Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Balance Sheet

So, little Coco has celebrated his first birthday last month and is now a big boy. His mummy too, celebrated her own birthday and a year of her 'Mummyhood'. It has been a great year for me, a year of great learnings, shocking new discoveries(!), life changing (and nappy changing) experiences. A year full of Irritation and tiredness so heavy, I would find it hard to get up in the mornings, and happiness that would make me feel lighter than air, a calm so sweet that would make me sleep like a baby, though the baby himself never slept like one! 

Coco, who began his life with somewhat difficulty and spent his entire first week in the neonatal ICU, has now become a little brat who is loved for his charming smile and feared for his tantrums with equal fervour. As soon as he fully recovered from all the issues related to his premature birth and started to look like an infant, rather than a foetus, our lives changed. Anyone, including doctors, who looked at him would say 'Ooh' rather than the earlier 'Tch, Oh!'. His blue eyes and sweet smile would attract family as well as strangers alike. I never knew people could be so friendly before I had Coco. Randomly, anyone would come and request to take a picture of him, to which, I could never muster up courage enough to say 'No'. So, right now, hundreds of his pictures are being seen across India, a few in the cellphones of Delhi Policewomen, some with the little girl who was at Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain, a couple of pictures with the saleswomen at a shop in Gorakhpur, you get the drift! 'Send him on TV, he looks like J&J/Pampers baby' are the common words I keep hearing. 

 As I see him growing taller, I see myself growing wiser too! Of late, I am happy mostly about reduced use of breast-milk (from main course to snacks), a diminishing belly and vanishing stretch marks. Looking at him, even my concerns turn into something radiant, my worries become my treasures, in which I swim like Uncle Scrooge McDuck does in his wealth!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Three Little Monkeys!

Oh! Look Veeru Mama.......
No need to say thanks Mamaji, just eat!

Pay attention.

Eat well.
Want more? Come tomorrow.
Bad habit.. eating off the floor!
Hey wait! I have your picture....
On my T-shirt right here!

(Wondering about where are three monkeys? Well one is Veeru, the Monkey, second is Cheeky Little Monkey on Coco's T-shirt and third one.... Coco, my little monkey! :) )

Monday, 16 September 2013

Rain is falling chhamachham!!

Coco is enjoying the first rain-showers of his life at Nana's. The beauty of it all is breathtaking. Rain howls in open fields as we look at the downpour from  the balcony at the back.

Closer home, the drops of rain slide from the cold steel railing like pearls. Hm, it all makes him jump with surprise and joy.  


After a thorough wash with rains, the clear green of the fields looks like a painting, complete with a pair of Sarus Cranes playing. The rain water logged in the fields has transformed them into a pond where a variety of birds come looking for food and frolic.

And then, Nana brings home some awesome gifts of rainy season. A toothless Coco enjoys licking roasted 'Bhuttas' as he thinks that is what Nana and Mummy are doing.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

We've Got Courier!

Coco's first birthday is approaching (So soon??), along with Coco's mummy's nth birthday! Gifts have started flying in. That's how 'Happy' and 'Birthday' go together! So, mummy tore open the first package to arrive while Coco was sleeping and everyone else was away! Shh...

And out spills a rainbow... red and yellow, pink and blue!

Coco's Mausi has sent some T-shirts and a football for him. No T-shirts for mummy. Not even a ping-pong ball. :( 
'Ohh, I totally forgot, your birthday is next day, otherwise I would have sent something for you too' is her explanation. Sigh!!

Though, this lady has significantly improved her capabilities of buying baby clothes and toys. After a rap on the knuckles from her mother when she first bought clothes for Coco, she became wiser and now knows that the age mentioned on baby clothes should not be taken seriously because babies of the same age may have various sizes. Not only that, she has kept comfort above fashion (wide sleeves, stretchy necks/snap openings, no collars, hoods or unnecessary parts, ). I am surprised. It is coming from someone who is a big fan of Babli from the movie 'Bunty Aur Babli' who says to her son:

'Thand ko mar goli, fashion karna seekh!' (To hell with the cold weather, learn to be fashionable.)

By the way, her gifts are fashionable too.
Great going, mausi!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Early Morning Visitor


Good Morning! Who's there in Coco's Nana's balcony?

Whoa...peeping in??

Come closer...

...and closer!

Ohh.. it is the much talked about Veeru Mama. Nana named him so. Comes to visit Naana and Nana often. She gives him biscuits while Naana tells her to be cautious.

Looks innocent, but tore mummy's favorite track-pants! Naughty monkey!! 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ye Saali Gaali...

How many 'Gaalis' (Expletives, abuses) do you know? What do they mean? How many of them do not speak about a woman's dignity (or lack of it)? Do you think you ever mean what you say in a gaali?

Many years ago, while we were enjoying the new freedom of  a job after studies, I used to be the flatmate of a girl who started taking pride in using abuses while talking, courtesy her new friends at work. Accustomed to the much polite Lucknowi Tehzeeb(?), I used to cringe listening to her gaalis in brash Punjabi style, which were more derogatory and hurtful to her own kind (i.e. women) rather than being amusing and uplifting. The girl refused to let go of her gaalis as she thought they made her sound cool. NOT!

Of late, Hindi movies have glorified gaalis via movies like Ishqiya and Delhi Belly. Sadly, expletives are actually ingrained in daily lingo of UP (The land of Lucknowi Tehzeeb) and Bihar as the writers/directors of these movies claim. Here, gaalis are so much a part of the tongue that two fast friends cannot meet without  addressing each other as 'Saale' which sounds casual and harmless, (but is it?).  We even have Gaali songs in weddings and other functions, and they are pure pornography in lyrics, potent enough to make one's ears bleed, mind it!

The structure and nomenclature of Hindi gaalis is such that they are almost always directed at an innocent, unsuspecting mother or sister somewhere. Gaalis from foreign lands, when used in India, become insipid in comparison to our desi abuses. Imagine calling someone an 'asshole' in Hindi. Would it be as effective and satisfying as a Hindi gaali of the nature of 'mother-sister'? Some people use one or two 'mother-sister' type abuses in every sentence that they speak. They are not bad people. I have personally heard them dish out such smelly, vulgar words without ever giving it a thought. More careful and sophisticated people avoid using expletives in front of women, but among men, they are all the same. Someone in this category, once uttered out a gaali in front of me, and as soon as he realized, he said ' Oh, so sorry!'.

The most cultured, educated men do not refrain from dishing out choicest gaalis once the matter comes to it. I am yet to come across a man who claims otherwise. What is it that urges someone to use gaalis of this nature? Is it the helplessness of not being able to harm the other person physically or in any other way that a word picture of the possible harm is created? Is it about harming a person or a woman (Mother/Sister/Daughter of the person)? Why does a person need to use crude language in order to fight? How does it help? How does committing an act of sexual nature against someone's mother or sister compensate for the loss/ harm/suffering of the abuser?  Are we not propagating 'Rape Culture'? After all, words become thoughts and thoughts become actions.

Its been probably centuries since women have been targeted in this indirect way. Is this the prize that we receive for being a good sister/mother/daughter? The icing on the cake is that we cannot even vent out our frustration by hurling a gaali because it will most likely boomerang.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Lesser Known Bihari Momos AKA Pittha

Coco is visiting his Nana-Nani (i.e. I am at my parents :) ). It was a delight to receive the plateful of Pittha with a delectable green chilli-garlic chutney from a sweetheart Auntyji next door. After a little spell of hot-talk with my mom (over never making Pittha and always telling me stories about it from her own childhood as if Pittha was some inaccessible fruit from heaven) and a photoshoot, mom and I quickly settled down to eat, though we already had had our breakfast.


The chana dal dumplings looked delicious and tasted great. Aunty had added her own twist with Rai-tadka. I pleaded with my mom to cook it once so that I could learn (and eat it too!). For any foodie/Momo lover who would be interested in this Bihari version of Momos, scores of recipes are easily available on the internet. But seeing is believing you know.

So what happens next??

Um... nom-nom and gone !

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Child's Play

A lot of time and effort goes into choosing the right toys for Coco. I try to find out toys with zero possibility of hurting him. No hard parts, lightweight, washable and all that jazz. After all, I am a modern mom, who gives him best care(?) and also writes a blog about him (Well at least the name says so!).

But what does Mr. Little Coco Nut like to play with? Remotes, cell phones, keys, keyboard, mouse, kitchen jars, steel tumblers, clothespins, paperweights, sweet boxes, shopping bags, shoes, newspapers, eyeglasses and everything else that I cannot imagine would catch his fancy and hence do not remove from his view.

Latest 'toy' to catch his fancy are empty corncobs! He inserts his tiny fingers into the little spaces made by removing the corn and would keep doing that till the cob is snatched away. He has also learnt to register a strong protest by giving out a deafening shriek.

Oh wait, did I tell anything about the mole on my neck being a subject of his admiration (and scratching by paper thin nails) nowadays?

Whoever said babies are bundles of joy............ was absolutely right though!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

My Nano joyride

My husband borrowed someone's Tata Nano for a day in exchange of his car and proposed to take Coco and me for a drive in it. Bugged by his constant busy status, I agreed instantly. After all something is better than nothing. When I proceeded to sit inside, I could not stop grinning. When I was seated and the car moved, I started laughing hysterically (I laugh hysterically or I do not laugh). My infectious laughter infected hubby as he started laughing too. ' But why are you laughing?' He asked. I told him I felt like laughing. He laughed some more.
riding a tata nano

I loved the little ride in the little car with my loved ones. I realized how little doses of happiness make life great and joyful.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Man, Woman and Religion - Part II

When it comes to fasting, nobody can beat Eastern UPites and Biharis. As it is dates on a Hindu calender look and sound like something sacred, as if there is some event/fast/festival everyday. Sample this: Parva (i.e 1st ), Dooj (2nd), Teej (3rd), Chauth (4th) etc.  For our folks, there are dozens of fasts each year, nearly all of them meant for husband and/or sons. It is also quite interesting that almost all of them require women to fast for 24 hours straight, some even longer without even drinking water.

When Karvachauth is in the air and someone expresses her worries about how she is going to cope up with fasting whole day, I laugh heartily (and secretly). For she does not know she is blessed to not have to cope up with Haritalika Teej,  a 24 hour-without water fast in a hot and humid August-September, as opposed to Karvachauth which falls close to Diwali, at the doorstep of winter, and you get to eat in the evening. I have grown up watching my mom do Teej every year with ease. (I admit that I liked it, so much that I secretly wished to get married soon and do it. And I do it!)

Fasts are actually meant to cleanse one's system physically as well as spiritually. Only if you do them properly. But some women take them so seriously that they would ignore health issues, doctor's advise or worse, their own babies. I have heard my mom often telling me how she used to put wet cloth over the bellies of her many 'Bhabhis' who would be either carrying or would have small babies who needed to be breastfed. Imagine not eating or drinking anything in that condition for 36 straight hours.

Though my mom-in-law is strict stickler to 'husband-and-son' fasting, I have heard her complaining about how all our fasts are without water while the more glamorous Punjabis and some others have fasts where they eat more than they would on a normal diet.

And I have never come across a man asking a woman to fast for him. It is the doing of women themselves. How did it all begin? I would love to know.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Babies are cute! So are dogs!!

Watching 'Turner and Hooch' on TV, it was a moment of truth when Scott Turner yelled at Hooch, the dog: "You've been doing this (barking) for two and a half hours. My God! Stop it. Stop it now. You have burgers. Eat those buns. Drink that water if you are thirsty. What am I supposed to do? Make you a Maragarita? Huh? You tell me. Tell me..."

I can't stop smiling. I immediately relate to the frustration. That is what Coco does some nights or even days when he won't eat or sleep or play and would want my constant attention. I would not have slept more than three hours in last 24 hours, I am hungry, want a cup of tea, thirsty, and he won't let me even get up to have a glass of water. It is then that I would start losing patience and start whining: "My God! You've been doing this for hours. What do you want? Tell me. I have given you milk. There are toys. Or sleep if you feel sleepy. You tell me. Tell me!"

I have read somewhere that high BP patients should keep either a dog or a baby at home. If the dog is like Hooch, or the baby is like Coco in one of the above described moods, God help the patient! 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Bai re Bai

Missing good old days, lazy morning 'Chai'

What does a woman need for a peaceful life? Well, among many other things, a good house-help. The one that comes to my home has all the traits of a good help:

a. Is punctual
b. Works neatly

That is all I could think of now. But she does something that annoys me greatly and disrupts my peaceful (read lazy) lifestyle. Every small item that she washes : bowls, spoons, grater, peeler, knife etc- she keeps at a different place daily. You keep looking for a few minutes frantically, as the oil burns in the pan, then take a deep breath, sim the stove and use you imagination. Daily it is a treasure hunt of sorts for me and I work my brain harder than I have ever done for a five-star Sudoku.

Today it is the teeny tiny peeler that was hanging in place of the cooker lid, barely visible, and the original occupant of that place was kept hidden below all the other big utensils. I guess she needs to be on Masterchef, giving the contestants a tough time searching for their cooking tools.

God bless you bai ji, for I am just going to be here for 10 more days.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Man, Woman and Religion: Part I

Time: Early morning
Day: Sunday
Mood: Good

My father in law phones me. The gist of the call was general hi and hello. It also contained the information that my ma-in-law and her co-sister (my husband's chachi) had fasted the previous day as it was Vat Savitri Puja.

My mood suddenly did a U-Turn. Yesterday I had cooked a gorgeous mutton curry and had relished two meals out of it! Could they not tell me earlier? What the.... wait!!!

Why am I feeling guilty? What has fasting or non-veg got to do with my family's well being?

Does this 'fast for a long life of your husband and son' thing happen anywhere else in the world? I do not think so. It is a sole privilege of being born a woman in India that you become the absolute protector of the lives of the men around you. Nowhere else (likely) on earth is a man so weak that he requires his mother, sister, wife, daughter, practically all the females in his family to fast in order to live.

It all looks good and sweet if one looks at it from an angle where it is done out of love (then why don't we do it for our daughters/wives/moms?) and for the sake of tradition & culture (culture has better elements too!)

Fast religion chhath pooja
So much for a son: Chhath Pooja, Bihar's major festival which requires 2-3 days of fasting and many strict rituals. Women (sometimes men too) stand in cold water for hours carrying heavy platters of fruits and other offerings to Sun and Chhath mata.   

Best part is men really don't care about fasts. Heck, they are not even aware most of the times about the upcoming fasts and their 'importance'.

A research says that men do not like it when women at home fast. It not only demands their time and effort, it causes much emotional stress also. Test population: 3, My husband, his father and his grandfather. It is women who take up fasts and other such rituals and pass them on. It is also women who guide and goad their husband/son to gather materials required for the rituals and get seriously angry if everything is not done according to their wish. The target of their anger: Those poor souls for who the fasts are being observed.

It seems like in the name of being religious, women keep spinning a web around themselves so that they are occupied in all these 'vrats' and 'pooja-paath' and never really have to think beyond. How convenient!


Saturday, 15 June 2013

The kadhi that came back!

It is quite a sight to find Coco sleeping like this every morning, on his tummy,  typically like his papa. Hence proved, sleep posture is genetic!
Ahh... and that is the luscious, delicious Aloo kadhi that I made from a recipe found in a booklet. It was cooked with the purpose of returning a bowl to my neighbor. It was difficult for me to part with such a generous portion of my yummy kadhi. I glanced with a lustful, greedy gaze at the full bowl and sighed deeply, as it was being carried by my hubby to the neighbor next door. 

I assume I have a magnetic gaze and a powerful sigh. As it turns out, the neighbor asked for chapatis too (which I had totally forgotten to throw in!) and hubby dear promised him that night's dinner. Come dinner time and chapatis are ready to leave my kitchen. Neighbor is called and here he comes with the bowl of kadhi intact!!

After dinner, being a polite man, he never asked to take his leftover kadhi back. So here we are, my kadhi and I. I am looking at it, and it is looking back at me with it's charming golden silence. Yumm!

At this point, I remembered Paulo Coelho and his Alchemist. I had desired this kadhi so much that it had to come back for me :)

(Days later, the bowl was sent back with cheeseballs.) 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

An evolving crafter!

baby sleeping with teddy bear
A peacefully sleeping baby, a few hours ahead with nothing to do. Catch some sleep? Read a book? watch a movie?? Well.... mulling..

Often, I feel an itchy urge in my hands to create something beautiful. With the baby around, though I hardly get any free time, I try to sneak a few crafty strokes here and there, even if that means sacrificing sleep by this lazy lazy woman in those sleepy summer afternoons.

Ready for my latest enterprise? Here goes:

fabric painting, painted bed sheet
Its a pleasure seeing the mental picture of those blossoms shaping up.

fabric painting bed sheet
More angles, loving them!

hand painted cherry blossom bed sheet
Mmm.. closer..

hand painted bed sheet, cherry blossom painting
Wow, the sheet has finally found its way on my Ma-in-law's divan, blossoming prettily!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Dr. No-No from hell!

Some incidents become quite a story to be told and retold and enrich your cache of experience.

This weekend Coco was running a fever and coughing too. We took him to a hospital but the paediatrician was on leave, so the GP saw him and gave paracetamol, which I was already giving him, and an antacid. The doctor said it is a mild throat infection and will be fine in a couple of days.

But my husband suspected that the doctor might not have given him antacid meant for babies. After all, only a child specialist can know how to treat a baby. So we took him to a child specialist's clinic. I was surprised to see pregnant women in the waiting room.

Anyways, when our turn came and I proudly (why not? He looks like a little prince!) brought Coco to the doctor and the smartly dressed doctor started almost scolding me instantly: My God! Something is seriously wrong with this baby. Oh, look at his head, its so large, look at his skin, its not fairness, its pallor.He is sick, very very sick. Oh no, he is wincing with pain, no, no don't shake him, it will pain more. What has happened to him?

Me(taken aback and looking at Coco's head and skin): He has fever since  yesterday. I gave him PCM and...

Doc(Shaking her head vigorously): Uh-oh... tch.. is he vomiting?
Me: No, he sometimes brings out milk...
Doc: No, no, he vomits, he does! Doesn't he? tell me how many times he did that today?
Me: 2-3 times but.... (he is already unwell and coughing is troubling him, on top of that his iron drops are making him nauseous and he brings out milk! sigh!!)
Doc: 2-3 times? Means vomiting! See, I told you he is vomiting, but you have not seen all of it. There is a lot more to this. I will not be surprised if you go home and he poops smelly-smelly stools. We will wait for it. It will happen for sure..
Me: ..... ( I have lost you, you look like a psychic, only your glass sphere is not here!)
Doc: I know for sure you feed him a lot of milk from bottles...
Me: Never, in fact he never has formula milk or cow's milk. And he eats too, with a spoon!
Doc: Oh, something is definitely wrong with his nutrition. Tell me what you give him to eat?
Me: Bananas, dal, sooji kheer....
Doc: No, no, you should give him home cooked calorie dense food!
Me(completely defeated): Ok, you tell me what all should I give him!
Doc: Bananas, dal, sooji kheer...
Me: ...............! ( Madam, please take a break, don't praise my child, but don't break my heart. He has not even once had any sickness since birth. What kind of parents do you think we are? We get him checked up regularly. His regular doctor is annoyed with us for asking so many questions about his care and nutrition. I will tell you what is seriously wrong here! You are wearing too much lipstick and it clashes with your white (not grey!) hair. You have not seen anyone with a fair complexion visiting your clinic. My baby is an Indian blond for all I know! If I had a coin for every compliment he gets, I will soon be a millionaire. You are a paediatrician and not a gynaecologist, so you cannot take in pregnant women as your patients and treat unborn children! So please, do not try to dazzle me with your looks and your english. You can go back to conning poor labourers in this godforsaken town. We will wait for you to be arrested!)

Rest of the conversation was a blur... Coming out of her clinic I was completely hyperventilated and numb with shock. While Hubby went to buy medicines, I was clutching Coco and cursing the world for being so cruel. Before he came back, I had made my decision, I had to see another doctor, now!

Within an hour, we were heading home, laughing and happy. The other doctor had examined Coco with patience that only a child specialist can have and had prescribed a cough syrup (which had PCM!).

Oh yes, Dr. No-no also told me how to make poached eggs. Made them, ate them. They were yummy. Thank you dear madam, for it was the only take away from this ordeal.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Horn Ok Please!

Moving on....

highway road travel
I have always liked travelling by road better than other modes of transport. The opportunities to enjoy journey by road always keep coming and I jump in the passenger seat happily, while hubby dear takes charge behind the steering wheel. It is a pleasure to watch life go by in close vicinity while I enjoy my type of music(a privilege of the person in passenger seat mostly) and snacks. Another reason to like road travel which I figured out recently is getting long hours alone with my perennially busy-busy-busy husband where I can talk all I want... with almost zero disturbance.
truck road highway

So here we are, hitting the road again, and I am happily looking around and commenting on anything and everything that tickles my fancy. Roads tend to be boring, but there is a lot of amusement if one looks closely. If someone is a stickler to correct written Hindi like me, they can easily spot the humour in unlikely places.
highway road truck travel transport
This time, the topic of my scrutiny were truck phrases. Some of them were sentimental kind like the above one, some polite, some morally correct, some grammatically incorrect, some of them trying to prove that they were the ultimate hunk on the road while some others were simply hilarious.

highway road truck travel transport
This one is patriotic as well as optimistic with a hint of religion.

truck phrases travel road highway transport
Simply greeting strangers is what anyone could do to spread some cheer.

travel highway road truck phrases
The above first claimed to be a 'jalwa king'and then mysteriously changed its beliefs to 'kahani kismat ki'.

truck phrases highway transport

 I have seen a lot of vehicles with 'Maa ka ashirvad' with ashirvad almost always spelled wrong. This one gets a commendation for correct Hindi. Though the phrase also appears on cars in a different avatar 'daddy gift', wrong grammar implying why dad had to gift the car!

highway road truck phrases transport
I have seen and missed more hilarious ones, sometimes while I was busy with Coco, and later because the camera battery died (poor thing had no choice!). So, among all available pics, the grand prize for naivety, humour and cheekiness goes to this one. (Remember: charge batteries of all kinds always before leaving home)

Oh, did I mention my favourite rickshaw phrase? It is always:
Jinne apni Maa nu sataya,
Unne sari umar riksha hi chalaya.
(One who teases his mother, has to peddle a rickshaw all his life)

I often use it to blackmail people into doing my will. :)