The joys of sunning quilts in winter

Brat: Hey, look at that! The Bean asleep among the quilts being sunned.

Hmm… no, kissing her doesn’t seem to wake her.

And ugh. Now mamma’s caught me kissing my baby sister and she wants a kiss too.

Ah. Pops has an idea. He’s set up the tent so that I can play around my sister and soak up some sun. He has some vague theory about Vitamin D.

And it would all be perfect if it weren’t for the darn drawstring coming out of these pants.

Three generations

I came upon this picture in the Bean’s birth post that the OA had written (!) on the old blog and it made me all teary. I don’t come from a family given to photography (so I overcompensate!) and this is one of the few pictures my mother is in, even partially. We have no family wedding pictures and the only reason they have one with my brother is because my SIL’s family got a photographer who hounded them!

Anyhow – this is the Bean, straight out of the OT and a very weak me, clutching at my daughter because I can’t believe she’s for real, that I’ve actually got the daughter I craved so badly. Even today I smile at her in an utterly foolish, besotted way because I can’t believe one of my dreams made it to reality.

Feisty, funny and utterly feminine, she reminds me of my mother in so many ways. And yet in so many ways she’s not my mother, but like my grandmother – the petite structure, the oval face with a stubborn, sharp chin, the big eyes, the soft wavy hair.

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I particularly like it because although I am the bridge generation, I was really weak after the surgery and as I struggled to touch my dream, scared it would vanish into thin air, my mother’s warm, strong, comforting hand reached out and joined both our hands, not coming between us, but giving us the strength we needed. And from the other side two tiny little greedy hands grabbed hold of my finger and we were joined forever in a bond no one can take away from us. It is a moment that might have been lost in time and space if it weren’t for the OA clicking pictures (rather unusually) and now it’s a moment I’ll get to revisit over and over again… capturing three very determined, loving and strong willed women holding hands – bound by blood, fate and nature.  A force to be reckoned with and never to be messed with!!

Also – a lot of people want to read my archives, but I’m too lazy to move them yet. So I’m going to be pulling out old posts once in a while and I hope all of you will de-lurk and say hi if you once read them!

PS: And I was most pissed that they chopped my nails and removed my nailpolish! Can’t believe how much it enraged me at that point – and yet, the way it was done, was rather dehumanising..

You’re never too old to rock

… and you’re never too young to mosh.

Children get introduced to the music their parents like inadvertently and early, and that gets flung in my face often enough when the Brat is in one of his dark moods. The OA will groan… “I told you not to listen to so much Floyd when you were pregnant…”

And so our kids wake up to country music, the house rings with classic rock through the day and the sun sets over the balcony with jazz on the radio. But with rock shows mostly held in pubs and smoky clubs, it’s not really easy to take them for live shows, to say nothing of the music being too loud for kids. Over the years they have visited the venue while the band is setting up, if friends are playing but not stayed on once the show really kicked in.

I’ve seen lots of people who work in the music industry bring their kids as young as two months to shows and I appreciate that. I just don’t have the guts to do it myself. When this convenient open air festival came up I jumped at it. We got there fresh and early with Oye Pancho, a music promoter. He is of course over-enthu about his niece and nephew being introduced to ‘good’ music early – whatever that might be. So we went for the Rocktoberfest in the Garden of  Five Senses.

The OA and I wondered how we’d manage them when we reached the venue. An amphitheatre with no real seating …just a mud slope with boulders and a few benches scattered around. I sat my ass down and told the OA he was on his own. My knees were not feeling too good after scrambling up the slope and the thought of running up and down for the rest of the evening sent shivers down my err.. knee. The OA girded his loins for the challenge that lay ahead and I shifted around on the gravel realising that my aged butt wasn’t as comfortable and unconcerned about what it was seated on as it might have been ten years ago. Yeah, this is where you shoot me. Or I shoot myself.

We needn’t have worried really.  The kids figured out soon that their big, burly, long haired uncle, Oye Pancho (henceforth referred to as OP) was the man in charge, that this was his turf. We were irrelevant almost immediately. They stuck to him like leeches and followed him around like puppies. To be honest, the OA and I did try to keep them with us (not too hard!) but he was so enthusiastic about taking care of them that we gave up bothering and enjoyed the music. That on stage, as well as off stage.

Some of the highlights of the evening were him panting out, “Now I know how papa (he’s always called the OA papa) stays so fit!” At another point he admitted to realising how eyeballs can move in two different directions at the same time. “One of them went up the slope, the other went down and I didn’t know which one to follow. So I tried logic. Which one will gravity effect more?”

He took them backstage to check it out, they shook hands with all the musicians while on stage and I will never forget the image of my little son sitting on the shoulders of this burly man, waving out to me from the spotlight on stage. A little boy around the Bean’s age (his father was a drummer) took a fancy to her and wanted to keep her with him. The Brat didn’t take to that idea very well and dragged his sister back. The OA groaned – here was his one chance to have some drumming connection one way or another. It was one of his dreams and I keep trying to shoo him out to learn but it doesn’t seem to be happening.

And all this while I sat there with my heart in my mouth, watching the Bean trip up and down (she has my sense of balance or the lack thereof) the rocky hillock, willing myself to breathe and let go. The Brat took off by himself a couple of times and I was so proud of my little man who was willing to head out and explore and clamber up and slither down without whining or troubling us for anything. I looked around for familiar faces and found few. Most of those who I hung out with in the good old day have either moved on or been at too many of these to come anymore.  There were mostly people who were atleast five years younger.

I did feel like a bit of a has-been until I noticed a bunch of other parents who are dragging their similar aged kids around and going nuts chasing them. That and the fact that there were older people, grey, balding, limping, sitting in chairs unlike the rest of us on the ground, all sipping their beer, taking a drag… Old rockers never really die..

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was playing that very evening at a park and most of our friends with kids were going to that event. We’d considered it because it is also something we’d appreciate. But then we realised that our first love is this sort of music and I’m glad we made that choice and stayed true to ourselves. At one point both kids were dancing to the music and were down in the mosh pit when I started laughing. They’ve started way earlier than I did and I love it. Just as much as I don’t appreciate little kids doing the pelvic thrust to Bollywood numbers at parties. I guess we’re all frauds deep down!

The music was fantastic and I have never seen the Raghu Dixit project live before. They were better than I’d imagined. You must hear Hey bhagwan if you haven’t already.  And then Gudgudiya sedi nodo – a Kannada song that an all North Indian crowd soaked in and enjoyed to the hilt. The kids were fascinated and calmed down when Mrigya came on. They’re simply fantastic.

I was hoping they wouldn’t get bored and they didn’t. It was partly the live music, partly the excitement you could feel in the air, partly the venue and partly the fact that they were just instinctively at home. A fact that tickled me no end. By the end of it, the Brat lay down on my outstretched legs and the Bean fell asleep in my arms while I sat there holding on to both with super human effort. Having had a good feed of biryani and without troubling to go to the loo they curled into me without a word and closed their eyes. And thats the other part of being a parent. No matter how tired you are, or how uncomfortable you are, you can still stretch yourself to make your child comfortable and I think the beauty of it is that they never know uncomfortable you are with half your ass hanging off a bench, your arms aching with their weight and your neck twisted into an odd angle to support them.  Finally the OA lifted the Brat off me into his own arms, I shifted into some semblance of ease with the Bean in my arms and Oye Pancho relaxed over a well deserved beer! Just three adults (who in their head were at that moment back to being 18!) enjoying a beautiful evening.

I think OP needed the beer after the nth person looked at him in shock and stuttered, “When did you have kids? And not one, but two?!” There are those who worked out a neat sign system too. A shocked raised eyebrow, two fingers up in the air… After two comments on how like him they looked he began to promptly introduce them as nephew and niece before anyone had time to react! It’s amazing how people will find similarities if they imagine you are related!! The OA, fortunately, was rather amused. To me its just nice to see someone love two children so much that he wasted pretty much an entire evening of music just caring for them, entertaining them and preventing them from sliding down rocks and killing themselves.

Sitting there, holding two sleepy, exhausted content babies in my arms, my butt soldered to the floor, my knee stiff, the breeze nippy, the crowd swaying, I was suddenly mommy, rocker chick and girlfriend all at the same time.

I felt this deep sense of satisfaction at having shared something that is important to me, with the little people who are important to me. People often talk of passing on their culture to their kids. I wonder what that means because most often nothing of what they talk about rings a bell with me. And yet as I sat there, watching the little brother and sister gambol around literally, the music in the background becoming a sort of soundtrack to their lives I realised this is what I am passing on to them. Waking up to country music and hymns. Hindi music and classic rock through the day. And jazz in the evenings while they chow down their dinner, whining away in time to it.  I am passing on to them my love for music of every kind. It made me feel grown up all of a sudden. I had something to pass on?!

Sometimes you can go through days and months and years feeling unfufilled and incomplete. And then something small happens and you get locked into that little circle, that little bubble where everything that ever mattered to you is in one place and you realise that sometimes it does take others to complete you and its not always from within yourself alone.

Some pictures from the evening. The slope on which I sat, and the stage up ahead.

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The brats hanging off their father.Well they couldn’t entirely give him a break, could they?!

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Because you guys keep asking for pictures of me. Well – I was there. With the red band on my wrist. OP got the kids bands too because they were so darn excited!

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Balika Badhu

…is one of my favourite movies. I loved it as a kid and when I happened to catch it on TV again a few days ago, I watched it with just as much pleasure.

I don’t believe in child marriage. But there does seem to some sense to getting your kids married when their hormones are running wild and also in letting them grow up together and have all their firsts together. I know I TOTALLY resent the OA’s first kiss although I refuse to allow him the same luxury/right!

I particularly loved the song “Bade achche lagte hain….”

The words are simple, sweet and so apt. I think back to when I was around that age and it’s true and just so simple – you just LIKE the person so much. And here I’d like to believe that like is better than love because ‘like’ is so easy and comfortable. So much more than the intensity of ‘love’… and yet, as true.

Anyway – the Bean had to dress up in a salwar suit as a teacher for some school thingummie. I can’t stand salwar suits on little kids (but YES! I love sarees on everyone) so I sent her in a saree. Used to seeing me in one, she was thrilled and patiently stood there in a lehenga as I wrapped her into it and pinned her up in just two places – hopefully by the time she’s 15 she will be safety-pin free and do me proud! A little red bindi, some bangles and the only thing betraying what a baby she is – two orange butterfly clips holding her curls off her face.

She’s a mischievous little brat and ran around even after she was dressed up, unencumbered and unhampered by the yards of fabric, actually climbing up on chairs and peeking into windows, reminding me of my favourite little heroine, the Balika Badhu – look at her up on her toes!  Thank you Susie Q Maashi for a lovely gift – it’s being worn with much excitement and is much appreciated.

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The big green umbrella

Dear Brat and Bean,

You keel me (to quote Achmed the dead terrorist). It was raining cats and dogs this morning and you, my little Bean, were dying to get out and go to school simply because you wanted to wear your raincoat. I’d forgotten how simple the joys of childhood are.

And you, Brat, simply sat and looked at her with all the calm of an adult. And then just as I was packing you off with your Donald Duck umbrella you looked up at me with those gorgeous brown eyes of yours, looking like a beautiful puppy and asked me with all your soul in your voice, “Mamma, please can I take the big green umbrella?”

I handed you the plain green adult sized umbrella in shock. Your wants are so simple. I go to pick you up from school and listen to the other kids demand treats, Ben 10 and all sorts of paraphernalia, while all you want is the pleasure of carrying a plain big green umbrella.

You guys really do keel me.

Mamma

The lessons I learnt from money

..or what I learnt about money the day we broke the Brat and Bean’s gullak (desi piggy bank made of clay!)

1. Money can turn father and child against each other. The OA and I were counting the coins and stacking them up and the Brat and Bean were steadily knocking over the stacks of coins the OA put up. The OA kept yelling in vain – I could almost swear I saw a tear ;). Miraculously  – neither of them touched my stacks of coins!!

2. Money can make you cry. Again – it made the OA cry – because the kids then helpfully tried to put up the stacks again and mixed up the coins of various denominations in his towers!

3. Money educates. Well in this case the Bean heard us counting the coins and this morning she told the OA that she has One thousand eight hundred rupees! Yes, my two year old heard it somewhere, understood that 1800 was a figure used in the context of money, retained it and spouted it at the most appropriate time!

4. Money brings much joy. It does. The gullak was broken open with much fanfare and the kids screamed with laughter when they saw the coins come rushing out.

5. Money makes people flatter you. The Brat kissed me in exchange for the privilege of being allowed to be the one who dropped and broke it!

6. Money can make your daughter throw you out of your own house. The Bean for instance wanted to run away with the shiniest coin and when we foolishly tried to just count what she had in her little palm she turned around with a  – ‘Shoo away, shoo… go away.’ Yes, just like that. As though we were flies.

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