When I was at my parents’ house prior to my marriage, I could have easily qualified as the quintessential procrastinator. Never felt the urgency to finish any task told to be performed. That I would agree to finish off one itself was considered a favour and relief (by folks). My sister would invariably shoulder more responsibilities around the house and I would get away doing very little (quite negligible). I shaped up (improved) a little after my sister got married. I do not know why I was the way I was at that time. I can put it down to being just lazy and also I knew for a fact that if I didn’t do it someone else will do it. The following scene is only an example. You could replace the request for anything else (read doing work) and the scene would have unfolded in almost similar fashion.

Scene 1: The clothes are piled up waiting to be folded.

Sister: Please fold the clothes
Me: hmm..later.
Sister: when?
Me: after some time, maybe evening.

Evening comes; the request- now taking the tone of a command- is repeated

Me: err..tomorrow, I’ll do it.

A day later, some more clothes pile up.

Sister: Fold the clothes, will you??!!
Me: (not particularly busy) Now??..I don’t have the time, maybe later...

After some heated argument, sister realizing the futility of the situation, folds the clothes herself.

So, why am I reflecting up on the past, especially the not-so-flattering-part? Because, I have begun to feel that I am paying for my karma. I am now being paid back in my own coin. No, it is not that my parents or sister who are avenging. It is my dear hubby. Destiny played its cards well, you see. The above scene is replayed many times over now with just a change in the cast. Dear hubby (playing the part played by me years ago) and me (playing the other exasperated family member).

I have changed. Post marriage. Seems quite sudden but now, between the two of us, I am like a machine with timer set for every task during the day. Hubby dear doesn’t feel the need to do anything at any particular time. Meaning, anything can be done at any pace and at any time of the day. He can be totally at peace with the bed undone and the newspapers strewn across the room well past time for breakfast. (I am only talking of weekends where I expect him to pitch in). Now, that’s way late for me and realizing that he won’t do it, I end up doing it. I am discovering latent freakiness for tidiness and discipline in me which I suspect has gone on an overdrive to make up for the insufficient or lack thereof in my better half. Also now I know that if I don’t clear up the mess, then no one else will. To be fair to him he does try to pitch in when the nagging gets the better of him but then I do find a lot of holes in the final outcome. That gives him further fodder- you anyway do not approve, so I rather not do it- to justify his stand. In turn I accuse him of a half-hearted approach and the cycle thus continues.

My shallow knowledge of the law of karma tells me that in Kaliyuga, we are made to pay for our sins in the same Yuga. Well, I can only wonder if it isn’t too soon that the tables are turned to teach me a lesson. And if the laws of karma could be so prompt, can I expect the tides changing in my favour soon?

R times

R will turn 18 months on the 26th of this month. Here's a quick update for this month:

We have to keep R constantly engaged especially while changing his diapers else he would run off. So we come up with newer things to “teach” him and ask him to repeat after us only so he has his mind off the fact that he is lying still for a few minutes of diaper-change. During one such occasion we taught him the months of the year. It would have been just a couple of times we did that but R now says them all (of course in his baby “mazhalai” language).

He can count numbers one to ten in Hindi, English and Tamil. Of the three languages, he says it the best in Tamil. The way he stresses on “anjju” and “ombanddu” always brings a smile on my face. In English he generally skips the numbers seven and eight. Hindi version needs some practice..;-)

His recitation of the Alphabets is amusing. He says A, B, C, D, F, G, H, Y, Z, “H” and “X” being phonetically similar.

He enacts these nursery rhymes while I recite it- two little hands go clap clap.., teddy bear teddy bear, twinkle twinkle, finger rhyme. He has about 70 words in his vocab list though most of it sound similar to one another and only Amma, not even Appa, can understand it.

He currently loves the act of opening and closing any bottle or container. He is trying to master the turning of the cap on to the bottle/container and this can keep him busy for at least 10-15 mins. That’s a huge amount of “me time” I can get at one go.

When asked, “Onnodu paer enna?” (What is your name?), he points to himself and says, “ichab”. He has no knowledge of colours but says geen and boo. Ask the colour of any random object and you would first get a geen for an answer. If you say that’s not right, he will say boo. He loves the water but hates the bath session.

He is still the friendly kid and just about stops short of smiling and waving at every random person. He is drawn towards other kids – all ages. He tries to reach out to them by smiling and approaching them saying paapa paapa. (Even if the kid is older than him by 4-5 years, he is paapa :-))

He has entered the tantrum throwing phase. If he is reprimanded or doesn’t get his way, he bawls, lying on the floor and howls with tears - marble-sized- in his eyes. Mostly he doesn’t get any attention for such dramatic expression and those tears magically dry up the next second.

He is also mastering the bore-a-hole-in-amma’s-head strategy. It is a strategy in which he repeats a word-could be anything from asking something to eat or pointing to a toy he has or just saying amma amma amma- until amma has abandoned all that she is doing currently to focus solely on him. This strategy is successfully employed when amma is at her busiest either cooking or writing a post. Even as I write this, R is applying this strategy and amma has to quickly draw this post to a close.

Are You Fair Enough?

I am talking about skin colour here. If you are even one shade less than a white-washed tone, you better start using the fairness products else god forbid you may lose the job interview, remain a spinster all your life, suffer nasty remarks from the road side pani-puri Walla and such other dreadful consequences.

Seriously, what are the Ad companies thinking when they show ads where a person using a fairness cream has an interview panel groveling before him to accept the job or a lady who is already ready to give the sun tough competition is depressed about her skin not glowing enough? A fair-skin can get you your dream job, win beauty pageants, the man of your dreams, and in short have the heavens and lady luck licking your feet. Never mind education and knowledge. That is for the less fortunate ones. The colour of the skin rather than person’s inherent qualities like confidence, talent or even education determines his or her destiny. I am surprised that no one has thought of suing these in-your-face-liars.

However there is a far more serious issue here. And I am not even talking about the validity of their claims when they insist they a person with a dusky-complexion can become a white-skinned foreigner within a week or even life-time use of their products. The inherent desire of the Indian or Asian skin-coloured that desperately wants to become fairer at whatever cost is the underlying factor that is being exploited to deaths by advertising firms. In the wake of this reality, can we really blame them? Fairness of the skin is associated with beauty, intelligence, competence and all the goodness that heavens have to bestow. We may have made inroads into science and technology, have the best international schools, colleges and B-schools churn out bright alumni year after year, yet we are unable to wipe out this deep-rooted regressive belief and instil pragmatic thinking and self-confidence that is not dependant of racial background.

A dusky girl is considered far more unlucky than her male counterpart for the obvious concern about who will marry this poor dark girl? Although the evolution of metro-sexual male has given rise to fairness cream for men, men by and large get away from being typecast in skin-colour moulds. After men need to be tall, dark and handsome but women need to be tall, fair, slim, beautiful and what-not. Women-centric serials start with the concept of having dusky protagonists defying the trend but a few episodes down the line they strangely turn a few shades fairer. Hot model Bipasha though known as the dusky siren is ironically never portrayed on-screen in her true skin-tone.

While we Asians spend our time trying to lighten our genetics, our western counterparts spend hours in sunlight to get a darker skin tone. Talk about the grass being greener on the other side! Here’s a satirical anecdote I read recently in the magazine section of a leading newspaper. I do not remember the name of the author, unfortunately. An Indian mother prays to God about getting a fair bride for her son. God more than answers her prayer when her son comes home with a foreigner much to her dismay. Maybe she did not want such a “fair” bride after all. About time to start wishing for more meaningful things in life.

Where's the mother tongue?

What is with parents and even grand parents these days to speak to their wards only in English? I stay in a complex that has roughly 500 flats and almost each having at least one kid. I meet so many parents with their children in the park area and all I get to hear is conversations in English. The percentage is slightly lower if the kid is below 2 years old but if the child is in the pre-school age or above that, in 8 out of 10 cases, across all communities, I witness the English-obsession scenario.

Earlier we were not exposed as much to the CBSE and ICSE boards of schooling as we are today. International schools were a rarity. Only parents who migrated from abroad had their wards speaking in heavily accented English much to awe and envy of us lesser-mortals. English-speaking was considered hip then and we all tried desperately to “fit” in. The situation as I see is has not changed much even today. I agree that good written and spoken English is an important skill today and hence needs to be developed and honed. Yet, this is not a sufficient excuse to banish the local language even from home.

I fail to understand the psyche of parents who send their children to international schools-where they anyway would learn and master the Queen’s language- and yet choose English over their mother tongue as the medium of communication even at home. Does it not border on extremism when your child knows a foreign language too well and responds ONLY in that language even when spoken to in a regional language that would be their mother tongue? How can this be a matter of pride when you announce to people that “my child understands X language but cannot or does not speak”? It is a probably a different matter if the child is raised in a foreign country. Even then, in my opinion, it is the duty of the parents to ensure that the child speaks his or her mother tongue at home. Whatever gaps or shortcomings noticed in picking up the language should be filled in by inculcating a healthy reading habit.

Does this trend mean that the mother-tongue is losing its importance? That if you do not know to speak your mother-tongue yet can write essays in English, you will be looked up to? There is already a degradation of regional languages from one generation down to the other because of the influence and sometimes overshadowing of other languages. Surely our parents and the generation before them spoke a more correct form of our regional tongue. I, for one feel quite bad for not knowing to read or write in my mother tongue. While my husband and I have arguments about which one of us speaks better Tamizh, we agree wholeheartedly on teaching R this language. It is up to us parents to inculcate in young minds the pride associated with vernacular language and ensure that it does not meet a slow death generations down the line.

ETA: This is a link shared by Sebamedmom about languages and what a crucial role it plays in individuals by Ganesh Devy at Mumbai Tedx event

About a holiday well spent and some other plans

We are back from a short but lovely weekend trip to Ooty. We clubbed it along with a friend’s wedding at Tiruppur-about 100 kms from Ooty. It was quite a last minute decision to club the two trips and expectedly, as is the case with last minute bookings, the travel and accommodation booking was quite a crazy affair. Some things went in our favour, some didn’t. In hindsight, would have liked to change a few things; however the holiday mood and spirit was not to be dampened.

We stayed at a hotel named Sherlock managed by Little Earth group of hotels. A heritage villa turned into a hotel, the entire ambience was a visual treat and pleasure to stay. As the name suggests, it is named after the famous detective of the Arthur Conan Doyle novel- The Sherlock Holmes Series. The rooms are named after some popular thriller titles in the series- The Baskervilles, The Dancing Men, The Copper Beeches, The Three Gables and The Gloria Scott; the restaurant was called “Irene Adler- Holmes idea of a perfect woman”. Now, I am a big fan of this detective series novel and was thrilled with the idea of staying in such a setting; also the main reason to zero down on this hotel for our stay. (Only people who have read this novel can probably relate to this).

The three luxury rooms each had a balcony attached that overlooked a common, small, pretty and well-maintained lawn. The lush green trimmed grass, colourful shrubs of flowering plants of all kinds, tables and chairs arranged in cozy corners of the garden to sip your tea in the midst of nature — a perfect way to spend your weekend. Since we had visited Ooty in the recent past, we were not keen on sight seeing. It was a good decision for R since he is anyway not at an age to appreciate sight hopping. He enjoyed himself thoroughly; simply running, skipping and playing about in the garden.

It was a much needed break from the routine of waking up early, rushing through breakfast, cooking, lunch-packs, cleaning, tidying and clearing up a house which always seems to resemble a tornado wrecked one. For a change R decided to stick to hubby for all the entertainment leaving me to relax and enjoy my space. It was refreshing yet odd in a way. Refreshing, because I got to savour the rare “me” times that I have had ever since I became a mother. Odd, because R seemed to associate Appa with going out and Amma with being at home, hence choosing the former for outings while needing the latter at home. Toddlers seem to have this amazing sense of associating person with their respective occupation. Not a very comforting setting and I made a mental note to have this changed in the near future.

Talking of which I have been toying with the idea of working from home sometime soon. The idea has been there ever since R turned a year old but for some reasons or the other I have been chickening out. I am not able to put a finger to it but I have not been able to get going with checking off the to-do list before I begin my transition from SAHM to WFHM (work-from-home-mother).

R needs to be sent to a day-care for at least 4-5 hours:
This is a major move for me and R (maybe more for me). It would the first time since his birth that we would be apart for so long in a day. I know this has to be done sooner than later yet I wonder if it is too soon and how he (or me?) will cope.

I need to learn to drive:
I had learnt to drive in 2007 but never spent time behind the wheel ever since hence I am as good as a fresh learner. I was never scared of the roads. I used to ride a two-wheeler prior to my marriage but post-marriage I haven’t even taken a cycle on the roads and now the thought of driving on Bangalore roads is making me somewhat jittery.

I need to brush up on my technical skills before bringing my resume to life: My career graph has been through many short and long breaks, so this is not so much of a nagging issue.

I will have to re-establish my networking skills to be able to get steady flow of work:
Of this part I am fairly confident since I am not completely out-of touch with my old workmates.

Well, what needs to be done, needs to be done. Hoping to shrug off the inertia soon and get going.

New updates about R

It is amazing to note how each month unfolds newer aspects in your toddler. What seemed a hurdle last month for the child is now a mere activity. Every aspect of development shows a significant leap in terms of growth.

Recognizes shapes – At 17 months, R can now recognize various shapes. Although he says the relevant word for each one, only the adoring mother can make out what he means. For example:

Tarke -- circle
Pae -- square
Aeta -- rectangle
Tan -- triangle
Heart -- heart
Jing -- ring
Ova -- oval
Koob -- cube
Kone -- cone
Mand -- diamond
Taar -- star

He says moon for crescent since he associates it with the shape of the moon.

Identifies the characters of his favourite books

R can identify almost all the objects in his favourite books. He has these sparkly books that introduces animals found in a jungle, ocean and underwater in the form of a nice story. R loves to browse through these books and exclaim with joy the names of animals as he does so.

Beaky -- name of the bird
Pathy -- panther
Chimp -- chimp
Tath -- sloth
Hisss hisss -- snake
Tee -- tree
Fog -- frog
Ba-bye -- any guess?? It’s a butterfly
Hyna -- hyena
Aino -- rhino
Aff -- giraffe
Peacup -- peacock
Wae -- whale
Toto -- turtle
Tarpich -- starfish
Ow -- Owl
jeeba -- zebra

Counts one to ten and says the alphabets (with a lot of prompting, of course), also recognizes a few numbers and alphabets

Climbs up and down a flight of stairs with help

Buckles the stroller belt on his own

Stacks up to 7 blocks