Monthly Archives: July 2009

Dissonance and Heartbreak

Dissonance..is being the brown-skinned girl at the airport with the red bulbous nose and puffy, tear-spilt eyes, failing miserably at leaving her palm-filled homeland with any measure of grace – and being comforted by a blonde man while she clutches at her Norwegian passport.

Heartbreak..is watching your children rush back to the pane of glass that separates them from their grandparents and uncle (post security check) only to smush their mouths, noses and whole damn faces against the glass to kiss them one last time; watching them put palm to palm on the cold glassy surface – and seeing your toddler turn his head repeatedly to blow gleeful kisses, unaware of the imminent separation.

Its never getting easier, is it?

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On Moolah. And Kids.

Sraikh from Asaaan put out a really thought provoking post before I went on vacation asking whether people were comfortable saying that they could not afford things.

When my comment turned into a mini-post, I brought it over here, where I normally hatch all my eggs.

Yes, I am more than comfortable saying that I cannot afford something, when I can’t. We both have decent salaries in a country that boasts of an exhorbitant standard of living. A beer will set you back almost 10 dollars. A pedicure? 100 dollars a pop. Go figure. This is why I am constantly dishevelled and grumpy. Yet, if we are sensible and fair, then we have a good standard of living and quality of life.

Yet,  just because I can afford something, that doesn’t mean my children will get it and one of my pet peeves is children walking around hand in hand with a sense of entitlement. So not only am I comfortable saying,

We can’t afford this

I’m equally comfortable with:

Yes, we can afford it, but you may not have it. I don’t think its good for you to get everything you point at and unless you can come up with the wonderful way in which this is going to contribute to you as a person, you can forget it.

or

Yes we can afford it, but you can’t have it unless you figure out how to save up for it.

It is a matter of principle more than anything else. There are birthdays, Christmases, Indian festivals and holidays. They get plenty. Hell, they get Plenty Plus Plus. Our issue is that we think that there is too much stuff. It becomes all about the stuff. Friends are cool or not based on the Wii game they do or don’t have. What? No Singstar at home? L.O.S.E.R. And the bad news? Its endless. You are never going to keep up with the Joneses.

Oh no you didn’t! You didn’t just point to my designer label shoes.

Alright, I am guilty of having splurged on ridiculously expensive pumps – on occasion. And really – I have no sense of guilt whatsoever about that. I work hard for our money (as does any housewife, I need to add), provide for our family and if I want to indulge myself, its my business. As long as my children are not being denied what is necessary to keep body and soul together, I can do this without so much as a twinge. Its quite simple, dear sons – I am earning my Gucci shoes, you are not earning your Pokemon/Bakugan cards. I had to wait till I was gainfully employed to be silly and vain. I expect no less from you.

So, without further ado.

My lovely, lovely sons,

Having new toys or clothes or things (Arvind needs things. He never has enough things according to him) is not a right you have as a child. I work hard for my money and I will make equally hard to make you realise that these things you want are privileges. Why, even this roof over your head or the food on the table is a privilege. Don’t assume that you can diss it. If you do not contribute to this home, by way of chores or duties, you do not get a say in its fiscal policy.

Our love for you and our guidance is a right you have. You also have the right to question our choices, but please come prepared. It is our duty to prepare you for an independent, productive life. If you are getting pretty much all you want on a platter and never earning anything, then we will have done you the greatest disservice.

So feel free to come with a plan as to how you want to save up for your next Super Mario game.

Once you start school, you will have chores. Simple stuff like bringing in the post, taking out garbage and keeping your room in respectable shape. If you are going to bargain for greater power, get comfortable with greater responsibility.

Once you are 15 or thereabouts, hungering for the latest Converse or Nike, snazzy snowboarding equipment or a respectable social life with fun-filled, friend-filled outings, we enter the next charmed stage of life, aka. Its Time To Find Part-time Work.

That’ll be a couple of hours a week, balanced with schoolwork. Exceptions can be made in rare instances like needing to study every minute of the day to get into a tremendously competitive programme, being a member of a enormously promising rock band that needs to practice round the clock, volunteering for the Red Cross and the like. We are open for discussion, but will require serious substantiation as to why we should foot the bill for your fun when Minimum Wage Joy ($10 – 12 in Norway) is all yours for the taking.

We realise this is a bummer. On the bright side, it’ll teach your priorities in your wishlisting come Christmas, birthday and assorted Indian festivals.

Much much love,

Your Unapologetically Biyaatch Parents.

Edited to add: Ultimately, all parents have different sets of priorities. We love travel and I can see us spending a lot of money to travel as a family. I want my children to experience the Indian subcontinent in all its richness. I want to see the Serengeti plains with them, be amazed by Florence, climb the harbour bridge in Sydney. I want to see their faces marvelling at Tsarskoe Selo outside St. Petersburg.

I want them to at least be familiar with their parents’ passion for travel and history.

Whats important to you, dear readers?

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Vocabulary of Lauw

Every family, I suppose, has its personal vocabulary of love. In my vocal family, my linguistically inclined, goofy and much-adored Neppi (Lakshmi, my grandmother, whose name was bastardised by us to Neppi when bro and I were tots) went one better and created a new language for goofball lauw specially designed for her babies.

We’re into the third generation and its still kicking. My babies, as if they aren’t awash enough in love (and their grandfather’s nonsense ditties) find themselves nestled and snuggled and blanketed by this ridiculously lovable babblespeak. 

And in this little nest, snuggles my favouritest word of them all.

Undachaai.

Unda=Round/ball-like 

Chaai=babyspeak for sleep

Undachaai is when the little family is curled on the bed and nestled together like a ball. Undachaai signifies a heaven of coziness and optimal conditions for great sleep.

Undachaai is making it nearly impossible for us to quit co-sleeping even though Armaan aims yet another swift kick to my arse pushing me to the very edge of the bed as I type.

Damn you, wonderful, wonderful undachaai.

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Just Wondering..

When people change, is it possible that they miss themselves as much as others miss the person they were?

There. Maudlin Midnight Thought out of nowhere.

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Dear NRI

Sure, restaurants in Indian towns, large or small, don’t boast of great diaper changing facilities.

Yes, its awful changing a wriggly kid and having nowhere to dispose correctly of your crap-soaked nappy.

But where else will a waiter cheerfully entertain your child or carry him to the French windows to watch passing cars while you eat?

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Of Drama. And Codependence.

Dearies,  How I’ve missed you. How I’ve practically strangled my father to get my paws on his Vaio. How vile/listless I have been these past two days as the blogga-withdrawals hit me.

And what a week we’ve had! Nature begs me to be pithy since I’m sprawled on the bed like an giant anaconda who swallowed inordinately large prey. Or an anaconda who consumed too much rice and Kerala prawn curry at a late hour. My fifth or sixth meal of the day in case you`re interested. *Burp*

Ambitious maybe, but allow me to attempt a timeline of Indo-Viking Near-Catastrophe and Ultimate Joy starting on Saturday.

9.a.m. Awake on Saturday to a sunny day overshadowed by my foreboding. And because Murphy’s law is my own true dude, Armaan clowned around, hit his head on the coffee table and puked. Three visits to the ER and with more puke-nukes behind us, concussion was ruled out and tummy bug was ruled in.

8.p.m. Ziploc pukebags packed, surreally hectic last minute shopping done and real packing to commence at 10 p.m. for 6 a.m. flight. Because we’re seasoned travellers and packers and also because our eyes bleed if we don’t leave things till the zabzolute last minute. It’s like a blood disorder really.

9.p.m. Mother calls to inform me that Mumbai is drowning in its own sewage and maybe we need to make hotel arrangements? Maybe in Ahmedabad since flights were getting re-directed from Mumbai? Hyperventilate for five minutes into paperbag. Proceed with bedtime ablutions for ze kinder.

10:20 p.m. The Viking: Hey, were the e-tickets sent to your e-mail? Can’t seem to find them in mine.

MGM: (More hyperventilation into afore-mentioned paperbag before uttering choice expletives befitting situation)

Tickets are not in anyone’s e-mail because our e-mail confirmation was not a real e-mail confirmation. Go figure. Three calls to KLM between 10:20 and 11:15 where hysteria is loosely concealed. Patron Saint of Jackasses clearly on our side as KLM realises system error and proper e-ticket is sent to said Jackass’s e-mail account.

11:20 p.m. Viking subjected to Grievous Bodily Harm at hands of furious Indian wife. Peace eventually negotiated by consumption of vodka shots.

04:00 a.m. Arvind awakes wailing loudly, “Did you leave us and go to India? Where is everyone?!!” Sheesh! Clearly have bigger problem than being jackasses if son has abandonment issues.

04:40 a.m. Family of four arrives at airport. The adults have managed to pack, shower, nap 20 minutes and remember passports, credit cards and children. At this point everything else is negotiable. Sense of achievement and calm prevails.

06:00 a.m. – 11:25 p.m. IST Daytime flights? Don’t. Delta?  Never again. If Delta is your cheapest alternative, it is for damn good reason.

Horrendous and impolite service  aside, children sleep, watch movies, eat and don’t puke. Flight ends with Armaan high-fiving random people exiting the aircraft and loudly belting, “Ba ba baapootin, babababa bappootin” (Ra Ra Rasputin – Boney M) and loudly applauding own effort.

12:15 a.m. Family of four met by Mumbai’s wall of humidity and heavy rain. Hair automatically morphs into matted straw. Anti-frizz , my fat ass.

12:15 a.m.  – 02:00 a.m. Met by cousin – single male in late twenties who takes us to awesome Juhu digs and serves us dal, rice, roti and pickles – all home-made except the pickles. How many ways are there to spell Incredible Young Man while my tastebuds and I weep with gratitude?  Children plastered to wonderful Mama as mum mists up over whippersnapper of yore who has shaped up wonderfully. I love him even more when he solemnly agrees to wait a mandatory two-year period before getting hitched so that I can boast of a waistline in a saree again – the very expensive designer saree he will obviously buy for me when he gets hitched. Love India!

Monday 2 p.m.  – Present: Umm.. the post about co-dependence? Scratch that.

Oh, the joys, the joys of being pampered senseless, being fed to the gills with whatever delighteth one’s tastebuds,  casually demanding four prawn dishes and five types of payasam, watching my dirty laundry travel to unknown destinations and irons and being free to lie about on our porch swing watching the world spin on its axis as the Kerala monsoon lashes the fragrant earth, leaving our private green sphere squeaky clean – what me worry, maa?

Here, Gibran is literal. My children are NOT mine. They are fed, clothed, entertained, de-snotted and lulled to sleep by someone who is NOT me. My parenting is reduced to coming out of my over-fed stupor every couple of hours to say, “No Ben 10!” or “Get over it already.”

The bliss, I tell you, the bliss.

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#2 – Statements That Make You Go Grrr

My dear daughter/son needs me for absolutely everything. Can’t make a cup of chai on her/his own. Or change a lightbulb. Never paid a bill for anything – doesn’t even know how. Needs me to do everything..such a sweet, innocent thing.

Thus speaks the mother who then proceeds to glare somewhat balefully at the other mothers, their shoulders heavily hunched in shame, disgraced and un”needed” by their independent children.

Hmm.. 30 plus, no kettle experience, no gift for billpaying – online or otherwise – and not even a dab hand with a light bulb.

Ladies, don’t miss the memo or you’ll miss the Catch Of The Season. Incompetence is in for eligible bachelors.

Meanwhile I’m roping in Dr. Phil to ask the mother,

Seriously, how is being so co-dependant workin’ for ya?

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