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Sunday, September 23, 2012

To mock a helpless bird..

I’d been the youngest in my maternal family for at least half a decade until another made his entry and those were the years I treasure; not just for the happy moments. The part wherein  a gross mischief committed exclusively by me was pardoned in a blink was definitely good. Those memories in which the older kids and sibling were blamed based on the degree of mischief and the fact that I always got away unscathed still makes me so happy! However it wasn’t a cakewalk, because I had to deal with the misery of never being taken seriously. A tooth pain, a random complaint, a blunder – instead of people consoling me, everybody considered those as jokes. I was laughed upon in those years I desperately needed moral support.

Unfortunately those were also the years I tried to speak in English, as insisted by my school management and I tried to combine words to make broken sentences. The relatives found my futile attempts so funny that I dreaded to speak in English at home. Just for your information I would like to mention that the so called relatives in question were not Oxford alumni themselves.

Once upon a time when I was approximately five years old, on a cold unfortunate Christmas Eve, the maternal house was jam packed with every other relative one can possibly think of - except one who was abroad and couldn’t join the festivities. An ISD call was made and each one was waiting in queue to wish him a merry Christmas. The fact that once the telephone bill for that month arrives none of these people waiting patiently for their turns in the queue would be available in the vicinity- and that is the key to all the extended wishes, small talk and local gossip that went on endlessly across continents. I was the last one in the queue and everyone was sitting around the black telephone like wolves on the prowl when my turn came. Then started the conversation, which was so faked that I responded with ‘mmm’ and ‘ok’ to whatever was said to me. I should admit that this was child abuse of the worse kind. The relatives were not pleased with my monosyllables. Finally the person at the other end wished me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To this, I exclaimed ‘Same!’ as the proficiency to say ‘wish you the same’ had not occurred to me and the fiercely anticipating relatives broke into a chorus of uncontrollable laughter. Quoting this incident became the prime hobby of certain morons that every time I visited, I was made a laughing stock citing this incident. I am not exaggerating this part, but it came as a surprise that once when I was doing my engineering and I visited my grandma, this same set of people repeated the ‘Same’ incident much to my horror and disbelief. Well was it so much of a joke that it should be remembered after fifteen years? Fifteen years ?!

Don’t get me wrong here; I am a light hearted person, who forgets the past quickly. I understand jokes and never take them seriously. However after all these years I cannot come to a logical reason as to why the ‘same’ episode needs to be revived every time I visit my grandma’s place. Not just revived it was remixed as well.

Yes I did retaliate in the best known way to make my point that I am not a fan of these jokes, especially the ‘same’ recitals. The illogical reasoning that followed was more appalling than that. It was said that I was a ‘small’ child, and my voice was ‘funny’ and that they ‘adored’ me, and hence the torture. I read that as 'We have no one else to humiliate, but you'.

 I went on to love English, read whatever Papa or my sister gave me, wrote articles in school and college magazines, started a blog, won prizes at my workplace and online competitions, and here I am. Whether the prolonged mockery helped me is not the point. The point is the importance of moral support and encouragement to a child. The levels of self confidence lost by a child once we mock them. I vowed never to laugh at a mistake or blunder made by my niece or my son, not only in English – but in whatever they come across in their academics or the world around them.

P.S: I did not borrow the above theme from Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. However I wonder whether someone stole my thoughts to make 'English Vinglish' :-|

Monday, September 17, 2012

'Spot-fixing' curtains.

Plumbers, carpenters and technicians help us recalculate the number of days that constitute a week. Like for example, the washing machine breaks down and laundry basket is looking more like a garbage dump. Suddenly the realization that some important clothes are in them dawns and then calls to the retail guy ends up either to the voicemail or the line is forever busy. After calling like n(n+1) times the retail guy lousily answers the call, in a tone which makes you think that you are begging to be cast in his next movie. Then he says he will send his men to fix the machine in two days. Another two days and the wardrobe seems to look empty, the laundry basket is not visible anymore- it remains buried under a heap of clothes. One begins to wonder about the scarcity of clothes in the wardrobe. Then you call again and he says, Madam you don’t work on a weekend, do you? Call on Monday! There, and before you know it, another week and soon, one month and a thousand phone calls are wasted.

No fortunately that did not happen with me, something worse did. So two weeks ago we moved into this new apartment, and have set up everything except the curtains. We took window measurements ourselves and bought rod and curtains and ever since had been waiting for someone to fix it. So firstly we were given the number of one Joseph, who wasted one week by postponing unprofessionally saying ‘In another two days’ and after which he refused to answer our calls. I intelligently tried to call from my mobile, thinking he would pick up but he was cleverer than both of us. This guy did not have the courtesy to call back, and so we started looking for someone else.

 We gathered details of another guy who fixed the curtains for a neighbor. This guy promised to come the next day and yes he came today by noon. One hungry looking guy to fix curtains, rods and holders for three rooms and four double-curtains. Usually a helper comes with such people to help with the tools but there were none in sight-no tools either. Not to mention that he looked frail and undernourished to even hold the curtains properly using both hands. However we noticed that he wore frameless spectacles, Casio watch and carried a very modern phone. The first impression he made was to borrow some basic tools from us. For all the phone calls and the number of days wasted, a weird kind of patience had come to us and we decided not to underestimate. So he started one side of the window where he took measurement and made a mark on the wall to fix the holder.

Then he set up the holder, tilted shoddily almost at a 45 degree angle from the floor.

I should mention here that my husband is not a quick tempered person. Unless and until provoked to his core he doesn’t bother about anything or anyone other than family or his electronic possessions (not necessarily in that order) and lives perpetually undisturbed in his own world of wires, cables and gadgets.

Hubby: ‘What is this?’

Stupid malnourished guy (SMG): ‘What sir?”

Hubby: ‘ Cant you even see for yourself what you have done! If the holder is tilted the entire curtain will be tilted…do I have to tell you that?’

SMG: ‘Oh come on sir this holder and all will not be seen outside once the curtain comes!’

Hubby: ‘Okay then!  You can leave! We dint get this curtain for free, we paid for it and we expect you to do a good job of it’. 

**I think this is a total decent response, because if it was Papa in this situation he would have made SMG pee in his pants or cry like a baby. If it were my grandfather he would’ve said enough for this guy to abandon everything worldly and go to the Himalayas to meditate**

But SMG had conveniently ignored the conversation as his stupidity took over him and he climbed on the other side of the window to fix the next holder. He placed the holder somewhere at the edge and turned to ask, ‘This angle okay, sir?’

Hubby: ‘What ! Don’t you even have the basic scale to measure the angle?’

SMG: ‘Oh we don’t carry that for such things Sir’

Hubby then took his phone and called the neighbor who recommended him and talked about how the wall was damaged. Neighbor of course was not helpful and finally SMG packed and left. Seriously if it were me I’d just shake the ladder he was standing on. Well considering his approximate weight to be around 30 kilos I could have done that easily mind you.

And so he left, leaving the hall in a total mess with screws and curtains (newly and carefully bought) strewn around. Sob. Screws can easily excite my toddler who at present can’t tell a tool from a biscuit so he may as well swallow them, so I need to clean up the place and make sure there is nothing lying around. That’s how to invite a calamity to the house you see. Sigh.

Well we need such people around to realize the value of professionals.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An open letter to Moms-to-be...

Dear Mom-to-be,

Congratulations! I am a working mother of a one year old, with my husband by me and all my folks back in a different country. Needless to say, I am pretty much pulling it off on my slender shoulders.

When I announced my pregnancy, I got three types of responses from my loved ones. The first, were the ones who said ‘Yipee my baby is a Mommy!’ and blew kisses and wishes to express their joy. The second, were the ones back at my hometown who expected me to be pregnant the next day of my marriage, but are nevertheless relieved in some way. The third was a weird kind who exclaimed…’what the hell! Are u mad?’ making me feel like a teenager.You may get more responses which don’t fall under these categories, but the idea is to stay normal and smile, which is very difficult to do, with all the hormones playing havoc in your system. Nevertheless do not judge me as a person born to be a mother, because I was the one who never touched or held a baby before. I was that kind who stayed away from them due to possible risks of mishandling, as babies are soft and unstable and I believed it took professional training to hold them properly without hurting them. But let me tell you, once you have one of your own, it just comes to you.

The next stage after the announcement of pregnancy was to tackle free advices flowing in plenty from friends and relatives across continents. For me this was a tricky part, as a few people who already have kids’ resorted to scare me about how life will be a total mess once the child is born. Then they went on to say how they couldn’t go to the toilet because the toddler is uncontrollable even for a second, and about the infant who cried all night. They also talked about cancelled vacations, flight charges that kept increasing, expenses, deteriorating health and figure, and whatever it takes to make me regret it. These are basically sadistic people who aren’t happy how their lives turned out to be after their baby arrived. The idea is to ignore these comments, it’s not bad after all, there will be sleepless nights, but you can always sleep when the baby sleeps and bring her to a routine in six months. Babies fall sick, like we do, and it is a passing phase as they recover faster than us. All the more babies are fun, and in a strange way we wish that they slept when they are running around hyperactively, and when they are asleep we wait for them to wake up because it just gets plain boring.

Then came a time when I was overfed by random people. This comes with respect to a traditional belief that a pregnant woman should eat for two. Any vulnerable woman believes this, as she doesn’t want to take any risks when it comes to the health of the baby. But here is the jinx – a tiny little baby is not going to eat a plate full of rice and curry. Eat a bit more than what you normally eat, avoid eating out, include more vegetables, oats and milk, and you are done. Try to include spicy food as well during this phase, so the baby will be tolerant to it. Avoid the ghee roasted stuff which is lovingly brought by your Indian relatives, because you will not see them around when you are crying on the weighing machine, looking longingly at the wardrobe of beautiful clothes you will never fit into. These ghee roasted goodies are a brutal attempt to make you fat, you know:-P

I had this rare blessing to be pregnant almost at the same time when some of my closest friends were in their family way as well, so our skype discussions, emails and long chats helped us immensely. In fact we had similar ‘situations’ and even had solutions for each other. This camaraderie was a boon to us when we almost turned mini gynecologists ourselves. Sometimes people who are at the same phase as you can help you more than your mother who was last pregnant almost three decades ago. The labor remains the same, they may say, but everything else is different, I can guarantee. However there is no one but your mother who will understand your deepest feelings.

Later, you will see people showing fake interest about your due date, diet etc which till date has no explanation, and there will be no shortage of free advice. Pick a person – friend, doctor or your mother and go by their opinions whenever you have a query. Like they say, too many cooks spoil the broth, so gracefully ignore the rest.

You will always have an intuition as to how to deal with a situation in motherhood. It will be unique to you and your baby and should shake up the courage to follow it. It will always be the right thing to do. Because when a baby is born, a mother is born as well.

Have a safe delivery and a healthy baby J

With love.

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