Normal programming…

… recommences! Regular readers, please do excuse the last post. Let’s just say, after weeks of self-control, I found it impossible to resist this opportunity to be naughty staring me right in the face. And now, let’s leave it at that, shall we?

Excitement is in the air at the JnM household. The husband returns from a two month exchange program in the US next week, goodies in tow. Toys and dozens of books for his darling Baby M. A digital SLR and iPhone for himself. And one teeny weeny gift for me. Sigh! How the mighty have fallen!

Okay, I am exaggerating. My gift is a surprise, so I have no idea how tiny (or huge) it is. And guess whose pictures the SLR will end up capturing? And finally, the stuff for Baby M was painstakingly researched and selected and ordered online by none other than yours truly. The poor husband ended up merely playing messenger boy in this instance. So I thought, why not be generous and give him his iPhone in return for the courier service? Yes, I am pretty generous that way.

Baby M will be taking off for Mahabaleshwar as soon as his daddy makes an appearance on Indian shores. This will be his fifth trip in less than a year, after Lonavala, Delhi-Agra, Indore and Alibag. Quite the seasoned traveler already, is our Baby M. He’s been so kind as to allow his poor parents to accompany him this time as well. But don’t expect such largess every time, we’ve been warned. Okay dear, we’ll take what we get.

The no-fuss baby that he is, Baby M has been very little trouble the last four times, gleefully taking in all the different sights with large curious eyes when awake, falling asleep in our arms when tired, and lapping up the sterile but yucky-tasting packaged baby foods as well as the delicious but hardly very hygienic dhaba food with equal ease. The husband and I have our fingers crossed this time will be no different.

The only part that worries me is the long drive. Active toddlers can be hard to manage in a confined space, and Baby M is as active as they get. I am trying to get him hooked on to looking out of the window – nothing like observing the world outside to kill boredom and enrich your mind I believe – but the idea is yet to catch on. In the meantime, mommy’s singing (talk of captive audiences!) and his favorite books seem to do the trick.

Strawberry-picking (and eating!), boating, horse-riding, hiking, swimming and lots of parent-child and husband-wife bonding is on the cards. Wish us happy travels, please!

The joys of Indian life – for babies!

“Rolly polly, up, up up!”, a chubby three year old sings, while her  cousin,  a cute little two year old, chortles with glee and a ten-month old Baby M watches them intently, fascinated. He kicks his legs wildly in protest at being held. So what if he can’t walk yet? His friends are running around playing and of course he must join them!

The girls are our neighbors at my parents’ home in Mumbai. Everyday, morning, afternoon and evening, the three get together in the building compound to ‘play’.  Whoever gets down first calls out to the rest until the entire building knows the gang is getting together again! Sometimes a little boy from across the street joins in as well. The older ones sing songs or tell stories (picked up at playschool), while Baby M is usually content to simply watch them, that’s when he’s not looking at the crows and butterflies, trying to grab at flowers and leaves and staring at the neighborhood cat! Sometimes he’ll laugh out aloud or try to imitate the funny sounds his friends make, more often he simply kicks his legs in delight at their antics.

In the morning, when Aaji sets out on her daily rounds of the market and sundry other chores, Baby M sees her pick up her purse and gets all excited. It’s time to go out! Aaji tries in vain to slip out unnoticed, but the ever-alert Baby M lets out a loud wail until she picks him up and takes him out. Perched on Aaji’s shoulder, Baby M roams the lanes of our sleepy suburb, visiting the bank, the fruit seller, the local library, even the school for physically challenged children where Aaji volunteers her time every week.

Every evening, when Aai shuts down her laptop for the day,  she gets herself and Baby M ready and mom and son head out, to the park, to the local bookstore to browse books for Aai, to pick up Aaji from her yoga class or to the market to hunt for some elusive ingredient for Aai’s recipe-of-the-day.

And at night, when Ajoba comes home, Baby M leaps into his arms before he enters the house and demands to be taken out for a walk or a ride in the car. Weekends, he travels to South Bombay to visit his cousin, just a year older to him, or north to the suburb where his paternal grandparents, uncle, cousin and many more of our relatives live.

Grandparents, uncles and aunts to pamper him, cousins and neighbors his own age to play with,  older cousins to teach him new tricks, the household help, the driver and  the watchman to entertain him when everyone else is busy, traveling by bus, train and rickshaws, a fruit seller gifting him an orange just because he seemed so fascinated with the color, random girls on the road pinching his cheeks and going ‘so cute!’ at him, the lights of Diwali, band-baaja of Ganpati and kites of Sankrant – could a baby’s life get any richer?

When Baby M first arrived in India, he’d look at a gathering of  two or more people and burst into tears. Guests at home, burst into tears. Enter a strange home, more tears. A stranger picking him up, loud wails and shrieks! Today, he throws himself at anyone who’s standing at the door. An unfamiliar uncle picks him up and all he notices is the pen sticking out of the uncle’s shirt pocket. He’s traveled to Khandala, Pune, Delhi, Agra and Indore over the past couple of months without showing a hint of stranger anxiety.

“Rolly polly, down, down, down!”, Baby M’s friend ends her song and I watch him laugh aloud, my heart bursting with happiness. The decision to move back home never seemed wiser!

Breaking the ‘mamu’ stereotype

Think of a traffic policeman, fondly known as ‘mamu’ or ‘pandu’ in Bombay slang, and what comes to mind is a pan-chewing, pot-bellied old man hiding in the clump of trees just beyond the traffic signal, harassing you for ‘chai-pani’ or else…!

Baby M and I had a very different experience this weekend. A cousin’s husband was treating and the whole gang landed up at New Yorker’s, Chowpatty, Baby M (on his first restaurant outing) included. The interesting-looking food on the table, the sparkling cutlery and the colorful menu cards – all this was too much for the poor child to take though – he lunged this way and that, spoiled for choice and unsure what to attack next. Mom and baby thus made an early exit from the restaurant, mom having gulped down her yummy lasagna in a record five minutes!

The rest of the evening, we strolled along Marine Drive, mom trying to walk off the lasagna and baby taking in the interesting sights and sounds, while the party continued inside. As we neared Nariman Point, a balloon-seller walked past us. Baby M, fearless and single-minded as always, threw himself in the direction of the balloons as soon as he spotted them.

The balloon-seller ran to us, spotting a potential customer in Baby M. (More like potential destroyer if you ask me, but never mind!) Fumbling around for my purse, I realized I had forgotten it back in the restaurant.  ‘Nahi re, balloon ghyaycha nahi ahe, khoop lahaan ahe na baby!’, I tried to tell the little boy. (The baby’s too small, we don’t want to buy the balloon.)

A young traffic policeman standing next to us, smartly dressed and fit as a fiddle,  was keenly following our conversation. To my great surprise, he walked up to us, handed a ten rupee note to the boy, placed a balloon in Baby M’s gleeful hands, gave us a shy smile and quietly walked away. Talk of  breaking all stereotypes in a single shot!

Hi there!

After such a long gap, it’s difficult to find the right words again. Has something similar happened to you? You know, this feverish blogger phase when the words just seem to flow, when every little thought becomes a lovely thought-provoking post and then, suddenly, nothing! But I do miss blogging. So I decided, today I just had to write something, even if it turns out to be junk. Baby steps are the way to go these days!

So here’s what’s been happening in my life…

I am mid-way into the second trimester of my pregnancy, just about to complete five months. The morning sickness has all gone, but the new problem-of-the-ever-expanding-tummy seems so much worse now! How much more can my skin stretch, I keep asking the husband in frustration every day. To which he lovingly pats baby and gives it an adoring look and asks it to grow some more and make it fast. Yeah right, but what about my tummy?

We had our big ultrasound last week. Where we found out our baby is a… umm…err…  something I had totally not expected shall we say! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a teeny weeny bit disappointed, but hey, baby’s very healthy, all the tests have been fine so far, so it would be very selfish of me to complain. I’ll just need some time to get used to the idea of being mommy to a baby boy/girl rather than a baby boy/girl I guess!

(Sorry for the secrecy and total confusion friends, all this is just for my dad who reads this blog and for some reason does not wish to know the baby’s gender beforehand.)

Baby’s also super-active it seems. The ultrasound technician kept laughing at its antics throughout. It kept flipping over just when she was ready to take a picture! At the end of it, she asked me to ‘buy good running shoes – you’ll need them’!

Which brings me to – I am so scared of motherhood already! What with the gender shock and the approaching delivery date, its difficult to be the cool never-frazzled mommy of my dreams. The actual delivery is terrifying of course, but I’m more scared of what’s to follow. You mean, the baby’s going to come home with me from the hospital? I have to take care of it 24×7? What if I need a break? And how do I keep it entertained? Should I learn some baby songs now? Or will my usual filmi collection do? But what if baby simply hates my voice?

As you can see, fun times are coming up for us. Hang in there for the ride folks!

Of musical heaven and bumbling husbands!

Brought up in a household obsessed with Hindi film music, my exposure to any sort of ‘non-Indian’ music is so limited, it’s not funny at all. So when the husband proposed we go to a Yanni concert last Friday, I was skeptical. Isn’t he the guy who played at the Taj Mahal a few years ago, I asked? That was the sum total of my knowledge of the master pianist. But the husband seemed rather keen, so we went. And I ended up being one of the loudest cheerleaders in our part of the stands. Now if only I could whistle, I’d surely have been the loudest!

To say the concert was good is to insult the magic of those two hours. There was divine music, exquisite dancing and a certain special something in the air. It was superb, magical, enthralling – basically out of this world. Tell me – where else do you get to see a big happy smile on everybody around you? The musicians seemed the happiest of the lot. They indulged in oneupmanship and cheered the loudest when their teammates outdid them. There was a special bond amongst them that was a privilege to simply watch. The evening ended all too soon, as is often the case with enjoyable evenings. The band played encore after encore, yet we in the audience hungered for more. We were on our feet, clapping and cheering and basically just refusing to leave!

In my post-concert euphoria, I was all set to be suitably grateful to the husband but that was not to be. On our way out, he asked me if the Taj Mahal guy was any good. With a transparently halfhearted attempt at keeping a straight face. Naturally, he got a withering glare for his efforts. The man is yet to learn when not to press home his advantage!