Monday, March 15, 2010


I got my verrry first award!!! Yippeeeeeeee!!! Thank you so much Buzz!

The snappy headline notwithstanding- I read in the paper today that if you want people to like your blog the headline needs to be snappy. Crisp. Say it in as few words as possible, if you know what I mean.
Er, getting back to the post at hand, so where was I? Right, my very first award! GLOAT GLOAT GLOAT.
Ahem. I mean, you know how I normally handle these things with my trademark grace and equanimity, so after I had finished putting Nikki to bed (she got a tad frightened with all the whooping and war cries and running around the house yelling about my first award) I bounded up to P as he walked through the door, screeching that I'd been awarded.
"Really? How? Where?" he asked with a puzzled look, scanning the living room for signs of a trophy.
Bah! What does he know? I bet he's never been anybody's blogger buddy!
I think I need to pass this award on to my other blog buddies, so I am going to come back and do that properly, giving it the time and (mind)space it deserves. Am all out of both now what with the impending trip to the in-laws and the million and one other things I need to do for the upcoming mundan and ear piercing and first birthday party and.... aaaaarrrgh!

Thank you SO much again, Buzz, for the award, you've totally made my virtual day, and come to think of it, the non virtual bits of it too :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The tag that never was and other random updates

I got my very first tag a few days ago from MRC and after dealing with this with my trademark grace and equanimity (SCREEEECH!!!!! I've been TAGGED!! Tell anyone with ears about it right from S to the elderly aunt in upstairs balcony!! Call the husband to GLOAT GLOAT GLOAT- bet nobody ever tagged you!!)I dithered and dawdled over it till I realized I had totally missed the deadline and now had the inglorious honor of not having completed my first tag. You can bet P is not going to let me live this down for the rest of my years of existence on this planet. You would win too.
Anyway, no point crying over spilt milk as they say, and the point remains that I got my very first tag and I feel like I belong in the blogosphere! Yayyyyyyyyyyy!!! Yes I'm very needy like that. Thank you MRC and please forgive me for not completing the tag. You will tag me again won't you? Pretty please?

Nikki's first birthday is coming up soon and yours truly is in charge of organizing the budday pardy. Deep breath. Several deep breaths. Stay calm, STAY CALM. Oh God, I can't handle the pressure! I thought I had it all figured out at first. A simple birthday lunch with close family and friends, at a restaurant known for its lip smacking cuisine. Then I spoke to a few random people and found out that people go all out for these things. We're talking magic shows and puppeteers and tattoo artists and what not! Of course being the firm, decisive kinds this threw me into a right tizzy and I called P out of an urgent meeting to discuss the issue like two mature adults.
"I want a magic show!" I wailed like a banshee, "And puppets! And tattoos! And a dance floor with a DJ and dhinchak dhinchak music!"
"We can do all that if you want honey" said the wise husband "But there are hardly any kids at our party and I'm not sure the adults will enjoy a puppet show. Er, and what do you need a tattoo for?"
He has a point of course. About the lack of kids at the party I mean, I really don't need a tattoo. There are less than five kids I think and they're all around Nikki's age so they probably won't appreciate a magic show. And we have a pretty mixed group of family and friends, so there can't be a one size fits all as far as the entertainment goes. So I'm thinking we'll go with the original plan. A cake cutting ceremony, a lavish lunch buffet (the chef is going to hang up his chef's hat and take sanyaas in the Himalayas if I hound him any more), mood music, and hopefully a pleasant and relaxed afternoon spent with some of the people who care about Nikki. Any ideas about how I can make the day special for Nikki and the guests are most welcome!

We're off on a short holiday to the in-laws next week for Nikki's mundan which I am totally dreading. This is a custom in P's family and ideally we would have liked to do it when Nikki was around eight or nine months old, but the swine flu bug (heh heh! just kidding bug!) had other things in mind and we had to postpone our trip. I hope its not too much of an ordeal for Nikki, but that apart I think it will be quite a relief to get her hair cut, given that it has grown all straggly and unmanageable and is always in her face. I spend the day following her around and trying to pin it back and stuff but the child will have none of it. The sad part is she won't have any hair on her birthday, coz straggly or not, it does look rather cute :) Oh well. I hope it grows back all nice and silky and then I can get it cut into a cute little bob and pin it up with some pretty clips and bows. If she lets me.
Note to Self: DO NOT turn into one of those obsessive parents always planning stuff for their kids. Yes, even the hair, it always starts with the hair. Just let her be. If she doesn't want clips and bows, drop it.

Nikki seems to have developed a sudden fear of water these days. She used to be this complete water baby, but now just the sight of her tub is enough to give her the heebie jeebies. There go my plans of a half hour of fun water games every day. Reminder: Refer Note to Self again.
On a serious note I'm wondering what to do to make her comfortable with water. Any suggestions, anybody?
Oh and a few other things I had forgotten when I wrote the last Nikki-dom update.
Like the way she likes to jump out of my arms the minute I set her down on our bed and crawl very fast towards the headrest where all the pillows are stacked. Then she sinks her face into the pillows and giggles, totally blissed out :) These little things make her so happy. I wish we adults could be as uncomplicated.
I've taken to keeping her awake for five minutes extra whenever I know P is about to reach home so that he can spend a little time with her. These five minutes are probably the happiest five minutes of the day for both of them as they play some silly games and Nikki is usually in fits of giggles till she finally goes to sleep, tired out.
Oh and did I mention the rousing reception P gets when he's back from work? No such thing for me of course. I'm the ghar ki murgi all right, daal barabar. Stale daal, too. I get a cold glance thrown my way at best. The "Oh there you are, change my diaper will ya?" kind.
Anyway, getting back to Nikki-updates, her love for all things musical is just growing by the day. She loves music and starts jigging up and down the minute there's even the hint of a tune. I think she may grow up to be a great dancer. Maybe I should think about signing her up for some dance classes when she grows a little older.
Reminder: Just get the Note to Self tattooed on forehead, will be easier to remember that way.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend Tales, Concluding Part: Nikki's First Holi

I've just realized that when one goes and writes a post titled Weekend Tales and then goes on to add Part One in a burst of impulsive inspiration, one better come back and finish it before the next weekend rolls around. So onward ho to the second and concluding part of the Weekend Tales.

Holi morning didn't start off too well with both the maids deciding to play hooky. My part time help, who does the cleaning has been systematically bumping off members of her extended family over the last fortnight, possibly in anticipation of the long Holi weekend. "Father in law's brother went poof!" she explained gracefully two weeks ago when I looked askance at her for having not turned up the previous day. Apparently the relative in question had kicked the bucket after a cardiac arrest, and she had had to take the day off. A few days later it was the maternal uncle's cousin, who smashed his head because the ceiling collapsed on it and then the paternal chachi who met with a road accident. Just when I had resigned myself to a maid who seemed to be blessed with more than her fair share of worldly woes, she turned up the day before Holi and said that she needed the weekend off because her father in law's brother had had a cardiac arrest.

"What?!" I screeched looking at her agape. I have my flaws, but a weak memory isn't one of them. "What do you mean he had a cardiac arrest? He just died two weeks ago!"
"This is the other one" she explained patiently, the way one does to an obdurate child. "There are five of them you know."
I would have believed her too if she hadn't gone about her chores humming under her breath and swaying her hips to Uff Teri Adaa on her mobile headphones (yes, they are like that only in these parts).

Anyway I was just about dealing with that when S turned up on Holi morning and said she wanted the day off too. Now I have nothing against the help taking days off, especially so on festivals, as long as they inform me in advance. I had told them as much a few days before Holi, asking them if they wanted a holiday and they had both declined. Clearly they are more in favour of springing nasty surprises. I was telling S as much when our friends S & K landed up at our doorstep armed with colors, and S used the opportunity to make good her escape, throwing a cheeky Happy Holi at me as I glowered at her retreating figure. I fumed and fretted for a bit, wearing the living room rug thin with my pacing, when I remembered that it was Nikki's first Holi and the least I could do was make sure she had a good time.So we bunged Nikki into her pram and donning some old tees and tracks headed downstairs where our society had organized a Holi party and a glamorous sounding rain dance.

The kids from the society were spread out all over the society lawns, looking like little warriors, complete with double bottle packs strapped to their backs and strategically aimed pichkaaris, but apart from a few menacing shrieks thrown our way they pretty much left us alone after catching sight of Nikki. Nikki on her part was fascinated by all the riotous activity around her and was looking this way and that, all agape. We passed a makeshift 'Holi stall' heaped with gujjiyas and thandai and made our way towards the dhinchak dhinchak beats emanating from the venue of the rain dance. This was clearly where all the action was happening, we realized as we got there and spotted the multitudes of revelers dancing in gay abandon. Now our society is full of expats, making for an interesting fusion of Koreans and Iranians and Canadians, and they seem to enjoy all the Indian festivals even more than the resident natives. I first noticed this during Diwali, as I watched a group of expats letting off a series of firecrackers with ear splitting war cries at 3 am as the rest of the world slumbered on. They were at it even ten days down the line, making it necessary for some society members to intervene and politely remind them that the festival had ended long back and could they please postpone the merry making till next year. Clearly, the ticking off hadn't dampened their enthusiasm any and they were all out in full force to celebrate Holi the way they thought fit. One enthu chappie, who'd probably had one glass of bhaang too many was running around with a box full of eggs, threatening to pelt the rest of the crowd and the security guys were beginning to hover around zealously. We watched safely from the sidelines, till our friend S, overcome with the Holi spirit smeared some color on a passing Korean. The guy looked stunned for a minute before shaking his head wildly and charging towards us with an ear splitting shriek, and we noticed that he had a bucket full of what looked like colored muck in his hand. The sight was too much for Nikki to bear and she promptly burst into tears, making me beat a hasty retreat towards the basement parking, from where I scurried into the safety of the elevators.

P & S were not so lucky and they turned up at home a little later covered in purple goop, startling the daylights out of Nikki who refused to have anything to do with them till they were scrubbed clean.
We spent a quiet afternoon at home, playing with Nikks and were joined by some friends later in the evening. Nobody was in the mood to step out for dinner and we were considering the various home delivery options when P decided it was time to don the chef's hat and dish up some P specials. Now P is a fabulous cook but I gently reminded him that the groceries in our home that day were running dangerously low. Clearly I had underestimated his culinary abilities. Give me some onions, tomatoes and garlic, a bowl of cooked rice and a can of baked beans, and I'll be on the phone in the next five minutes dialing Dominoes. Give the same stuff to P and he'll saute the onions and garlic, puree the tomatoes, blend them in with the rice and baked beans, garnish generously with grated cheese and bake the stuff till you get a mouth watering Mexican-ish dish. And he didn't stop at that. He took all of the leftovers in the fridge, including Nikki's khichdi, kneaded them along with some atta into a soft, pliant dough and made some amazing Leftover Parathas. It may not sound terribly appetizing, but they were honestly the best parathas I've ever eaten, and the rest of the group gathered at home thought so too! The dishes were licked clean till they sparkled and we sat around, content and stuffed, singing odes to P the Master Chef.

We were slipping into a gentle, food induced stupor when the doorbell clanged, and two more friends, A & A, breezed in. Now A & A are famous for their Holi parties, where the bhaang flows freely and where the venue of the party resembles a dormitory at the end of the day with stoned men and women sprawled out all over the place as far as the eye can see. This year though A & A had not hosted a party, choosing instead to party hop all over town and partake generously of the bhaang and other beverages that other people were offering. It was no surprise then that they were in rollicking high spirits and after wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a very happy Diwali they proceeded to smear us with colors, before making an exit as sudden as their entry.

"Oh I hope I didn't use that permanent color on you dude!" A called out to me gaily as he left, causing me to snap out of any left over stupor and begin scrubbing my floors valiantly. I was lucky and the floor was spotless in no time. "Thank God he hadn't used the permanent one!" I said breathlessly to P when I was done with the scrubbing. That's when he pointed out that A had used a different color on my face. Another half hour of scrubbing later I knew where the permanent color was. And so did the rest of society, when I went to the gym the next morning with flaming pink and purple cheeks looking like a Red Indian who had forgotten to take off the war paint.
Sigh. I told you my list of embarrassing anecdotes can top yours any day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Weekend Tales, Part One: On The Trail Of Bacchus

We had a rather colorful start to the month this time round with the well timed Holi weekend. Saturday saw us pile into a car with a couple of friends and drive off towards Chateau Indage Vineyards on the trail of Bacchus. The road towards the vineyards is notoriously accident prone or so we were told and the highway we took was liberally peppered with nuggets such as these:
'Safety on road is safe-tea at home!',
'Better to be Mr Late than late Mr!',
'This is Highway not Runway!' and
'Make love not war, but nothing on the road!'.
I was itching to take a couple of snaps but Nikki, having taken it upon herself to declare war on her car seat, was in an exceptionally frolicky mood and not wanting to risk the digicam under the circumstances, I dropped the idea.The wacky road signs resulted in regular fits of giggles as we motored cautiously along and much fun was had by all including Nikki who was chuckling and nodding her head wisely in a 'I'm so totally getting this joke dude!' way.

We reached the vineyards in good time and hurried towards the main desk for the wine tour we had booked earlier during the day, only to be told in curt tones that we were precisely five minutes late, akin to heresy in these parts, and the wine tour thereby stood canceled. Luckily our friend S turned out to be quite the Bond at handling such situations, having had years of experience of dealing with recalcitrant distributors and some chest thumping and this is not done-ing on his part later, the vineyard guys finally agreed to give us the tour. We had an hour to kill before the tour started, and by now the innards were beginning to make their displeasure felt with the occasional gentle growl so we trooped towards the restaurant for lunch. I had read a couple of favorable reviews on the net about the Chateau Indage restaurant and as we looked for a table large enough to accommodate the brood, the gastric juices were beginning to rev up in eager anticipation of the succulent kebabs and melt in your mouth tikkas partaken of by the net reviewers. I paused for a minute to do a quick scan of the items listed on the large, glistening black board that was placed strategically at the entrance of the restaurant.

"Mushroom tikka, hara bhara kebab, dahi...." I read out "that's rather a strange item for today's special don't you think?" I inquired of P. "Dahi? Do you think they have a special kind of dahi here? Specially fed cows perhaps?"
"Err that's not the list for today's special honey" P replied eying the blackboard, "Its the list of what they don't have."
And true enough, a closer inspection of the blackboard revealed "Today NOT available" etched in minutely fine print at the top! Feeling a tad dejected I trudged towards our table, visions of the mushroom tikka quickly turning into dust in my mind's eye, but the menu looked promising enough and I had cheered up by the time a rather depressed looking waiter by the name of Gopal turned up at our table to take the order.

"We'll take the veg kebab platter Gopal" we informed the waiter who promptly began looking like he was on the verge of a having a coronary.
"Too long, too long!" he muttered "It will take forty five minutes Sir! You will miss the wine tour!"
"Oh all right get us the paneer tikka kebabs" we conceded and Gopal smacked his forehead and began wringing his hands despairingly "We are fresh out of paneer Sir! I was just about to put it up on that board there. I swear!"
"Err what about the corn cheese fritters" we asked a tad nervously but that made Gopal look like he was about to burst into tears so we just gave up and asked him to get us whatever he wanted. That seemed to cheer him up significantly and he buzzed off happily while my friend K and I, the two young, oh alright, the two NEW mums in the group got busy with shoveling some food into our respective offspring. Gopal was back by the time we were done with the shoveling, with some food which was just about passable, but we were ravenously hungry by then and attacked it as soon as it landed on our table.

Lunch done, we set off on the first leg of the tour which was at the factory where the grapes were sorted and crushed, post picking. The tour was conducted by an earnest looking chappie who obviously took his day job very seriously and he looked pretty disappointed at our apparent lack of seriousness. "Please do not make the Mary" he said to S in a beseeching tone as he ribbed me and K about something and we proceeded on the rest of the tour with reverential silence, half expecting him to turn around and snap "Finger on the Lips!" if we so much as uttered a peep. I was considering making side notes in my pocket diary to please earnest chappie as we reached the bottle corking machine when we were joined by another family, headed by a beefy looking chappie with a surprisingly girlish voice. This guy was taking the wine tour as seriously as earnest chappie would have wanted anyone to. "Ah the wine corking machine!" he squeaked in an awed tone and proceeded to ask earnest chappie a series of questions about its six sigma certification that would have put even the CP* kings from our b-school days to shame.
* Class Participation, we used to get marks for this. No prizes for guessing who would've aced the score at the wine tour!

Thankfully for the rest of us, that bit of the tour ended soon after and we were escorted to the vineyards where a plump crop of grapes awaited us. The guide showed us a few different types of grapes and then informed us that this year's crop was terribly damaged due to heavy rains around Nasik. Which means that the price of wines in 2011-2012 is expected to skyrocket. He left us with some kind advice on how we would be wise to stock up our cellars and we found ourselves free to roam around in the vineyard, chomping on the occasional luscious grape. Nikki, thoroughly bored by all the non stop lecturing and quiet trooping around in the wine factory was thrilled to be out and about again and was happy to sample a few grapes which she seemed to like. It was a quiet, mellow afternoon with a gentle breeze and the merry chirping of birds and we would have been quite happy to aimlessly loiter around for a bit if it hadn't been for S who suddenly started letting out blood curdling screams and hopping up and down on one foot. Further investigation revealed that overcome with the adventurous spirit, S had ventured further than the rest of us into the vineyards and had managed to disturb a rather busy ant hill. The angry denizens thereof had marched up his trousers in quest of revenge and had finally managed to invade the more sensitive areas of his anatomy, resulting in the afore mentioned hopping and screeching. K and I offered a fervent prayer to the Lord that it hadn't been us with Nikki and A in the line of the ants' ire and ignoring the vile looks S shot at us, we cut short the vineyard excursion and headed back to the Chateau Indage restaurant for the last and most important leg of the tour, the wine tasting.

Which is really the real reason we had driven all the way there of course. That, and the expansion of the mental horizons (yes, yes, Nikki's!) project I have taken on, inspired by Aneela. I mean it was bound to be a learning experience, all those grapes, what? Plus you have the potential for teaching colors- green, purple, red (the ants and S, after he had made his intimate acquaintance with them) and the learning possibilities are enormous!

Anyway, so we got back for the tasting which is full paisa vasool at 150 bucks per head, for 6 glasses (25 ml each, I think it was) of any wine the eye can see on the mind boggling menu and in some time we were perched happily on the bar stools making up toasts and cheers. A happy happy forty five minutes of swirling and sipping later we traipsed back to the cars for the drive back home. I fed Nikki her evening meal just before we hit the road and was congratulating myself on her model behavior all through the day (I am the primary caregiver aren't I? Why should P take any credit?) when she decided the calm before the storm had well and truly passed and started howling lustily. It took me a full forty five minutes of rocking, patting, crooning-till-croaky and attempting-to-feed till I finally figured out she may be thirsty and handed her her sipppy cup. It turned out the poor baby was thirsty after all and after a few large gulps she flung the sippy cup away, curled up in my arms and went to sleep, leaving me free to torment myself with thoughts of what an imperviously imperceptible mother I am.

Thankfully (for P) I was out of my blue funk by the time we got back and after a quick meal of momos, which was all we had place for what with all that wine still jostling around in the insides, we parted ways with our friends and headed back home. Nikki continued to remain blissfully asleep, barely awakening for a quick formula feed and change of clothes, and went right back to sleep when I put her in her cot, nodding her head reassuringly a few times in her sleep as I patted her.

Which brings me to the end of Saturday and I would go right on with recounting what we did on Sunday and Monday, for it was a rather packed weekend this one, except that I seem to have gone on and on and written an exceptionally long winded post, about what was really just a very short day trip. So I'll leave it at that for now and come back later to tell you all about Nikki's first Holi. And on that note, wish you all a very (tad belated) happy Holi and hope you had a great time celebrating!