Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Moppet takes a trip

It seemed like just another normal Sunday morning - until Moppet wandered into her room and saw her diaper bag being packed.

"Baaa!" she squealed in delight. She knows the appearance of this bag always heralds a new adventure. "Bye!" she said happily, waving and blowing kisses to everyone. Then dragging the bag behind her, she toddled off towards the front door. Let the adventure begin!

Having already set off, she did not appreciate being stopped and whisked away for a bath and breakfast. Despite her vigorous protests, we all managed to get ready and one chaotic hour later, we were set to go.

Our destination was Safari World, an open air zoo and marine park on the outskirts of Bangkok. Moppet's Papa had his maps spread out on the front passenger seat, and I was in the back with all the equipment required for my role as Moppet's car jester.

It didn't begin well. We got lost and had to take a huge detour to get back on track. Moppet's Papa got in a bad mood. My attempts to help with the map made it worse. Moppet started screaming to be let out of her car seat. And to top things off, it started to rain. We were literally one tantrum away from turning back and going home. But we finally found the turn-off, and as if in celebration, the sun came out of hiding as well. The light shower had a pleasant, refreshing effect, and all was well in our world again.

Once we reached the park, Moppet was released from her car seat and we went up front to be able to see better. It is a 7 km drive through the park, and has a variety of animals and birds. It was wonderful. We could get quite close to the animals, who were obviously used to being gawked at by humans, and were going about their business as usual. Moppet went crazy, bouncing between her Papa and me, and yelling out 'kaa' to all the birds, and 'dah' to the animals.

After the ride, we wandered through the marine park, grabbed some lunch and then headed to the dolphin show. Moppet had almost fallen asleep in her stroller, but perked up as soon as she heard the music that was being played to entertain the crowd waiting for the show to begin. It was our very own Himesh Reshammiya's 'Jhalak dikhlaaja'. I swear, the man is becoming a global menace!
Anyway, there was a bunch of desi guys swinging wildly to the music, and the crowd was egging them on, much to the bemusement of assorted Japanese and Korean tourists who were sitting around us.

The show was lovely, and Moppet cheered and clapped along with the crowd, and varied it a bit by occasionally poking the lady sitting in front of us.

There was plenty more to do, but we were all pooped. Moppet, literally. So I changed her in Thailand's Best Public Restroom. No, really! There was actually a sign outside that said that. I wonder if there is a Thai Office In-charge-of Lavatory Excellence Testing that certifies these places?

We left the cool confines of Thailand's Best Public Restroom all cleaned up, but really tired. And sure enough, within 5 minutes of hitting the road, Moppet was fast asleep in her car seat. With a smile on her face.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The truth is stranger than fiction!

I just discovered that a google search for 'baby Voldemort' throws up this post - as the first, most relevant result!

Surely in a www stuffed to overflowing with Harry Potter sites and references, this cannot be the most relevant result for baby Voldemort?!

Then again...just look at this face!

It's that time of the month again

You know, when the Toys R Us mailer arrives and Moppet's Papa has to take away my keys and ATM card so that I don't go and blow Moppet's college education fund at the store.

"But it's a one-time only deal!" I wail, attempting to appeal to his cheap side. "We'll save at least 500 Bt!"

No effect.

"They're educational toys!" I try again, "AND we get a Wet Head cap free! Moppet needs a Wet Head cap!"

Still nothing. In desperation, I turn to Moppet for help.

"Moppet, tell Papa, sweetie. How will you develop your cognitive abilities and motor skills, understand cause and effect, learn the alphabet, numbers, colours, and shapes, sing rhymes in English and French, appreciate classical music, and learn to identify constellations if you do not have the Learn n Groove Musical Table, and the Bilingual Talking Video Phone, and the Fun2Learn Laughtop?"

Moppet looks up at me from the floor. She is stuffing her arm through an old cardboard box and laughing in delight as her fingers pop out through the other side. She picks up a plastic block and waves it at me.

"Tar!" she says.

The madness passes.

"Yes, that's a star, Moppet," I reply. "And so are you. Shall we go and read Little Star's Wish?"

Now that we've dispensed with my silliness, please read what the good folks at Wharton have to say about this. Thanks for the link, Dad!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Plasticblue Elephant dies

July 23, 2007

Plasticblue Elephant, an active member of the Moppet Toybox Community, was tragically killed this morning when he was flushed down the toilet by a 16-month old vandal.

What is particularly horrifying is that the accused is not only unremorseful but actually appears to have enjoyed herself. Witnesses have stated that they saw her standing by the toilet bowl, laughing and clapping her hands with diabolic glee.

Plasticblue Elephant's partner, Plasticgreen Zebra, has called for stringent action against the accused. However, since the accused has no record of any previous toilet flushing activities, it is likely that she will be let off with a warning.

Friday, July 20, 2007


The Mad Momma is on the warpath - determined to out all the closet judges in the blogosphere.

Well, she got me!

Some introspection was needed for this post - to discriminate between things I don't like (which are many), things I have strong opinions about (also many), and things I am judgmental about (which I thought were few).

I genuinely do believe in the each-to-his-own philosophy. I may not agree with or like your thinking and way of life, but I respect that it's your choice. I am also not a black and white person - I can usually see greys in everything. Given all this, I really did think I could call myself non-judgmental and mean it.

But having looked it up, I find that being judgmental means making a personal or moral assumption about a person on the basis of some action or characteristic. By that definition, my non-judgmental cover is completely blown.

So here's my list. I judge:
  • Educated people who mix up words like 'your' and 'you're' or 'they're' and 'their' when they write. It would be different if they didn't know any better. But they do, and I assume it's because they're lazy and sloppy.

  • People who write in sms mode - datz d ting i h8 d most. If you don't have the time to write to me in readable English, I'm sorry, I don't have the time to decode whatever it is you've written.

  • Smokers of all denominations.

  • Women whose only conversations are about what they made for breakfast and lunch, and what they're planning to make for dinner. I make unflattering though quite possibly mistaken assumptions about their intelligence.

  • People who wear clothes that scream designer. This is an irrational one, but I just think they're shallow.

  • People who think that mass mailing random forwards once in a while qualifies as staying in touch. I assume they are less than genuine (the people, not the forwards!). If any of my friends are reading this, of course I don't mean YOU, sweetie :-)

  • Hypocrites (Um, what's that? The point above? I don't know what you're talking about!)

  • People who take themselves too seriously. I immediately assume that they're not as good as they say they are. Which may be wrong, but hey, that's why it's judgmental.
This is not a complete list by any means. And not all judgement is negative either. But since those are more fun, I'll stop right here.

This is an open tag. Go ahead, judge all you want.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Moppet speaks her mind

Mama's being a big crank today, and she says it's all because of me. I think it's quite unfair of her, so I'm going present my case here and ask all you nice folks what you think.

It all began this morning when I woke up feeling fresh and rested at around 3 am (why is that not ok, btw?) and climbed onto Mama's bed for a nice chat. She was NOT happy to see me, and kept trying to put me back onto my mattress, although I kept telling her I wanted to talk. I had to get rather loud - she just wouldn't listen!

She finally gave in (most ungraciously, I might add) and let me lie down between her and Papa. I was happy that I'd finally got through to her, but when I started up a conversation she shushed me rudely.

Well! It looked like Mama Grouchy Pants could do with a bit of cheering up. So I thought I'd list her facial features and give her the old aai - noo - maau routine. It's generally quite a hit number around here. Brings in a lot of applause.

It was still dark, so I may have (wholly unintentionally, I assure you) kicked and poked her in some sensitive areas before I could locate her face. Hey, granted I'm pretty special in a lot of ways, but even I can't see in the dark. Why get so mad about that?

So here I was, lovingly pointing out (read into) her eyes, nose, and mouth, and she swats away my hands with a groggy, "Go to sleep, child"

Sigh! Where's the love, I ask you?

Then I tried tickling her on her tummy. "Gilli-gilli?" I said, in my most hopeful tone. "Mmpfha," she said. (And she wonders why I don't speak clearly yet!) I continued this tack for a few minutes, but got ignored the whole time. Clearly this was not working.

Hmm...maybe the pinching game would work better. This is where I pinch her and also yell 'AAARGH' at the same time. She usually responds with an 'AAARGH' of her own. Yeah, it's a great game, as much fun as it sounds like.

Would you believe it didn't work? I couldn't either! I mean, she said 'AAARGH', but it was an angry one, not a funny one. She held my hands tightly together and said, "Lie down quietly, NOW! No talking, no games. Sleep, ok?"

Hummph, killjoy!

Anyway, we matched wits for over an hour, and then I fell asleep in my favorite position where I wrap my arms around her arm and throw a leg over it for good measure. As I fell asleep I heard her muttering something about how at least her arm would get some sleep if not the rest of her...

So tell me people, what's the big deal? It certainly doesn't warrant being mean to poor Papa (who didn't know a thing and slept like a log) later in the morning and accusing him of being a quilt hog. I'm totally on his side on this one. He's much bigger than her; of course he needs more quilt. Calling him a quilted katthi roll is a new low, even for Mama!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tagged: Indian Writing

I am not a picky reader. A consequence of this locust style devouring of any book that comes my way, is that few books make a deep enough impact for me to remember them much after I've read them.

That's not to say that there aren't any, of course. And while by my own standards I don't think I've read much Indian writing, there are still several memorable books and writers that I would like to list for this tag from Kiran.

I was introduced to Indian writing through the short story collections of Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan. As a young reader, I took their stories at face value, not looking for any deeper meanings or hidden philosophy. I love the simple style and engaging characters that are typical of both these writers.

My only encounter with poetry that was not dictated by school or college curriculum, was Tagore's Gitanjali. There was an old book I found that had a collection of Nobel Prize winning literature, and though I know I read it all, I can only remember Gitanjali and funnily enough, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch. I do not know what became of that book, a fact which I regret deeply, since it was certainly an odd collection to have paired such dramatically different works, and I would've liked to read it again to remember what else it contained.

Then there is The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh. This was the first of his books that I read and also the one that I remember most clearly. Which is strange, since I read it over 10 years ago, while I read The Glass Palace and The Hungry Tide more recently. Yet it is the adventures of bumpy-headed Alu and his pursuer Das that remain vividly etched in my memory.

I love absolutely everything by Rohinton Mistry. His characters - eccentric, but not outrageously so - are real and likeable. His writing is simple and straightforward and he draws you into his world with deceptive ease. No gimmicks, no fancy prose, no showing off. My kind of man. My kind of book.

A writer who does come across as flashy to me is Arundhati Roy. I thought she tried too hard to create 'picturesque' prose. But for all that, I did enjoy The God of Small Things. Maybe because the place and people she describes were so familiar to me, it was almost like reading a book about family. It was fascinating.

My Own Country: A doctor's story is another book that touched my heart. It is an autobiographical account by Abraham Verghese about dealing with AIDS in a rural community at a time when very little was known about the disease.

I really enjoy reading plays, but there aren't very many Indian playwrights who write in English. Manjula Padmanabhan's Harvest had me riveted. Set in the future - a future that appears horrifyingly possible - it is a wonderful example of the best sort of Sci-Fi literature.

Currently waiting on my bookshelf are Q & A by Vikas Swarup, Three Novels by Amit Chaudhuri, and The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu. The last book was bought out of sheer curiosity because it was the first Indian SF/Fantasy book that I had come across, a genre that I am rather partial to.

Reading through everyone else's lists has given me a large number of titles that I will need to get Moppet's Papa to pick up for me the next time he's in India. I had better send him with a big suitcase!

Passing on the tag to Sue, Suki, Squiggles Mom, Mystic Margarita, and Minka.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, M.

If you were here today, you would have been 24. And an uncle to boot! I know it's hard for you to imagine your scatterbrained sis as a mom, but it's true!

It's not hard for me to imagine you as an uncle, though. Because you see, you've never really been gone. Almost every day, and for every event in my life for the last 12 years, I've imagined you there.

And not as the 12 year-old you; you with the bright eyes and the impish smile, looking out at me from the framed picture on my desk.

No, in my mind, I've seen you grow. I've imagined so many of your birthdays.

Your 13th, where you officially become a teenager, but much to your annoyance and our amusement, you still look chubby and cute.

Your 15th, where I see the beginnings of the moustache that you are carefully tending.

Your 18th, which you hurriedly celebrate with us because you want spend the rest of the day with a certain special someone.

Your 21st, where I finally begin to see a young man, and not just my kid brother.

And today, your 24th, where you let your adored niece cut your cake and blow out the candles for you.

So you see, you've never really been gone. I've imagined you grow. And I've grown with you.

I still feel the anger. Anger that all I have of you now are memories and imagination.

I sometimes still feel the guilt. Guilt that my life has gone on, when yours was so cruelly cut short.

I always feel the pain. It has dulled to an ache in a corner of my heart, but it is always there.

It hurts that Moppet will never know you. All she will know of her uncle are the stories I can tell her, and the pictures she will see.

But I know you see her, from wherever you are. You know her and love her and watch over her with pride, just as you would if you were here with us.

Happy birthday, my little brother.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Engaging Conversation

It is a pleasant evening in November. The air smells crisp and fresh, so different from the city air they have been breathing for so long. They are sitting side by side on the verandah looking out at the moonlit lawn.

Suddenly, a thought occurs to her: "What say we make this official, huh?"

He turns to look at her, surprised: "Are you asking?"

There is a pause as she contemplates what has just slipped out of her mouth. And then: "Yeah.... I guess so."

A huge grin appears on his face: "YES! Of course, yes!" Then he adds, more seriously, "But you know you're a moron, don't you?"

"I know"


This post is not-quite-a-tag, taken up from Grail's lovely post. Don't miss Pixie's and Poppins' great engagement stories either.

Update: To set the record straight, Moppet's Papa claims he was planning to propose in some fancy way (involving a chartered helicopter, I believe - his cousin is a pilot at some company that charters helicopters). I was all for taking back my proposal so we could do the helicopter thing, but of course, he wouldn't let me do that! This way, he can (and does) respond to my complaints about him with an unanswerable, "Well, YOU asked!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This one's for you

One hot summer afternoon when I was 15, I answered a phone call. It was a wrong number, but intended for someone I knew. That got me talking to the caller for a little longer and we ended up having a wonderful conversation.

It was the start of an intense friendship. He would call every day and we would talk for hours. He was smart and really, really funny. We talked about absolutely everything. I thought nothing of asking him things that I would be embarrassed to ask my real life friends. We shared secrets and confided in one another. We engaged in animated debates and freewheeling discussions on topics that ranged from profound to utterly banal.

And of course, it didn't hurt that his voice was deep and friendly, and that he possessed a delicious laugh that warmed my heart.

We talked every day for about 5 months. And then he went abroad, and I didn't hear from him again. We never met.

Knowing him was like having an imaginary best friend, only for real. And my life was certainly richer for having known him.

Now 13 years later, in a city where I have no real life friends, where life is sometimes terribly lonely, I find myself surrounded by real imaginary friends. A welcoming circle of friends I have never met, yet know so well.

The warm voices, the teasing laughter, the consoling pat are all imagined. But the friendship, the empathy, the concern - that's for real, I know.

For that, to all my real, imaginary blogging friends, I say thank you.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Good night and shut up

A bottle of warm milk, 2-3 stories (or 5 or 10 depending on how energetic Moppet is feeling), a goodnight kiss and hug (or 5 or 10 depending on how mushy Mama is feeling), and then the lights are turned off. I lie down next to Moppet and sing to her as she scrabbles around on the bed like a puppy trying to find a comfortable spot to sleep in, until the activity slowly ceases and I know she's asleep.

This has been our bedtime routine for at least 4 months now. The entire thing takes about an hour and it's one of my favourite times of the day. I particularly enjoy lying next to her in the dark, holding her warm little hand in mine, and softly singing whatever song pops into my head.

So every night, Moppet is subjected to my renditions of assorted hymns, hindi film songs, mallu film songs, old classics, cartoon songs, even the odd christmas carol and corrupted bits and pieces of the only french song that I remember.

Now, I have no illusions about my vocal abilities (just ask my unfortunate music teacher) but I truly did believe that my baby enjoyed my daily performance as much as I did.

Until tonight.

Tonight she seemed to be taking longer than usual to fall asleep. She tossed and turned. Sat up for a little bit. Smooshed her face into the pillow and waved her butt in the air. Nothing seemed to be working. Every time she lay still for a little while and I got up to leave, still singing softly, she would sit up and call me back before I reached the door.

Finally after almost an hour of non-stop singing and humming, I was so hoarse that I had to stop. Moppet stopped her butt waving and popped her head up to investigate the sudden lack of croaking on my part. Having assured herself that I was still around, she patted my face gently and then with a sigh of relief, lay down and was asleep in 10 seconds!

Apparently it was my singing that was keeping her awake. Hummmph! So it has been decided - from now on all my future musical endeavours will be enjoyed by the non-judgemental, plastic ears of my shower caddy ONLY.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

There was a little girl, who had a little curl...

Well, Gulliver's back in Lilliput, but I'm generally feeling a bit better about it all, having gone shopping in India and picked up a few things labelled M. (So what if it's only underwear?! At least I'll know that I'm 'M on the inside' :-)

The holiday rocked - more for Moppet than for me, though. But we got back just in time, because I'm sure that if Moppet had stayed even a day longer, both she and I would have been disinherited from the family fortune.

Yes folks, I am sorry to report that she was quite badly behaved. The temper tantrums, the mood swings, the screaming fits - I have never seen her behave like that before. You remember the rhyme about 'the little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead? When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was terrrible!' Well, that's what Moppet's like these days.

One minute she's wowing the family, putting on a performance of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or shaking her little butt to 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom', and the next minute, some inexplicable slight causes a full blown meltdown, complete with copious waterworks, flailing limbs and high decibel sound effects.

Is there an 'Odious Ones' phase that nobody told me about? Whatever it is, I hope it passes soon, because when she's being Monster Moppet, she's not exactly the world's most lovable tot.

And yet at other times, she's positively delightful. She's made new friends, learnt rhymes and games of a complexity I hadn't realised she was capable of, and talks nineteen to the dozen, although most of it is still undecipherable.

I remember when Moppet was about 3 months old and I was struggling with the overall upside-downness of my life as a new mom, a friend of mine told me to hang in there. It gets easier as they grow older, she assured me.

She was right in a way - some things do get easier. But just when you think you've got it licked, new problems appear. I guess the only thing one can say for sure is that it gets more interesting.

And finally, since Moppet feels that I may have overstated her bad behaviour, she insists that I post pictures of her being a good girl to keep it fair. So here we are:

Having a quiet snack in Ammamma's kitchen

Reading 'Dear Zoo' with Umpa

Superbaby enjoys the outdoors

Umm... remember the girl with the curl?