Friday, December 28, 2007

His Mother's Child

Chip is peering at her. She is a mother and she has a toddler and she is on TV and she is quite pretty. And she is a toon. “Hanuman’s mother is nangoo(naked)!” Chip exclaims as he watches the toony Anjani toss a baby Hanuman in the air to the captivating strains of Akdam-Bakdam. I am speechless at the observation. “She is not naked. She is wearing a saree.” I say, in my most matter-of-fact, no-nonsense voice. Chip has a deep furrow on his forehead as he ponders the veracity of my statement. A couple of pregnant minutes later, he nods his head. “Ok. I want Hanuman chi Aie pahijey (I want Hanuman’s mom).” Just when I think the issue is resolved and closed, Chip comes with this. “You do? OK. Let’s go change into your pajamas first.” I whisk him upstairs to brush his teeth and put him in his pajamas. We wrestle over the toothbrush. I bite my tongue as she slathers liquid soap everywhere on the counter and makes bubbles. I turn away as he pours water in the toilet bowl and flushes. Finally getting tired of his own gimmicks, he washes his hands, wipes them on the towel, turns off the light, shuts the bathroom door and comes out; surprised I haven’t said a thing. I help him in his pajamas wordlessly and he says it again. “I want Hanuman chi Aie pahijey.” “You do? What will happen to Chip’s Aie then?” He thinks for a second. “Ummm… You go to the moon and the stars.” Already? “If I go to the moon, who will give you hugs and kisses and cuddle you and give you jam and poli (chapathi)?” I bet his Dad won’t be too averse to having someone like Hanuman’s mom around too. My active imagination spins into high gear. “Hanuman’s mother deil (will give). Doodh deil, grapes deil, apple deil.” He chants his favorite foods as he climbs down the stairs. Suddenly he stops. “Hanuman chi Aie oradtey, Chiiiiip? (Does hanuman’s mother yell Chiiiiip).” Now I realize what this is all about. The last few days have been rough. Chip has been very, very difficult and I have raised my voice almost constantly. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t say this. Don’t say that. One thing after the other.

Chip and I sit down on the steps. “Are you afraid of me, Chip?” I ask. “Yes.”. I can’t believe he just said that. “Why are you afraid of me Chip?” “Aie oradtey, phatka detey (Aie yells and gives a swat).” “That’s because you don’t listen Chip.” I am trying to reason with him. “You can’t run away in stores. What if you get lost? And you can’t say rude things to people. But I will try and not yell. OK?” Chip smiles and heads down the stairs to the family room calling to his Ajji, “Ajji, I want Hanuman chi Aie pahijey.” I follow him into the family room, but he pushes me away and shuts the door. I am truly crestfallen now. I have a 2 year old who just told me he would rather have Hanuman’s cartoon mom than me, who has told me he is afraid of me and has shut a door to my face. Do I act like a grown up that I am and go inside and make peace? No. I decide to go hide under a desk. As I hear my mom tell Chip to open the door, I quickly dart into the dark study next door and cram my ample self amidst cables and dongles and other junk under the desk. I hear Chip open the door. “Aie, Aie. Aie.” He is calling out but I don’t make a sound. He goes into the kitchen calling my name and then is about to head back upstairs when his father sees him. BigGeek has no idea what has happened. “I don’t know where Aie is Chip, is she in the family room?” BigGeek comes by the study calling my name as Chip goes into the family room saying “Aie, I want Aie.”

From my vantage point from under the desk, I can see BigGeek opening the front door to see if I have stepped out when he catches me flailing my arms from under the desk. I put a finger to my lips and he understands. “Aie has gone away” he declares to Chip. Ajji comes out and joins the party outside the study. “Well. You pushed Aie out and shut the door, didn’t you?” My mother is looking to see where I am hiding and I wave to her from under the desk. “If you say sorry loudly, she might come back.” My mother is telling Chip. Chip shakes his head. “Say Sorry Chip, Aie will come back then.” BigGeek tries to coax him. Chip’s eyes are filled with tears. But his ego is still winning. He purses his lips and crosses his brow. And lets out a whisper. “Loudly, she can’t hear you.” I hear my mom say. “Sorry Aie” Chips tearful voice comes loud and clear as he peers out the front door into the dark, cold night, perched in his father's arms to see if his Aie comes back magically. I get off from under the desk and sneak up behind him. Chip breaks into a wide grin and dives into my arms. “Do you still want Hanuman chi Aie?” I ain’t letting go. “Nooooooooo” Chip squeals. “I want Aiechya kushit nee-nee (I want to sleep in Aie’s arms)”.

So, on that note, I bid adieu to 2007. Happy New Year to All. See you in 2008.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Time Capsule 2007

These are the things we often buy over at DotMom's household. I thought it would be fun to keep a record of prices and how things look today.

Cheerios: $5.79 (18oz)
Juice: $5.79/gal (Tropicana Orange)
Oatmeal: $1.92/lb ($5.19/42 oz, Quaker Oats)

Milk: $6.49/gal (organic), $3.79/gal (regular)

Bread: $3.99 (Organic), $2.69 (Wonderbread)
Pasta: $1.25/lb
Rice: $1.29/lb (Tilda Basmati)

Sugar: $0.55/lb
Salt: $0.89 (26 oz)
Oil: $2.56/quart (Canola)

Potatoes: $0.79/lb (regular), $.1.19/lb (organic)
Apples: $1.29/lb(regular), $1.99/lb(organic)
Spinach : $1.69(regular), 2.99(organic)

Chicken: $5.49/lb
Salmon: $9.99/lb

The Washington Post: $0.50
U.S. First Class Stamp: $0.41
Cup of Coffee: $0.69
Gas: $2.99/gal (87 octane), $3.21/gal(93 octane)

How do things look in your part of the world? Show me. I am looking!

(Image Courtesy: Peapod, GasSigns, Washington Post.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Through the Lens

I am not the one to typically harbor regrets, but I do have one lament. And a huge one at that. We have no, really nice pictures of Chip and us, that are, well, superficial as it may sound, display worthy. While I hear the collective gasp of utter horror, let me enlighten you on the picture (pun is very much intended). When I was pregnant, we were inundated with coupons and offers to take those timeless pictures of our baby. They offered us an assortment of predictable backgrounds ranging from autumn leaves and baskets of spring flowers to clear blue skies. Complete with hackneyed props from two huge acrylic hands, a la Geddes, holding your tiny newborn to soft fleecy blankets and teddies. From $4.99 to $250. BigGeek and I scoffed. Go to a studio to take a posed picture? That would be like those godawful pictures of our parents and grandparents. We all have seen those, right? The must-have post-wedding one. Against a backdrop of lotus-filled ponds and little bridges. She is sitting on a chair looking demure, he standing with a hat and all, beaming. And then a few years later, another one, when the family is complete. She again, sitting down, looking older and tired, definitely not demure. His face is smiling, but worn with concern. A kid on the lap, one standing and one sitting. Big eyes lined with kajal, hair oiled and combed in place. And then the undated one with frayed edges. The photographer was called home then. This is not a family picture. This is a dynasty picture. Husbands, wives, and kids, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins and the odd neighbor’s kid who managed to sneak in. All posed. All dressed up. All looking very slightly out of their element. This was not for us.

We have two cameras, an assortment of lenses and filters, a tripod and I went to a film school. My not-that-bad composition skills and BigGeek’s accurate, unfailing exposure has given us many a striking landscape which we hang proudly from our walls. There was no way we would take our baby to the local JC Penny and get an $8.99 portrait package. We would do it our own way. Capture candid moments: the one right after Chip’s bath in a pretty towel, when he is sleeping, when is stretching and yawning, when looking curious, when he is frustrated. But when Chip came, he was no quiet angel. He was colicky and fussy and cried a lot. We were so exhausted by the end of the day that when BigGeek in his unending enthusiasm would get out the camera, I would be too tired and unwilling to change and comb my hair. On the days BigGeek caught me as soon as I got home from work, the house would be a mess. So we had candid pictures taken alright, but they mostly had dark circles, half finished baby bottles, stained t-shirts, crumpled onesies, frizzy hair and toys littered in the background. No perfect family there. It slowly dawned on me why we needed someone else to take a picture. It was so simple that I slapped my forehead for not realizing this before. When the baby cries/fusses, I have to tend to the baby. I cannot hold a camera and soothe a baby and take the perfect picture. I don’t have eight arms. I yearned for the posed portrait where for once I would be dressed and Chip would be dressed and BigGeek would be wearing a jacket and the exhausted family would then go to a portrait studio, smile and let someone take their picture.

So, this season when I suggested we go to a studio and get a picture with my parents, BigGeek readily agreed. And a couple of days ago he told me it would make sense to get their club membership because we would be taking more pictures when his parents got here. So, here we are all set to go get our picture taken this evening. I am advising everyone what to wear and what to avoid. We have debated Indian clothes or Western ones. We have discussed make up and shoes. All for ONE family portrait. And to think I wasted Chip’s precious years in my silly vanity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Five months and 99 posts later, here I am. Keeping with the tradition of marking post milestones, I am going to print something written by someone I admire tremendously. But before I do that, a mighty toast to all my readers who have endured my daily butchering of the English language and to those really brave ones who leave warm, encouraging comments day after day. Your tireless encouragement drives me to write. I don’t think I would have done the hundred without you. And to the strangers who lost their way and found me in the hollows of the W3, do delurk today and allow me to say hello to you.

Coming back to the point. I am going to print a transcript of a speech made by one of my favorite writers - Douglas Adams. The speech was made in 1998 at the Digital Biota 2, held at Magdelene College, Cambridge. To those who are not familiar with his works, this is how I would describe it- geaming wisdom enveloped in brilliant wit. Throw in some frank wonderment in the mix, a bit of sci-fi and you will get an idea what Douglas Adams is all about. I know there are a few Adams fans on my blogroll, so if you have not read this before, it will be a nice treat. To those who have not ventured in DNA-land (Douglas Adams’ initials are DNA), give this a try. Put the babies to bed, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, find a quiet spot and read this. You won’t be disappointed.

Is there an Artificial God – Douglas Adams


So what we have arrived at here - and although the first shock wave of this arrival was in 1859, it's really the arrival of the computer that demonstrates it unarguably to us - is 'Is there really a Universe that is not designed from the top downwards but from the bottom upwards? Can complexity emerge from lower levels of simplicity?' It has always struck me as being bizarre that the idea of God as a creator was considered sufficient explanation for the complexity we see around us, because it simply doesn't explain where he came from. If we imagine a designer, that implies a design and that therefore each thing he designs or causes to be designed is a level simpler than him or her, then you have to ask 'What is the level above the designer?' There is one peculiar model of the Universe that has turtles all the way down, but here we have gods all the way up. It really isn't a very good answer, but a bottom-up solution, on the other hand, which rests on the incredibly powerful tautology of anything that happens, happens, clearly gives you a very simple and powerful answer that needs no other explanation whatsoever.But here's the interesting thing. I said I wanted to ask 'Is there an artificial god?' and this is where I want to address the question of why the idea of a god is so persuasive. I've already explained where I feel this kind of illusion comes from in the first place; it comes from a falseness in our perspective, because we are not taking into account that we are evolved beings, beings who have evolved into a particular landscape, into a particular environment with a particular set of skills and views of the world that have enabled us to survive and thrive rather successfully. But there seems to be an even more powerful idea than that, and this is the idea I want to propose, which is that the spot at the top of the pyramid that we previously said was whence everything flowed, may not actually be vacant just because we say the flow doesn't go that way.

Read entire transcript at:

Edited: I have removed the entire transcript (bad netiquette) and have put in an excerpt and a link.

Edited Again: If you are having problems with comments or other issues, email me at todotmom at gmail dot com.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Foolish and the Wicked

Fuzzy tagged me to be wicked. Somerset Maugham once said – A woman may be as wicked as she likes, but if she isn’t pretty, it won’t do her much good. To give a brief history of my wickedness – I never did wicked things. N-e-v-e-r. (Go on. Infer what you may about my prettiness from that). There were a few incidents when as a kid, I would scream bloody murder BEFORE my kid brother pushed/hit/pulled my hair, but that was done in anticipatory self-defense. No wickedness there. In school, I was the model student everybody loves to hate. Sat on the first bench, was always in the top three of my class, well-behaved, polite. Did I say I have never done anything wicked? Ok. I am going to let you in on a little, little secret. Now turn around and make sure nobody is reading over your shoulder.

It all started when I was in the tenth standard. Our class of 22 had discipline issues and the faculty, to disrupt the unruliness, decided to assign seats to us. In boy-girl pairs. In tenth standard. Can you imagine the horror? I was assigned the first bench (yeah, what were these teachers thinking? I would sit on the first bench, as is) and my bench mate was my contender of sorts. He always topped the class and I always came in second. He was insufferable. And boring and Mr.goody-two-pants. And mean. And he would refuse to share his texts if I forgot mine at home. I requested many, many times to our class teacher that I be assigned a different seat. But she would not hear of it and would not give me a reason why. Now, our class teacher taught us physics and how unimaginatively. Her post-recess drone would lull what could have been many brilliant physicists to deep sleep. Her explanation of the theories appeared to be so rehearsed and dished out of rote memory that it seemed instead of speaking words conversationally; she was printing complex sentences replete with semicolons and commas right out of her mouth.

So, on one such oppressing hot, humid afternoon, the ceiling fan in the tenth standard classroom hummed listlessly. Some of the class was already nodding into their post-lunch physics siesta. The air outside the window was abuzz with restless flies circling around looking for something to sit on. Somewhere in a distance, a lonely crow crowed. And two pigeons responded with nervous chatter. A school girl grunted on the field, playing hockey and the PT teacher whistled to halt. Amidst all this, our physics teacher droned on, not caring if our young, impressionable minds grasped how a light wave alters its phase velocity when entering water. And just then, the monotony was punctuated. The principal had walked to our classroom and was standing at the door. She beckoned the physics teacher over. Usually these interruptions lasted no more than a minute, but this appeared to be taking longer than usual. The two women moved away to cover their conversation from snooping ears. Seeing the teacher was away, the class broke out in a joyous cheer. Paper airplanes and spitballs filled the air. Boys jostled with each other and the girls gossiped. In the middle of this mayhem, something struck me about the way our physics teacher taught. She must be hiding long, handwritten notes in her notebook, I thought to myself. I leaned across the bench to take a peek under the textbook. They were no notes, but something better, something even bigger. There was a whole study guide hidden under the physics book. So that’s what she did! Simply read out explanations from the study guide. I felt so elated at having discovered her secret and felt so cheated at the same time, I did the unthinkable. I leaned and turned the study guide the wrong way under the text book. A few minutes later, she returned and picked up the book(s). Seeing the guide was upside down, she turned the book(s) thinking she had picked them up the wrong way and started to read from where she had left off. But, now, unknown to her, the physics book on the outside was turned upside down and while she read passages from the study guide held correctly underneath, and the whole class realized what had happened. Suddenly, the physics period had gotten a whole lot interesting. And in the next quarter of an hour, the not-so-bored-anymore fifteen year olds pelted her with questions and ask for explanations again and again. She was pleased that the class was beginning to warm up to her; little did she know it was for all the wrong reasons!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cookies Unmade

This year, in a very long time, the Holiday season is different. I am not baking any cookies. No Raspberry Linzers or Danish Butter, or the humble jam thumbprints. No chocolate dipped shortcake and peanut butter cookies. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

My baking journey started a very long time ago in a small, sleepy town in the dusty Maharashtrian hinterlands. The town had nothing much to offer, really, in terms of entertainment, but it had an excellent library. And a book fair would be held in the large hall at the library every year, an event my brother and my parents and me looked forward to. Though I didn’t realize then, the book selection was quite predictable. Dickens and Austen and other classics in hardbacks mixed with a generous dose of Ludlum and Forsyth and other popular authors in paperbacks. And (not really) surprising number of books from the Soviet. Printed on glossy paper with beautiful illustrations. Always hardbound. Complete collections of Chekov’s short stories and Dostoevskys to illustrated 3 book sets of the Russian Revolution (which I bought for the pictures, but never read) and commentaries on Marxism. Amidst this bizarre collection, my mom once found a book, or a magazine, it certainly was a little of both. It was a special baking issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly. I don’t know why my mom bought the book. She didn’t bake. She didn’t even like cooking that much. She owned one unillustrated cookbook written in Marathi that every Maharastrian housewife was expected to have and it was brought out only during the festivals to get the ingredient ratios.

A few days later, with nothing to do after school, I gloated over the books we had bought at the book fair and the Australian Women’s Weekly caught my fancy. I thumbed though it. I was stunned. Did that recipe really call for 400gms of almonds? That would cost a small fortune and it would be silly to spend it on a cake. And what was demerara sugar? How on earth would zucchini bread taste (yuck) and could it be substituted with something else? I was sure it that something the local bhajiwallahs would not carry. But it wasn’t just the recipes. The photographs too. Beautiful lacy table linens and exquisite silverware. Dainty china teapots and delicate crocheted napkins sitting smugly beside a thick slice of delectably golden lemon-poppy seed cake basking in the glow of the morning sunlight streaming through windows that I imagined opened to exquisite gardens. It was a whole new world to my 12-year old self. I poured over these pictures from start to finish and came back to the beginning again to an introductory section where they listed the tools required for baking. Out of a list of 15 or 20 recommended pieces that included odd looking whisks and large rolling pins and springform and lamington pans, my mother probably had an old, dusty round aluminum oven and I wasn’t sure it even worked. So the book and its culinary treasures lay partly forgotten, there were simply no resources to buy the fancy gadgets and ingredients.

And then, a few months later came summer. My mother had to leave town for a week to attend a training program and my Dad was left with me and my brother in the middle of our summer holidays. My grandmother was there to look after us but I craved adventure. I had already made a kiln and lit a fire and baked mud pots in it a couple of weeks ago but that hadn’t gone too well with my mom. I had tried making some homemade translucent paper and that turned out to have disastrous results. In search of an uncharted territory to explore, I decided to bake a cake. Once my father left, I started to execute my plan. I took down a recipe book. Not the Australian Women’s Weekly, but a closer to home version of Tarla Dalal that my mom had borrowed from my aunt. Since the last two experiments at being adventours hadn’t gone as planned, I decided to let my grandmother in on my secret. But not all of it. “I want to cook something and I need some money to buy ingredients.” I wouldn’t tell what I wanted to cook. In the end she gave me a few rupees and my brother and I walked to a little shack of a store and bought eggs and white flour. Back home, I took out the pot of butter from the refrigerator knowing fully well if I made a noticeable dent in it, I would have to face my mom after she got back once again. But 12 year old girls can be quite unfazed. I took down the dusty oven and cleaned it. Then I turned the Tarla Dalal book to the simple vanilla cake and measured and poured and mixed. Just as I was about to put it in the oven, the electricity died. With batter in hand and nothing to bake it in, I was crestfallen. My grandmother suggested I keep it the fridge and bake it when electricity returned. But I knew batters could not be stored like this. The cake would come out like a rock. I thought and thought and a brainwave hit me. We had a solar cooker on our roof that we used sometimes. That would do. So I poured the batter in the solar container, climbed the ladder (there were no stairs) to the rooftop and put the cake to bake in the solar cooker. I checked on it every hour. The batter had risen and overflowed and I was happy about that. That meant the cake would not be hard. By evening the cake was nicely done and enjoyed by all. After that there was no looking back.

When I came to the United States and “settled”, the world of Australian Women’s Weekly opened to me. I could walk into a store and buy all the pans and whisks and gadgets I wanted. And I did. My kitchen is full of every gadget they sell out there (not silly ones like egg yolk separator, but real gadgets). And a couple of years ago I splurged and bought the beautiful Kitchen Aid Stand mixer. But life took its unexpected turns. Chip was diagnosed with an egg allergy before he turned one. And a few months ago BigGeek stopped eating butter because of cardiac issues. It’s hard to bake without eggs and butter. I have found recipes that use oil and applesauce instead of butter and I have found egg free recipes. They all work out OK, for most part, but a treasure trove of recipes now lie sadly abandoned.

This is a picture of the cake I made for Chip's first birthday. The animals are moulded by hand using marshmallow fondant. Lower tier filled with oreo cream is chocolate, upper is vanilla filled with strawberry cream.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Go Retro

There is an article in science daily about toys. And just in time for the holiday season.

“Old-fashioned retro toys, such as red rubber balls,
simple building blocks, clay and crayons, that don’t cost so much and are
usually hidden in the back shelves are usually much healthier for children than
the electronic educational toys that have fancier boxes and cost $89.99,” says
Temple University developmental psychologist Kathy

The basic purpose of toys is to fuel imagination. They are accessories to a child’s play, not an end in themselves. I cannot understand the fascination with the fancy electronic toys. I have seen a few and they seem to be so limited in what they can do. Press this button and a light will glow, pull this lever and a song will play. What then? The child will inevitably get bored.

Chip has a lot more toys than what I grew up with. Most of them are gifts. He has a ball that plays songs or speaks the phonetic equivalent of an alphabet. It lies in our crawlspace. He has an electronic jackhammer, two ride-on trucks, a rocking horse, a trike, roller skates, countless soft toys, wooden blocks, 2 sets of plastic blocks (one is stored away), two basket ball hoops (one outdoor, one indoor stored away), a dozen cars and trucks, one even has a remote control, half a dozen puzzles, a few balls in various colors and textures, a small magnetic slate and some random junkie assortment including a dead xbox controller, decimated potato head, a plastic maraca, wooden coasters, beads, stickers and a small notebook. Out of the list, I have bought him a blue plastic ball, a few soft toys and some puzzles and blocks. I have also bought him the beads and the stickers and the notebook.

The electronic toys in our home follow a rule. Once the original batteries die out, they are not replaced. Chip eventually finds another way to play with the toys, which means those toys were more than electronic gimmicky to begin with. The trucks are a good example of this. Chip whined when the batteries first died, but soon figured out that he could stack more cars on the truck and make it a car-carrier. Or put walnuts into it and pretend it was a dump truck (he got a swat and then a timeout for doing this, this probably deserves a post of its own). The remote controller for the radio-controlled car soon became a phone into which his imaginary friend (Chiu the sparrow) was asked to bring goodies for all (milk and three blue lollipops for Chip, green jelly beans for Ajji, mac and cheese for Aie and water for Baba). The dead xbox controller became a camera to capture every kodak moment or a pair of headphones while he mowed the lawn with his truck. The coasters became plates for serving the delectable food he cooked for us using an empty plastic chopper (sans blade), an old pot and some spoons. This is play where imagination is at work. He can play forever with his ball or spend considerable time doing his puzzles. He draws pictures of his grandfather and his grandmother and his father and me in scribbled detail on the little magnetic slate.

Yet the fancy electronic games win the battle. It is guilt? Is it fear? As parents, perhaps the fear overrules. Like Pascal’s wager, one errs on this side. And as doting aunts and uncles and family friends, I am convinced the guilt overrules. After all, how can one give a $1 plastic ball to a favorite nephew on his birthday? Throw some electronic gadgetry in it and viola it becomes a respectable gift at $19.99. And I am not holier-than-thou and all pretentious. I have been guilty of the same. But I think I am going to change that. If I ever have to gift a toy, it going to be real, toy. A retro toy. If it is cheap, so be it. I can put the rest of the money in that child’s college fund or something. But, here comes the clincher, what if the child thinks it is too boring? What then?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Escape Artist

Were you by the odd chance at some nice designer outlets near a small town in Virginia last week? No? Good. Now I am relieved. Because if you had been, you would either have-

1.Thought madness had struck me and oh so swiftly.
2. Looked at Chip weirdly and then looked at me weirdly.

It was an eventful day to say the least. The mother, the Chip and me had been out shopping for what many women shop this time of the year – Holiday Party wear. Now, I don’t do dresses. I might just do skirts, but there has got to be a better reason than a company holiday party to do ‘em. And I am thinking Halloween before your wanton imaginations run a six minute mile. So there I was looking for some dress pants and a nice silk jacket. Now, when it comes to shopping, I am unlike most of my gender. Following Caesar’s footsteps, I usually go the Veni, Vedi, Vici way. And I go armed. I know my size, I know what colors I want and I have a general idea what clothes I am looking for. And Oh. I know which store to go to. The store has to be small with a limited selection. No department stores. They drive me up the wall with their wide selection. Analysis paralysis creeps in and I fall to the ground in shambles simply comparing things. I wish for drive through clothes stores. Seriously. You know I can go - Can I get number 3 with the large gold earrings and black satin pumps?

So we went to my favorite store. Picked a pair of nice chiffony pants and a gorgeous tan silk jacket printed with flowers with a bit of embroidery thrown in. Bought three more pants (well, two of those were for the mom) and another beautiful denim jacket that fit like a glove (ignore mixed metaphor). Done with this, we stepped out to see what the hungama at the Coach store was -everybody had a Coach shopping bag- the mom and self thought they were giving bags for free. They weren’t believably, but unbelievably, there was a line to get into the store. We were dejected, there was no way we were going to stand in a line to get into a store and just then, my mom remembered. I need to go get the umm... Unmentionables. So off we went. Chip had managed to drive my mom crazy while I had shopped and was now driving me crazy because he was begging me to fix the candy cane given to him by a Santa. As soon as we entered the I picked a few things and ran to the fitting room. I had just begun to try them on, I heard my mom.

Mom: “Oh. My god
DotMom: “What happened?”
Mom: “Chip went to a fitting room and has locked himself in.”
DotMom: “That’s OK. This way you won’t have to run after him.”
(after two minutes)
DotMom: “He is awfully quiet. Can you see his legs from under the stall?”
Mom: “No, I think he is perched on the stool.”
DotMom: “Chip, open the door now.”
Chip: giggle giggle.
DotMom: “This is not funny Chip. Open the door.”
Chip: giggle giggle.
DotMom: “OK, I am done. I am coming to get you.”

There was no way to open the stall from outside. It was time to go nuclear.

DotMom: “Ok. You can stay here Chip. We are going home. You can stay here and the store will close and it will be dark and cold and you will be all alone and scared.”
Chip: “Ok Aie, Bye! See you tomorrow.”
DotMom: “Bye Chip. “

I make shuffling sounds and we wait. And wait and wait. No sign of Chip even getting off the stool, let alone opening the door. It was getting late, we had to go home cook dinner and going nuclear hadn’t worked. What was a desperate mom to do? Dial 911 for this? Nah. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I bent down and saw Chip’s feet dangling from the stool. I tried to grab them in the hope that would make him get off, but instead he folded his legs. Not even looking who was around me, I then did what I think every mom in my shoes would do. I got on all my fours and creeped into the stall. Chip was delighted to see his Aie slither in like a python crossed with a walrus. He got down from the stool laughing, hugged me, opened the door and ran outside. I ran after him and grabbed him and carried him to the checkout counter. There was a small line there and Chip seemed to be studying the carpet quietly. So the mom and I yapped. It was only after we went out and saw a woman glance oddly at Chip and then me, that I saw what Chip had done. He had found pantyhose stickers that said “Comfort Top” on the floor and had stuck them everywhere on his chest.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow

“Just come back”. My mother was telling me gently over the phone. I had called her once again to yell and rant. It had been an hour and I was stuck in a mother-of-all traffic jams on my way to work. It had taken me one whole hour to go a mile and half. At that rate it would take me 17.333 hours to get to work. I kept hoping the jam would clear. I had just too much stuff to get done and I really did not want to use a vacation day for such a frivolous reason. Skipping work because of a traffic jam? Bah!

It had all started in the morning. Chip banged on the bathroom door excitedly shouting, “Aie, look, burfa (snow).” I hurriedly came out. Chip was standing by the bedroom window in his pajamas, his nose pressed against the cold pane, a small cloud of condensed breath surrounded it. Tiny snowflakes leisurely floated in the air outside. Falling unhurriedly to the ground. The grass was already covered in a thin layer of silvery powder. I looked at the pretty scene. “Aie, aaj shala sutti? (Is the school closed today?)” Chip broke my spell. “No, Chip, you have school today. I have office today, Baba has office today.” “No Aie office, no Chip shalaa.” Chip declared and he ran off to find his Ajji. His Ajji had heard our conversation. With her on his side, Chip haggled with me and I knew despite my saying no again and again, Chip and his Ajji had secretly plotted to stay home and spend the day together.

“Where are you?” boomed a voice through my cell phone. It was BigGeek. He had just come home after his cardiac rehab. I told him. “It’s a giant mess.” He told me. He had been lucky on his way home from the rehab, he was coming the opposite way. “Well, it might just clear up. There is hardly any snow. Less than half an inch.” I was hoping against hope. There were three accidents before I even got on the highway. The highway was another story. When will people learn to drive in the snow? I muttered and cursed under my breath. “Aie, aie, aaj shala sutti (Is school close today?)” Chip was asking me again over the phone. “Yes, Chip, aaj sutti”. I finally told him. There was no way anybody was going to be able to drop at daycare today. It had taken me one hour to get to that exit – what would normally take 3-4 minutes.

Fifty minutes later, I had enough. I had moved another half mile or so. I called home. “I am coming home.” I announced. There was joyous cheer in the background. It took me another 10 minutes to get to an intersection where I finally made a roundabout and headed back home. In less than ten minutes, Chip was hugging me. “Aie aaj no office?” “No office today, Chip.” I smiled. “Mall choo-choo train baghaicha?” Chip had already made plans in his head to go to the mall to see the choo-choo train. “We’ll see.” I said, too tired to give an explanation why it was unlikely that we could make it to the mall. My mother made some hot mocha as I tried to convince BigGeek to stay home too. But he ended up going to work at about noon and felt even worse about skipping work.

But all said and done, I am glad I did. Chip was sleepy and he slept while eating his lunch. As I carried him upstairs, my mother followed with my lunch – a salad and a yogurt. With Chip nestled between us, my mom and I had the best vacation ever. As the snowstorm gained fury outside and the snow inches slowly mounted, we were snug under our down comforter watching fashion makeover shows on TLC. Finally, I too fell asleep and woke up two hours later refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


There are some decisions that don’t quite qualify as decisions at all. Not conscious ones at any rate. It’s only when something you do or believe in is has a doubt cast on-- perhaps this is not even the right word-- day after day, that you do take a step back to think. And if you are wondering what the topic of this intense consternation is, it is the meek television set. I never had any strong opinion either way about it where Chip was concerned. I once met someone who was so afraid her son would be addicted to television that she would hold her infant away from it even if it were for a few minutes; to avoid the odd glance the said infant might throw the television’s way. I am no where that extreme. But I am also a little ykcul (spelled backwards to ward off the J-monster!!).

Chip never showed much of an interest in the television. Some well meaning friends gave him Baby Einstein DVDs which truth be told freaked me out with their linguistically indescribable images – how the hell was I supposed to explain the computer generated purple and fluorescent green swirlies to Chip when he asked the inevitable, “What’s that?” While other kids “graduated” on to Little Einsteins at the age of 18months, Chip seemed to have failed the grade. He had not even finished watching one Baby Einstein DVD from start to finish.

This gap is more apparent at parties. While the grown-ups chat and have a good time, the TV is turned on, a DVD popped inside and the kids plonked in front of it. Chip watches it for ten minutes at the most and gets bored – of what’s happening on TV and because there are no kids to play with. But what is more amazing is that other kids his age do watch. Whole feature length movies. They know all the characters too – Shrek and Fiona and Lightening McQueen and Nemo and Spiderman and other Disney and Pixar inventions. Two and three year olds. Once, at a party, I urged Chip to see the kiddie movies. He wouldn’t. So I sat alongside him and explained what was going on and who the characters were and the general story. He appeared interested but soon found a truck to ride and scuttled away. Which brings me to another question. Do these two and three year olds follow what’s happening in a movie? Because Chip doesn’t. And that’s the reason for his boredom. He simply does not understand the story unless I explain it to him in simple words. But if other kids are engrossed, they must understand what’s unfolding and Chip is missing out on all that, or even worse, he is lagging behind in his comprehension. So, yes, I have to admit, that on some level this bothers me.

Statistics tell me kids Chip’s age watch an average of 2-3 hours of TV every day. Where do they get the time, I ask myself often. But the answer isn’t hard to see. The kids who stay at home watch it almost all day. Those that go to a daycare watch after they get home. I can understand why. Chores need to be done, dinner cooked and dishes cleaned. I do all that too. But Chip is not plonked in front of the TV. We go out everyday – to the library, to the tot lot, to take a walk. When I am on the treadmill, Chip sits on the chair in the study and we sing songs or he just potters around. When I am cooking dinner and if he gets bored and there is no one to amuse him, he is put in a warm bath with empty bottles and cups to play. And we recite shlokas and that keeps him busy for 20 minutes. He might watch a DVD if he is too sick to do anything or if he is just too bored. But it is usually a song Akdam Bakdam from Hanuman movie or a 20 minute Richard Scarry’s ABC which is full of songs. And, yes, he does after a bout of illness ask to watch the videos again, but he is whisked away to do something else, simply because I feel other things are much more interesting than watching TV. But I could be wrong.

BigGeek and I are not big TV watchers. We don’t watch TV on a daily basis. The TV does not get turned on for days at a stretch. We only watch two shows. House and Scrubs. The TV is never running in background, although music often is. Perhaps Chip has inherited our genes or he has been subject to our preferences. Perhaps it is both. But it is a fact that Chip can’t tell Shrek from Spiderman. But he can tell apart a Jumbo Jet from an F-16. He has no idea who Nemo is but he knows what a Chinook is. And perhaps, just like his nerdy parents, he is doomed to be a sad misfit in a society that seems greatly seeped in this popular culture.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Purrrfect, no?

Preethi tagged me while ago to do the seven quirky things about myself. Then Sahiti's Mom did. And then it was mnamma But I try to be so purrrfect. I don't have seven quirks. I have only three. And they are here.

The Perfect DotMom

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wine, Woman and Song - Part Troix

And now for the finale. Classical-Hindustani-Vocalist meets Head-banging-metal-head. The result? Why, its Chip, ofcourse. Chip’s musical tastes are complex and ummm... developing. Being two crazy music buffs, there was no question we would inculcate our progeny with love for music, if he was not already born with the said love or more correctly the music gene. The question was which music. No Baby Mozart and Baby Bach and Baby Handel and Baby whatever-other-composer you can think of for him, declared BigGeek. I concurred. After all, no Bach, Mozart or Pachelbel was ever written solely for babies’ ears. Regular CDs of Bach and Mozart and Pachelbel from our collection would do just fine. As would Kishori Amonkar and Mallikarjun Mansur. I said. As would Dreamtheater and Symphony X, he continued. Wait. What? Nononononononono. I shook my head vigorously from side to side. Embryonic ears are way too immature to fully comprehend the complex intricacies of the prog-metal genre, I said in my nicest, soothing voice, gently rubbing by bulging belly. (Read: Our baby will be born deaf if he is subjected to the decibel levels of heavy metal in-utero, so, it’s off limits in my presence). True, said BigGeek buying what I had just said. But he can enjoy the rhythms, that’s all they can really hear inside their fluid filled home. Higher frequencies get attenuated when transmitted through fluid, you know. Thus spake BigGeek.

I wasn’t quite happy with this. And I complained. To my MIL, and to his MIL and whoever would listen. But BigGeek would not hear of it. And Chip was fed a daily dose of the classics (on my daily 2 hour + commute) and prog-metal when I was with BigGeek at home. So much so, that BigGeek asked me if I wanted to go to a Steve Vai concert at one of my favorite auditoriums (think jazz cafĂ© atmosphere). I shook my head. I was eight months pregnant. “But you love the bread pudding there.” I was sold. We went with our friends and I brought an extra coat along to put on my belly incase the decibel levels reached baby-unfriendly proportions. And expectedly, Chip started to move a lot – I thought he was jumping and getting startled with the all the noise and we decided to go home.

It was only when Chip was about 9 months old that I realized otherwise. Chip loved heavy metal and hard rock. He first clapped his tiny hands to Deep Purple. He cried out in utter glee and clapped them happily as the opening riffs to Smoke on the water blasted from the speakers. He head banged to Dream Theater and LTE and Steve Morse. And when he learnt to speak, which was the first song he sang? David Lee Roth’s Shyboy. For all the Bach I made him listen to, this is what I get. Yet, I like to think he likes Bach and all Baroque music. He falls asleep instantly. So maybe not all hope is lost.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wine, Woman and Song - Part Deux

I don’t know where and how to begin part deux. Partly because, the realization that Chip likes pretty girls came slowly and shockingly. I have been racking my brain to get the earliest memory of Chip’s inclinations and this one comes up again and again.

It happened about a year ago. At the mall (yes, we are mall rats). BigGeek was away at school, it was cold to do anything outside, so Chip and I headed to the mall on a sunny, icy cold Saturday morning to ride the escalators and eat ice cream. After shrillion rides in the elevator and escalators, after eating a pizza and licking an ice cream cone, we were ready to go home. By we, I meant it was me. Chip wanted to stay back. He tugged at my coat and whined and ran away when I tried to stuff him in his bulky winter jacket. Finally I tackled him and pinned him down on a chair by the food court while I struggled to bend his unbending arms into the jacket, when, suddenly all resistance dissolved. Surprised, I looked up.

Chip was beaming at two pretty twenty-something girls sitting on a stool behind a sandwich shop, eating a sandwich. They waved to him and Chip blushingly waved back. They laughed and he smiled cheekily. I went back to zipping up Chip and helping him down. We started walking towards the exit. Chip followed me, but he had his eyes on the girls. He waved to them, said Hi, went to the glass window and squished his nose at them. The girls were enjoying it too and were laughing and encouraging him. I was amused and called to Chip who was glued to the window. I threatened to leave him at the mall and that worked. Keeping both his eyes on the girls, he started to follow me. And encountered a huge pillar and smacked his head on it. Right on. The girls and I burst into uncontainable laughter. Chip didn’t cry but he was so embarrassed and mortified that he ran to me and buried his tiny face into my coat and pushed me out the door.

Or take the time last summer when we went to lots of musems. Chip was about 15 mo at the time. Being summer, most women and girls were dressed in shorts or short skirts. We were standing in an ice cream line (jeez, we do eat a lot of ice cream?) with some of our friends, when the woman in front of us shrieked. She looked down, shivering, only to see little Chip’s hand up her short, short skirt. She was relived that it was not a man or some strange animal or a bug and laughed it off.

I didn’t think much of these incidences at the time, but a pattern began to emerge. At the grocery store, at the mall, at the tot lot, in the parking lot. Take the tot lot at the mall for instance. Chip will willingly share his space/rides with a pretty girl. Pretty being the operative word. If it is a guy, even a bigger guy, turf battle ensues, verbally or physically. It’s *any* girl, he is usually not physical, but may express verbally. If it’s a pretty girl, he will not only share the space but will shamelessly flirt by saying “hi” or smiling at her and in one instance even giving her a hug at which point I intervened and told him he had to keep his hands and feet to himself and he could not go around hugging people.

BigGeek is amused by all this. He once told me his first crush was in the second standard. Second standard? At the ripe age of 7? She was very pretty he tried to tell me. Now I know where Chip gets his “crushy” genes from. But until Chip is old enough to go about on his own, I have to endure as he dutifully turns his head as a pretty, age-no-bar, girl walks by.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wine, Woman and Song - Part Un

If you are looking at the title and are not quite sure what to expect, read on. This is about Chip and his passions. In order. Not a day passes without Chip alluding to all three of the above mentioned..umm..things.

Wine is an absolute favorite. Although tempted, I haven’t given him a six ounce in his plastic yellow lion cup yet, but that does not deter my budding oenophile from asking for some vino. First thing in the morning. In his pajamas, rubbing his bleary, crusty eyes he announces in his Minglish. “Aie, I want wine pahijey (want).” And the games start.

DotMom: “Does Chip drink wine?”.
Chip: “Yes?.”
DotMom: “No! He doesn’t. Do you have dadhi-misha (beard and a moustache)?”
Chip: “No.”
DotMom:“Let’s drink your milk instead.”
Chip:“Wine glass madhye (in wine glass)?”.

Two hours later. Bubble Bath Time.
Chip: “Aie, Aie look” Points to his upper lip.
DotMom: “What’s that?”
Chip:”It’s dadhi-misha (beard and moustache).”
Chip has smeared the bubbles from his bath on his cheek and upper lib and is preening.
DotMom (not getting the point): Yay!!
Chip (gleefully): “Chip dadhi misha. Aie, I want wine pahijey”

Two hours later, play time.
DotMom: “Where are you Chip?”
Chip: “Ithe” (spinning himself silly on the chair in the study)
DotMom:What are you doing?
Chip: “Abhyas (studying).”
DotMom: “What Abhyas?”
Chip (now typing with one hand, phone in the other, imitating BigGeek): “Compiter abhyaas..Aie, ek beer pahijey.”
DotMom: “What did you just say? Does Chip drink beer?”
Chip: “Baba peeto (drinks)?”
DotMom: “But Chip doesn’t. You have to be as tall as Baba and you have to be 21 years old.”

A few weeks ago, when the MIL was visiting, I made some cocktails for her. Now they look like juices, so when I told Chip he could not have them, he was puzzled. It has alcohol, I explained. Beer, wine, scotch, cocktails, they all have alcohol. So he can’t drink them until he is all grown up. I said. That was a mistake in hindsight. So, now that he knows what alcohol is, being told a shrillion times, he has just skipped to the chase. He simply asks for alcohol now.

Part Deux and Part Trois follow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good Nope Hunting

Gene Weingarten started this with his column. GoogleNopes. That is what you get or rather don’t get when you type a phrase enclosed in quotes in the Google search bar. You should simply get a “No matching documents found” message. And paradoxically, once you write about it, it stops being a GoogleNope. GoogleYups are the exact opposites. Phrases, however improbable, that do get a hit.

Never mind you Kant- GoogleNope

Rolled on oats laughing- GoogleNope

Gym in North Korea- GoogleNope

Gym in India – Googleyup

Sierra Leone luxury resort- GoogleNope

Iceland luxury resort – GoogleYup

Bill Gates uses iPhone- GoogleNope

Jobs is a Microsoft user- GoogleNope

Microsoft sucks – GoogleYup

Apple sucks – GoogleYup

Google is not Your Big Brother- GoogleNope

Google is Your Big Brother – GoogleYup

North Korean Spa Vacation- GoogleNope

American Spa Vacation - Googleyup

Chicken face cream- GoogleNope

Peacock fillet sandwich- GoogleNope

Eggplant mascara – Googleyup

Telegraph technology breakthrough- GoogleNope

Toolbars of next century- GoogleNope

Buried in keywords- GoogleNope

Will Google survive the next century? – GoogleNope

Texan Food in China- GoogleNope

Chinese Food in Texas – Googleyup

Organize your gray cells- GoogleNope

Organize your shoes – GoogleYup

Rich and thin and smart and beautiful- GoogleNope

Space travel is a fad- GoogleNope

I want to travel in space – GoogleYup

I want to travel in space with Martha Stewart- GoogleNope

Martha Stewart goes gothic- GoogleYup

Blogger comments are famous- GoogleNope

Blogger wins a book deal- GoogleNope

Blogger wins lottery- GoogleNope

Blogger is happy – GoogleYup

Googling your great aunt- GoogleNope

Googling your great uncle- GoogleNope

Googling your great grandfather- GoogleNope

Googling your husband – GoogleYup

DotMom is a millionaire- GoogleNope

DotMom is awesome- GoogleNope

DotMom is a domestic goddess- GoogleNope

Oh. Well... So much for this exercise. Let’s see how you guys do. Tagging Orchid, Sue and Usha and MadMomma.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanks for all the fish!

Thanksgiving is about two things. Food and Shopping. (Apart from actually giving thanks and it is pretty obvious what I was thankful for this year, so let’s just skip that bit.) And we did both of that in plenty this weekend. Since we were hosting Thanksgiving this year, I planned a Thanksgiving with a French twist. Everything was made from scratch (except stuffing), everything was heart healthy. I wish I had taken pictures, but we were all so hungry, we just devoured.

The Menu

Turkey Breast with Garlic and Sage Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Lite Goat Cheese and hand shelled pumpkin seeds
Sesame Broccoli
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Creamed Spinach
Pilaf with Golden Raisins.
Roasted Red Pepper Spread
Ravenswood Zinfandel 2005

Apple Galette for Dessert.

So here are snippets of our Thanksgiving day and Black Friday.

Chat, exchange gifts. I get an awesome culinary book of appetizers from Williams and Sonoma. Chip gets an awesome arcade basketball hoop. Mom gets bath stuff, BigGeek gets wine.
Peruse Store Flyers for Black Friday deals
Supper – avocado sandwiches and potato-leek soup. Eat awesome pumpkin bread made by aunt in law.
Hindi Movie – Mujse Shaadi karogi (got this at the County library, can you believe it?)
More Store Flyers
Shopping Lists
Set Alarm for 5:00 am

Get up at 6:00 am, wake up mom and aunt-in-law

Aunt in law takes rain check, Mom and self head out to stores for early bird and doorbuster specials.

Buy $5 character pajama sets for Chip, $3 crock pots and coffee makers. Buy $17 Corelle sets for mom (who refuses to buy anything else nicer from say, Williams and Sonoma)
Get angry because the Estee Lauder $250 gift set is not free with a purchase of $29.95 but they are selling it for $48.00 on a purchase of $29.95.

Restrain self from going into Bodyshop and splurging to get over Estee’s betrayal.

Head home to feed Chip his breakfast and others too.

Feed and eat breakfast, shower and head out 40 mins away to outlet malls, specifically Corelle Outlet to beat the deal we just got.

Get better deal at outlet. Aunt in law and mom are elated and do a victory dance. (OK. They didn’t do a victory dance, but that’s because they don’t know how)

Mom buys a pair of jeans from Liz Claiborne, Self buys cable knit and cords from Ralph Lauren. BigGeek is hungry and thinks we are crazy and refuses to buy a nice sweater. Aunt in law buys tons of stuff from RL.

Realize I should have worn sneakers. The boots are K-I-L-L-I-N-G me. Look at heels. I have managed to wear them out with 6 hours of extreme shopping. Eat a sandwich and a salad. Feed Chip candy to prevent him from bawling out.

BigGeek offers to take Chip home. Other males decide likewise. The three female shoparriors are still undefeated. Head next door to IKEA. Shop in their market place for silly things like juice glasses and frothers. Realize its 6:00 pm. Check out and head back to the car. Realize its BigGeek’s and has no GPS. No idea how to get home.

Call BigGeek. He asks “Are you still at IKEA?” Trick question. Quickly reply no and prepare for outrage. Strangely what comes from the other end is a “OK, because if you were, I would have given you a turn by turn how to get out.” Yipee!!

Reach home. Make a quick din-din of Khichadi and Kadhi. Open a v-e-r-y nice bottle of Tarara 2003 Reserved Cabernet Franc. Load Dishwasher and retire with a heating pad. Everything aches.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On the Couch

It’s all done and over with. The old couch has been freecycled. The new one delivered, and set up. The family room furniture has been shuffled. The room looks nice and big. I was so caught in the logistics of it all, that I simply did not realize that the couch put on freecycle was the first thing EVER BigGeek and I bought together. More than five years ago. Five and a half to be precise. We had moved into our own apartment in a fancy neighborhood. The apartment was quite bare. BigGeek’s old stuff had been all trashed. I didn’t have much, I was still a student. We had to fill a whole apartment. Where do you start? The Couch. Young and just starting out, we headed out to IKEA. The heaven of cheap furniture. I love IKEA. No, make that WE love IKEA and will continue to do so until we can afford $8000 couches from fancy Scandinavian or Italian furniture stores.

Trying to pick a piece of furniture (or China) together can be an eye opener, compared to say, a date. So, on that first trip to IKEA, we discussed our tastes. We both loved modern, minimalist furniture. Sharp, clean edges, no frou-frou. So that was easy. I liked bold colors, he liked natural. I can buy a scarlet red couch in a heartbeat, he won’t even look at it. We both settled on a leather couch. He preferred the big comfy one. I wanted the nice sleek one. Couches are like shoes. Comfy ones are almost always ugly. He wanted black, I wanted red or orange or something bright. After what turned out to be a bitter battle that was a step away from being acrimonious, I gave in and we bought the sleek leather couch in black. The couch was delivered a few days later and it looked so nice. Sleek and shiny. Very modern. Just like us. It fit just so in our apartment. Such carefree days they were. The couch was the first of our firsts and we knew that.

The couch did not let us down. It weathered coffee spills and TV dinners and sandwich crumbs and crazy parties and cozy get-togethers. It followed us when we bought our first home and became the mainstay of our family room. Many movies were seen sitting on it. Many wonderful discussions had. Many fights and many talks. Many fears aired and many hopes shared. Chip napped on it as a baby, climbed on it as a toddler. He learned to jump from it and learnt to do a flip to explore behind it.

Despite all these memories, I don’t miss the couch. Which is strange for a person like me who is capable of missing everything and anything. I miss time zones when we travel or change clocks during Spring and Fall. I just long for the old time. It wasn’t until the nice freecyclers were carrying out the couch that it dawned on me. Here were three men carrying away our first ever material possession bought together and I really didn’t care. The couch had truly moved on to the freecyclers music room.

When we bought the couch five and half years ago, I never imagined me where I am today. I really don’t know what I thought I was going to be in five and half years. A wife, yes. A mother, yes. But there were no textures. It was all a dreamy, hazy blur. I definitely got more than what I bargained for in some ways, less in other. But such is life. And as we settled down on the couch yesterday, me, BigGeek, my mom and Chip, a thought crossed my mind. Where would I find this couch and where would the couch find me five and a half years from now?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tagged - What Women Want

The inimitable Parul has dared me. So here it is.

1.How do you feel after a one night stand?
Quite Yogic.

2. Do you ever get used to wearing a thong?
What’s a thong?

3. Does it hurt?
Then I am glad I don’t know what it is :-)

4. Do you know when you are acting crazy?
No. But helpful people often point that out.

5. Does size really matter?
Bank Account, Portfolio, yes.

6. When the bill comes are you still a feminist?
Absolutely not. What century are you living in?

7. Why do you take so long to get ready?
Huh? Time is relative. Go read your Einstein while I do my hair.

8. Do you watch porn, too?
Is it rated PG-13 now? I thought that wouldn’t happen for another 20 years at least.

9. Will something from Tiffany's solve everything?
Hmmm. Yes. Coupled with something from Burberry’s. Throw in a Chanel while you are at it. Let those be your magic words.

10. Are guys as big of a mystery to you as you are to us?
Yes, you are actually. For instance we can never figure out why you need the new XBOX 360 or the Wii when you have played on the old one six times in the last 3 years. Or why you need to have 3 drawers full of cables. Or why you need to make a trip to Microcenter and Radioshack everyweek. Or why you have 16000 drill bits.

11. Why do you sometimes think you look fat?
The mirror turns on us, sometimes. And the answer is No. Always.

12. Why are you always late?
You are early.

13. Does it bother you when we scratch?
Nope. But it sure makes for a hilarious sight watching your 2 yr old toddler imitate you unwittingly.

14. Do you wish you could pee standing up?
Will it make you feel better if we say so?

15. Why do so many women cut their hair short as soon as they get married?
To give company to your balding pate.

16. How often do you think about sex?
Male or Female?

17. What do you think of women who sleep with guys on the first date?
Old fashioned.

18. Would you?
Would I what?

19. Do you realize every guy wants a girl just like his mom?
Then why do you look at our moms to determine how we will look 25 years hence? Huh?

20. Why does every woman think she can change him?
We don’t just think we can, we do :-)

21. Does it matter what car I drive?
As long as it doesn’t mess my hair and you don’t talk about it nineteen to a dozen.

22. Do you ever fart?
Only in obnoxious company. Otherwise only with my brain.

So who should I pass this on to? Hmm? CeeKay, Boo, Moppet's mom. Your turn now.

Edited: answer to Q10.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sixty and Counting

My Dad turns 60 today. Which means he has seen 720 moons. Full moons that is. And Roughly. This figure has not been corrected for leap years, cloudy nights or the evenings when my Dad simply did not want to go see the moon. But you get my idea. Anyhoo. In my family, we always say that my Dad arrived from another planet. There is no doubt about that. Some, actually many, say he came from the Planet of Saints or the Planet of Highly Ethical and Moral Beings (this planet is very sparsely populated) or the Federation of the Extremely Patient Souls (I think he was the sole occupant of that one). Are you shaking your heads and are saying, Naah? These planets don’t really exist? Well, they must. Which other person, in his boyhood would brink back veggies for dinner on the way home from school with the few paisa his mother gave him for a treat in the school canteen? Or never break a teacup or volunteer to put his baby brother down for a nap or pacify the said younger brother when he demanded fancy firecrackers which was an ill-afforded luxury at that point? Certainly not someone from this planet. No way.

But such is the old Dad. No pun intended. And I have known him for more than half of his life now. Wow. That’s a milestone for me too. So let’s trace back some father daughter history and marvel how on earth he managed to retain those four strands of hair on his head.

Age 4: Wow. My Dad knows everything there is to know.

Age 7: My Dad is never wrong.

Age 10: Those who disagree with him are complete loosers. Then again, he might not know everything there is to know. The world is huge.

Age 14: I can’t believe the man in that mismatched outfit is my Dad.

Age 17: He just doesn’t understand ANYTHING.

Age 20: He is such a looser. He needs a life.

Age 24: It’s amazing how much he has grown in the past few years. He actually understands what I say.

Age 27: He is an alright bloke, really.

Age 30: Hmm.. let me send him an email about what he thinks of this.

Age 32: What would he do? Let me talk to him before I decide anything.

So there. We are coming to a full circle! Happy, Birthday Baba. We plan to embarrass you with an obscenely huge party when you visit us over the Christmas Holidays.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Man on the Moon

“Aie, I want to bas (sit) on moon.” Chip declares in his Minglish from his vantage point. The mother, Chip and I are returning home after getting Chip’s mop trimmed to civilized standards. It is only six in the evening, but it is already quite dark and Chip, has been following the glowing crescent in the sky as we head home. Every time Chip sees the moon, he wants to sit on it. This has been happening for a few months now. The first time he said it, I was overcome with joy. My son, the astronaut. Going to the moon and mars and beyond. Thrilling.

But then, when this started to happen several times every evening, the novelty soon faded and I tried to make deals with him for a trip to the moon. “You want to go on the moon, Chip?” I would ask. “Yes.” He would reply. “Then, you have to stop crying when you go to school. They don’t allow crying kids on the moon.” He would cry, in the morning anyway, telling me he did not want the school and he did not want to sit on the moon. “You want to go on the moon, Chip?” I would ask later in the evening. “Yes.” He would reply. “Then, you have to stop doing poo-poo in the diapers. They don’t have diapers on moon.” But he would still do poo-poo in his diapers and repeat “No, diapee on moon, Aie?” When I finally realized, my tactic was not working very well, I decided to tell him the truth. . “You want to go on the moon, Chip?” I asked. “Yes.” Chip replied. “Then you have to go to the school, then to college, then to NASA and then you can go to the moon.”

When chip mentions the moon on quiet evenings like these, I inevitably remember the incident I have been trying so hard to forget. Chip’s fascination with the moon can border on the slightly loony. Well, sometimes anyway, if not always. This summer, the mother, the father, Chip and I went to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. This was Chip’s first trip and he was fascinated with the airplanes. After having examined them in detail, we went down to see the space flights, among them the mighty Space Shuttle. I told Chip this airplane went to the moon.* That was a mistake. A huge mistake. Chip darted towards the massive Space Shuttle. Following his heels, I managed to grab him just as he was about to dive under the barricade. “Chip, not this airplane, but airplanes like this can take you to the moon.” I chided. But he would not hear of it. He wrestled with me and threw a full blown tantrum, turning heads as he loudly proclaimed in broken English, “I want moon, I want airplane moon.” My mother and I tried to pacify him, he was so hell bent on going inside the space shuttle, I decided to take him home while my parents enjoyed the museum in peace. While we were sorting our things amidst Chip’s angry mayhem, my mother, what in hindsight would turn out to be another mistake, gave him his little toy car in the hope of pacifying him. But the furious Chip, took the car and hurled it with full force at the Space Shuttle. I completely froze as I saw the little piece of metal flying towards the prized shuttle. Fortunately, the car missed the shuttle and the bystanders. I apologized to whoever was in sight and ran with the screaming toddler out of the museum.

He has grown up since that incident. Has mellowed down a bit. Is open to reason. “How do you get to the moon, Chip?” I am asking him as we speed down the dark road. “Shalaa (school), college, NASA, mag(then) moon.” He replies in a pat. It’s a long road, but he doesn’t know that yet.

*aside: When I narrated this incident to BigGeek that day, he stared at me in horror. Only to say this in his supreme geekiness, “You told him the Space Shuttle goes to the moon? You know it goes only to the International Space Station, don't you? Now only if they could find a way to build an elevator from here to the space station, space flights to the moon would require much less energy. You should read Fountains of Paradise in which Clarke…..”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ties that Bind

Sujatha of Blogpourri sent this article (Return to India: One family’s journey to America and back) by Shobha Narayan my way a few days ago. She has, since then also put it on her website. The article is a little long, but makes for an interesting read. I have caught Shoba’s columns over at Livemint now and then, so this article was read with much interest. After all, decisions like the one she made cannot be easy and I was curious to the thought process behind it. She traced her past in the article–her days as a student, a young wife and a mother and the transformation each stage of life brought in her perspective. It’s an interesting read even if I fail to understand or rather fail to empathize many of her arguments of wanting to return to India. Like- Americans eat sweet foods for breakfast and Desis eat savory. But I should not judge personal statements like these. Each one of us has our own perspective that feels just right. Our little rights and wrongs. We all have our priorities. Little things like these do matter. They do matter intensely to many, many others, even if they don’t matter much to me. So, moving on to what I thought was a much bigger issue in her article.

Shoba, while narrating her days as a new mother, says that the arrival of her first child (a daughter) changed her perspective dramatically. She found it hard to raise a well-adjusted child that would thrive equally well in the Indian culture at home and the American culture once she stepped outside the front door. The fact that her daughter would always be more at home in the American way of life bothered her. For Shoba, India was much, much closer to her heart than the US and understandably so. She toyed with the idea of returning to India and did throw it at her husband on occasion. Despite these doubts, she decided to become a U.S. citizen. And that peeves me.

Now, I don’t mean to sound all holier-than-thou, but I do take citizenships seriously. If you swear to owe allegiance to a country you better mean it. You have no choice when you are born a citizen of country X. That’s fate. But if you jump many hoops – visas, green card and such - to acquire citizenship of another country, you better think twice if your heart is indeed in it. It has to be a package deal. You cannot want to be a U.S. citizen simply because having a U.S. passport makes travel hassle-free. Or simply as a fall back incase you decide to live elsewhere (then why acquire citizenship if you have no desire of living here?) There have to be better reasons if you are going to be a citizen. You cannot be a citizen and criticize the American people with a “these people have no ___ [insert suitable anything].” Because you are one of them now. “These people” must turn into “We people.” Because now, you are Americans of Indian origin.

But people are complex and their emotions even more. So, yes, it is possible the citizenship was acquired with a different mindset which a decade later has changed dramatically. Yes, that’s possible. It’s possible to feel the tug of your ex-motherland and the intense desire to go back. Yes, that’s possible. So, what would an ethically minded person do in such a scenario? Go back to the ex-mother land, become its citizen once again. Citizenship is not a status symbol. How would you (assuming you are an Indian citizen) feel if some poor bloke from a tin-pot country came to India, made boatloads of money and became successful simply because India offered more opportunities than his own country did, criticized India and Indians incessantly as “them”, refused to assimilate, guarded his culture with an esoteric fervor, told his children to stay away from Indian culture and became a citizen only for “economic” reasons. How would you feel then?

Citizenships are the legal ties that bind. And should only follow once you are sufficiently invested in a country- her culture, her polity, her problems, her successes. I am amazed that people don’t take these things seriously. Or am I turning into an overreacting-over-the-board-jingoist fool?

Edited to add: Kodi's mom presents a nice view in the comments section. Do read.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy Diwali

I am in the weeds. Diwali is knocking loudly on the door and I am so behind everything. Last night BigGeek went down to our crawl space after dinner and got out the holiday lights. I strung lights on our hedge while BigGeek strung icicle lights on our eaves and then he connected all the wires and the timer and everything else. Chip kept saying he wanted to stay out for the night and not come home and to prove he meant it, got his truck and tried to ride it on the very, very dark and cold street. Do this boy know no fear? He got a time out for that and while being timed out, he found a few gold fish crackers in our camp chairs and ate them. So he got a time out within a timeout for doing that and he was not pleased. So he grabbed the bottle of concentrated car wash and poured it into the candle that had lit my Halloween pumpkin a few days ago. After sniffing his breath to make sure he hadn’t had a swig of the blue soap, he got a swat on the bottom and was taken inside to be put to bed. It was too late to make (baked) karanjis and chivda for today, so we had to contend with (baked) chakli and walnut-date laddoos this morning.

I had planned a nice foodie picture - all the fat-free Diwali goodies and a lamp and everything, but I guess that has to wait until the weekend and I hope we don’t gobble up the goodies by then. Add to the goodies chore is the fact I haven’t shopped at all for Diwali. I ordered some lacing beads and a doctor playset for Chip for Diwali but yet have to get something for all our friends and their kids who total to many, many people. And asking BigGeek for ideas does not help. He always gives me a “Oh. You will think of something. You always do.” Does he know how much work that is? Does he know? Does he? And I haven’t got anything for BigGeek. And he hasn’t gotten anything for me. Yet. BigGeek has always been exceptionally good at every Diwali (the Padwa) gifts. It has always been a very tasteful piece of jewelry. Always a wonderful surprise. But there is only so much jewelry you can buy and he hasn’t asked me what I want. Yet. (Is a knee length Burberry trench a bit much? I threw the word at him this morning and was met with a grunt) He has tried to get away this year saying his blood work (which came back nice) was a Diwali gift, but I ain’t buying it. So this is our Diwali update. Hope you all and all your loved ones are enjoying this delightful holiday. Happy Diwali and have a fanatabulous New Year.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I have nothing to read. I have opened my book shelves and peered into their musty darkness, opened the bedside tables and rummaged around to see if a book was hiding itself. I have logged on to the Public Library Catalog and found nothing. Nothing at all. The minute BigGeek reads this, two words in font size 36 and font-weight bold are going to come to his mind. Liar’s Poker. He has been badgering me to read it - he finished it while convalescing – and I haven’t – haven’t convalesced and haven’t read it. Do ask me why. Because the reasons are quite complex and well, somewhat weird.

I crave books the way someone craves food. Remember that Tuesday when you wanted to eat the spicy Green Curry at that little hole in wall Thai restaurant? No other Green Curry quite does it then. Or the time when you simply had to have those itsy bitsy truffles at the fancy grocery store? Or the time, when you taste buds craved *something* but none of the familiar foods even came close to describing what you really wanted to eat? Ever felt that way? I feel the same way about books. If I want to read some thing like H2G2, P.G.Wodehouse won’t cut it. Right now, I don’t feel like reading Liar’s Poker. Or Dune. Or any Larry Niven. Or… Many weeks ago, I started to read Naipual’s Bend in the River, but got sidetracked and the book has since been cast away. And I have a terrible record to trying to read cast-away books. There is Swann’s Way lying somewhere – the last I saw it was when Chip would open it everyday and try to read from it and the hounded me to tell him the story.

But I don’t feel like Naipual or Proust. All I want to read is something that is pleasant, a little amusing, no make that very amusing, laugh out loud insightful, nice prose, not very long, but not a novella or a bunch of short stories – they would just seem very unsatisfying right about now. Something with a touch of sci-fi or exotic history or both. Something a little familiar, but obviously something new. Definitely fiction, hopefully literary. I want the print version of going to a familiar and much loved restaurant and finding a new dish on the menu that sounds interesting and when you taste it, you go – “Ahhhh. This is heaven.”

So, tell me what are you reading? I want to borrow it. That is if it fits into the not-so-fine-print stated above!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Not Sew Easy

For all the other wonderful things I am, I am not a seamstress. I have a hard time fixing a loose button, or sewing over lose seams or hemming pretty dinner napkins. Just can’t do it. This may not seem much of deal really, but it is a huge irony. My grandmother, had she been born some sixty years after she did would have been a fashion designer. Her cutting and swing skills are hard to match. Not to mention the embroidery. She has painstakingly made tapestry like “paintings” - embroidering with single stands of silk floss to that reflect detailed scenes of a family of tigers in the jungle and another idyllic scene with peacocks. She went on to opening a small boutique with her daughter in law. Then comes the mother who, if they had college degrees for tatting and crocheting would have earned multiple Phd.s. She is constantly giving me elaborate table runners and coasters made in such detail, it would require an electron microscope to truly appreciate all the intricacy. I obviously am very scared of using them and have been thinking of framing and putting them up.

So, on that background, I am a complete looser. I remember almost four years ago, overcome by motherly intentions, when my best friend was having a baby, I decided to get a sewing machine. I wanted a simple one. The one that could, well, stitch and was powered electrically. Singer, perhaps? I mean weren’t they the only guys that made sewing machines? No, I think Brother made them too. BigGeek said, Husqvarna. Husq-what? I hadn’t even heard of the name. It must have been a well guarded secret that they knew only in underground sewing circles. How the hell did BigGeek know it?

So, off we went to look at sewing machines. Every store we went to, there was utter sexism at work. All the store associates would come up to me and try and sell me a particular machine using words like, tension, bobbin, stitch length, auto-fix, foot. And then, with one tongue firmly in cheek I would explain to them, I had no idea how to sew, my husband would be using the machine more than I would. On hearing that some salespeople would slip away, the braver ones would try and sell the machine to BigGeek.

So, in the end, days after days going to the big box stores and sewing equipment boutiques and cellars, BigGeek decided to shell big bucks and buy the Husqvarna, despite my many protests. We went home with the beauty; I went to a fabric store the next day to buy some fabric to make cushion covers which turned out to be totally lousy. In my utter exhilaration, I ordered yards and yard of fabric – red fleece, green flannel with cute clowns, blue and white polka dots, green cotton with turtles on it and batting; I had just discovered batting and was thrilled to throw such words around – you know, oh I ordered a couple of yards of batting. Polyester or cotton? Someone-who-obviously-knew-more-about-batting would ask me There. Just when I thought I was a step away from the underground sewing circles, they throw this at me.

And so the days passed. My friend had her baby, I gave her a store bought layette because there simply aren’t patterns even for newborns that don’t involve stitching around a curve. Yeah, I am that bad. And then I became pregnant, and I secretly hoped it would be a girl. Simply because I had seen a pattern for a strappy, summery toddler dress that involved stitching only in straight lines. I had no courage to even attempt to sew a romper or a pajama if it turned out to be a boy. The fabrics I bought stayed at the bottom of the linen closet. I had only sewed a pair of curtains for the nursery and a covers for two chairs. I tried to do a baby blanket complete with batting for another friend with the help of visiting SIL, but she gave me the third degree because my straight stitches were too wiggly and she made me rip them again and again till I got it right. In the end, she ended up sewing the blanket, but we ran out of ribbon to do the edging and the blanket has been languishing with the fabrics at the bottom of the closet.

But all that has changed now. When I was complaining this weekend to the MIL about how expensive Chip’s pajamas were here and how he goes through 2 of them everyday, I remembered the green flannel with clowns on it. Can we turn them into pajamas? I asked the MIL. Pajamas are the easiest things in the world, she told me. I want to learn, I want to learn. I said, not jumping up and down. So she cut one, while I cut the other, she sewed one while I sewed the other. The result was quite pleasing – the MIL’s pajama fit better than mine, but Chip isn’t complaining.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Spell Bound

Halloween has come and gone, a great deal of posts written about it, and most, much to my surprise not quite pro-Halloween. And the reasons range from candy excess to the will-be-worn-only-once costume expense, knocking on people’s doors, even the odd post how the modern day Halloween has strayed away from its original intentions. All quite valid concerns, but in my opinion, very much misplaced. Let’s take them one by one.

Candy Excess: This also falls under childhood obesity, tooth problems. But it doesn’t have to be too much candy. When Chip went trick or treating this year, I told him he could get only one candy from each house. As soon as the door opened, he would say “Trick or Treat” or “Happy Halloween” and caution the gentleman/lady with an “Only one candy” when they offered him the bowl. I saw many kids grab candy by the handfuls while their parents watched on and didn’t say a word. The parents can set limits and should. And more importantly, if sweet things are a problem, every holiday and festivity needs to be altered since they are all celebrated with sweets, no point in singling out Halloween.

The Costume: Costumes can be found from $1 to $100. I have bought a costume for Chip from the dollar store when he was a baby (a ladybug). Last year his costume (a devil) cost $10, this year (the scarecrow) cost $15. I look at it as going to the petting zoo or Starbucks. You don’t really need to spend $10-$15 to see cows and sheep and pigs for a couple hours, but it can be a lot of fun. Just like the $6 Venti caramel macchiato. You can go without it, but you can indulge once in a while and it does taste really good even if it over in 15 minutes. Many people do costume swaps, wear hand me downs. For those in the US, try Also, you can craft costumes at home from a couple of boxes, trash bags, toilet paper, bed sheets. Just go online and you can find a bunch of ideas. You don’t have to spend a fortune. And even if you do, the costume will be worn many times during dress up and play. At least those who are 5 and above, the costume is worn 20 times before Halloween and will give some amusement on snowy/rainy weekends.

Knocking on Strange doors: Many people are not comfortable doing that? Apparently. And I don’t understand why. If there is a pumpkin at the door, trick-or-treaters are welcome. And if you are scared (and not just in the Halloween way) at who lives in the house on your street, you have more problems on your hand than just Halloween. I look at this as a great way to overcome shyness. I used to be a shy child and Chip can be too, so this is a great exercise for us. The costume and the lure of the candy gives courage. The lines are the same everywhere, so no ice-breakers needed. You say please and thankyous, learn to wait your turn if there are a bunch of kids at the door, learn to compliment the house owners on the fab decorations.

Straying away from Halloween’s Origins: It was a festival to honor the dead – the day before All Saints Day. And you can still honor the dead if you want. Tell your children about how it originated. Trace its history. It can be a fun lesson. No reason to not go trick or treating later in the evening!

As as you can tell, I like Halloween. This year a scarecrow, a mermaid and a tinker bell chaperoned by a corporate witch and a lady vampire went trick or treating. And what a treat it was. We saw giant spiders, intricately carved pumpkins, happy ghosts swaying in the wind, went into strobe lit caves with scary noises and skulls and bones and monsters, bumped into skeletons and bats. And we met such interesting characters on the way. A small Darth vader, one batman and riddler, two princesses, a knight, a confederate soldier, a ghoul, a mummy, a cat and another tinkerbell with lights in her wings. A truly magical night it was. And later, after the tired but excited scarecrow and the corporate witch got home, two very cute princesses knocked on our door, curtsied and commented on how nice the decorations were, took a candy each and left.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Parting Shot

It was the second time this week Chip pulled this maneuver successfully. It’s a simple tactic on the face of it. But it takes a man of undaunting sprit with a fearless desire to take on extreme challenges despite prior knowledge of dreadful consequences in its wake. Or, a two year old. The first time Chip pulled his toddler version of the shock and awe, his poor, unsuspecting grandmother was yes, shocked and indeed awed and she gave Chip a sound earful, which given her rather gentle and soft voice, did not do much do discourage Chip. So, he tried it again on his very suspecting mother last night.

The notoriously difficult to potty train Chip has been doing pretty good the past few days, and that meant mostly whispering his intent to answer the nature’s call, grown-up in earshot or not. Yesterday I was within the hearing range of the said murmur. Elated, we proceeded upstairs to “his” bathroom amidst joyous chorus of “Chip is a big boy”, “Wow. Chip just told me had to go do poo-poo” – you know the step right before you start garlanding him and lying prostrate in his path to seek blessings.

The call having been answered and the news conveyed over the (toy) phone sitting on the potty to the ‘other’ grandmom, Elmo, neighbor’s dog, the moon, the shower head, the lion on the shower curtain, his sundry friends and the new school, we were ready to wrap it up. Now, we are the green sort of people and try not to use paper where water can be used. So while I was filling ‘the’ every-desi-household-has-one plastic mug, Chip ran away. Before I realized what had happened, he was in the guest bedroom, across the hall standing on his grandmother’s bed. Panic reigned. “Get down now!” I thundered in my most ominous voice. “Now. Get down.” Chip was obviously having too much fun. I stepped into the room to grab him but like a well-oiled monkey he jumped away to the far corner of the bed and sat on his haunches. The bed a mere half an inch away from his tushie. Taking cover of the shadows, I slithered behind him and picked him up to carry him to the bathroom, but my poopy samurai would still not concede defeat. In one swift move he was back on the floor amidst my high pitched screams blurting every threat known to mankind. That had its effect. Chip froze. Time stood still. And then Chip did the unthinkable. He stuck two fingers of both his hands in the place where the sun don’t shine. Half-dragging him to the bathroom to clean him up, I said, “You are getting a swat on the bottom for this. Wait till you have washed your bottom and hands.”

Tush and hands cleaned, bottom swatted, eyes filled with tears and the tiny yet powerful voicebox emitting loud protests, I sat him down. “Why do you do these things Chip?” I asked in my most motherly voice. “Are you out of your mind?” I said tapping his head. Chip peered into the semi-darkness. Twinkle had returned to his waterlogged eyes. “Aie,” he said throwing his arms around me, plopping in my lap and tapping his own head, “Ithe batate (potatoes here).”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkinville 2007

The local petting zoo hosts a pumpkinville every year. Free Apples, free cider, free popcorn.

And as you can tell, I am out of ideas to post.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Babel On

So yesterday, BigGeek, the MIL, Chip and the exalted self were getting a family oil change. The cars. Not us. The onboard computer showed 5% oil life (isn’t this like a video game?), so a magic potion had to be sought with haste before we could reach the next level and beat all the bad devils of chores and get the reward – a nice Sunday afternoon spent napping. So at noon, feeling victorious after completing round one of errands, the foursome piled into a nearby Merchant’s armed with a coupon and what not, battled our way as the slick manager tried to sell us a $150 fantastic-new-service-without-which-your-car-will-not-make-another-mile.

And so it began. Not a big fan of oil changes, the MIL and self were trying to sneak out by ourselves to buy some tablecloths and other boring household items, leaving Chip with his dad and a store full of tires and extraordinary auto-equipment. But BigGeek would not hear about it. So while we fought over the merits of me taking Chip to a home store yet again, vs. Chip staying back to get a glimpse of the fantastic and hitherto unknown world of auto-maintenance and magical gadgetry, Chip wandered away to survey the wheel bases hung on the walls and to try and pull a few down to roll or climb them. Since Chip’s parents were fiercely raging a debate at the time, the manager took it upon himself and told Chip sternly he could not touch the wheels lest they fall on him. Chip, was obviously not happy with that and he is too well-bred to throw a tantrum on a complete stranger. He held himself (proud of you, son). But as soon as the manager turned his back and walked away, Chip could be heard saying, behind the manager’s back – “You be nice, you be nice, now!”

The horror. When will the boy learn to fear authority?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


You know you dwell in the virtual more than the real when today happens. There was a time when a power outage meant all life stood to a standstill. Or at least we thought so. But times have changed and we are now in the 21st century and so network outage is the new power outage. We had a complete network blackout at work today. No access to any servers, email, the net. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. So, with literally *nothing* to do for almost an hour and a half, I decided to make a trip to the restrooms. As I stepped into the stall and I will spare you kind readers the details of the trip, a thought crept into the aging mind. With the complete network outage, how will the flush work?