Sunday, May 30, 2010

When I'll become seven years ole?

This is the brat's latest obsession. Becoming a big boy. Turning seven years old is right at the top of things. Turning seven is when he goes to second grade (though admittedly he's going into second grade some months short of seven, to be honest), turning seven is when he's going to have to sleep on his own in his room (this is a decision that is his own, and he has been rehearsing this one, with mamma sleeping precariously on his single bed, spending half the night preventing him from falling off), and turning seven is when he is getting a new Growed Up bicycle.
Mamma though, is in no hurry for him to grow up. She'd rather he stay as he is, precious and still a boy. No longer a baby. Which is what she gets to hear occasionally, when she calls out unthinkingly, "Baby..." only to have a surly faced brat accost her, face twisted into a sulk. "I'm nod a baby. I am a big boy now. Don call me baby."
The other day mamma caught him in the bathroom, happily lathering up his face and running down the toothbrush (thankfully) in his first bid at shaving. "See, I god hair on my face. I haff to shave it. Or I'll gera beard."
And then there is also the prospect of the seven year birthday party. Which has already been planned yet again at Papa John's because it is "easy to reach for everybody." Isnt he the most considerate friend ever, the intentions though, mamma soon realised werent altogether nobel but also had a lot to do with accessibility in terms of more frens turning up and "den I'll ger more presents."
The gift list expected from mamma and pappa has also been chalked out in great detail. Whatever mamma or pappa deny him right now, he consoles himself by saying "You'll ger it for me for my birdday?" On receiving an affirmative reply, he goes off happy. Now its for mamma and pappa to keep track of the long list they've committed to for said birthday or risk being called liars.
And finally, its the sudden gasp in Mamma's throat when she realises that her cuddlable little boy is almost four feet tall. And truly no longer her little baby. And wants to bathe on his own. Sleep on his own. Make frens of his own choosing, disregarding mamma's sound and concerned advice on which friends are appropriate or inappropriate, which mamma categorises purely based on aggression levels. Decide how he wants to be entertained. Choose the activities he finds interesting. Mamma cannot make all the decisions on his behalf anymore. The boy is all growed up. And it is time for mamma to keep those scissors ready for that umbilical cord.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pahadland tales Part 3

The room at the very natty and efficient Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam lodge perched right on top of a mountain (2500 meters above sea level) in the thick of a wildlife sanctuary in Binsar was wood. The walls were wood. The floor was wood. The ceiling was wood. The brat walked in and looked all around in wonder. It was the first time he had encountered something like this. "Mamma, dis d room or dis d cupboard?"

At Corbett, Mamma and the brat were witness to a scene out of National Geographic. An elephant calf had strayed into tall dry grass from the river where the rest of the herd was drinking water and splashing themselves to stay cool in the boiling almost 40 degree celsius heat. A tusker noticed the baby and trumpeted an alert. The entire herd charged out of the water and sheperded the baby back towards the river whipping his butt with their trunks to get him to skip along faster, and then we heard the tiger, hidden in the tall grass barely any distance away from us, growl in anger at having his meal taken away. Our hair stood on end. A niece wondered whether we had tranquiliser guns with us, in case the tiger decided to make a meal of us. A rustle of the grass and a herd of deer fled past in terror and the tiger roared yet again. We sat, quiet, hushed, scared to breathe. The brat clambered onto the top of the gypsy, balancing himself on the top bars with an agility mamma didnt know he possessed and took the binoculars from the guide. "Dere's d tiger," he squawked at full volume. Guaranteed to ensure that said tiger never would emerge from the bush into the public gaze. And we all hushed him and pulled him down, and sat him on the vinyl seats with a hand over his mouth to keep him silent, until the unfortunate combination of sweat and vinyl seating resulted in a noise from under one of the occupants that sounded remarkably close to a sound that is not done in polite company. The brat broke out in loud peals of laughter that probably echoed around the jungle. "Whu did a paaaaaadh????" he squealed. The guide gave up, and asked the driver to get us moving. At those decibel levels, no self respecting tiger was going to emerge.

The last time mamma flew back with the brat, he was three years and a few months. This was the newly opened Bangalore airport, the second day of the new airport functioning and total chaos. Long lines that didnt seem to move anywhere, counters empty, tempers fraying and the brat running helter skelter in the crowd and mamma being forced to run around, leaving her luggage in queue in order to track him down, and almost losing him at one point. Finally, he was perched on top of the luggage on the trolley and a friendly firang kept him entertained until we reached check in. Then the flight was delayed by an hour or so. Which meant he ran around in the waiting area, danced to Hanuman Gasolina on the spanking new bucket seats and generally kept the lay public amused so well, mamma should have printed tickets for the show. This time round it was different. From the moment we got off the taxi, the brat had morphed into Mamma's little helper. He got mamma a trolley. Helped Mamma load the luggage onto the trolley and wheeled it into the terminal, helped mamma get the luggage onto the screening table. Got mamma baggage tags. Helped mamma load the luggage back onto the trolley. Unload it again at check in. Ask for, and handle his own boarding pass very carefully. No running about. Sitting patiently in his seat, keeping one eye on the screen for our flight number, and when we reached, stayed alert at the luggage carousel for any of our bags, and swooped down on each as they rolled in. Mamma was delighted. But a part of her was sad. Her baby has truly grown up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pahadland trip Part 2

From Jaageshwar, we went on to Binsar and from there, onto Almora and Ranikhet. Where thankfully the temperatures were normal. As in hot. As in wear thin cottons and mop your sweating forehead. Where the Himalayan view was advertised as being visible from every room in the hotel we stayed in. The brat kept staring at the distant horizon in anticipation. "Dere, dere, the Himalayas are coming. I can see dem.Lets go and meet them."

Alas for cloud cover and haze we never really got a good view of the Himalayas except for a brief grey outline as the sun broke every morning. We returned disappointed.

The next day we went to Nainital, and to the boating. The brat climbed in gingerly. And sat through the ride bravely. He got out shaky kneed and a little green around the gills. "Wats d point of sitting in d boat, we came back here oney."

Our next and final lap in the Pahad land trek was to Corbett National Park. The brat got up bright and sparkly to see the tiger. Or rather Mowgli. The entire trip had the brat building castles in his head about meeting up with Mowgli and having long intense conversations with him about his life in the jungle and about how the brat was just so keen to trade places with him, and maybe Mowgli would even introduce him to all his frens. And nobody would bite the brat because Mowgli would tell them to behave themselves.
The long drive, and the longer wait at Ramnagar exhausted him. Plus the heat was so terrible, we were all sweated out and exhausted by the time we actually reached Corbett and the long drive into Dhekala saw us all nodding off in the car.  Suddenly an errant stone hit the underside of the car and woke the brat up. "Mamma, mamma, stop the car, Mowgli's calling me, he's throwing stones!" he squawked. Now, stopping a car in the middle of a forest sanctuary populated by 164 tigers according to the last tiger census conducted within the reserve, was not exactly a good idea. "Stop d car, stop d car," he squawked, getting puffed and red with anger as we showed no signs of slowing down. And sat turned back in the seat hoping to catch a glimpse of Mowgli in the thick jungle. When we reached, he got off, sullenfaced. "Yer a mean mommie. I hope a tiger eats you."

Finally we reached Delhi, and got to meet the brat and the bean. Both the brats took to each other like long lost brothers, we half expected the dramatic duo to show us some common tattoo to prove fraternity in  classic Hindi movie tradition. On the way to the airport, the brat sulked throughout. "I donwantu go home. I wantustay here oney. At the brat's house. Or..." a light bulb moment, "Letsh take the brat to Mumbai wid us. His mamma wont feel sad, she has bean. The brat can stay wid us  and go to my skul. He can eat apne aap, but Mamma, will you wash his bum?"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Report from Pahadland

The brat's first longdistance trip in a train. That too in AC three tier of the sorts that if you lie down in your berth, you need to slither out like a snake should you need to visit the loo in the middle of the night. The day passed uneventfully with the brat playing with his cousins on the topmost berth. Come sleeping time, and the brat was summoned to the lowest berth. Which he was to share with mamma. "I can't sleep." He protested indignantly, used as he is to occupying 9/10ths of bed space, pushing mamma pappa to slivers of mattress space at either end. "Where'll I push you?"

The urge to potty struck in the train. We hurried to the toilets. The first door we pushed open was the Indian commode with the tracks rushing beneath. The brats first ever glimpse of this type of toilet in recent history. "I can't do potty in this!" He squawked. "I will fall down wid d potty."
Mamma opened the door to the other toilet. He saw the familiar commode and breathed a sigh of relief. "Why dat potty iz diffrent?" he asked. This is the English commode, Mamma began explaining. "An dat is the Hindi commot?"

Reaching the chaos and heat of Delhi station saw the brat, wide eyed, taking in all the sights. Did you like travelling by train, he was asked. "No," he replied. "Is too long. And is shaking too much. I canna even think properly."

From Delhi, our travelling caravan first halted at the brat's bua's home in Haldwani. From there, we set off the next morning for the Jaageshwar temples. Avomine duly administered, we made three temple halts on the way. Chitai Golu, and a couple of others I forget the name. By the time we reached Jaageshwar, the brat had had it upto here with temples. Kicking the stones in surly manner, he grumbled to himself. "Oney car car car an temple temple temple. Nod even taking me to one mall. I is very angry now. Enough of dis praying. "

Jaageshwar was pretty chilly. Around 8 to 10 degrees. Sweaters, monkey caps etc needed to be worn. The brat grumbled. "Is so cole. An deres no fan in d room. How I'll sleep now?" Explanations that a fan was unnecessary because of the cold didn't cut any ice. "Is too quietly. How I'll sleep?" Our noisy ceiling fan back home was sorely missed.

The next day, Binsar above Almora. Almost 2500 metres above sea level. At a lodge in a forest sanctuary perched on top of a mountain. Potty necessitated bum washing, with fancy automated faucet no less. The brat leaped up with a shriek. "Whu pud ice in the toiletwater?"

(Part two follows)

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Monday, May 03, 2010

The brat packs

The brat and his mamma are off to the mountains. The brat, being a worthy inheritor of his mamma's weaknesses decided he must do his own packing for said trip. Therefore, an old worn duffel bag was handed over to him for the needful.
The first to go into the bag was his entire collection of Ben 10 action figures. Ben 10 himself in varying moveable poses. Upgrade. Four Arms. Humungosaurus. Jetray. Swampfire. All as ugly as their names suggest. And some more that mamma cant for the life of her name. Why on earth is it essential to have absolutely ugly action figures? Is it essential so that none of the mammas get so obsessed with them action figures so as to play with them nonstop while the child whines at the sidelines. Anyway. Once the Ben 10 characters had made themselves comfy, Batman, Spiderman and Superman made their way into the confines of the bag. They were followed by the Transformer Brigade led by Optimus Prime. Having contented himself with checking that his toy basket was quite empty he moved onto his wardrobe. The first to go in were his watches and sunglasses. Many of them. For reasons unknown to mamma, the next items to be packed were his underwear. Each and every piece he owned was packed. And this was followed by some favourite Tshirts. The kind he has dropped food on, painted with, worn to the park in mucky season.
With a long suffering sigh, he pulled the zip shut. "Lookit how fasth I packt my bag." Mamma nodded, suitably impressed. "Now you put all my klodz in your bag."