Friday, February 29, 2008

Top Ten Countdown

Courtsey Juxtaposition.

10 things you wish you could say to people right now (don't list names)
1. Stop being so shifty when you talk to me.
2. Do you know my brain is turning into a sponge here?
3. Please don’t ask me why I am not having another kid.
4. Will you call me when you say you will?
5. I can’t believe I am not going to see you for three weeks.
6. Thank god I don’t have to see you for three weeks.
7. It just is going to be you and me for three weeks.
8. Does it actually hurt to be nice to other people?
9. I need a raise.
10. Never mind, I’ll do it myself

9 Things About Yourself
1. I have a fondness for blue cheese.
2. I plan to pull out the junipers in our front yard this summer.
3. I like 80’s pop. Culture Club, Duran Duran. But I am usually embarrassed to admit that.
4. I cannot step out of the house without some makeup.
5. I am afraid of heights.
6. Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring always brings tears to my eyes.
7. I am a libertarian. No pinko socialist c*** for me thankyouverymuch.
8. I fret. And worry.
9. I am trying to find my faith.

8 Ways To Win Your Heart
1. Be nice to everybody.
2. Laugh with me and make me laugh.
3. Be assertive.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
5. Be philosophical.
6. Be a warrior inside.
7. Have a passion.
8. Be rich ;-)

7 Things That Cross Your Mind A Lot
1. Will BigGeek be OK?
2. Will BigGeek be OK?
3. Will BigGeek be OK?
4. Will BigGeek be OK?
5. Will BigGeek be OK?
6. Will BigGeek be OK?
7. Will BigGeek be OK?

6 Things You Wish You Never Did
1. Fret.
2. Bite my nails.
3. Go on frequent guilt trips.
4. Cry.
5. Be unreasonable.
6. Compromise

5 Turn-Off's
1. No imagination.
2. Dishonesty.
3. Lack of common courtesies.
4. No desire to learn.
5. Shallow.

4 Turn-On's
1. Good conversationalist.
2. Renaissance Man.
3. Twinkling eyes.
4. Enthusiastic.

3 Things You Want To Do Before You Die
1. Run a ten miler or a half marathon
2. Get Rich
3. Be Happy.

2 Smileys that Describe You
1. :-P
2. ;-)

1 Confession
I lie.

Passing it to noon, Preethi and moppet's mom

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's in a name?

A very long time ago, inside a parked car in a dark parking lot, listening to Jethro Tull’s Dot Com, I asked BigGeek if he would like me to change my last name after we were married. It was not a trick question. And no matter what the answer, I wasn’t planning on “reconsidering” my engagement to him. I just wanted to know. That’s all.

In my teens, I had an opinion about the issue. A rather strong opinion. I would absolutely not want to change my last name after I got married. I would say categorically. It was a question of my identity. A part of who I am and all that humbug. Someone pointed out helpfully, that I would be keeping my father’s name anyways. So it was just as patriarchal. I would have to switch to my mother’s maiden name and she to her mother’s maiden name and so on until we ran out of last names or ancestors or both. It was obviously not a workable idea. So, a few days later I had another brainwave. Forget the past, look to the future. How about if daughters inherit their mother’s last name and son’s their father’s? That would work out rather nicely. Surprisingly though, I did not find much support for the idea back then, but I still think is a terrific idea. Or how about husband’s taking on the wife’s last name? That trend seems to be catching on quite nicely in Europe. I am a big fan of a single family name. It’s just so cohesive and unmessy. No hyphens, no long lastnames. No spending an eternity trying to spell them to some dumb schmuck on the phone. Which last name to take would be one of the many things under discussion when talking marriage. Or just choose a third name. Altogether different. Well maybe not that one. Because it might just be so hard to trace the family roots back if one wanted to. But it’s a good idea nevertheless.

In the dark car, BigGeek pondered over the question. “It’s not a trick question.” I said. “OK. I’d like you to change your name.” “On a scale of 1-10, how important is this to you?” I wasn’t letting go. Not just yet. “Give to me straight. The truth.” “An eight”, he said. An eight??? An eight? That’s pretty high. “I had no idea it would be this important to you.” I was amused and surprised. “It’s very primitive. The instinct is very primitive. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to. I know it’s unreasonable.” I didn’t care. Last names didn’t mean much to me. “No, I’ll change it if it means so much to you. I don’t care. But when we have a child, I would like s/he to have my maiden name as a middle name. Deal?” He nodded. And the song ended and so did the conversation.

I did change my name. I was filled with trepidation because it seemed like a monstrous task. Changing my name on every piece of financial document would not be easy. But I was surprised. When I called my bank, my credit cards, my HR department, the mortgage company, social security, passport they all changed the name without asking for a shred of evidence. Ok, not all.. The social security and passport needed a copy of the marriage license. But it was quite painless, even though it took a year until most of my documents were reissued to me in my new name. I changed my name almost two years after we were married. When I was expecting Chip. Do I regret it? Not one bit. And I would be just as happy if many years from now, Chip were to come up to me and tell me he was going to take his wife’s last name. Because, what’s in a name?

Monday, February 25, 2008


I think I was fleeced this weekend. Royally, royally fleeced. My car needed an oil change. So Chip and I hopped over to the local Express Lube. I go there quite often, if I have to get an oil change done by myself. It’s really close, wait times are not bad at all and unlike the reputation these places have, they seldom recommend crazy things to be done to the car. Since BigGeek is not in town, Chip and I traipsed down to the oil change store. It was of course a visual treat for Chip who was enthralled by the pneumatic drills and screwdrivers. People working under the car, hoods popped open and general gadgetry and grime. He ate lunch in the waiting area and then we went outside as my car was pulled into the bay. It had been about 20 minutes since we got there. “Not bad.” I thought. Another 20 minutes and we will be out of here.

Ten minutes later the mechanic beckoned me. He stuck a grimy finger in my car’s hood and brought an oil covered finger for me to inspect. “See how black it is? It needs to be clean.” He showed me clean, green oil. “What is it?” I asked. “It’s steering wheel fluid. Your car has 30,000 miles on it. You need to change it every 30,000 miles.” Hmmm. I do drive more than 250 miles a week. I thought. You gotta take good care of the car. Don’t want it breaking down. “Ok.” I said. “How much will it cost?” “Sixty Four nine-nine.” I told him to give me new steering wheel fluid.

Ten minutes later, the mechanic beckoned me again. “You are out of coolant.” He said. How could I be out of coolant? The computer in my car would have told me I was out of coolant. I thought. “You need to flush the coolant once every year.” “How could I be out of coolant?” I asked him. “Take a look.” True enough the blue coolant was scraping the bottom of the radiator. But my car hadn’t overheated. I could just drive up to Walmart or Automax and get some coolant, no? And pour it in. I have done it before. But then again. I drive more than 250 miles a week. I thought. You gotta take good care of the car. Don’t want it breaking down. “Ok.” I said. “How much will it cost?” “Seventy Four nine-nine” Is that how much coolant really cost? I didn’t remember. I thought coolant was just water and alcohol. May be I was mistaken. What with these new fangled engines and cooling and injection systems. It’s just so complicated. Our old rickety fiat was so easy to understand. Nobody could pull wool over my eyes with that one. Or even simpler? The Luna I had in college. Anybody ever drive a Luna? I always joked its engine was as big has a box of Laxmi brand asafetida (no kidding, it was really that small). Heck, our lawn mower has more horsepower than that one. And it broke down so often. The Luna. Not the lawn mower (that’s a Honda. It will never breakdown). At one point, the Luna’s spark plug would refuse to ignite when the engine was turned off for some time. Even with a brand new sparkplug. No idea why. But I carried a spanner and sandpaper in my book bag. Every time before I would kick start the lil beast, I would unscrew the spark plug, sand it down a bit with the sand paper, screw it back in and kick start. And it would start just fine. Simple engines. Simple times. Simple lives.

But to the coolant. “OK.” I said warily. “Flush the coolant.” But I was uncomfortable. It just didn’t sound right. I tried calling BigGeek, but he was asleep in a different time zone and his cell phone was switched off. I called a friend and explained what had just happened. “You think I got conned?” I asked him. “It’s too late anyways.. They are changing the fluid as I am talking to you.” He laughed. “Maybe you did. “ He said. coolants don’t drain out like that. If they did, it would be a leak.” That made sense. But it was too late. The deed was done. I was left holding a $200 receipt. Later that evening, I recounted the events. “Did I get conned?” “Yes you did.” BigGeek doesn’t mince words. “What should I have done? I know. I should have told him to just change the oil. I could have come back for the other stuff. Sigh. Sigh.” I was wringing my hands over the $200. “What should I have done?” BigGeek was laughing. “You should have read the manual.” Dang. I knew it. I should have Read That F***ing Manual. RTFM. The secret code Geeks live by. And also the secret weapon they assault us mere mortals by.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Everything But Water

“Let’s go for a bath Chip.” I am trying to hurry Chip. It’s already past 7:00 in the evening and Chip hasn’t even had his bath. “No, I don’t want a bath Aie.” “Oh, come on. Let’s put some pink bubble bath in it today. Yes?” “No.” This has been happening for a couple of months now. Chip simply does not want baths or showers. “Don’t you want to wear your clown pajamas?” His eyes light up. “Yes. Blue clown shirt, Green clown pant.” He stretches his arms and lets me take off his stinky clothes. “Alright, Aie. I am done. Bath is over. All done.” “WHAT? You haven’t even got your foot inside the tub.” Chip crosses his arms and doesn’t budge.

I can’t believe this is happening. Chip was born with a distaste for baths. Thank god I didn’t spend a dime on the baby tub. His tub was a nice hand me down and I bought a nice sponge insert for it, but Chip, being Chip, hated it all. The whole routine. He would wince when my mom or I massaged him. Or fuss. He would cry so hard, we fell back to sponging him twice everyday. But after a couple of days, Chip stank of milk and spit-up and poopoo and the sponging plan was scrapped and daily baths with soap like a proper Indian were reinstated. Much to my mother’s relief. He was an Indian baby after all. He had to be bathed daily. Even if Chip hated them. His cries were so loud that it would be hard for my mom and me to talk to each other. And they would continue. While getting into the bath. The first several minutes. Then getting out. Then while applying lotion. Then while diapering and putting on clothes. The only time he stayed quiet was in the middle of his bath. But he would look terrified and would clench his whole body with nervous apprehension. Eventually, we ended up wrapping him in a cotton blanket before putting him in the bathtub. And that seemed to relax him. And the hairdryer. For the longest time that was our brahmastra. Set to high, the hairdryer’s whitenoise would magically calm him down. So BigGeek would follow me and my mom and Chip with the hairdryer above our heads for the entire bath routine. It looked so comical, we even repurposed a cheesy slogan for it – Raja Babu Ki Jai (from the movie Raja Babu we had watched at the time). And to prove how insane we were, we also recorded the entire drama on video. But over the months he, thankfully, grew to like his baths and by the time he was a year old, every summer evening was spent on the back lawn in the company of sprinklers. And then later with trips to the local pool.

So, when Chip started to resist baths a few months ago, I was puzzled. I simply had no energy for the “Raja Babu” time yet again, but the scatterbrained woman that I am, I never asked him what had changed. But I got the answer. Yesterday. Without asking. I convince him to get into the bathtub and he is enjoying his bath. I point to his right hand and ask what the stamp-du-jour is. The stamp he gets everyday at school is the highlight of his day. (Oh! the things preschool teachers have to come up with to amuse these kids). He looks at me in utter panic. “Oh my god Aie. My stamp will go away. Give me a towel. Wipe it quick. Wipe it! Its wet!” “Its OK Chip. You will get another one tomorrow.” I try to soothe him. “That’s why I don’t like baths. I get my hand wet and then the stamp goes away.” Ah. That’s WHY.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Girl's Best Friends

That’s how the Marilyn Monroe cliché goes anyway. About diamonds. To me, they may not be the best friends, but they do make for some good friends. Some really, really good friends. That being said, let me confess. I am crazy about diamonds. I remember the exact day when these shimmering stones cast their spell over me. It was many, many years ago. In my small, dusty hometown. In the corner of a dark, narrow cobbled lane. In a little jeweler’s shop. Grimy. With mattresses strewn on the concrete floor in front of locked glass cases and hidden safes. The jeweler sitting cross legged behind his worn out, vintage desk. Propped up by rolled cushions. Pictures of gods and goddesses, bathed in cheap agarbatti smoke, on the lime washed wall, looking down on each and every transaction in what could only have been an implicit approval.

My mother and I held on to a frayed rope and climbed the steps to the jeweler gingerly, and were greeted by the large man. My mother, in hopes of getting a discount, told him her maiden name and pointed out their fathers or uncles or someone knew each other. The man, surprisingly, made the connection. Or he was a really good salesman. After sitting down on the streaked mattresses, my mother explained the job. It was a ring. For me. I was a seventeen year old tomboy, who refused to wear any jewelry but had agreed to wear a ring. Set in gold and garnets. My mother had wasted no time. And on a cool, sunny Saturday morning we sat in an auto rickshaw and went to the jeweler’s to pick the design and order the ring.

We chose the garnets, settled on a design and were about to leave, when the jeweler asked if we would like the ring set in diamonds instead. My mother shook her head. Not today, she mumbled. There really was no money for diamond rings. Just take a look at the diamonds. He persisted. I just got a shipment yesterday of some really nice ones. What’s the harm in looking? He smiled though his thick glasses. He reached in a safe under the desk and pulled out a small steel box. He opened it with yet another key and nestled inside, amidst rustling, pink paper were many exquisite diamonds. Shining coldly like a white campfire. Their brilliance took me by surprise. He was telling me to stretch out my hand. He adroitly picked a large stone with tiny pincers and placed it on my palm. A little more than two carats. He said through his tobacco stained teeth. I brought the palm close to my face and peered and was taken aback by what I saw. The stone had infinite depth. It was bottomless. You could see the shining light from within it. The more I looked, the more I was pulled by this beautiful glow that seemed to radiate from somewhere deep inside the diamond. It was hypnotic. This is what true love must feel like. I thought to myself. I stretched my palm once again, reluctantly this time and the stone went back in the little box and then to the little safe. We left the store but I could not get the diamond out of my mind. I had never seen anything like it before and gradually comprehended why so many people worshipped diamonds. I had become one of them.

And I was fortunate enough to be given diamonds. Later, by mom, when I turned twenty-five. Then BigGeek when we were engaged. Then my grand mom when I got married. Then BigGeek on an anniversary. And I have been gleeful – there is no other word – gleeful to get these stones and wear them.

And then came a movie. Blood Diamond. BigGeek and I watched it and it left a huge impact on me. The diamond trade is ugly. Who knew? I didn’t. Along the west coast of Africa, in countries that only seem to exist only in high school geography books and 120 second BBC news clips, countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia. The diamond trade thrives here. Diamonds are mined in forced labor camps, smuggled and sold, the money used to fund despotic governments who torture their own people, chop off arms of small children (so thy cannot vote when they grow up) and send able bodied men to forced labor camps and the cycle continues. Two hours later, I told BigGeek I had sworn off diamonds. The images of 6-7 year old kids with chopped arms haunted me. It could have been us. I thought. Had we had the misfortune of being born there. The next day, I looked it up, in the hope that this would be just another Hollywood creation. That things like this happen only in movies. Not in real life. But they do. Everyday.

I understand diamonds are just another commodity. Had that part of the world been rich in say, oil, they would have smuggled and traded oil or whatever other natural resources to fund their despots. But I can’t, despite rationalizations, come to buy diamonds any more. I cannot buy a diamond to wear it on my finger knowing, somewhere, someone gave up an arm for it. Literally. And then I saw the DeBeers documentary. I still love diamonds, but I refuse so buy them. There are labs that create synthetic diamonds. Not zirconia, but real diamonds. Chemically identical – carbon under pressure and heat. The diamonds are not cheap. They cost as much as mined ones, but are humane. The diamonds haven’t really come to the Zales store in your mall yet, but they should soon, if they can stand the pressure from the mined diamond lobby. Until then, I’ll bide my time and wait patiently.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saturday's Child

The kind amongst us call them spirited children. The pitiless call them overactive. But whatever nomenclature one might use, it doesn’t really change the truth about kids like Chip. They are full of energy. They are high need, high maintenance children. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Triple whammy. It is enough to make you loose your mind on most days.

I suppose I knew Chip wasn’t like other babies the minute he was born. No exaggeration. The minute he was extracted from my womb he let out a cry so loud that my ears blacked out for a second. I had never thought a newborn could cry out with such intensity. But he did. And that would be the definition of Chip in one word. Intense.

He cried intensely. Hated to be constrained. When he was a few days old, he managed to wriggle his arm out of the snugly bound blanket. Kicked furiously- at what became a daily game- when he was about three months old, at the colorful store ads draped over his rocker bar until each one was vigorously tossed to the floor. Began doing his famous tummy slide at 9 months to get down the stairs. Light sleeper. We would be literally walking on eggshells when Chip was napping. The slightest sound would wake him up. Voracious eater. Hard to pacify. Ultra sensitive and fearful of sounds. Intent observer. He looked around with such curious interest that perfect strangers in restaurants and elevators would comment on how he was drinking in everything with his eyes or joke about boring a hole if he continued to look with such intensity. He would not only identify objects in books at 10mo but would also pick the correct book from half a dozen books that contained the said object. He knew his way around the mall at 18mo, knew how to get home from three different routes from an intersection two miles away. I think every time he enters a space, he makes a mental note of the exits, furniture, rooms, layout, fixtures, contents of closets and shelves and stores them away for I don’t know what. And every once in a while he references them. In the oddest of times and places.

He also has a wicked temper and is prone to tantrums. Has a hard time sharing things and transitioning from one activity to another. Stubborn. Very, very stubborn. Always wants his own way and will struggle passionately to get what he wants. Will not accept anything without a reason. An authoritative “because I said so” never cuts with him. He needs explanations, reasons. Why. When. How. Where. All kids are like that, aren’t they? Sure. But with kids like Chip, everything is amplified. It’s just more of everything. More hugs and kisses, but also more whining and tantrums. More stubborn, more persistent. More driven. More running, more jumping, more appetite. Hard to fool. Deep belly laughs. Loud tears. Dazzling memory. Hard to please. Focused. Impatient. Affectionate. Demanding. Trying. Persistent. Exacting. Insistent. Fastidious. It’s not easy. If handling your average toddler is a roller coaster ride, this is bungee jumping.

Had this been a second child, I probably would have handled it better. Or so I always think. Simply because I would not have doubted many things about me as a mother. Everyday I fear that his teacher is going to ask for a meeting and tell me he needs to be evaluated for ADD/ADHD. While other kids sit quietly when told so without questioning, Chip doesn’t. On the one hand I feel he is blessed to have so much energy within him. But it’s frightening as hell too. Because on some days it feels like I have absolutely no influence whatsoever over him. He descends like a tempest, leaving a dreadful wake behind him. On those days I bite my tongue, give him hugs aplenty and pull out my patience. And quietly wonder what magical powers did mothers of the likes of Edison had. To have such tremendous faith in their own child and to guide them. Because, what happens if Chip never finds his calling?

Monday, February 11, 2008

From A to Z

This from Orchid.

A -Available? For a vacation, totally.
B-Best friend: BigGeek
C-Cake or Pie? Hmm..tough choice. Cake. Make that a chocolate torte. Nonononnonono. Make that pie, pecan pie. Wait a sec. it’s really cake. On the other hand, I like apple pie too. Let’s do Einee, Minee, Miney Mo. Or someone invent a PAKE or a CIE fast.
D-Drink of choice: Right now, it’s hot ginger tea.
E-Essential thing used everyday: Toothbrush and anti-wrinkle makeup.
F-Favourite colour: None. I like em all. But if I have to pick, I’ll say turquoise.
G-Gummi bears or worms: Bears. Always bears.. brings back memories my dad’s trips abroad when he brought those back, when my brother and I would excitedly open the suitcase and smell the wonderful scent of foreign lands.
H-Hometown: Small, sleepy, non-descript town in Maharashtra.
I-Indulgence: A day off.
J-January or February: February. At least the days are longer.
K-Kids and names: Chip. Technically I have only one child, but as I like to say, he is the buy one get one free variety.
L-Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. (Lenon quote)
M-Marriage date: There are two. Married to the same man. Twice. Long story.
N-Number of siblings: 1
O-Oranges or apples: Neither. I like tropical fruit. Gimme mangoes and bananas and chikoo and guava and jackfruit any day.
P-Phobias: I am afraid of heights. Cannot look down from a 3 storied building without feeling dizzy. Despite that have walked in the Great Canyon and stood at precipices when preggo in the silly hope Chip would not inherit the phobia. But he has :(
Q-Quote: The one that adorns my blog. How vain it is to sit down and write when you haven’t stood up to live – Thoreau.
R-Reason to smile: Chip – the product of our supremely flawed selves.
S-Season: Spring. Hate the winter.
T-Tag three people: choxbox, girl-next-door, cee kay
U-Unknown fact about me: There is a reason why it is unknown, you dork.
V-Vegetable you do not like: Dill.
W-Worst habit: Typos. I type too fast and then have to remind myself to proof read.
X-x-rays you have had: Dental and lung.
Y-Your favorite food: Dosa, prolly. I feel like eating it right now and it’s past my lunch hour and I haven’t had lunch. Not a good time to be asking that question.
Z-Zodiac: Taurus

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Brush, Rinse, Repeat

I don’t think Chip is alone when it comes to tooth brushing troubles. Like most toddlers, he has a love-hate relationship with the tooth brushing routine. He loves the toothpaste part which is some hard-to-know-which-fruit scented and the tooth brush is sucked dry of the said toothpaste every time and lips dutifully smacked afterwards. He hates the tooth brush part. We have tried all sorts of tooth brushes. Brushes that light up and sing a little tune after 2 minutes of brushing. Brushes with little Einsteins, with Pooh, with Elmo, with unknown generic cartoon characters. Grown up looking brushes in solid colors. Their fate has been the same. All disdained and chewed until death.

Since devious toothbrush marketing techniques were not working, I turned to facts. “Chip”, I said to him one day, “There are germs in your teeth, if we don’t take them out, they will go in your tummy and will give you a tummy ache.” It seemed to work. Tooth brushing that night and the next few nights was no struggle. Until one day. “Aie, germs in Chip’s mouth will give me tummy ache.” “That’s right, Chip.” “Will I have constipation?” “Yes, Chip.” A little explanation here. Chip is well, umm.. let’s call him anal retentive in a physical way. If he drinks more than three cups of milk, there is trouble. “Ok Aie. Let’s rinse now. No brushing.” “Why?” “Because” he explained patiently to his obviously dumb mother. “If you drink too much milk you get a tummy ache.” Huh?? Apparently, Chip had it all down with the impeccable toddler logic. Tummy ache = constipation = too much milk. There is no other way to get tummy aches.

Plan B. “Chip, you think I am lying about the germs? Come here look.” I pointed to a wisp of my hair in the washbasin. “That came out of your mouth. Chip was aghast. “Black germs?” “Not just black Chip. They come in all colors.” “Purple germs? Blue germs?” “Yes. Open your mouth. Oh my! I see a big green one there. Spit it out.” Two year olds can be so gullible. Chip was convinced about all the germs coming out of his mouth. This technique worked for quite a long time. Meaning a little more than a month. Each night we spat out germs in Technicolor. And in all shapes. Purple rectangle germs – the most deadly, followed by green circle germs that lived in the molars and the red ones that took a long time to come out from their incisor lair. Until one day. “All done Aie.” We had barely started to brush. “Turn on the brush Aie.” “Your brush doesn’t turn on.” “Aie’s brush turns on?” “Yes, Aie’s brush turns on, Baba’s brush turns on, but not yours.” “Nooooooo! I want Chip’s brush turn on.” “OK. Here it is.” I turned the brush on and made whirring sounds. “No. Aie, not with your mouth. With the brush.” Chip sat there perched on the bathroom counter waiting expectantly for his god-like mother to perform the miracle.

Plan C. “Chip,” I said in a low whisper. “We will have to go to the dentist if you don’t brush your teeth.” A dentist?” “Yes. A dentist is a doctor for teeth.” Chip was intrigued. “Does he give tooch (shots)?” “Big tooch Chip. The needles are this long.” I said stretching my arms as wide as I could. “And it is not just the tooch. He also has a drill. He will drill your teeth. Do you want the dentist to drill your teeth?” Chip shook his head and opened his mouth. Brushed and rinsed. Chip got down from his perch. “Aie, is dentist drill like Baba’s?” The drill strategy worked for a while. Although he now looked at his Baba’s drill differently. Intently. Almost as if imagining the thing drilling holes in his teeth. The evil mom conscience had tripped the good mom conscience and I didn’t tell him the true drill facts and still haven’t. This worked for a while. Until one day. He just lost interest in the drill theory. The threats were treated with a bored look and I suspected if he knew the word ‘whatever’ he would have said it now. Many times.

Plan D. Well it was not really a plan. But I gotta do it to maintain narrative integrity. BigGeek on his way home yesterday stopped at a pharmacy to buy some vaporub for my cold and also bought a battery operated toothbrush for Chip. To say Chip was excited would be the understatement of the century. He danced with it until he realized the cover needed to be pulled off. The brush was promptly handed back to Aie dearest, but only for the few seconds that it took to free the brush from the casing. He garbbed the coveted toothbrush and gingerly pressed on the green button. The brush started whirring. Chip looked at it mesmerized. “Let’s go and brush my teeth, Aie” “Yes we will! But after dinner. Let’s eat dinner first. Yes?” “NOOOOOO” He wailed and thumped his feet. “Turn off the brush Chip. The battery will die.” “I want to brush my teeth now.” “Yes we will brush your teeth. But after dinner. Come let’s eat dinner.” This went on for a few minutes. Each iteration escalating Chip’s temper until BigGeek grabbed the toothbrush and turned it off.

Later, after tantrum, tears and dinner were done with, we went upstairs for the much waited moment. Finally. The toothpaste was smeared on the brush, the little green button pressed. Chip gleefully opened his mouth and brushed. Not his teeth, but his tongue. I tried to get a few swipes but then left him to enjoy his brush. A few minutes later, he came out asked me to turn off the toothbrush and went inside again. I heard him turn the light off and close the door and he came out again, but in haste and jumped into the bed and dived under the comforter taking care to make sure he was covered in it. Something was up. “What is in your hand Chip?” I asked. “Nothing Aie. Don’t look here. Look there.” As if. I peered under the comforter and lying there snuggled in his arms like his favorite soft toy was the orange and green toothbrush. I now need a Plan E.

On a completely unrelated note, my good friend and neighbor your-girl-next-door (formerly known as V) has decided to start writing a blog. Welcome to the blogworld YGND.

Monday, February 4, 2008


“What do you do when you reach the end of internet? You know those days when there is absolutely nothing to read anywhere online. What do you do?” BigGeek asked me out of the blue one night. He was reading his cases; I was vegging out in front of the TV. “It is a problem.” I admitted. “Rather, is used to be a problem before I started this blog. Now I just read my old posts. It’s guaranteed good reading.” I said trying to hide a smirk. BigGeek broke out in a wide grin. “I knew there was a really good reason I married you.” He grinned and went back to his work.

And here are mummyjaan and then Parul tagging me to be narcissistic (someone knows my secret) and what better person to wallow in self glory than me, huh? So let’s play this game.

Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better.

So here’s what I am going to do. I am going to put a small excerpt from each post and try to entice you to read the whole nine yards. And, if like me, if you have reached the end of the internet, thank your stars because this is your lucky day indeed.

“I thought about you as I read these pages today.” My mother-in-law said smilingly as I stepped out onto the deck yesterday. I had just got home, given Chip his milk, peanuts, raisins, apple, milk again, juice (grape not apple), peanuts again. Finally getting tired of the game, I had given Chip an ultimatum, poured myself a glass of juice, helped myself to the Chivda the MIL had made and stepped out on the deck. The MIL was reading, or rather re-reading after a decade, Many Masters Many Lives, sitting on the swing, a cup of coffee in hand.
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This is about Chip. It’s been a while since I have done a Chip-exclusive post and this would be a fitting sequel to my other bizarre post. Chip was a colicky, asthmatic baby and he was so hurting most of the time, he did not have any energy to bond with strangers. All that has changed and he is quite the Mr.Friendly to everyone now except a really good friend.
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I had always thought of myself as the been-there-done-that-person. So when I read this post by Usha, it made me reflect. I was a passionate twenty-something with a taste for adventure. Took a few years off after college despite the promise of well paying jobs and crossed the line into the artsy world. Jaded and a couple of years later, took a flight to the US, searching for new adventures and to go to a Grad school that had an excellent ranking in the artsy field. I was going on a mission of self-discovery, after all. Nothing was unattainable, not if I wanted it badly anyways. There were mountains to be scaled, rivers to be crossed and roads to be uncovered. Metaphorically, of course. And I had to do it on my own. No second-hand experiences for me, thank you very much. After all, the map was not the terrain. How far could I go?
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Your love
The wonderful noon after having written a beautiful recount of her own engagement has tagged me to do the same. So here goes. It's a movie, mind y'all.
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Anything you like
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.
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Passing the tag to new bloggie pals
The TAA Mom
And old suspects

Friday, February 1, 2008

False Dilemma

I am stuck in a classic beast of a dilemma where I have to choose between two, undesirable choices. What do I do? Well, write a post on it, for starters. I need to make a trip to Vaishnodevi. If you don’t remember why, read this old post. Cutting to the chase then, I am making a trip to India in March. Just me and Chip. For a just little more than two weeks. After five and a half years long years. After getting married, after having a child, after BigGeek’s “little adventure”. Many people to meet, very little time.

To make a trip, from Mumbai to Jammu and then on to Vaishnodevi, in a schedule that is already stuffed to the brim, is no lilliputian task. But make do I must. As much as I would have liked to take a train and chug though sleepy little towns and their dusty train stations and crusty vendors hawking hot tea and show Chip these little nuggets of quintessential India from my past, I can’t. Not if I have to make a trip in three days. I have to fly. Fair enough. You can’t have everything. So, I fly out on day1 to Jammu, drive to Katra. Climb up the Trikuta Mountain next day to the shrine and then climb back down. Depart for Mumbai on day 3. The climb is about 14km (9 miles) each way. It took my friend and her mother nine hours to climb the mountain. I can do it; I am in fairly good shape. And I am sure if my mom/mil/aunts/grandma accompanies me they can always get a doli. The challenge is of course Chip. I cannot imagine not doing the yatra without him. But to keep him engaged for such an extended period of time, managing his potty and meals will no doubt be arduous, especially since both, he and I, will be jet lagged. There is of course another alternative. The heli ride. You can now get to the shrine in 8 minutes by a helicopter, instead of anywhere from 5-8 hours if you walked. It will be a breeze for Chip and me and the mothers. But I am uncomfortable doing it.

Pilgrimages are not supposed to be made in a chopper. They are supposed to be journeys. Where you travel different lands, meet interesting people on the way, experience adventures. Almost like a microcosm your larger journey in life. The journey is important; perhaps because in a sense it begets the final destination. It can’t and shouldn’t be fitted into an eight minute ride. That just doesn’t feel right. But rationale triumphs. How is the palanquin or a pony ride different? One is not walking with one’s two feet. But the journey takes just as much time, doesn’t it? And it is leisurely, is it not? Maybe at the bottom of it all, I am truly trepid of filling six long hours with nothing to do. Except of course entertain and feed and clean Chip and walk. Perhaps my life has become a macrocosm of the 8 minute helicopter ride.

I am wondering about how to deal with this. Should I ride the helicopter or should I walk? I want to walk. But I also want to ride the helicopter not feel like I am cheating. It is a classic dilemma. Or it could be that it is not really a dilemma at all. Most problems are analog spectrums. They are not binary. And perhaps there is a third answer lurking somewhere. But it is eluding me. Big time. Kahlil Gibran once said that the road to knowledge starts with perplexity. I am sure he meant it for people like Plato and Socrates and their bigger, important dilemmas that truly stood on the brink of great knowledge and wisdom. Mine seems like a joke in comparison. But then again, we all have our own dilemmas handed out to us by providence. Big and small. And perhaps it is the size of dilemmas that cast the difference between the making of a great Socrates or the insignificant me.