Monday, June 28, 2010

The Little Ironies of Motherhood

  1. Your phone will be silent all day, making you wonder if your friends have decided you are now boring Mommy types, not worth even a phone call. Then it will ring (LOUDLY) just when you are putting the baby to bed.
  2. The doorbell will only ring when you are either breastfeeding or bathing the baby.
  3. The little devil angel who has refused to nap through the day falls fast asleep just when people come over to 'meet the baby'
  4. The hyperactive brat you have been complaining about behaves like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth when friends visit, causing them to wonder what the hell you were cribbing about.
  5. After having you driven you batty over a long car drive with endless chatter, the brat will fall into a deep sleep when you are five minutes from home.
  6. Just when you have been bragging to all and sundry about how your baby sleeps through the night, she will turn into a night owl. 
  7. The elder sibling, who has been playing independently in his room, will remember your existence and come shouting for you at the exact moment when you are putting the just-rocked-to-sleep baby down in her cot.
  8. The 'On' button on the TV remote probably activates the baby as well. It couldn't just be a coincidence that she wakes up from her nap at the exact moment that you collapse in front of the idiot box.
  9. The expensive toys either lie ignored and neglected at the back of the cupboard or are destroyed in mere days. The cheaper toys hold their interest much longer and the free stuff (sticks, stones, cardboard boxes) is evergreen.
  10. On schooldays, you have to struggle to wake up the brat at 6.45. On holidays, he will be wide awake and bouncing off the walls at 6.30.
  11. The baby who sleeps through loud bangs and shouts on your shoulder wakes at the merest whisper when asleep in her cot.
  12. When you go to office for just a couple of hours to figure out your options post maternity leave, your elder one bawls when you leave and hugs you tight when you come back, saying 'Mama, I missed you sooooooo much'. Two days later, in the throes of a towering rage, he screams, 'I don't like you. You go back to office TODAY!'
  13. Just before leaving for the same trip to office, your younger one proceeds to spit up milk all over your carefully put together ensemble of professional attire that still fits.
  14. Your son will get up to his naughiest shenanigans when you are talking to your boss, causing you to mometarily forget you are on the phone with the person who will write your performance appraisal and scream 'STOP DOING THAT RIGHT NOW'.
  15. The toilet trained kid will have an accident on the day you changed handbags and forgot to put in a change of clothes.
  16. The child who has a meltdown when asked to put away his toys at home morphs into the teacher's helper at school. 
  17. The more public a place, the longer the tantrum, compounded by the fact that you can't use your standard tools of trade (ignore, shout, spank, timeout) to deal with it. 
  18. The day you plan your first kids-free night out in the longest time, both kids fall sick.
  19. No matter what parenting choice you make, there will be some research done out there that will tell you how your choice/s screwed up your kid.
  20. Though you crave for some peace and quiet, when your wish is granted you worry. Silence means that the kids are up to no good or they are falling sick.
  21. You look forward to the brat's trip to his grandmother's house only to sit around moaning the eerie silence in the house.
  22. Remember when your mother said, 'Wait till you have kids of your own'? And you thought you thought having kids would be an effective way of silencing her. Well, think again. Once you have kids, she'll pamper them silly and when you object, you will be told, 'You don't understand, just wait till you have grandchildren'!!! 
I could go on but this is as good a time as any to stop. Any of you mums out there want to take this up as a tag? Itchy, Kiran, Sue, Parul, CeeKay, Mona, Choxbox, Deej... at this this rate, I am going to put all the mothers in my Reader here. So any mommies passing by, feel free to take this up. And do leave a link to the post in the comments section if you do.

Update: Some more irony out there...
Mona mommies up Murphy's law
Parul demonstrates that fatherhood is not without irony
JustAnotherBlogger gives a non-parent angle
Aneela writes about the irony of leaving
CeeKay adds her two cents

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Voices in the Sky

In case you happen to find yourself on an airplane with us, you might want to get yourself a seat well outside earshot of our family.

And not for the reasons you think either. Most people want to keep a good distance from babies in airplanes but Tarana has been quite a sturdy little flyer and hasn't really cried too much on any of the flights we have taken since she was born. 

Ayaan too seems to have lost his tendency for loud public temper tantrums. He has also ditched his penchant for violently kicking the seat in front, thereby saving the passengers who have the (mis)fortune of sitting directly from possible damage to their spinal cords. And he has also grown out of his habit of endlessly playing with the stewardess call buttons and the lights. 

He now spends most of his flights chatting away merrily with us and therein lies the problem because his chosen line of conversation these days is far from cheerful and is concerned with the inauspicious (especially if you are thousands of feet up in the air) topic of planes crashing. 

He has an old, battered plane - the only surviving piece from an entire set that I got him for his fourth birthday. Its wheels snapped off a while ago, much of its paint is peeling and it is missing a back wing but it is the toy of the moment and goes EVERYWHERE with us, including airplane trips.

The first order of business for the brat as soon as he is buckled into his seat is to equip himself with one of those safety information cards usually to be found in the seat pocket and ignored by most passengers. The next twenty minutes is spent in detailed perusal of said document, accompanied by an incessant stream of questions. It goes typically like this: 

Mama, why the aunty in this picture sitting like this with her baby? 

Why you are not holding Tarana like that?

Mama, in this picture, the plane is standing on grass. Why is it standing on grass? 

Mama, why the pilot didn't land this plane in the airport?
Mama, why is shoe picture has a red line on it? 

And so the questions continue, too numerous to be comprehensively captured, till the flight takes off.

Once airborne, the next twenty minutes are spent watching the plane’s performance with an eagle eye and giving a running commentary on the same, in a voice loud enough to be heard over the whine of the aircraft’s engine.
Mama, look! The plane is slanting. I think it is going to fall down and crash. 
Mama, see! We are in a cloud. I can’t see anything. What if the pilot takes a wrong turn and we crash?

Mama, I think the wing of the plane is going to break. Will we crash?

And so on and so forth. Thankfully, the meal service begins and he has other things to do with his mouth. So we all get a brief respite from the doomsday questions.

Once the meal has been polished off and he has been convinced that a visit to the facilities is necessary, he settles back into his seat and pulls out his toy aeroplane. The next half an hour or so is spent flying his plane around the seat and the tray. Many crash scenarios are played out – the plane landing on its belly, on its wings, on its nose, on its tail….

Then when we get set to land and he is strapped up again, a new set of questions begin focussed on all the perils that a airplane might encounter:

Mama, what if there is SUCH a tall tree that it is as tall as the sky and the plane dashes into it? 
Mama, what if a bird bangs into the plane? 
Mama, what if the plane lands on a building? 
Mama, what if a plane lands in a puddle? A VERY BIG puddle. No, not a pond or a lake. Just a GIANT puddle 
Mama, what if there is food on the ground when the aeroplane is going to land? What if there is a bottle of Sprite? 
Mama, what if the pilot goes to sleep? 

And then thankfully we land safely. And the questions stop, for the moment. We smile apologetically at any and all co-passengers who might have been subjected to this depressing line of questioning and make our way out of the plane

But they are lucky to escape with one hearing. We, on the hand, continue to hear questions and hypothesis about crashing planes through mealtimes and bath-times and drive times and basically ALL the time. 

Our balcony has a perfect view of the flight path so we wonder about the likelihood of every passing plane crashing. Then every conceivable surface in the house is subjected to crash landings with his toy plan. And the other day, he spent almost an hour in the balcony with a bucket of water and his toy plane, trying to re-create a water landing!

So like I said, watch out for us on your next flight. And try and sit as far away as you can :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I routinely express milk and feed it to Tarana from a bottle. The reason for this is to ensure that she is comfortable with the bottle and does not reject it when I go back to work. So far, success has been mixed. She does not reject the bottle entirely, but she does not love it either. She will rarely have more than 2 ounces and then starts playing with the bottle or pushing it away. And if I nurse her immediately afterwards, she happily feeds away, which means she has not had her fill from the bottle. Anyway, I am hoping that when I do go back to work and she has no backup option, she will take full feeds from the bottle. And given that my back-to-work date is currently a moving target (long story, not bloggable), it is quite possible that she won't need much breast milk during the day by the time I actually do rejoin the workforce.

Anyhow, that's not what I intended to write about. This is an anecdote from the early days of expressing. I would express the milk and pop it into the fridge till I was ready to give it to Tarana. At feeding time, I would take it out and stand it in a pot of hot water. Then I would shake it vigorously to ensure that the fat that had got separated from the milk would blend back in. In fact, the opposite would happen - it would coagulate into bigger lumps.

Nonplussed, I went back to my breastfeeding bible and read the fine print on how to prepare a bottle of expressed milk and came across these heretofore ignored sentences: "Shake the milk to redistribute the fat, but not too much. You don't want to make butter or whipped cream."

Really? Butter? This made me curious. Wanting to know more, I typed the following key words into Google - 'breastmilk butter'. The results were not what I expected. Here's a sample...

Recipes a la Breastmilk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp baking soda; 1/2 cup butter; 3/4 cup sugar; 2 eggs; 1/2 cup breast milk; 1/2 cup plain yogurt ...

Can breastmilk be used to make butter? - Yahoo! Answers
Breastmilk recipes?‎ - 16 posts
Other uses for breast milk?‎ - 13 posts
Butter from Human Breast Milk?‎ - 10 posts

Breast Milk Cheese |
I suppose breast milk yogurt would be really runny. And I thinkbreast milk butter / human yogurt would be possible but you'd need liters ...

Breastmilk Butter - 53903 - Recipezaar
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 5 min - Calories: 0
Try Recipe Breastmilk Butter - 53903 from This recipe has a 4.40 star rating and has been reviewed 8 times.

And that's only from the first page!

And then I read this article the other day about this woman whom they are calling... wait for it... the Nigella Lawson of breast milk cookery!

My first reaction to all this was something along the lines of 'Ewwwwww' but then I started to wonder if it was really that disgusting to cook with your breast milk. After all, it is just milk and if you can use the milk of another species (cows, buffaloes, goats), then why not your own milk?

And it's not just cooking either. If this website is to be believed, it is good for multiple, non-edible uses as well. Apparently it can cure diaper rashes and pink eye as well as double up as a facial cleanser and make-up remover, amongst other things!

Anyway, I can't really see myself doing any of this stuff and Tarana need not worry about any competing claims on her food source. Nor do those who plan to visit have to worry about the source of dairy in the food or beverages on offer. But I guess it's not as gross as I started out thinking it was.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Marking Thee Son Red

No, the title is not any mistaken attempt to incorporate Shakespearean English into my blog. It is my attempt at a tongue-in-cheek title for my entry into the Red Marker Blogathon
Sue is hosting the blogathon and she says "If some word/ phrase/ idiom/ spelling/ syntax/ punctuation incorrectly used drives you up the wall, blog about it"

I have been thinking about writing this particular post ever since she announced the blogathon but it's only while writing the last paragraph that I realised that my post is not technically eligible because this is about pronunciation (one in particular), which does not figure in Sue's list of errors. Anyhow, I shall post nonetheless.

The culprit is this case is none other than my very own son and the word he mispronounces is 'the'. And he says it as 'thee', instead of 'thuh'. Typically, it goes like this:
I want to watch thee Bee Move? 
Mama, can I help you with cooking thee pasta?
I am looking for thee box of crayons 
Thee milk has fallen on thee floor and I looking for thee cloth to wipe it with.

And so on and so forth. And I wince every time, a thee leaves him mouth. I look at him, arch an eyebrow and say, 'Thee pasta?' His typical response is to look at me rebelliously and repeat 'Thee pasta'. Not one to let such matters rest, I repeat the question somewhat sternly, 'Thee pasta?'. At which point, he sees the steely, stubborn glint in my eye and caves and mutters, 'Thuh pasta'.

I wonder where he picked this up because it is a relatively recent phenomenon.

It could be because his teacher might be pronouncing 'the' in this fashion. I have not had a chance to verify this theory though and am waiting for an opportunity to meet her to do so.

My other theory is that he might have heard the thee pronunciation being used correctly in conversation and decided that this is the way the word is always pronounced. Because (Sue, don't look now, I started a sentence with because) there are sentences in which the thee pronunciation is necessary and correct.

When researching the correct pronunciation of 'the', I learnt something new as well. My own thinking was that one only used the 'thee' pronunciation when one wanted to place special emphasis on the word immediately after it. For example,
It is thee place in town for margaritas
He is thee person to talk to if you want to understand thuh current financial crisis.
What I did not know is that there is another appropriate usage of this pronunciation. We must also say thee instead of thuh if the word that follows starts with a vowel sound. For example:
He moved her deck chair so that it was shaded from thuh sun under thee umbrella
He took thee orange for himself and offered her thee apple
The important thing to remember here is that it is the sound of the first syllable, not the actual letter that requires the change in pronunciation. Therefore,
Thuh university campus is full of greenery (because university sounds like is starts with a Y')
Thee hour hand on thuh clock is on three (because the H is silent)
That ends my grammar lesson for the day.

Thee End :)

Friday, June 04, 2010

In Memory of a House

On the first of June, my mom handed in the keys to her government-provided house and moved into a private bungalow. Even though I am not there to see the move in person, I am feeling very nostalgic at the thought of never visiting that house again, or rather at the thought of Ayaan never visiting that house again. Because my mom moved into that house when I was still pregnant with him, so that is the only house he has ever known as Patti’s house. And what a house! For a space-starved city kid, it was a dream come true. My Mumbai flat could have easily been accommodated twice over in her front garden and that was not the half of it, because the back garden was even bigger!

I don’t know how much of this house Ayaan will remember as he grows so I am putting this picture post together for posterity…

Ayaan’s first visit there was at the tender age of two months, when I went to spend a couple of months of my maternity leave with my mother. I remember that the bane of my existence used to be the daily power cut that used to happen right in the middle of the hot August mornings. After days of sweating it out with him uncomfortable and clingy in my arms, we set up a folding bed under a low tree and hung some toys on it. The slight breeze was preferable to the suffocating heat inside the house and it kept swinging the toys back and forth, keeping him entertained for most of the duration of the power cut.
As he grew older, the toys had to be on the bed itself, since he would refuse to lie on his back
On his first trip, he also got his first haircut – an event that was held outdoors both from the perspective of the mess and to keep him entertained. It worked...
But when we repeated the same procedure for his mundan when he turned one, we had a screaming fit on our hands. It took the barber, my mother and me thirty minutes of wrestling with him to get it done and it was the longest thirty minutes of my life. (The picture below is the calm before the storm)
That’s why we decided to do Tarana's mundan much earlier, when she was too young to figure out what was going on and protest.
Not surprisingly, his favourite place to hang out was the garden and on hot summer days and cold summer evenings, it was quite a challenge to keep him indoors. Most of the time, when the weather allowed, he was generally mucking around…
But there were times when he took to doing dome ‘serious’ gardening as well. Tending to the potted plants...
watering the grass...
and supervising the other gardeners...
In addition to the plants, the garden was also home to a huge variety of birds – some residents and some visitors. Ayaan flitted between between fascinated by the sparrows who built their nest in the light fixture in the veranda, the peacocks and peahens who paraded through the garden in the mornings and evenings, the owls that came to roost in the bird houses my mom had put up in the trees… He also insisted on personally putting out the bird food every day that he was there…
Ayaan had great fun playing with my dogs. Dog actually since Beanz has never particularly given him the time of the day, except to snap and snarl if he got too close. But Buddy and Ayaan have had great fun together over the years. Or let’s just say Ayaan has had great fun and poor long-suffering Buddy has tolerated his attentions.

For his fourth birthday, he got a ‘swimming pool’ for his birthday so a daily splash in it has been an essential part of the Jaipur experience for him. I hope we can find a spot for it in the new house as well...
Ayaan has spent every single Diwali of his life in that house as well, all five of them. The first Diwali came around when he was still a babe in arms so he was dressed up in ethnic wear and lugged around to view the pooja and the fireworks.
On his second Diwali, he wasn’t overly impressed by the festivities. He didn’t approve of the attire, refused to sit in place for the pooja and found the clothes pegs on the terrace more fascinating than the fireworks show that my mom and maid gamely put up for him.
The third Diwali was less than happy. He picked up a horrible stomach bug and was very weak on Diwali day. He just hung around listlessly and watched us go through the motions.
The fourth Diwali was the first one that Ayaan really got into the spirit of things. He actively participated in the lighting of the fireworks and insisted on being the master of ceremonies at the pooja.
And last year, he went there for his last Diwali in this house. The big difference this time was that I did not accompany or join him but he had a blast anyway. And came back to find that he was no longer an only child :)

He also spent his fourth and fifth birthdays in Jaipur and the big garden was put to good use for his birthday parties.

And so it comes to an end. We shall miss the huge garden with its menagerie of animals (my mom had tortoises and a herd of monkeys paid us a daily visit) and birds. 

While we will no longer have a huge garden at our disposal, my mom has moved into a nice, spacious bungalow in a great neighbourhood and I think she will be very happy there. And Ayaan (and Tarana) will make a ton of happy memories there too.