Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Ballad of the Brand New Parents

Blessed are we, blessed are we,
on that magical day when two become three
The baby arrives, welcomed by all
How much does she weigh? Is she only x cm tall?
So much joy, love and laughter
And then, once home, is what comes after :
An endless ride on a three-legged horse
Our days and our nights unbalanced, of course.
Perched as we are, precariously,
finding our balance, the two become three,
between joy, fatigue, and anxiety.
The baby is lovely,
especially when she sleeps,
but we do get worried
each time she weeps
And input and output form a new aspect
Never thought a dirty diaper would get so much respect
Its contents studied with concentration immense
Is it okay? Do we need to get tense?
Does the baby get enough to eat?
Is she hungry still? Has she burped or not?
We see her growing, ounce by ounce.
Look forward to the time when we can bounce
her on our knees, ever willing to please
Her Tiny Majesty.
Always at her beck and call, permanently in her thrall.
We laugh at the strange faces she often times makes
We call her strange names right now while we can
And end up laughing at our own silly jokes
With hearts in our mouths each time her doc pokes
and prods our tiny little child, so soft, so sweet,
so utterly precious, this little child whom we love and cherish
through the sleepless nights, the endless feeds,
the diapers, the swaddling, the smiles and the tears,
our love and concern, and our very real fears.
We pray that we may always do what is right
for our precious daughter, this tiny little mite.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


On the 26th of March this year I attained the status of grandmother. I was between flights when I heard that my daughter-in-law had commenced her labour, and between flights yet again when I got a message saying that the baby had arrived. I think she wanted to be there to greet me when I reached her city!
The new parents and child are home now.
This tiny little baby girl is or first grandchild.
It's a whole new feeling..............

Monday, March 10, 2014

A March morning!

The first warm day of March
ends with the crackle of lightning
and the roar of thunder.
Next morning's sky is dark
but darker still are the three buffaloes
trotting along to the patter of rain
pulling their carts behind them.
Most likely heaps of oranges
under the tarpaulin
Noida's latest trend in fruit marketing,
bullock carts and buffalo carts parked
on the side of the highways,
laden with the rich gold
of oranges and kinnows.
Summer dare not come yet, it seems-
not before Holi, yet a week away.
Each cool day is now a bonus.......

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: Gouri Dange's Three Dog Night

An early morning phone call awakens our protagonist, the sixty one year old Vibhavari Pradhan, better known as Viva. No emergency, but excited romantic news from her much younger friend Moni. Viva tries, not very successfully, to curb her disapproval of the obnoxious graphic artist Shirish when dealing with Moni's romantic aspirations.

Viva is trying to disengage from the material world, to travel light, as it were, for her remaining years,  and starts giving away many of the accoutrements of her earlier life as a corporate wife. 
Viva's late husband Ashwin is a significant presence in the book, from his admonitions to exercise every morning even before 'teeth, tea and tatti', to his sixtieth birthday gift to Viva which complicates her life, to his wonderfully thought out gift on her fiftieth birthday, to the comfort she finds in his jackets and suits....

I picked up the book to help me write this review, and got sucked into it yet once again, which makes reviewing it rather difficult!

Viva is matter-of-fact, dispassionate and honest about herself and her relationships. Her first encounters both with her first grandson, and with the one she acquires later in life, are poignant. The friendship, affection and respect she and Dhruvi share are heart-warming. Her conversation with the tele-marketer, with Dhruvi as her spluttering audience, is simply hilarious. Her relationship with her daughter, Shruti, is fraught, but does improve as the story progresses. Her son and daughter-in-law are always sensible and supportive, and non-paranoid parents to young Dhruv. Emanto enters Viva's life by virtue of getting left behind on a train, and creates his own special space in her heart.
You can only love Viva for her non-interfering acceptance and appreciation of her reticent artist neighbours, Farhaan and Orup. Gouri describes their art forms so beautifully that you long to see their wonderful creations.

Life brings about some interesting twists and turns.
Being in your sixties doesn't keep you immune from the match-makers you know, and the emotional issues that ensue are not easy to deal with. Viva also meets the underworld character, Gautam Gafoor, to help her sort out a land deal, and comes up with a brilliant solution to her problem.

Viva's relationship with street dogs is remarkable. Her affinity for the canine has her late husband call her "Shvaneshwari", and she photographs Mumbai's street dogs for a project during  the course of which she meets Aidan Skene, a Scottish vet and now researcher, who is in India to document the Indian dog.

(An interesting note is the insertion of a few related recipes in some of the chapters, some of which sound most delectable, like the sinful sounding Coffee Crystal, tender coconut prawns, and dal dhokli).

These and other assorted major and minor characters, including a nameless woman on a train, make this slender book very rich in content. There is a reference to Kumar Gandharva's beautiful rendering of Kabir's song, Sakhiya, vah ghar sab say nyaara, and there is also Viva  cursing fluently when required!   Viva is a character after my own heart, and I would love to know what happens next in her life........

It is hard to do justice to such a book in a brief review without giving away too much of it.
I can only thank the author, Gouri Dange, for writing this utterly enchanting and delightful book!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Foggy morning!

Mr. Sun shone beautifully all day yesterday,
and woke up tired and grumpy this morning.
"Shining feels like too much work," he said,
So he stretched out, grabbed a blanket of fog,
covered his head, and went right back to bed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

''Sorting Out Sid - Beer and Blogger Contest''

If, like me, you enjoy reading Yashodhara's blog and have enjoyed her first book, "Just Married, Please Excuse,"  you would be eagerly awaiting her second book, Sorting Out Sid. (I'm happy to say that I received mine a couple of days ago and it was worth the wait)
It's available now on Flipkart.

 Here's my entry for The Sorting Out Sid - Beer and Blogger Contest which is open till the 31st of January 2014: there's still time, so let's hear your beer stories too, dear readers!

                                             The Very High Cost of Beer

Beer costs what it costs, right? And it isn't expensive the way a good wine or a single malt can be.
And what would I know anyway? I'm a fake teetotaller who doesn't drink any form of alcohol, but happily consumes it in cakes and desserts. (That's not really relevant here). The SRE used to enjoy his drinks, including his beer, until a major health scare in 1998, which completely cured him of  his addiction to cigarettes, and also put a stop to his consumption of alcohol. It wasn't exactly forbidden, but since he was coming to terms with a new set of rules for his 'new' life, he decided not to drink at all. He would very very occasionally have a can of non-alcoholic beer, just for fun.

Cut to 2010. We were on holiday, one leg of which involved a cruise on the Nile. We would get up early each morning, go and visit the magnificent monuments along the river- all the way from the many many sphinxes in Luxor to the Valley of the Kings to the sheer magnificence of the Aswan Dam. We'd get back to our cruise boat for lunch and a much needed siesta, after our early start and morning of sight seeing in the enervating September heat. The evenings were spent on the upper deck of the ship, watching the sights on the river banks as we gently floated past. I would enjoy a cup or two of tea and cookies, and feel blissfully indolent and totally relaxed, as I absent mindedly read a few pages of my book while occasionally gazing at the river.  I think it was the sheer perfection of the setting that awakened the SRE's dormant thirst. The cruise ship had no such thing as non-alcoholic beer, so regular beer it was. A few beers over a few days in a perfect setting were enough to change the habits of the past twelve years.........

                                                                                               Aswan Dam

The beer seed was sown. Once the holiday was over, beer became a part of our lives once more. Which was all very well, but for its effect on the SRE's waistline. The suit he had worn a few months ago became unwearable by the time he had to travel abroad the following February. A new business suit was tailored for him, with the requisite margins. However, the margins cannot keep up with the impact of the beer on the waistline, so expensive suits have become a recurrent motif  in our lives. Our driver inherited a couple of them, some have been reserved so that the younger son can get them altered to his size. And so, to my great chagrin, the hidden costs far outweigh the actual cost of beer.......

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

To my older son, on his birthday

My older son is thirty four today.
This is his second birthday as a married man, his first as a prospective father.
I can imagine him as tender, gentle and protective towards his yet-to-be-born daughter, utterly charmed by her.

And then I see him as I first saw him, through the hospital nursery window, with one eye closed, one open.
I was terrified.

The next time I saw him, it was the other eye that was open, to my great relief!

 Babies can terrify you.
Their well-being becomes the focus of your lives.
Each sneeze and rash and fall carries so much angst, and so much useless and unnecessary guilt.

Babies, though, are tougher and more resilient than you think they are.

Dear Anand, your life will change in unimaginable ways, as did ours.
Enjoy these few months of prospective fatherhood. And then the utterly exhausting magnificent chaos of early parenthood!

My son, the householder, the husband, the teacher, the father-to-be, the player of many roles.
May this birthday bring to you a wonderfully joyous and fulfilling year.
God bless you, now and always........