Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Heavy Stuff

“In one or two photos, it looked as if u are expecting, is that correct?

This is an extract from a mail that one of my aunts who saw recent snaps of Ayaan and me. It’s not very polite but I think I needed it. I really need to get serious about the extra weight that I have been carrying around since Ayaan was born (mostly on my tummy and hence the comment).

There have been some attempts but none that have met with any success:

  • I had great plans of exercising when I was in Jaipur at my mom’s place for a couple of months. But Ayaan’s refusal to nap during the day coupled with his difficult feeding habits just sapped every ounce of my energy and I went for exactly two walks in the entire period that I was there. And since Ayaan refused to take to the pram, even strolls in the park on this pretext were ruled out.
  • I joined Gold’s Gym in November last year. With great enthusiasm and optimism, I paid up for an annual membership. So far, I have been there all of 10 days. Not only have I flushed perfectly good money down the drain, I have also given my husband something to hold over me for the rest of my life! (The latter being a far more upsetting thought than the former)
  • I tried to cut down on the food intake. But I had to contend with the huge appetite I developed while I was breastfeeding and which refuses to go away. I still feel so hungry all the time.

So anyway, the abovementioned comment had galvanised me into a creating a fresh action plan. This is how it goes:

Step One
When Jai and I take Ayaan to the park, I leave them with each other and take a brisk 15-minute walk around the park. I know it's not much but atleast it's a start.

Step Two
I am going on the GM diet this weekend. I am not very confident about the sustainable weight loss that this diet can effect but I am still doing it the following reasons:

  • It’s only for 7 days and I think I can muster up a week’s worth of staying power.
  • I am spending the week at my mom’s place so I can leave the responsibility of procuring and preparing the necessary food to her.
  • Also, a week’s stay at Jaipur always adds a couple of kgs and by swearing off all the yummy food, I will atleast not pack on any more of the dreaded pounds.
  • I am hoping for some initial weight loss (however small and unsustainable) to prod me into further efforts at getting back my erstwhile slim body.
  • It seems that the GM diet helps you detoxify and get rid of the impurities accumulated in your system. And I have been feeling a bit bloated lately.

Step Three
This is the toughest and most important part of the plan. I am not the kind of person who can diet (hence the choice of a 7-day diet) – I love food too much. So exercise is the long-term way for me to lose the weight and keep it from coming back. So Step Three will mean going back to make use of whatever is left of my gym membership. Since my husband gyms as well, we have agreed to go on alterative days so that one of us can stay at home and take care of Ayaan’s morning rituals.

So there it is. Wish me luck with kick-starting this ambitious plan with the GM diet. And hopefully one day, I can look like one of these celebrity moms (I especially crave the flat tummies they are sporting):

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Birthday Party

On Saturday, Ayaan turned one and we celebrated it with a small little birthday party. My mother came down to Mumbai for the occasion and we called a bunch of friends over. Only one of these friends has a kid and they didn’t bring him since he was down with the flu. So Ayaan’s first birthday party was completely devoid of any kids. The birthday man himself was a little disoriented by the sudden influx of strangers into the house but he behaved quite well overall.

Now for some party pics…

Ayaan's two birthday cards - the one on the right from his great-grandmother and the other one from a friend of ours. Getting a card is so much nicer than a call, SMS or e-mail, which is how most other people sent in their wishes.

Ayaan got LOTS of gifts:
- Baby-sized plastic bat and ball set
- Plastic skittles with a bowling ball
- Pull-along ducky with detachable ducklings
- Pull-along, rotating turtle
- Swimming tube
- Tent
- Very loud and noisy musical truck
- Set of clothes and shoes
- Musical piggy bank
- 3 books

But what he most enjoyed playing with was all the boxes and wrapping paper that the gifts came in.

The party was nice and relaxed. Ayaan got to taste some beer from his grandmother's glass. It seems he liked it and demanded some more. Here you can see him trying to taste my wine.

That's our living room in the picture. We had moved most of the furnture out in our attempts at baby-proofing. So we had to get in the futon mattress and some dining table chairs to ensure that there was enough place to sit.

The birthday cake!

The lady who made this is really famous for the 'novelty' cakes that she makes for bachelor and bachelorette parties. But she seems to be pretty good at doing baby cakes as well.

She asked us what animal Ayaan likes. The choice was between crows and doggies. But since the thought of an all-black crow cake was not very appetising, we decided to stick to the doggy.

And the grand finale - the cake cutting. The actual cake cutting never got photographed and because of so much movement, many of the pictures of this part of the afternoon came out all blurred.

Even though there were no kids, we decided to make it like a kid's birthday party. So we slaved over balloons and streamers. And even made everyone wear party hats.

I was a bit worried about the party since I had called two groups of friends (college friends and work friends) and I was worried about whether they would get along. But it worked out fine. Alcohol really is the best social lubricant – not only did everyone seem to get along, I was tipsy enough to not really care… It’s good my mom was there since I had a LOT of wine and went into a deep slumber after the party. So she and Jai took care of Ayaan while I had the best nap I have had since Ayaan was born. It was a good way to celebrate ‘Surviving One Year’ day – getting high and then sleeping it off.

Friday, May 19, 2006

No regrets, please

All through college and MBA school, I was very firm that I did not want to have any children. I had many perfectly good reasons for this:
  • I wasn’t too big on responsibility. The thought of being responsible for anyone other myself wasn’t an appealing idea at the time.
  • I wanted to travel, have a hotshot career and make truckloads of money. Motherhood didn’t fit very well into this scheme of things.
  • We live in a hugely over-populated country. Why add to it?
  • The world is not a pretty place these days and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Bringing an innocent child into this world didn’t seem like such a great idea.
  • Jai was not particularly interested in having kids either.

After I got married, I gradually became less rabid about this point of view but was still quite ambivalent about whether or not I wanted to have kids. Inspite of mounting pressure from the families of the “So, when are you giving us some good news?” variety, I kept postponing the decision and responded to such queries with a saucy “It’s a matter of ‘if’ and not ‘when’…”

Push came to shove when I visited a gynaecologist at the ripe, old age of 28. As fate would have it, the doctor turned out to be a pushy Sindhi lady. After the initial check-up, the conversation went something like this:

She: So, when are you planning to start a family?
Me: Er…I haven’t really thought about it.
She: Don’t you think it’s time that you did?
Me: (with barely contained irritation) I don’t think I am quite ready to decide yet.
She: Why aren’t you ready? How long have you been married for?
Me: Two and a half years
She: Are you happy with your husband?
Me: {Not that it’s any of your business but…} Yes.
She: Are you comfortable with your in-laws?
Me: Yes.
She: So, what’s there to be ‘not-ready’?
Me: Er…I don’t think I am emotionally ready to become a mother.
She: See, you have to decide. With your history (completely random cycles that seem to indicate some sort of hormonal balance), it could take you very long to conceive. So if you don’t start trying now, there is a chance that you may never be able to have babies. Are you okay with that?
Me: Er…I don’t know
She: I think you’d better go home and talk to your husband and take a decision.

So that’s what I did. To start with, Jai completely freaked out at the thought that a baby was even in the consideration set. So I had to deal with his stress along with my own confusion. But I decided to persevere and have a long, hard think about the issue. I did some scenario building and these are the two possible outcomes that I arrived at:

  • Scenario One. I decide not to have kids. Fast-forward to when I am 50 years old and the biological clock has stopped ticking. Is there a chance that I’ll regret not having become a mother? I felt that there was a probability that I might wake up one day with the feeling that something was missing in my life and wishing that I had done things differently.
  • Scenario Two. I decide to have kid/s. Fast-forward to when I am 50 years old. What are the chances that I’ll regret having children? Here, I felt that the chance of feeling any regret was close to zero since once you have kids, you love them and they become a part of you and your life and you can’t even imagine a life without them.

There it is then. It was not mushy, maternal urges that pushed me into motherhood. I had a baby to minimise future regret!

And I can already see Scenario Two happening. On the eve of Ayaan’s first birthday, I am bidding adieu to one of the toughest years of my entire life. Yet, I have no regrets. If I had to do it all over again, I would still make the same decision. In fact, even more so since I now know the joy that Ayaan brings to our lives and Scenario One seems like a dry and dull existence in comparison.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Having a Baby Changes Everything

You bet! This advertising campaign by Johnson & Johnson is really insightful and evocative. Ok, forget all the big words - it made me feel all gooey inside.

Friday, May 12, 2006

What's the Good Word?

Here’s a list of the words Ayaan seems to understand and respond to these days:

Fan: He absolutely loves fans of all shapes and sizes, especially when you just put them on and he can see them gathering speed. So if you say 'fan' out loud to him, he will point to the fan.

Doggy: He has a soft toy dog that is his favouritest toy. And he knows that it is called Doggy. So every time you say “Ayaan, where’s the doggy?”, he goes and finds it and brings it to you.

Kauwa: For those who are not familiar with Hindi, this word means crow. We have a huge mango tree outside our living room window, which is frequented by crows all through the day. So if you say 'kauwa', he looks towards the tree outside the window to try and locate a crow amongst its leaves.

No: I think he understands this word but is conveniently trying to pretend that he doesn’t. Sometimes, he will stop whatever it is he is doing when I say ‘No’. At other times, he acts as if it was never said. And sometimes (especially if the ‘No’is said in a loud and mean way), he screws his face up and starts crying. So the jury is still out on whether he gets the word.

Give: He seems to get the basic concept of this word. So if you stand in front of him and hold your palm out and say it, he will usually place whatever object he is holding into in your palm. But if it is a very exciting thing, he will touch your palm with it, take it back and toddle off in the opposite direction! Smart kid.

Dancy-dancy: This only works if his music (nursery rhymes) is playing and he is in a very good mood. When you say this, he does a funny motion that I can describe best as “humping the air”.

Clap, clap: This one started yesterday. So if you say “Clap, clap” and clap your hands together, he claps his hands together too. This is turning out to be a good distraction for diaper-change times.

In other developments:
  • He has learnt to climb. It’s fun to watch him pull himself up onto the bed but this is also a bit tense, as you have to hover around and ensure that he doesn’t topple off.
  • He loves helping me with the laundry. So when I am sorting the dirty laundry, he plays with the clothes, moving them from one side to another. And then he also puts a couple of them into the machine. Though after a while, he gets bored and tries to pull out the clothes that are already in and then it becomes a challenge to get the whole job done!
  • His pointing has got really specific now. He doesn’t point at all and sundry now but only at things that he wants or things that excite or fascinate him.
  • He is now eating normal, adult food for dinner. So he eats whatever we are eating, only it’s removed from the pan before the chillies are added and then broken or mashed into baby-friendly pieces. I am trying to get him to feed himself by putting some food on his tray but most of the time, he just plays with it, with just the occasional titbit making it to his mouth.
  • He also started saying 'Mama' a couple of days ago. As of now, I think it's just a new sound and not directed towards me.

It’s so hard to imagine that a little less than a year ago, all he could do was cry and flail his arms and legs in the air. He sure is growing up fast…

Monday, May 08, 2006

Thank You Mama

They say that you really learn to appreciate your own mother once you become a mother yourself. That is so true. It's only when you have to do it yourself that you realise how downright difficult it is to bring up a child. And this is me speaking after just a year of motherhood - my mother's been in the business for over thirty years!

Given that I am less than a fortnight away from being a 1-year old mom and that today is Mother’s Day, what better day to thank my own mother. So here are some of the reasons why I think she's the best. Thanks Mama:
  • For creating me. For bringing me into this world. And for teaching me how to live in it. For having the biggest influence in making me who I am.
  • For always putting us first, above your career and more importantly above your own happiness.
  • For reading bedtime stories to me every night – I am sure I wouldn’t have loved reading half as much if you hadn’t done that.
  • For teaching me to love animals. For showing how much richer life can be when you let pets into your home.
  • For putting up with all my tantrums and tempers. And for loving me inspite of them.
  • For always giving without expecting anything back in return. I don’t think I would be where I am today if you hadn’t taken those two months off before my board exams and nagged lazy me all day long to study. I hated you for it then but thank God you didn’t let a small thing like teenage resentment discourage you.
  • For eating into your meagre savings so that we could get to see Europe with you.
  • For making sure all my favourite food gets cooked when I come home. Even if it means that I always leave a little (or a lot depending on the length of my stay) fatter than when I arrived.
  • For accepting Jai even though he did not fit the mould of what the family thought was right for me. For trusting in my choice and my judgement.
  • For the lovely wedding that you put together for me. Even though the money was tight and you only had my brother to help you out, it could not have been grander or more perfect.
  • For coming to Mumbai both times I moved house to help me to cope with the madness of moving.
  • For seeing me through the first few months after Ayaan was born. For teaching me how to tie his nappy. For teaching me how to bathe him. For teaching me the ‘rock-him-to-sleep-on-your-knees’ technique that gave some much needed respite to my aching back and arm muscles.
  • For taking my dogs when I couldn’t keep them any more and giving them a loving, happy home.
  • For becoming more and more of a friend and less of a mother as the years go by.
  • For listening patiently to my daily (and sometimes boring) updates and discussions about Ayaan. For always having a reassuring word of advice when I hit a roadblock.
  • For being a mother that I can model myself on. If Ayaan grows up half as healthy and well adjusted as I did, I will consider myself a successful mother.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. And thank you for everything.

Mother’s Day wishes also going out to Mint, Talena, Gettingthere and Rachana.

Edit: It has come to my notice from various sources that I kind of messed up on the dates. It turns out Mother's Day is actually on the 14th . Well, I guess this is my first one so I can be forgiven for getting my dates mixed up. And it's the thought that counts, right?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Of Panic Attacks and Pulp Fiction

I have blogged earlier (here) about how my company is being an ass about fitting the post-maternity me into the larger organisational scheme of things. Anyway, after an endless round of meetings with them where things just don’t seem to be moving forward and I am asked to hold on just a little longer while they work something suitable out, I decided to explore my options in the big bad world outside. So, last week I put myself and my resume out there and got a few calls. ( is highly recommended by the way). Nothing concrete yet but let’s just say that I have gotten closer to switching jobs in the last 7 days than I did in the last 7 years before!

So all looking good so far and I decided to hop into bed for a good night’s sleep, completely unprepared for what was going to happen next. It started with a funny butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling and grew bigger and bigger till I couldn’t sleep for 5 whole hours. I tried everything – watched most of Pulp Fiction on TV (have a question on that later), counted sheep, stared into the darkness and tried to empty my mind but to no avail. In fact, the more I tried to empty my mind, the more reasons I found to panic. Here are some of the thoughts that fed the panic attack and kept the sandman away till 5 in the morning:
  • I have only ever worked in the one company. I joined as a management trainee fresh out of MBA school and have spent the last seven years firmly ensconced here. My ideas on how to function in the corporate world have been formed and shaped by this organisation. I know the people here and have made many good friends. I know the written and unwritten codes of conduct. I have a complete understanding of what passes as acceptable, good and excellent performance here. The thought of giving all this up and starting afresh is scary to say the least.
  • I definitely plan to add another kid to my family in the not-too-distant future. In my current company, I put in six years of work before going off on maternity leave and I had enough leave accumulated over the years to buffer up my official maternity leave and take a full 6 months off. In a new company, I would not have that luxury and also how would they react if I announced I was pregnant after just working for them for 1-2 years.
  • Quitting my current job would also mean losing my company-provided accommodation. We have bought a house but that’s still under construction and is likely to be ready only sometime in August. So we will have to figure out some short-term accommodation in the meantime. What will I do with all my stuff? Will I have to pack up everything, unpack, pack again and unpack again all in the space of three months? Or can we figure out a furnished place available for a short while and keep the majority of our furniture in storage till we finally move into our house?
  • Once this worry fest started, there was nothing to stop it and I started worrying about everything that was even remotely worry-worthy in my life. I worried about Ayaan and whether I was doing everything right as far as he was concerned. I worried about a friend’s illness. I worried about the work still to be done in the new house. I even worried whether I worry too much (I would think the answer to that would be an unequivocal yes!)

At 4 in the morning, I just couldn’t take this solitary worrying anymore so Jai was rudely woken up with an elbow in his ribs. His attempts to induce sleep also came to naught. He asked me to imagine the holiday we are planning in Sri Lanka, I worried about whether we would be able to get Ayaan’s passport in time. He told me imagine the same holiday in Goa instead and I worried about whether we would be able to afford a suite so that we can have somewhere to hang out after we put Ayaan to bed at 9. And so on and so forth.

Finally, at 5 a.m., utter exhaustion forced me into an uneasy slumber that lasted till 6.30 a.m., when Ayaan decided it was time to get up. What a night! I really don’t know how I survived through the day today without collapsing….

Now the question about Pulp Fiction, posed to those who might have seen it. I saw most of the movie through a worry-induced and sleep-deprived haze last night and I might have missed a trick or two. There is this scene when Butch (Bruce Willis) goes back to his house to pick up his watch and finds a gun on the kitchen counter. Just seconds later, he hears the flush in the loo and the door opens and out comes Vincent (Travolta) to find a gun staring him in the face. Anyway, Butch shoots Vincent, who is last seen splattered all over the loo, in complete blood-and-gore Tarantino style. And then a few scenes later, you see Vincent back in business completely unharmed as if the shooting bit had never happened. What’s with that? Someone, please to tell…

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Never Say Never

Before Ayaan came along and changed my life forever, I was pretty sure about the dos and don’ts of my life. There were some things that I just wouldn't compromise on, baby or not. Well, it’s been less than a year since the baby came, and already there are three big things in my life that I have had to re-think in a new way:

I will never give up my dogs

When Buddy and Beanz came into my life, there was no doubt in my mind that they would be with me till the very end of their lives. They were so much a part of our daily existence that life without them was quite inconceivable.

Once Ayaan was born, I stuck by this for almost a month refusing to listen to my mother who kept telling me that it would be crazy to keep them. The reasons were many:
  • They were used to having the run of the place and had a very limited comprehension of the word ‘No’.
  • We had been unable to potty-train them. Inspite of the fact that they went for 4 walks everyday, they treated the house as a big toilet. And having doggy waste lying around would have created serious hygiene issues once Ayaan started crawling.
  • Finally, Buddy developed a desperate and violent taste for Ayaan’s soiled diapers. It was a great challenge to keep them away from him and there was an occasion when he bit both my husband and my mother when they tried to get one these away from him. This was actually the incident that got me thinking about whether Ayaan and the dogs could safely co-exist in our small Mumbai flat.

So the dogs went. They stay with my mom now in her huge bungalow in Jaipur and have a massive garden to use as their bathroom as and when nature calls. They have an army of servants to cater to their needs and are the centre of attention in my mother’s house.

I want to be CEO

Freshly armed with an MBA, with stars in my eyes, I was all set to be a trail-blazing career woman – bring on the glass ceilings if you dare and all that. I would have scoffed at even the thought that there would be a day when my career would not matter so much.

When I look back, I laugh at the woman I was then and feel shocked at the woman I have become. Today, my career is a distant second priority to Ayaan and the CEO-dream almost seems to have belonged to another woman in another life. Today, my dream is to raise a happy, intelligent and well-balanced child and everything else must necessarily take a back seat. Actually, everything else is probably not even sitting in the same car!

I will never travel by local train

In my first couple of years in Mumbai, I took the local train to work and back. I hated it. Once my trusty little Zen came along, I was introduced to the wonderful world of travelling in air-conditioned comfort and reaching office with my just-bathed freshness properly preserved. I got used to the lack of sweat, grime and the deadly olfactory cocktail of multiple body odours. I got used to not being pushed and shoved and having ample space to myself during the office commute.

The traffic got worse. The commute took longer and longer. My husband crumbled and went back to the train. But no trains for me. I would rather brave a two-hour commute with the AC and music in my car than subject myself to the horrors of a 45-minute ride in a Mumbai train during peak hours.

But not anymore. Now, the two-hour commute is a forgotten luxury. The difference between car and train travel is a full two hours in a day – time that I would much rather spend with Ayaan. Thankfully, I am currently based out of one of my company’s smaller offices that is only a 30-minute drive away. But when I do have to go into town for meeting, I have no choice but to suffer through the smelly, sweaty and stuffy train journey.

So, I guess we really should say never. Life can always throw you a situation that would make you reconsider...