Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Moppet @ 14 Months

Jeez, where has my baby gone?

And who is this little girl who rules my house and my life with complete and utter impunity?

She walks around patting herself on the chest with both hands and calling herself 'Mama'. I'm still Mama, but apparently, now she is too!

She runs up and gives me a light bite on any available part of my body, and when I remonstrate using my stern you-know-that's-not-on voice, she grins and wags HER finger in MY face.

She swings Tarzan-like, from all the top drawers in the house. Nothing can be safely put away any more. She climbs onto, over, and around all manner of obstacles. No corner of the house is unreachable, and therefore unexplored.

She asks to be tickled by lifting up her shirt, pointing at her belly button and saying 'gilli-gilli'. Sometimes, if I'm within reach, she pokes my belly button, saying 'gilli-gilli' and giggling like she's the one being tickled.

When her Papa comes home from work, she runs to put his socks in the laundry basket. When he gets ready for work in the morning, she steals his clean socks and puts them in the basket as well. When she gets the chance, if his cupboard is open, she steals his underwear and attempts to wear it like a hat.

She kisses her Papa on demand - and sometimes even unbidden - pressing her mouth against his cheek, and saying 'ummmaaa'. I, on the other hand, have to chase her, grab her, squeeze her, and generally wrestle an 'umma' out of her.

When I whisper nonsense in her ear, and then draw back and say, "it's a secret, ok?" she looks at me, eyes huge and round, and nods solemnly.

At night, after her bedtime story, I flick off the light and she lies down and goes to sleep by herself. But she has to hold on to some part of me - her hand on my arm, or her foot in my lap; as long as she knows Mama is near, she can drift off to sleep.

Don't grow up, my darling. Your poor Mama will not be able to bear it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

Dear Ammamma and Umpa,

Mama tells me that today is your 32nd wedding anniversary. I don't really know how much 32 years is, but it sounds like a very long time. You two must be OLD! :-)

I miss you and all the fun and games we used to have. Like the 1-2-3 stairs game with Umpa, and the rolling on the lawn game with Ammamma. The early morning chats in the kitchen while Ammamma made breakfast, the long walks through the campus, and lazing around in the garden, enjoying the morning sun. I know Mama misses all that too, very much.

Mama says that she's the luckiest girl in the world for having such wonderful parents. She says you respected her opinion and let her make her own decisions even as a child.

She realises now how much strength and courage it must have taken to let her go, make her own mistakes, find her own way, and be her own person. And how much love it took to be able to do that without ever letting her feel that she was really alone. To be able to give her the confidence that you would always be there for her. Together.

So hugs and kisses from Mama, Papa, and me on your anniversary. We hope you enjoy your day at home with the rest of the family. We'll be thinking of you and wishing for many more years of love, togetherness, and happiness.

Love you lots!

PS. Could you talk to Mama about this parenting philosophy of yours? It sounds really good, but I don't think she's quite got it yet - she totally doesn't respect my opinion that I'm ready to drink beer, get on the escalator by myself, and drive the car. I'm afraid she's a bit dim about these things.

Friday, May 25, 2007

When I got my mind read

This afternoon, I was wandering around in a mall, having arrived too early for an appointment with someone, when a middle aged Indian man approached me with "Miss, are you Indian?"

On telling him that I was indeed Indian, he asked where the McDonalds was since he was "wanting to take a bite". I said I didn't know, but there were plenty of restaurants and fast food outlets on the 6th floor, and pointed him to the nearest elevator.

He was not satisfied with the answer. "Miss, I am yogi, mind-reader and astronomer. I cannot eat meat." I assured him that vegetarian options, though limited, were certainly available on the 6th floor and turned to leave, when he said:

"Two boys are there, very much in love with you. Only one is your true love. I can tell you the name of your true sweetheart, but you must not be angry with me."

Excuse me??!!

"Miss, I am yogi and mind-reader. I see from your face lines that two boys love you very much. But I can tell you the name of your true sweetheart. If you have 5 minutes?"

Now, I knew this was going to be a con job, but I had time to kill, and I wanted to see what he would say. So I said ok, and he brought out a little writing pad, wrote something on the top sheet, crumpled it up and gave it to me to hold in my right hand.

Then he asked me to name a number, a flower and my heart's desire and wrote that down on a second sheet of paper.

All along he's giving me his spiel on how my "brain line" was very strong, that I would have good luck for "2 months and 7 days, from June 1", that I would "do well in my studies" and that if I married my "true sweetheart" he would bring me much luck.

Then he asked me to put the crumpled piece of paper in my right hand back on his writing pad. He drew a box around it and put some random numbers in the box and then told me to pick up the paper, this time with my left hand.

Having reminded me that he had written down the stuff on the paper BEFORE I named the number, flower and my heart's desire, he then blew gently on my left hand and asked me to open it and read what was on the paper.

Sure enough, there was my chosen number, flower, and heart's desire, written down on that piece of paper.

I was impressed. I knew that it was sleight of hand, and that he had managed to switch papers sometime between my putting it down on his pad and picking it up again with my left hand - but it was so cleverly done, that even though I was watching for it, I couldn't spot it.

So I smiled brightly, said wow, that's wonderful, now you should go get your lunch, and I have to go meet someone.

But he wasn't done yet. He wrote down 3 numbers on another sheet of paper - 501, 1100, and 3001 - and said, "Poor people give me this much, rich people give me that much, and others give me what's in the middle. I can see from your face lines that you are neither poor, nor rich, but that you have a generous heart"

Yeah right, nice try! I ain't going to pay 500 bucks for a simple magic trick. But then I thought, he'd entertained me for 10 minutes, so I looked around in my purse and gave him a 50 baht note. What the heck, his lunch would be on me.

But he was persistent. "Don't you want to know your true sweetheart's name?" Ok, tell me then, I said. "Ah, but for that you should pay me 501"

Sorry mystic mind-reader, if you really could read my mind, you would know what I think of that! Although I was tempted to get him to give me the name of this "true sweetheart" that I would marry, just to be able to see his face when I revealed that I was already married!

But it was time for my appointment, so I said no; he wished me well and I hurried off.

And I thought to myself, if he - no mind reader, but a normally observant man - could mistake me, married four and a half years now and a mom to boot, to be an unmarried student of the sort who could have 2 boys madly in love with her - that's worth 50 baht to know, isn't it? :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tagged: 8 things you don't know about me

Tagged by The Mad Momma! I loved the idea of finding the odd one out. Have got 9 statements - one of them is untrue. Which one do you think it is?

1. I can't cook to save my life.

2. I first got drunk at age 16, on my aunt's homemade Christmas wine, and lay stretched out in the back of my parents' car, singing loudly and off-key all the way home.

3. I have eaten deep fried insects, sold in Bangkok as a casual snack.

4. I studied carnatic music for a year, and then my teacher suffered a heart attack and gave up teaching.

5. I have bungee jumped off the Kawarau bridge.

6. I can understand and speak 5 languages reasonably fluently - and hope to make that 6 as I get more proficient in Thai.

7. I love dancing to dhinchak Govinda numbers.

8. I didn't realise I was pregnant for 10 weeks and continued travelling on work, took a holiday in Kerala, even went to a water park and merrily slid down giant curly slides during that time.

9. I proposed marriage to Moppet's Papa.

I think Mad Momma has tagged everyone I could've tagged. So this is an open tag to anyone who'd like to take it up.

Oh, and please also give me props for my very first effort at graphic design - my header image! Maybe I should add a point 10 - I'm shameless? :-)

And the answer is:
While lots of you went for the carnatic music option, sadly it's quite true. As is not knowing I was pregnant for 10 weeks,

Kodi's Mom, I love you for being the only one who thinks I am ladylike enough to have waited for Moppet's Papa to propose, rather than jump the gun and ask him myself, but I'm afraid that's true as well.

SM, what to do, no one can make me groove like Govinda can! :-)

Noon came the closest - I did the bungee jump, but did not eat the fried insects.

And Tony, you of all people should've known better, having actually had to eat the stuff I've attempted to pass off as food!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Death of a Gingerbread Man

I am happy to report that the reign of The Gingerbread Man is over.

Just in time, too. After weeks of reading - "Run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!" - over and over and OVER again, I had started dreaming of having to chase a giant gingerbread man.

In my dream (or is it nightmare?), I'm huffing and puffing on some sort of a treadmill, and this huge gingerbread man, with his beady button eyes and a mocking painted-on smile is just out of my reach. It is apparently very important that I catch him, but of course, I never do. And throughout the dream, an irritatingly high pitched voice (surely I don't sound like that?!) keeps saying, "Run, run as fast as you can.."

Um, anybody care to try a Freudian analysis of that? :-)

But wait, don't break out the strait jackets yet - Moppet has finally transferred her affections to two new titles, which are thankfully far more (re)readable than the GB Man.

The top book of the moment is Dr Seuss's The Shape of Me and Other Stuff - it's fun to read, and the illustrations, done in silhouette, are eye-catching. It has so many fun and weird shapes that she enjoys pointing out - including a 'Blogg' which, by the way, is nothing like you would imagine.

The other book that she enjoys is Just Like My Dad, by David Melling - a cute and simple story about a lion cub and his goofy yet lovable Dad. It's short, funny, and the pictures are delightful. My favourite line in the book is spoken by the lion cub: "And when I lie around being lazy, my mum says, 'You're just like your dad!'"

I figure if I read it often enough, either Moppet will get the message and be a little more lazy, or her dad will and be a little less lazy. Either will work just fine for me! :-)

But should neither miracle come to pass, I will still be happy - at least I don't need to chase that giant gingerbread man anymore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I did it again!

This afternoon I was jolted out of my blogaholic stupor by the telephone. It was Moppet's Papa, asking breathlessly if we were okay.

"Yeah, why?"
"There was an earthquake!"
"Where?" (yes, I am that slow)
"Here, of course! Our building has been evacuated! How could you not have felt it?"

I don't know why he was surprised. My record with earthquakes has been less than stellar.

During the Latur quake in September 1993, some mild tremors were felt in Hyderabad where we lived at that time. Pots and pans rattled on the kitchen shelves, doors slammed, and my aunt made a hysterical midnight phone call to my parents. I slumbered peacefully through all the excitement, and suffered the intense mortification that only a 14-year old can experience when I found out the next morning that I was the only one in my class who hadn't felt a thing.

And then there was the massive earthquake in Bhuj in January 2001. Even I couldn't sleep through that one, although I assure you, I tried!

At that time, Moppet's Papa and I were second year students at a B-school in Ahmedabad. Our annual cultural fest was on and we had returned from a concert at 4 am that morning and crashed in his dorm room. I also have a vague memory that alcohol - lots of it - had been consumed.

So you will understand why, when at 8.45 in the morning, I was vigorously shaken awake and opened my eyes to see the cupboard doing a happy jig, I just closed my eyes and turned over to go back to sleep. But then tiny bits of brick started landing on me, and I sat up and glared at Moppet's Papa. Was that any way to wake up your girlfriend?

He was already up, apparently mesmerised by the dancing cupboard. It took another 5 seconds for us to register what was happening and scoot out of the dorm even as more pieces of brick landed on our heads.

I was fully awake now, and any alcoholic fog that might have remained quickly dissipated at the sight of one of our classmates, clad only in a hopelessly tiny towel, streaking towards the open grounds.

At the time, the entire thing was little more than an exciting episode in our lives. Although the campus itself was a bit of a disaster zone - brick walls had collapsed here and there - everyone on campus had been accounted for and there were only some minor injuries.

We didn't realise until later that day what devastating damage the earthquake had caused all over the city and in Kutch. That was when it stopped being a fun adventure and the magnitude of the tragedy sunk in. That was when it turned scary. For days after that, as the aftershocks continued to hit, the slightest rumbling - whether real or imagined - would get me dashing frantically out of the front door.

Looks like that heightened sensitivity was only temporary though, because here I am again, the only person in Bangkok who didn't feel a thing.

No wait - not the only person.
Moppet didn't feel a thing either! :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Saying goodbye

It is the season for farewells, here in Bangkok, since most company moves are timed to coincide with the end of the school term in June.

Several of Moppet's little friends from our building are moving this year - by end July, they will all be gone. Moppet is too young to understand or care, but these kids have become my friends as well and I will miss them.

They were my first friends in Bangkok; I was welcomed into their world the day I first showed up at the building park with 9-month old Moppet in tow.

The little girls were chatty and bold. They came up to ask me my name, Moppet's name and what she liked to play.

4-year old A was not particularly impressed with Moppet's abilities. Can your baby walk, she wanted to know. Not yet, I replied. Well, my baby can walk, she said with pride, referring to her 15 month old younger sister. A month later when Moppet took her first faltering steps in the park, she was still not impressed. My baby can run, she said. And she has more teeth!

But if Moppet fell down and cried, A would be the first one to run up and comfort her. Would she like to hold my doll, she would ask anxiously, holding out her well-loved mermaid doll. Give her some juice, she would demand, offering her own juice box.

The little boys were much shyer, and took longer to come around. But very early on, I noticed that they would perk up and start showing off when Moppet and I arrived at the park. Who could jump higher on the trampoline, who could climb on top of the swinging train, who could kick the football harder... the show was on, with sidelong glances to check if we were watching.

And then one afternoon, 3-year old P sidled up to show me his new Thomas underwear, and I knew that Moppet and I were now in the magic inner circle.

What amazed and touched me was the gentleness and patience with which these kids treated Moppet.

3 year olds P and L would cut out their acrobatics on the trampoline and sit on the edge and bounce Moppet gently up and down on it, long before she could even stand by herself.

6-year old P would walk her round and round the park, showing her flowers, and talking about her day at school.

7-year old Ab, while a bit of a terror among his own age group, loved performing for Moppet, with monkey faces and funny sounds, making her scream with laughter.

These are Moppet's friends. My friends. For those lonely first months, the park was where I was welcome without question.

And now they are all moving away. I doubt we will ever meet again. They probably will not even remember Moppet or me in a few months time. Moppet certainly will not remember them.

No matter, I will remember for all of us.

Goodbye, my friends. Thank you for the friendship and camaraderie. I wish you all wonderful lives, wherever in the world you may be.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Camera shy

This is why there have been no photos of Moppet on the blog recently. I cannot bring out the camera without her immediately asking for it. Whining and grabbing quickly follow with the result that most of her pictures taken over the last month look like this.

Friday, May 11, 2007

She said it!

Last evening while I was changing Moppet's diaper and chatting to her, she looked me in the eye and said, clear as a bell: "Mama"

Trumpet blasts sounded in my head; in the distance, a choir of angels hit the high notes.

I jumped up and screamed, and did a little jig.

"Say that again, baby!"


More screaming, and another jig.

Moppet understood. So this is the magic word that turns mommy into a dancing dervish. What fun!

"Mama!" she said again, experimentally.

Same effect. The dervish was now engaged in a dance that looked like a cross between head banging and the twist.

"Mama, mama, mama, mamamama!" Moppet yelled, sliding off the bed and joining in the excitement.

We danced and jumped and yelled. Just the two of us - Moppet and her newly christened Mama.


I am strongly tempted to record this as Moppet's first word, but I fear I would be less than honest if I did.

For the last week or so, she has been pointing at various objects around the house and saying 'Dis', and sometimes 'Dat'.

It's probably because of my obssessive habit of pointing out things to her saying "What's this, baby?" and then answering my own question.

I've been waiting for someone to ask if she's talking yet.

Just to be able to answer "Oh, she says dis and dat!" :-))

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

For Ma

I take after my father. I look like him, talk like him, and think like him. I know him, because in many ways, I am him.

My mom is different. Soft-hearted, sensitive, and slightly timid. So different from my father. So different from me. I loved her - she's impossible not to love - but I did not know her.

I did not see the quiet strength that lay underneath that timid exterior. I did not understand her enormous capacity for love. I did not believe she had anything to teach me.

There was no epiphany. The realisation has been slow and gradual. Over the last 10 years, as I find out more about myself, I have begun to understand how much my mom has given me.

It is from her that I get my natural facility with language, and my flair for (melo) drama. It is from her that I get my innate trust in the goodness of other people. She calls it faith.

It is from her that I learnt that the heart can be wise too. That sometimes, backing down is a sign of strength, not weakness. That it's okay to let go, and to ask for help if you need it.

It is from her that I learnt not to be afraid to show affection. To laugh with abandon. To love with every fibre of my being.

I take after my mother. I don't look like her, talk like her, or think like her. But I know her, because in many ways, I am her.

For Ma, on Mother's Day, and every day.
All my love, always.

Ma, with the only person in the world she will happily let pick her beloved flowers

Monday, May 7, 2007


Moppet and I have signed up for parent-child swim classes because:

a) we needed to do something that was different from our normal routine of eat, don't sleep, play, eat, don't sleep some more, and see if we can get mom to throw herself off the balcony.

b) apparently swimming can help with sleeping. See point a.

c) our balcony overlooks the swimming pool. See point a.

The first class was great. There were five other babies (and their moms) in our group and the instructor took us through rhymes and games designed to help the babies learn how to swim. Moppet had a wonderful time, joining in the splashing games with gusto, and jumping off the little floats into the water like she'd been doing it all her life.

I had a great time too - apart from the trauma of having to appear in all my jiggly, pear-shaped glory in front of 5 well-toned women who apparently got their babies simply by clicking their fingers and making a wish.

But it was worth it, because when we got back home, Moppet actually took an afternoon nap. For one whole hour! Bliss!

So it was with a skip in my step and a song on my lips that I arrived at the second class. This was going to be fun.

Oh boy. You know what's coming, right?

To begin with, we were early, and the group before us were still in the pool. So I spent an energetic 5 minutes flinging myself around, trying to keep Moppet from taking a running jump into the pool.

When she realised it wasn't a game, and that I was actually trying to stop her from entering the pool, she set up a howl that caused one of the babies in the pool to startle and start crying too.

Flashing an apologetic smile in response to the dirty look from the baby's mother, I grabbed Moppet and rushed outside, where we stayed until it was time for our class.

For the first 10 minutes all was well. We sang the splashing song, wiggled, kicked, and bounced around happily in the water.

And then we discovered The Shower.

The pool is set up with a little tunnel on one side. The babies swim through the tunnel and at the end there's a bright yellow button that they get to press. This causes a small spray of water to sprinkle the button-pusher's head. In theory.

In practice, the mom of the button-pusher gets a spray of water in her face.

Of course, Moppet LOVED it. She'd push the button, I'd get sprayed in the face and gasp, and she'd laugh. If I tried to move her away from the shower, she would protest with the most ear-splitting howls.

Finally, I dragged her away and put her on the float with the other well-behaved babies who were playing a sedate game of Row Your Boat. Suffice it to say that the game ended very quickly with all 6 babies in the water.

So we were banished to The Shower, where Baby Voldemort spent the rest of the class spraying me in the face and laughing like a little maniac.

For me, the only light at the end of the tunnel was her nap. It's worth it, I kept telling myself on the way back. She'll sleep for an hour. She will. She will.

She didn't.

So now I'm off to throw myself off the balcony.

Don't worry though, I'm taking swim classes :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My girl

I'm big on planning. I'm always planning - my day, stuff to do on the weekend, my next holiday, my life. The fact that nothing, NOTHING, in my 28 years of life has gone according to 'plan' doesn't bother me. I'm a plan-o-maton. It's what I do.

So when I found out that I was pregnant (totally not according to plan!), after the initial hysterics, I went right back to planning.

I planned to have the perfect little girl. She was going to be beautiful, gentle, sweet, and quiet. I would wander through baby sections in stores and plan her wardrobe - full of lovely frocks and pretty matching bonnets.


Little did I know that at that very moment, The Big Guy was rummaging around in the back of His cupboard looking for that rare blueprint of the Ungirliest-Girl-in-the-History-of-the-World.

And so she arrived (by C-section, thumbing her little nose at my plans for a normal delivery), my perfect little girl. She, of the gentle ways and quiet nature.

Double Ha! Is that a chuckle I hear from up there, Big Guy?

This then, is my girl:

My girl, who is happiest running around in her baniyan-chaddi, who mopes and sulks when I put her in a dress.

My girl, whose favourite game is football, accompanied by yells of the most bloodcurdling variety.

My girl, who dives into a room full of toys, dolls, and stuffed animals, and finds the one thing that she will play with for the rest of the evening - a little white racing car.

My girl, whose favourite pastime is to (try to) lift things that are bigger than her, heavier than her, or both.

My girl, who will go the distance to join in a fight.

This then, is my girl.

And I'll let you in on a little secret - she's perfect!