The Ice Age fiasco

           We never believed our very active (read ‘hyperactive’) 15 month old daughter S would be patient enough to watch a film in the theatre. And so we never tried. But the musically inclined little one fell so much in love with the songs of the film Cocktail on TV that I couldn’t resist giving it a shot. You had to start somewhere, so why not with this? The other pluses about the movie being that even if there were to be a ruckus, I could breeze out of the movie with no major heartbreak (given the unrelenting poor reviews it had got). And since the movie hall was expected to be 70% empty, we could move about and around as frequently as required. So me and S, off we went for Cocktail, with a cousin for company. Here I must mention that the husband promptly backed out saying Cocktail was not HIS kind of movie and so he gallantly volunteered to skip the movie (now please don’t ask me what HIS kind of movies are, coz that’s another post altogether!).

              Well, surprise of all surprises, our evening rocked!! S thoroughly enjoyed the songs and was dancing freely in the nicely vacant theatre, while we lazily munched our popcorn. The movie was no good, but our trio made the best of it, given the entertainment provided by S. I could not believe that we had so effortlessly breezed through her first movie, and I cursed myself for not having attempted this sooner. ‘It’s all because of my staid unexperimenting husband’, I muttered. I returned home with a gait in my walk and rubbed it all off on the husband who, nevertheless amused, very promptly made it seem as if it was no big deal that he missed all the fun.

             And then I read this blog post about a mom and kid bonding over an animation movie, and boy, was I touched! I so wanted S to look wide-eyed at an animation film, and watch her face light up with joy. She accompanied me to Cocktail, so I should definitely take her to her kind of movies. Simple logic, or so it seemed. And this time, I was in no mood to leave the husband out of the fun. I scanned the papers and figured out that Ice Age 4 and Krishna and Kans were due for release. Perfect timing! I told the husband I was booking tickets for the movie Ice Age 4 that weekend. ‘Ice Age 4?’ he asked. ‘What about 1,2 and 3?’. Here, I have to clarify that the husband does not even remotely follow animation movies. I had to really coax him to come for this one, giving him a long emotional lecture on what I thought were the ultimate tenets of parenthood. And since he never has the heart to refuse something where either S or his parenting approaches are involved, he relented. And we planned to go the following weekend to Krishna and Kans so as to give S the joy of both desi and phoren animated films. I did a small victory jig.

             As we settled comfortably ensconced in our Gold class seats for Ice Age (yes, I had chosen the best class for the occasion), it seemed all so ‘picture-perfect’. That is, until the guy with the 3D glasses came. As soon as we put on our glasses, S decided I looked really weird in them and started tugging, insisting that I remove it. Well, me being the primary bearer of S, had to relent. Now if you have ever tried watching 3D movies without those glasses, you would agree with me that it gives you a strange kind of head and eye ache. ‘I should have booked 2D’, I hissed to the husband, who was watching the movie unperturbed with his glasses on. Five minutes into the movie, S let out her first cry of boredom. Unfazed, I softly tried pointing out the various animals to her. No luck. I pointed out some kids nearby who were watching the movie. She suddenly clapped her hands with joy and lurched out of my lap wanting to play with them. I tried explaining to her in my unruffled-mother-who-can-handle-any-situation voice that this was not time to play and that a wonderful movie lay ahead. She watched for few more minutes before asking for water, biscuits, water, puffed rice, juice (huh? I hadn’t got that with me, she had obviously overestimated her mom there), biscuits and more water again. Needless to say that each of these demands resulted in a substantial amount of ruckus and total inability to focus on the movie. We played with the 3D glasses for some time and when I tried re-concentrating on the movie, S let out huge wails, enough to disturb the people sitting around, who gave looks which clearly implied why I was torturing a poor little baby by forcing her to watch a film she so obviously did not enjoy. I had a brainwave, took S out for a short walk to help freshen her up. By now, I had completely lost the movie plot and my unruffled-mother…. avatar. I returned to my seat to find the husband watching the film with a sudden found interest for animation movies. I glared at him pointedly for quite some time, no use though.

                 My discomfort was broken by the intermission. I heaved sighs of relief, which, however, were not to last long. When the coke-samosa-french fries combo ad was aired on the screen, S bawled a long ‘Mammammmm’ in the most piteous and hungry voice she could find. I got pure dirty looks from the crowd around for not only dragging a disinterested poor little baby, but also a hungry, underfed and tired one at that, all maybe in our desperation to watch the movie. I immediately despatched the husband to buy some popcorn and the reminder of the movie was spent peeling the soft portion of the popcorn and feeding it to S. I walked out of the movie hall not daring to risk any conversation by meeting anyone’s gaze.

          Apparently the husband enjoyed the movie. Needless to say, we didn’t go for Krishna and Kans the following weekend.

 

Her first li’l ponytail

 

As parents of babies, toddlers or children, we gush over a lot many things. And we wait for a lot of firsts. The first smile. The first ‘tata waving’. The first kiss. The first step…well, the list is endless. More so, in the case of first babies, much to the agony of the younger sibling, and the embarrassment of the older sibling, whose ‘first everthings’ (including the first nappy) are not only preserved zealously, but also demonstrated with gusto to select audiences.

One of the things the husband and I were waiting for, from quite a long time, was the daughter’s first pony tail. We could never get enough hair to pull back into a pony. So the baby was always seen only with two distinct hairdos – either a la Zakir Hussain (but not as tidy as Hussain saab), or a fountain pony right on top of the head, when I could manage tying it up.

                Our wish came true last month. I realized, with glee, that I could finally have a 90% pony tail (of course with great difficulty and tact, as she doesn’t like any pressure on her tresses). I immediately pinged my husband, who was on a month long tour in the US. And we skyped. He was equally thrilled.

So here’s to you, S, on this occasion:

–          I know you will reach an age where pony tails are so passé, and you would laugh at me if I suggested it as a hairdo.

–          I know you will have Monday mornings, where your biggest ‘waking up concern’ would be whether to cut or to keep your hair long. And curse your lineage for not having given you a headful of glossy, easily manageable, and totally artificial looking ‘shampoo-ad’ kind of hair.

–          I know you will hardly recognize yourself in your ‘first ponytail photo collection’, and may nonchalantly wave it around, asking your friends, “Can you even believe this is me?”

–          I know you would probably be very anxious on how you turn out on your important days, and would be experimenting with your looks maybe for days together.

–          I know you will probably have a lot of admirers gushing over you, some of whom you will just vainly ignore, and one of whom you may choose to share your life with.

–          I know you will have a panic attack on seeing your first grey strand of hair, and will spend the next few years in denial, and further few subsequent years, ageing gracefully.

All I want to say – don’t stress too much about your appearance. To two sets of people, you will always be the most beautiful of all – your child, and your parents who eagerly waited so long to see your first little ponytail.

The garden gnomes

Image

There is this park near my home where I go for my morning walk. Okay, correction. I TRY to go for my morning walk. Much as I am tempted to put on my earphones during the walk, I almost always listen to my mind (and one of the husband’s very precious gems of advice) to drop all gadgets at least for this brief period of time, and concentrate on the environment instead. Well, that leaves me with the onerous task of minding my step so that I don’t trip over any of the inadvertent stone peaks rising from the jogging track. Or worse, trip over a garden gnome!

‘A garden gnome or lawn gnome is a figurine of a small humanoid creature, usually wearing a pointy hat, produced for the purpose of ornamentation and protection from evil sorcery, typically of gardens or on lawns.’  (Courtesy Wiki). Sorry about the rambling.But this post is not about that. I am talking about the modern gnomes that could very well inhabit any park in your neighbourhood.

Today’s garden gnome categories are listed below, in no evil order.

The Wise and the Wizened: These are our retired male septuagenarians and the most common group of people you can find in any park. Well, with life’s travails conquered, or plainly accepted and delegated to their better halves, their days are agog with an amazing amount of cheer. They therefore shift their attention to world politics, something they always wanted to do in their heydays, but never got around to doing. So, every morning, the more ‘enthu’ cutlets in this group round up the other ‘follower’ personalities to be brainwashed, and launch into an extremely hot debate on what Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and the likes did, or did not do. Their political conversation and views are somehow still stuck in a time-warp spanning from 1950s to 1990s. Well, I am not meaning to understate the importance of any of these events, but hey, who wants to listen to such long-past-gone political trivia first thing in the morning, when all you are intent on is to salvage a moment’s peace to counter the madness of the day lying ahead.

Bottomline: Grow up boys!

Who is the fittest of them all?: In a space where 95% of the people moving about are trying to reduce their potbellies, or control their rising sugar levels, or trying to become fit enough to attempt at least bare minimum physical activity with their kids, this elite group takes the cake for being as fit as you could possibly be, with a 10 on 10 figure, in the perfect exercise attire, and generally appearing to give a look of disdain to the lesser mortals around. This species is generally found to be walking or jogging in anti-clockwise direction (or in a direction opposite to that of the said lesser mortals) so that it’s far more easier to get their right of way and breeze unrestrained at any given time.

Bottomline: Gawd, why are you even exercising? Next time, maybe you could try exercising indoors? Ok? OKAY?

The Blues:  Applicable to either sex, this group is not concerned with walking or exercising. Most of the time, they are staring straight out, in a general state of melancholy. The married couples of this group might sit next to each other on the same bench, but are strictly separated by a chaste distance of minimum two feet. You will often find each of them looking in two different directions, and not saying a word. It is sometimes so unnerving, that you would have probably found it more of a relief, had you seen them having one of these normal ‘married-couple bickerings’ or even hurling a couple of abuses at each other.

Bottomline: Why infect the larger population with your own despair? PDA (Public Display of Affection) may still be acceptable in parks, not this!

The RI of NRI: This clan chooses to converse on all things containing even a remote speck of NRI. They originated when India Inc originated, and started sending out their best men to work on ‘phoren’ shores. All these people have one thing in common – one or more of their tribe has gone or is living abroad. This breed can discuss a wide range of topics right from what-to-carry-to-usa to Obama’s latest outsourcing stand. The IT sector can take a bow to how these people effortlessly demystify the on-shoring saga. No amount of ET reading can compensate for the ‘on-the –ground’ raw data that is dished out here. It requires a certain knack to identify this group, as the species clearly doesn’t believe in loud or over-the –top conversations. Do not dare miss any opportunity to eavesdrop, as the topic may change from ‘ranting about an unmarried NRI daughter in the 40s’ while doing one round of the park, to ‘comparison of top IT companies’ per-diem policies’ in the next round!

Bottomline: You guys clearly need to be elsewhere. Don’t waste your talent by frittering away your collective knowledge in the park.

And then there are the other groups like the Noisy Neanderthals. Whose idea of a good workout in the park is probably to attempt those exercises they are not allowed to do at home.

And you have the Earphone Enthusiasts, where you really need to focus to imagine how their faces would look sans their permanent attachment of ear-phones.

Serial Killers, whose unwavering daily conversation topic is the soap aired the night before.

The Crib Club, where ladies generally rave and rant about the other ladies in their life. But that’s another post altogether… !!

 

Feed it back!

In the corporate world that has now taken a sabbatical from me, feedback was always the ever-important term. I also give it credit for making me go weak in the knees every time I came into any kind of contact with it. No, I am NOT a weakling (Really, you know, am not). The special thing about feedback is that it’s one of the very few things that can be treated as both art and science. As they say, a giver of feedback should know –

When to give, Who to give, What to give, How to give and such others.

The recipient of feedback (yeah, the victim) should know –

How to listen,

What to listen to (Very very important – separating the rice from the chaff types),

What to say (well, the clever thing to say after the session. You get the drift, right?)

How to put ‘feedback into action’ (tough one, eh?)

Now amidst all this mayhem, the feedback Cupid (and I am sure there’s one) plays his role to determine if ‘what you intended to communicate’ was exactly ‘what the recipient understood’. Or  misunderstood.  Totally. Or partially. Whew!

As I sometimes do, in a pocket of time that I suddenly find to be ONLY mine, I started mulling over how much I was missing the feedback session of my corporate avatar. It did yield results, I thought. For all the hard work by everyone.

Suddenly, I rubbed my hands in glee. I would apply the feedback in my day-to-day life. Well, who says it’s meant only for the office. For all you know, it may better my life. (Not all by-products of free time should be given wings, was something I didn’t realize then).

My maid cum cook was the first target. I was all armed. I gave her one of my most beatific smiles and asked her to first sit down before starting her work. We need to have a discussion, I said. With a million worry lines on her forehead, Vandana Maushi prepared to sit on the floor. ‘No, no! Idhar’, I said, pointing to the dining table chair. We made a strange pair on the dining table, she, with her frown laden face, as if I was going to ask her about a missing golden bangle, or about the dead fly in the lunch she had made.

Me: Maushi, aap hamare liye ek saal se kaam karte ho. Aapko kaisa lag raha hai? (Forgive the ‘Aaj Tak’ punch line)

She: Pauses interminably before asking ‘Kyun, mujhe teremnate karnewale ho kya?’ (Are you going to terminate me?)

Me: (trying to put the merits of feedback in the ‘layman’est of terms) ‘Nahi Maushi, mujhe jaanna tha aapko kaam me kya achha laga, kya accha nahi laga, kuch badalna hai kya, woh sab. Tumhala samajhla na?’ (literally translated from Marathi as ‘you understood, right?’)

She: Worry lines reduced somewhat. Hmmm, everything is fine Didi….. (Now don’t ask me why ‘Maushi’ calls me ‘Didi’. It has worked for our excellent chemistry so far, you see)

Me: ‘To kuch badalna nahi hai kya?’

She: ‘Manjhe?’ (means?)

Me: ‘Kuch bhi, kaam karvane ka dang, kitne bartan daalti hu, kitney chutti deti hun. Kuch hai to bolo maushi!’

She: ‘Chutti to accha deti ho. Magajmaari bhi nahi karti. Bartan kabhi jyaada hai to kabhi kum. Chalega didi, sab theek hai.’

Me: (Now a little exasperated that the session is just not yielding any improvement point) ‘Ok, to kuch bhi change nahin karna?’ I add a final twist. ‘Kuch hai to bol do maushi, nahi to agle mahine ko hi bol paoge.’

She: ‘Haan didi, yaad aaya. Ek chhoti si baat hai.’

Me, happy that its finally going somewhere. ‘Bolo na!’

She: ‘Bas woh 801 wale ko mera pagaar mat batana. Har ek kaam ka unse jyaada paisa leti hu didi. Kya karu, kaam bahut hai udhar, aur who aurat kitna jhikjhik karti hai, maahit?’

I almost want to bang my head against the nearest wall.

The husband comes home. I greet him with a very very unusual smile. Usually its a curt ‘hi’ which means a lot of things –

You’ve had a good day out working, look at me, dealing with diapers and nappies all day. You better take care of the baby now.

Don’t ask me to make tea now, I really need to put my feet up, have been running all day! Etc. And etc.

He: ‘Hey! Seem to be in a good mood today eh?’

I: ‘Yeah…kind of.. do you want me to make some tea?’

He: ‘uhmmmm..ok…thanks for asking.’

I: ‘Anytime! Hey, by the way, need to have a discussion with you.’

The husband’s high drops a bit. ‘Yeah?’

‘Lets talk over tea. Nothing to worry, just a casual chat.’

We start chatting. Luckily the baby is asleep.

I: ‘I was thinking, you know, that we should have a feedback session’

He: ‘About?’

I: ‘Well, about what went right during the month, what didn’t, you get it – just like our corporate ones?’

He: ‘Hmmm…Why do you want to do it?’

I: ‘Well, you know, the benefits of feedback n blah blahs. I have a feeling such regular sessions will help us to be better partners in the long run.’

He: ‘Ok, if you really think so. When do we start?’

I: Cocking my eyes slyly, ‘What’s a better time than now?’

He: ‘Fine. So let me start. Things that I didn’t quite like in you in the previous month –‘

  1.  ‘You cut your hair. Real short. Without even telling me.’ (hey come on now, it wasn’t that short to really pre-warn you. And remember, your sister streaked her hair red, and you didn’t even notice?)
  2. ‘You bought yet another truckload of bed linen which you will definitely not use in the near future as we can’t leave the baby on it for all the right reasons.’ (Hello, but it was on sale!)
  3. ‘You didn’t act cheerful enough in front of my friend who visited last Friday’ (now whatever that means? Well, how cheerful can one get when someone is invading your only TGIF evening of the week)
  4. ‘You never take good photos of me.’ (Like model, like photo)

At this point, I have to time-out the husband to warn him that he is getting too micro. He shushes me, and goes on, this time attempting to be more macro, and macho.

  1. ‘You never cook for me.’ (Typical MCP point)
  2. ‘You don’t offer me tea.’ (Still thinking of an appropriate retort to this one)
  3. ‘You don’t call my dad very frequently.’ (But even you don’t call him twice a week, baby)
  4. ‘I have learnt Tamil to an extent, you are not even making an effort to learn Gujarati. How will the baby learn the mother-tongue’ (Hmmm, but I thought it was the mother’s tongue)
  5. You didn’t encourage me for my bullet trip to Himalayas (Encourage? Hey, you just went on a backpacking trip to Sikkim with your friends)

At this point, I almost want to wail like a banshee and curse my hormones for bringing this feedback thingie up and out in the open.

‘OK OK!!’ I scream. ‘Enough! I haven’t heard so many complaints in all the four years of married life. And it’s all about negatives. Where are the positives?’

He pauses just for a moment before retorting that he needs some time to think and get back. ‘Yeah, right’, I yell, at my sarcastic best, ‘You never thought even for a millisecond before you spat out all the complaints. It was as if they were sitting neatly wrapped, right below your tongue, ready to be released anytime’. And, phew, there goes my evening.

Next day, my deal is with the baby.

‘S, don’t step on the book. It’s ‘Jay-Jay’ (meaning ‘God’ in Gujarati baby-talk).

S gives me an understanding nod, and feeds puffed rice to the book, all the time standing over it.

It’s on my nerves now. Feed it back to the corporate world, pleaseeee!!

An era bygone…

Come summer and grandma’s in-house production factory would kick off with alacrity. The supplies from her factory, namely pickles, a host of vadaams*, karudaams*, vatthals and a lot more goodies would start rolling out in geometric progressions (*For those not familiar with these items, these are typical ‘Tam Brahm’ preparations meticulously crafted from rice flour/ sago in myriad compoundings, dried under the blistering Tamil Nadu sun, and tucked away carefully for frying and having as an accompaniment with the banal sambar and rasam rice). My mind goes back to the mouth-watering dishes which grandma dolled out with apparent ease and simplicity. As children, we took these for granted whenever we went to visit our grandparents’ house during the summer holidays. We would list down in our little heads amongst childish banter, the various dishes which our ‘Paati’ (Tamil for ‘Grandmother’) would make for us and rant on about the favorites of each cousin.

Grandpa, for his part was no less. He used to exuberate in clandestinely getting us delicacies from outside, strictly prohibited at home by our pious grandma. These included the hottest ever chilli bajjis, abundantly spiced raw mangoes and peanuts and the likes. He was our guru in philately and numismatics, at a time when we didn’t even understand the relevance of stamp and coin collection as hobbies. A number of fond altercations took place in the house on delights which were prohibited by one party, which the counterparty willingly allowed. A very vivid example of this is my grandpa taking us all to the Elliot’s beach in Madras every evening, while grandma lamented the mammoth effort of cleaning the sand from the ‘sand-bathed’ kids which somehow conveniently managed to get into every nook and crevice in the house!

Such were our carefree summer holidays spent, with both grandparents trying to pamper the grandchildren and thereby vying to be the chosen one. When a parent went against you, the sole and best redress was a grandparent. Their love was boundless, you could wiggle your way out with them, they could convince any harsh parent and the warmth of their hug comforted every little tear-stained cheek. Childlike reasoning somehow appealed to them and they understood those fears, likes and dislikes which parents couldn’t ever manage to fathom. Their elaborate story telling sessions well-knit with mythological tales on long, dark nights touched the rock bottom of our tiny hearts and managed to create a stubbornly permanent space therein.

Their word was the final verdict in the family. They epitomized the values, tradition and culture of a long-lost, innocent and righteous world, where truth prevailed in the end, no matter what. In that long-lost world, freedom fighters were worshipped as gods and idolized, corruption was quite rare and well-despised, long distance relatives and even neighbors were hospitable and closely knit, and there was an underlying sense of goodness in every person.

Such timeless memories of the best phase of one’s life are well-cherished. The biggest thought which haunts me at times is ‘Will the young generation enjoy the delectable pampering and love of grandparents?’ Sadly, I find the answer to this, more often than not in negative.

In today’s urban lifestyle, most of us are working hard, running behind the crafty mirage called ‘MONEY’, with packed days and schedules, ever so busy, tensed, stressed, worked out, tired…Yes, we do have a five day week, and on each of the five days, we look forward to ‘THE WEEKEND’!! But, weekend is a bigger deceit in itself, because it is a two day holiday in disguise for doing things pending from all the other days! Weekend is for sorting out household affairs, settling pending bills, going to the bank, arranging and tidying up, shopping, washing, ironing and on and on and on…The stress is compounded for working mothers, whose lives ricochet between the demands of home, work and self. In order to combat this, what arrived was the age of the ‘INSTANT STUFF’; of anything that is magically easy and quick to make. ‘Instant’ became the in-vogue word which made any product look immediately attractive.

Right from noodles to Bank Loans, fast and quick is what everyone wants. Because this is just not the place for the slow soul. The clock just keeps ticking… Our days, events and lives are micro-programmed to an unimaginable extent and any substantial change to these schedules, albeit for a short period, seems to throw life out of gear! There is no time to chat relentlessly with family members, to camp incessantly at relatives’ places, to cook and eat slowly and elaborately, to waste time in plain nothingness and to deliberately pull the plug and throw life out of gear for a while…

Unconsciously, as an outcome of this ‘New York Minute’ lifestyle, our culture, age-old practices and traditions are getting eroded. People don’t feel the need to conduct rituals and festivities as elaborately. Our traditional preparations are seldom remembered and made, since they demand patience, hard work, meticulous preparation, devotion and most importantly the ‘TIME’.

As extension of the above, I often end up thinking of my own busy lifestyle and how much time I have for disposal of my loved ones. Caught in the career groove, most of us, at one time or the other, end up shelving our heart-felt desires, hobbies and passions for tomorrow, when we shall retire…which effectively means that we have booked our retired life also well in advance!

Will we then have time for our grandchildren? What will we teach them? Will we have any traditions and culture left on us worthy enough of passing on to them? What shall make them effortlessly conclude that their grandparents are the most loving beings on this planet, passing on unadulterated love and values to their lineage? What will give the children of today, the hope of regaining and relishing their lost innocence in the midst of their grandparents? Today, I know that if I forget a bit of my favorite mythological story, I can still go back to my grandparents and recall the bits. Will today’s children have that option? I try and picturize the modern, young adults of today in the autumn of their lives and they somehow don’t seem to fit the ‘grandparents’ bill. They may be affluent, smart, suave, loving and sensitive; but can they offer the luxury of their time to their lineage??? Although they may, in their late years, fall short of the contemporary modernity of their grandchildren, there will still be a void, an irreplaceable piece of ‘the conventional grandparent’ which they may never be able to fill.

And so shall we age and retire, our grandchildren being smarter, cleverer, more suave and alert than we ever were.. But if we don’t have the time to share with those little ones and a good handful of our roots to lovingly pass on to them, then the essence of a grandparent is lost. It is probably unfair to deny our generations the rich moments and joys that we have cherished, probably selfish to permit such innocent lifestyles to become the characteristic of an era bygone…

The signs of fathereadiness

 

You can know when the husband is desperate to be a father. Those small signals that silently scream ‘I am READY for dadhood!!’ Well, obviously this is not a fool-proof scientific theory so please don’t be mad at me if it doesn’t work in your case.

So here it goes, in no specific order.

Kids love him. He loves kids. Consistently pats heads of babies who walk past by. Holds random conversations with random kids. E.g. ‘mujhe cycle pe ek ride dena??’, only to have the poor scared boy scramble away faster, throwing a surreptitious backward glance at the supposed abductor in the neighbourhood his mom warned him about.

Sudden and unexplained shift of concern from distressed darlings (ahem!) to kids! E.g. ‘Poor thing, she’s been waiting for a rick from a long time. Do you think we should give her a lift?’ to ‘How could she make the baby wait in the sun for a rick?’. I mean, first time around, the atmosphere didn’t even seem to contain the baby. Now it does.

Casual (but intended) lingering around baby toys, clothes and shoes sections of malls.

Often veering conversations towards colleagues and friends who are long parents, new parents or would-be parents.

Not reaching out for the TV remote at every chance available and not-so-available. Trying to go for walks instead. (shhh…they say you need to develop a healthy lifestyle six months before you try conceiving…)

Absurd remarks like ‘Don’t you think we have too much time these days on weekends etc???’ C’mon, time was never enough until few months back.

Gets home a parenting magazine from the library instead of the usual Autocar.

Reduces pub culture subtly, and reduces beer intake so subtly so as not to give the slightest hint….(hee hee, all that jazz about alcohol and sperm count)

Is extra good to in-laws and parents…more considerate, more sensitive and the blah blahs.

Accommodates happily, without a snort or a crib, the decision to dine out at wife’s favourite cuisine spot..without any argument whatsoever! (At this point, I almost started to doubt if there was an ‘other lady’ somewhere on the radar).

Updates status in FB to ‘married’ (finally! Whew!!!)

And the clincher of all….comes home armed with a pink dustbin!!

Well, I had ignored all the above mentioned symptoms till the husband chose the colour pink for the dustbin he had been asked to buy for the house. He wanted a girl, you see.

The songs babies love

My one year old daughter S has picked up a trait from last couple of months. She will open her mouth for khichdi ‘only’ when her favorite songs are playing either on the telly, laptop or mobile. Now, before you super good, uber efficient mothers pounce on me, asking ‘HOW could you introduce her to this habit’, ‘Kids should be trained to eat without any prop’, and so on, let me please clarify (fellow mothers are welcome to vouch for this) that I DID NOT train her this way. It just happened.  I realized that babies, no matter how toothless and tiny, know how to get their fair share of entertainment. What I also realized incidentally, is that the kind of entertainment varies with each generation. Our parents’ generation ate while being showed the birds, trees, butterflies etc. Our generation maybe stretched it to watching adverts on TV. The newest generation, let’s face it, loves movie songs. And the kind of songs they love are so unlike what you would like them to. I am not a fan of these ‘Anarkali Disco chali’ numbers. The raunchy steps and the garish almost non-existent costumes of today’s item numbers are so unappealing. Having said that, I would however, not dismiss the music element of these numbers. Some of these item, dhinchak songs have amazingly peppy music which prompt me to leave the music channel on for some time during the day. Fellow mommies, please don’t grudge me this adult entertainment. As much as I am mentally tuned to shield my baby from the Telly belly, I have realized that it’s extremely difficult to be on baby-friendly behavior all through the day, more so when you are the primary caretaker stationed at home.

So these songs are played during meal times. S loves the music so much so that she recognizes the songs as soon as the first background score heralding the song is played. If it’s one of her ultra favorite songs, she will give me a ‘Hey, it’s our number!’ look. Or the ‘you know what, let’s dance to this’ look. And we dance. Mindless of her half-eaten bowl of food that’s running cold. Or mine which is still uneaten. And the fact that lunch hour has passed. Everything can wait till the two minute song gets over. So what if it’s something we dance to three times a day, every single day! The look on her face hardly suggests that.

I have been asking myself why I can’t let her see some child-friendly song that may offer the same level of musical joy, sans the suggestive steps and other adult paraphernalia. I YouTubed and found only a couple that were timeless and appealing to kids of multiple age groups. The unmatched ‘Lakdi ki Kaathi’. The otherwise friendly YouTube which keeps suggesting ‘other songs that you may like’ based on the song you play, was surprisingly mute.  I didn’t take long to find an answer to that. There are hardly any kid songs these days. You do get some 1950s, 60s children songs like ‘Nanha Munna Rahi’, ‘Eechak dana’ , ‘Lalla Lalla Lori’and the likes. But take a step beyond the 60s and such songs are hardly there. Bollywood seems to have forgotten about our tiny clients who had to be entertained as well. A very rare exception being ‘Bum bum bole’ post 2000. Perhaps we as a society, have taken for granted that the new generation has lost its innocence and hence doesn’t need to be exclusively entertained. It’s sad.

Babies have an uncanny knack I discovered. They can tell you if a song is going to be superhit by listening to it just once. They can compare nuances, and all abilities of the song including hummability, recallability, dancability and watchability. They can effortlessly pick ‘Jhalla wallah’ over ‘Aa re Pritam Pyare’, ‘Tumhi ho Bandhu’ over ‘Chikni Chameli’, ‘Anarkali disco chali’ over ‘Dhadang dhang’. So here’s to you Music directors –

  1. Get your near and dear tiny tots if you want to churn out a highly likeable number

2. And please , please put together some infant friendly songs, people! How long can we listen to Lakdi ki kaathi???