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.