn easy isn’t it!

Quality test anybody?

I have had one of those blissfully ignorant childhoods where I thought tomatoes and potatoes are just vegetables.

CuddlyCoo

And then I got married. And suddenly tomatoes and potatoes were way more than ‘just vegetables’.

So when you are just married and in a joint family, you try to do all those tried and tested things to get into the good books of everyone in the family. Imagining me as one of those sari clad Hindi soap opera heroines will only be a slight exaggeration I would say, because I may have checked everything in the to-do list of a good daughter in law.

As part of the exercise, I decided to be proactive.

Wrong decision. It is only later than I realised that proactive was ‘the ultimate’ word only in a corporate. On the domestic front you NEVER (well, almost never) do anything until asked to.

A few days into wedding when my entry into most territories at home was restricted (because I was under probation so I was expected to just observe everything and then get into the role gradually) I decided to please my MIL by buying veggies home.

It was May in India. Damn hot. I will save her the trouble of going out in the heat and buying stuff, I thought.

I just bought a little bit of everything from an air conditioned super market.

Came home and kept them in the sink to be sorted, washed and stored. (C’mon in a few days I at least realised that buying veggies and dumping them straight into the fridge was a big NO NO)!

Enter MIL.

She sees the veggies and does not show even a slight change in expression.

Picks up every single tomato and inspects.  She then studies every stem and leaf of the bunch of spinach that I got.

Lets out a deep sigh and says: ‘These are no good. You have done this once but I expect you to do it NEVER again. We will finish them since YOU have gotten them.’

I hate disappointing people. I mean not that I am a people pleaser but when I do something to please them, I expect them to be pleased and not disappointed..

I summed up the courage to look at her – not quite into her eyes but all over her face, trying to fix my gaze at something – the mixer behind her, her earrings .. something!

‘Amma, what’s wrong with these??’

What ensued was a long lecture about :

  • The different varieties of veggies and how they need to be handpicked.
  • How vegetables are made to ‘look’ good in these supermarkets but rot as soon as they are brought home.
  • How the vendors and shop owners cheat us of our health for petty money.
  • Waxed apples, artificially ripened mangoes and grapes, endosuphane coated curry leaves etc.
  • How there is that one vendor which promises to sell only home grown veggies and how only she can find him!’

Attention all the supermarket owners, the AC and the convenience doesn’t seem to appeal my MIL, so time to rethink your USP guys or you’ll lose out on one valuable customer!

She then drops the veggies in the sink looks at me in the eye feeling deceived and says: ‘What good is all the money you earn if you cant have a meal worth your tummy? You earn primarily so that you can fill your stomach with quality food, good food good health…’

So I got a agriculture-horticulture-dietician crash course in about 20 minutes.

Too much to handle. I phase out.

I had to listen to the disappointed groans every single time the food was served. I was like the outlet for any food made bad – ‘the sambar tastes awful – blame it on the tomatoes.’

Quality surpasses anything and of course MIL does better quality check than the food co-operation!

Now that I have a son and am training to be ‘The MIL’ someday,  I am gradually acquiring the talent.

Handpicking the best quality veggies (and looking down upon your naïve daughter in law) seems to be the ultimate quality of ‘The MIL’

Am getting there, slowly but steadily!

Meanwhile I’ll just go to an ‘organic store’ and get everything from there.

There you go; take home lesson :

  • Always let your MIL do grocery shopping.
  • Healthy family happy family.
  • Money that can’t buy quality food is no more than paper.

Well?!

Damn the DNAs!!

When you are pregnant, you generally have a wish list for your baby.

Your mind flies past allll those faces in the family and sort of comes up with an algorithm for how your baby should be. Your nose, husband’s height, dad’s complexion, mom’s smile, in-law’s nothing (you know the dynamics there don’t you!)

When I was pregnant with Dhruv, my inner voice (God) sort of told me: ‘You love little girls don’t you – Ha! I will give you a little boy who will grow up and bring home a girl (hopefully) who you will hate!’

That is how he decided to get back at me! So I knew I was having Dhruv long before he popped, through my instincts (a clarification – Gender determination is banned in India – just so that I don’t get jailed here!)

CuddlyCoo

So I filled my room up with pictures of oh! so cute baby boys and wow! so handsome grown up boys!!! My room looked a confused mixture of a mom to be and a teenage girl! Why? Because I thought if I stared at those pictures long enough Ill convince that thing growing inside me to look like them!!

Every mom dreams of her son being a responsible, well behaved, obedient, humorous, talented man of honour (the list is Never exhaustive!) I dreamt the same plus I hoped Dhruv will look like a movie star riding a Harley Davidson with shades on and all the girls drooling over him.

So I meticulously penned down precisely what features I would want him to get from each family member (and the poster people)

  1. Sabarish’s height and built
  2. A combination of both his and my complexion -too fair is not what I like..
  3. His teeth and smile
  4. His hair
  5. My Dad’s and Sabarish’s attitude in life generally (Live and Let live bla bla…Beyond me!!)
  6. My sense of sarcasm/humor (Well?!) and so on..

God thought this was his chance no 2 to get back at me. Dhruv popped out and gradually filled out…to look just like my dad and me!!! Being a mom, it is a matter of pride. BUT what it translates to is:

  1. Desperate need for braces (me)
  2. A laser surgery for vision correction (me)
  3. A hair transplant surgery (Dad)
  4. I hope science develops a cost effective body elongation process in another 20 years or he’ll end up being a guy of umm..average height (Dad and me)
  5. A therapist to put his arrogance and ego in place (All of us put together!)

As I now figure out, all my hoping and gazing may have been a total waste.

These damn DNAs apparently just follow their guts and pair up in whatever way they fancy to churn out products which could otherwise have been master pieces…all they had to do was just follow the mom’s instructions!! But No, it decides to do what it pleases like a defiant teen.

And now see what you have done you DNA!!! I still console myself saying that all that gazing into posters will heed some result sometime later, so he can grow up to look nothing like what he does now. At least that gives me more time to hope and dream of pointing at that dashing young man on the soccer field and proudly saying – ‘He’s good isn’t he? That’s my son’..

But if he doesn’t become that ‘dashing young man’ will I love him any less? Nah!! Because the oxytocin (or one of those ..) in my body forces my mind to believe that the mine can never be not cute and he is sooo mine!!!!

So he shall remain as cute as cute can be in my mind’s eye! (sob sob..)!!