Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dr. Rohini and Ms. Snide (or some equally bad crack at a title)

No matter what I do, I can’t seem to escape this tagging business. Not that I am complaining – after all, it does give one the easy way out on coming up with new content ideas for the blog – but sometimes they do pile up. Like right now, I am behind by about two tags. The grand plan was to tackle them last weekend but that was before the darling husband gave me the new Harry Potter (loved it!) hot off the shelves on Saturday morning…

Anyway, to get back to tag-less status, I am going to do two tags in this post – also because they are kind of like two sides of the same coin…

The first tag is from The Mad Momma and she’s invited me to reveal my judgemental side. Now, I don’t normally come off as a judgemental person but it’s just that I am not very vocal about but I, like most other people, make snap decisions about people based on small things. Here are some of those dredged up from the deep, dark recesses of my secret, judgemental world.

  • I judge women who let themselves go after marriage (sometimes even before a baby is born). It’s as if the only motivation for them to look good was to catch the guy. I have seen people starve themselves and exercise to exhaustion so that they look good on their wedding day and after that, they couldn’t care less.
  • I judge people who read only business and self-help books of the ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ variety. I think they are completely uni-dimensional.
  • I judge workaholics. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and driven but all work and no play does make Jack a very dull boy.
  • On a related note, I judge people who camp out at work and give excuses like ‘The spouse is travelling’ or ‘But I am still unmarried’. But what about books, friends, exercise…seriously, get a life!
  • I judge SAHMs who when I ask what they do (before I know that they are SAHMs and after they know that I am a working mom) say something like ‘I have the most important job of all – I take care of my kids’. Puh-lease. I get it. You have made a choice that works for you and I respect it but must you get all defensive about it? And can you please be a little more tactful, given that you are talking to a mom who has chosen differently?
  • I judge superstitious people. Belief in God is one thing but when you tell me that I can’t say your baby is cute because it will attract the evil eye, it is a bit too much.
  • I judge women who put their careers ahead of their family’s needs. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I judge working mothers (because among other things, that would be self-destructive), but just those of them that are okay with leaving their sick child with the maid while they attend that all-important meeting or can’t find the time to attend the PTA meeting or Sports Day.
  • I judge people who are not house-proud. I don’t expect that every thing should be perfect but you know when care and love has gone into creating and maintaining a home. At the very least, keep a clean house. There’s nothing I hate more than having to use the toilet at someone’s house to find an icky wet floor, no clean towel to wipe one's hands with or no toilet paper. And nothing can kill my appetite faster than a dirty kitchen…
  • I judge cheap people. I don’t mean people who need to live on a budget but affluent people who live like paupers just because they are miserly. These are the kind of people who refuse to contribute 100 bucks a month to the building kitty so that a sweeper-woman can be hired to clean the common areas…
  • I judge men who pee/ spit on public roads. I have seen a man get out of a swanky Toyota and relieve himself on a wall on a busy, public road. Geez, find a room, and preferably one with a toilet!
  • I judge people who don’t put thought into gifts. I really hate it when people give me gifts that are obviously recycled or bought without any thought to what I might like. I’d rather you didn’t give me anything at all. And here, monetary value is of least importance. Some of the best gifts I’ve received have not cost all that much… when it comes to gifting, it really is the thought that counts.
  • I judge SAHMs who see their role only in the physical job of bringing up their kids. Come on, the maid will do almost as good a job of cooking a nutritious, tasty meal for them but a cuddle, a book-reading session or just simple playtime is something the maid can do only half as well as you, if at all. (I am, of course, referring to those of us who live in countries and have income levels that allow us to have hired help)
  • On the other hand, I also judge moms who find it a boring chore to feed and bathe their kids and delegate the tasks entirely to the maid, even when they are at home.
  • I judge NRIs who crib about smelly, corrupted India. Especially the ones who grew up here and took advantage of all the subsidised education that got them where they are. If you really do feel this way, stop coming back and if you must, please have the grace to keep your opinions to yourself, especially in front of those who have chosen to stay in this, according to us, wonderful country of ours.
  • I judge bigots, especially educated bigots. I never failed to be shocked when those I consider ‘people like me’ make hateful statements based on ingrained stereotypes that they have about communities, nationalities or genders.
  • I judge people whose civic sense ends outside their own doorstep. It’s admirable that you want to keep your house garbage-free but please find other ways of disposing of your waste than throwing it off your balcony or dumping it on the road. Contrary to what you might think, your right to create a mess does not begin where your personal living space ends, it actually ends there.
  • I judge women who stay in bad marriages. I know it can’t be easy to leave but do you really want to pay the price of the rest of your life for one bad decision that you made, or that was made for you, by living it out with a person who abuses you, mentally and/or physically and destroys your sense of self-worth. I know some women truly have no choice because they have no means to support their kids/ themselves but when qualified, educated women choose to stay, it really makes me want to shake them up.
  • I judge parents who bring their brats to public spaces (malls, restaurants, movie halls) and make no effort to prevent them from making utter nuisances of themselves. I do not appreciate my quiet, romantic dinner with my husband being destroyed by someone’s ill-behaved child running around the restaurant and screeching.
  • I judge moms who come to the park dressed as if they just walked off the ramp. The only reason you should be there is to hang out and play with your kids and not to preen and say things like "Darling, we can’t go into the sandpit – Mama’s shoes will get dirty”… need I say more?
  • This is a silly one but I judge people who say ‘My hairs are so long’. People! The hair on your head is (not are) one, singular entity.

Ok, I could go on but I think I should stop before I alienate everyone who likes/ loves me. But seriously though, as Mad Momma also said, a lot of the people in my life are chockfull of these traits but it doesn’t matter because I am past judging them. These are just judgements I make about people I just met or barely know and sometimes use to decide whether I want to get to know them better…

The reverse tag was from Ceekay, who very admirably tries to find something to admire in everyone. I can’t claim to be as charitable as her but here are some of the things that I do admire:

  • I admire people who have the insight into themselves to figure out what they’d like to be doing and then have the guts to drastically switch career paths or strike out on the own. I have neither.
  • I admire people who know how to use make-up and accessories well to look perfectly turned out. The only thing I can use is lipstick and that too is all gone within a couple of hours of putting it on.
  • I admire people who can give and take compliments with grace.
  • I admire people who go for long and faraway vacations with young kids. I have one kid and the very thought of driving/ flying for more than two hours with Ayaan scares the hell out of me. And the longest holiday that we have taken to a place that was not the home of either of our parents has been 3 days, and after that, I felt like I needed a holiday to recover from it. Talena - a seven-hour drive with three young kids – you are awe-inspiring…
  • I admire men who see themselves as having an equal stake in running the house and bringing up the children. Many men do help out but they see themselves doing it as a favour for their wives to ‘help them out’.
  • I admire people with patience. I am terribly short-tempered, especially with the people I love and whose love I am assured of. Ayaan gets to see a lot of my bad temper (sometimes deservedly so) and I regret it constantly.
  • I admire people who can make the SAHM-working mother choice easily and live with their decisions without regret. I struggle with working mom guilt for every second that I am away from home, and especially when I travel for work.
  • I admire people who can make the transition from being their children’s parents to being their friends. I hope to be able to do that some day.
  • I admire people who can cook, cook well and enjoy cooking. I hate it and have been known to screw up the cooking of instant noodles and boiled eggs. And don't even get get me started on the meltdown I have when confronted with recipe instructions like 'add salt to taste'
  • I admire people who adopt children. To make place in your home and heart for a child that is not yours is truly admirable. I have even greater respect for those who adopt after having kids their own. I hope to do this some day.
  • I admire couples who manage to keep some us-time even after they venture into parenthood.
  • I admire fit people who can run a mile without feeling like they are about to have a cardiac seizure.
  • I admire people who can keep a calm head in a crisis.
  • I admire people who are good at bargaining. I get conned all the time because I am too embarassed to question the seller's price.
  • I admire people whose Admiring list is longer than their Judging list… :)

That’s all from me for the moment. Oh, wait! I have to pass the tag on. Zen, Aqua, Grafx, 30in2005, Something to Say…you’re it. Do one, do both – take your pick.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Odds & Ends

This post is basically a collection of things I have been wanting post over the last few weeks but which for some reason or the other (like lack of time or maybe lack of time...no wait, it was lack of time) never got committed to Blogger.

The Real Birthday Gift from the Virtual World

A few weeks ago, Ayaan profited from the blog for the first time (maybe this will slightly make up for the embarrassment this blog is likely to cause him in the years to come) - Aunty Sue from Calcutta sent him a birthday gift.

Ayaan loved it - especially the cup. So far he's had bottles, sippy cups and glasses but never any cups. But he immediately made the right association with his dad's caffeine habit and proceeded to imitate him while proudly proclaiming 'Coffee!'

And thanks to this post, she also sent my book back in a hurry - Sue, like I already told you - that was the false one in the tag and I always knew you would give it back eventually. But what made it even more special was that along with the gift and the book, there was a really nice handwritten letter - the first I've received in years (I think it's been atleast 6). Thanks Sue, now we really are penpals :)

A Dose of Reality

Many of you were shocked by how neat Ayaan's room looked and rightly expressed disbelief that this could be the living space of a hyperactive toddler. I was asked to put up some 'messy' pictures - in the spirit of keeping it real, here goes...

This is Ayaan's room after he's gone on rampage and before the maid has had a chance to clean up.

And that's not all. Since the post about his room, he has also managed to inflict some more permanent damage to the room we worked so hard to design for him. The wallpaper has been the main target of his destructive streak and now sports his first attempts at art at one end...

and a ruthlessly torn patch on the other end...

School Update

Today is exactly one month from the day Ayaan started school, and we continue to be lucky. He is just loving it. Every morning he eagerly asks 'School Jayenge?' and is actually crestfallen when I answer in the negative (on weekends).

I got another reassuring sign the other day. We were at the park in the evening and we bumped into his teacher and he spontaneously went over to her and gave her a hug. I was so relieved... and also a little jealous. :)

The only downside is that he's already had two bouts of a cough and cold. And that's not all, he predictably passes it on to me and then Jai gets it from me. And in this game of germ-volleyball, one or more of us has been less than in the pink of health for the last month. I am told this happens when they start and then their immunity builds up and they don't get sick that often - I hope that happens fast...

Anyway, that's all from my end for the moment. Better drag my weary self off to bed - Ayaan will be up bright and early as usual, with not a thought to spare for his mom's nocturnal blogging habit and resultant need for a sleep-in...

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Greek Odyssey

Having been back a week, I guess it’s about time I got off my backside and wrote about the trip. And what a fun trip it was!

Like I said before, the actual conference (and legitimate reason for being in Greece in the first place) was during the week but four of us left on Saturday morning itself to catch the weekend there. Originally there were supposed to be eight of us, but half the group didn’t get their visas – so then there were four.

We decided to spend the two and a half days we had in Mykonos. It’s not got any historical/ mythological sites of interest (or if it does, we didn’t bother finding out) nor is it amongst the most beautiful of the islands (though it is beautiful on an absolute scale) but if you are in the mood to party, then Mykonos is the place to go. It’s kind of like a cleaner, prettier and more Mediterranean version of Goa.

Since it was a 4 a.m. flight from Mumbai, we decided to kick-start the partying and met up at a bar near the airport. The plan was to tank up and then get some good sleep on the flight but eventually we just spent most our flight time chatting. I also finally got around to seeing The Namesake, which I just completely loved. I think this might be one of the first few cases of the movie being better than the book.

Our flight into Athens was slightly delayed, so we had race across to the port to get to our ferry in time. Also, there was some big mix-up in the tickets so we finally had to buy fresh business class tickets. Other than that, the ferry ride was pretty uneventful. It was really, really hot (46 degrees!) so we stayed inside most of the time but we did venture onto the deck for a bit of sea breeze for a while…

We stayed at a place called Pension Marina – functional (a clean loo is all I need) and inexpensive (66 Euros for 3 nights for shared rooms in peak tourist season). The place was typically Mediterranean – with the whitewashed walls and blue doors and windows. Here’s a picture of me working on the previous post just outside my room…

We were there for two full days and spent most of the daytime on the beach. Modesty, tummy fat and stretch marks compelled me to buy only one-piece swimwear but I was seriously the most over-dressed person on the beach, bar none. Even ancient grannies with saggy boobs and even more saggy thighs were in bikinis, often wearing only the bottoms…

Even otherwise the Mykonos beach experience was quite an eye-opener for us desi hicks. There was nudity and homosexuality on full display, to the point where it stopped making our jaws drop open… in fact, we attracted more attention than most because we were a group of three girls with one guy – one of the waiters even went far enough to tell our friend – ‘You come to Mykonos with three women. You are a lucky man.’ :-)

I also learnt a new skill – I learnt to drive a buggy. Our earlier plan had been to hire bikes but since the visa debacle left us with only one guy in our group, we were severely compromised in the transportation department. So it was either me learning to ride the buggy or us spending a mini fortune in taxis. It was a bit scary at first but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and was racing around Mykonos pretty soon…

The nightlife is Mykonos is pretty happening and we did different things on all the three nights we were there. The first night, being exhausted from the plane and ferry rides, we just did a quiet dinner at a little Mediterranean café. Of all things Greek, I tried a drink called ouzo (hated it), a dish called moussaka (quite liked it) and lots of feta cheese (loved it).

On the second night, we drank loads of margharita at a lovely bar, which had a balcony hanging over the water, followed by dinner at a waterfront café. We had planned to go clubbing as well but dinner got over way past midnight and we were all ready to turn in after a hectic day on the beach.

So on the last night, we decided we totally had to let our hair down and danced the night away at a happening nightclub. The high point was when we got the DJ to play the only Punjabi song he had (isn’t it amazing that he had Punjabi music at all!)… We finally called it a night at five in the morning, which explains why I looked like this the next day...

Then we headed back to the Athens for the conference, which was great as well. It was so great to meet people who you so far only communicated with by mail/ phone and finally get to put a face to the name. There were also a lot of fun parties in the evenings and the last day had an exciting Amazing Race style race through Athens, so we got to see all the key sights.

And then we were back to horrible, rainy Mumbai. Our flight had to circle Mumbai for over two hours and almost got diverted to Karachi. And even once we landed and got out of the airport, it took us almost two hours to reach home, driving through water that was almost knee-high in places. That was truly the least fun part of the trip because by that time, I was dying to see my little baby and every minute of delay was extremely irritating. When I finally got back, I got a quick hug and was immediately put to work reading a book. It felt good.

Oh and the Punjabi song at the nightclub wasn’t all. We also spotted a blonde girl on the beach carrying this bag... isn't that bizarre?

For reasons best known to itself, Blogger won't let me put a title to this post. Can someone tell me how to fix that, please!

Update: As is self-evident, the title issue has been fixed. Thanks Boo.