Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sonny names

K's mom tags me to do a tell-all of the names we call sonny.

To begin with Sonny is itself a nick. Sonny's Ma bows to take the credits on this one.

Gudda - The quintessential boy nick ever. Called only when sonny is behaving himself.
Chanda - My Moon.
Paalu - A spin-off for 'Pyaaru' or loved one
Mommy doffs her hat at these.

At times Sonny's mom forgets she has a boy and insists on calling him girl nicks. So he's called:
Gudiya - My doll
Bitiya - My daughter
Rani - My queen
Goes unsaid - sonny's baba can only see red when his male off-spring is called girly-names.

Chote/Chhotu - Lil one. Of course he is the Chota-most in the household. Baba gets credited with this one.

Aalu - Baba gets credited with this one too. Its actually a spin-off his name. But it means potato :)

Shonu-Shoniya - Depending on whether mom is in a mood for a boy or girl nick.

Bandar - Literally Monkey. When sonny decides its antics-time. Only Ma calls him this one.

Arabi - Arab inhabitant. Sonny's paternal grand-dad gave him this title since we've moved to Riyadh.

Angrez ki aulad - Mom calls him this one - when sonny decides to be abso firang. Literally means Son of an English man.

Khadu/Khattu - Its the weirdest spin-off of Sonny's name. Sonny first started referring to himself as 'khadu' - so the credit rightly rests with him.

Sweetu-bumchi - Sweet bums :) Sonny's ma takes credit for this one.

Nautanki - Literally means 'drama'. These days sonny gives us ample opportunity to refer to him as nautanki. Origin - unknown.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

About Maddy

If there is one piece of news that keeps getting repeated on virtually every news channel, its the one about 4 year old Madeleine Mc Cann.

About 3 months ago, Maddy was vacationing on the Priar da Luz island of Portugal with the parents, both doctors and her twin younger brother and sister. On 3 May 2007 her parents put the kids to sleep in their apartment and joined their friends over dinner in a tapas restaurant, literally a 100 yards away from the hotel. They kept coming back at frequent intervals to check on the kids.
At one such time, the mother discovered that young Maddy was missing from her bed. She raised an alarm, but no one took her seriously. They thought either the child had wandered off on her own or some friend or acquaintance had heard her cry and taken her away.

Its been over 3 months now - and the police still have nothing conclusive about either the motive or the possible whereabouts or the possible state of the child. Her parents, of course are convinced that she is alive and being kept well. Its possible they reason, that the kidnapper, is afraid to come out in the open to ask for a ransom, in a case that has such high news visibility. After all, David Beckham and a host of other footballers have made public appeals for Maddy. J.K. Rowling too has pledged money to be paid for any information about the child.

As a parent, its your worse nightmare come true. Of course you can argue - how could they leave their kids alone and go out to dinner. Maybe they've done it in the past -with no consequence, except good. After all they were on vacation. Imagine, looking away from your child for a few minutes and when you look back - your child is gone. The possibility of a deranged, childless couple taking young Maddy is strong, as is the fearful possibility of a pedophile taking off with the child. One acquaintance does remember seeing a white male with something looking like a child draped over his shoulder, covered in a blanket being seen around the apartment around the time Maddy was found missing.

Her parents have left no stone unturned to find their girl. They've refused to return home - until they have their child with them. They've visited the pope, had celebrities make appeals, raised thousands of pounds for themselves and for other groups involved with finding missing children. Most importantly they have managed to keep this case open and fresh in the public eye - so that public pressure will keep authorities on their toes.

Of course, you can ask, what about the scores of kids who go missing everyday? What makes Maddy special that we think, pray and want her to be found and we dont even know who else is missing. What does that say of us, as public? What does it say of the media who have splashed the angelic looking Maddy's pictures all over?

As I typed this post heart full of sympathies and prayers for the McCann family, that I read that the child's mother has been named suspect in the murder. The police apparently have found evidence to state that the mother may have 'accidentally' killed the child and with the liaison of her husband has managed to dispose off the body. You're telling me - that a couple with relentless media attention on them - has managed to dispose off their own child's body - while the world at large was literally hunting for her? As I shook off this piece of news comes the next bolt - the parents who had publicly pledged not to leave Portugal until they found their Maddy, has taken a flight back home. They say they want a normal childhood for their other kids - and will continue the search for Maddy.

This is a story (as in news story) that has been playing on my mind at many levels:
1. How come an educated doctor couple left their kids in an apartment in a strange place, at night, asleep? Without locking the door from the outside? Without a baby sitter? Or nanny? Or informing the security guards to keep an eye on the kids?
2. Why didnt the local police take their alarm at the child being lost, seriously? Everyone knows - if a missing child's whereabouts are not known in the first hour - the chances are remote that the child will ever be found.
3. It took 2 months for child abduction specialists to fly down from UK - which is literally next door. Mobile tracking experts took another month to land. Why?
4. The police investigation was so haphazard that no one took DNA samples from the room - or from Maddy's toy that she usually slept with.
5. The media has blown this story so much. Is it because, Maddy is such an angelic, attractive child, daughter to an attractive white middle-class doctor couple? Why dont incidents of other child abductions drawn as much attention?
6. And after creating so much furore about not leaving until they found Maddy - how come the parents have suddenly taken flight (literally)?

No matter what you think, whoever you hold responsible, whoever is suspected, whoever is convicted, I just hope and pray the child comes back home to her parents - safe and sound.



What is life, without moments? Some stay with you forever. Here are a few that I can never forget.

Scariest Moment Ever:
I was 8 months pregnant. We lived in Montreal, in a house, where the first floor (or ground floor - as we say in India) was occupied by our landlord and landlady - a very caring yet old couple. WE lived on the floor above. There were 2 entrances, which were interconnected, so to give us the privacy of moving about on our own, our landlady usually kept the connecting door closed.
One weekend, the landlady's son came to visit his with his 2 dogs. I am petrified of dogs. Hubby asked landlady to keep the dogs out of the way, since I was huge and scared to boot. We were leaving for a friends place, through our door, when I heard the dogs bark, especially loud. I was commenting to hubby how the dogs must feel being indoors, when the connecting door flew open and out bounded a huge German Shepard. Instinct took over common sense and I turned and ran up the stairs. There are about 14 stairs that lead up to our house upstairs and the door to our house was locked. I could see the door and my brain yelled - now where are you going to run? Before I could reach the door, I tripped and fell. Again instinctively I held my hands down to cushion my belly and now I could smell the dog and hear him at my hip. My brain ran out all the possibilities, premature birth, loosing the baby, tetantus injections... the works. And then like a miracle I felt the dog being literally pulled away and 2 arms helping me up.
Finally I thought, hubby managed to jump up and come to my rescue. But I was wrong. It was my landlady's son. He had run out after his dog and literally pulled him away from me - considering how big and strong German Shepards can be, it was quite a deed. He was all apologies, he literally dropped on his knees to see if I had bruises or cuts or if the baby was fine. Now, hubby arrives. He had remained rooted to the spot - where we were when we were faced by the dog.
I was way too relieved with the outcome to get mad at hubby. But since then I have often ribbed, taunted and jibed at hubby - why didnt he come to my rescue? How come the man who was further away from him managed to bound upstairs and literally saved my baby? And I dont even want to think about what would have happened, if landlady's son hadnt come when he did.

To date, I can remember, the clothes I was wearing, hubby was wearing, landlady's son's face, the dog's eyes, his breath and the way I counted sonny's movements for hours after that.

Hands down scariest moment ever!

Goofiest Moment:
I was applying lipstick, a few weeks ago, in front of the mirror. Now sonny likes to stand and watch mommy dress up. So I open my lips in a O and trace the stick over my lips. I look into the mirror at sonny - and there he is with his mouth in a big O and curling his lips, like I am curling mine.
I just cudnt control myself -and I burst out laughing. Sonny sees mommy tittering away, realises the joke is on him and turns bright red before running away.

Most Embarrassing Moment:
I usually change in sonny's presence - with my back to him. So one day, while changing, I reached out for an inner garment. My hands couldnt find it. so I groped some more. Turned around -to see - sonny holding out the exact inner wear that I had been looking for.
Pact made with self - will change in the bathroom, hereon.

Heart Swelled with Pride Moment:
When we do our groceries for the week, hubby hauls up the stuff to the house door. Then I take the stuff to the kitchen, one by one to put it away. One day, hubby got the stuff indoors and went to relax (man's work done! - needs to relax) in front of the TV. Sonny was observing me take in bag by bag to the kitchen. Next thing I know, sonny's grabbed a huge bag of veggies and is determinedly pulling it towards the kitchen. And he was all of 18 months then. Awwww... I said - finally a man in the house!!!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Once upon a long long time ago, in a far away land lived HIM and HER. HER loved HIM to bits and showered all her love, attention, patience onto HIM. HER took care of every little necessity that HIM had. His food, clothing, sleep, entertainment, you name it. If it werent for HER, HIM would've probably had a very tough life.

On his part, HIM too showered all his attention on HER. Of course all his tantrums too were directed towards HER. Of course, you show your worst side only to the one who is closest to you. Theirs was a physical bond that no one could shake. That no one could deny. That no one could understand. A bond further strengthened by all the sacrifices HER made for HIM. She hoped someday HIM would realise all that she had done for him. Its not like she wanted anything in return for her efforts. Just his love. Pure, unadulterated, focussed love. And dedication. Maybe a bit of dependency too (just a bit). So she gave and gave and gave.

Then one day, HIM realised the presence of THE OTHER MAN (TOM). To be fair, TOM has always been around in the lives of HIM and HER. Its just that they were so absorbed in each other - they didnt give him due importance. And TOM waited. And bided for the time - they would envelop him in their circle of love. If ever HER tried to rope him in - HIM seeing immediate potential threat to his position, pushed TOM away. So TOM waited. And just as TOM predicted, one fine day HIM realised, there was one more person who loved him as much. Who too made sacrifices for him - just to see his smile. The only difference being TOM wasnt always around like HER.

And TOM was way cooler. Unlike HER who was often frazzled, TOM laughed at most of HIM's antics. Since TOM occasionally saw HIM - he was more patient. TOM taught HIM new tricks and showed HIM more manly games.
And more than anything else TOM had what HER didnt. TOM had a car!!! A real one - with headlights and taillights and number plates and wheels and exhaust pipe - all the things that HIM fantasized about. So HIM fell for TOM - hook, line and sinker.

And these days the moment HIM a.k.a sonny opens his eyes his first words are 'baba' - which is what he calls TOM a.k.a hubby. HER a.k.a STS just rubs her eyes in disbelief at this new romance in the house. And when she puts HIM to bed all he can ask for is 'baba?'. And when they're eating, 'baba?'.

O dear God!!!! First I get called nanny and then my dutifully trailing son - finds another love.
I need chocolate AND ice cream!!!


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why I qualify to be sonny's nanny

Ever since we've come to the Middle East, everywhere I turn all I see is the Madam walking ahead toting a Gucci (or Fendi or whatever) and a Filipino/Indian sub-continent/sub-Saharan woman walking a few steps behind either pushing the stroller or carrying the child or leading the child by hand.

And while madam riffles through the many shop racks, the poor nanny has to keep the child entertained (really which child loves shopping expeditions).

Once we enter the compound - you can see the nanny has a nice uniform (or maybe not) and she basically trails the child hauling all paraphernalia. Tennis rackets, balls, swimming gear, towels, even food containers. Sometimes you see the child riding their bikes and the nannies running after them - just to stuff a morsel in their mouths.

I still remember the shock I was in - the first day I took sonny to the Recreation Center. All around me - were nannies of various shapes, sizes and colors. Where the hell are the moms, I thought. The few moms that I did manage to meet - told me - moms were at the coffee shop - having their 'meet your friend' time. Now if you had a full time maid (and most people here do) - its just easier to make a a schedule where the maid takes the child out in the evening while you - well - you have coffee with your friends. However, I do know of moms - who pay freelance maids 20 SR an hour to take their kids to the park. Pick your jaw off the floor - for many maids have asked me too - if I needed this service.

Of course I politely declined. I didnt need a maid. I had me. Full time nanny to sonny. Housekeeper to hubby. Cook for both. Teacher. Playmate (to both ;) )

And then a few days ago - a kid asked me - where was sonny's mom? Taken off guard, I said - well I am his mom. She refused to believe me. Why not, I asked? You're with him all the time - how can you be his mom? And I dont see you chatting with the other moms. O I said - sonny likes to play here - so we're here. The other moms are inside the cafe - sonny cant play there. She gave me one incredulous look. Where's his dad, she asked me - still not convinced. O he's at work, I said. When will he be back? Soon. Good, she said. The I'll ask him. O be my guest honey.

So I decided to put down the reasons, why I qualify to be categorised as sonny's nanny.
1. I feed him, bathe him, clothe him, diaper him. Have you seen a mom do that?

2. I'm with him all the time. Ok, helicopter moms do that too.

3. When we step out to play - I let him decide the agenda. If he wants swings, we go to the swings, if he wants play indoors - indoors it is. If he wants to head home - we head home. Mommys dont let kids decide the agenda. They have their own agenda. The have to meet friend A at such place and friend B at another place. And the kid has to go with mommy. If not - nanny could you take him where he wants to go?

4. When sonny is tired, and wraps his chubby arms around my knees - I pick him up and we walk home. We talk and I point out flowers and sing songs. Have you ever seen a mommy do that? Only nannies do these weird things.

5. Since all mommies are conferencing at the coffee shop - I only have other nannies to hello hi to. Mommies only talk to other mommies. Only nannies talk to other nannies.

6. When we see other kids - I encourage sonny to say hi to them (he being an exquisite wall flower). Mommies are usually busy talking to notice other kids. Only nannies have the time for such frivolous stuff.

7. If we do manage to run into another mommy - and I do manage to start a conversation, sonny invariably runs off. Fearing for his safety - I run after him, conversation dropped forthwith. Have you ever seen a mommy do that? They have nannies to run after their kids.

8. Mommies have serious hobbies, passions. They take tennis lessons in the morning, gym in the afternoon, golf in the evenings. I am so busy keeping pace with sonny - I have no time to indulge in hobbies. I manage to read a book in 10 days - and I thank the Lord for it.

9. I carry most of sonny's stuff - and he pushes his stroller on his own. Which mommy in her right mind would carry all the stuff herself?

10. I havent taken a single day off in the last 2 years. I am up for 'Best Employee' award.

So you see - the kid was right. Who in their right mind would think I was sonny's mom?

Hubby of course believes, I need to dress a lil more trendily - show some skin, wear a few spaghetti straps, maybe shorts some times - just to differentiate from the chastely dressed nannies. Get my hair colored. Nails done. Dress up like I have all the time in the world. Bah!!!!

P.S.: Moms here are predominantly of European descent. Eastern and Western. Some Arabs too. A sprinkling of Asian moms.


O Dear

what can the matter be?

Sonny no longer shows any interest in stepping out of the house.

No seriously, dont laugh. This kid would lunge for the door even if it was opened 1cm. He could hear the sound of the door opening a long distance away and would come running to be let out. Since it would be really really hot in the day, each evening, I'd take him and he'd run and scamper and push his stroller. And burn off a lot of excess energy. We've made it a practice to step out for a post-dinner walk, and the moment dinner was cleared, sonny could be found standing next to the door or pulling his dad off the couch.

These days, after he's had his evening snack - he continues to play with his cars or toys. My calls for 'baa-il' (his version of bahar or outside) fall on deaf ears. I open the door, still no response. I'm going, I warn him, he still continues to play. Finally, when I start to push his tri-cycle out of the house, is when he starts to take notice.

Once outside, this kid, who couldnt sit still, will stop me after a few paces and sit down on his tri-cycle, asking me to push him around instead. And we walk all over the compound in this fashion. I point out the flowers and birds and cars and babies and he sits and listens to me. Thats it. No further interest in wanting to get up or push the stroller or tri-cycle like he used to earlier.

Hubby thinks its the intense heat. It sure is hot. 40 C in the evenings is hot. But sonny has seen this hot phase earlier as well.
I think he's way too busy with his toys. He's got 2 cartons full of toys when our stuff came in from Montreal. He's old for some of them, but it doesnt hurt tossing them around, once in a while. Plus he's got his books too.

Or he's stricken with his father's disease. Laziness.

I wonder which one it is. Time will tell for sure.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Ode to the Spud

For something that looks round, tubby, chubby - the potato has held an amazing sway over the world. From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia - this is one vegetable (ok food crop) that is common to all. In fact its the fourth largest cultivated food crop in the world - after wheat, rice and corn (Wikipedia).

And why not - its one of the safest, least harm causing food article - after perhaps rice. Most new moms introduce the potato (or the peas) as one of the first vegetables to a child beginning solids. And yet, its difficult to find someone allergic to the spud or having an intense dislike for it.

I remember, as a child, my mom added potatoes to almost every veggie she cooked. In the hope that the lure of the potato would draw us to taste the veggie. Sometimes she succeeded - sometimes not.Come to think of it - you can add potato to almost every thing you cook, to palak(spinach) makes palak-aloo, to gobhi(cauliflower or cabbage) makes gobhi-aloo. From capsicum, to beans to even brinjal - every veggie has succumbed to the influence of the starchy aloo. Except perhaps the bitter-hearted karela (bitter gourd).
Even non veg food is no exception. The biryani-ka-aloo (potatoes cooked with biryani) is a delight in itself. The coastal folks make a mean dish containing potatoes and fish.

And there are so many ways to cook the potato by itself - zeera aloo is a favourite dish served with puris for breakfast. You can make them with tomatoes, with sesame seeds (nice and crunchy), with a paste of coriander leaves, with red hot chillies, the masala dosa filling...... the list is endless.

French fries, roasted with its skin on, mashed potatoes, the western world has its own delightful ways of cooking this humble spud.

Versatile, congenial, adaptable, hardy, pest resistant, not expensive, likable, universal, this is one veggie that truly should be crowned 'King of Veggies'

Or Queen - given its shape ;)


Que Sera Sera

Whatever will be...will be..
So said a song, long long ago.

Of course that does not stop this crazy woman from thinking what her 2 year old will turn up to be.
However, here are some of the predictions:

Footballer: Predicted by a 8 month pregnant me - as he squirmed and kicked every organ of my body. Ob-gyn suggested cricketer, hubby wanted ice-hockey player. Prediction still holds true - as he continues to kick and push even as he tries to cuddle into me at night.

A Painter/Pianist: So predicted my landlady when she saw a 5 day old, not yet 7 pounds sonny. She thought his long bony fingers foretold a life of great creativity - hence the painter/pianist prediction. The fingers today are chubby and cant hold a crayon correctly.

A Thinker/Philosopher: 4-5 month old sonny could be found constantly with a finger on the chin ( a la the Thinking Man) - so his grandparents predicted a life of intense thought for him. All he thinks these days is 'at what point is she going to snap? Lets push her a bit more and see'.

A chef/cook: At 16 months (or so): So predicted my MIL when I told her how absorbed sonny could be playing with my pots and pans. He took this one step further by trying to stir up a mean soup in the toilet bowl. All he cooks these days is 'Ma Bheja Fry'

A porter: My prediction as I saw sonny push anything on wheels - anything. This prediction still holds true since we still have remanents of this phase.

A driver at 16: So predicted the bell boy at Sheraton, Montreal as he saw sonny navigate his stroller through the throngs. 'You watch it ma'am, this boy's gonna ask you for a car at 16. He's one of those early drivers.' Phase continues to date - with 2 strollers, one tri-cycle and 1 push cart. And sometimes the chairs. And the rocker.

Heartbreak Specialist: Predicted by moms - taken in by his long eyelashes and the big brown eyes they hide. The heart he knows best to break - is mine.

Drama King: He could give Dilip Kumar a run for his money with his fake 'how can you yell at me - look I'm so cute' smile. Or his 'I know you're going to yell at me - so I'm pretend crying' wail. Predicted jointly by his mom and dad. Phase on-going.

An Explorer: So predicted a father of 4 boys (good heavens - help him) as we waited in the lounge at Doha. Sonny just HAD to pick up every stone they had laid out to decorate the place and turn it around and put it back in place. Father of 4 said 'not all kids do it - my first 3 boys didnt - last one did when was about this age - and to date is the explorer in the family'. Yup, sonny still HAS to put his hand in every nook and cranny - dirtier the better.

And yet at the end of it all - I wish he grows up to be safe, and healthy and happy. And rich - adds hubby!


Sunday, September 02, 2007

I've been tagged

Mad Momma has given me this tag
To let the cat out of the bag
Its one that makes me blush pink
Its about, you know, 'nudge-nudge, wink wink' !

No roses needed nor candle-lights,
No need for wine on starry nights.
Each room brings its own flavor
As days go by, you tend to go braver.

With the fruit of your 'labor' in deep slumber
Nothing else your path to encumber
A touch, a look, no matter night or day
Is all it takes for a roll in the hay!!