Someday I’ll have a clean home

“Who left this bloody thing on the floor. It’s a booby trap. No, it’s a death trap. Someone’s going to trip over it and break their neck and DIE. And why are your dirty clothes on the ironing board? Can you tell the difference between an ironing board and a laundry basket. And this. This. Why are these books piled sky high? Are we building a Tower of Babel? What are those shelves for, if not to hold books? Why am I ALWAYS, ALWAYS cleaning up after the two of you? WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM? A..”

A sturdy pair of arms reaches around me, and a mouth that is almost at the same height as mine, kisses me firmly on the cheek and says…” A mom. You’re my mom.”

“Mum,” I correct him without any conviction… not mom.

Well played, son. Well played.

Yes, of course I know I’ve been played. And I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

For today I’ll just revel in a son who hasn’t stopped kissing me, or rubbing his sweaty face into my back every time he passes by.

Blah, blah, blah

Me: Brat, you’ve ripped your shirt!
Brat: Where? Where?
Me: arre here…b..b…baby.
Bean: You were going to say blind bat but you stopped yourself, didn’t you?



Bean after spilling a packet of sewing needles on the bed ( she’s embroidering a robot on casement) – It’s okay Mama, WE know I’ve spilled it, so we’ll be careful. Only Pop will get a poke in his bum.

Of course. That’s alright then.


Dinner table conversation :

Bean – “Dad, can I say the F-word?”

Dad wonders where this is leading…

Brat pipes up – “as long as it is not the four letter word.”

Dad is taken aback and thinks to himself, “damn, these kids are getting started earlier with each passing generation!”, but decides to explore further with “which word is that? ”

Both respond in unison – “Fool!”

Dad heaves a sigh of relief!


Reason # 817 to not have kids.
Brat: Mama it’s early morning and lights are on instead of opening the curtains. Global warming is happening because of you.
Me.. arre I’m in my night clothes and this is the ground floor. People can look in.
Brat: Then go change.

Bean: Why is the AC on? You’re global warming the world. (sic)
Me: It’s bloody hot and the middle of the afternoon.
Bean: So sweat a little.



Not even 48 hours at this particular resort and the Bean who is our official telephone operator is greeted with a Hello Bean, by the receptionist, the cleaning staff and everyone else.
She’s also greeted by name by every guard in our complex.
After a lifetime of people forgetting my face even after three meetings, fumbling over my name, not being able to place me, being with her is a strange and new experience.
You could be good, kind, intelligent, interesting. … But personality walks into a room and it’s game over.

Which is not to say she’s not kind or intelligent or all things good. Just that those features of hers too are lost in the force of her personality.


Brat and Bean collecting shells on the beach. Checking each one for uniqueness. This one looks like lace. This has a fan design. This one is maroon!
The Brat brings a perfectly pure white, unexceptional one to me, and justifies it ‘this is plain Ma, but its not a bad thing to be plain. See, it’s not got a single spot but no one else will pick it up because it’s not fancy and can’t show off and catch your eye. So I’m going to take it home and make it mine. ‘


No wasting a single grain of food or over-serving, just because it’s a buffet, the OA and I repeat at every meal.

Faced with a variety, all of which must be finished, the Bean makes a canapé out of rounds of bread topped with bits of papad and curd rice.

And to think I outraged loud and long at the idiocy and stereotypes when they showed SRK eating noodles with curd in Ra One. I take it back. It’s all good and all possible.


The Bean singing Lungi dance: Lungi ko uthana padega, shampoo karke dikhana padega. .. anda ke jaise chashma lagake.

Kya dikhana padege? I shudder to think.


Language comes rushing back in moments of crisis. Had a huge fight with the cab driver who dropped us to the railway station. He wanted extra money because we kept a small bag of breakable goods on the seat instead of in the boot. Says it’s a rule. I call the company (Fastrack Cabs) and find out there is no such rule, but ‘just give it to shut him up, madam!’ He can’t speak to us in English and its a boon that I can speak Tamil.
It comes rushing back. Hesitant and broken at first. A flood later.
I call the railway cops to intervene. They look vague and shrug. Why don’t you adjust madam?
A new cop who thinks we’re all northies, tells him in Tamil. ..’They don’t look like they’ll cave – let it go. You can pick up someone else from here and fool them. ‘
By now I’m in full steam and ask the cop what the hell. ..
The OA tells me to ask the cabbie to give us a bill for the extra amount if its company policy. He puts his tail between his legs and disappears. The cops are relieved at not having to fight a battle and send us off.
The Brat is in tears of rage by now. The Bean is silent.
All this because my husband looks like a North Indian and is speaking to him in English. We’re outsiders who are fair game.
Makes me wonder how foreigners manage. He tried his luck with us and it was his bad luck that I spoke the language. What if you know neither the language nor the people? It’s not easy in our country where we’re so corrupt and so quick to fool a stranger.
Anyway. Alls well that ends well. And apparently languages are like bicycles. You can get back on like you never got off.


The Bean walks into my room with her dress accidentally hiked up and undies on show.
Me: Oi! Why is your bum on display?
Bean: *without missing a beat* – That’s my style.

Reminds me of Rachel in FRIENDS at Barry and Mindy’s wedding. All she needed to do was break out into Copacabana!


The Brat has been studying muhavarein ( idioms) for some weeks now.  The OA and I have been struggling to help him because neither of us can claim to be good at Hindi. This weekend he has to write a poem made up of only muhavarein. I banged my head on the bed in despair and moaned, “If I hear the word muhavarein once more, I’ll kill myself.”

A moment of silence while the family looks on in concern and then the Bean pipes up mischievously and experimentally, “Muhavarein? ”


Only the Bean will look at her dinner and burst into song – Oh matarpaneer, matarpaneer. .. sung to the tune of Masakkali.


Helping the Brat with his Hindi homework and used to working on my laptop I keep changing the lines as I think, forgetting that he has to keep erasing.

Finally he stops, holds my head at the temples and patiently says – Mama, first think your entire thought through and then let it come out of your mouth.

I think I just heard the OA’s voice.


The Bean walks in from school, neatly puts tiffin etc for wash, hangs her bag in place and then rubs her hands gleefully and says, “It’s the weekend Mama – please brainstorm so that we can do up the house.”

I now understand how Frankenstein must have felt.

Baby Talk

OA: Bean, hurry up, the school gates will get locked.
Bean: Doesn’t matter dada, you just have to give the guard some money.
OA: ?!?!! You can’t do that!
Bean: Yes dada, I’ve seen other parents do it. Listen to me and it will be okay.
Ah, my little UPwaali – she has corruption in her blood and very sharp eyes. To say nothing of my utter shock and horror at what she is picking up in school, no less.


MM: Brat, CHEW your food.
Brat: I don’t need to. I am a Diplodocus. Now I have to swallow some stones and it will help the food get digested in my stomach.
Dear God, when will this Dinosaur craze end?


MM: Munch, I am going to sqooooze you and drink up all your juice.
Bean: I don’t have any juice. I am a human and I have only blood. If you drink that up, you will be a vampire.


Bean: When you look in the mirror or water, you see your reflection.
MM: Clever girl, who taught you that?
Bean: Dada told me.
MM: And what does Mama tell you?
Bean: She only says ‘don’t do this and don’t do that.’


Bean: Mama, don’t say ‘crap’. It’s a bad word. If you say it again, then…then…
Me (menacingly): Then what? What will you do about it?
Bean (hastily): Then keep saying it. I don’t care!

I think the instinct of self preservation kicked in.


MM flirting with OA in the car while imagining kids in the backseat are fast asleep: yaadda yaada yaada… who’s your momma?

Brat: Eh? What are you talking about Ma? Dadi is his mamma. You are the Bean and my mamma.


Reason#6549 to have a daughter – The Bean watching me apply medicine on my acne, “Don’t do that Mama. Your spots are pretty. Will a zebra look nice without its stripes?”


Bean: Mama, are these glasses very expensive?

MM: Yes, so please be very careful while drinking from them.

Bean: Yes, that is EXACTLY what I was about to tell you.


The Brat has decided he is a new environment superhero. He wears a ring that makes plastic disappear, it has a button that brings rain and another that grows grass.

(1) Only the Brat could come up with something like this.

(2) I wish he was really that sort of a superhero!

So much to say

…..that I’m going to keep it short.

Height of sibling rivalry: The Bean bawling loud and long, ‘But he just put a bandaid yesterday. Why doesn’t my turn ever come?’

Height of love for a grandparent: The Bean tells her father that she wants to shave her head. The OA asks why. The Bean responds, ‘Because I want to look like G’pa.’

Height of bargaining: The Brat asking for an extra hour of television, ‘Can I watch a cartoon? No? Animal Planet? No? Well, how about some news at least?’


It’s a strange world our kids inhabit where they know what a khurpi as well as a Kindle is. A couple of days into the iPad and they know what they’re doing with it. Clearly depriving them of technology all this while didn’t damage them permanently. I hide it away and they don’t miss it or even ask for it. Nice. Let’s see how long this lasts. Thankfully the Brat still asks for the garden from the old house and the Bean wants to go to school to water the seedling she planted before the summer holidays began.


The Brat waking a sleeping Bean: Ma, I’ll kiss her so that she wakes up smiling.

The Bean waking a sleeping Brat: Let’s rub some cake on his face, shall we?!


How I know the Brat is a bigger influence on the Bean than I am. The Bean tells me, ‘Ma, A said that she is a good girl and I am a gandi (bad) girl.

Me: What? I hope you told her that $%#^#%^

Bean: No, I told her that she is good, I am good, everyone is good.

Errr, yes.  Clearly everyone but your mother, is good!


Cousin J to the energetic Bean bouncing off her jet-lagged grandfather’s prone form, ‘Bean, stop jumping on his bum, he’s your grandfather!

Bean – Because he is my grandfather I can jump on his bum if I want to.

Anyone care to argue that logic?


The doll G’pa and Nani gifted the Bean has taken over our home. I was handed the doll and told, “I’m going to office, you take care of my baby.” Ye Gods, is this what the future holds in store for me? Taking care of my grandchildren after rearing my own? What am I doing wrong?

Thankfully the maama (aka the Brat) came to the rescue and took the baby for a walk in the stroller so that I could go back to my excuse for a job.


The piece de resistance – A jet lagged Nani falls asleep mid-lullaby and the Brat nudges her awake and asks with deep concern – “Nani, are you buffering too?”

Yes, now you give the standing ovation you’ve been holding back 😉

This and That


It’s raining and the Brat is quietly looking out. Rain in the hills is always awe-inspiring. I ask him what is fascinating him and he says in an awed voice – The lightning scribbles.

After a while the Bean points out that it is no longer raining. Merely ‘grizzling’.

Dear God, please don’t let anyone correct them.


The Bean calls out to me – Mama, would you come and take a look at the size of this spider?!!!

I run down ready to whack the spider with something if she’s scared.

She’s crouched on her haunches, watching it weave a web.

“Shall I whack it?” I ask, brandishing a duster.

No, I want to keep it as a pet, like the fish in the bowl!!

Err.. okay then.

And that ladies and gentlemen is why in my otherwise spotless house we have a spider lazily sipping Long Island Tea.


The Bean draws a picture of the family. Brat, Mama and herself. I look at the family of three and ask – where is Dada?

She looks at me with a don’t-you-know-anything-at-all look on her face.

He’s in your stomach, of course!

Ye Gods and little fishes, I may not be a great teacher, but what the hell are they teaching her in school?  Or should I just be hitting the gym?


The Brat drags all his toys to my bedroom while I’m working, not really noticing how much he’s bringing in.

Once he’s done, he looks around with genuine concern and disgust and says “Mama! What a mess your room is. Why don’t you tidy it up.”

??! WTF!?

A sense of humour

Ask a dozen women what they look for in a man and 90% of them will list sense of humour as the most important.Funny though, I usually snap at the OA if his sense of humour gets in the way of a conversation. Everything is funny until you get married. Then you wonder if life played a joke on you.

Yennyway. This is not about the OA’s sense of humour that kills me. Literally.  It is about the Brat’s sense of humour, or lack thereof. A few months ago the OA and I noticed that the Brat didn’t tell jokes or get jokes. Most other kids in that age group seemed to get it. And were cracking crude potty jokes but the light of our life seemed to find nothing funny about that joke that turned my stomach while the 6 year old narrated it.

I realised that the OA had noticed it too. Why didn’t our son get a joke? It wasn’t the end of the world, but as parents, it interested us. We really thought we were giving him a good childhood. So err.. why didn’t he laugh when he heard the punch line. And then being the person I am, I began to think about it. Was it a lack of vocabulary? Was it some sort of developmental delay? What is a joke? How do you know that it is funny? What makes a joke funny to some and not to others? What does it mean if you can’t see the funny side of something?

Fortunately we met an educator some days later and she gave us an interesting explanation, or atleast a theory. Jokes are funny because you expect it to go one way and then the punch line happens and it is completely unexpected and that is what is funny. Jokes get funnier and you understand them better and laugh harder as you grow older because you are more set in your ways and ideas and you have an expectation in your mind. It is only when you have an open mind, she mentioned, that you don’t find jokes funny. Now this is not meant to be taken literally. To expand on it, when the Brat hears a story, he has no expectation of how it is to end and he has no limits to what is possible. So even a joke with an outlandish ending, is possible in his little Calvin Hobbes world. He nods, takes the joke in his stride as food for thought and walks on.

It was an interesting theory. I am not sure if it is a valid theory but it made sense when explained that way. A few days ago the Brat came and sat in my lap and looked out of the window.

Oye,  I said  – must you land on my lap?

Yes, he nods seriously.

Why? I ask

Because its there, says he. Much like George Mallory.

Ha ha ha, I laughed, forgetting for a moment that he is a child and thinking – Kya chance pe dance kiya. Until I realised that he had said it in utter seriousness. And of course remembering that he was too young to even be aware of the quote.

Anyhow, I don’t know if this is good news or bad, but he is slowly beginning to see a joke. I have to admit, that while it turns him into a normal little boy, laughing at age appropriate potty jokes, it’s the end of yet another era, the passing of a milestone. He’s slowly losing the willing acceptance. The suspension of disbelief. The open mind that doesn’t second guess and innocently nods and believes.  Gradually he is getting expectations, it is no longer open ended. I think I’ll miss my little boy so full of wonder.

PS: After I wrote this post I was chatting with the OA who smiled his OA smile and said, “You know he gets it from you, don’t you?”

I do? He does?

OA: I think he does. Aren’t you the one who still holds your breath each time the aeroplane takes off and wonders anew at how it can lift off and soar through the air? Aren’t you the one who always has 20 things to tell me even if you’ve been home all day? Aren’t you the one who is always full of little observations for your blog? The one who is happy over the funniest little occurrences?

Okay then…

And so I had three things to be happy about

– The son who is growing into the spitting image of his goodlooking father instead of average looking mother gets atleast something from his mother – a sense of wonder

– That apparently I have a sense of wonder that I have never realised

– That the banker husband who wouldn’t bother if I walked around the house with my head stuck up a turkey’s arse, has not only noticed something about me, but about my son too and has actually had the time to draw conclusions. 2011 might just be the year of miracles!