Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Killing them softly

Two & half years of incessant vaccination jabs has ended. It's time to rejoice by licking every bit of dust & dirt, from window panes to bathroom tiles. Let's give 'em viruses and bacteria - kiss of death.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Bespoke Maayboli

A little earlier before Nihira was born, our cable TV subscription came up for renewal.The choice was quite easy; with a baby in our midst, we had no illusion of getting any free time in foreseeable future. We chucked the set-top box out of our life & disconnected the cable feed. From the day Nihira was born, we made a  conscious effort to keep her screen time to bare minimum. Such is the world that we live in, a day will come in future when she will evolve into a digital zombie. But till that inevitable happens, we are determined to slow down her descent into virtual doom. For now, she is just a kid & there is whole wide world out there for her to discover.

The only time we gave her some leeway & switched the TV on ( with free to air channels ) was during the Rio2016 Olympics.  It was a spectacle which we wanted her to witness & possibly develop some liking for sports. That one off exposure to TV made Nihira believe that TV is something which you watch Olympics on. Long after the games wrapped up & our TV went dead again, there are days when Nihira points to the TV and says "I want to watch Olympics" ?! Well Missy has to wait 4 long years.

One immediate offshoot of  this 'screen-free-childhood' endeavour saw Nihira gravitating towards the world of books, stories & hands-on play with kids in the neighbourhood. Once in two weeks Dipali takes her down to the public library in our neighbourhood. She associates the library as a fun place & has favourite series of children's books which she never gets tired of browsing. Getting her to return the library books back, becomes a big exercise of emotional turmoil as she rarely wants to part with her favourite books.

At home, whenever she gets bored, she drags us to our bookshelf and points to her collection of books. She can't read on her own yet; but she has 2 dedicated human readers in me & Dipali at her beck & call. Thanks to hundreds of hours of our reading sessions, she can now recite nursery rhymes, bits & pieces of stories through sheer aural memory (as most kids of her age do)
Another thing which we instilled quite early with Nihira was the use of mother tongue in our day to day communication. It was a natural choice as neither me or Dipali are fluent in the Queen's language & we usually stutter & splutter along the way while conversing in English. Although the world that Nihira will grow up in ( be it Singapore or India or elsewhere ) will see less and less usage of Marathi, still the language remains a vital connection to her geographical roots. More importantly, it makes it easier for her to communicate with her grand parents. She now speaks immaculate Marathi, for her age group. Her English is still work in progress . Quite often she mixes both Marathi & English together with intriguing effect .

The other night she picked up a Marathi story book and although she can't read per se, she starting mouthing  off the words as if she is reading them off the pages of the book. She read aloud -

"One day Yash said, Baag'eit yetos kaa ??" !!

She confidently rambled on in a stitched-up language of her own. I smiled silently in the background, trying not to make her conscious of the verbal khichdee she was pakav'ng all by herself. The context of the sentence was correct, the story begins with a kid asking his friend to accompany him to park. She started off with clich├ęd opening line from an English language story and midway through the sentence switched to perfectly worded Marathi sentence! I guess we, as her vocabulary coach are to blame by mixing our own speech with the 2 languages, without making clear distinction between the two. Not surprisingly, she emulates the same with rather dubious outcome.

On yet another occasion, she was speaking into her toy phone. After seemingly wrapping up her call, she handed me the phone saying,

"Baba, take phone. Done boll'ing"

It took me a while to register what she meant by boll'ing.

For now, we are not trying to correct her bespoke maayboli. With time, she is going to learn and fix the mistakes herself. Till that happens, she continues to fill our days with unintended laughter and much needed cheer by her peculiar brand of verbal gymnastics.

Lost in translation

Maayboli                    : mother-tongue
Baag'eit yetos kaa      : are you coming to the park ?
Khichdee                   : mishmash (contextual meaning)
Pakaav'ng                  : cooking / conjuring (contextual meaning)
Boll'ing                      : speaking (definition valid only for 2 yr old demographics)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bathroom Nazi (Junior) - Prequel

It's late evening, I come  home from work, sweating like a pig & in desperate need of a cold shower. But no, that would mean my daughter would miss 5 whole minutes of playtime with Baba.  In no uncertain terms she announces:

"Baba.. No bushooo, ok ?"
( babyspeak : bushooo = bath ).

Of course, I am well prepared for this, so the negotiations begin..

"No Bushoo, but I will just change into this towel ok ? No bushoo, I promise!"

She looks sceptically, but agrees & gives me an inch. I stare at the bathroom door longingly, & think of next move..

" I will do half bushoo ok. ?? Just splash water on my face & wash hands ?? Is that fine ? ".

I make it sound like a genuine plea & not some kind of trick. She agrees conditionally.

"Ok Baba, but leave the door open.. NO LOCK".

Check & mate..

I am losing this battle unless I can think on my feet & outdo her. That's when pure inspiration strikes. I step inside bathroom & make big hooo-haa.

"Nihira, LOOOOK there is big big cockroach.. I must catch it quickly, else it will run outside & hide inside your diaper bag !!"..

That clinches the deal ( for today at least ), without waiting for her answer, I close the bathroom door firmly shut & to make the lie sound like absolute truth, I make all kinds of violent sounds as if I am battling a real grizzly bear & not some make believe cockroach.

As I turn the shower to full blast & bask in my small victory.. I can hear Nihira squealing & making a dash to the living room, bragging to her mum about her Baba's heroics.

Pre-Diwali Cleanup & Gift Ideas

It's morning time & I am rushing through my daily ablutions. As usual, I get interrupted in shower by loud banging  on the bathroom door.

"Baba, are you inside ?"

I try my best not to respond to my daughter's prying question & cut down all noise inside the shower.

"Baba.. Baba... I KNOW you are inside.. Baher Gammat aahe !  Quick open door".

I meekly relent and open bathroom door.  I ask her in feigned excitement "Kaai Gammat aahe ?"

"Come outside, the Gammat is outside"..
"Ok let me atleast dress up quickly.. Why don't you step outside while I get dressed ?"
"No, I will stay here to help you. Here take this Shirt.. this is nice."

She points to one shirt which is favourite of her, as I had worn it on her birthday. That was in April, now it's October. Yet, each and every day since April, she insists that I wear just that ONE shirt everywhere.  I workaround this daily request using one of the several excuses that I have mastered by now & slip into Tee & Trousers of my choice. Not giving me any time to comb my hair , she drags me outside to show something which is tickling her fancy since she woke up.

"Look Baba, the sofa is doing Booshooooo!!"

I look at our bare sofa, which has it's covers removed in run-up to Pre-Diwali cleanup. Kids ! they get excited even at the sight of a bare sofa.. Ofcourse I don't have the innocence of a 2 year old or luxury of time in the morning rush, as the clock ticks past 8:40am, still I let out a gasp of surpise and join her in wonderment at sofa taking bath.

I collect my backpack & am anxious to escape to the childfree world, outside. Alas ! I see Nihira dragging her own trolley backpack. She stops me in my path.

"Baba, I am going office too. Here, help me put on my bag. It's heavy".

I relent again, knowing fully that I have ran out of time & am gonna absolutely positively be late to work. But I help Nihira to strap up her bag. She makes one round circle in our living room & comes to rest, yet again in my path, as I am putting my socks.

"Baba, office finish jhaala.. Help me remove bag"

I am no longer questioning anything, I do as ordered. Give her a quick peck on cheek , both to her and her mom & am ready to to bid bye-bye. Dipali, her mum, is of course around all this while, but doesn't interrupt Nihira from interrupting me,  these precious few minutes is all that Nihira is gonna get to spend with her dad in the rushed morning.  So Dipali is stepping off the pedal, and allowing Nihira to lay her claim on her 'dad time'. But try telling that as an excuse to your office HR, for turning up late for work 9 out of 10 days. I have tried, and it didn't cut any ice.

"Baba, Aai is doing Diwali clean-up.. We will put up Kandeel on Diwali" .

She continues with her early morning observations & discovery, as I am putting on my shoes. Her mum asks, "Nihira, tell Baba what gift you want for Diwali ??

"Gift ? Baba.. I want a maasse for Diwali..."
" A mask for Diwali ??" , I try to decipher her jumbled-up words.

"No No No, I want a mouse for Diwali !!"

Now it's my turn to smile listening to this new Gammat. Seems like I will be celebrating a cheap, clean & environment friendly Diwali. If any of you happen to spot a tiny little mouse scurrying around your neighbourhood, please ping me. I would do the catching and gift-wrapping myself. 

Lost in translation
Gammat : Fun/exciting stuff
Booshoo : Bath
Kandeel  : Lantern

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Bhaag.. Bhaag.. Monday Blues

Watched Delhi Belly. I saw it on a typical Monday evening (7:35pm show). There is nothing more uplifting than chucking work at 6pm DOT on a Monday & heading out for a movie. It's perfect antidote to drive away those dreary Monday blues. What's more, it's easy on the wallet as well. The weekday shows are priced couple of dollars cheaper than the weekend shows & also the crowd is much much less.

Jade Cinema is the lone single screen theater which plays Hindi movies in Singapore. My office is just few blocks away from Jade. After a quick lunch at Subway, I had plenty of time to kill.. so I sneaked out to Jade & booked 2 tickets. The lady at the booking counter politely asked - "Any children ??". I blushed a shade of pink & replied "Not yet !". My coyness didn't impress her any bit. She looked annoyed and raised her voice to tell me in no uncertain terms - "(Bose D.K. !!) the movie is rated R18. Kids not allowed". I realized my folly and quickly reassured her that the tickets are meant for 2 responsible and rapidly aging adults.

It's evening now, I meet my wife & we head for a relaxing early dinner at Mumbai Cafe Xpress. This Indian restaurant is located smack in middle of the Central Business District area. On a weekday, at 6:30 pm it is practically empty. No! make that, it is completely empty. Throughbred desi's never eat dinner until it's well past 9pm. As a proof to this peculiar trait, there is not a single soul in sight. We are their first and only customers for the evening. We get to pick and choose our seats. But good well mannered middle-class folks that we are, we decide to sit at a cramped table for 2 instead of hogging the 4/6 seater tables. Dinner menu is : Bhel Puri , Schezwan Fried Rice & Iced Lemon tea. We eat to strains of "Dil boley Shickdoom ShickDoom" played on the 3/4 wall mounted TV's . The theme of decor is "Bollywood" . The walls are adorned with framed posters of blockbuster movies like "Kaalia", "Swades", "Murder" et al, with a huge blowup of Aishwarya Rai gazing menacingly down at the diners. The walls are painted garish purple. The chairs are garish purple and the menu card (yes, you guessed it right) is garish purple. The kitschy ambiance is perfect to get us in the mood for Bollywood kitsch, that's soon to follow.

Dinner done with, we head to the theater. Much to our surprise, we discover that it's packed to the rafters. Seems like the Monday blues phenomenon has well & truly developed into a full blown pandemic !

Soon the lights go out & the screen lights up. The movie credits fade in with some moody shots of inanimate objects inside a room :

- a spluttering rusty tap
- unwashed dishes
- grimy Chinese takeaway menu stuck next to the phone
- posters of half naked ladies adorning dusty walls

In short : general filth fills up the screen.

With the mood thus set, we get to witness a "first of it's kind" shot in commercial Hindi cinema - A butt crack shot !

Sorry, no other ways to describe it, but just that ! The camera lingers for a few leisurely frames on an unkempt manly butt.

Cut to reality.. Jade theatre..

Right on cue, upon seeing the butt filling up the screen, a lady sitting in row behind us says to her hubby "Kitnaa natural dikhaa rahey hein na sabkuch ?".

Well truth be told, things can't get any more natural than a man's butt cleavage creeping out of boxers while being fast asleep! Till then I had not warmed up to the movie. I was dreading for yet another Hindi comedy movie where the audience and I laugh out of sync. But that one succinct observation from the lady set the mood, it tuned me to the laugh track that everyone was laughing to. From that moment on the rest of the movie was a blast.

So dear wise lady in the back row - Thank You. Thank you for making Delhi Belly doubly enjoyable. Cut.