Sunday, May 31, 2009

One Two Ka Four

Coming Up Lilies!!!

Dear Baby,
Forgive me for being late with my "monthly" letter AGAIN...but you have to admit I am improving...just a day late this time around, and Im pretty sure its the 31st somewhere in the world as I write.

Ok for your birthday present this month a confession...when you were a month and some days old and it was my first day back at work, I ran from the car and didn't even look back. After a month of being housebound and you clawing at me, I was thrilled at the prospect of having three hours every Thursday when I could guzzle coffee to my heart's content and have no baby tugging at my breast. I was surprised by my attitude for I had been pretty sure in the days when you were a "site under construction" that I would be double-minded about going back to work..however as we started getting closer to welcoming you to the world I was pretty keen to tell myself and the world that nothing had changed with Aneela, and it would be business as usual.

You are four months today and frankly it is becoming very difficult to tear myself away from you. Like other mommy bloggers I make a long list of things to do while you nap or play at your baby gym, but when the time comes all I want to do is look at you smile in your sleep or bat crazily at your toys (there is a dormant boxer in you, lets see how keen you are about it when you grow up). And last Thursday as I passed the cafe on my way to work I didnt even have the heart to go in. Lately I have started worrying about you for things touch wood are going so great. Gman tells me to relax, that I was equally stressed about Pesho a while ago, particularly whether she would make the transition from "apartment cat in the city" to "cat in the sticks with access to backyard". Now as we watch Pesho chase away all the cats from the backyard, and stare down the dogs through the fence (a proud Gman tells me "isko tau Australian immigration may hona chahiye, doesnt even let a fly invade her territory") I tell myself perhaps you too will survive all the craziness we are putting you through. And then there are days when I wonder whether Im putting you through too much too soon? whether you are happy? safe? am I hovering too much over you? should I be checking whether you are breathing every time you are too quiet? I don't think I will ever know the answers to all this and the many other questions that keep on popping in my mind. But I do know one thing for sure, that this not the time to complicate my life further, so Ive decided to stick to just my one class and not take on my other responsibilities next term. And Im pretty sure about this. Frankly sweetheart this is more for me than for you. That's the scariest thing of all. This is not going to be one of those "see what I have to give up for my son" lament to Gman or a "And for you I did this" guilt trip Im going to put you through when you grow up..its more of a permission to indulge myself with the "gift of baby's company", I don't think you will understand my decision for a long long time. All I can say, is for you a million may aisa kiya khak nasha
All my love,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Aur Waha Ka Mausam Kaisa Hai?

So Parul I am taking you up on your request to put up pics of "how the weather" is in my part of the world...well sort of...I have chosen to put up some images of how Im living this surreal "living in two worlds" life. The weather is Islamabad winter afternoons, when the sun is out but as they say "garmee nahee hai us mey" so its crisp clear afternoons and I walk the streets of my suburb nostalgic for post-lunch kinoo orange sessions. I was never one for oranges and would get irritated every time someone would point out dekho dekho Vitamin C from the oranges, Vitamin D from the sun, as it was the first time someone made the connection. But I miss that now. It drives me crazy how the air smells Pindi/Islamabad, at times conjuring all the depression of a Pindi day ending and so many deadlines pending, at times the anticipation of a lovely Islamabad drive under a canopy of red leaves but I can see none of the people I share that with...imagine walking the lanes of a town which seem so familiar but there are none of the landmarks, sights and sounds of what makes it so dear and then my mind starts playing this trick with me that if I push the stroller fast enough and turn the corner I might run into all whom I miss frequenting the same streets.
Thursday afternoons I take the train to work and once again there is a familiar chatter of students in my ears and I wish I could step off the platform for Caulfield and get on to a Borivali Fast. So this is the weather in my part of the town..thoda wishful sa.

Friday night and not a sign of the producers strike getting over (which means no new release which means no new DVD) we decide to forage for all the movies that were bought borrowed stolen but never watched ....first stop Hello (based on Bhagat's One Night at A Call Centre)...the movie starts with Salman Khan doing what he does best and Gman questions Yeh Gaana Tha Kiya Book May? damn Im in for a long night....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It is Easier the Second Time Around

As promised a top ten list of why I believe 'raising' Pesho "stands us in good stead" when it comes to bringing up the bub:

1) Your laptop has already suffered enough abuse, the screen has smudges of cat drool, you know the short cut keys to rotate the screen view (yes Pesho prefers viewing her applications at 130 degrees for some reason) and the Caps Lock key has not been working in a while.

If you are not giving me the laptop I am keeping the USB flash drive

2)You have been trained to take short showers unless you want a mad cat bringing down the shower screen.

3) You have gone through the "checkout aisle bargain" (when you convince yourself that you are buying a special treat Just This Time for the little darling)

4)You are familiar with the maxim "what goes in will come out and you will be scooping it up"

5)You can decipher facial expressions, know what each twitch means, conduct a full conversation even if the other party is not contributing much, and know when exactly to give a cuddle, HOWEVER

6) you will still be standing in your pyjamas staring bleary eyed at them at 3am begging them to tell you JUST WHAT DO THEY WANT (confession: its simpler with the cat she has to decide between Should I Go Out ? Stay In ? or Leave my Options Open?)

7)Someone has already suffered the ignominy of nicks like Ladoo, Gulab Jaman, Princess, Baby, My Sweet Heart, Precious, Mama's Jaan, Doll Face, Monkey

8)You have already witnessed how fickle grandparents can be in appointing new favourites...from Oh Doesnt Pesho Have a Pet Passport So She can Visit Me to Dont you think she needs to be put on a diet for our new baby looks scrawny compared to her to There Should be a Boarding School to Send Her.

9) The days of packing a bag and a spur of the moment weekend getaway is a thing of the past (unless you have a reliable cat sitter on speed dial)

10) You have already allowed your heart to "go walking around outside your body" ...SORRYYY Elizabeth Stone!!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It Takes All Sorts

There is an evil wind blowing in the blogosphere...the thought police is out and patrolling and for some reason they want us to quit blogging and start jhadoo pocha-ing or katka as some of you might call it (either way you pitch it, Shakespeare was right when he wrote about roses smelling as sweet, pochas smelling as vile by any other name ).

Anyways, two of my favourite bloggers (Mad Momma and Jammie) have been targeted by the 'jhaadu brigade' and I’m seriously bummed...hell I’m ready to set up a collection that assures the dishes in their household continue to be washed, the floors mopped, the cushions fluffed, just so that they continue to blog (not you Parul, as it is I have a bad case of blog envy...with steady maid service pata nahee kiya kuch seekh jao gee).

It is the same when it comes to people's 'life attitudes'...I’m tired of fielding through a minefield of criticisms towards 'creative types', rather than celebrating difference we are hell bent on producing clones of what we see as the Ideal (read Stepford Wives or for those who are uninitiated to all things pherang think Nirupuma Roy, white sari, bent over a sewing machine waiting for the son to emerge, white shoes and trousers and all "Maa mey BA kay imtehan may pass hogaya", I have always wondered at this juncture if sacrificing mom is to BA pass son than do tequila swigging keelub going mommas equal kids who grow up to become doctors, CA types and engineers? I am pretty bad at children math so any help would be welcome).

Every house is different, every couple is different, we are such a Molotov cocktail of chemicals, and I would hate to lose that to 'create people in my image'. There is no secret that when it comes to Casa Ruth Court I would like nothing more to read to my kid, read to myself, read to Pesho, fantasize endlessly about making THE Bollywood project, being king maker to South Asian politics, and straightening the carpet fringe; Gman obsesses about what he sees as relatively more significant matters as keeping the house clean, the lawn mowed, the counter tops gleaming and well earning our bread and butter and putting the baby through pampers. He will not give a rat's ass about the election results, I will google constituencies endlessly to know what happened to the Great Independent Hope. But we have both adjusted in the grand South Asian tradition to each other and have come up with a formula that works. He rescues me from my tendency to brood and I think I have saved him from a life of note chaapna and the ubiquitous blue and white striped shirt.

And we have Pesho...prior to her Gman could NEVER imagine that he would be in love with a cat...he was pretty comfortable going through life as a dog person. She came in as a 'cheer up' gift (from him) in the days post-BB's assassination and ended up being his beti. There were times when he would turn to me after fussing over her and ask me Did You Ever Imagine That You would Have Such an Adorable Cat? (I don’t have the heart to tell him that my other cats in other lifetimes were also pretty sweet). My fondest memory of telling people we were preggers , Gman enthusiastically telling Pesho "You will be a didi/baji soon".

Khair, I am glad we had Pesho before the baby.
I plan to make a list of how she made us better parents pretty soon.
Until then I leave you with some pics of Pesho as a number of you wanted to know what she has been up to.

I am Alive And Well, No thanks to you by the way

Pesho chanelling the "mujhey sab hai pata" look from Taarey Zameen Par in the early days post-bub when she could only stare at us through the window.

She still likes watching TV and looks away during the scary this case when Idi Amin goes on a killing spree in Last King of Scotland

She likes giving me scares, either by pretending to play dead or threatening to leave for greener pastures

Hum Hain Na!

Quoting the Social Butterfly in Friday Times why ask the UN wallahs to help us when it comes to the refugees from Swat. ‘Kyoon ji?’ Hum sub kiss liye hain?

So please reach to your wallets "thoda hawa aaney do" air it a bit now. Those who are in the region put on your sneakers and volunteer your services.

And if you are looking for a trustworthy project working for the IDPs, and dont know who to approach...I can vouch for these sweet hearts.


Dear friends,

We (IBX partners, colleagues, friends and families) are setting up a community kitchen for the IDPs of Malakand District. This community kitchen will be located at Government High School No. 3, Golden Cinema Road, in Mardan. There are approximately 250 to 300 IDP families camped around this school. This means around 2000 individuals, mostly women, children and the elderly. They only have very basic shelter facilities around this place and there is no planned arrangement of feeding these brothers and sisters for now. In coordination with the local authorities, we have volunteered to help set up a community kitchen for this camp.

Our planned scope of activity

Our intention is to provide 2 free meals per day for at least 30 days (initially) for the whole community. A basic meal per person costs around Rs. 30/- and for a group of 2000, this will cost be Rs. 60,000 per meal for the community. For serving 60 community meals in 30 days we need to have Rs. 3.5 to 4 million approximately. We are starting with Rs. 1 million from amongst ourselves and invite you all to join us in raising the rest.

We are keeping the scope of our work very defined/focused and are doing so intentionally. This will help us conduct our activities in a very organized manner and there is very limited chance of undeserving individuals misusing something like this (A meal is a meal and what else can you do with it except eating it J)

All this effort is on a very personal level (no NGO, politicians, company or any such thing). We are going to be setting up the camp in this school by tomorrow and we will start serving the meals the day after (14th May, Thursday). We can also use volunteers to physically help out with the work in the kitchen and distribution. In fact we can use all the helping hands available. Serving food to 2000 individuals twice a day is a lot of work.

Our planned accommodation for all volunteers is in tents with very basic facilities and the work is not for those who cannot handle rough environs. Some of you were with us in Earthquake relief work and would remember the conditions then. I can tell you that this is on a much larger scale but thankfully with much lesser number of physically injured. The conditions for relief work are equally tough this time around.

You can contact any one of us for donating or volunteering:

1. Farhan Butt 0333-5710000

2. Khurram Dar 0333-5720000

3. Usman Butt 0345-5007247

4. Amir Wattoo 0321-5540000

5. Habib Ahmad 0334-5132668

May Allah give us all the strength to help our brothers and sisters of Malakand in their hour of need.

Best wishes,


Dear Friends,

We visited the various IDP camps in and around Mardan today. There are still a lot people coming out of Swat. It’s a mass migration of very ill equipped and helpless people.

After discussions with the IDPs/local volunteers and taking into account the realities on ground, we have finalized the following additions/changes to our original plan:

1. The location of our Community Kitchen Camp has been changed to Govt. Primary School No. 01, Kasorona, Swabi Road, Mardan. Security wise this location has a better layout (important for safe storage of rations and volunteers) and has a regular supply of clean water from its own tubewell (essential for hygienic cooking). There are 4 other schools in this vicinity, where the IDPs have taken shelter and will be serviced from our kitchen.

2. We have added a few electric water chillers with water filters to our plan. This was an insistent demand from the reps of the IDPs and local volunteers. Most of the IDPs are from Swat and are not used to the hot weather. Children are having an especially tough time in adjusting.

3. We are adding a daily quota of milk for the infants and smaller children (requirement from IDPs). Probably some Energile or Sorbet type soft drinks for the grown ups (our own idea).

4. We may have to adjust the total number of IDPs covered in the scope of our work (downwards) to include these specific additions in what we are offering.

We have put together the first batch of required supplies and our team (9 volunteers) will leave from Islamabad tomorrow afternoon to set up this camp. We plan to serve 800 meals for dinner tomorrow night (Inshallah) and ramp it upwards in the following days.



Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Images

How did we move from this

(image of the National Women Guards circa 1947 courtesy Life magazine)

to this

in 60 years?

Will keep you posted.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Three Is A Magic Number

Hey little wizard,
Three things I learnt to love about you this month:

1) Your gift of introducing me to taking naps. Anyone who knows me can vouch that I am a single person army ranting against the post-lunch siesta. I have written tomes trying to prove how it is unpatriotic, a death knell for industry and progress. Gman was told in the first week of marriage that it was unPashtun and my mother wont stand for it (this and cricket...sadly my mother came a visiting and put a stop to that). Ok, now all this was before my precious baby have introduced me to the joys of curling up and just dozing off...and its all because of you, my perfect nap partner. Remember the episode in Friends where Joey and Ross get addicted to taking naps together, that is me and bub. I take the best naps ever if you are curled up next to me...delicious. Reading in the afternoon be damned.

2) Your fascination for music...yes the Swat Taleban may have you on their list...but you have an ear for it. Which is good for me, as I can switch on your mobile and do important things like go pee. Frankly, I never knew how important planning the mad dash to the bathroom would be for moms...I have been chatting with Parul and most of her and her sis's baby acquisitions are structured around this particular activity. Yup, we have a need...a need to s(pee)d and Fischer Price is making its millions courtesy moms who now plan their trip to the restroom as military commanders would plan their next tactical engagement. Pet Peeve: coming across someone in deep thought.."So whatcha thinking?"
"Hmm soch raha hoo bathroom jaoo kay nahee"...some people have all the luck.

3)Your chuckle. Bless you bless you bless you. It works against me some days..I wag my finger sternly and say No Baby No in the firm tone the health worker taught me but you can still see through my 'fake anger' and chuckle merrily. You find humour in the strangest things and continue to inspire me every day to keep on smiling. Yesterday when you had your first hair cut (yes I had to finally succumb...the way I saw it, the sooner he gets his locks shorn, the quicker some hungry guys in Frontier Constabulary get their goat meat) I was bawling my eyes brave little boy were a brave little trooper and continued to gurgle through the whole session.

All my love,
Your Adey

Sunday, May 03, 2009

And on the Third Day There Were Floods

Socha jai tau, Parul's query was quite innocent "Any domestic disasters that we might learn from"...however for Casa Ruth Court, it was a loaded, nazar lagana, black magic, totka, bring out the vodoo dolls statement. The good man and me exchanged worried looks over the weekend every time a tree creaked in the wind,we would break off mid-conversation to check for a dripping tap, come rushing home wondering if we left the iron on. How could I respond "nopes Parul, cant think of anything Gman and me did that led to fire, flood or a plague of locusts"...and not have the Lord of In Every House A Little Chaos I Will Visit coming down on us lightning bolts a blazin'. Ok, perhaps I wasnt that worried FOR I HAD A SECRET (more on that later)....anyways the Situation Kahee Nazar Na Lag Jaye ended when Gman reminded me of the Day When The Ceiling Came Down.

One Saturday an year ago, I woke up to the sound of a bubbling brook, gurgling stream --you do the Woodsworth.Gman was away working on a place we were renovating, so I was more or less on my own, there was Pesho but we knew by now she was more the disapproving critic of my home making skills and not much help in a domestic crisis. Stepping across the hall, towards what I assumed was a tap left open by Gman and tut tutting about the waste, sheer waste hai hai of resources, I realized I could hear the water in our TV room. The TV left open to the Nat Geo channel I hope? ever the optimist Aneela. Enter, the TV room, a steady flow of muddy water yaarggh!! from the ceiling on the gulp! creme sofa and the carpet is making squelchy sounds as I step on it. And then. Cue Camera. A shower of plaster, insulation material, and the ceiling is upon us.

A whole day of plumbers in and out, the should the smoke alarms be turned off debate, and a musical chairs of "who's insurance covers what" being played between landlord and us. It was a crazy month. I would have been more worked up but considering I had just discovered that I might be adding to the eccentric Babar gene pool, I had other things on my mind. Pesho was very very ticked off, even though I thought she would have been happy to see that the whole room was one big kitty litter tray. No, said Pesho, I have standards. But as Gman pointed out, it had not crimped my style or perhaps he meant I was pretty dheet (stubborn) when it comes to my TV time; for he would come across me perched on two cushions, an island in a sea of water, plaster and debris still watching tele! Pretty engrossed with Kareena even though the din of the storm fans and the contraption that was sucking out the moisture on the room was on all full blast (Pesho had loads of fun purring to the dehumidifier, she thought it was one huge mommy cat), most probably it was sucking out my brains and any fluids in Pesho but we were beyond caring.
And I would get a great kick out of saying "Phir jab hamaree chath gir gayee" or the more plebian " chaht digh gayee" (you will not appreciate it if you arent from Pindi)...I cant come in today, we have no hall pass for boring social invite EVAAAHH.

Ok, coming back to the I cant tell you about the domestic crisis pre-a home of my own...most prob my mom reads this blog too, no need telling her where the skeletons of our undomesticity are buried...but there is one little (are there any other?) shortcoming that continues to plague me. Now considering I grew up in the time of Sanjeev Kapoor and Shan Masala (and had a mom who would rather I knew how to cook rather than embroider samplers and go blind in my eyes) I am quite OK (and some) in the kitchen...but there is one thing I just cant do, I CANT BOIL AN EGG (ironic, yes. UNDA TAU UBAAL LEYTEE HO can boil an egg at least cant you, many a waspish mom-in-law might have asked you). Try as I might, there is some evil egg curse on me, and a mountain of burnt pots are witness to it. There is many an afternoon I have come out of my TV/book/internet induced stupor to a burning metal, putrid silicon smell. Thanks to an egg phobia that the women in my family have, the only kind of egg we can stomach, and that too once a month in winters, is a hard boiled egg, and that too when we can assure ourselves that everything is firm AND THERE IS NO EGG SMELL, but how do you tell that its done and there will be none of the soft egg mush? Hence the boiling and boiling and some more, but there is always something out there that distracts me...something interesting on TV, a fun tag to attend to. Hence Im quite familiar with the kind of grey black that egg yolks turn into...and there is a place in the garage where unfortunate pots go out to die.