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Typos

I re-read my last post and am thoroughly ashamed at the number of typos in it. Considering I had proof-read the post at least once before I hit publish, I should be double ashamed. Grammar and spell check does not tell you that you have used an apostrophe where none is needed(the title) or that you used ‘write’ instead of ‘right’! People like me need mind reading software, not just grammar and spell check software.

On a lighter note, is anyone watching Big Boss? Is it worth wasting an hour on?

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Lot’s of random thoughts.

This parent or that parent?

Become a parent and your life becomes a free for all suggestion-extravaganza!

Breast is best; a little formula won’t kill your baby. Don’t pick your baby when he cries, you are spoiling him; don’t let him cry, you are causing him mental anguish. Wear your baby, it is good for him; you will make him a sissy if you do that. Let him sleep in his own room; babies need to sleep with their mommy and daddy. Extended breastfeeding is the way to go; yuck don’t breastfeed for more than a year, breastfeeding a toddler is disgusting. Yada yada yada…..yeah leave us alone!

In the US there are two distinct, but diametrically opposite parenting philosophies. One is the conventional, industrialized parenting, where pretty much everything goes, formula reigns supreme, making the baby independent using techniques like sleep training to enable babies to sleep through the night from a young age, using conventional discipline techniques for toddler tantrums etc. Then there is this new-age parenting philosophy called Attachment Parenting, where breastfeeding until toddlerhood is the norm, babies co-sleep with their parents, most babies are carried in slings all day long, positive discipline is implemented on toddlers etc. And they don’t see eye-to-eye with each other. That leaves parents like us, who really don’t have a parenting philosophy, confounded.

What if I am neither a conventional parent nor an attachment parent? What if we are just one of those parents who really don’t have a philosophy other than doing the best for our baby? What if we are just learning on the fly, doing whatever it takes to make baby and us comfortable? I have a term for that. Adjustment parenting. There, now I feel better, I have a term for my style of parenting, which really should have been Lazy Parenting, but is now called Adjustment Parenting, where the baby adjusts a little, and the parents adjust a lot to the changing conditions. Babies change all the time, they are changing every minute of every day. What works today is guaranteed to not work a few days from now, that is something any parent will vouch for. So what better way to parent than to keep changing your methods to suit the changing needs of the baby? (Wow I feel like a parenting expert here, hi-five for me, fellow parents?)

Unending to-do lists.

Self-help books and blogs are the bane of existence of bookworms like me. I am on parenting blogs 24/7, searching for easy sleep tips, napping ideas, and now that my baby has started on solids, tips to make mealtime more fun. Guess what happens inside my head, then. Information overload. Read him a book, sing to him, reserve some cuddle time, take him out on walks, talk to him, give him appropriate toys for stimulation, put him to sleep as soon as you see first signs of sleep, feed him a wide array of foods, blah blah blah(everything ends up being blah blah blah). SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME. I get home from at 11:30am, the husband leaves for work. Then BabyN and I play for some time, nurse, then it is time for a nap. Depending on how much effort I put in, the nap lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. By the time he is up it is 2:00pm. That is when I put him on the living room floor for play time and rush to get some chores done – unload and load the dishwasher, get veggies out for cooking, boil food to be pureed etc, all the while keeping a hawk eye on him so he does not bang into furniture, or eat the carpet. An hour of playtime/chores later, he is ready for some mommy time. We sit and ‘talk’, I try to **ahem** sing to him, he laughs, coos and it is time to eat. Sometimes, if I am really lucky, he will go right to sleep while nursing, and I can catch some sleep with him. If not, then I have a loong and tiring afternoon ahead of me, where he is super excited and wants to play but his body wants to sleep, so sleep it is! After close to an hour of trying, he will go to sleep for 45 minutes, and be up and ready to play again. That is when I wheel him out for a walk to really tire him out. Close to an hour of walk later, it is time to go home and nurse again, and also time for daddy to come back home. Daddy-baby time of time off for me, so guess what, I make chai and get some more chores done – cooking, planning BabyN’s mealtime, getting clothes out for BabyN’s shower, getting the water ready etc. A few spoons of goopy food and a warm shower later, around 7:15 PM it is time to sleep, and daddy takes over the putting to sleep routine, and I get food all warmed up and ready to eat. We eat, clean up, and THEN FINALLY I get some ‘me time’, which is devoted to reading parenting blogs so I can do more stuff the next day, stuff that I am ‘supposed’ to do so my baby gets the right stimulation and activity. UFFF. See what I said about reading being the bane of my existence? So between implementing the ‘must-do’ activities for baby, keeping him clean and safe, and getting chores done, I wonder if life would be easier if BabyN just went to a daycare!  Between all this, I also have ‘work’ to think about, which invariably means I have emails to answer when I am home, sometimes even an hour or so of actual work to do.  This part-time stay at home mommy gig is indeed tiring. Who said stay at home moms have it easy? Who did?

Aa bail mujhe maar.

Considering I really have so much on my plate right now, it is foolish to take up more. But me being me, I have decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month, which happens to be November. The idea is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30. More about the venture here. For quite some time now I have been trying to write more than 1000 cohesive words but never really implemented it. This would be a test for me, to see if I really have it in me to write a novel. So amid all the work that my life is write now, NaNoWriMo will either come like a breath of fresh air(I hope) or mess me up some more. Step 1 of this process is to give a serious thought to what I really want to write. I have some ideas, stories of expatriate Indian women, a satirical look at parenthood, a totally superficial chick-lit, story of my life, tweaked here and there to make it more fiction-worthy. Which one will finally see the light of day? We’ll see.

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Random and 5 months old!

  • The BIG 30 did hit but I still haven’t felt full impact of the age. It was a nice birthday, and special too, thanks to BabyN.
  • My poor baby got a taste of the wrath of nature, what with an earthquake and a hurricane hitting us in the same week. What are the odds! Funnily enough, he did not feel the earth shake, while the rest of us panicked and ran out, he was blissfully unaware. I guess being rocked and held all the time, it must be like an earthquake for him all day ;-). He slept through the hurricane(tropical storm) and also went out for a walk after the storm left.
  • My life as a semi-stay at home mom has started in the earnest with in-laws leaving last week. Now it is just mommy and baby from 12:00pm until 7:00pm when daddy returns from work. Because of that BabyN is becoming a very clingy creature(he is clingier than cling-wrap!) and has phases during the day when he wants ONLY MOMMY and no one else. He cries his head off if daddy picks him up and mommy ignores him.
  • I finally got my hair done. Although I wanted to chop it off into a sleek bob, I was scared that if I looked like a man I would be stuck with that avatar until the hair grows out. And what if it doesn’t grow out at all? What if the son refused to recognize his mommy? The horror! So I went and got long layers and really subtle highlights! The husband’s comment: “You paid that much for this? I would have gotten something drastic if I had to pay that amount”, uff men!
  • My baby loves dancing! Since he cannot dance yet, mommy/daddy carry him and bounce around, jump, dance, whatever, and he laughs and enjoys the movement! They say it takes your baby to make you do something you were always scared of. Well it is true, the daddy hates to dance, but moves like a pro now, just to see his baby react :). BabyN, let’s work on shopping next 😉
  • After weeks and weeks of lazing around and not even trying , BabyN finally turned over. The boy is lazy, I tell you. He prefers to be carried around in mommy/daddy’s arms till the end of the world. I have a feeling he will still be carried around when he goes to high school! Anyway, here is an after of the event:
  • Big 5! BabyN is 5 months old! Cannot believe how fast time flies!

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Round Robin in TN?

It is surprising that the DMK and the AIADMK take turns in winning the local elections in Tamil Nadu with unwavering regularity. Kaunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Karuna, Jaya…with an occasional loser like Pannerselvam or President’s rule thrown in! How is it that the people, who consider either Jaya or Karuna not worth the top office one year decide a mere 4 years later that they want the same person back? Do they have no long/medium term memory? Someone please explain!

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Finally!

After hordes of actors, big and small, endorsing skin lightening products, here’s some hope. Ranbir apparently turned down a lucrative offer to endorse a fairness product. The reason reported is “Ranbir knows that there may be many who would end up blindly following what he does. He does not want to misguide anyone by saying that fairness creams ‘improve your skin”. While it may be delusions of grandeur on his part to assume that people would blindly follow what he says, his stand is admirable to say the least.

As far as white skin is concerned, it would be an understatement to say we Indians are obsessed. The lighter the better is the motto. Anywhere you see, hoardings, matrimonial ads, advertisements on the television, tv serials, soaps, news anchors, white stares back at you. White skin, white white white blah!

There is not one magazine cover out today that does not lighten the skin of the cover model, and no one escapes the white out. Why even a dusky Kajol who used to be proud of her color and her unibrow has started endorsing one of them whitening products, and was majorly whitewashed for the advertisement. That was when I lost all hope for Indian advertisers. They know white sells, and will go to any lengths to keep it so. Hence it is heartening to know that even though it is but one drop in the ocean, there is hope for other colors.

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Apathy to human suffering

This past weekend we started and finished watching the 6 part PBS movie series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State and I have been trying to gather my thoughts about it. Firstly, it was extremely hard for me to understand how a group of people can, without emotion or humanity, kill millions of fellow human beings out of prejudice. Since lots has already been said about the suffering of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and everyone else who was different, in Nazi Germany, I don’t want to talk about that. What can you say about something as horrific as the holocaust?

What I want to talk about is something I discussed with my husband while we were watching the movie. One of the commentators at the end of the first part said that there is nothing to be learnt from the holocaust. There is nothing worth learning, because trying to get some meaning out of the incident would be equivalent to trying to rationalize what happened, and there is no way such monstrosity can be rationalized.

That seems so true. If human beings had anything at all to learn from the Holocaust, we would not have had the Rwandan Genocide, or Darfur, or Pol Pot committing atrocities in Cambodia, or 1 million would not have been killed during Indo-Pak partition. The Wikipedia article on Genocide lists the various stages of genocide and possible measures to prevent each stage. Most of the early stages are about classification of people into ‘us’ or ‘them’, manufacturing causes to hate ‘them’ enough to deny ‘them’ their basic rights, organizing military units to persecute ‘them’. In most cases of genocide, ‘them’ are always different from ‘us’ either in religion or culture or both. Most of the early stage preventive measures talk about forbidding hate speech, banning military or organized hate groups etc. These preventive measures put most of the onus on the internal government of a country and the UN, which in turn means world leaders like the United States, UK, China, France, Russia, etc. The assumption here is that the countries that constitute the governing body of the United Nations will be strong enough to openly declare that the atrocities are indeed genocide, and that they will do anything in their power to prevent it. Well, look at what happened in most genocides. The UN Security Council did not want the UN to get involved in the conflict, the US did not want to label it a genocide initially, calling it a “local conflict”, as a result of all this, a mass killing that would have been prevented had the world powers gotten involved early, went on for 100 days, and about a million people were killed. A similar thing happened when people were being killed in Darfur, Sudan. People all over the US had to protest against the government, because the government, yet again, refused to label it genocide.

There is really no point to my post. The depiction of atrocities at Auschwitz shook my faith in humanity so much that now I am certain that as long as people keep their racial, sexual and other prejudices in place, as long as there is an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality, there is no way to prevent killing of innocent people. And the more we keep quiet, because we are not getting affected by the events, the closer we are to meeting the same fate. As is well put in this poem:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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Stuck in a snowstorm

Large parts of Europe and the Great lakes areas of the US are reeling under monster snow storms. I heard in NPR today that a bunch of people were stuck in a bar while the storm raged on in a remote part of London. They were taken care of by the bar staff, who were also stuck, and spent 7-8 days there. That set me thinking, where would I rather be stuck in a snow storm? And I have every reason to write this post, last year we were inundated by not one, not two, but three monster snow storms and at least one is forecast for this year. So here goes.

1. Stuck at home: This is desirable. You are home for a couple of days, until the storm dies out. We did this for 2 of the three storms last year, stuck at home, we made full use of the leisure, and the cold temperatures. Those couple of days found us having endless cups of chai and coffee and multiple rounds of pakode!

2. Stuck at friends’: This can be desirable or utterly undesirable, depending on the kind of friends you are. We went to our friends’ new place on a Friday night and were stuck until Sunday late night thanks to an unpredictable storm. It was a delight. We watched movies, played video games, cards, drank a little and ate a lot. This scenario is a little better than #1, simply because you don’t have to cook, clean etc!

3. Stuck in a hotel room, with an attached restaurant: There are a lot of ifs and buts for this scenario to be desirable. It should be a ‘nice’ hotel, with either room service or at least a ‘nice’ restaurant or two that are open. A shopping mall attached, with covered walkways is even better! Hey, a girl can dream, right?

4. The road: No! I guess there is nothing else to say about this scenario. This is more like the scenario from hell. Cold gusts, falling snow, all these are not fun when you are outdoors, braving the weather.

5. The bar: like the people in the news story, a bar would be desirable for a lot of people. But what if you are not the bar and pub type? If you are more gharelu, watch movies and eat and laze on the couch types, a bar is probably not for you!

6. The movie theater: Hmmmm, having given it some thought, I would really not mind being stuck for a weekend in a movie theater. Provided there is enough food to go around!

7. The office: This is even worse than getting stuck on the road! You might watch movies on your computer for a while and chat with colleagues, but colleagues can only be fun for so much time, after which you pine for friends with whom you can bitch about work!

So there, where else would you rather be stuck in a snowstorm?

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