Friday, December 21, 2007

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly...

And Rohan's over 2 months old! Sorry for the disappearing act, folks. Life for a do bacchon ki maa (mother of two kiddos) is tres busy. Hope to get a chance to blog more often come the new year. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Breastfeeding 101

Courtesy Ms. Raina who apparently had been closely watching her best friend's mom nurse her new baby.

"Mommy, I'll show you how to nurse. You have to lift your t-shirt like this, put your booby forward and the baby has to take the booby in his mouth. Take the booby, baby, TAKE THE BOOBY! Yeah!"

Enthusiastic applause follows.

My personal lactation consultant and breastfeeder cheerleader. How did I get this lucky?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

1 Sick Child + 1 Newborn = 0 Blogging Time

Raina's been down with an ear infection and a bad cough and cold since Diwali. Hope everyone else had a sickness-free festival!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Meet Rohan

Height: 18 inches (but Daddy says he refused to straighten his legs so it may be closer to 20)

Weight: 6 lbs. 11 oz.

It's been crazy as expected, but one of the worst wildfires in SoCal history has added to the belief that we are so lucky...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Imminent Motherhood

Baby and Mommy Stats 12 Hours Before Arrival:

Estimated weight: 8 lbs.
Dilation: 1/2 cm
Labor Pains: Often, varying in length and strength
Status: Baby -- Active
Mommy -- Uncomfortably Restless and Aware That This Is Her Last Night As Ek Bacche Ki Maa

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Food for Thought

Got the middle name tag from Choxbox -- a week or so ago. Other than pregnancy-related somnolence, have also been suffering from besan-ladoo stuffiness. Yep, the in-laws have arrived, complete with besan ladoos all the way from Amritsar to feed their beloved ladoolike d-i-l. For those anywhere CLOSE to Amritsar or who've relatives there or happen to live a small train ride away (Delhiites?) -- I'd suggest you get to Kanhaya Lal's asap. Those dudes know their besan ladoos. I finished one whole box. Yep, one-whole-box. About 24 besan ladoos. In one week.

So what was I blogging about? Ah, middlename tag from Choxbox. Like most desis, my middle name's my dad's name, so am going with A Muser instead.

A -- Amritsar! Did I mention besan ladoos?
M -- Mumbai. City of my dreams. Land of hogging chocolate mousse at Pot Pourri, idli/sambar at Kamat's or Satkar's, beers at Toto's, dal pakwaan (on Sundays) at Khar Gym, bhelpuri at Pali Hill, mutton rolls at Andora's and Candies, crabs at Mahesh Lunch Home, manchow soup at Sampan (in my opinion the best Chinese joint in town), masala milk at Anando's, frankies in Linking Road. Dang, this can be a post by itself.
U -- Should get off the food topic, huh. OK, U is for Unkind, Unjust, Uncouth, Undignified behavior. The four deadly sins in my bible.
S -- Sense of humor! One of the things I like about myself is my ability to be easily a-mused. But I don't find ethnic jokes amusing. Really.
E -- Elegance. That so not describes my mussed hair, jeans and t-shirt self. But I will start trying, oh, in another five years or so, and hum honge kamyaab ek din.
R -- Rock 'n' roll! Dancing the night away's among my top 2 favorite ways of spending the night. ;)))

Am not tagging anyone because almost all my favorite fellowbloggers have already done this tag! Amodini, hope to get to your tag soon!

Friday, October 05, 2007

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Here's an article which indicates to me that what doctors tell you NOT to do today, they'll tell you tomorrow to do the exact opposite.

It's so annoying. It's a good thing I'm such a seafoodie, I've been eating quite a bit throughout my pregnancy anyway. Next the medical world will insist that sushi and sashimi are not only OK for pregnant women to eat, they're ABSOLUTELY VITAL for your baby's health. When it happens, know you first heard it here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The mind has shut down all sign of cranial activity. The eyes are either closed or looking over the pages of some trashy novel. The ears register only sounds related to babies. The rest is filtered as just so much noise. The world has ebbed away. Is Newt Gingrich threatening to launch a presidential campaign again? Who're the Ohio State Buckeyes playing this weekend? Is Musharraf going to finally resign as army chief? Issues once fodder for intense discussion have fallen by the wayside.

The mouth opens only to recount yet another instance of baby movement to a bored audience. The limbs move only to swipe the credit card at Target or Babies 'r' Us for diapers or onesies. Otherwise, they lay supine, static, like the projections of a sleepy starfish whose dead center is one humongous belly.

This is the status two weeks before the baby's expected arrival. Expect continued inertia.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nick Knack

Tagged by Choxbox ( to mention the nicknames we call the kids. Nope, not talking about the Unborn One yet; he's mostly still The Baby. I am talking about Pikey The Cat and Raina The Pookie. It's no use pointing out to us that Pikey's not our kid -- she may not have been our first experience in childbirth, but she definitely gave us a taste of childrearing.

We got her when she was 3 months old, and she sat on my lap and meowed all the way home. Once there, she quickly settled in which was obvious by the speediness with which she began making demands -- for lap time, scratch time, play time. Each demand would be underlined by a corresponding meow, which we quickly learned to decipher. Short, staccato meows meant "I'm hungry"; long drawn out meows meant "I really really want something, and you better get it quick otherwise I'm going to scratch the sofa." So it's not surprising that she was nicked The Meow Cat. Pikey itself was a nick for the stately Pilcrow (you know, the paragraph mark on your word doc on the computer).

Other nicks that quickly followed: Pikeymon, Pikery, Peekaroo, Pikeysan, Mikey, Mouse (she's scared of everything, including mice), Silly Billy (billy means cat in Hindi). She answers to them all.

OK, Raina's turn. When she was born, P began calling her The Bug or Bugga because of her big lamplike eyes and teeny nose. I'd call her Smilu and Cheeky for her obvious attributes. Innocuous enough, but the nicks have deteriorated since.

I now call her Cheekoo, Cheekoodee, Pookie (further bastardizing the nick Raina Pooh), Pookeymon, Pookers and sometimes, Pooky Friend (from her favorite Halloween tee with a graphic of "Spooky Friends" which she would mispronounce as Pooky Friends).

But I can't top P, who often calls her Altu (as in Altu-Faltu, meaning useless in Hindi), her baby brother's Faltu and the cat Paltu (pet in Hindi). And then sometimes he calls her "Boogers" -- as in yucky dried snot. What can I say? The man's a creative genius.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy 75th Post to Me!

Wow, when I started this blog, I didn't think I'd be able to come up with anything to write about. I was quite out of practice. But here I am on Post#75.

Wanted to note another funny instance of RainaSpeak here. This conversation occurred in the morning:

Raina: Mommy, look I weigh 31 pounds!
Mommy: Yeah, you're so big!
Raina: But I don't weigh as much as you.
Mommy: That's true. I am bigger.
Raina: Your butt is bigger.

Thanks for pointing that out, daughter o'mine. Especially since Mommy's belly is so big, she doesn't pay any attention to her behind anymore -- there's a reason it's behind, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Fairytale Ending

So most everyone knows the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, right? Princess is born, party's given but the wicked witch isn't invited. Said wicked witch gatecrashes party, curses baby to die on 16th birthday by pricking finger on spindle of spinning wheel (like she couldn't come up with something a little less complicated). A good fairy changes the curse to falling asleep instead of dying (why couldn't she just nix the curse?) and for good measure, whisks the baby along with her co-fairies to live as a peasant in a forest. Babe grows up hot, falls in love with a prince on her 16th birthday and then is whisked back to the castle to meet mom and dad (why on the dang birthday?) where she of course proceeds to prick her finger, fall asleep until the prince comes rushing in to rescue her after slaying wicked witch. And they all live happily ever after - blahblah.

Lotsa murder and mayhem for a fairytale, wot?

The three-year-old is hooked on Sleeping Beauty presently and doesn't seem to be bothered by the sound of gnashing teeth which her mom makes every time she reads about the dang prince rescuing the idiotic princess. But there were aspects of the story that bothered her, which I found out soon enough.

Raina tends to come out of her room a couple of times after being supposedly tucked in for the night, asking for yet another glass of water or someone to adjust her blankie or whatever. So during one of these night excursions when she said she didn't want to sleep alone, I just pooh-poohed it, told her she was a big girl and she wasn't alone anyway as she was sleeping with Prisha (her stuffed white tiger).

The next day, while we were consuming breakfast, she said, "Mommy, you know when I said that I didn't want to sleep alone last night? It was because I was scared that Maleficient (aka wicked witch) would come to our house and kill my baby brother."

Mommy (rendered temporarily incapable of speech)

Finally founding my voice, I said, "Maleficient is just pretend, baby. She's in the book. And she only cursed the baby because she was mad when she wasn't invited to the party."

Raina: "She is mean and wicked."

Mommy: "Yes. If you wish someone dead, it's a mean and wicked thing to do. But she's only interested in Aurora (aka idiotic princess), not you or your baby brother."

Raina: "I don't like her. Do you like Maleficient?"

Mommy: "No one likes Maleficient."

Whoa. I've read that fairytales are OK to read to kids because it introduces them to a wickedness that they already know exists in the world, but also teaches them that good triumphs over evil. But is age 3 the perfect time to know about the fact of murder -- the wish to kill (in Maleficient), the need to slay (in the prince) -- to bring about that happy ending?

Maybe I'm just looking for another reason to chuck those fairytale books into the trashcan.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Crazy Me

So I've been tagged by Choxbox aka Namvor (who just began her blog -- congratulations! -- to put down five eccentricities or five reasons why those who know me think I am stark raving nuts and belong in a loony bin. Hmmm, shouldn't be too hard. Here goes:

1. I am the quintessential bookworm. What free time I have, I spend with my nose in a book. I have books on my kitchen counter, dining table, coffee table, all the bedrooms and bathrooms in the house, and some even on the bookshelves. All of which I am presently reading. And if I don't reply to a question, the people in my house have realized that it's because I am daydreaming about a book or several that I am in the process of devouring. My husband opines I am heading towards blindness, but if that ever happens all I can say is, thank goodness for audio books!

2. I HATE talking on the phone. It doesn't matter who's on the other end -- my parents, in-laws, best friends -- I try to keep the conversations short. It's out of a sense of duty that I call my parents every weekend. (And then my mom calls me once during the week.) My best friends know better than to expect a call from me. If I do happen to call, they baldly ask, "Is it my birthday?" (I do call on birthdays.)

3. I don't notice dirt -- either in my house or in other people's homes. It drives my finicky husband crazy that I don't notice the former; my friends love me for never noticing the latter.

4. On the other hand, I always notice a misspelled word in books, newspapers, hoardings, pamphlets. There should've been spelling bees in India, I swear I would have won every single year. OK, maybe at least once.

5. I talk in a sing-song fashion in a voice that's so sweet, it'd give any healthy person diabetes. It's really awful. I wouldn't believe it if I wouldn't have heard myself with my own ears. I also tend to smile at perfect strangers. In fact, I am usually smiling all the time. Loony, see?

That's my five. Would love to tag the usual suspects: Terri's mom, Rads, Mystic Margarita, Cee Kay and Crazy Mumma.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Twelve years ago this day, I landed in the United States to begin graduate school. It wasn't my first time to the States; I'd come on vacation when I was 10. But I couldn't have been more excited if it had been my first. Finally, at 21 years of age, after being more of a spectator than a participant in my life, I was ready to live. Woohoo! And what a life I wanted to live! One that primarily involved being away from any protective influence, being away from all and everything I held dear. Now I would figure out what I was about.

Life until then had seemed too easy. I had grown up feeling mostly detached from family members and friends. It was a defense mechanism -- if no one got close, no one could hurt me. I see that now; then, I was just uninvolved while I watched the lives of all my family members unravel. Extreme emotion was strange to me, and I often thought rather wistfully how nice it must be to feel strongly about something, anything. Trial by fire was essential to build character, I thought, and if I didn't feel anything, how was I to build my own?

So, although I came to the U.S. ostensibly to study, I mostly came to experience life. I came prepared to be vulnerable and open to new experiences, willing to feel disappointment, anger, sadness, hurt, loneliness all the negative emotion that thusfar seemed to have eluded me. Knowing them, I could finally realize what would make me happy.

Well, I got what I wanted. I made the best of friends -- one of who brought me the loneliest, saddest times I'd experienced. I felt the hurt of being misjudged by people I cared for. My confidence in myself ebbed away as my personal life deteriorated in tandem with my academic life. But I was right about one thing -- my unhappiness forced me to take control of my life. I made some hard academic decisions, like switching from broadcasting to print journalism. I took up a job in a small U.S. town where I was one of three non-white folks. I didn't know a soul.

And along the way, I made some right decisions, like starting to date P, now my husband.

Yes, it's been 12 years since I first met my husband. At first, we were acquaintances who'd occasionally bum cigarettes off each other. Then we became friends who'd go dancing in a group once a while. More than 10 years ago, we began to fall in love.

I chucked my dream of going back to Bombay with nary a thought but to be with P. And though I've missed my city, I've grown to love other places too: some small unassuming Midwestern towns, other big Western cities. At all places, with all experiences, I've learned and grown as a person beyond my wildest expectations.

And by growing, I've eventually discovered the key to my happiness (drumrolls please): It's not about finding out who I am. It's about changing myself to who I want to be.

A dozen years from now, I'm probably still going to live in the U.S., a mommy to one ABCD teenager and one ABCD pre-teen (heaven help me). But few things I hope will remain constant: my need to learn, my desire to grow and to do both with my husband always by my side.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Baby in the Womb

Went for a 4-D Ultrasound over the weekend, and here are some of the results! Raina kept asking why he was orange.

It was just astonishing to see those chubby cheeks, that tiny nose, those big big eyes, the little fingers and toes squirming around. He had his left foot up to his forehead -- crazy little guy! We saw him open and shut his mouth like a little guppy. One hand was tucked under his plump butt, and when the ultrasound tech tried to zoom in on the family jewels, his other hand promptly covered them up. A shy one -- or maybe just bidding fair to be uncooperative like his Big Sister. (At her 4-D, Raina presented her butt to us viewers. We have a lot of butt pix.)

At one funny point, the tech prodded my belly gently to get him to move his hands, and as she prodded, you could see him grimace and frown, none too happy about the disturbance in his comfy little world. Then he smiled.

We came away stunned and awed. He looks so much like his daddy, it's not fair. At least one kid should look like the mom. But there was relief, as well. He has 10 fingers and 10 toes, and we didn't have to wait for his birth to count them. Is technology amazing or what?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sex Tag

Hey, if that headline doesn't make you read this post, nothing will! Have been tagged willy-nilly by Mad Momma (themadmomma/blogspot/com -- can some tech-savvy person puh-leeze tell me how to do the link-thing on a mac?? My posts are littered with URLs *grumble, grumble*). Tag's about how do I have rocking sex -- ok, any sex at all, any way, any kind -- apres-babies. Cool! Sundry tagged bloggers are worried about parents reading this post; moi, I merely have to face the wrath of my very very embarrassed husband. So that makes it OK, of course. ;P

P and I get it on usually on weekend afternoons. Sunny and soporofic weekend afternoons, with the 3-year-old tucked in bed for an afternoon nap. If it's summer, ummmm, the overhead fan's whirring slowly. I don't know what it is about that fan. It makes me feel all sleepy and sexy. So we start off cuddling, thinking we're going to take a nap ourselves. Yeah, right. At some point, we have to get up and lock the bedroom door. After the deed is done, we take that nap we'd been originally planning. Mmmm... nothing like post-making-love naps!

Dunno what we're going to do once Raina stops taking afternoon naps -- we'll probably bribe her. And after Baby 2 emerges in October, in the august company of the in-laws, afternoon sex just may take a backseat. But then, there's always the backseat. Dang, you think that's too much info?

P.S.: Am tagging Terri's mom (, Rads ( and s.b.!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Introducing Detective Herculee Pikerot

Detective Herculee Pikerot's green eyes gleamed with a strange light. After much exercise of her uncommonly few grey cells, the criminal had been deduced. It had been no easy work. The crime had been executed to near perfection. After all, it was easy for mere mortals to be taken in by the innocent demeanor of My Little Pony. But the cunning pony had reckoned without the superior intellect of Detective Pikerot. Now Scotland Yard was on its way. All that remained was to hand over the suspect. But how to detain said suspect until the Yard arrived -- tardily, as usual? Pikerot's majestic moustache quivered. In the end, there was only one method.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some thoughts on NRIs

Or I should say, some thoughts of NRIs.

I was reading Anamika Mukharji's latest post ( on the 60th Indian Independence Day. In one graf, she pointed out she was tired of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) who criticize India while comfortably enjoying life outside des. Couldn't agree more with her, and I would like to think I refrain for the same reason.

Then I got to thinking about the NRIs I knew. Attend any desi party any time and the favorite topic of conversation isn't India-bashing. It's bashing the U.S. -- the country the desis I know have chosen to live. If they aren't grumbling about how their white boss passed them over for a promotion (racist bastard of course), they are grumbling about the weird habits of their black/Chinese neighbors or the laziness of their Mexican gardener or housecleaner. Which attitude doesn't make them racist bastards, merely superior.

Indian heritage, culture, traditions, food are praised to the skies -- I am talking specifically about Hindus here because my experience is limited to them. On the other hand, NRIs claim Americans have no culture, no history and zero moral and family values. Because these folks may have a bad influence on Indian family values, NRIs do not fraternize with whites (derogatorily referred to as goras) -- forget the Chinese, blacks or Mexicans (you don't want to know how they refer to people belonging to these races). The only friends their children have are the desi offspring of their parents' desi friends. It's either that, or these children know early on not to bring their non-desi school friends home, aware that they won't feel welcome or comfortable.

It's hardly any wonder that these kids grow up confused (everyone's heard them referred to as ABCDs -- American Born Confused Desis). After all, they go to school and have to interact on a daily basis with non-desi kids. Soon they discover that American parents are pretty much the same as desi parents when it comes to doing homework and generally being involved in their kids' lives. Then they go to India for vacations. Thanks to the magnificent portrait their parents have painted of India's beauty and culture, they are doubly shocked to see the Unwashed Masses, the garbage piled on street corners, the careless disregard for the poor, the lame and the destitute. Then they see their parents hobnobbing with the resident Indians, glorying in their NRI status and complaining about the heat, the dirt. When will the country improve? they lament.

Eventually, these kids learn an important lesson: their parents are hypocrites.

Not all NRIs are this bad or racist. But we're all guilty to some extent of creating/participating in little mini-Indias where non-desis are deliberately excluded. If we can't interact normally with our American neighbors -- be they white, Southeast Asian, Hispanic or black -- what example are we setting for our kids? We have to accept that just as we will always be Indian at heart, our kids will always be American. And being American means accepting others, while celebrating what makes each one unique -- that Indian heritage that we will pass on to our children. A heritage to be proud of at all times -- one that acknowledges that tolerance for others is the backbone on which it has been based. Unity in diversity, remember? Indians and Americans should have at least that in common.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Raina The Geek

In the midst of a crying jag (yes, these are quite frequent), Raina suddenly asks, "How do you spell 'cry'?" Followed by "How do you spell 'tear'?" As the husband says, referring to her mommy's nerdiness, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Nine Weeks and Counting...

The thing with cliches is that they make so much sense. Like the one about time going fast when you're having fun. In 9 exact weeks at this particular moment, I should be holding my baby boy. I can't believe how fast this pregnancy's gone. After the first trimester, the days have just been zooming by. On the one hand I can't wait to see the baby, though I'm terrified of the nursing, diaper-changing zombiedom that will follow. There's excitement, yet that sinking feeling in the pit of my belly that overwhelms me occasionally. Worry that I'm not prepared, that I'll never find a decent changing table (!), that I've forgotten something crucial for the baby's survival or my sanity.

And right now, I'm just plain clumsy. A couple of weeks ago, when I was going down the stairs in the pitchdark, I missed the last two steps and landed on my big toe. Used up all the cuss words in my vocab. And why hadn't I turned on the light? Oh yeah, common sense has been a recent casualty too. Was limping around with a sprained toe for a few days. Then last night, as I was putting on jammies, I lost balance and fell like a stone. No, more like a mountain. Lady with big belly should not balance on one jammied leg, while putting her other leg through. Another titbit of common sense learned.

On the whole, I'm doing pretty good and have the pregnancy glow down pat. But now that I'm slowly getting used to this pregnancy thing, it's almost at an end. Yesterday I looked at Raina and suddenly realized that the days when it was just going to be the two of us pottering around at home were ending too. She wasn't going to be my only baby for long. And I wish I could buy her a few more months, just to protect her from the pain of change. Mostly the onus is on us to make sure that she adjusts well and gets enough attention. But I tend to be such a bad-tempered, impatient, MEAN person when I'm sleep-deprived. How do I protect her from myself?

Just another worry to tack on the list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's in a Name?

I know -- out of all the Shakespeare quotes that have become cliches, this one is prime. But really, since this post is about a name for my baby boy, I couldn't think of titling it any other way. So sue me.

Am in such a pissy mood these days, this post is one long whine. You've been warned.

Began my final trimester a week or so ago, and my mom's still bombarding me with baby boy names every time we talk. Which is, like, twice a week. Don't know what part of "it needs to be easy for non-desis to understand" that she just doesn't get. Her recent contribution: Moksh. Yeah, try that on any American and watch his eyes glaze. At least it was the first time she'd mentioned that one. She's been trying "Karan" for weeks now. OK, months. And I tell her for the gazillionth time, Karan's going to become "Karen" the first day of school and my 5-year-old boy will come home and murder his mom for naming him so thoughtlessly.

Who knew it was so hard to come up with desi names that's not only easy for non-desis to pronounce, but won't be perverted by the first obnoxious boy my boy meets? My husband's king of coming up with ways names can be perverted. He was the one to warn me about Karan/Karen. When we were thinking names for our daughter, it was he who pointed out how Anusha could be messed around with (Anus-ha, see? Duh Mommy!)

But even he couldn't have predicted how his friends' kid's name could be messed with. Our friends recently had a baby boy who they named Ravi. Simple? Check. Easy to pronounce? Check. So you would think. My daughter still calls him "Robbie." And how could one possibly come up with a way to tease a kid called Ravi? "Ravioli!" announced another friend -- a German-born American. Thanks, dude.

Thinking simplicity, I ran "Aditya" by some friends. They looked at me vacantly. And these are Thai-Americans, mind you, not themselves known for the easiest names. I tried "Varun" by a Filipino-American friend. Similar vacant look. She didn't even try to say it. Varun, for crying out loud. How much easier can one get?

After all this hullabaloo, we've come up with Rohan. Yeah, "row, row, row your boat..." but at least most people can say it OK. And it's got some coolness factor, thanks to The Lord of the Rings. Plus, it's kinda global: When we googled "Rohan," we came up with West Indians, Irish, Sri Lankans... works for us. Of course, my mom hates it. HATES it! So twice a week, she comes up with new ones to change our minds.

Which brings us back to square one. Moksh? God, I need some Nirvana...

Friday, August 10, 2007


Seen on the vanity license plate of a black BMW convertible driven by a gorgeous brunette on a balmy Southern California evening: "IMSMELY." ????

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Not for Future Einsteins

A friend forwarded me this crazy article on (,8599,1650352,00.html) on kids watching the popular Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby DVDs. In brief, according to a study conducted by University of Washington researchers, babies exposed to the DVDs don't grow smarter than infants not exposed to the DVDs. In fact, they show LESS language development than them.

This would be the moment I would pat myself on the back. I never bought into the hype that watching TV -- any kind of TV -- would make Raina smarter. Instead, we did a lot of talking and playing together -- with a heavy emphasis on music and singing.
Not to boast or anything, but Raina's verbal and vocabulary development has always been far ahead of her peers, and I totally believe it's because of the one-on-one interaction.

Anyhoo, so there I was, getting ready for the back pat with a smug smile forming on my face. Then my mouth fell open. As I continued to read, the article mentioned that the researchers found 40% of infants 3 months and younger REGULARLY watched DVDs, videos or TV. There's more: almost 90% of kids upto 2 years of age spent TWO OR THREE HOURS in front of the television every single day.

Unbefuckinglievable. Excuse the language, but that's pretty dang close to parental negligence. I mean, why have kids if you are going to plop them in front of the TV? I know mommies need to get things done, and sometimes, the TV can be a convenient babysitter, but TWO HOURS EVERY DAY? That's just nuts, people!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


On being told that if she wanted to indulge in a loud Crying-For-Crying's-Sake tantrum, she needed to seek a room other than one containing her mother, Raina was seen heading to the closet, turning on the light and artistically bawling before the full-length mirror.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Half-Sleeved Half-Pint

Ever since we found out that we're having a baby boy, I've been busy digging in the closet for all of Raina's old clothes. Presently, my bedroom is lined with plastic bags of varying sizes filled with R's clothes to give away to all the neighborhood's little girls or to preggie mommies expecting baby girls or to AMVETS. So far, have given away just one -- some of R's 2T stuff -- and the mommy of the little girl I gave it too was astounded that the clothes were in such good shape.

One reason they are in good shape is because R always wears a bib when eating. But the biggest reason is Raina herself.

Ever since Raina turned 18 months old, I've been asking her what she wants to wear. I think it gives her a feeling of control over her life, plus it helps her make decisions. Raina took to it pretty quickly -- and I was glad about that. The downside? Raina would wear the SAME clothes over and over again. I didn't know I could get sooooo sick of seeing my daughter wear the same outfit every third day.

My first resort was to keep a longer gap between laundries. If something was dirty, she couldn't wear it. But even if I did laundry just once a week, it was tiresome to see the same clothes the very next week. She had a Monday outfit, a Tuesday outfit... one for every day of the week. Then I resorted to hiding some clothes that I just could not BEAR to see her in. But then, the whining would start.

A typical morning in our household:

Raina and I standing in front of her closet.

Raina: I want to wear that striped half-sleeve t-shirt with shorts.
Me: How about wearing a dress instead? You haven't worn that in so long.
Raina: No. I want to wear a half-sleeve t-shirt.
Me: (appealing to her vanity) But dresses look so cute on you!
Raina: Half-sleeve t-shirts look cute too. See, it looks so cute!
Me: How about a sleeveless t-shirt? You never wear those and you have so many of them.
Raina: No. I want to wear a half-sleeve t-shirt.
Me: OK. How about a skirt instead of those shorts? You never wear a skirt.
Raina: No. I want shorts!
Me: (Now resorting to blackmail) Raina, I am going to stop buying you any new clothes if you won't wear anything other than half-sleeve t-shirts.
Raina: But I want to wear half-sleeve t-shirts. I want new ones!
Me: (cunningly) Miss Cindy said she would really like to see you in a dress.
Raina: (thoughtfully) Maybe I'll wear a dress tomorrow.

And I have to be satisfied with that. Sometimes, that tomorrow never comes. When it does, she'll wear the SAME dress she always wears when she's in a conciliatory mood. It's like beating my head against a brick wall. But that's the whole point, I guess, to give her control. I just wish she wanted to wear what I wanted her to wear.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cool quote 2

Am presently reading Francoise Sagan's "The Painted Lady" -- a funny, heartbreaking book. Came across these lines mentioned right at the start, and wanted to share them:

"What importance can we attach to the things of this world? Friendship? It disappears when the one who is liked comes to grief, or when the one who likes becomes powerful. Love? It is deceived, fleeting, or guilty. Fame? You share it with mediocrity or crime. Fortune? Could that frivolity be called a blessing? All that remains are those so-called happy days which flow past unnoticed in the obscurity of domestic cares, leaving man with the desire neither to lose his life nor to begin it over."
--Chateaubriand, Vie de Rance

Friday, July 20, 2007

My 2 Cents Too

Cee Kay ( -- I can't figure out how to do the link thing on my mac) just did a wonderful post on people she admires and those she judges, and I agree with her so completely, it's hard to come up with some original points. But she wants me to give it a shot, so here's my 2 cents, folks -- first, the judgmental moi:

1. I tend to laugh at strangers who ask me what cars I own, how much a piece of jewellery is worth, how much income my husband brings in as measures of whether it's worth their while to further the acquaintance or not.

2. I look down on those who look down on those who are socially or economically inferior to them. I was taught at an early age to show a basic respect for all, and I look upon social snobs as appallingly ill-mannered and without class.

3. I dislike parents who hit their kids. I am not talking about an occasional tap on the butt for exceptionally bad behavior, but hard slaps that make kids cower. To me, it counts as domestic violence.

4. I judge others who pass judgments on people based on their race, nationality and sexual orientation. I am especially harsh on U.S. resident-Indians who do this, and then complain of racism when their bosses pass them over for a promotion.

5. I cannot stand those with a martyr complex. I grew up with one such person in my house, and am strongly of the opinion that you should make only those "sacrifices" which you can refrain from announcing to all and sundry who will listen and using them as leverage for sympathy.

6. I have a problem with those who publicly criticize their spouse and humiliate them. You have a problem with him/her, talk to them about it, not to the world.

7. I intensely dislike people who have no respect for privacy. It makes me see red.

Now, the admirable folks on my list:

1. I admire those who are content. It takes a special mindset to achieve peace of mind, one that requires a lot of effort.

2. I admire people who are aware of their duty toward those who are dependent on them -- and do it, even when it's often thankless.

3. I admire those who are focused and passionate about their life's work -- not for aggrandizing themselves, but for the pure joy and satisfaction it gives them.

4. I admire people who deal with frustration and stress in their life without constantly bitching to others. Life ain't a bed of roses for nobody.

5. I admire parents of developmentally challenged kids. I can't even begin to fathom their daily worries, frustrations, exhaustion...

6. I admire good writers.

7. I admire go-getters, but not those who go get by trampling all over someone else. I admire a strong character and conscience.

Well, that was easier than I thought!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Anatomy and Philosophy

"Mommy, what does Henry have on his pee-pee?"

So, it was finally here. The 3-year-old girl had commenced the study of a lifetime on What Makes Boys and Girls Different. I knew it was coming sooner or later -- just didn't realize it was going to be sooner. But I reacted pretty calmly, I think.

"Henry has a penis, baby."

"What's that?"

"All boys have penises for pee-pee. Like all girls have vaginas." Yeah, I'm big on calling a spade a spade.


"Because boys are different from girls."

"So Josh has a penis too? And Jordan has a penis too? And Hugo! And Owen!" she began a list of all the boys she currently knew. Glad we made that clear.

That was pretty easy. But it got me thinking on how I would reply to Raina when she came up with other inevitable questions -- like the one about God.

I've believed in the existence of God most of my life, even though my thinking mind (and scientific husband) played havoc with that belief. On the one hand, I well understood the Big Bang Theory and the randomness of our own life on earth. On the other hand, I just believed that everything happens for a reason, that there's good in all people, that there was something spiritual about feeling one with the world around us. But lately, believing all that just hasn't been adding up for me. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Some people are just born bad -- and will stay bad all their lives. And what does feeling one with nature have to do with a god at all?

These are just a few of gazillion thoughts that dwell in my mind, and I'm far from having any answers. But believing in God stops the questioning, I think.

How do I convey all these thoughts to my little girl? The U.S. is a very God-saturated country -- a Christian God at that. I think I'd like her to know that mankind doesn't have all the answers dealing with our existence, and believing in any god gives people's lives some meaning and purpose. It makes them accept the elements in their lives that's beyond their control. That although I believe all the gods are "equal" in a sense, most people believe their god is better than anyone else's and will try to change her mind if she believes in the "wrong" kind. Then I will tell her about her heritage -- the pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses. I will encourage her questions and I will admit when I don't have the answers. And if when she grows up, she decides to believe in God or not, that will be her choice, and I will have to accept it.

When I write this all down, it doesn't seem that answering her about God would be that hard. And if I don't have any definite and satisfactory answers for her, I can at least pass on my questions.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Am feeling a little bummed out today. I took Raina to the pediatric opthalmologist this morning, and it looks like despite all the carrots my 3-year-old's so fond of eating, she's going to need glasses soon. This sucks sooooo bad! Both P and I are nearsighted -- in fact, my glasses favor a soda bottle in appearance -- and I have astigmatism. And it looks like R's got the early beginnings of both nearsightedness and astigmatism.

The doctor recommended that she get glasses in around 18 months. She won't even be 5 years old!

I got glasses when I was 7-8, and I hated them, hated them, hated them... I thought I had to be the ugliest, nerdiest-looking kid on Planet Earth. Then, I have a small snub nose, and everytime I would run and play, my glasses would slide down and I'd have to keep pushing them up. It made me self-conscious, so instead of playing, I'd bury my nose in the nearest book, which didn't improve the eyesight any.

The day I switched to contact lenses is among the happiest in my life -- and that was after 7 very long years.

The doctor said I could start talking to Raina about wearing glasses now, so that 18 months later, she'll be used to the idea. I think her mom is more in need of those 18 months to adjust her attitude towards them. I have to put aside all this silly baggage I am carrying around, so I can make wearing glasses sound cool to her, so she knows that she's still pretty cute, so she knows she can still run as fast as any other kid, so she doesn't become a social moron for the rest of her childhood like her mom.

I know, I know, it's a storm in a teacup, but if I blog about it, I can start dealing with it...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Raina's To-Do List

You remember when you were a kid and you couldn't wait to become a grown-up for such random joys as wearing high heels and perfume? When you were a teenager and couldn't wait to get out of the house because your parents and siblings were, as usual, impossible to live with and driving you up the wall? And now, as a parent, I want to hold on tight to time because I'm so enjoying watching my girl grow up.

Raina, on the other hand, already has a list going of things she'll do when she grows up. Here are a few fun items on her To-Do-When-Grown-Up list:

1. Drink Diet Coke like her mom. Until then, she regularly feeds her baby doll Baby Diet Coke. Come to think of it, now that Coke has a vitamin version, it might be just a matter of time before it comes out with one that's for toddlers.

2. Wear lipstick and nail polish. Yep, I am one of those moms who doesn't let her preschooler "experiment with makeup." In fact, I can get shrieky about it and realize that I am beginning to sound like my own mom as each day goes by. Aarghhhh!

3. Walk by herself on the road. That's Raina's prime ambition to date.

4. Carry her baby brother. I don't have the heart to point out that when she's a grown-up, her baby brother may be a tad too big for her to hoist around like a bag of potatoes.

5. Have babies. While Raina seems to have understood that she's too small to have her own babies, she does like to say she has a pretend baby in her belly, who by some coincidence, is also due to make his appearance in October. The other day, I placed her hand on my belly so she could feel her brother jump -- he's turning out to be athetic unlike his lazy-ass mom. Then she insisted I reciprocate, saying her baby was moving too. So I played along, putting my hand on her belly and squealing appropriately. Her face just lit up.

She's the funniest thing I've ever met.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Music Madness

Taking a cue from Mad Momma's blog and tagging myself to talk about the songs that hit the Billboard charts the year I turned 18 -- 1992. Those who read this, consider yourself tagged!

Here are the rules:
1. Go to or
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Get nostalgic over the songs of the year
4. Write something about how the songs affected you
5. Pass it on to more music-loving bloggers

Michael Jackson's Black or White: OK, this was likely the last MJ song I loved. I thought the video was especially cool and cutting-edge, and I remember looking at MJ and thinking, boy, if it doesn't matter to him if he's black or white, why the heck does he get whiter every year?

Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy: Ooooooh, parttyyyyyyy! This song was played at every party and nightclub I went to! Everyone knew the words.

Vanessa Williams' Save the Best for Last: Have it on CD and still listen to it and still know all the words.

Boyz II Men's End of the Road: Tragic break up song. Sigh, sigh. Brings back bittersweet memories.

Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You: Same as above, except now I find it slightly boring. WH does go on and on. I remember I saw "The Bodyguard" at the Eros Theater near my college in Mumbai. That was unforgettable.

Your turn, folks!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


If you've ever seen the above decal on U.S. cars, you may have wondered what it means, like me. Last week, I found out. My friend D was visiting from my all-time fave American metro NYC, and she and I went to Anaheim Hills to grab haircuts. Our hair was treated by this amazingly nice hairstylist, who at first glance, appeared as desi as they come.

So while he shampooed my hair, I asked him if he was Indian. He guffawed out loud, saying no one had said that to him before. He wasn't Indian, but NDN (pronounced like the letters) aka American Indian, which he prefers to the "corny" native American. His family has both Kumeyaay (tribe from San Diego) and Chumash (Santa Barbara) blood, and he himself is married to an Apache from New Mexico.

He was discernably proud of his heritage, and I asked him something that had been on my mind for a long time. "Don't you -- and other native Americans -- mind being referred to as 'Indian'?" He shook his head, saying that American Indians had made the term part of their identity a long time ago. He also told me a little of the history behind the word, as he understood it:

Apparently, Christopher Columbus who's credited with "discovering" America for Queen Isabella of Spain was Italian. So his Spanish, apparently, wasn't too hot, and in his journal, he wrote about discovering the children of God in America -- "in Dios" -- which somehow got corrupted to Indian. Also, he'd believed he'd reached India. So it was a combination of factors, he said.

Don't know how far this is true. But I finally get NDN.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Notes on Yashomati

As you can see below, the mountains at Yosemite were awe-inspiring. The last pic shows P. and Raina frolicking in the icy cold water (yep, that's snow you see in the hills beyond) of Lake Tenaya on our way to Tioga Pass. What you can't see are the gigantic mosquito bites P.'s back was covered with -- no one warned us about the bugs! We are so duh.

Also, what no one warned us about was how hot Yosemite Valley would be. We stayed in 90+ degrees in a wooden cabin (sans a/c, of course, this was our getting-away-to-nature fling), and the heat sapped away what little was there of my energy. As a result, we did a lot of Yosemite via a/c minivan -- very comfy -- and sympathetically watched folks in bicycles puffing up steep hills under a blazing sun. Then, there were the hikers, but never mind about them.

What we were warned about -- repeatedly -- were the bears, who apparently had a tendency to tear up cars that not only contained the processed food we cannot live without, but also innocuous boxes of Wet Ones. So P. hauled all our stuff to our wooden cabin, that looked flimsy but had to be sturdier than the tent cabins also at Curry Village. Sturdy enough to ward off a marauding bear -- that I did not know and was to spend sleepless nights worrying about.

You see, the first night we slept in our tres lumpy beds, I heard one. What I first heard were loud clanging sounds of people beating up pans. Being reasonably intelligent, I concluded that we had at least one bear on the prowl, and lay terrified, eyes wide open, the bedcovers clutched with tense fingers. Then I heard the growling. More clanging and more growls later, shots were fired, probably the rubber bullets that we read about in the Bear Aware fact sheet handed to us at check-in. Then silence. Then I hear this humongous being brushing past my cabin that shook like it was experiencing an earthquake. They say your life flashes before your eyes in moments of extreme fear, but all I could think was "F%$K!!!!!!"

And that was it.

It was probably just an half-hour of drama, but seemed like an aeon. And P. and R. slept through it all. P. was sore about missing all the action and lamented I should've woken him up. I think he's half-crazy. He didn't spend our remaining two nights there with the covers over his head. In the bloody heat, I should reiterate, because we slept with our windows soundly closed (yes, our windows were covered just by a mesh screen when the bear brushed by).

OK, so other than the heat and the bear episode, Yosemite was incredibly beautiful. It was a wonderful experience to sit on the deck outside our cabin enclosed by tall pines. No sounds of TV or music, just an occasional laugh from real live humans hanging outside their cabins playing board games or cards, or reading or watching the twilight fall softly around them, like us. The multitudinous squirrels darted around the pine cones, stopping to munch on some bug or nut. The night brought soft, cool air, scented by pine. We breathed in gulpfuls, and slowly headed out of Yosemite, making plans to be back someday.

Yosemite Pix As Promised

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In Recovery

Returned last night and we're still in various stages of recovery. We covered 1,100+ miles in eight days, including Los Angeles, Fresno, Monterey, Solvang and trips to and within Yosemite. P.'s at the gym, R's sleeping, Pikey's in cat heaven and Mommy needs to hit the sack -- again. Will post pix as and when there's an energy influx.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Pilgrimage to Yashomati

Yep, that's how one desi friend touring Amreeka pronounced Yosemite, insisting that she had it on good authority (doubtless another desi touring Amreeka). After all, the pronounciation of Yosemite by a Cali resident was bound to be suspect.

Anyhoo, the family's off leaving Pikey to guard the silver. A bientot!

Friday, June 08, 2007


Raina and I were at the library recently, and while she hugged an awfully ugly grey stuffed mouse (whom she loves and regularly visits at the lib.), we cuddled together and read a board book called "HUG" by Jez Alborough. The book's about a little chimp who sees mama elephant hugging baby elephant, mama hippo hugging baby, mama lizard with baby, you get the picture. Each time, the chimp points to them and says, "HUG!" A few frames later, the chimp looks sad because everyone's hugging and he wants one too. Soon, he starts to cry "HUG!" Next thing I know, these big, fat tears are plopping down my arm. "He wants a HUG!" wails my 3-year-old. "Why is he crying?"

I am speechless. "Err, he wants to get a hug from someone who loves him," I stutter. "Where is his MAMA?" she howls. "Right here," I say relieved, pointing to the next page. Mama Chimp yells "Bobo!" Baby Chimp yells back "Mama!" And they run towards each other and hug, very hindi movie style. Raina chuckles through her tears. All the animals hug each other, yelling "HUG!" one last time for good measure. The end.

We checked out the book at her insistence. She read it again, cried again. The third time she read it, she gave the book a hug to comfort Bobo. I am still nonplussed -- should I have read a book that obviously made her sad? Why did she want to read it again if it made her cry? Can kids that little be that empathetic? Is it good for them? I guess the third time she read it, she didn't cry and gave Bobo a hug. Is that about learning to control emotions and take action?

Am scratching my head over it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Of Nightmares

It's 5 a.m. and I've been up for more than an hour. What woke me up was a wonderful nightmare about being bit by a waspy-spidery-black thingy, which definitely is up there among the pantheon of night monsters, including serial killers (who've also been my bed buddies offlate).

So waspy-spidery-black thingy bit me and I woke up biting off a scream of pure yuckiness. Then the mindwheels began to churn, the hunger pangs hit, and further sleep being temporarily futile, I am up and blogging while downing a bowl of Kashi Go Lean with milk.

P's up too, only for him, it's usual. He actually wakes up early on some weekdays to go to the gym before heading to work -- a dedication and discipline I admire but have consistently refused to emulate. I love my bed usually and detach myself from it only with the greatest reluctance. Don't know what it is with pregnancy and nightmares. Yet another way for nature to prepare mommies for forthcoming sleepless nights? Nooooo, I am not even in my 3rd trimester -- still got a few months to go.

I see the first glimmer of light from my window. If I want to grab some zzz's, it's now or never.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's a Boy...

...oh joy! Both P and I are really thrilled to eventually have one of each, and even Raina quickly reconciled to the idea of having a baby brother -- largely due to Mommy telling Naani Raina that she'll be free to teach him how to sing and talk and eat and take baths. She's especially glad to be able to teach him not to scratch or hit her like Nemesis Henry does at her preschool ("I'll just tell him, 'NO! That's not nice," Raina says emphatically). She's even promised to share ALL her toys with her baby brother! I can't ask for more.

It's interesting that a lot of friends and family reacted not only positively (which was expected), but by saying, "Now, your family's complete." What the heck does that mean? Wouldn't my family have been complete with the addition of a baby girl as well? Or if we'd decided to stick to one child only (and heaven knows we've contemplated that), would we have always been made to feel there was a spot vacant on the table of 4 so to speak? (OK, no one's counting Pikey The Cat, but then she has terrible table manners.)

Just odd little irritants on an otherwise joyful time which we largely spend contemplating boy baby names. :) Suggestions are welcome. The rules are, it's got to have no more than 2 syllables and be easy for non-desis to pronounce.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Times of India

I got this e-mail and thought it was so funny, I had to share it on the blog:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter. Amnesty International and Kofi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support for the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance). Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for "Bharat Bandh" in West Bengal and Kerala demands a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers.

Lallu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.
Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the winter.

Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grasshopper in educational insititutions & in Govt. Services.The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV.

Arundhati Roy calls it "a triumph of justice". Lallu calls it 'Socialistic Justice'. CPM calls it the 'revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden.' Kofi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later... The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi billion dollar company in Silicon Valley. 100s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservations somewhere in India ... As a result of losing a lot of hard working ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India is still a developing country.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy 33 to Me!

Now that I've reached the ripe old age of 33, I think it's time to share some of the pearls of wisdom I've gathered in all these years. Without further ado, here they are:

1. There's no God, just a deep need to believe in one.

2. Lower your expectations of others; increase your expectations of yourself.

3. Blood isn't always thicker than water.

4. The best parent is a patient one.

5. Say what you feel, and make it count.

6. Solitude keeps me sane -- and abject laziness.

7. Take the mundane with the marvelous.

8. Just say "Om."

9. Be irreverent, not irrelevant.

10. And the last pearl: Worship your body, if you want others to follow suit. :P

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Making A Move

P's company recently set up a big deal collaboration with a pharmagiant, which means that he's likely to stay employed (woohoo!) for the next three years. The past few months, we've been thinking that if the deal came through, it would be a great time to move. And now that it's a done deal, we've begun seriously thinking about it.

There are quite a few pros for moving: We've been at our present home for 5 years, exactly how long we'd hoped to be when we first bought our house. Our space needs have grown, thanks to the humongous amount of Stuff that having Raina's brought. And with a new kid on the way -- which translates to More Stuff -- our space needs are just going to grow. We have more time now to deal with selling our home -- making minor repairs and renovations -- and more time to look for a new one. If we wait till the baby's here, I know I'm not going to want to deal with the stresses of moving until six months after at least.

Now the cons: Though it'd really be nice to have more space now, it's not a pressing need. We have a three-bedroom home. Raina's had her own room since she was 6 months old, and the baby's going to be in our room until that age too. That leaves one extra room for guests, which we'll need if the in-laws come for the delivery. It'll be a full house, but doable. That means we would postpone the moving process for one whole year.

The biggest con is the pregnancy, of course. I know lots of people who dealt with the stresses of selling a home while pregnant, and they did OK. But I also have one close friend who, when pregnant with twins, went into labor at 6 months and lost both babies -- a tragedy she blames partly on the stress of moving to a new home the week before. Obviously, she is against our moving, warning me that if something happens to the baby, the guilt would just drive me insane, the way it almost did her. I know that twin pregnancies are a greater risk, but really, after my miscarriage, shouldn't any pregnancy of mine be considered a great risk? Would I be indulging my generally optimistic nature too far by considering a move? Or would I be realistic not to consider it?

So I'm confused and bothered -- and frankly, already a little stressed. Anyone have any thoughts on this one?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Boy or Girl?

In less than a week, our family will find out if the newest addition is going to be a boy or a girl. Of course, we'll also find out how healthy s/he is, and I am so terrified, yet hopeful, that all will be well. I received the Fifth Disease results, and it appears that I don't have the virus. But before I could celebrate (without throwing another party, am so partied out after last week), I was told the results meant one of two things:

1. It's too early to know for sure, so re-testing is required.

2. I am not immune to the virus, so I could be exposed in the future, only this time (hah!) I wouldn't know I was.

OK, I am not even going to bother about scenario 2; scenario 1 is scary enough. Blood for the re-testing was sucked out on Monday, so I should know the results soon.

Anyhoo, moving on to the much more pleasant daydream of what sex our second child will be... I think P. would like a boy, just to have some more testosterone on his side. And since I am a good wife and acknowledge his struggles in our girly household suffused with baby dolls, bottles and cuddly stuffed animals, I wish we have a boy too. Also, it would be nice to have one of each. But both of us would equally enjoy another girl. We just want a healthy child.

Raina, on the other hand, isn't quite so ready to accept whatever fate may thrust her way. When told about her upcoming role as Big Sister, she stated unequivocally that it was going to be a girl because she wanted a baby sister, not a baby brother because "I don't like boys." While her daddy beamed ear-to-ear, I darkly reminded him that she wasn't a teenager yet, and believe it or not, her sentiments may undergo a sea-change at some point.

Meanwhile, Miss Cindy, Raina's preschool teacher, has been informing Raina "that daddy was a boy too." Raina just looks at her like she's off her rocker: Her daddy could never have been as annoying as Henry who always makes a beeline for her to tug her ponytails or grab her doll or push her around. Or like Robert and Adam who're always yelling and wrestling each other.

We might have to work on reconciling her once we know for sure. Until then, this mommy is conserving her energy for more immediate battles.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

First Flutterings

Past couple of weeks, I've been noticing some activity in the belly area, which feels kind of like the bubbles Raina loves to chase. I would've passed it off as gas, but the other day when I was indulging in some chocolate mousse, I was kicked so hard, it's got to have been caused by a tiny thing high on sugar. Maybe this one will like chocolate like Mama; Raina dislikes it intensely.

The one thing that always got Raina going in my belly was bhangra. This was a Punj babe from the get-go. She'd bounce around happily "bale-bale-ing" when the bhangra beat was turned on at parties. She had a favorite CD, I kid you not. I'd play that CD in the car while commuting to work, and sit back on my seat to enjoy the party within. Don't know where that CD is these days. Got to dig that up to see if she still likes it.

Right now, Raina's into Hindi movie tunes bigtime. Her current favorite is Swades' "Yeh tara," which, thanks to her, we're heartily sick of. She has to hear it half-dozen times a day. She's also just discovered the Devdas soundtrack and makes me sing "Bairi Piya" before she goes down for a nap. No rocker chick, this girl. Her dad is very pleased, doubtless looking forward to the day he will introduce her to his favorites Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali. But her mama's been making attempts to expose her to some non-desi music. So far, she seems to be fond of Red Hot Chili Peppers, exclusively because of their "California" song. (She is aware she's a Cali gal and that Schwarzenegger is the governor.) And she really likes Lighthouse's "You & Me" and sings along every time the radio plays that. C'est tout. Two minutes later she's begging me to play "Yeh Tara" again.

Wonder what music this baby will like? No matter -- he/she'll probably have to bow down to the taste of Big Sister and suffer through innumerable repetitions of "Yeh tara" like the rest of us poor folks.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Two Down, One to Go

Raina's birthday was on Wednesday and to commemmorate the occasion, the weather turned out a 98-degrees-in-the-shade day. The same day, the road we take to Raina's preschool was shut down for some construction work, which meant that we had to park elsewhere and trot under a blazing sun, laden with cake, pizzas, paper plates and assorted cutlery, goodie bags, juice boxes, balloons, one balloon pump. By we, I mean myself and my husband, who'd thankfully taken the day off. Truth be told, I just carried the cake and my growing belly; he carted the rest.

We were greeted at the preschool by a very excited Raina and her assorted medley of buddies, who were behaving as if it were their birthdays too. Everyone was running around and yelling. So began a rather intense couple of hours. Miss Cindy, Raina's teacher, had decided to have the party in the backyard. Thankfully, she had a tent put up, but it was still stifling hot when we handed out juice boxes, slices of pepperoni and cheese pizzas and chips. Kids have an amazing capacity to eat, giggle, push and ask weird questions at the same time.

The husband was asked by precocious 5-year-old Grace if he was Raina's dad, and if so, did that mean he was married to Raina's mom? At one point, Raina got up to possessively stake claim by plonking on Daddy's lap. A few boys made up their minds that running around was more fun than eating. They had to be deposited on high chairs to curtail their activity. One boy amused himself by trying to eat pizza without using hands.

The sun began to pound away at me, and I made an escape to the cool indoors, where I was regaled with an unending monolog by Miss Cindy on her daughter's softball game the night before. Especially fun, since I don't much understand softball. Finally it was time to cut cake, which we did indoors. That was the best part. Everyone sang "happy birthday to Raina" and it was all worth it just to see her face. Games followed, then opening presents. By this time, Raina was close to reaching the end of her tether. She was exhausted. We wrapped up as quickly as possible and were home by 1:15, with the prospect of a raucous party to look forward to in the evening.

The evening party turned out surprisingly mellow--maybe because a whole bunch of folks decided not to show up after RSVPing aye. It was just weird. But Raina had a blast anyway, as her best friend Kiran was present. The terrible twosome decorated their hair and face with carrot cake, giggled a riot, chased balloons and bubbles and kicked up a ruckus.

The desi party's scheduled for tomorrow and preparations for that are on full swing. I can't wait for this week to be done, but at least I can be sure this has been one of the most fun weeks of Raina's life. Happy 3rd, Raina!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sick Week Rants

Starting last Saturday, this has been a ghastly week and am glad to finally see the back of it. It began with the cramping after prenatal yoga class (see last post). But that ended soon, and I began the work week happily coasting along. Then on Wednesday, I get a call from my dear friend and also preggie neighbor, V. "OK, I wouldn't panic, but..." I can't think of better words one can design to ensure a person does precisely that. Moving along the narrative, sometime last week another neighbor's preggie friend had brought her kid over to play. All the kids were running around in the front yards, and the mas were yakking away. Apparently, preggie friend had a rash on her face, but the doctor had told her no biggie, wasn't contagious, blah, so obviously she wasn't taking any precautions.

Her blood test results came back Wednesday, and guess what? All was not well and dandy. Poor preggie lady had Fifth Disease. That sounds calamitous, but it's usually a rather benign virus. Except when one is preggie, when it can cause miscarriage. And it's airborne, so yep, it was contagious as heck. Poor lady told her friend who told my friend who told moi. And of course, we all pregnant women panicked. I told my nurse who sent me for a blood test pronto. Apparently, the results take a couple of weeks, so that's a nice little Damocles sword dangling over my head.

Then on Thursday I began spotting. Again! Big groan. I tottered to the nearest couch and called the husband. I promised to take it easy. A promise I broke the very next day when Raina threw a huge tantrum, refused to go time out and had to be grabbed by furious moi and dumped on time out chair. As soon as I attempted to straighten up, I knew something was wrong. I couldn't. So now I've messed up my back. Just a few days before Raina's multiple birthday parties.

But the week's over. There's a silver lining to every cloud. So everyone says.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Prenatally Yours

Went for my first prenatal yoga class yesterday at Blue Raven Yoga. The poses were different from the usual Bikram's series (downward dogs, yuck!!!!), because Blue Raven practices Ashtanga/Iyengar. But as I hadn't been to yoga in months, it was great to do something. Anything.

Ever since we began trying for another baby post-miscarriage last August, I've been too afraid to move. And once I found out that I was pregnant, that's it: I became as static as a humongous rock. Now that the first trimester's thankfully behind us, I feel the need to rediscover motion again. But maybe I should have started small, by getting used to walking again first. You know, baby steps.

Yesterday's class was fun as heck, and it was great to be in the company of a bevy of big round bellies. After yoga, the family and I went to pig out at Madras Cafe, our favorite Indian food joint, where for the first time in months, I felt justified in stuffing my belly with the best rasam in SoCal, yummy sambar, idlis and dosas and some rather exotic-looking veggies and dals. (A quick but worthwhile segue here: I highly recommend Madras Cafe to local residents. No Indian food joint we've ever visited in the area comes close to the original ingredients and high quality of the chow here. And their desserts, of which they always have two on their lunch buffet, are the best ever -- never too sweet, just on the right side of delicious.)

Anyhoo, a good day was had by all. But I had some cramping last night which was a little scary, and this morning I woke up to a myriad of aches and pains in muscles I'd forgotten existed. Jeez. I feel as alive as a dying duck. So no yoga classes for a couple more weeks. Will walk around the trails near our home for a bit, maybe do some yoga at home using Shiva Rea's prenatal video (no downward dogs!!!). And maybe in a few weeks, I'll feel better prepared to be a pregnant yogini.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Grumpy (or How Many Birthday Parties Does a 3-year-old Need for Crying Out Loud??)

Am grumpy as heck. That by itself is nothing new. The hormones are working overtime these days and it doesn't take much to bring a scowl on my face anyways. But I swear, Raina's upcoming birthday's making that scowl more or less permanent. As if multiple grey hairs weren't enough, now I am going to be wrinkly as well.

The problemo is we're looking at a minimum of 3 birthday parties for the kiddo -- one for each of her years on the planet. First, the preschool party, where we have cake, pizza, a game or two, return gifts. It would be great if I could just drop all of the stuff on Cindy and Ms. Perez, Raina's teachers, and have them do the party thang. But of course, my presence is required.

Then, probably the same day, we're going to do a party at home for neighborhood kiddos and all our non-desi friends kids. (More to come on desi friends.) There, we're looking at around 2 dozen kids, sans parents. More pizza, cake number 2, games, more return gifts.

Finally, it's the desi party on the weekend of the birthday. This is what really gets my goat. Pourquoi a separate desi party? Why can't desis just mingle with non-desis and be part of the great US of A, instead of pretending to be in India? I've grumbled endlessly to my husband about this, and he just laid it down for me: We go to other people's desi kid parties, ergo, we have to give desi kid party. No one at desi parties even pretends that this is about the kid. It's all about the parents and their social life and eating good biryani and bitching about the US and Indian cricket. Of course, now that I've eaten another's biryani, I need to make my own. Quid pro quo, what. So that's that.

It's hardly any wonder I want to bury my head in the nearest sandbox and wait for the birthday tsunami to pass me by. At least Raina'll have a memorable birthday. And it's about the kid, ain't it?

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Blogging for the first time from my new iMac! It's delicious, but it needs a wee bit of getting used to after a decade of PC use. Anyhoo, have been wanting to note down a few Rainisms uttered a few days ago by our household 3-footer. (She isn't even 3 yet, but she's already over 3 feet tall!) The following wise words came out of the mouth of the babe:

1. Friend's 14-year-old son: (mock seriously) Raina, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Raina: (after a thoughtful pause) I want to be RAINA!

2. Friend's 19-year-old daughter: How old are you going to be on your birthday?
Raina: I'm going to be three years old and I'm going to have three blue birthday candles on my blue birthday cake and I am not going to sing "happy birthday" to myself.

3. Raina: I love you.
Raina's Ma i.e. Moi: I love you too.
Raina: (eyes wide) Grown-ups really like it when someone says I love you.

:) Smartass!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Search for the Perfect Sandals

The skies threatened to rain, so I loaded up Raina in the minivan and decided to check out this new Marshalls in our neighborhood. I am a big fan of Marshalls since my pre-mommy days, when I discovered two wonderful bronzes of Nataraj and Ganpati fairly cheap. So when one opened up in our area, I went with somewhat high hopes.

You see, I was on a quest. For years and years, I'd been scouting for the Perfect Summer Sandals. In fact, this quest dates to 1997, when I saw a pair of luscious sandals at my cousin's home in Iowa. Unfortunately, they belonged to said cousin, and short of filching them, all I could do was gaze wistfully and vow that one day a pair will belong to moi.

You may think these must be some gorgeous sandals to inspire such emotion in me. Description: Brown strappy leather with a low heel. The leather straps are braided. That's it. Sounds ordinary, but when I put them on, my feet were so happy! They looked pretty and comfortable. In short, perrrrrfect.

My cousin had purchased her pair at Sears. So of course I checked out every Sears store in every town I've lived and visited since 97 (which are really quite a few). No luck, not even in India, where a lot of American shoes now are manufactured.

Recently, I saw a pair at a shoe store that came close. The price tag? $45. Nooooo! One shouldn't have to pay so much for such simplicity. So off I went to Marshalls today, with aforementioned high hopes.

Of course I had no luck. What's the world coming to these days that one can't find a simple pair of comfy, strappy sandals for summer?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Memories of a C-Section

Read this post on Mad Momma's blog a couple of days ago
It brought back a cascade of unpleasant memories of my own C-section almost three years ago. So I responded to the post, and later thought, dang, I need to record this for posterity so I can emotionally blackmail my daughter when she's 14, wearing black eyeshadow and yelling that time-honored phrase, "You don't understand!" So here it is, Raina, just for you...

"Your post brought back all the not-so-fun c-section memories of my own. I have an almost 3-year-old, and when I was pregnant with her, I knew exactly what kind of birth I wanted to have: no epidural, completely natural. I had a detailed birth plan drawn up, with copies for my ob-gyn and for nurses at the hospital.

Well, I went a week over my due date, and to cut a very long story short, had to have the doctor break my water because I'd been laboring for 48 hours with zero dilation. I was exhausted when I acquiesced to my first epidural; when that wore out, I got a second which did not work at all. At which point, I began screaming. Finally, I was wheeled into the OR where I got much-needed relief from a spinal block.

The doctor operating on me was my least favorite ob-gyn from the practice; she and the others chatted unconcernedly about their weekend plans while they cut me up and got my baby out. My husband, who was thankfully next to me throughout this ordeal, got to see the baby first. This is soooooo not fair, I still get mad when I think about it! Then I saw her, muttered a few deranged words and that was it for the next couple of hours. It was maddening! Husband disappears, baby disappears and I'm left to be stitched up.

I had months after the birth to feel and re-create the disappointment of not having the perfect birth experience. But if I hadn't had such high expectations, I wouldn't have been so disappointed. Because, all in all, the C-section by itself wasn't so bad."

Hmm, maybe I should edit out the last line. After all, I was exhausted, did succumb to an infection and generally was miserable for the next few months. So there you are, munchkin. Now I can assume the mantle of the All-Suffering Mom (ASM) and reply to your rant with my own time-honored phrase, "After all I've done for you..."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun

I am on page 10 of this book and am already gritting my teeth. So far in this travelogue on life in the somnolent Italian countryside -- a New York Times bestseller -- Mayes has already talked about visiting remote but picturesque towns where you can "see olives the first day they are olives." She gets "very pleasantly lost" driving on the gravel roads between Umbria and Tuscany, on the way tasting the softest Brunello and the blackest Vino Nobile.

The above is why I don't understand how travelogues do so well. I don't want to vicariously experience a country! What possible fun is there in that? All I feel is green with envy -- hence the gritted teeth. I guess I can always tell myself that I'll make it there -- someday -- and reading about it is like reading a guidebook.

More likely, if I finish this book, I may have no teeth left.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's My Nine Lives

I am not even done with this book and I'm blogging about it! I'm just so thrilled with this one that I am reading it as slowly as possible just to savor every word in every story.

My Nine Lives is a collection of stories -- neither fiction nor non- -- as each story depicts a character Jhabvala may have been, a life she may have led. "Even when something didn't actually happen to me, it might have done so," she explains in a foreword she titles "Apologia." "Every situation was one I could have been in myself, and sometimes, to some extent, was." The "I" may have been her; she may be trying out alternative destinies.

In other words, she really doesn't want to disclose what -- affairs with married men (usually old), back-alley abortions and a wide variety of embarassing or absent parents -- may be autobiographical. The stories are set in New York or New Delhi, both cities inhabited by Jhabvala for dozens of years.

I also discovered that Jhabvala isn't Parsi, like I'd assumed several years ago when reading "Heat and Dust." Her ancestry is German-Jewish; she and her parents emigrated to London during the Hitler years, where she met and married Cyrus Jhabvala.

The common theme in these stories is a quest, Jhabvala writes, for a person. "A person I have looked up to, or been in love with, maybe even for some sort of guru or guide. Someone better, stronger, wiser, altogether other...Does such a person exist, and if so, does one ever find him?"

So ultimately, these are nine delicious love stories, tender, passionate, heart-breaking ... worth savoring, then reading over.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go

Just finished this novel. I find Ishiguro unputdownable, usually, and this book was no different. Not in the whodunnit kind of way -- but he's master at creating suspense in the most ordinary everyday events, so you can't wait to turn the page and see what happens next.

In this novel, though, the world that Ishiguro creates is only deceptively ordinary and straightforward. It's the world of a private English school, Hailsham, described by the remniscences of Kathy H., now 31 years old. Her memories mostly focus on her friendships with Tommy and Ruth, starting from the time they were about 6.

As the story unfolds, the bizarreness and horror of Kathy's world is gradually exposed. Ishiguro's skill lies in presenting these horrific details so matter-of-factly, that when the true story of Hailsham comes out, the reader doesn't even experience a jolt. Through Kathy, we always know that something about Hailsham -- and about its students -- is not "normal." And like Kathy, the horror of her situation dawns on the reader only gradually.

But because of Ishiguro's deft handling, this story becomes about so much more than Hailsham. By questioning the very qualities that make us human, he underscores the frailties and strengths of relationships, of friends and lovers. The only thing that bothers me about Ishiguro's characters is how often I feel like shaking them out of sheer frustration. There are conversations that are left incomplete, significant words left unsaid, choices that the characters make, maybe out of timidity or uncertainty. Like the butler in "The Remains of the Day," Kathy chooses not to take risks, so that we, like her, experience a sense of sadness and loss as the book comes to an end.

Joyce Carol Oates has called Ishiguro "one of our most eloquent poets of loss." I would agree, adding that he's master of speculation on that favorite nostalgic pastime of most people: the road not taken.


War has officially been declared by my pint-sized 2-year-old. A war on naps, i.e. Until a couple of weeks ago, Raina was a napper. She didn't just docilely go for her afternoon nap, she'd look forward to it. And if she didn't go down as scheduled, she'd be one cranky, scowly little girl.

Then one fine day, completely out of the blue, she took up arms. Just like her napping used to be so scheduled, her war follows a definite pattern. Here's the scenario enacted every afternoon: First, she'll try the Delay Tactic -- "Mom, I need to go poop!" she'll holler, and proceeds to do the deed. After washing her hands, drinking a glass of water and jumping down from her stool, she'll be led to bed. Twenty minutes later, I'll hear her bedroom door opening. "I slept so well!" the fibber'll exclaim. I hold her hand firmly and lead her back to bed. Fifteen minutes pass. The door opens, Raina toddles out to the top of the stairs, sheepishly holding her nap buddy Prisha The Tiger before her face. Then, while I drag her to bed yet again, the bawling starts.

A couple of times, I just gave way, simply because by then it was 2:30 p.m. and close to the end of naptime anyway. Then I'd threaten her, "You're going to bed an hour early because you didn't take a nap." This was not a good idea. Turns out, Madam was only too thrilled to continue forgoing her naps and going to bed at 6:15 p.m. So I had to dig in my heels.

Yesterday, I tucked her in bed at 1 p.m. After dragging her back for the umpteenth time, at 3:20 p.m she finally slept. This afternoon, she went down like a lamb. But I've a dirty feeling this war is far from won.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Isn't she lovely?

Just wanted to share a picture of my black cat Pilcrow aka Pikey, The Black Monster and Meow Cat (because of the length and variations in her meows). Pikey'll be 6 years old this May. She's a SoCal cat, found roaming in a friend's colleague's apartment complex more than 5 years ago. Our first impression of her was a black blurry bullet that whistled around our legs chasing something, someone, whatever. That set the pattern for the rest of her year as a kitten. I fondly remember how after one of those chases, she'd just collapse on us like a tired newborn babe, curl up in a ball or just splay out so her claws would be gently immersed in our clothes. Then she'd proceed to sleep. Woe betide the person who'd try to get up -- as at some point in our lives, we all must do. I have not so fond memories of numerous bloody scratches. We contemplated having her declawed to save our skin and our furniture. That's before we knew what declawing would involve. She used to be such a child. She'd meow a host of complaints when I'd leave the house to go grocery shopping. Then she'd meow a storm when I got back. She'd only be appeased if you spent the next 30 minutes petting her. Then she'd purr like a train.
After Raina was born, poor Pikey had to grow up and be the Big Sister. She'd watch over my shoulder during those midnight feedings, checking out the enemy. My parents were worried that she may harm the baby, but we were more worried about Pikey. She'd run terrified from the room when the baby would cry -- Raina has quite a set of lungs. Suddenly no one had that much free time to pet the cat or scratch underneath her chin or play flashlight with her.
Now things have evened out a bit. Now Pikey just enters a room after Raina exits it. She just wakes up after Raina goes down for a nap. And once Raina's down for the night, it's Pikey time, folks...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Been feeling blue the past few days. A friend was telling me she'd read a study or something that the second or third week of January is the most depressing time of the year. So I know why.

Or maybe it has to do with the Chargers losing. Our home's football season officially ended last weekend when our pro team lost to the Patriots. It was a sad, sad day. After the Buckeyes lost the National Championship, our hopes had been pinned on the promising Chargers.

Or maybe it's because work's going so slow. I know this time next week I'll be running around like a chick with her head cut off, so I should appreciate the down time. I've been reading some improving books. Just finished Gertrude Stein's "Three Lives" -- three not-so-short stories about three women. But the last one I read "Melanctha" really got me down.

To combat all these combined blahs, I began reading "An Autobiography of a Yogi" by Yogananda Paramhansa. Y.P. founded The Self Realization Fellowship housed in a veddy nice building fronting the Pacific here in SoCal, so I'd wanted to read him for a while. Plus, I heard that his brother was my buddy Bikram's guru. Plus, the book is up for discussion at my next book club meet.

It's turning out to be pretty entertaining reading. So far not very philosophical, but it's clipping along at a fair pace. Which is more than I expected. Some surprises are really nice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sackcloth & Ashes (The Buckeyes Lose)

Our house is in mourning. Last night, the Florida Gators not only trounced the Ohio State Buckeyes to become the national champions in college football -- they decimated us. They squashed our players like so many miniscule bugs in a football field. The score? 41-14.

The game began spectacularly, with Ted Ginn Jr. returning the starting kickoff for a touchdown. But he was injured in the second play of the game, and after that, it was like QB Troy Smith just lost it. The first quarter was ghastly, and by half-time, the score was already 34-14, and we were all covering our eyes and hanging our heads in despair.

The rest of the game was such a farce, it was comical. We could count the number of first-downs we made in one hand. The idea of scoring one touchdown -- let alone 3 to catch up -- was a joke.

All in all, it was a blowout. Because it was so bad, we actually weren't as gloomy as we would have been had it been a close game. I guess we had more time to resign ourselves to our fate.

Ah well. The best team won and all that. There's next season. Even though there won't be Smith or Ginn. Go Buckeyes.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy 2007 (And More NY Resolutions)

Woohoo! I feel super-relaxed and blissed out and ready to take on anything and everything a new year will shove on me. I loved this vacation -- lots of warm, sunny days in neighboring parks and beaches, day trips to Palm Desert and Coronado, visiting and having visitors, and parties with good food and singing and dancing, wine-tasting and wine-chugging, reading and napping... lovely!

More new year resolutions (surely one can make them all January?):

1. Have Baby No. 2. The procreation plan's been on since last year, but I had a miscarriage, so it was temporarily shelved. We're all hoping 2007 will be more fruitful.

2. Brush Pikey The Cat's teeth. I know, I know, it's not even close in importance to Res. 1, but it really, really needs to be done. It's crazy how much we pay in health insurance for that monster, just because it includes dental cleaning under general anesthesia twice a year. I kid you not. We actually began bathing her once a month in 2006 -- once a seemingly impossible task -- so it's important to have a can-do attitude towards cleaning her teeth. I will it, so it shall be done.

3. Encourage the husband in growing a goatee. I've been urging him to have some facial hair for years and years, and now it's actually happening! Very exciting to see this new man emerge. OK, I am easily pleased.

A more immediate resolution: Coddle Pikey, so we win the national championship! Go Buckeyes, blow off the Gators! A happy new year to all!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 in Books

Yeah it's 2007! A whole new year of halcyon days where I am curled up with a goodish pile of great reads and a few (very few) dark chocolate bars -- that's the sum of my new year resolution and ambition. :) Hmm, maybe I am the bookworm the husband calls me. Maybe.

But before one moves on to a new and exciting literary year, I'd really like to note down my Top 3 favorite reads of 2006. All fiction, of course, though I have begun making some rather gradual forays into non -- which was my 2006 new year resolution. (I really liked "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer on Mormon fundamentalism.)

OK. Without further ado, here they are:

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Yikes, I just checked the copyright page and realized that this book was first published in hardcover in 2003! So this is hardly a new book. The story is Amir's divided in three parts: his childhood in pre-Taliban Afghanistan; his coming-of-age in America, where he fled with his father after the Russians occupied Kabul; and finally, Amir's middle age in 2001 in California and Taliban-ruled Kabul. Hosseini imparts a freshness to the age-old themes of love and betrayal and redemption by setting them in the backdrop of a Kabul that's unfamiliar to most of us. A timeless tale poetically wrought that rends your heart. This one squeezed out quite a few tears.

2. Ravan and Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar
This one came out in 1995. Sigh, I know, late discovery. But I absolutely LOVED this book and am sold on Nagarkar. Can't wait to see what else he's written before and since. Found this one during my last Mumbai trip, but I am sure I can find more on Amazon. Cutting to the chase: this is a satirical take on the bawdy crazy chawl life of Mumbai and mostly focuses on the adventures of prepubescent Ravan, a Maratha Hindu, and Eddie, a Catholic. The tale commences when 1-year-old Ram falls from a chawl balcony. Eddie's dad, Victor, who was busy checking out Ram's mom's bosom, catches the little boy, but dies instantly, thereby causing Ram's name change to Ravan. Watching the scenario enfold, Victor's heavily pregnant wife goes into labor and Eddie's born. Fun start, hah? Unputdownable.

3. five point someone by Chetan Bhagat.
I swear I read a lot of nondesi authors last year. Guess I just liked the desi ones better. This is another fun book that I picked up in India reciting the trials and tribulations of three students trying to survive the experience that's IIT. Hostel life, friendship, love, cafeteria food, all comes under hilarious scrutiny. But the book also spotlights an academic culture that prizes cramming and unquestioning obedience above originality and curiosity.