Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lunchbox- Memoirs of a life in Bombay (When I lived there we called it Bombay!)

Yes I loved it ....and I am not a big fan of slow movies ... that show men smoking a cigarette for about 5 minutes every 15 minutes of the movie!
But this movie was awesome. Great story and great actors ... Irrfan Khan rocks ... but more than that were these moments that reminded me of growing up in Bandra.  There were these moments in the movie that seemed so close to the heart.

 Juhu beach when it used to be super clean

So here is a remember the scene  ...

Remember the scene where IK is smoking and watching the neighbours eat dinner. This lady tears a big piece of 'Pao' .... ohhhhhh that 'Pao'. We didnt eat a lot of 'Pao'. But I think it was stable dinner for a few folk in the building I lived in. The 'Pao-wallah' would come from door to door selling hot ... just out of the oven 'Paos' and once in a while my mom would let us buy a few peices.... ahh I can still taste that in my mouth -- Yummy!

Remember the scene where IK is watching 'Yeh Jo hai  Zindagi'. At a time when only Doordarshan was available, this show was a favorite for our family ... This and 'Wagle ki Duniya' ... anyone remember that one!

Of course the famed Dhaba wallas. But the best moment was when Suresh realized that these dhaba's were transported by more than just cycles 'They go by train!' He exclaimed in the middle of the movie. Today he was clarifying his doubt. He thought dhabas were only delivered to spoiled school brats like me! I explained. Well families lived in the suburb while husbands travelled to the city ... so the need for food to travel by train. Suresh sat back sighed as said 'What luxury!' (This is right after he had finished a huge meal at Barbeque Nation.)

But another memory associated with these dhabba-wallas and the trains were listening to those songs through the train walls as they sung to entertain themselves on the ride home. At that time -- me a prissy 'Xavierite' found the music very annoying. Now its music ears!

Remember the scene where Nimrat Kaur is making this stuffed vegetable (anyone know which vegetable it is). I had a friend in Engineering 'Kavita Saini' whose mom made the most yummy stuffed bhindi ...She always shared her parantha and bhindi! ... mouth watering!

Remember the scene where IK yells at the kids 'Do I look like your servant?'
I remember getting yelled at in one of those thin lanes. Well I deserved it! I threw a fountain Pepsi glass (remember those!) at the side of one of those houses. This old lady saw and kept yelling at me! I should have just walked back and picked it up !!! Lack of civic sense then!

Remember the scene where IK sees himself in the painting and buys it! The painting and me in the painting!

Remember the scene where IK's colleague is cutting veggies in the train. Reminded me of my long train travel to MGM (2 hrs in the train one way). We did our homework, assignments and studying all in the train.

Remember the scene where IK gets felt up in the train. Or rather he thought he was getting felt up! We were once in a very crowded ladies compartment and a friend of mine started yelling at a lady next to her 'What do you think you are doing?' . The lady replied 'Looking for my purse!' My friend responds 'Your purse is in my fly??' It was a very very crowded train! It was also a time when the concept of lesbians and homosexuals was new and feared and every young girl thought they were being pried! Naive!

Remember the scene where IK is leaning out of the door of the train with his hair flying in the wind. Aaah I remember so many such days ... hair flying in the air ... while beggar kids sang the most romantic songs in the most high pitched notes ever.

Remember the scene where NK asks her neighbour to play the tape of 'Sajaan'. Well have been recently listening to a lot of JJWS, QSQT and other oldies! On youtube! PS: not making lunch boxes for anyone ;)

Dont get me wrong ... I still love my good old commercial movies with the songs and crazy unrealistic stories and sadness that never lasts longer than a song. And of course happy endings!

But once in a while comes a movie ... that really drives you into memory lane and keeps your there for a long time!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things I take for granted ...

Its not until you watch your 3 year 10 month old try to do things that you realize how good it is to be an adult!

He had been wanting to learn to cut for a while now and I was too reluctant to give him the scissors because of the potential hazard with little sister being around. Thankfully Princy athai gave us a child safe  paper scissor. It was beautiful and I was as excited about him cutting as he was.
Yet as I watched Isaac put in this fingers into the two holes of the scissor and try to manipulate it to cut straight and curved lines ... it felt .... clumsy. I told him he was holding it wrong and tried to show him  by putting it on my fingers ... but he was not holding it wrong ... It was just that he was 3 ..and for a 3 year old he did really well. But he just wanted to do more .... It was then that I realized how much I took for granted
As I walked around the kitchen all authoritatively snipping the milk packet ... spilling a little and then cleaning it off ... I must look like a total show off to my son who ... well all he wants to do at this point is cut a paper ... without tearing it .... A fine line but a very very distinct line!

Putting on and taking off elastic waist pants and round necked T-shirts are a piece of cake and while I am very proud of him.... Isaac wants to do more. He wants to pull up zips ... button up his shirts and tie his shoe laces! He want to stick things that are broken and kick the ball they way his father does. And what happens when he cannot! Frustration ... anger and in general crying. He hates it when his cycle wheel spins in the same place again and again! He hates it that the ball does not bounce more than 3 times when he tries to bounce it.

But hats off to my little budding for trying till the point of frustration.
We learn the most from our kids and I am learning to be thankful for all the things I can do on my own!
I write this also as a note to Isaac... one day I will be frail and old and unable to put on my shoes or wear my own buttons ... I hope you will help me ... and remind me not to get frustrated.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

At the dinner table

We have a few bad habits.... OK well many ... but one we are working on is the computer at the table while eating. I use the computer while feeding the two munchkins at the table and simultaneously trying to down my lunch.

Previously I used to use this tactic at the dinner table too. But Suresh is slowly encouraging us to get out of this habit. Just to clarify ... I am not watching ... rather Isaac and Ziva automatically open their mouths if the computer is running their favorite rhymes. They would eat even if the computer was not on, as Suresh often points out. But then I need to continuously talk and involve them in what their eating and their day in general.

But we are slowly moving out of this habit at the dinner table.
Reason 1: Suresh helps with feeding one of them.
Reason 2: Conversation ... activities ... learning... independence ... etc

So here is how it started one day... It was noodles nights. Noodles is a favorite with Isaac. I cannot remember when I had told him about eating noodles with a chopstick ... or shown it in a book ... or how he remembered it. But he asked for chopsticks. That's like a clean up nightmare. But I thought what the heck ... our house isnt spik and span anyway ... Besides we have two dogs ... they would love the tit-bits falling to the floor. There was a lot of frustration in using the chopsticks that evening ... but we all enjoyed it... including Isaac. We showed him how to twirl his noodles with the fork and get a good mouthful. We talked about food and sang songs about food and in about 1/2 hr dinner was done! Probably the fastest. A couple of  noodle  nights later (say a few weeks) and Isaac was able to twirl his noodles on his own and enjoyed noodle night more for the fork and chopsticks than anything else. We have since moved on to drinking soup with a spoon. This is equated to = why did I give you a bath = change your T-shirt = messy high chair night!

Isaac is just about the age when he wants to do a lot on his own. Buttoning shirts, putting on shoes, opening doors and eating. While my feeding habits had been depriving him of that independence .... a new nights of forks and chopsticks have helped get things into perspective for me. I now try to have a conversation (whose your friend in the park, who did you play with, what did Ziva do) when possible and only if I am totally exhausted turn on the Computer. I see that this has helped Isaac sit at the table un-entertained or self-entertained for a longer period of time. Ziva still has a lower limit on sitting at the table. We are working on it!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nature or Nurture

I used to be a very fussy eater most of my childhood, into my teens and up to about 22/23 years. I hated fruits … few vegetables … and fish. I loved potatoes in any form. Being a 'Malayalee', I even hated the 'scared' vial  of all 'Malayalees'... coconut milk. Somehow I guess being far away from home …. I grew to being non-fussy and eating everything anyone offered me. I even acquired taste for sushi … which is a long journey for someone who hated fish!

Suresh on the other hand...was, is and I think will be a fussy eater. When I met him he wouldn't eat certain vegetables (beets, spinach …) and certain dishes cooked a certain way (anything deep fried was always accepted). After 7 years of marriage when we were about 8 months into our first pregnancy, I warned Suresh 'If your kids watch you being fussy … they wont eat anything.'
As a deal of entering into fatherhood, I made a pact with Suresh. He had one vegetable he could absolutely refuse to eat. Everything else in any form … he HAD to eat.

He choose 'Beets'.

Interestingly beets was among the first few veggies I tried on Isaac along with baked yam and broccoli. See that list as everything Suresh hates. Isaac  loved yam in its baked form and would eat all veggies put in front of him. Watching him eat broccoli one day and just about resisting gagging an exasperated Suresh declared 'He is not my son!' 
Interestingly Isaac did not take much to potatoes and rice. I guess he is not my son either! 
Suresh is so finicky that if I give a plate of food to feed Isaac or Ziva, he will carefully keep aside the veggies he does not like and not feed it to Isaac or Ziva ... like he will feel the taste in his mouth if they eat it. You will see a carefully arranged row of peas .. loved by Isaac and Ziva .... hated by Suresh at the corner of the plate.


So where did the taste bud come from. It definitely was not nature … was it nurture. Just offering Isaac everything and trying out new things!

Welcome Ziva and she is a step ahead of Isaac. While Isaac is a little hesitant about trying new things, probably because he is scared of spices, Ziva will taste anything. She will even annoy Isaac with 'Isaac taste … taste Isaac'
She is a small eater (small meal sizes) and a slow eater … but she is an 'everything' eater! She is definitely not my daughter!

Nature or nurture?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Glue, cotton, paper and a black sketch pen = One happy homeschooler ...

It was a rough morning. I had to keep screaming at him to get him to write. Isaac used to love writing .... but watching Ziva run around and get in his way kept distracting. He also kept laughing for no reason at all. That is his latest method of annoying me and Suresh.
But we managed to get through some coloring, tracing and a few 'big boy' stories. Big boy = 45 page books ... 6 sentences per page .... I am very grateful for his increased attention span when it comes to listening to stories.
When the morning came to a close I was exhausted and he looked happy to get away from me. Not the feelings I want him to leave with!

I dragged my feet that afternoon to wake him up. I usually wake him up about 1/2 hr before Ziva wakes up so we can have some more reading time together. But I struggled and in my head I kept thinking what would be fun to do ... teach him time ... let him color ... or read more books

I picked a farming book (by Disney Smart beginings), sat him on the sofa and turned to page 1... There was a simple project  ... to make a sheep! An answer to prayers. In less than 5 seconds of me asking him if wanted to do it .... he was awake and holding Fevicol in his hand. About 15 minutes later we had this.

I drew

He stuck the cotton
He coloured the feet and then ' We will show Appa when he comes home OK!'

Just to make him realize that 'school' was not just reading and writing .... but anything that involved learning and trying and finishing I told him 'Isaac this is also school!'. He repeated this sentence, while showing his sheep, to a few friends who walked past the door a few minutes later !

Perfect end to a disastrous morning .... I believe in miracles .... I believe life can turn around just like that!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In her shoes

The phone kept ringing that day. I think she must have picked it up promptly every time because I kept hearing 'I will come ... I will come'
Finally after the umpteenth 'I will come', I asked her 'What's going on?'. After all I had to show my authority as an employer and ignoring the numerous phone calls would also make me a very heartless person.
She: 'Our gas cylinder is leaking we have to go exchange it?'
Me: 'Why wont they come and take it?' The rule in India is if there is a gas leak from a cylinder, they must come  on the same day and check it out.
She: 'Its a festival today, so they say they wont come today they will come tomorrow. I am too scared to have the cylinder in my house'
Only in India will a gas cylinder leak be considered less important on a holiday!

Me: 'So your husband is going to take it?'
She: 'Yes, both of us. He cannot possibly carry it alone all the way to the gas shop'

Now I exercise everyday .... I feel fit, I have carried an empty gas cylinder and put it in the back of the car. But never in my life would I even imagine carrying a full gas cylinder.. for a really long distance... mostly walking or maybe taking a bus for a few kms!
I had a mental image of husband and wife carrying the cylinder, taking turns or sharing the load!
And then for a moment, I imagined me carrying that cylinder .... or helping share the burden with Suresh. I felt a chill in my spine! We all live in big, pretty house and drive nice cars... and we feel we are invincible to the harshness of life .... mainly because we do not see in in ... sitting here in our nice compounded/gated community!  But I have in the past 10 years seen people being reduced from prosperity to nothing! Some up close and personal. I could be reduced to picking up a gas cylinder and walking those many kms!

Me: 'Take the car!'
She jumped at the opportunity.
As I related this to Suresh that evening. He asked exasperated 'Could they not take an autorickshaw!' (Before I told him I gave them the car)
Me: 'Yes .... that is 100 Rs one way... they could use that money for a lot of other luxuries.'