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.


And more talk

Me: Bean, brush your hair
Bean: I think my hair looks fine.
Me: No it doesn’t – ask the Brat.
Bean: Brat, does my hair look messy?
Brat (without even bothering to look up from his book) – I think it looks perfectly beautiful.
They high five (he still can’t tear his eyes away from his book) and the Bean says: You can have my chicken at dinner.

I’m considering giving them up to two different families.


Didn’t think I’d ever sell my body, but my daughter just paid me ten rupees for a kiss. I’ve gone over to the dark side.


In her last week as a six-year old, she says:
1. Mama, you need to absolve the medicine in a glass of water.

2. I was so worried that I chewed up my nails and now my prunticles are bothering me.

3. I was so bored, that I put my mind to it and painted a masterpiece.


The Bean working on yet another ‘masterpiece’ has splashed paint all over her study table.
Me: Bean! You annoying brat.. you pain in the..
‘Posterior’ she supplies helpfully.
Me: Yes, you’re driving me nuts. Did I not just clean that mess up? You’re worse than your father.
Bean *gasp of horror and betrayal writ large in her eyes* – ‘You take that back, Mama. That was really mean. I am not worse than my father.’


You know the child isn’t too ill when she chirps back at the ATM that says, thank you for banking with us -“you’re welcome! Thanks for letting us bank with you.” And giggles.

Yep. She’s on her way to better health.


The Bean’s explanation as to why she will ONLY sleep with Nana and none of the other three grandparents. “Because you were in Nan’s stomach and I was in yours. We are like a coconut.” Eh?!


Me: Brat … you know what you are to me, my darling?
Brat: Yeah… *yawn* I’m your heart, soul, life, guts, liver, gall bladder, uterus…


Me: Bean, move! I need the mirror to get my pleats straight.
Bean: Wait – I’ve dropped an eyelash on my cheek.
Me: Go look for it in front of another mirror, na?
Bean: Why can’t you go to another mirror? Why me?
Me: Because I was wearing my saree in front of this one, first. Before you came!
Bean: What is this I came first, you came second? Can’t you be nice and share?

Hoist by my own petard, I see.
#ParentingFail #PracticeWhatYouPreach


One sweetheart of a dadu sits out in the lawn every sunny morning, playing with his preschool grandson. They make me look up from my laptop all the time, because of their sweetness.He’s an old guy who isn’t very mobile so he keeps coming up with fun stuff for his grandson to do – run and touch that tree, go pick up that leaf… all sorts. And he keeps it young by calling his grandson ‘yaar’.I miss them on grey days.
Me: OA, is that thunder?
Bean: I think someone banged a door elsewhere and it evaporated here.
Realisation of your advanced age hits you when your son asks for Daft Punk. Thankfully you have a daughter who still counts eleventy-one. All is not lost.
OA and I to the kids: Hurry up with your homework, we have a surprise for you.
Bean *glowering at us over her homework*: I hope it’s not a surprise like the one Simba’s Uncle gave him.
Me: What surprise was that?
Bean: He said he had a surprise for him and then he tried to kill him.
Bean playing with the stray cat they’ve adopted when the cat scratches her – Pussy, no! This is not good manners. This is not the way I’ve taught you to behave.
Hah! Now she feels my pain.
Me, checking the Bean’s homework – Oi! There’s a letter missing here. What did you do?
Bean: I was hungry, I ate it.
Yeah, you cheeky little so-and-so. That response should hold you in good stead when you start having class tests.
Watsapping madly with family all over the place, I made a typo. I sent the correct word, marked with an asterisk.
The Bean knows she’s not allowed to read over my shoulder but she sees the asterisk from a distance and asks – Are you writing bad words, Mama?
Thank you cartoons and comic books!
Brat: Mama, what’s to nibble on? I’m feeling teatime-ish.
My poor son. Born to a mother who only eats when her stomach growls and can get by on a handful of peanuts.
On the bright side, maybe his love for food will spur him to cook for all of us, soon!
Brat to friend: My mother is a book launcher.
Interesting to see yourself through your kids’ eyes.
Me: Babies hurry up and finish your homework and we’ll FaceTime with Button. (Their little cousin in the US)
Brat, mournfully: That’s no good. Seeing him in real life is uncountable times better.
An exhausted me after I’d made the Bean’s hair for the nth time and she’d dropped her clips: Bean! People are going to say I’m a terrible mother who can’t even keep her kids clean!
Bean: Don’t worry Mama, they won’t say it aloud to you. They will only think it.
Gee thanks. That makes me feel better.
Bean: Mama I’m going to play Othello by myself.
Me: Bean, you can’t play both sides of a game.
Bean: Why not? I have two brains – one on the left and one on the right. They’ll play against each other.And no – she hasn’t learnt left and right brain yet. She came up with that herself. *insert eye roll*
When you have a child who thinks only in terms of the animal kingdom –
Brat’s friend – You know my uncle and aunt got married two years before my parents and had a baby only last year. They couldn’t have a baby for soooo long.
Brat – So what? Many people just don’t want to have a baby. I think they get themselves neutered.

Ladiss log

A few days ago I spent a good part of the morning driving around my locality, looking for a tailor who would come home and do some alteration of furnishings. I found one by the roadside and helped him lift and put the sewing machine into the boot. Of course the machine was too big so I would have to drive with the boot open, the machine sticking out.
As I was about to drive off, two men walked by and one of them helpfully suggested that I  put a car mat under the machine where it hung over the bumper, to avoid scratches. I smiled and responded that I had; my car mats are transparent so he hadn’t noticed them.
He nodded and then well within earshot, turned and said to his companion – in Hindi, sometimes ladies use their brains – Kabhi kabhi ladiss log bhi samahjdari ka kaam karti hain.

You must commend the restraint I showed in not mowing him down.

Inane chatter at the mad house

Me: Bean, stop making the fork and spoon fight. You’ll spill your milk.
Bean: Yes, that was my plan.
Bean: Mama, when you were young and there were no gadgets, what did people do for company?


Brat hiding in a corner, looking mighty distressed.
Me: Wassup? Why so sad?
Brat: I’m playing hide and seek against my will. Bean wants me to.
Me: Aww.. you’re such an angel. You’re playing it to keep your ill baby sister happy.
Brat: No, I’m playing it so that I can hide and not have to see her face for sometime.


Love is… your son walking up to you as you work, gently slipping your glasses on to your nose and saying, ‘Wear this. We don’t want your eyes getting worse, do we?’

Such a simple gesture, but so full of affection and concern.


After a long day of attempting to work from home (something I’ve done for 8 years now :-/) while the kids go about their various activities, back from school, lunch, nap, swimming, homework, playtime, the OA collapses in exhaustion and observes – Raising children builds character.

Absolutely. That is why I am so character-ful.


Brat, after a prolonged show on Animal Planet: Mama, did you know, sex doesn’t just mean what your gender is, it’s also another word for mating and making babies.
Me: Err, yeah. I heard something like that.
Brat: And a female mantis eats the male mantis’ head after mating and so does the black widow.
Me: Uh huh.
Brat: So sex and mating is a very dangerous thing. It could kill the male. One should avoid it. Never know.

Aaaannndddd we have a winning argument here. Lets hope this takes him through college and more!


Me rushing between kitchen and dining room, feeding the kids breakfast before school: Bean, there’s no salt on your fried egg.
And I proceed to add some.
She looks at me in horror – Mama, I had already put salt.
Me: Oh shit, shit, shit. So sorry, baby. Shall I wipe it? Make you another egg?
Bean: Naah… I hadn’t put any salt. I was just messing with your head.


Bean: I want to learn alien language. Teach me.
Me: How am I supposed to know alien language?
Bean: Ask google. Google knows everything.

So, ours was the last generation that thought mum and dad knew everything.


The Bean and my mother make a deal and shake on it.
Me: Now remember baby, a lady doesn’t go back on her word.
Bean: I’m not a lady.
Me: Fine, a gentleman doesn’t break his promise either.
Bean: I’m not a gentleman.
Me: So what are you?
Bean: A cross breed.


Me to Cousin K as I pop in a handful of pills for my knees: If after all this I don’t get better…
Bean, helpfully: You’ll kill yourself? Throw yourself off the building?



Clearly my kids take after me. We are on the train and a little girl is wearing a green strip cloth tied around her arm.
What is that? They ask her.
Its a taveez to keep us safe says her father. We wear it when we travel, she says
How can that keep you safe, the kids ask. See.. You just bumped your head. How safe is that?
The father and child smile but had no answer.

We are doing okay, OA. They think, they question and they don’t blindly accept.


Bean: Mama, today was the worst day of my life. X (good friend) hit me outside the watercooler and I cried a trail of tears back to my class.

And now Mama is crying a trail of tears.


Bean, rushing to get ready for our visit to the local Dusshera mela, gets stuck in her kurta.
Me: Don’t get excited yaar, one arm at a time.
Cheeky Miss, getting arms out but getting the kurta stuck around her fat head: Yes, but which head at a time?


Brat, answering questions on a poem on tigers – What is this? Tigers found in forests and high grass! Is that an answer? They should be more specific and say that tigers are found in South East Asia.

A poet he is unlikely to be.

A change in mindset needed for Cousin K too, who is helping him with his homework and saying – You can’t do that. Your teacher will cut marks.

Brat: What are marks? And why will she cut them? She gives us happy faces.

Cousin K is torn between bashing his head against a wall and crying over his comparatively deprived school years.


I am shopping in a grocery store and I get tired of the Bean dogging my footsteps and getting underfoot. I shove the trolley at her and say – Now stand here for two minutes and let me quickly check these glasses out.

And I walk a few steps ahead.

The Bean nods and says understandingly –  Are you abandoning me?


I ask some science related daily life question and the kids answer it immediately, like the Greek chorus.

How did you know that, I ask.

Dada, told us.

Uff. Dada teaches you all the useful stuff. What do you need me for?

A kind-hearted Bean pats me and says consolingly – We need you for love and cuddles.


The OA, pushing 40, got his first pair of reading glasses. We spent a fair amount of time picking the frame and he put them on, walked in and posed for the kids.

His day was made when the Brat looked at him and said – Dada, you look like the hero of a blockbuster.


Bean filling water in her doll’s milk bottle and drinking from it.
A disgusted Brat: Ohmigod, she’s regressing – she’s getting the shrinks!


There is nothing so cutely earnest as a child counting on her fingers as she does her maths homework.
There is nothing so annoying as her dragging your fingers off your keyboard to count on when she runs out of her own.


As if to say wearing a saree and heavy jewellery in the heat is not enough, they sit side saddle on a two wheeler holding bags and often a child. What really upsets me though is the way they have to hold their pallu jammed tightly between their teeth for hours because God forbid a strand of hair should be seen by a stranger. The day every woman can dress for travel as comfortably as a man and her virtue doesn’t depend on her display of hair, I’ll be happy to put away my feminist badge.


Brat to a nursery full of kids: So Australopithecus might have been what man descended from – did you know that? Come see the brain size.

Studied silence in the room as all ignore him.

And then Bean does what every sibling should but rarely will: Come Brat, I’m interested. Show me.

I could hear the fake enthusiasm dripping from her voice, but hey, she did her duty! 


Bean: Mama, when I run very fast my legs hurt. I think the screw has dropped out.

Strange how you can give birth to one child who will tell you about the difference between the human brain and the Australopethicus’ brain, and another who thinks joints are held together by screws.


Me: Bean, I hope you’re not walking out of class during studies, anymore.
Bean: No, my teacher sits at the door so that I can’t walk out. So I wait till she’s looking the other way and I jump out of the window.

I’m going to be dead before she hits her teens.


Brat: Mama, can I have some milk for an experiment?
Me: Sure. What’s the experiment?
Brat: Befriending a cat.


An exhausted me after I’d made the Bean’s hair for the nth time and she’d dropped her clips: Beanie! People are going to say I’m a terrible mother who can’t even keep her kids clean!
Bean: Don’t worry Mama, they won’t say it aloud to you. They will only think it.

Gee thanks. That makes me feel better.


Bean and friend spend a pleasant hour colouring and painting and then bring me the results to judge. Not wanting to hurt either, I tell them both are equally beautiful and send them off.

Bean takes friend into the next room and apologises – “I’m sorry about this. My mother has a problem making a choice. We’ll have to ask someone else.”



Kids wrestling on the bed and some of the lines I got to hear.

– You give me no choice -but to die.
– Brothers and sisters don’t have to get along.
– Waitamminit, I just lost an eyelash and I’m looking for it.
– Don’t try that technique on me – it makes me very happy.
– Oh, the blood rushed to your cheeks and made them pink. I’m going to kick your bum and see how that works now.


How kids react to things says so much about them.
The kids are looking at a mineral water bottle full of some liquid in the bathroom and discussing it.
Brat: I think its acid to clean the bathroom.
Bean: No! Mama doesn’t use chemicals in the house – it’s leftover beer to wash her hair.
Need I tell you which of them was right?


The OA and I woke up feeling rather Christmassy. We put on some carols and warbled along with them as we went about our tasks. And then this carol came on and we began to dance to it.

The kids looked out of the bathroom, toothbrushes tucked into a corner of their mouths, took a look at us, rolled their eyes and said, ‘Psycho!’
Apparently we hit the teens earlier than we’d anticipated.

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 😉