Amchi Mumbai or namma Bengalooru?

I had written a post earlier about how I felt about life in Hyderabad as compared to that in Mumbai, my hometown. Now that I am back from Mumbai after a looong vacation, I am inclined towards comparing it with Bangalore, my current home for the past one year. Some random observations, in no particular order, preference or importance:

When I landed in Mumbai, it was hot, humid, sultry and I was sweating like mad. Nothing unusual. Only, I have got used to better weather conditions. Ya, ya, after spending 25 good years in the same weather conditions, how can I say that? My mother felt so too. does get used to good things faster, right? Imagine a city, where for most part of the year, you do not need a fan running even in the dead of the afternoon, where, your bag always has a pair of warm clothes for the kid to brace out the cool and windy evenings, where, a light drizzle can bring the temperature notches down on a warm day. Well, you really can't blame me now.

In Mumbai, there was never a day when I left my house without a hanky and a liberal dose of the deo. But Bangalore spoilt me. I used the deo nevertheless but on the days I forgot to, I was not subject to any embarrassment. The hankies lay washed and unused in the cupboard. This time, I realized much to my embarrassment that my favourite deo was incapable of handling the Mumbai weather and lost the battle against the more powerful sweat beads. Then the weather gods took pity on me and sent a week of evening showers accompanied by gusty winds to cool us ( the city and me). I had no reason to complain about the weather for the rest of my vacation. Yes, the deo and the hanky still occupied the top spot but their vain status had dimmed.

Time in Mumbai has two pairs of wings. I had the luxury of waking up late with additional exemption from cooking too. Yet, before I knew it mornings melted into afternoons and soon turned to dark evenings. Blame it on winter or the fast life, I felt I was riding on airplanes called time. Having kids around can also give the same illusion, though (for most part of the day, R had his cousin for company). Bangalore can be fast paced for working people but for me, it is the weekends that fly faster than the weekdays; though life in general is definitely faster than in Hyderabad.

Inspite of being privy to maa ke haath ka khaana (which translates to tasty food), I was eating lesser- which again can be blamed on the climate. I have realized that I have larger portions of meal at Bangalore and eat rather frequently. Hmm, if I need to check my weight anytime in future I better relocate back to Mumbai. Oh hold on! how can I when  awesome chaats and vada pav beckon me from every street corner? I sorely miss them in Bangalore.

An evening walk near my parents house would ensure coming across at least a dozen known faces, most of who will know who you are, whom you married and where you currently reside. So, I would be greeted with a huge smile and the usual and standard questions of "when did you come?" "will you stay longer?" "hows life in xyz city?". When I came back to Bangalore after almost a month, I realized no one at the park area where I meet so called acquaintances would have even missed seeing me around. A boon or a bane, I am not sure.

We came back home on Friday evening and the house felt so empty. The silence was almost deafening. No fights to resolve, no sweet banter of the children, no doting grandma to spoil R with chocolates and kalkanddu (sugar candy) on demand. It was good that weekend began and we had friends to meet. Also, no Monday blues because Tuesday is a state holiday! :-)

Hope you guys had a great Diwali and a lovely weekend...

Passport to a healthy pregnancy

When I found out I was pregnant, my first reaction was like oh god! really, so soon, already??
Now, it was all planned but we never expected it to happen that fast. It was just a month after we decided we would have a baby and we had given ourselves at least 6 months time to "let it happen". So, we were more surprised and a tad (only a tad) reluctant to let go of our carefree days yet :-).

My first point or secret to a healthy pregnancy would be that : it starts much before "getting pregnant". The body needs to be well-maintained and healthy before you embark on this ever-exhausting journey of motherhood. Both my husband and I were practicing yoga for quite sometime and we attribute our effortless entry into this phase to this fact. In this fast paced life where sedentary and stressful lifestyle giving rise to fertility issues is not uncommon, this is an important criterion to be fulfilled.

I dealt with severe nausea and vomiting during the entire first trimester. The changing hormones definitely left me emotionally and physically drained. I could barely cook leave alone eat anything. Whatever little I shoved down my throat would promptly be thrown out. We were worried about the baby getting the required nutrition as also with my health for I had lost 4 Kgs by the end of the first three months.. The doctor laid our fears to rest. Even if the mother fails to eat a balanced and nutritional meal during the first three months, when nausea usually strikes, the baby takes the required and deficient nutrients from the mother's blood. So even some amount of weight-loss for the mother during that phase is considered normal as long as the baby is growing fine. Only if there is a prolonged and constant deficiency in the nutritional intake for the remaining term of the pregnancy, there is cause for alarm and medical intervention. So, do read up about the myths over the net or confide in your gynaec and remain well-informed. Do not get carried away by what other people have to say. Know your body. Sign-up with any of the baby-sites that usually provide weekly updates during the pregnancy and also feature very interesting and informative articles. I had signed up with the babycentre.

Mothers-to-be dealing with a difficult, especially first pregnancy are bound to deal with some negative thoughts and mild depression-like state at some point or other. The trick is to acknowledge that it can be quite normal and not beat yourself about it or take a guilt-trip. Contrary to what the movies depict about being instantly exhilarated about the new arrival and automatically settling into the grove of a mother, real motherhood can be quite gradual and definitely not instant. Having said that, if the negative feelings or depression takes longer to clear, even after physical discomfort goes away,  you may need to take help of a counsellor. Do indulge in your favourite hobby, read light-hearted books, listen to music, take a short vacation, anything that will keep you relatively- and for the major part- positive about the baby.

I continued to do yoga ( do read more about the kind here ) for the entire term and resumed it as soon as my body regained strength after delivery. It helped me have a calm mind during labour, the breathing asanas come in handy at the crucial time and enabled me have a smooth and normal delivery. The bonus: I had little trouble getting back into shape later. Any form of exercise, after consultation with the doctors, is essential to ensure a smooth- and to an extent- a normal way of delivery. Despite best efforts, an unplanned C-section can happen. So please do not feel guilty of the same. If nothing, the exercise will surely assist you to get back into your pre-pregnancy shape faster.

Last and not the least, please do take the "eat for two now" advice with a huge pinch of salt. Indulge at times but do not over-indulge just because you are entitled to do so. Eat healthy and maintain proper weight-gain. Remember: It will take you 9 months to pile on whatever you wish but it may take longer to shed off that excess weight if you do not watch out.

So, that's my mantra- at least the one I followed- for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

A rush of thrill

Bloggers live in the perennial fear of getting a writer's block and get nightmares of their blog slipping into a coma-like state. I have been close to coming to this stage many times but fortunately something or the other would serve as the proverbial straw to a drowning man. Mostly it would either be someone else's blog post that would inspire me to write a similar experience or a timely blog contest. This time it is both. The contest is by Women's Web about the Passport to a healthy pregnancy; details here. Tan wrote a post about her adventurous experience here, which lit up the bulb in my head where a similar experience was lying buried gathering dust. For no particular reason or intention, the contest has been given the second preference.

I am basically not an adventurous person. Though I like some surprises thrown in here and there, to a large extent I like things planned. Also, I lack the courage to do something out of the ordinary just for a thrill. For the really adventurous, the incident I am about to narrate may seem quite trivial and not worthy of a mention. So, if you belong to that category, this post may not be for you. The others can read on. So, this happened in the year 2005. We friends, three of us, all girls ( out of the gang of five) decided to go on a trip to Kashmir with a popular tours and travel group. For me, the adventure began at that stage itself. My parents were dead against me going to the infamous place for obvious reasons. I, on my part was caught between trying to convince either set to align with the other party's interest. Since my friends' parents were OK with the idea, it was left to me to take the call. It took all of the rebellious streak in me, combined with my friends A and S's pleadings, to get my parents to give their consensus, which they offered when they found out how adamant we were. The travel guys on their part also assured us of our safety and claimed to have planned a safe itinerary. Since they enjoy a good reputation, we were inclined to believe them as they too have their own name and fame to protect.

That particular day was meant to visit the Char Chinar island. After a boat-ride on the lake, the travel guide gave us the evening free for shopping at the row of floating shops on the lake that sold jaw-dropping kashmiri wares- from handicrafts to carpets to shawls to sarees and dress-materials. We were enamoured by the sheer beauty of the setting and the idea of having such an unique shopping experience. We were told to remain in a group and come back to the hotel before dark. The group dispersed according to individual interests and we three friends found ourselves with another family in a shop that sold dress-materials and sarees. We were so engrossed in selecting stuff for ourselves and our families that we did not realize when the other family left our side and when daylight turned to pitch darkness. As we left the shop, we realized that the other members were nowhere near where we shopped. Either they had gone back to the hotel or were still shopping far off from where we were.

The boatman who rowed us to this shop was waiting to take us back. Sensing our tension, he said that he would reach us back safely and there was no need for any worry. As we were ferried back through the labyrinth of houseboats, the enormity of the risk factor dawned on us. Every place looked alike. None of us had any clue if we were rowed back in the right direction. Given the nature of the location, although each of us carried our mobiles, there was no network. Meaning- we could not call anyone for help if something went wrong.  Although it was not late by the clock, darkness had set in to give an illusion of an unearthly hour. The only light that permeated through the chilly darkness was the light emanating from the nearby houseboats. But every light seemed eerie and every person including the boatman looked fishy. The onward journey which probably took the same time seemed hopelessly longer on the way back. The same surrounding that looked so scenic and cheerful by the day, seemed haunting and dangerous by the night. We just kept looking at each others faces to gather hope and cheer and spoke nonsense to ward off the demons in our head. The boatman, probably sensing our apprehensions, kept reassuring us at regular intervals that he will ensure our safe return. We only had hope with us and prayed like hell in our minds. Only when saw the banks from a distance did we heave a collective sigh of relief. With hearts palpitating from the sheer excitement of our escapade we thanked the boatman profusely before running back to our hotel.

Phew! what an experience. We just prayed a little longer to thank God before hitting the bed that night.

A rant

I know I know, I said it is break time and here is a new post from me. But let me warn you, it is purely a rant. Had to get it out of my system. So guys you are free to skip reading the following.

It has been a crazy and sick-literally- holiday so far. For the first 10 days, R and S (niece) took ill one after the other. We barely got well and adjusted to the new place and my mom has now fallen sick. R is still being strange. He is back to his naughty and mischievous self, no doubt. But he rarely plays alone with my parents. Not even his paati with whom he was all chummy just a month back at Bangalore. Five minutes with them and he begins to look for me. This has thrown all my plans of meeting friends, shopping and general TP out of the window. There is no point dragging him along for the above itinerary.  He wouldn't relish it or let me either. Also, he eating all my time by insisting on viewing some rhymes whenever I get a chance to be at the computer. The keyboard and CPU being at his reach makes it difficult for me to multi-task this activity which otherwise I used to do at my place. Not only the computer but the switches around the house are all at his reach and when he is not bothering me, he is playing truant with them-"on", "off" goes each one of them like a discotheque. Hardly amusing when the house has been recently renovated with every corner shining clean and bright. I am just putting it down (the clingy behaviour, that is) to being at a new place compounded by the fact that his dad is not around. Though, given his hitherto easy-going nature has me unconvinced with this reasoning. But, you can't really predict toddler behaviour, right? Hoping that this is temporary phase and he has not morphed suddenly into a clingy, insecure child. *crossing fingers*.

My worries carry further. Hubby might have to travel abroad starting mid-Nov for about 6 weeks. This translates to me having to come back to Mumbai for the said period. With R's current behaviour, that's hardly a jump-with-glee situation for me. That's not all, we had a sight-seeing trip to Bhubaneshwar planned along with my sister's family in Dec to coincide with my cousin's wedding there. I was looking forward to that trip since the time we got to know of the wedding which is like 6 months now. I'll still go for the wedding but am seriously reconsidering taking the sight-seeing route 'cause am really not up to putting up with R in his current persona all alone. To manage a hyper-active AND clingy toddler all alone is not my idea of a vacation. I am not even talking about the multitude of ticket rescheduling that will have to be done. I am still sulking with the new development, though. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Phew! rant over.

P.S.: Secretly hoping that the visa gets rejected *casting an evil-spell, muhahahaa*

Break (brake?) time....

A combination of various factors is keeping me away from my favourite activity of blogging.

  1. Blog idea planting its seed. No time to make it into a full-fledged post because either the kids (R and niece S) are viewing Tom & Jerry on the computer or within minutes of logging on, I am required to play referee to a power-struggle between R & S. Net result-Idea lost. 

  2. Computer free, I can contemplate writing. But *Tish* the power goes off. Damm the load-shedding.

  3. Power on, computer free, surprise of surprise- kids not climbing on me or chewing my brains. Perfect? oh no, the net connection is so poor that I can take a short walk and still find the page loading screen.

But, I badly want to post something, so, here I vainly announce that my blog crossed 10,000 page hits today.

So, folks maybe it's time I take a short break till the factors start to favour me.

The festive mania

The Navaratri mania is over. Phew! Now, don't mistake me. I am all for the tradition and the festivities but when it goes beyond one's reasoning and ceases to retain its flavour to turn into just a mad frenzy of calling sundry maamis over and going over to another set of sundry maami's houses for "vettalai paaku", its time to take stock. With due respect to the intentions and sentiments that go behind celebrating a festival, I feel today the original custom has been twisted and contorted to the extent of dis-figuration.

The scene goes like this : some maami chances upon you at the temple/road/someone else's house and invites you over for "vettalai-paaku". You don't know her too well but you go nevertheless because of respect or sentiments. Its your turn then, you call the same mami with whom you have never spoken more than two lines in the chance encounter of five times in a year, out of courtesy. Another lady is very enterprising and decides that the usual tambulam is boring and decides to add colour to it by 'gifting' some article that could range anywhere from a steel-ware to trays to show-pieces to fancy handicraft items. This new practice is 'copied' by others and 'improvised' by few others to incorporate a sense of competition amongst people who give and take tambulams. The coconuts overflow on the kitchen counter and the same ones that were given to one are given off to some others.

What is the point and purpose of the this whole exhausting exercise where the recipient and the giver are out to "out-do" one another or are simply following the herd out of the need to 'return the favour'? The essence, joy and flavour of a festival is not only lost on needless rituals, on the contrary it only only brings in a distaste and a sigh of relief when the festival gets over. The customs need to be retained in their true form, rituals evolved to include helping needy people. Nothing fancy is required. Maybe you can offer 'bonus dakshinai' for your maid, cleaner or some such people who are in need of necessities instead of loading people of the same strata or upper strata with mindless rounds of coconuts and 'gifts' that are passed on like batons in a race and in the end, largely go unused or 'wasted'. If at all you feel the need to go out of the ordinary, you can probably distribute eco-friendly products that are cheap and reusable and encourage others to do the same. People can come home to pay obeisance to the deities and take part in the golu, if any, however discourage the urge to call someone only because you are 'guilty' of receiving the tambulam from that individual. That will ensure the true circulation of positive vibes that come from wish and not from compulsion. Just my two cents here. What do you feel?

A roller-coaster ride

Oh! what a weekend it has been. I  landed at the parent's place in B'bay yesterday and boy I am glad that it was nearly uneventful. It has been a test of my nerves since Friday last.

Like any other evening, I was at the play area with R on Friday evening. R was his usual self, running and scampering around, with me close at his heels. It was nearing time to head back home when R wanted to play a little extra on the standing merry-go-round. No sooner did I place him down back on the ground than he shot off in a run. My friend N and her son V (around R's age) were a feet away and she beckoned him. It was that split second's delay that decided the course of the rest of the evening. I waited just that much time to see if R went to her before rushing off to run after him. By then it was little too late. R dashed off from underneath the slide and darted towards where some older kids were rocking pretty fast on the swing. He missed getting hit from one on coming swing only to get hit by the next one. I was almost there to hold him but was unable to save him from the blow. Oh! how this scene replayed later in my head several times and how I wished I was swifter.

R let out a cry immediately and I covered his head at the area where he got hit. My head was already swimming. Someone told me to sit on the bench nearby. As I sat down, I noticed the blood on R's head. My friend N told me to rush to the doctor's and offered to accompany me. I gladly accepted her help and we rushed on her two-wheeler to a clinic that was nearby. I could have taken the car. This was precisely why I wanted to learn to drive- help myself during emergencies. Of course I had not taken into account another important factor that is needed during such times. Enormous control over one's emotions and a cool head. I was not prepared in this faculty. I was just thankful for the friend's presence and hoped to God desperately that nothing was serious. R had meanwhile stopped crying but the blood was still oozing. It was not profuse but enough to scare me.

At the clinic, we were immediately shown into a ER where some nurses examined the wound. R began to holler here. I imagined he was in pain again but in hindsight I gathered that it was probably due to the hospital atmosphere and also innate skill of sensing an abnormal circumstance that kids have. I was tense and it was showing. I kept asking the nurses several times about the seriousness of the injury.

"Its a cut, will require stitches"

"stitches??..oh that it very many stitches?"

"The doctor will have to see. The orthopedic is seeing another patient, he'll will come. Did he have any vomiting or dizziness after the injury?"

 "No. No vomiting or dizziness.When will the doctor come? Is it not an emergency?"

"He'll come. It is not very serious. We do deal with such cases everyday. Don't worry."

I had three glasses of water meanwhile and was struggling to calm R whose decibel levels were jangling my nerves further. My mind resembled a question mark and was unable to muster faith in the words of the nurse, all the time doubting the capability of doctors and staff because no one showed any sense of urgency in attending to the case. Just then a pediatric came in and explained to me that since the head region has multiple layers of nerves and cells, even a slight injury can cause blood to flow. The area is in that sense cushioned by so many layers and only if the cut was very deep or it was compounded by vomiting/nausea/dizziness/convulsions there was cause for worry. My mind regained a sense of calm after this and we waited for the orthopedic to attend to the wound. R was also much calmer than earlier and was even talking. The ortho arrived after a couple of minutes and he pronounced the need for one stitch. He explained that he would give local anesthesia and then stitch. R began to cry again and refused to sit still. I thought he was scared and suggested that I held him while the doctor did the needful. But this was not to be. R kept jumping on my lap and shaking his head and I, with all my might too, was unable to calm him and hold his head in one position. The nurses and the doctor decided that it was enough and the nurse brought out a blanket, wrapped R in it, placed him in a lying position and three of them held him tight on the bed. Phew! we were all glad when it was over. Bandaging seemed quite impossible after this and so the doctor just sprayed an ointment that would produce a thin film over the wound and asked me to keep the area dry.

Just as we got over this episode, R sprained his arm on Sunday evening. I had called two of my friends along with their family over for the usual navaratri "vettalai paaku". R was playing ringa-ringa-roses with A and A's dad. He sat down before everyone finished with "all fall down", so A's dad just gave a little tug to his hand to lift him up and R began to cry soon after. He generally doesn't cry without any reason so we were all concerned when the crying didn't stop after repeated distractions. It was not a non-stop cry of pain. He would whimper for a while and then accelerate for a while. Suspecting a sprain we took him to the ER of the hospital where he usually takes his vaccines. They took an X-ray to rule out any dislocation and thankfully when none were found, prescribed a gel for the sprain.

The weekend was packed with enough hospital visits, though I can't thank God enough that they were not grave. Only, it had me a little jostled and worried about the flight I was to take with R alone to B'bay on Tuesday. Well, let me say we came in one piece without any more drama. R seems to be missing the familiar surrounding and his dad. He is not even moving well with his pati whom he had just met and adjusted to well a month ago. He's unusually clingy, quiet and not in his elements but he brightens upon seeing my niece S who is just a year older to him. So, hoping that he would settle in a couple of days.