Monday, April 30, 2007

Prozac, anyone?

It's raining here. Not the short, heavy shower that washes down the city and leaves it feeling clean and fresh. Not the light drizzle that cools and refreshes even as the sun shines through and paints a rainbow.

No, this is a dull, grey, cheerless rain. Continuous, monotonous, inconvenient, depressing.

My morning is not going well. The job classifieds are full of the usual junk. The few that are not have the usual eligibility criterion: Thai nationals only. No response from from any of the head hunters I've sent my resume to. This is not good for my ego.

I did not sleep well last night and woke up with a headache. I have a pain in my gluteus maximus thanks to a weekend of getting destroyed at squash by Moppet's Papa. Um, not helping the bruised ego...

So I'm sitting here, wallowing in self-pity, hating the rain, hating the city, hating my friends who all have wonderful lives, and hating myself for feeling this way.

Moppet arrives, fresh from her morning nap, and climbs into my lap. Surprisingly, she doesn't want to chat, fiddle with stuff, or poke her finger up my nose. For once, she seems to be happy just sitting in my lap.

My very own anti-depressant.

And so we sit, mother and daughter, listening to music, and watching the rain.

Life's good.

Edited to add: Big hugs to all my friends who emailed me in response to this post. You know me and my drama queen ways - things are not really that desperate. Thanks, guys!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Don't you just love a good fight?

Yesterday, Moppet and I opened the door of our apartment to play on the landing as we sometimes do, and saw our neighbour in the middle of an argument with her son. She was standing outside her half open front door yelling at her son who was yelling right back at her.

Seeing as this was not a good time for Moppet to be playing on the landing, I turned to go back in - only to find that little miss nosy parker had slipped out and was toddling off at top speed to investigate what all the fuss was about.

It all happened so fast, but I felt like I was watching in slow motion as she planted herself between the neighbour lady and the door and started babbling loudly, wagging a stern finger in her face.


Shell-shocked neighbour lady looked at her little accuser, and then at me, hurrying up to the scene of the crime.

Hugely embarrassed, I muttered an apology as I reached to pick Moppet up. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of the boy, about 10 years old, on the other side of the door.

He was grinning from ear to ear.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Do check out the uber-cool label cloud on my sidebar!
Got the code from the very clever (and generous) phydeaux3.

On fear

Since watching a brilliant episode of Star Trek Voyager (yes, I'm that sort of dork) a couple of days ago, I've been thinking about fear.

I'm well acquainted with fear's lesser cousins - anxiety, nervousness, and worry - but I can recall very few instances when I have felt real fear. I know that it has more to do with the ordinariness of my life and my own lack of imagination than any real courage on my part.

The one time in my life when the worst did happen, it came without warning - a lightening bolt that turned my life upside down. I went straight from shock to grief. There was no time for fear.

But since the moment I found out I was pregnant, fear has taken up permanent residence in a corner of my brain.

Will I be able to deal with this enormous responsibility?
Will I be able to fulfill all her physical and emotional needs?
Will she be okay? How will I deal with it if she's not?
What if I die?
What if I'm just not enough?

As a parent, fear takes on a whole new dimension.

Violence, corruption, pollution, poverty, intolerance and everything that is wrong in the world frightens me more today because this is the world my child lives in.

Motherhood has changed me. Simple things mean more. I feel with a richness and intensity that I had not known I was capable of. Almost all of them are wonderful emotions - love, joy, pride, and awe.

But motherhood has also introduced me to real fear - and though its intensity and form changes everyday - I'm very afraid it is here to stay.

Star Trek gives me hope, however :-) The episode ends with this exchange:

The Clown (the embodiment of fear): "What will become of us — of me?"
Captain Janeway: "Like all fear, you eventually... vanish."
The Clown: "I'm afraid."
Captain Janeway (softly): "I know..."
The Clown(fading): "Drat."

Edited to add:
Came across this beautiful post by Her Bad Mother which talks about embracing the fear that comes with motherhood. Do check it out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

She raids my wardrobe

Yay! An open cupboard

Look, I've got Mom's slinky top.

Um, do the arms go in first?

Let's try head first.

Ah! That's how it's done!

How do I look?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pinch me, I'm dreaming!

Couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this - Moppet Tales is on the India Blogs 1.0 list! In the mommy blogger section, in the august company of all my absolutely favourite mommy bloggers!

Excuse me for a moment while I do my victory dance.

(Thump, thump, thumpity, thump, thump, YAAAHOOOOO!)

Ok, am back :-)

On a less hysterical note, congratulations to everyone else on the list, and I know it's not really such a big deal, and I'm still not entirely sure it's not a mistake, and I had better tell Moppet's Papa before they find out it's a mistake and take down the link, and umm.....

...guess I'm still hysterical!

Friday, April 20, 2007

My little bibliophile

We are a family of book lovers.

After 10 years abroad, when my family returned to India in the late 80's we brought back nothing but a PC and several boxes of books, much to the amusement of our extended family.

The little flat I grew up in had books everywhere, and I would read anything I could lay my hands on - age appropriate or not. So along with Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse, I would read Tennessee Williams and George Orwell.

Novels, short stories, plays. Humour, crime, biographies, social commentaries. Old classics and modern tales. I wasn't picky, I read them all.

I read with an obsessive intensity that normal teenagers applied to the pursuit of their latest crush. My mom often used to say that I wouldn't hear a bomb going off near me if I was reading. And while there has never been occasion to test that statement (thank goodness!), I think she might have been right.

Moppet's Papa and I are polar opposites in practically every way. We would've been the poster couple for the phrase 'opposites attract' but for the one thing we have in common - our love of books. As a young DINK couple with a modest lifestyle, we were always puzzled at the sorry state of our bank accounts at the end of the month until we realised how much we were spending on books. Of course, the realisation merely put an end to the mystery of the vanishing money, not the spending itself!

So it is our fond hope that Moppet will grow up to love reading too. She showed some promise of being an early reader at around 4 months, as you can see in this picture here. And then of course, she decided it was something to eat, and the moment was lost :-)

Since then, she hasn't been particularly interested in books other than to chew on, tear, bang on the floor, or sit on.

But we have persevered. For the last 3 months now she has been taking some interest and will sit with me for 10-15 minutes while I read to her.

And then last week, I discovered that she actually has a favourite book. It is...(drum roll, please)...The Gingerbread Man! She can identify this book from among the stack of about 10 odd books that sit on a little table within her reach. If I ask her to bring me a book to read, she will methodically go through the stack, dragging each book onto the floor, until she finds the one she wants - and it is ALWAYS The Gingerbread Man. And that's not all. We always have to read it twice, sometimes more.

To say I am delighted is to flirt recklessly with understatement. I only hope that this is not a passing phase, and that she will continue to explore and enjoy the wonderful world of books.

Because, to quote Emily Dickinson,
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A hairy tale

I have curly hair. Masses of thick, frizzy, corkscrew locks that remind you of Alice from Dilbert. Yes, my life is one long bad hair day.

My mom recalls a newborn me, with sparse yet curly locks, scattered like little question marks across my scalp.

As a tousle-headed toddler, I defied all attempts at taming my curly mop by refusing to wear any sort of hair slide, pin, or rubber band.

Until I was 7 or 8, my dad cut my hair and I was always quite pleased with the result of his 'monkey cut', as he used to call it.

But as I grew older I realised that the 'monkey cut' was not quite the couture coiffure that my dad would have had me believe. And with my first few attempts at getting a real hairstyle came the discovery that my hair was born to be wild.

Having lost the battle with my medusa locks, (partly due to the limited hairstyling resources available to a 12 year old), I had them all chopped off and sported a GI Jane hairstyle for the next few years. I was merciless. The smallest curl that put in an appearance was executed immediately. Life was peaceful.

But then came college, and with it a desire to live wild and free. And accordingly, so did my hair. Live wild and free, I mean. It got to a point where I could stick a couple of pencils, half a Kit-Kat (wrapped, of course), and my keys into my untied hair and they would stay there! It was rather convenient really.

Not the sort of hairstyle that would encourage a panel of professors trying to determine my suitability for admission to a Well Known Institute of Management in Western India (WIMWI). However, I must have had some other redeeming points, since I did get in.

WIMWI was where I met Moppet's Papa. I knew he was the man for me when he told me he actually LIKED my hair. It's true. Now, armed with a lot more resources than I had at age 12, I consider straightening, re-bonding and all manner of ways to change my hair. And he resists - because incredibly, he really does like these loopy locks of mine.

What's more, he's hoping Moppet gets my hair. And indeed, at first it did appear that she would have curly hair. But after we had her head shaved (her first head of hair was growing all on one side of her head!), it appears to be growing back straight.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Money of my own

This article, and The Mad Momma's fiery response to it have got me thinking - how much of my need to get back to work is driven by the insecurity that comes from being financially dependant?

I'll be honest - it is the number one reason why I want to get back to work.

Oh, there are other reasons. I know it's fashionable to crib about the drudgery that is corporate life - the stupid boss, the credit-stealing co-workers, the pointless meetings, the heavy work load, slow career progression - oh the things we have to put up with, all for the sake of our little six-figure monthly pay checks!

But I'm not a fashionable person so I'm going to say it: I like going to work. I'm just that sort of person. I enjoy the interactions with a world that is so separate, and so different from my life at home. I think going back to work would make me a happier person, and a better mother, wife, and daughter.

So that's the romantic answer to why I want to get back to work. And it's true. But it's only part of the answer. The larger part is indeed about the money. I want money of my own.

I should clarify here that Moppet's Papa is absolutely wonderful about money. I have free access to it, and he never asks how much I've spent and on what. I'm the one with the problem. I'm always apologetic about spending the money, even though I know there is no need to be.

The Mad Momma has put down her attitude to this beautifully (as always!):
"I am not financially dependent because I am too stupid to get a job or because I have lost a faculty. I am financially dependent because I am doing something that I consider far more important. I am bringing up 'our' child in a way that suits 'us'. And in that way, the OA is dependent on me for our child's upbringing and our home running in a cosy and efficient way."

And as I read it, I know it's true, and I would be spared much mental agony if I could believe it of myself. But I can't.

I did not plan to be a SAHM. Don't get me wrong, I do not regret for one moment this last year that I have spent at home with Moppet. I don't think I would've changed that even if I could have. But I do know that back home in India, even if i didn't go back to work full-time, I would definitely have tried my hand at something part-time. Just knowing that the option exists would've made it easier to justify my financial dependance to myself.

Here in Bangkok, my options are far more limited. It is hard to find a job, not knowing the language, and not being a Thai national. Companies have quotas and are allowed to hire only a few non-Thais. Finding a job is not impossible - but it is difficult. And being faced with this difficulty for the first time in my life has brought home to me how much I need to work.

Because I want to work. And because I want money of my own.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Moppet's first vacation - the pictures

As promised, pictures of Moppet on holiday in Bali.

Come on! Let's explore these temple grounds!

Here's a nice spot, right under the statue's bum!

A girl's gotta eat to keep up her strength! Holidaying is tiring!

Tell me what I need to hear

Moppet, where's DuDu Bear?
Excited baby runs to the sofa where DuDu Bear is resting his furry butt and points.

Yay! Now tell me, where's Poochie?
Poochie is lifted up by one floppy blue ear and waved about.

Well done, baby! Ok, now where are the masks?
Genius baby turns to the living room wall on which hang our Indonesian tribal masks and points.

Clever girl! Now, Moppet, where's Mama?
Big eyes turn to me with a blank look.

Baby, where's Mama?
Little face scrunches up. What is this 'Mama' thing?

C'mon, sweetie - MAMA, MAMA...WHERE'S MAMA?
Baby has had enough. This game's not fun anymore. Little back is turned and new adventures sought.


Ok, so this episode has been dramatised a bit. But it is the sad truth. Moppet can identify so many things around the house, but ask her where Mama is, and she just doesn't know! :-(

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poolside happiness

This was Moppet's first big pool experience, and she took to it like, well, a fish to water!

Okay, so this is a teeny bit bigger than my bathtub...but I'm cool...just don't let go of my hand, Papa.

Wow, this is even better than bathtime!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Looking back

If you had told me in early 2005, that in 2 years time I'd be a stay at home mother to a one year-old, I would've laughed in your face. Rudely.

Fat chance, I would've said. I'm going to travel the world. Learn how to scuba dive. Take flying lessons. Make VP at work. Maybe after all that, I'll think about having a baby. Maybe.

So, in August 2005, when the possibility that I might be pregnant dawned on me, I crossed my fingers and hoped it was something else. And when I saw that second pink line appear on the home pregnancy kit, I refused to believe it. These things aren't reliable, I told myself - and tried another one (I had bought 3). Damn pink stripe! Showed up again! And yet again!

I sat on the toilet and cried. This was all wrong. It was too soon. I was not ready. It was absolutely the wrong time in my career. There were so many reasons why this was a bad time to get pregnant.

By the time Moppet's Papa got home I was a blubbering mess. He was actually quite delighted, but since I was behaving like my world had come to an end, he wisely refrained from any yahooing and asked me what I wanted to do. He'd support my decision, he said - either way.

We sat down and talked. About what this baby would mean for us, our careers, and our future. And the more I thought about my options, one thing became clear - I did want a child. It was just that the timing was SO inconvenient. (It makes me laugh now - this thought of inconvenience. But spare a kind thought for a clueless 26 year-old who didn't know at that time that babies are born with inconvenience hardwired into their little brains (and butts)!)

In retrospect, I realise that I would probably never have been completely ready for a baby. There would never have been a 'convenient' time. I would have had to consciously decide to stop running on the corporate treadmill, and risk falling off it altogether. I would have had to deliberately consider the strain it would put on my comfortable marriage where we were happy doing our own separate things in a vaguely together sort of way.

I don't know that I would have had the courage.

As it happened, Moppet decided to take matters into her own hands, for which I am eternally grateful. And my life since she arrived is far richer than anything I could've imagined 2 years ago.

This is why I'm telling all my friends who've been saying they want babies but just don't know when (you know who you are :-)) - NOW is the time!

We're back!

...from the Island of a Thousand Gods.

All too soon, for my liking...we had the most wonderful time.

Bali was like being in a Chinese version of my home state of Kerala. The hot and humid breeze, the palm trees, the banana trees, the gorgeous green paddy fields, the narrow winding roads, all felt vaguely familiar and homely. But dotting the familiar (to me) landscape were these little houses and temples with their pointy red chinese roofs, huge oriental statues, and intricate stone and wood carving that turned the whole island into an exotic wonderland.

The fantastic setting aside, I think what made the holiday really special was that for the first time, it was just the 3 of us, being together without the routine distractions of life and work. Moppet enjoyed herself tremendously and was absolutely fabulous about all the travel, the long drives, the unfamiliar food, and the complete wrecking of her normal routine.

Since she has proven beyond doubt that she is a fun travel companion, she and I have decided that we're going to tag along with Moppet's Papa to whichever exotic location his work takes him. (Ha! No more excuses, Papa!)

More on the vacation once he gets back from Bali (he had to stay on for a conference) with the camera and the pictures.

Friday, April 6, 2007

On holiday!

Back on Wednesday.

Optimist-me says I'll get back all refreshed and relaxed, but realist-me will settle for getting back with Moppet in one piece, and my sanity intact!

Happy Easter weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Resistance is futile

An unguarded bucket of dirty water with a mop handle sticking out of it. A clarion call to a one-year old mischief maker.

She grabs the mop handle and rattles it, producing a loud clatter against the wall, and some gurgling sounds from the bucket. Rattle, clatter, swish, glug.

The sound effects are satisfactory, but what she really wants is to touch the water. She knows she shouldn't. Several weeks of being told 'No!' whenever she tries to stick her hand in the toilet bowl, or fish her dirty nappies out of the bucket they're soaked in have obviously had some effect.

She looks up - no maid, no mommy - she doesn't see me watching her from the study.

Her hand steals out...then stops. She shakes her head, and gives the mop handle another good shake, as if to take her mind off that lovely, swirling water that she shouldn't touch.

But her hand has a life of its own and out it comes again. She stops herself a couple of times more, shaking her head each time.

Finally, the temptation is too strong to resist - in goes the hand and merry splashing ensues.


I was so proud that she had at least tried to resist before getting into mischief (that too when she thought no one was watching) that I let her splash around in the bucket until she showed signs of trying to drink the water...which was about 5 seconds after the splashing began anyway!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Moppet's first vacation

Me: Moppet, we're going to Bali! For 4 days! Yay!
Moppet: (scrabbling about on the floor, dissecting a book called Purple Spotted Oranges) Deh duh!*

Ok, so Moppet's a well-travelled baby, and is apparently not so excited about this trip. And let's be fair, purple spotted oranges are way cooler than Bali! But this is my first holiday in 3 years, and I'm SO ready for it.

The only thing is, it's also my first holiday with Moppet, and I don't know how ready I am for that! Sure, I've travelled with her before - in India and out, on trains and planes, with and without help - but this is the first time that the end of the journey is a hotel room and not a home.

Would love to hear from moms and dads who've holidayed with their toddlers and lived to tell the tale! :-)

Monday, April 2, 2007

My life in six words.

No condom? Let's risk it!

Unexpectedly unemployed, dependant;
surprisingly not unhappy.

Ruled by a 70-inch human.

Her smile makes it all worthwhile.

One life. Six words. Sore brain.

See how it's really done.

PS. Thanks, Tharini! This was fun!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Happy day report

Moppet's first birthday also marked another first: our first mother-daughter dispute regarding her wardrobe.

I thought - being her birthday and all - that she should wear a nice dress. In my defense, there were no frills, lace, satin, or bows. It was a cute red cotton dress, but she was just not having it. She kept pulling at the skirt in disgust and giving me evil looks. She moped and made sad eyes and overall looked so miserable that I finally gave in and put her in a pair of shorts and t-shirt. It was her birthday after all, and I had to keep my happy day promise. She perked up considerably after that, the little drama queen.

(My mom tells me that this is my punishment for all the embarrassment I put her through by insisting on wearing my kurta tucked into my salwar as a 3-year old. It was my favourite outfit, I wore it all the time and I wouldn't wear it any other way. She'd pull it out, and I'd poke it right back in. Karma, she said happily, on hearing my tale of woe.)

Anyway, I got some small satisfaction by adding a little floral shirt to the outfit that she didn't seem to mind. So there, Ma!

The first item on the agenda was a trip to the Children's Museum. I had heard good things about it, and was told they had hands-on section for children between the ages of 6-18 months. Moppet loves exploring, so I thought it would be nice for her. Turns out the toddler section was really small and quite sad. There was however, a nice little baby town, with a kid-sized grocer's, fire station, doctor's office, etc. Moppet had a good time exploring the town although she would probably have had just as much fun at home with an old cardboard box.

The rest of the day went considerably better. Tired out from our morning exertions, all three of us took a nice long siesta, and then fully recharged, indulged in a boisterous game of football. (I'm trying to figure out how to upload a video clip of Moppet playing football - the blood curdling yells and victory dance are better seen than described.)

In the evening, we had dinner at a friend's place. Moppet enjoyed herself enormously, making friendly conversation with assorted adults, doing her little dance on demand, and going round the table begging for beer, until finally one of the guests took pity on her and she repaired triumphantly to a corner with an empty can of Heineken.

Yup, it was a happy day!