And while we get our act together

… the Brat and the Bean are living it up in a town that is not All-bad (bwahahaa… stupid joke!)

The trip there was fairly painless and surprise, surprise, the OA and I didn’t throw infants into moving trains or sit up all night with sick kids. What is becoming a pain though, is sharing a berth with them and the Brat is definitely getting his own berth next trip. For the Bean, I plan to make a little nest on the floor between the berths and I don’t care what anyone says about it. I have had enough of balancing on one butt cheek all night, shivering because she’s yanked the blanket off me and generally arriving home cranky and sleepy (which is not very different to the way I normally I am).

Kipper, the new Alsatian brought in to replace Patchy (May his soul rest in peace. Do dogs have souls?) is a couple of months old and as nippy as a teething baby. Which means on the first day he drew blood from the Brat’s leg and the Brat took to his heels every time Kipper made an appearance. Our slippers and shoes were in mortal peril too and the Bean took it upon herself to gather up stacks of footwear against her chest (groan, the laundry!) and keep it safe from Kipper. One of my favourite sights is of her glaring at Kipper, rescuing the Brat’s slippers from his jaws and handing them back to a decidedly nervy Brat.

Within minutes the OA and I were persona non grata. We didn’t care. We slept. Correction – I slept. And I have no idea what he did. He could have been swinging off the chandeliers and I wouldn’t have cracked an eyelid open to look.

We left the next day with no fanfare. The freshly bathed Brat had exhausted himself and fell asleep in the OA’s arms before we left. The Bean, well I’ve been saying she has a new option in terms of career – bar dancer. Don’t look horrified. As we collected our luggage and left, she had climbed up on a bar stool and was dancing merrily around my parents’ bar. For some reason she believes it is her calling in life to entertain. And she performs this task to the best of her ability. Singing, shaking her booty, reciting rhymes even without being asked to, holding puppet shows, talking to herself, reading stories out of books held upside down… and more.

Of course they’ve been playing up hell with the old folks and my dad lets them get away with murder. Ma on the other hand is forced to be the bad cop and is constantly having to discipline them. So Nani is completely blacklisted which is rather unfair I guess.

One of my fears, when the kids were born, was that they’d grow up to dislike my small town, being big city kids. No doubt you have grandparents to spoil you, but once you get hooked on malls and clubs, its not so much fun to climb trees, atleast from what I’ve seen of a lot of kids.

But the kids haven’t had a spare moment since they went there. They were picked out of their beds sleeping, at 5 am, strapped into the car and driven to the Ganges where a boatman rowed them across a river, which is when they woke up, to find themselves at a natural clear water pool. This boatman and his adolescent daughters are teaching children to swim and my parents know little kids who are now swimming across the river effortlessly. And he teaches them without swimming tubes/arm bands etc. I think  it is brilliant. Both the kids immediately took to it and had a blast. But it took them another hour to get home and by 9 am they were exhausted and ravenous as were my parents who had to start their work day by 9 am. I guess its just too strenuous for old grandparents as well as little teeny kids to do. So now the kids are going to a local swimming pool and this is going to have to wait for a  couple of years till the Bean is atleast 5.

They’ve also been to a local mela, they’re cycling around the block, climbing trees, going for long drives to mango orchards by the river and gathering raw mangoes, playing with all the dogs and generally living it up.

The Bean of course is unable to stay out of trouble and was fished out of a filthy drain two nights ago. All dressed up for a party, she got out of the car, shook off Nani’s hand and made a dash for it, in the dark, falling waist deep into a drain. She had to be hosed down in the host’s garden and put into some old clothes that she was too tiny to fit into. (I laughed till I cried when I heard it, although the OA was rather worried – what if it had been deeper or she’d broken a bone? Valid points.)

I’m angry with you, she tells my mom.

Why,  asks Nani.

Bean: Because you scolded me.

Nani: Well you could have hurt yourself  – I told you not to let go and run.

Bean: And I am sad too

Nani: Why?

Bean: Because I want to wear a pretty frocky, not these dirty shorts!

Nani: Well let that be your lesson then!

One hopes vanity will prevail, if not self preservation.

Also, the kids seem to think my little hometown is a big sandpit made for their enjoyment.

All the old bungalows around are being torn down and replaced with dozens of ugly, grey little flats. My brother and I would play hide and seek with more than 15 kids, across the locality, hiding in each other’s homes, eating lunch with someone and dinner with someone else, massive old homes with ample opportunity to hide, mango, jackfruit, guava and litchi trees to climb.  But all my kids have to do is run out of our gate to play in the sand piles lying outside each compound for construction and I look at them in disgust, wondering how many dogs have pooped or peed in it. Ugh.

They go to our main market and once again, discard their sandals and climb into sandpiles, paying scant heed to good clothes and any shred of reputation I might have there (bwahahahaha)!

The Brat who drives me nuts refusing to write here, has been spelling like crazy for Nani – Ironman, Batman, Mushroom (?!!! Why?!) and more. Apparently I am unworthy of his effort. I read an old but apt line that says -” Grandparents and grandchildren get along so well because they have a common enemy.” You don’t say!

The last trip they went for picnics by the river, horse riding and *gulp* at a Rajput friend’s home, tried their hands at shooting too. Come night they are so exhausted that they collapse into bed. The Brat sleeping directly on G’pa’s chest. And the Bean curling into Nani’s stomach. The poor old fossils are probably going to die young at this rate. But hey, I gave them grandchildren at 47 or so, simply so that there would be some life in the old dog(s) and no excuses. Speaking of dogs, there have been some major negotiations happening as the grandparents finally drew the line at having dogs in the bed . And the kids whined and wailed, wanting to cuddle them as they sleep (But whyyyy not Nani?!!!!! Kipper is small and he misses his mama and dada and he’s scared of monsters and the dark!!). As for poor G’pa, after the Brat declared 3 years ago that he would get his bum washed by G’pa or else perish on the pot, I think he’s given up any pretence to a life when his G’son is around. His sanity is being questioned because most evenings their locality is witness to two little children cycling around while a man follows them around, a strange purple elephant tucked into his armpit. Yes, the Bean insists that Lumpy goes for a walk with them and poor old Dad just goes along with everything. Well, G’pa, you’re a better man than I, Gungadin!

And Nani, although she is the Bean’s worst enemy, is also her best friend. There is a thin line dividing love and hate and the Bean told me on the phone that Nani is her angel pudding. This of course when they’re not arguing over whether the door should be left open while the AC is on, how old one should be to wear lipstick, whether its fair to use Nani’s lip gloss and then wipe your face on the counterpane, whether marshmallows count as a meal or not and many other such earth shaking matters.

The OA and I after the first 24 hours of getting home and whooping wildly at the freedom, have promptly slid into depression. We’re like life sentence prisoners who are suddenly released and don’t know what to do in the outside world.

Oh we party it up – be it going to watch Indian Ocean live or Agnee, eating out, and watching movies till 3 am. We’re reading books in record time and eating ice cream in bed. I’ve got my hair chopped to a layered bob and highlighted with copper. But there’s a part of me that wakes up at 4 am and looks around in the dark wondering why no little squirmy body has come padding down the corridor and sneaked in between us yet. We wake up in the most leisurely manner and are shocked at having only our own set of teeth to brush and bums to wash. Food doesn’t need to be shoveled down throats because there is so much time before we leave for work. And yes, as I mentioned 3-4 years ago, the worst part is that the nursery is dark.

Stay tuned for more tales from a small town. I leave you with some snapshots from the 24 hours that we were there.

102 thoughts on “And while we get our act together

  1. LOL at G’pa having to lump it with Lumpy! I can see the dogs are being introduced to him too. Though I feel the protest is just a token one, MM. I bet you miss Lumpy as much as you miss both Brat and Bean. And I hear you totally when you say “But there’s a part of me that wakes up at 4 am and looks around in the dark wondering why no little squirmy body has come padding down the corridor and sneaked in between us yet.” I, too had that experience when A (my 9 yr old) had gone for an overnight school trip and I spent a night for the first time without her.
    Your account of the pleasures of a small town evokes nostalgia. O, for a lost childhood!

  2. About dogs having souls…you’ve never seen ‘All dogs go to heaven’? Looooved that cartoon as a kid! still swear by it 🙂

    Also, happy moving! I’ve been doing it for years, and still can’t get used to the way an old, familiar, much-lived-in-and-loved house looks so alien once everything is packed!

  3. You keeel me with your posts, MM, you do! You don’t make me wish I had kids, you make me wish I was yours! (Melts in a puddle of mush.)

    Now go get lost for a few days. I think I’m PMSing and can’t take any more of your words for a while.

    PS: I wanted to comment on your post on moving, but I didn’t know what to say. We got a house in the subrubs, but it’s like the one you are leaving right now. Not the hugantic complex types. I could totally “feel” what you were going through, and so was at a loss for words. Sigh.

  4. [Please delete my previous comment… eye piercing mistakes there!]
    People will kill me if I say Pune and suburbs in the same sentence, because it’s such a small place anyway. But local people call our vicinity “outskirts of the city.”
    The other day I told a friend from Bombay that my parents live in another part of the town, and he almost went ROFL in my face. Grr.

  5. is that your mom? wow!! tell her i said so! loved the story of bean protecting brats chappals from the kipperman! i thought you guys needed to shift house and hence packed off the kiddos… tsk tsk… have fun…:)

  6. AS I read this post..I can’t help imagining how Brat n Bean will react when they read this [& the other posts] as a grown-up.

    [In my mind] U know what the best thing about u blogging these Brat-Bean tales is..not the fact that u get to share them with us, not the fact that u get to capture the memory for urself by narrating them, not the fact that its so heart-warming for us readers, but the simple fact that years later..your children can read them and experience whatever emotion they feel…n prolly relive the moment in the process, the fact that they’ll know what their momma-dada experienced while bringing them up, the fact that they can go back n read any of this a zillion times if they choose to do so…n thereby connect to their childhood whenever they please. [Most of us love looking back at the days that were…don’t we?]

    These tales will be one of the best gifts you’ll be giving them. Lucky children!

    • Totally with you, Pavi. I think it is wonderful that these things can be written down for posterity. I started fairly late, when my daughter was 8, and I feel a sense of loss for not having written down every little wonderful thing till then. Even now something holds me back and I can’t really let go. Hats off to MM!

      • i think its got to do with personality. even in real life i am very emotional and very open about it. my ma is much more conservative in her ways. naturally its hard to open up online to a bunch of strangers – knowing that atleast 20% are lying in wait for you to slip and fall on your face 🙂

            • I guess this generation moms are more creative about putting thot into creating memories for children, wanting to socialize and gather inputs/make suggestions to other moms etc..and use blogs as a medium for the same.

              That being said generally..not to compare n contrast.. but i’ve read a few mom’s blogs..and those blogs sound like they are creating memories for themselves, they are sharing how precious their li’l one is or how their li’l does his/her best to make life tough for them. That is also very beautiful… but this is one blog i feel, in several posts..the memories are for the children more than the parents.
              I’m just not able to articulate the *specialness* (difference) i feel..but it is there!

              PS: To reiterate I am NOT comparing…i mentioned the comparison to xplain myself.

            • 🙂 thank you. i dont think we’re a more creative gen, though. we just have options that previous generations didnt. that said – previous generations had baby books and not every mother filled them up. my mother started one for me and i have little hand and footprints and a list of my first gifts etc, but then she ran out of steam. the only thing i take credit for is perseverance 🙂

  7. Can you adopt me? So that I have wonderful grandparents and a wonderful place to go and get spoilt by G’pa and Nani?

    (ducks before MM throws something at her amidst packing) 😀

    Lovely post!

  8. I hear you on the train pain! Dhruv has now officially kicked me on that God-awfully narrow berth enough times…next ride we do the 4 berths!

    Loved this post! The pics are just precious!

    • its really those moments when you want to slap those people who say – arre, they dont eat enough, so thin – and tell them ‘dude, you think they’re not growing? try sharing a train berth with them!’

      • Good one.

        To those people who say that about Dhruv (who is actually sturdy), I say ‘Lift him up, just try’.

        For Div who looks fragile (but can lift her brother who is 1 kg lighter than her), I say to the smart-alecs, ‘Okay, you race her, let’s see who’s stronger’. Man, do they shut up after that!!! 😆

  9. Your mom’s place sounds like a paradise to me. I just love your kids.

    And who is the one holding the Bean with blue jeans on?

    I hope you guys enjoy your alone time. I think we all need a break like that once in a while. Good luck with the moving too.

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  11. I do love reading about Brat and Bean holiday adventures.:) Everyone deserves a lovely summer vacation. Oh and angel pudding 🙂 My heart just melted! Bean should totally patent the phrase!

    • funny you should say so. the old cliff richards number is a huge favourite of hers and she sings around the house singing it on loop – Everybody wants a summer holiday, doing things they always wanted to…

  12. Good luck with the move! And the kids seem to having fun!
    Just a Q that popped up in my mind today – do u address the OA as ‘aap’ or ‘tum’?

          • Coz I realized that I use ‘aap’ for the hubby in front of relatives (all due to the insisitence of elders afer we got married) and ‘tum’ when we are alone or with friends. Funnily I used to refer to him in singular before we got married and no one had an issue with it! Was wondering if its the same in other households…now tell na!

            • I come from UP so I refer to everyone as aap – including my kids and the househelp – but I call the OA tum 😀 and I only say Aap when I am really mad at him and being sarcastic. THat said – the OA is a south indian brought up in WB – conversation in Hindi is limited!!

              on the other hand, i dont usually call him aap or tum – abe sun, works fine most of the time 😉

  13. I’m missing them too:(
    Totally irrational, I know.
    And I want to meet Nani and G’pa(again) and the dogs.
    And your new house!
    And Lumpy.
    And you- it’s been so long:(

  14. Can you delete the earlier comment and post this on instead?

    oh my god!!! they are having so much FUN! You should rather worry about how they are going to come back to the big city after the awesome time they are having in your small town :p. But you know, I strongly believe small towns are the best places for kids to grow up in…..unfortunately they offer no career opportunities for the parents.

    By the way, “how old one should be to wear lipstick”…..what’s happened to the baby that was the Bean? When did she grow up so soon? MM, you HAVE to have another kid. These two are growing up way too fast!!!

    By the way, now when I think of how you worried that the Bean might become a shy, clingy, unsocial child, its quite hilarious!

  15. Babe.. this is one helluva hilarious post.. right from g’pa’s lumpy situation to bean’s jhansi rani-ness towards the slippers.. awwwww.. angel pudding.. how does she come up with these?

  16. Awww there’s a spaniel. Something in me just melts when I see spaniels.

    PS: Dogs have souls. it was decided when I was about five and told my mum I didn’t want to go to heaven if there weren’t any dogs there.

  17. What a wonderful post 🙂 Loved every sentence of it. And wow! the boatman and his daughters teaching little kids to swim… great way to learn swimming. Enjoyed the pics too! That’s your mum in jeans, na? She is so smart.

  18. I fwded this post link to the Father – this is exactly his idea of a summer vacation with his future grandchildren 🙂
    Oh, btw, I went shopping for a friend’s baby girl and guess what one of the gifts is? A Lumpy! 🙂 I fell in love with the Bean’s and decided to pick it up..

  19. Your maika sounds like heaven…and you are made of steel ??? After the journey and a million things to be taken care of for the move, you did such a beautiful post…WOW..

    And “She had to be hosed down in the host’s garden”..cant stop laughing..i know it could have been serious like the OA mentioned.

    Last but not the’s your mum in the blue jeans..WOWWWWWWWWWW 🙂

    • LOL! its okay. i love this blog and i love interacting with you guys. and yes – she was smelly and covered in shit so naturally had to be hosed down 😀

      and yes, ma in the blue jeans. and yes, i have her genes but i dont fit into those jeans yet. its a family prob. when i take my cousins out partying they are not let in to pubs because they look too young although they are old enough. similarly i was required to show proof of age for years because i looked too childish :-/ thats remedied after the kids!

  20. I read this post a couple of times over .. wish i could go back those care free childhood summers 🙂
    Lil bean is full of beans 🙂
    Loved this post MM .. delurking after a real long time 🙂

  21. MM…Need some advice. I am a fresh graduate of Mass Comm PG course. Wanted to know where I can make a start in searching for jobs. Am open to print, radio, TV, web, advertising etc. Also interned at CNN-IBN and Blore mirror last year. Could you help me out?

  22. I see that the Bean has got a lovely bob too. Did you get yours done to match her? Missing the devil too much, no doubt 🙂
    And its so much fun at G’parents house, I guess it’s universal. And ofcourse the common enemy is the one that suffers when the allys get together 😛

  23. Lovely read. Glad the kids are having a blast. I’ve been sifting through the comments and some are just hilarious 😀 Brat, Bean and Button! HAHAHA. How adorable!

  24. MM, my niece (cousin’s daughter, who is 5) does not really care to play with or spend time with my aunt and uncle when they visit her once a year in SF from India. Reading your posts, I used to think that all kids love their Nana-Nani to bits. Do you or Uncle and Aunty do something special to help the bond? Just curious.. EE

    • I wish I had a good answer to this one. But I still fear that in a few years the kids will find their nani-g’pa’s home ‘uncool’. at the risk of sounding arrogant, i think its because my parents are cool. much cooler than i will ever be (this i am sure of). they are very young at heart and unlike regular grandparents who are older and perhaps less ‘junglee’? 🙂 crawling on the floor, dancing, clowning around, walks, picnics, swimming… they are basically fun people to be with. far more fun than the OA and I. i dont know if this will still interest my children in 10 years time, but for now it works.
      another thing that i think is important is that your uncle and aunt are out of their element in the US. they’re guests in her home and it must be very difficult for them to make plans etc in a strange country. perhaps she needs to come and spend time with them on their home turf where they can do quintessentially desi things that she isnt used to – flying kites, street food (tummy trouble is a big issue though, with NRI kids), mehendi.. all sorts .
      also – and correct me if i am wrong, i know nothing of your aunt and uncle so this might be presumptuous. but i realise a lot of grandparents work very hard to pass on their culture to the grandkids. sometimes they end up focusing more on that than on just having fun. my parents dont bother with teaching my kids anything about christianity. they end up playing games, singing boisterous songs, reading Noddy and basically ensuring that the bond is one of love. to them culture is secondary.
      i hope my ideas helped.

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond MM.

        I think you are fairly on target with regards to both of your main points. They are more staid and “older-ly” (though still incredibly loving), than my cousin and her husband.

        They are also out of their element on their short trips to the States and definitely more dependent than they would be in their own home.

        Even if they are not trying to pass on the culture, (which they might subtly be, at least in trying to get her to converse in Punjabi), the two other issues would be sufficient reasons for what we see.

        I doubt I can really change their interaction in meaningful ways, but since AJ and I have been thinking about progeny lately (ahem!), these things are making me think how I would deal with them when faced with similar situations. My parents are way more staid, introverted and more likely to indulge in culture/religion propagation (especially given that ours in an inter-religion marriage).

        A case of too much premature worrying, you might say. 🙂

        • ahem. i see. progeny huh? is this blog not scary enough? you really want to ruin your life? like, completely?
          sigh. oh well, let it not be said that i didnt do my best to put unsuspecting people off procreation

          you know i dont blame grandparents for trying to pass on their culture. arent i forever trying to get people to wear sarees? i think my parents have the advantage of having had a love marriage and already knowing what could go wrong. they realise that in an inter-religion marriage like ours, the only bond they have with their grandkids is one of love. period. theres no point wasting time trying to teach them stuff, all that can come later. what matters now is building a base so strong that they never let go. you can then go about adding frills once that is done.

          for kids growing up abroad, you can imagine how awkward it is to be forced into a relationship with people they barely meet, who are different from the people they see around, who smell different, look different, speak differently and suddenly insist on doing things different. its not easy, but i think these are the challenges of our times. all the best 🙂

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