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.