Friday, August 29, 2008

Daredevil MIL!

My parents in law gave us a scare when they reported that a bag that my MIL was clutching was snatched from her in the bustle of the Malviya Nagar Market in Delhi in broad day light (rather evening light). Delhi is not the best place for elderly couples who are living on their own, but being robbed in your own back yard is too much. This market is the nearest from our colony where all the daily needs are available. We go there once at least in a week sometimes more. Ma Baba go there together, sometimes we go with them sometimes Baba goes alone. So even if we had been in Delhi there is no guarantee that we would be with them when this incident occured.
Well Ma and Baba had gone to the market and bought a few things and suddenly in the middle of the service road a guy comes on a motorbike and speeds off with Ma's bag and Ma rushes after him in full speed. By God's grace the man gets stuck in a traffic jam soon after and Ma reaches him in a huff and says "give me back my bag" or something to that effect and the robber hands it to her because he has no place to run! Then Ma looks back and there is no sign of Baba and none of the crowd help her in any way. The robber could have taken out a knife and hurt her and made off with the bag and no one would have said anything, this is the state of the crime capital. But nothing of that sort happened and the MIL escaped unscathed with her bag too which had her cell phone, her purse, and the purchases which they had made. She says only a cake (worth 20Rs) was missing, it must have fallen out or something.
It is true that some guardian angel was looking over Ma Baba otherwise they would not have been let off with so little loss. But this incident has made us very worried for them. Elderly people are easy targets for these robbers and this has reminded us how vulnerable our parents are. But there is nothing that one can do other than tell them again and again to be careful. Tell them not to go out late in the evening to the market. This is unfair, why should their movemnet be restricted because the law and order system cannot deter goons. I remember right after the bomb blasts in Delhi security was beefed up in the market area. If the guardians of law cannot prevent these snatching incidents how will they combat terror which operates in a much more clandestine manner. Making Ma Baba report to the police would add to their hassles but a complaint should be registered somehow. for the time being I am feeling very proud of the MIL she is a pettite lady but she surely has guts! Baba is known to be absent minded, once in the days when he used to drive his scooter he actually sped off without checking whether Ma had taken her seat behind him and poor Ma was left standing on the steps! Baba did not even notice that Ma was catching a thief! Ah well, all's well that ends well for now folks.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Of Weddings and such like

Usha's son's wedding has prompted me to write this post. I had read somewhere that there is no restriction regarding marriage dates in Karnataka. Unlike in other parts of India where you cannot get married in certain months! This is a significant fact for me because my house overlooks a marriage hall, which also holds other get togethers and students' convocations, but chiefly it is a popular venue for marriages and I have had a birds eye view of all the fun and frolic of marriages in Bangalore for the past so many months and there are loads and loads of stories to tell. The marriages announce themselves with the playing of drums and a shehnai like instrument with the typical carnatic flavour to it. The moment we hear such sounds we used to rush to the balcony and I am happy to say that I got a good glimpse of all the couples who took the plunge at this venue. About twenty or so in the past 6 months! Now we don't hurry at the sound of drums and bugle, we say stuff like, "oh the groom must have arrived" we know that the welcome ceremony will take sometime. An umbrella will be arranged for, trays full of haldi kumkum and sundry other welcome material will be employed so there is no hurry. After the puja the couple comes out and they have some ceremonies in the open when a coconut is broken by the bride's brother, I guess, its better fun to watch that! The brides here are very bold wearing really low backed blouses! Bengali brides would look conservative compared to brides here with their veils! Once I saw a guest with her entire back exposed right till her waist piping the bride to the post! The elaborate flowers worn on the head ofcourse seems quite heavy. Once I saw a bride all decked up in the morning head gear and all, it looked as if she had a long plait. In the evening she was about in a beautiful salwaar kameez and bobbed hair, having got rid of the heavy flowers! Needless to say I get to see a veritable fashion show of the finest kanjeevaram saris and saris that I don't even know the names of ! I like how the men and children are turned out too but the women are the best!
There are a few north south alliances too. The first one I witnessed was quite entertaining. Since 7 in the morning the carnatic stuff was playing. Suddenly at about 12 there was a ear splitting din- the baraat had arrived! Eveyone in our house was out. The bride's party, a few elderly people amongst them, were standing on the steps of the hall in open mouthed horror as bedecked women and men contorted in punjabi dance steps in front of the loud band. It was great to watch the expressions on the south Indian group. I witnessed some change also proof of how Bangalore is increasingly getting used to such alliances. The first groom could not manage to get a horse where as the last one I saw was on one and the bride's family were enjoying the hullabaloo of the baraat.
The other day I was surprized to see that more than 40% of the groom's welcome party comprised of foreigners. There was a gentleman in a beautiful kurta with a garland standing awkwardly at the foot of the stairs. When the groom arrived some south Indian ladies did the traditional stuff and one of the ladies directed the gentleman to put the garland on the groom. I thought how nice that the bride's party is letting the foreigners get involved in the ceremonies. Later I found that the bride was a foreigner! At the end of the function I saw her resplendent in red with elaborate flowers in her hair chatting with her brothers/colleages/friends. The Indian bride would have been stuck next to the husband after the ceremony, here was a bride free of such cultural obligations, laughing and enjoying her own wedding day. Indian brides can only remember how tired they were on their wedding day!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Finally the Mite Goes to School

Yes, it is true, my little one is in school! He started on the 20th. On the 19th the Mr and I agreed that there is no reason for delaying the matter any longer. His cough was better, his nose had stopped running, he was his active self talking away till 11 at night and not sleeping in the afternoons. So we dug out the application that I had got from the nearby play school over a month back and filled it up. The headmistress was taken aback so see me pop up suddenly out of the blue! "I thought you will not come" she said smiling in surprise. We completed the formalities and quietly slipped away while the mite was engaged in counting the fish in the aquarium. I was told to collect him at 11 on the first day. I rushed off to the temple while the Mr went to office. The visit to the temple reassured me and I did my daily chores till it was time to bring him back. I went with beating heart only to find him enjoying a nice picnic with the helper in the playground. There were two other babies with him. I had sent his favourite autorickshaw toy with him. One of the babies had taken a fancy to it, I saw the mite snatch it from the hapless child! No auto for him from tomorrow, I decided. He was very happy and excited all through the day. He went off to sleep after lunch. He refuses to ly down now a days, he just sits on my lap while I sing or recite a poem and he slowly passes out and then I wait for sometime and put him on the pillow! "Amake borro laal ball diyechhe" (they gave me a big red ball) he said excitedly. On the second day I was told to fetch him at 11:30. As I entered I saw him trying to squeeze himself behind a girl on the plastic see-saw. He managed to sit with both the legs on one side and not finding the position comfortable he stood up again and was about to try a different strategy when I intervened. "he has taken a fancy to the see saw" said the headmistress indulgently. While going to school he had said "Mamma tumi thakbe" (Mother you will stay with me) to which I had said that I will be waitng outside the gate. On the third day he said "school e jaoa hoye gechhe, aami auto chhalabo", (school going is done now I want to play with the auto, at home obviously). But when I said see saw he was ready to go. He had started doing school work too. On the second day his madam showed me a whole page of colouring that he had done. He had shown the eyes, chin and cheek on a doll, to the surprise of the teachers. If they knew that he knows and can point out the forehead, eyebrows and eyelashes in two languages, then they would really be amazed!

I continue from where I left off two days ago. I was very concerned about the mite regarding two things- I had taken him along for so many saree buying sprees that when he played make believe in the afternoons he would say- "aami shari kinte jachhi" (Iam going to buy saris) he cleared a toy shelf and then put his head inside it reaching for saris then he would be asking me (I will be sitting or lying down trying to take an afternoon nap) "tumi kon colourer shari nebe? " (which colour sari will you take?) I would mumble some colour then "tumi kirokom blue shari nebe?" (what type of blue/red/etc sari will you take) I would mumble some pattern-stripe, dot or check. Then he would take himself out of the shelf along with the make believe sari and land on my stomach " aami tomake poriye dichhi" (I will make you wear it) " botam lagiye dichhi" (I will put on the buttons!). Thereafter he would buy a sari for himself and wear it buttons and all! I knew then that he must go to school and quickly! He occassionally goes for make believe vegetable and fish shopping with a little bag but I do not mind that!

Another cause for consern was his habit of watching the hindi film music channel 9xm. The brat and I watch it and the mite likes it too specially the katrina Kaif numbers! Now, whatever other programme we watch he will appear and ask "eta kon gaan hochhe"( what song is playing) even if it the news channel or discovery or cartoon network. I would proceed to explain that all programmes are not songs but he insists on asking "eta kon gaan? " even now! This too would change I hoped after going to school.

There is yet another sign that my mite is developing intellectually. Previously if I asked silly questions like- "Ke choco drink khabe?" (who will have chocolate milk) he would say "Babu khabe" because that is what he calls himself. Now he answers "aami khabo" (I will drink) so he has learnt to put the pronoun in place of first person, which is a sign of verbal development.

The mite brought some homework for the weekend! Drawing standing and sleeping lines and colouring a square and a triangle! He did it all by himself! he got carried away with the standing line and on some places he drew the lines all across the page when he had to make half page lines. When I explained it to him he did the work swiftly and even asked me to make other drawings on which he could make standing and sleeping lines. This morning he cried a little when I said we are off to school. then he said "auto kore jabo" (I will go in an auto). In school I stayed for a little while talking to his teacher- he therefore started crying in the hope that I will take him home. I slipped away quickly and swore that I will slip away right after handing him over to the helper from tomorrow!

We spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum. The Fun Science Pavilion was a treat with lots to do. The Brat and the mite had a lovely time there. The ground floor has the mechanical sections with trucks and models explaining the use of water , air and animal power, There is a moving dinosaur too on the mezzanine floor (but the dinosaur gallery at the Science city in Calcutta is a lot better) the Fun Science gallery is on the second floor and the most striking thing was that all the displays were in excellent working order inspite of being fiddled with by all and sundry. The scientific toy shop in the mezzanine floor and the book shop on the second floor is very good. We gave the third floor a miss because we were hungry. We expected to find a huge canteen on the fourth floor but it was a disappointment. it had nothing but samosas and chips and icecream. The children had pop corn and some banana chips that I had brought along. There was coffee and juice too. The museum authorities should develop the canteen they can do brisk business for a round of the museum can make one very hungry! Anyhow we called it a day and told ourselves that we will be back soon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Progress of the Mite and the Bratty Girl

The elder one is doing well in school. She is intimidated by me so she is very timid. I had told her to keep answering in class and speaking to the teacher, and to volunteer to participate in extra curricular activities. I don't know why, but she followed this advice and has won two second prizes for solo song and English Recitation competitions. She has gained in confidence. She also took part in a class play and today she has come home with the monitor badge. Al these activities have given vent to her restless spirit. She is doing her studies herself most of the time. Although she still springs the occassional 9 pm surprise or rather a shock, declacing that she has unfinished work due on the next day! She still remains highly strung, ever complaining and prone to burst into tears at the slightest provocation, but there are signs of improvement that I cannot deny. I am keeping my fingures crossed.
The mite is still out of school. We were thinking of putting him this week but he is still coughing and he also has a runny nose. We want to make the affair as little of a horrifying experience for him as possible. In theory he has understood the stuff, he says he will go to school and learn ABC etc, but in practice we are sure that he will put up a fight for a week atleast. A runny nose will make matters worse. So next week it is folks. Meanwhile he has crossed the 2 and a half year mark on the 9th of August. Fingers crossed for the mite too!