Friday, August 27, 2010

Of dark evenings and the need to skip make up

It has been a series of wet evenings for the past few days which has meant that the brat has to spend his evenings cooped indoors or raising Cain in the rather vast and echoing marble vault that comprises the lobby of the building we live in.

Last evening seemed a little well behaved, with a random cloud dotting the sky and no real rain cloud type in the immediate vicinity. The brat draped himself on the grills which keep him from getting into the balcony and playing Superman.

"Mamma, is nod raining!"

"Hmm," said a non commital mamma, reluctant to change out of ratty tshirt and worse tracks which had begun life back when Michael Jackson was a young black boy.

"Letsh go down," the added sibilance in his speech coming forth from the wide gap now in his upper set.

"Umm. Are any of your friends down in the park?" asked mamma, loathe to give up the absolutely fabulous Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Have you read it yet? No? Go read it now. This minute. Writing like this makes mamma want to go hunt down the author and kiss his typing fingers in reverence. But I digress.

The brat clambered higher on the grills and squinted down into the patch of visible park.

"I can see A, an V, and K," he squealed in joy, and took himself off at bullet speed to his room to emerge sartorially appropriate for a park visit in a Spiderman costume.

Mamma heaved her cellulite out of the armchair.

"Okay, give me five minutes, I will change and get ready."

The brat stood around. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. While mamma washed her face. Decided what to change into. Changed into something and then realised that flab on display was at snigger levels, so changed into tent, to realise that a small tail stuck at the back could have her a role in a pantomime as an elephant, so changed into compromise fit tee which was not too snug but yet structured.

The brat paced the room.Mamma reached out for the deodorant and sprayed some on self.

Then mamma took out the kohl pencil. And the lip gloss. And the powder compact. What? What? What? I would not be caught without my lipgloss even if I were a cadaver.  The brat was reaching the absolute limits of his patience.

The brat rolled his eyes and sighed deeply.

"Cmon, cmon, letsh go down. My frens are waiding fer me."

Mamma reached for the hairbrush.

"Mamma is night. Is darkly outside. No one can see yer face. Now cmon and don waste my time."


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Of Rakhis tied on little wrists

The brat and his mamma and his pappa trotted off to Pune for the weekend. The primary reason being brat's rolling on the floor tantrums which had begun some days ago about "Whu'll tie fer me d rakhi?"

Luckily, the brat has three rakhis from three lovely cousins who dote on him and make him believe, much to mamma's dismay, that the sun, moon and all celestial objects revolve around him.

One of these cousins lives in Pune, she being the Pappa's sister's daughter. And therefore, the brat insisted he wanted a rakhi tied by a sister.

The rakhis were duly tied. One for each sister, tied in proxy by said Pune cousin. The brat admired the colour on his wrist and walked around for the entire day with his wrist held in front of him in viceregal pose.

Then came the questions. "Mamma why d sisterz hab to tie rakhi fer d brudders?"

Mamma replied that it was a promise from the brother to love and protect said sisters from all harm. And evil. The brat quailed a bit. "Bud I is a small boy! How I can faidt against d evil. Let Sdada (his older cousin, and the other male amongst the cousins) faidt d evilz."

Mamma explained sternly that the girls tie the rakhi and the boys have to do the job of protecting the girls.

His eyes flashed animatedly while the cogs in his brain whirred. "Is okay. I will tie rakhi to my sisters now. Den dey can pertect me from d evilz."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Of the toothless wonder

The brat now has the Golden Gate bridge across the top half of his teeth. And some missing teeth on the bottom jaw as well.
To keep in character, his favouritest pass time is playing Vampire Vampire. Which translates into sneaking up on mamma when mamma is sitting innocently in silence doing big peepul things like reading a book in peace attacking her with sharp incisors.
Emboldened by his success rate he attacked his father the other day. The pater, needless to say, did not quite see the joke.
"What sort of television is he watching," he grumbled to mamma, "that he is playing such games!"
Mamma kept zipped about the endless watchings of Twilight reruns that the brat has sat through with her.
The brat explained his stance to the pater. "Oney now I haff shark teeth! Wen they grow I canna play Vampire, Vampire any more. Tho let me dlink yer blud!"

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Monday, August 16, 2010

And now we have a new career option

The brat, who, by the way has rebaptised himself to Krish Kapoor, aka Ranbir Kapoor who is his current GOD in capital letters, snuck upto me the previous evening and informed me that he knows now what he was meant to do when he was put down on the good earth.
I laughed. Knowing my son, I was fairly sure he wanted to be a film actor. After all, hadnt he just told me a few days ago that he was going to be Krish Khan for some days and then switch to Krish Kapoor, and he would return back to being Bruce Manral in a month or so. He actually seemed to have got it right. One should be allowed to try out names, rather like test driving them and then decide which names really suit us, and our personality and then adopt them for the long term.I for one, could think of a million names I would rather be than the dull, drab one conferred on me by the pater. But now, since it is sort of matching matching with the spouse's name, I'll stick to it happily. I'm kind of old fool romantic in that sense.
Coming back to the brat and his decision on a profession, he crept closer to my ear so that my eustachian tube was filled with his breathing. "I wil wisper in yer ear and tel yu. Don tell aneyone!!!"
Okay my love, what is it that you want to be when you grow up? I asked. You must understand, with my son, I donot even expect him to say the standard doctor, engineer, MBA. I have been through gardener, lion trainer in the circus, a magician, a shoe shine boy and, what was until yesterday, the hot favourite, a film star.
"I wantu be a journalist."
I fell to the floor in a dead faint. I held his smelly socks to my nose and raised myself. "Really. I is telling d truth. I will be a journalist wen I growed up."
This from a child who's idea of writing a comprehension is stringing together three three letter words into a single sentence and leaving the rest of the page blank. Son, I began, struggling to explain why journalism was not a reasonable career option for him. It isnt a very nice profession, I began. I didnt get into the specifics about why I quit the profession. I was quite sick to the gills of buttering up folks who had done nothing better in their lives than get great plastic surgery and attend more parties than they could count on their fingers for the week. I was also, in a vain way, quite miffed to be the one asking the questions. I would rather be the one with the questions posed to me. But that's a long way coming.
Son, you have to chase people for stories, write them out, and do a lot of hard work which isnt always fun. I then shut up, trying not to rub off my prejudices against the profession on him, since obviously he was google eyed with idealism. "No no," he squeaked. "I be a Clark Kent journalisd. I wear a chasma and a suit, and go in a phone booth and become Superman. Thas why I wantu be a journalisd. Den I can save the wurld."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's raining birthday parties....

For the past couple of weeks, the brat and I have been on birthday aprty overdrive. While it would be positively nice had one been invited to an average of one birthday party a month, it does get positively hectic when it has, like in the past couple of weeks been an average of a birthday party every alternate day. There have been the good parties and the bad parties, and the last I attended, the party from hell.

Anyway, I should be flattered and honoured that kind folks actually take time out to invite me and the brat for their parties, and sad state of wallet apart, I should pull on my best togs and show up with all my pearly whites on display.

Just a few pointers on little nigglings which have come to my attention over the past few parties:

Invite as many children as you can handle. If you cannot handle them, hire a larger venue and invite the parents too, so each parent will handle their own child. Children these days are ruffians who need the riot act read out to them every few minutes when they can be reliably found dismembering each other.

Donot waste money on balloons for decorations. The first half of the party goes in the kids climbing on every available surface and pulling down the balloons to pop them to the horror of my long suffering ear drums.  And that goes for whistles too. And other implements of aural torture.

If games are to be conducted, have them conducted quickly and efficiently. Dont wallow around waiting for more kids to join up because by the time the crowd builds up, the kids would have got into more fist fights than the Fight Club members and some bloodied noses and wails will add to the atmosphere at the party.

Do remember to have some snacks floating around. Kids get hungry. Dont reserve all the food until after the cake cutting. Bowls of wafers and popcorn should suffice.

If you must serve soft drinks, lay off the ice.

No, the kids are not interested in seeing you, your husband and your entire family hitting the floor in a performance especially choreographed to wish your son a happy birthday. If there's any dancing to be done, everyone will do it.

Ensure safety. The last party I attended had the glass doors of the party hall open straight out to an uncordoned off swimming pool. Needless to say I sat for the entire duration of the party at the door.

If you must get the food catered, do opt for a reliable caterer. Ensure that you order enough for every child to get seconds if they want, and that food doesnt run out in the midst of serving. Also, that the quality of food is impeccable. The brat got the runs, and so did I, the moment we reached home from the last party we attended, as did some other folks who attended.

If you are planning to have a dinner party, hold it on a Friday or a Saturday so that the kids can go to bed late. Keeping a party on a weekday and not cutting the cake till 9.30 pm is unforgivable in my books. The kids are hungry, they have school the next day.

And finally, do teach your children to be graceful about the gifts given. Discussing the flaws of the gifts given in front of the birthday child and having him come and repeat what was said verbatim to the gift giver is so not done.

Monday, August 09, 2010

And the brat will make a cook of me yet....

It is no state secret that I am officially the world's uncontested worst cook ever. The kitchen has always been for me a place I enter with great dread, of course, unless I am entering said hallowed precints to serve myself food. When I got married, the mother smote her forehead at the thought of me being able to feed my family a healthy meal without resorting to takeaway menus. And I tried. God promise. I tried. In the initial years of my marriage, in the new found flush of love, I sat with recipe books and ingredient lists and planned out menus. Let's just say I gave up when I saw the husband rolling his eyes up when I presented some exotic dish I had slaved over for hours. Which according to me was delicious. I have never known the happiness of having anyone appreciate what I cook until now.

It took the child to drag me into the kitchen. Mamma, he asks me in all wonder, you can make Maggi? Yes. That is the height of my culinary abilities. I can boil Maggi noodles and I can make Sunfeast pasta. And I can pop popcorn. Thus far, this simple menu had kept me going. Apart from the occasional french fries. And scrambled egg. And half fried egg.

But as the brat grows. And visits friends. And gets to taste exotic dishes at said friends' homes he gets more ambitious. So he squeaks up, Mamma, make macaroni. Mamma, naturally, has a mini fit. Macaroni. Wait till the cook comes. No no no. You make for me, you make for me, you make for me. Mamma drags her reluctant carcass to the kitchen and begins the preparations. Boiling the macaroni. Remembering to add salt and oil. Checking if they are al dente. Draining with cold water. Making the onion and veggie base, adding the macaroni, the herbs. And serving it up. Voila. The brat tucked in and polished the plate up. Then made an O with his thumb and his forefinger. I would have gone right back into the kitchen and whipped up a seven course meal then and there.

There's a lesson to be learnt for the spouse here. If only he had done the thumb and forefinger O right then when I tried to cook for him, I might have reached Cordon Bleu levels by now. But no, he insisted on chortling or gagging at anything I placed in front of him. So I stopped completely.

This morning I made veg coin pizzas for the brat to take into school for his culminating day party. If you had told me, a year ago that I would wake up half an hour earlier to make tomato base fresh for pizzas instead of slathering on store bought stuff, I would have told you to stop smoking whatever it is you were smoking. But, I did. Got up early. Boiled, skinned, pureed the tomatoes, cooked them with a dash of oregano, and olive oil and pasta sauce. Simmered the sauce on low flame till it thickened lusciously. Grated cheese and layered it on said coin pizzas. Cooked them all and packed them in two separate boxes. This apart from the regular tiffin, the snacks and the lunch tiffin that the brat took with him any way.

And the look of joy on his face when he saw the coin pizzas neatly packed were reward enough for that sacrifice of sleep. And I am not a person who sacrifices sleep easily.

I think I might get the hang of this cooking thing yet. And maybe, just maybe, my son will grow up thinking his mom is the greatest cook ever.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The days of the week

The brat emerged from his bath this morning, looking for all practical purposes like a bedraggled hatchling. Pappa, who has the onerous task of getting him ready for school, took a look at his bedraggled highness and laughed.
"Ay Chuzhe!" said pappa, aptly, the brat's towel dried hair looking like that of a fresh born chick.
"Aww Pappa," said a horrified brat in all seriousness. "Is not Chewsday tuday. Is Thursday!"

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Of VERY BAD words

The brat entered home, his mouth swollen to Hanuman levels with something he just had to spill.
Spit it out, Mamma said, looking at him trying in vain to keep his news from spilling out. He peeked into the room where Pappa was watching TV and came close to Mamma's ear.
I tell yu sumping?
Yes darling, please do. I'm itching to hear whatever it is that has got you so agitated.
Bud I'm oney saying what is written. I'm not saying it. You unnerstan? You will na shaoud ad me?
Yup child. Now spit it out.
He took a deep breath. Brought his mouth to mamma's ear level and whispered his disclaimer again. "I'm oney repeading it. I'm nod saying it fusht okay!"
Mamma was slowly losing shreds of patience along with her already deserter army of hairstrands.
Okay child. Tell me.
His eyes twinkled. His eyes gleamed. He chortled in the way he has when he knows he's going to say something he shouldn't.
"In d skul toilet the big chillun have written a very bad wurd!"
Mamma smiled. Big children do that. That's what toilets are meant for. Obscene graffitti.
What bad word child?
He pulled my ear and attached head closer to his lips. "Lissen carefully. I will oney say once. They written F U C K."
He looked at my face and was quite disappointed with the lack of horror on mamma's countenance. "Is a very bad wurd no?" He confirmed. Yes child, it is. Do you know what it means? He nodded. Yes.
Mamma sprang up in horror, wondering if Pappa needed to be informed of the newly acquired vocabulary the spawn of his loins was spouting.
What does it mean, son?
It means Pappa is very angry wid someone an is shaouding at him on d phone.
Ah well. Yes. Mamma can live with that meaning for now.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Of nazar utarna and such like

Laugh all you like, but when mamma is being tormented by a brat who knows no mercy, she has often taken recourse to total unscientific mumbo jumbo that involves salt, black mustard seeds and red chillies circled around offending brat (or ill brat) and tossed onto flames, post which the level of acrid burning smell or lack thereof determines the level of nazar. Or whatever.
Mamma doesn't know how it works. But sometimes she's clutching at enough straws to give anything a try. So it came about the other day, that the brat came home in foul mood. Rolling on the floor tantrums. Refusal to eat his lunch. Throwing toys like illfated missiles, destined to crash and burn. Mamma was just about collecting fistfulls of her hair for tearing out purposes, when the cook suggested nazar utarna. "Do anything," said mamma. "Get him to calm down."
So the ancient practice of lal mircha, rai and rock salt in combo was done in concentric circles around brat and tossed into flames from which no acrid smell ensued. I was told in hushed voice by cook very authoritatively that 'bahut buri nazaar lagi thi'. The boy was now calmly flicking through channels, contemplating between Oggy and the Cockroaches or Kick Buttowski. And demanding nutrition. Mamma was impressed with the immediate results. "Nex time," the spawn addressed the womb, "don wait fer so long till I get very angry. Do my nazaar first only. "
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