Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Rollercoaster Month

That’s right, it’s been more than a month since I last posted. And what a month it’s been – Christmas, two weddings, three days at a jungle lodge, a flying visit to Goa, school admission formalities, the quitting of a maid, international travel – needless to say, it been hard to squeeze out time to post. I am in Brazil right now and getting ready to make my way back home where I will again be sucked into tackling all the work that has piled up over my vacation and Brazil trip while also working overtime to assuage the guilt of having been away from Ayaan. So if I don’t get this update on what’s been happening now, it’s never going to happen…

We got to Bangalore on Christmas Eve. Thanks to playschool, Ayaan was all up-to-date on the Christmas songs – spent most of the flight loudly singing Jingle Bells, Shiny Nose (his name for the Rudolph song) and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Once at my in-laws place, he was thoroughly delighted by the Christmas tree and proceeded to grab a shiny ball of the tree and throw it across the room (Who can blame him – balls are for throwing after all, right?). Once he was dissuaded from destroying the tree in this manner, he proceeded to adopt the ledge next to the tree as the designated spot for drinking his milk through the holiday. The montage below captures some of the moments from Ayaan’s Christmas experience – his first run-in with Santa at our club’s annual Christmas party, mixing cake batter with his Grandma, singing Jingle Bells with suitable accompaniment and hanging out at the Christmas tree.

Next on agenda was my brother-in-law’s wedding, where Ayaan was the pageboy. I was quite nervous about whether he would come up to scratch and do what was expected of him but as usual I underestimated his capacity to surprise and delight me. Other than refusing to pose with the bridal party for all but one picture, he did all that was expected and did it with panache. A brief summary of his exploits:

  • He wore his outfit with minimal fuss. He usually wants to pick out his own clothes and hates accessories of any kind but he condescended to wear the bowtie and cummerbund without bringing the roof down.
  • He fell head over heels in love with the flower girl (Jai’s cousin’s 4-year old daughter). He gave her atleast a hundred HUGGEEES over the course of the wedding festivities and followed her around everywhere with a complete puppy dog look on his face. I think she was singularly responsible for his well-behaved walk down the aisle (bodes well for his future wife) since she just held on to his hand and he followed without a murmur.
  • He was slightly less well-behaved during the ceremony. This was compounded by the fact that we were sitting in the very first pew. He took the confetti from the flower girl’s basket and scattered it all over the floor and then spent the next fifteen minutes crawling all over the floor picking it up. He then decided he wanted to converse with me at the top of his voice at the very moment that the vows were being taken – after several unsuccessful attempts at shushing him, I finally just picked him up and took him outside where he expended some of his pent-up energy by running up and down a slope. He also flatly refused to pose for photographs with the bridal party. However, he did redeem himself by leading the wedding party out of the church and later into the reception venue – but the credit for this can solely to be laid at the door of his infatuation with the flower girl.
  • At the reception, he discovered a treasure trove of confetti. Each of the tables had packets of confetti for the guests to throw at the bride and groom. Most of the packets still had loads of confetti left so Ayaan spent most of the afternoon scouting for these remnants and making sure that they found their rightful place on the floor.

Check out the photographic evidence of his exploits – all dressed up in his pageboy finery, walking down the aisle, HUGGEEE time and creating chaos in the church:

After the wedding, we spent New Year’s Eve at a jungle lodge at Bheemeshwari, a 100-km drive from Bangalore. It was a quiet break after all the wedding madness. I was quite worn out when we got there and having my mom around really helped me to recharge my batteries – especially since Ayaan slept in her room thereby allowing me to sleep in during the three days we spent there.

Bar a few tantrums and some car sickness on the way over, Ayaan too had a great time. He spent some quality time with his Patti, messed around in the mud, played in the river, went for a couple of treks (and walked for almost half the way) and got to see a bonfire for the first time. In the pictures below, he is playing in the river with my mom, enjoying himself at the barbecue and trekking.

The next leg of our journey found us in Goa for Jai’s cousin’s wedding, where again Ayaan was a pageboy and much to his delight, his favourite flower girl was part of the wedding too. But overall, I think the fatigue and upheaval of the previous ten days had started to get to him and he was markedly less well-behaved at this wedding.

The pageboy clothes here had not been made as well so he was uncomfortable in them and he had quite a meltdown while being dressed up. I managed to convince him to walk down the aisle with the flower girl. But halfway through the march, he stopped and wailed out a pathetic ‘Mama’. Thankfully, I had managed to get to the front by then so I was able to get him to complete the walk. After that, he was very restless and loud in the church so after the first five minutes, we had to take him outside and there we remained till the end of the ceremony. He had quite a good time playing with the parking signs though.

After a lot of convincing and me walking alongside, he did walk in front of the bridal party at the reception though. But after that he was pretty cranky and grumpy and we were all quite exhausted by the time we called it a night. His difficult mood continued well into the next day (probably helped along by a pretty big sleep deficit). He hit some other kids, broke my lipstick, threw stuff around and generally behaved like a complete brat. I too had a mini meltdown just before we left and asked Jai to take him away for a while. Not a proud moment…

We also managed to squeeze in some beach time in Goa. Ayaan really enjoyed playing in the sand but he hated the sea – the waves really scared him. Thankfully, the beach also had a river by the side and he had great fun playing there. He and Jai cooked up a silly game where they threw his shorts into the river and then dived to catch them when the current brought them back. It was father-son bonding at its best and when I tried to join in, I was told, in a voice that brooked no argument, “Mama, stand here”.

Here’s a set of pictures from Goa - playing outside the church, on the beach and breakfast at Infantaria:

Overall, the trip was pretty good. Ayaan was pretty co-operative about food for most of his meals, as long as there were some non-spicy options. And since I took along his booster seat, mealtimes were reasonably efficient and conducive to my patience levels. I also managed to keep his potty training from taking a step backwards. Other than nights and the actual weddings, he was diaper-free through the trip, even on the flights. He is now fully potty-trained for pooping but still needs to be asked to pee at regular intervals to avoid accidents.

Life post vacation has continued to be pretty crazy. We came back to find a letter from the school we had applied to for Ayaan saying that he had been accepted and that the very next day, we had to go over and complete the admission formalities – which included scrambling to get all the necessary documentation together. Then my sister-in-law and a friend came across to spend a few days with us. And then the worst news of all – my maid called to say that she won’t be coming back from the village. It seems someone in her village made some snide comment about her parents living off their daughter’s earnings and so it became an ego issue and she decided not to come back. It really sucks because she was so good with Ayaan and he was so fond of her. The maid search has been re-started in earnest but no luck so far...

And then I had this trip to Brazil coming up. Thankfully, my mom came across to be with Ayaan during my week away.

My trip has been good fun so far and since I had to spend the weekend here between meetings, I got to see a little more than just the hotel and the airport, unlike my last trip. One of our colleagues took us to the island of Santos (two hours from Sao Paolo) and among other things, I went on my first speedboat ride and danced at a free Brazilian pop concert on the beach. It's time to head to the airport now. Ciao... see you on the other side.