Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Of dresscodes defined by a three year old.

...its good being a three year old I must say. We keep the entire household awake till it suits us to drop off to sleep, never mind the dimmed lights and turned off television sets and the night suits and the hushed voices and the bone tired mamma, and when we do, we keep mamma awake because we insist on kicking her on her nose till she can take it no more and sleeps face buried in the pillow, waking up with bruises under her eyes for dark circles thanks to oxygen deprivation. (So now if you see me with cauliflower nose, know it is not futile attempts at learning pugilistics, nor a beast of a husband inflicting blows on poor helpless me --though, given the width of my arms, he's more likely to injure himself, than me). Then the next morning, wary mamma having let me sleep in till half an hour before its beyond late for us to leave for therapy, refuse point blank to get up and hiss and spit venomously at poor mamma, causing mamma to wonder whether she unwittingly watched any snake programmes on Discovery while she was pregnant. She had been banned from watching any horror shows by grandmother, and shudders to think of results had she defied the dictat. Therefore, when mamma's patience is at boiling cauldron tipping over level, we give up the snake man act and bolt upright and charge next door to Sonu house, from where we lead mamma a merry dance to the lift to other neighbours' houses to the compound finally where in despair, mamma lifts us bodily and drags us back, shovels some milk into us, bathes us and dresses us. Which then is another story altogether. Whatever mamma takes out is not good enough. It needs to be spruced up with the jacket which has now been outgrown so much, that it is more shrug than jacket. We insist on wearing sandals with socks, and no socks with shoes. We want no sleeveless Tshirts on the pain of more spitting and hissing and rolling on the floor tantrums. We want only denim full pants, which effectively makes half of our trouser wardrobe redundant. Out go those beautiful corduroy trousers, those camouflage cargos, those khakis, those nifty shorts. And as for shorts, only babies in the cribs wear shorts. We are now a big boy who needs to wear only full length denim trousers, and that too dark blue indigo, and not those washed, faded, distressed variety which are the stuff of second hand stock and not worthy for lil princes like us. At which point Mamma caves in and lets us wear just what we want, which results in a jester meets Himesh Reshammiya look, with p-cap, jacket over denims and mismatched Tshirt. Now thanks to Himesh Reshammiya flaunting maiden cleavage in his latest song for his self starring movie, the promos of which we have been seeing on every music channel, we have grown to believe it is perfect dress code to wear the jacket and skip the Tshirt inside. Therefore if you see a three year old wannabe Hindi pop and rockstar in a denim jacket he has so outgrown that it comes half way down his chest and mismatched denim trousers, coupled with socks and plastic sandals, look behind for a harassed fat woman pulling out her hair in despair. Thats me.
The moral of the story: Mamma is exhausted before she can leave the house. The car trip is another story altogether with us insisting on sitting in the driver's lap and helping him negotiate tricky curves, with Mamma's heartrate reaching mild stroke levels. When restrained by the seat belt we will somehow manage to contort oneself around it that extricating us becomes a four man operation, at times with the only option left of cutting the damn thing off. And if, god forbid, we drop off to sleep on Mamma's lap in the car, heaven help her if she raises me and her carcass to get home. We want to sleep undisturbed in the car for no matter how long we decide to nap. By the end of which, mamma has no back or arms left in working condition.
Tomorrow we have therapy and a birthday party. In quick succession. Which means mamma will have to pack the outfit to be worn to the birthday party--both for herself and for us. Which means a tantrum in the office, where mamma plans to take us for a quick bite and change of ensemble. Why I am dreading this already? The changing part that is, not the birthday party, which is a screening of Shrek 3. Which I hope brat will sit through peacefully. Maybe he might just go off to sleep. And maybe he might just switch allegiances to Shrek from Spidey, in which case I might be hit for more Shrek Tshirts, bags and assorted merchandise everytime we go into a shopping situation.

PS: When Mamma wears a skirt slit upto her thigh, we go into paroxysms of disapproval. "Mamma, take it off. Wear pant. All leg is showing." Where did that come from? Not from the father I know for sure. My own little moral police.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My own personal bodyguard...

The husband was in a bad mood this morning. And there was I going on nag nag nag for all I was worth on the issue of house buying (Before you think I am a total troll, let me explain, this building is about to crumble into pieces and will not survive another monsoon, we were flooded in for four days last year and the walls wept continuously. It has no compound or garden for brat to play in and there are no other kids his age. See, I told you, I have my reasons.) So the husband, pushed into the corner gave me an earful. And this rare occasion was in the presence of the brat who was playing with his dinky cars in the corner. We normally have our spats in the privacy of other rooms or when he is asleep. Before I could react, the brat rushed to my side and hugged me, and patted me on the back (like I do his, when he falls or gets hurt) and then turned on his father.
"What did you do right now? Why did you shoutit Kiranmummy? Come here and say sorry. Right now. I mean it?"
All this said in one sentence, without a pause, and with eyes wide open in a fashion meant to be threatening.
The expression on husbands face was to die for. Needless to say I accepted the apology gracefully.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Brat without cousins...

Over the past month and a half, the brat has been perma surrounded by his cousins who worshipped the ground he walked on, played with him, created elaborate games for him, cheered him on when he sat on his potty (my poor constipated darling!!!!), and when he drank his milk, accompanied him to therapy to make it more bearable (until of course, beauteous Alviya came into his life and made everyone else, including mamma redundant). So this morning he wakes up to an empty house. Yes, mamma, pappa, dadi and tauji are there, as usual, but there are no kids. No buas. A strange silence descends on him.
"Mamma, where's Shanty?" "Shanty gone to Delhi, love."
He digests that and rolls around for some more moments on the bed.
"Mamma where's Sheenu?" "Sheenu gone home to Pune, love."
He is silent and assimilates this info as well.
"Mamma where is Shwetadidi?" "Shwetadidi gone to Bangalore, love."
Absolute silence while he digests all this info.
He then sits bolt upright in the bed. Thinks hard and gets down like a man with a purpose. Drags a stool to his cupboard, opens the shelf and pulls out his new Spiderman bag (Yes, already bought by adoring Bua for next year school term), and proceeds to shovel some of his clothes inside, and puts it on his back.
Opens the shoe rack, puts on his shoes. Wrong feet of course, but the effort was commendable. Then he marches to the door.
"Mamma, open the door, I going."
"Where are you going in your nightsuit?"
"I going Delhi, Pune, Bangalore. In the aeroplane. Dont want to stay Bombay."
I wiped away a couple of tears too.

Part Two on Kids in Advertising...

Someone out there is listening to this mother ranting about kid targetted advertising, so here is an article from the Business Standard, cut and pasted for other similarly concerned moms.

Children being left out of ad plans
Prasad Sangameshwaran & Priyanka Sangani
MUMBAI Faced with rising consumer concerns across the world, companies are slowly but surely excluding small children from their marketing plans. Hindustan Unilever has decided not to talk to children below six in its communication campaigns. Coca-Cola and Pepsi will not target consumers below 12 years. In fact, Coke does not feature children below 12 in any marketing communication. And Disney does not carry advertisements on its programme for very small children, Playhouse Disney. Globally, a campaign has been mounted against companies that cause lifestyle disorders such as obesity amongst children through misleading advertisements. This has led to a correction in the marketing strategies of firms that thought children could affect the spending behaviour of their parents. Thus, McDonald’s follows internal norms in not showing visuals of food in a way that could deceive children. Back home, the Advertising Standard Council of India has come down on advertising campaigns of beverage manufacturers such as Cadbury’s and Heinz, saying claims made in their commercials were exaggerated. It even took electrical products manufacturer Anchor to task after its commercial for weather proof switches showed a child accidentally touching a switchbox that had been sprayed with water. Advertising agencies say this has initiated introspection amongst companies about their target audience. There is also a growing realisation amongst companies that very small children are not able to comprehend communication properly. “Evidence suggests that children below six find it difficult to distinguish between TV programming and advertising,” Hindustan Unilever Chairman Harish Manwani recently told the company’s shareholders. The company has decided that it will promote only those products to children between six and 11 that fulfill the nutritional benchmarks required to qualify for the “Choices” logo. Only those products in Unilever’s global portfolio that are consistent with international dietary guidelines get to display the “Choices” logo on the package. Unilever hopes to complete the exercise by the end of 2008. For once, young consumers are not being spoilt with choices.Copyright © 2007, Business Standard Limited

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Because I’ve been tagged…

The Mad Momma has tagged me, and since I must not break the chain I take up this challenge of telling you eight things you don’t know about me. And one that I make up. So, as you did with MM, you need to guess which is the one I made up. Or is it really made up?

1. I am mortally afraid of lizards, snakes and all reptiles.
2. I hate reading a newspaper that has already been read. I need the fresh crispness of an unopened newspaper. If I could get a butler to iron the newspaper so I wouldn’t get ink on my fingers I would.
3. I cannot swim. I sink like a stone.
4. I am as blind as a bat.
5. I have been, at various times in my life, a model, a news anchor, an artist, a commercial artist and a jingle singer.
6. I have a fixation about not stepping into public without lipstick.
7. I have a fetish for bags and shoes. I hoard them by the dozens.
8. I crave sweet. I can pack away an entire mithai box in a minute. If there was a mithai eating competition I would win it hands down.
9. I’ve had a near death and an out of body experience. I have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

And now since I must tag eight others I tag
Little Zed
…and still thinking up some more…

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

From the holiday...

Some snapshots of the Summer of 07, when the brat was surrounded by adoring cousins, who hero worshipped the ground he walked on, and indulged his every whim, and generally gave him all the loving he needed to make mamma feel less guilty about him not having a sibling.

Out at a family lunch, where all the brat did was run around in the waiting area and trade off his new watch to the waiters for a shot at carrying glasses on trays and eating unlimited icecream. Needless to say, his offer wasnt accepted.
Below, moi, in celebrity snapped at lunch by paparazzi mode...

Me and the sis in law at lunch... dont miss those thunderous arms. I put it down to a bad camera angle....

The brat on his throne, the mess behind him is my bedroom. Mad Momma, its not always this messy, I must clarify, this was clicked in the midst of packing and so the mess...and thats his nightsuit on his head ala Lawrence of Arabia...

Brat and pop exercising in the hotel room. With brat playing the weights.

The three of us, yes, the fat woman on the left is yours truly... picture suitably cropped to exclude lard... reduced to wearing husband's tshirts to accommodate growing bulk...

Shouldnt he be in the movies, check out the posing....
Pop, son and grandmother at lunch...

With beloved Shweta didi who is mother hen to him.
With Shweta and Akku didi, who both kept him in line, fed, bathed, dressed and played with him for this entire month, making the next couple of weeks without them around, and holidays still on, two weeks to be dreaded.
Brat's first cross dressing episode. The father turned purple with rage on seeing this. I was suitably chastised for 'making a sissy of my son'.
With Hawaiin Tshirt, by the poolside. Suitably dressed for the occasion.
Right into the camera, and pop doing some undignified teeth excavation in the background.

With beloved Shwetadidi who takes better care of him than I do, in the hotel room.
With all his cousins, beside the handkerchief pool.

Where else, but at the mall. Doing what we love, namely, shopping.
And that folks is the end of it, since I have cleverly deleted all the swimming pool photographs....

And the brat got into the swimming pool...

Just back from a short break to a seaside resort, which had such a horrible rocky beach that one spent all one's time in the resort hotel, which had the smallest pool I have ever seen in my entire life, excluding a pool in a Maldivian hotel in Male which was a little more than my bath towel, which was forgiven considering the entire country is made up of islands and they have precious little land to sacrifice to pools. And considering I spent the little time in that pool in mortal fear of two swarthy looking Arabs who seemed to be eyeing me viciously from the other end of the bath towel pool, leading me to run to my room and lock myself up, and push the chair against the door in sheer terror of unmentionable things being done to me, this pool was much safer.
For one I was in the company of the entire family rather than being on a solitary business junket trip. Twelve of us. All family. With four stern matronly looking ladies along. Yours truly included. The husband also along with 'Big muscle' to scare off any unwarranted attention. (Sadly, didnt get any. Sad comment on state of affairs.) For another this trip was post brat and no swarthy Arab would ever eye my lard encrusted body viciously ever again. The second time I had ever been in a pool was post marriage and pre brat when life was still young and fun and gravity and breast feeding had not yet done vicious things to my most prized assets and there was a demarcation between breastline and stomach in profile, instead of the amorphous tub one has ballooned out into now. This was in Dona Sylvia and the husband, I remember, was grumbling incessantly at why I needed to get such a deep cut swimsuit, and didnt I realise just how much cleavage I was showing. And how obscene it was looking. And how I needed to get a better wrap than the flimsy one I had carried along. This time round though, the body didnt elicit any affronted response at unwarranted display of flesh, apart from the chuckling that the pool would be devoid of all water should I decide to jump in. I mourned the loss of my lust inducing body, and settled for being warm and snuggly and maternal this time round. Alas and alack.
The brat was inducted into the swimming pool gently. First his toes and then his legs and then upto his neck. He had four cousins, a national level swimmer father and a national diving champion uncle for company. And then an enthusiastic aunt who put all shame at out of shape body aside and got into her swimsuit and into the pool, to show the brat what it was all about. There he was with arm floats, paddling around the kiddy pool like a little dog, delighted with himself. So much so that everytime he saw the pool he threatened to jump in with or without floats, so one had to shadow him everytime he decided to wander out of the room. The trouble being we had split our coterie into three suites, all adjacent to each other and bang across the pool. So, if the brat ever ran out of one room into another, he could just as run across to the pool. The cousins were deployed on the pain of no chocolates, Pepsi and Lays for the rest of their lives, to stand guard. I sat on a sofa near a door to watch for an errant brat scampering away to the pool gleefully. When we came away I had to literally tear him away from the edge of the pool where he was standing in mourning at having to go away.
Pray that we buy the house we are eyeing soon. It has a swimming pool. Swimming I am told is good for hyperactivity. The brat has never slept better in all his life, so wrung out by exhaustion was he at the end of each day. And by extension, neither have I.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spiderman goes to see Spiderman

The brat woke up on uppers this morning. He flew around the rooms, on autopilot, one fist held out aka Superman. "Mamma, I going to see Spiderman today." Said with a flourish that the humble keyboard cant ever hope to replicate. "In the movie. In the theatre. With the big TV." Much joy and happiness, as he dragged me to his cupboard to get out his Spiderman tshirt, and picked out his Spiderman walky talkies to add to the ensemble.
Suddenly realisation struck. "Mamma, no light in the movie theatre." "Yes, love."
He stared at me with a quizzical face. "How will Spiderman see me?" So now if you see a three year old standing in his seat, waving frantically at the screen, in a theatre showing Spiderman 3 know that it is the brat trying to get his action hero to notice him.

Happy Web Swinging to you too!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Work dont excite me no more...

Being in the luxurious position of living off my husband, I have been clinging onto freelance journalism like a crutch, pretending it is something that I love doing, and excites me. But today, having realised that I always put off every article for the very day of the deadline, then write it without any enthusiasm, having written the same stuff a gadzillion times before, and then email the damn thing and hope its the end of it, have come to the conclusion that it is time for a break. I really need to do something I feel passionate about. I was very passionate about writing on advertising and marketing until I opened an ad agency and saw the dirty innards of the industry. I was very passionate about fashion and beauty until I got sucked so deep into the ridiculousness of it that old friends began calling me a fashion victim. Now agree to write features from an inability to say no to commissioning editors who are often old friends, and write it in such a haphazardly sloppy way that I cringe for myself. Its time for a break. How dare I inflict my bad writing on the world. I need to find something else to get passionate about, career wise. Maybe its time to write that damn book I promised myself I would have written and published by the time I was thirty. Am six years over my deadline.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The day the brat fell in love and suffered his first heartbreak

Twas at therapy class. The brat was just about holding his eyelids apart, having been dragged kicking and screaming from his bed at the ungodly hour of seven thirty am, to learn his shapes and colours and alphabets and do his balancing exercises and ball games and the lot. Every five minutes was punctuated by a huge tonsil baring, and cavity displaying yawn. Then she walked in. Brown haired and hazel eyed. Pink cheeked and red lipped. In a summer floral halter top and wickedly cut capris. All of three and a half. The brat did what any red blooded male would have done. He bolted up and turned his head at a wicked 180 degree angle to look at her and didnt stop staring. If he was a dog, he would have had his tongue hanging out.
"Alviya," said Pooja Didi, his therapist. "Come join us."
I was informed that she was the female equivalent of the brat in terms of hyperactivity and ADD. The brat recognised a kindred soul, and was determined to create an impression. He swept aside all the flash cards being used to get some numbers into his brain aside in one swift flourish and siddled up next to her like a man with purpose.
"I went to the gym today." He informed her in all seriousness. And then held out his scrawny chicken arm and flexed it, the way his father does. "See my muscle." He looked at her expectantly. The script worked till this part. This is the point where his mother feels the displayed muscle with fond affection and says "My handsome darling," to pappa and gives above mentioned pappa a hug and a kitchu. Much to the brat's amusement. Alviya unfortunately, did not know this part of the script, gave him a disdainful look, and turned her head away disinterestedly.
The brat came back to me crestfallen. "Not talking to me. Not saying nice muscle."
Wicked mamma seized on the opportunity. "You didnt drink your milk this morning? There's no muscle. If you want to have muscle, you have to drink gu-gu." I have new bait to get the milk down tonight.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spiderman, Spiderman, friendly neighbourhood Spiderman

Now that Spiderman 3 is being promoted across all kids and music channels, it would seem but natural that the brat would want to swing from the walls. All he's succeeded at though is making me climb walls. Have broken many a painfully nurtured fingernail in the process. Me in the kitchen doing some utterly neccessary task like filling the waterbottles with water from the water purifier since the fridge seems to be miraculously depleted of drinking water which had been filled up a couple of hours ago. Pipes up brat from the bedroom. "Mamma, loooook, loooook, I Spiderman." I sneak a peak. He's got his characters confused and is marching around tying a towel around his shoulders. "No son, that's Batman." Or maybe Superman. "Spiderman doesnt have a cape." "Spiderman feeling cold mamma, the AC is on."
Ah yes, stupid me. A full body suit cannot beat the chill of a Carrier airconditioner. And can someone explain to me how a kid who refuses to learn his alphabets despite me hammering them into his head every minute I get, picks up advertising jingles, channel logos and knows all his Bollywood Khans from each other despite them all being of the same height? Selective learning disability?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

All the junk...

We have just returned from McDonalds. This being the latest in the series of eating out in outlets dictated by the palates of the junk food addicted. We have already done Pizza Hut yesterday, and KFC a few days ago. I hesitatingly suggested we go to a regular restaurant the other day where I could get some regular food, only to be met by voices of vibrant dissent, the most vocal amongst them being that of the brat. At Pizza Hut yesterday I survived on a Chicken Caesar Salad, at KFC, I just about managed a couple of pieces from the twelve piece bucket of the original recipe version before nausea overcame me. Today, I downed an entire McChicken burger struggling only towards the end when a couple of bites were left. I think I am a convert, and the brat has converted me. I, who used to be a major regular food person, needing my rice, curry and veggies, have actually managed to convince myself that this is a meal. I grew up the old fashioned way, where three meals were the norm and food was a sit down affair at the dining table, and not a semi zombie like ingestion in front of the television which seems to have become the norm of the day with the current generation.
I am not even thinking of the calorie levels that these fat laden, overfried meals bring about, and the zilch nutritional value of a burger, the few dead sprigs of lettuce adding the only healthy component to the entire meal. The brat can wallop down an entire packet of Lays in a sitting. Thus far my only success has been keeping away from colas. I make such traumatized faces while drinking the stuff that have actually managed to convince him that it is worse than Castor Oil. Chocolates, thankfully, he is not to keen about. But how does one keep the kid away from food that one knows is not good for him?
I assuage my guilt, which I assure you is immense, especially since I know the brat has to be on a gluten free, casein free, colour free and preservative free diet, by ensuring that the rest of the stuff he eats is fresh, well cooked and with a great balance of nutrients. His entire day’s diet is rationed out into protein, vitamins, carbs and minerals. His calcium intake gets me antsy, because he has been on anticonvulsants for so very long. Despite me not introducing him to noodles, because his dietitician recommended one go off maida for his constipation problem, he seems to know noodles like an old friend, and screams with delight everytime he comes across ‘Maggi’ in a restaurant buffet. God only knows which classmate’s tiffin box he has been raiding on the sly, which seems to be the most logical answer since his tiffin box seemed to return in pristine virgin condition every day.
Have you managed to keep your little ones away from junk food? Please do share any success stories or any moments of despair…..

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Brat and friends...

This is brat with his beloved doggy. This is the doggy that takes most of his aggression, and thus one I bow to in gratitude.
And this is brat on his crib surrounded by a few of his favourite friends. Ducky, Noddy and Nodda (Nodda being a self generated name for the big fellow in suspenders next to brat. He is brat's neenu friend, and provides brat company through dreamland)

And this is the marvellous charming smile which can get all sins forgiven.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The holidays are on us

The brat’s cousins are down for the holidays. The fact that there is more than one child in the house can be gauged by the fact that earlier the house looked like it had been in the path of a tornado. Now the look is pure post Katrina. Hurricane, that is. Debris of toys piled mile high in every room. Raucous whoops of joy or anger depending on what game is being played at the moment. Sudden bursts of spitting, biting and whacking from the brat if his will is not being done.
A typical scene in the Manral home these days.
Cousin 1 (Angst Ridden Teenager): Glued to her ipod and mobile: Sprawled over sofa indolently, lost in her own world and fingers moving incessantly over smses to friends, which are her lifeline to her world back home. “YIKES.” “OUCH” Then a cry of despair. “Kiraaaanmaaami, Krish is spitting on me.”
Kiran mammi moves in, administers two strong ones on offending party and moves him to the next room where other cousin, Cousin 2, pre teen, lets call her Earnest Prepubescent, is sprawled on the bed, fingers moving incessantly over her video game, ears plugged into her ipod. And there he is deposited on the hope and prayer that he will find something to amuse him, while one tackles various necessities like unplugging the kitchen drain which seems to be overflowing gunk and stuff much like the Amityville horror house. The horror coming from the fact that one has to crawl into the box like cabinet below the sink with roaches which have escaped the exterminator coming over for a friendly investigation of the human in their midst.
“Kiraaaannmmaaammmi. Krish is not letting me play my game.” One extricates oneself from below the basin with an alacrity that would put the Amazing Rubberman to shame and drags brat out from bedroom.
And then take him into the kitchen under one’s eagle eye where he amuses himself by counting the roaches under the sink. Wise mamma uses the opportunity to get the concept of numbers into his head. Roaches are working better than the number chart so far. So much for the hope that the company would help in him getting his daily dose of social interaction in this starved for peer brat’s urban scenario. Do kids these days never play anything except for gadgets? At this rate, I expect brat to emerge from his room a sullen black wearing teen, talking in monosyllables and that too only to ask for the car keys when he hits five.