Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yeh Kahan Aagaye Hum ,Yunhi Saath Saath Chaltey

So in a couple of hours it will be the 31st of Jan, and you will turn 2 years old thoo thoo nazar na lagey. And I guess it is about time I take out some of the presents that are still in hiding from the first birthday (no I was not channeling my inner Cruella , I thought we had some time yet and you will get around to playing with them)

I have been thinking a lot about what we were doing this time two years ago..there was a pizza party I remember, how fortuitous that we had pizza again tonight...this time it was for watching some awards show which they never got around to screening for us. Not that we watched any TV tonight, not even the reticent Ajay Devgan on Koffee it has been that kind of evening. You are getting a bit tired of your mother swooping in on you, hugging you every ten minutes. There was a birthday party in your school today and you came back with a goody bag, you were so thrilled and would just not let go of it in the car. I made a run to get some books to give away to your school mates tomorrow, I was tempted to buy just the 52 books and perhaps gift an audio recording of you playing that horrible whistle to Student number 53 (the birthday child ) (Dear Grown Up responsible for the goody bag today, seriously why? why? why?). A whistle and one that plays at a decibel previously used only by electric drills. My husband was taking care of the Toddler while I was out shopping and the poor man had lost all hearing in one ear by the time I returned.

We are planning on taking it easy tomorrow, just the cake for your school mates and yes the books. Shopping in this city for books that are suitable for toddlers is "fodder" for another post. Today it is just marveling about the wonder that is you. And I just remembered in the car today that I was reading Tahmina Anam's A Golden Age in the days leading up to your birth and how I was in a rush to finish it, as I did not think that books and me would be on heh heh the same page in the coming days. That I did not desert my old friends and that you are a part of a continuing love affair with books is extremely good fortune. But what struck me about reading Golden Age is well look at us we are in Bangladesh. Kiya Baat Hai.

At this stage no one say the obvious that well Ms Babar should have read some Pamuk and brought some Turkish Delight rather than mishti doi to the table. Praise be to the Lord, Alhamdolillah I think Stella nay Aneela is getting her Groove Back and perhaps her being in Dhaka has got something to do with it (roadblocks like No Literature for Toddlers notwithstanding!)

So to summarize: a)You are turning 2.
b)For the past week or so I have identified All Things You which will I hope gets me off the hook when it comes to regularly updating your baby book. I am guessing every year come Jan I will have the usual guilt pangs about not having made a note of the relevant milestones and will have to compensate by writing notes to you in this blog.
c)You are loved, much loved. Every day we are grateful that the shittiness of the world we brought you into, our angst, itchy feet and travelling bug has not taken away the Arhan-ness of you. The school principal said something along the lines of how friendly and loving you are and how it means your parents are particularly stable, affectionate and good willed towards each other (and the world). Frankly I could do all but just laugh in her face. Well, kiddo thanks once again for covering up for your parents' shortcomings in the responsibility department and please, please just continue with this keeping calm and carrying on business.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jahan Teri Yeh Nazar Hai

Having a child who knows his handbags can be very useful. Yesterday afternoon at a meena bazar,while his mother chomped down on papdi chat oblivious to what was happening around her, the Toddler stared eagle eyed at a handbag that seemed very familiar. There was some tugging at sleeves, a lady was accosted. I had to assure the father and a furious toddler that my bag was right there beside me, but the Toddler did not seem very convinced. Im watching you he stared all DeNiro, as a very irate lady shouted how it was quite possible they made more than one of what his mother was carrying.

But I just thought this kid thing is really paying out well.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saala Main Tau Sahab Ban Gaya

It is amazing that even after growing up in a house that follows the five second rule, daagh achey hain, and being fed ma kay haath kay and ma kay haath se khana the Toddler will sit back ram rod straight at the dining table when guests are around.; he will brush off your hand and reach for the silverware instead. I interpret his arched eyebrows towards the guests as he unfurls the napkin ,dabs his chin and tries to make polite conversation, as him telling me Yahan par Ladiss hain.

He was also Most Insulted when I called from a dinner party I was at and cajoled the father to forget dressing him up and to just bring him over in his pyjamas. Noo, he ticked off his dad, how preposterous this suggestion and pulled out a pair of cords and a button-down shirt.

A typical going out ritual for him is running to the dressing table, "check" he calls out as he looks at his reflection. Once his clothes past muster, he pats down his hair and picks up my Clinique Happy perfume mouthing psshh psshh. He will then cheerfully wave bye bye to me and make a run for the door.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taal Se Taal Mila

Khudi ko kar itna buland..

so I really want the toddler to have a good ear for music, hence I encourage him to accompany me to my piano class now and then. I also make sure that there is less MTV and more Mozart around the house...Music appreciation ko kar itna buland

However as I practiced one evening, forgoing my notes and trying to play by ear, I was very surprised to see him turning around and asking me Mama? Book?
Without waiting for my response he scampered to the next room bringing me my music book, thus making it very clear Baby You Dont Have What One Needs to Remember a Tune, Try Following What is Written Here.

and last night he came in while I practiced, hands clasped, begging me Mama Please No!! No more!!


abey gadhi ab uska music appreciation utreyga kaisey

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Aa Naya Tarana Gaayen

Every time they play a song he likes on TV, the Toddler makes it a point that we are on our feet. "Stannndddd up" he commands pointing sternly at a point on the floor where he wants us to line up. "And now move it" he orders us to dance.

I think it all bodes well for the future. He will be the one stick in hand rapping you on your knuckles, taking a swipe at your knees if you dont stand up for the national anthem in the stadium.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Papa Jag Jayega!

Life is a big equalizer I say...yes for an year or so I had to wake up for the 2am feed, but for the next decade or so its the father who will be waking up to an angry head butt "Baba, uba chahiye".
Arhaan has his father pinned down as the Official Waterboy to his Night Time Olympics, and no there can be no subbing. He is pretty emphatic that it is only the Dad who pours that glass Just Right.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maar Dala Allah Maar Dala!!!

Yesterday afternoon, while picking up the toddler from play school, I met the Elusive Creature that is called the Pashmina Pathan Mom. Oh you can take your Tiger Moms, Yummy Mummy, Soccer Moms, Amazon Mom, pshaw they are not a patch on her.

She is that rare creature who towers over you, hair a sheet of golden rain, sober solitaires aplenty. Oh she is perfumed, the ribbon on her hem matches the tip of her suede shoes, and when she speaks sigh the words are curlicues in sandalwood. She raises a manicured finger and her daughter who I swear has been spun out of sugar and candy floss, her hair well-coiffed honey, comes running towards us. They look towards you and smile beatifically.

While you
hair an angry pony tail
bushy eyebrows waggling over glasses that clearly need to be cleaned one day
mareena suit (think linen, all of you who have never been to a Bara market) that is a hand me down from Kindly Aunt who says Aah but where does Aneela go she can get a year out of it, before we relegate it to duster duty.
army issue thick socks stuffed into scruffy Mary Janes

call out to your kid, and again,and again. Fifteen minutes and after many wails of Dont. Want. To. Go. Home,  a bedraggled creature is deposited (well we get the children we deserve eh)

We all stand quietly. Polite silence. Until the toddler decides to add to the mix by going prrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhttt. Announcing
(you know, just in case someone missed out on what it was)

Walk of Shame? Ha, you have nothing on me as I trudge back towards the car.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Naam Kiya Hai Piyar Ka Maara

Children (when they are encouraged to) will show you that it is possible to live a life where you tick more than one box every day and still have a sense of self.

Most days, depending on how you ask him the Toddler will say his name is

Gul-chair (Gulsher)

Arhaan Tikeela (where tikila is the little one, try thinking of the rat tail some might grow)

A-haan (well because it just sounds cooler to him)

However, most days in answer to

Whats your name

He might just say

Sheila Sheila

Yeh Kia Jaga Hai Dosto

Really what strange place is this? This valley where my thoughts disintegrate into whispers, it is unknown to me.
I cant stand the way things are now. I love my life, isnt my toddler super cute when he does that? I hate everything. Oh I wish things never evah change.

I think they call it Mother to Someone Who Is Turning Two.

Well, in honour of a certain someone turning two end of this month
in an attempt to squeeze in all that I can before I start mulling over how much is kosher, the ownership of memories, you know the whole ethics of writing about your child; I am planning to write a couple of lines every day about life with the toddler. I got the idea from the Sue-ster, who writes about a few of the things the man in her life does (that merits renewing his contract and all that).

So what I really love about my son is how he has taken up duties to be our Conscience. You know that little voice in your head that brings you back to terra firma when it seems like you are having too much fun? Well that is Arhaan for us with his Ws. The Whats and the Whys that keep us on the straight and narrow.
Allow me to unpack this for you.
Last December as I returned to our hotel having watched the 9pm show for Tees Maar Khan there was a skip in my step. How incredibly cool am I! What a good life with no one putting a speed bump of a Haw Hai to my 'mobility'. It is getting to be midnight and I am walking back to my room in this incredibly stylish city. Alone! Somebody has done well, ahem! ahem! I enter my room, the husband opens one eye and yawns. Oh I promise I was about to call you, did you want to be picked up, snore!
And then an indignant creature arms akimbo hisses at you
subtext: Raat kay baara bajey kahan moo kala kar kay aa-rahi ho

Since then Arhaan has increased his repertoire from the milder

What ARE You Doing?

Why Are You Doing This?


to a
hand slapping forehead

Why? Why? Why?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jaane Wo Kaise Log The Jinko

well behaved bachey miley.

Well behaved and toddlers, yes you might say it is an oymoron, but I have heard such a strange creature does exist. The father and me are meanwhile involved in our personal Quest for the Holy Grail, sometimes I believe that is all that holds us from having a well behaved child. I really miss my baby, every day I google for changelings. Nothing else can explain what has transpired in our household. Our favourite part of the day is when he falls down asleep (most of the time in the midst of an act of vandalism), that is when we take out our photo albums and ooh and aah about the sweet little child we once knew. Thomas the Tank Engine and the Rodent who should not be named have been dispatched to the far end of the cupboard, but NOTHING helps. Somehow the child has morphed into an evil, cackling terror that raids my meagre rations of Kurkure (I was scandalized when I first caught him red-handed--and I think I can use the term red-handed literally, have you checked out the amount of masala? screaming this is too hot, too hot. Ha ha , you lily livered you he mocked me as he bit into another one), So he slips into my shoes, snatches the house keys running to the door with a triumphant Byee Mama over his shoulder. There is a banging of doors, a look of defiance as he plays with the knobs on the stove, he hides all the remotes shrugging his shoulders "battery shaish" (finished for non-Bangla speakers) our carefully organized wardrobes and drawers are destroyed as he hunts for his confiscated toys and DVD stash and there are several international calls (crank calls all, how lovely) from our mobile phones every evening.

So like parents elsewhere i had to eat my words this month. During my pregnancy and for a good part of the First Year, I swore to all whom I met how I will home school Arhaan. I held on to a fond dream of indoor projects, where we would grow plants and identify flowers, bake cakes, and paint, and read from books, but there was I one afternoon Arhaan swinging from my hair while I screamed I will Be So Happy when You Go to School.

I really dont want to run down my child. I am sure if I think hard enough I will remember all the things that make him adorable and how he has enriched my life. But I am just bewildered as I thought that ours was a different journey. I really really thought that with all that he has been exposed to he would make for a really different kid with none of the Toddler Tantrums, but as Salman Khan very wisely said (and I am always quoting to other frazzled moms) Zindagi may Jitna Bhi Karo, Saala Kum PArh Hi Jaata Hai. About time I listened to myself, eh. Bara Beywafa Nikla Yeh Bacha!!

He has taken very happily to the school, and the principal tells me He is an Old Soul, which could translate as He is Freaking the Hell Out of Us ( too late we have already paid the semester fee). Arhaan had taken to giving a cheeky grin singing No Size (mimicking some of the salespersons in Bangkok as we went around buying shoes for him). As kids do, he had forgotten all about it, until a Chinese girl joined his school and it all came rushing back. So at this stage Arhaan thinks saying hello to pretty little girl in Chinese translates as " scrunch your face" and smile No Chhize. Every afternoon I get ready to be beaten up by her irate parents in the parking lot.
He does keep on assuring us School Nice, but as he screams Meri School Aa-gayi every time we pass the amusement park, I wonder how, where he is spending his days. Yes, he has problems with gender placement of verbs. But with a Pathan mom and growing up Bangla, what were you expecting.

It has been a very very cold week for us, please dont laugh too hard, yes this is a veteran of cold, windy Melbourne winters and a colder Rawalpindi writing this. Sadly, our flat like most places in Dhaka does not come with heaters, and getting a heater this week is like well getting decent house help. We all know its out there, but in our house? right now? surely you jest. All our rooms have sliding glass doors that open up to the balcony; so as anyone who has studied conduction of heat can tell you People Living in Glass Houses should study up on Climate Change.

There is also no Saiguni the maid. Proving that good house help like certain friends one may have encounter remain fair-weather. She assures us that she will return when warmer climes resume. Trust me to have a hot-house exotic bloom of a maid.

And Dhaka like elsewhere in South Asia is low on energy supplies which translates into one too many cold showers. I thought I had done my years of heating water in a kettle and shivering through shampoos. Surely years of "bettering my self" should bring my happily-ever afters. So yesterday I did my best Marie Antoinette, if the Natives Have No Hot Water, Give them Salon Shampoos and marched to a spa/salon that has opened next door.

My review: Never visit an establishment in the first month of their opening. Let me explain. Yes you get their "Madam for today only" discount. But it also means for a group of eager second-in-commands and general staff crowding you. I go to a salon to have my bubble of thoughts, and somehow to have all these bobbing heads checking whether you are comfortable, the progress of your eyebrows, the hair oil is very irritating. And somehow in the first month the staff are like lovers very low on confidence levels. Madam, is pressure OK? Madam, are you comfortable? Too high? Too low? Something for your back? Coffee? Arey baba, get a hold of my hair and that hair oil and get on with it, I snapped.

As my hair was getting washed (temperature: luke warm sigh) I could hear over the drone of hair dryers conversations that were oh so familiar. I guess every salon worth its L'Oreal, sorry salt, must come with one high-pitched person who feigns shock on what happened last week. Society madams and reputations are ripped, there is a Oh but you knew So-and-So and Ohh My Goddd, with a lot of hands-in-air mock horror. And somewhere in the middle of my shampoo someone brought a toddler, I dont know whether it belonged to the staff who was holding it or the one who was washing my hair, but it made for me having my hair rinsed as a pair of very big eyes just stared at me, its drool mixing in the tepid water. I swear I could hear Arhaan cackling in the background, as he shoved a fistful of Kurkure in his mouth.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

dil dhoondhataa hai, fir wahee furasat ke raat din

And this morning my world is a little bit darker once more. I am really convinced that the Mohtarma has summoned a party high command convention and is summoning all the stalwarts.
My relationship with this gentleman was conflicted at best, it was like Pope John Paul II and us, you may criticize his politics but he was such an integral part of your growing up that you cannot imagine your world any way else. I will sorely miss him as there is no one around to sound me off on my wishy washy politics and give me a candid history of my country.

At times I feel he just got disgusted with the mess we have made of the country, and decided to hound Taseer in the next world.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Yeh Un Dino Ki Baat Hai

Ah, they may say you say it best when you say nothing at all. But I think I will say it the best if I just jot down my notes. Apologies for the bullet points, but my brain is mush at the moment and I have to write all this down, before I forget, digress or just give up on writing.

1) So we were in Melbourne for a couple of days. It was all a daze of unpacking cartons, ferreting out what we thought were The Essentials, packing bags (and discovering in Dhaka how This Was Not What I Wanted). I did not meet most of the people I wanted to, and in the end we just abandoned all plans and let the toddler dictate the holiday. He saw four Santa Clauses (Claus? Clauses? help Grammar Police) and in the end it was a case of Mr. Aisa Lagta hai Hum Ney Pehley Aap Ko Kahi Dekha Hai, somehow Santa like Elvis just never left the building.

There was one nice picnic come the 24th, when we all sang carols in the park reading the words off a big screen and shiny, happy people sang on the stage engaging in some friendly, flirtatious banter with Santa , you know just like in the days of yore.

And on Christmas day we left for Thailand. Just like Santa.

2) This break in Bangkok was particularly lovely for me as this time around I shared the city with one of my favourite people. I am not exactly sure how the holiday treated her, considering she thought she was going to meet the Arhaan from this post. Not the whiny, chipkoo, Baba chahiye, Thomas-Mickey-Thomas played in a loop loving brat. Arhaan turned 23 months while we were in Bangkok and I miss him so much. You know the Arhaan I knew, not this high-maintenance chico. Yes, sadly Arhaan has "turned", before leaving Dhaka he was the sweet little kid who got his highs hanging from the clothesline, give him a wooden spoon and pots and he was set for a rollicking afternoon. The New Arhaan has "standards" as Parul reminds me. So we concluded at the end of the vacation that Arhaan does not do "awami style" malls like MBK (Parul says it stands for Mad in BKK with Kids). He does not do food courts. Take him to Emporium or Central Chidlom and stick him in a nice place with cutlery and he will do fine.

3) However, there were days when the kids were just kids as in sweet and innocent and not the "hothouse orchids please keep me in an urban space" brats. Parul's Adi and Arhaan spent many a afternoon just pushing the buttons on games or "doing jugaar" as you will see below in Exhibit C without asking for any token or coins to be put in.
All until they saw What Lies Beyond. And there was a Aww, chothey?
Jee barey!
You lookin at what Im lookin at.
Aww shucks we have been cheated.
This is what happens when you put in money

Khair, by then it was too late and we were ready to leave the city.

4) My tantrum throwing kid aside Bangkok was bliss. And a lot of massages. And bliss. And good food. And Parul had to do a lot of duty being my moral compass for the year ahead.

5) Parul's Ragu is a sweetheart and very very clever. It is freaky to turn around and catch her watching you, very very intently and for all purposes taking down notes for her expose on all of us grown ups. She is very quiet as she goes about her work, and nothing misses her sharp eye, she is the one to watch out for and if I ever get to be a publisher I am calling out first dibs for anything she comes up with.

Adi is going to invent something, he has a million questions (though he knows exactly how everything works and is always waiting to catch you out) and somehow you can see the little wheels in his mind in motion as he is questioning, analyzing, storing the information, and coming up with his own little projects. And what is special about this child is that he has empathy and missed the One Who Was Left Behind sorely.

6) My husband is the saviour, and the rational one, and the one who will save the day, cook the breakfast, burp the children, tell me Im being silly when I get hysterical yada yada yada someone just give him his mantle already. You know that is the funny thing when you vacation with people, you might think they know you through your words, or over the phone or brief holidays but you always wonder what they will make of you and your family when they share actual living space and their whole day with you. You know as in who wears the "figurative" pants in your family, well in my case P knows who wears the pants, the apron, the cleaning gloves and the mommy blanket. In her blog she mentioned how Gman is the Baby Whisperer, she was more candid one morning and I am going to reproduce that comment as well.. its about time the guy gets some credit. She says Gman is the true "working woman" you know the one with the blackberry in hand, balancing the kid, the muffins, the newspaper, the shoes that need mending, the house cleaning supplies while the lout of a husband (in this case me) strolls along merrily. Haha. As I keep on telling people that is why we make a happy team, yes there are days when I am ticked off by the strong silences and patches of gruff replies and general What Did I Get Myself Intos but when push comes to shove I know someone has my back. And a mug of tea. And he lets me read.

7) Arhaan started school or lets say he goes to a place where he plays in the sand, and goes on the swings, reads, paints and potters around. I did ask him what he does in school one day and he says pishi poopoo, so I think we can cancel my gown for the Nobel Prize ceremony. I have been hanging around at the school on and off and I still think I did good. Let it be said I did one right thing by choosing this place rather than the others which promised him reciting the alphabet, recognizing shapes and writing letters to us by the end of the day. See, the place I am sending him to is like going to your grandmother's house, you know the grand mothers that stayed at home and kept an eye out for you and your friends (not the ones with laptops leaving on a jet plane). The one who lived in a rambling old red brick house with nice airy, big rooms and there was a pretty garden and a long drive where you cycled up and down. And everybody washed their hands and sat down to eat their mid-day snacks at the table come 10:30. Yes, this is what I am doing with Arhaan, I am sending him back to the 1980s minus the moustached dictator.

So I guess this is all for today. I will hopefully change the blog name in the coming days so any last minute suggestions, please send them my way.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Yaad Aa Rahi Hai...

I miss a time when the only thing on the young miss mind as she jumped into the pool was "Please no E.Coli " not "Oh My God, they will take pics of this and it will be OK to kill Daddy ji".

Your favorite tipple equaled liver cirrhosis not the fear of "Kal Daroo Pee tau Aaj Goli Khaney pareygi"

When Facebook was a way to stalk the relationship status and photo albums of loves left and lost. Not paeans to a killer"malik mumtaz allah humain bhi aap k naqsh e qadam per chalney ki taufeeq ataa farmaey salam aey deen k mujahid"

And I miss a time when you could just hate a guy's guts due to class politics. But we are living in strange times, somehow now the very cringe-worthy bourgeoisie lifestyle that I abhorred a lifetime ago is the last bastion when it comes to the fight between the have-some backbone and the have-nots. And a "sun-glass wearing businessman" had more empathy for the forgotten and forsaken than well some of us who Waited and Watched and Wondered What use it Was Worrying. To all of them "Because if even I dont, how will others get over their fears?

So it is another sad morning for us, where we scream just a little bit more as the toddler dawdles over breakfast, where you curse yourself soundly for bringing in the wrong shower curtain, when you shrug your shoulders and say Don't Know Don't Care when you are asked about your cup of tea. And then you have one of those exchanges which have become all too frequent.

So now what?
Don't Know
Should you be in Pakistan? will that help?
Who knows
So what will you do today?
I will write

And they breathe a sigh of relief, as writing is the equivalent of masturbation in today's Pakistan, it might lead to blindness but nothing to be taken seriously "strange sick people doing strange sick things to themselves, teen qul parhey and they might grow out of it".

I wish we could take a megaphone and stand outside these factories of hate and recite a wird of You Blasphemers You. I wish we could take to the skies and rain a shower of pamphlets so now we could brainwash a generation of young minds into what Islam and humanity is. But what I really want to do is ask Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi and Fareed Paracha if they are OK with Qadri doing guard duty for them in the near future?