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Contractually Yours…

Parenting often comes down to reaching agreements with your offspring in order for lessons to be learnt, set and accepted patterns of behavior to be established and also for those invisible lines to be drawn that help kids know crossing which ones will make the parents go medieval on them.

Image courtesy Henry Hustava@Unsplash
When TO was a baby I really, really liked him. He was adorable, always had a smile on his face, wasn’t a fussy baby…he just wouldn’t sleep much but he was not a pain. And he ate pretty much whatever I held up to his mouth.

Image courtesy Kyle Nieber@Unsplash

Somethings he didn’t like from the beginning like ripe papaya, anything with too much crunch or things which left an aftertaste he was iffy about; but this kid ate his fruits and veggies just fine!

Image courtesy Vince Lee@Unsplash

Fast forward a few years and this kid goes around spouting nonsense about being allergic to nuts AND fruit!
No clue where he picked it up from but trust me when I say that the only allergic person in this house is me in regard to excuses this child makes when faced with something he thinks he won’t like.

Yesterday after one of those Eff-It moments when parents decide on the ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ kind of scenario; a historic fruit- consumption contract was drawn up which includes not one but THREE fruits! My mother’s heart was about to burst forth with joy.



Naturally, I had to make it worth his while. And no, I don’t mind using lures when it serves my purpose and gets him to eat and live healthier.


That’s how I got Red to eat more veggies too. I’d wait for the cricket matches to come on and serve him meals that had all the stuff he claimed he never ate and before you know it Mr.Zombie-In-Front-Of-The-Telly had eaten the entire lot of things “he never ate” and liked it too.

So kids, the lesson here is this…next time you want mom to buy the load of tripe about being “allergic” to something, be prepared to go into anaphylactic shock to really drive the point home.

Over and out!

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Lost In Translation#248

TO had a good time dancing to Shaitaan Ka Saala on New Year’s eve but didn’t know the name of the song. His Hindi being what it is, half the words just escape him entirely! And when he does utter them, they are so far from where they started out that it’s more of a #dafuq moment than a #LOL one.

He asked me for the name of the song so he could tell Alexa to play it. And this is what happened…

TO-“Alexaaa wake up”. Alexa- I am awake. What can I do for you? TO-” Alexa play Sankranti Masala“. Alexa- goes round and round till she gives up the ghost and begins to reboot!!

Hooman-1. Gadget- still rebooting.

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School Holiday Bloglet

There comes a time in every parent’s life (mainly the mothers) where they realise that their child is more like a cartoon character than they previously realized. It’s not always a happy realization. Imagine telling yourself, “Crap. I gave birth to Woody Woodpecker.”

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2020

The year started on a fun enough note. Had plenty of adored people around. There was music. There was dancing. There were hyper kids. Loads of alcohol flowing as well. And lights flashing…the whole shebang!

And then we crashed, bleary-eyed, into bed only to be woken up at what seemed like an ungodly hour but it was actually well past the crack of dawn. Bang into the new year I realized what a smartass a 10 year old can be.

I have…sigh…had a rather favorite coffee mug that’d been a part of my everyday routine for more than 6 years. It was nothing fancy. Just a bright yellow mug with Homer Simpson’s face on it, full of his usual goofiness. I’d bought it during my first ‘mom’s weekend away’ trip with the bestie and it was intended for Red. I don’t remember how it became mine, but it did. So the mug broke fairly early in the morning although after I’d bonded with it for what turned out to be the last time and I was more than a “bit miffed”. He-who-shall-not-be-named had butterfingers as usual and had broken the mug just near his feet while not having any slippers on (as usual). Shards were everywhere and Homer was irreparably broken.

After having realized there were no more storms to come, TO saw me sweeping up the broken pieces and looking sad while doing so. In expressing solidarity with his “favorite mother” he stood in attention, clicked his heels together, saluted and hummed a mournful tune. I have never been more caught between looking stern and controlling my laughter at the same time. Laughter won out. Kids..whaddya gonna do!

Speaking of…guess what the kid who kept whining during most of the train journey to my hometown say when I asked him to shush for what must have been the n(nth)th time? ” Oh! so uptight!!” I’m fairly sure I goggled at him while he cackled and ran away like the sprite that he is.

I’m not setting too many goals this year barring one- minimalism. Wherever possible. Wherever…and of course targets will be set to travel more, read more, do new things and make more good memories.

May 2020 find you all in more states of contentment and as little tumult as possible.

Cheers!

Image result for sarcastic new year memes"
image courtesy: gadgetfreeks.com

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Fowl Language Redux

Brian Gordon…redefining the reasons we sometimes want to flip our kids off!

Note: all images are sourced from the book Fowl Language: Winging It: The Art of Imperfect Parenting by Brian Gordon.

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Antsy Pantsy

Some people have trouble being cooped up. Even if it isn’t in a tiny space and even if they don’t suffer from claustrophobia.

Take my kid for example…sitting still is a challenge. He’d rather be running his mouth and legs off all at once and flit between shadowing bowling, getting jiggy with it and talking his distracted head off.

We’re on a train right now and off to visit my folks for the holidays and am wondering why we didn’t splurge on flight tickets instead. Spending time with our children is seriously overrated at times.

We have a comfy cabin and everything but it’s not big enough to bounce hyperactive balls on, or take a running lead and pretend to bowl out a phantom batsman playing cricket among other things.

Seeing him go through stages of being slightly tolerable to obviously obnoxious, I was reminded of the days when I used to work and he was in kindergarten. His school transport would drop him off at my office and between me and my colleagues, someone would keep him busy while I got on calls or spoke to clients or sent out emails; often at the speed of light just to be able to wind up everything super quick and get him back home

One day I was on a fairly important call with a team we wanted to partner up with while offering our services and an-almost 4 year old decided that post going to the loo he no longer wanted to wear his pants and wanted to moon all the people I worked with instead.

The person I was talking to was droning on and on, not letting me get a word in edge-wise so I couldn’t hang up either and this is the scenario that played out: an irate and striving-to-appear professional woman chased a half-naked kid around her office and hissed at him sotto voce to put his pants back on immediately while uh-huhing with a guy who was tripping on his own voice.

Finally I think I bellowed to a kid who was on top of a kiddy ladder and about to bounce onto a foam mat to behave himself and put his pants back on or he was going to get spanked!

There was an immediate pin drop silence from the phone while a semi-naked little boy flew through the air, giggled his butt off and again ran off to do something else that would make the veins pop on his mother’s head.

The call was hastily wound up and a new time scheduled. The new call went by in a blink, we kept to the main points and even skipped the pleasantries entirely. The synergy took place, bumbums were covered up and the world was at peace again.

Till the next time. S-I-G-H

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Oh! The Humanity!!

If anyone’s ever been tasked with getting their kid out of bed on a Monday morning, especially in winter, will know what that kid would look like as a drunk adult.

The lurching, the groaning, the guttural sounds coming from their throat, the near vampire-like sensitivity to light…the whole shebang! You have a mini- facsimile of a person too tipsy to walk or climb into his pants without support.

And while it was funny seeing him do the drunken baby walk with a diaper, trying to get his balance and not topple over; a drunk-like 10 year old is almost as much trouble as a full-blown drunk adult. Minus the toxic alcohol breath coming from their mouth. But that’s hardly a saving grace.

One looks longingly at the doorways as an escape portal into another dimension away from kids and all sorts of other lurching creatures and hopes that the elixir of life aka coffee will do the trick.

Here are some beauties celebrating the magic of the bean.

PS: https://youtu.be/PVPWN8c0Sl0

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Wonky Wednesdays

I admit, I should be caffeined up before doing anything pertaining to my child on weekday mornings. Actually that’s a good rule of thumb to follow all through now that I look back on the last 10 years.

Like every kid on a “winter” morning, he was snuggling deeper under the covers and refusing to get up, saying he couldn’t go to school because he was soooooo sleepy. That’s when my uncaffeinated, let’s also call it my lizard brain, decided I should open my mouth.

Instead of just yanking the covers off him or alternating between kissing him and pinching his butt, I chose to say (most unwisely), ” You shouldn’t have been walking around like a bhatakti aatma last night when you should have been in bed then, shouldn’t you?”

See, giving any sleep-addled person unfamiliar info that their brain needs to process first thing in the morning is just wrong. Especially in the case of a linguistically-challenged child who’s decided that he cannot process anything else barring English. So an unpronounceable word first thing in the morning was like dumping a whole world of WTFiveness on his drowsy head.

Our conversation went like this- TO: What’s a batati aatma? Me: BH-takti. TO: Bakati? Me: BH! TO: Butt-aakti? Me: BH-BH-BH!! TO: just gimme a hug Ayu and I’ll get up.

Now he tells me..

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Sunday Morning Bloglet

Yesterday TO was in a bit of a defiant mood and decided to test the waters by flouting the rules and diktats laid out.

I did the only thing that I do when yelling isn’t an option; I stopped talking to him. It was quite a bit of a blessed silence for Red am sure.

The requests to read a book at bedtime fell on deaf ears amongst the litany of chants of my name. Finally a little boy fell asleep with a sulky moue.

This morning he woke up and gave me a hug and kiss and looked relieved when I responded in kind. It led to outpourings and declarations of love about me being his favorite mother!

I said I had to be his favorite mother because I was his only mother and he said, “That’s what you think. Ma (my mom) is my mother too! She’ll love me when you don’t!”

I dont think the lesson’s being learnt here, eh what?

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Bamboozled in Barcelona

I was robbed in Barcelona at the fag end of my stay there. It’s not that I hadn’t been warned. But the warnings had been expressly about being careful in crowded areas and essentially to be alert. But the universe sometimes has different plans for us despite everything.

Any woman will tell you that they are usually far warier than men when stepping out from home because women are more frequently on the radar of almost all sorts of miscreants. Keeping all the warnings in mind, I set out to explore Barcelona, alone for a bit and with my sister for the most part.

I can tell you what kind of a death grip I had on my phone. It was not only my lifeline back to home, it was my guide in a city where eloquent shrugs and rapid fire Spanish was the norm. My extent of Spanish was and still is restricted to salutations, please and thank you. Not much help when “grandpa” comes and robs you on the metro as I was soon to find out.

Even walking around a brand new city can be a bit daunting but I was so elated to take in the cool breeze, the lovely buildings and just the utter newness of everything that every day that passed without any incident led me to let my guard down a little bit more. And this is where the screw ups happen.

We are all more victims to our minds than the world around us. A “bad guy” typically needs to have a vicious air around him, it’s usually a man who is the perpetrator or essentially looks like trouble from the word go. People who look like they’d be more at home playing chess in Central Park and smiling kindly at kids aren’t the people you think about when mugging comes up.

Neither do you think that two innocuous looking women who insist very jovially that they are trying to get people to come to their flamenco show at the city’s square and are handing you roses because it’s a marketing gimmick, are either marking you out to their cohorts as an easy mark or will use the flowers as an excuse to come close to you and rob you blind.

If you really let your mind go there, paranoia will rule supreme. And it did for us, for a bit before our innate stubbornness reasserted itself and we said screw it! They’ve taken quite a bit from us; the peace of mind is ours to give away, or not.

Here is the thing- if you are traveling alone then be doubly cautious since the eager-beaver attitude you give off can make you stand out in a crowd. If you are traveling with a partner then you are slightly safer but the crooks work to divide and conquer. The safest bet seems to be to travel in a group because the more the people to manage, the lesser the variables in the control of the criminals.

So it boils down to common sense. Don’t do what I did and try and keep to this ready reckoner and trust your gut. It could mean the difference between being traumatized and hurt vs a safe and memorable trip for all the right reasons.

  • Don’t stop to click picturesque balconies and building facades so often that you might as well be wearing a neon sign that says “Fresh Off The Boat”. If you’re a clickomaniac like me, just control your impulses. Your internal camera (mind) sees way more things than that which you’ll end up posting on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Take a taxi when traveling with luggage that requires not only your focus but both your hands. Going through turnstiles at a Metro station and lugging your bags till the escalator or elevator is an inconvenience even if you’re built like He-Man.
  • Avoid interacting with strangers. You know where your important documents and articles are; no need to keep checking and rechecking just because a person with a kind smile tells you that you’ve been dropping euros like Hansel and Gretel did breadcrumbs. The kindness of strangers can be experienced in a setting more within your control. A bit of bird poop on your shoulder or bag isn’t going to derail your life especially if it prevents you from stopping in your tracks and lets another set the stage for a malicious act.
  • Avoid crowds as much as you can and do not be afraid to get in the face of people who seem to be pushing you or hemming you in. Seriously, think about it…who in their right mind wants to get into a cathedral at the speed of light. The structures have been there for centuries…5 more minutes aren’t going to make any difference.
  • Don’t make eye contact with strangers who come up to you. Just register who is around and the place where you are in, is it crowded, lonely and how close you are to a landmark and just keep walking. In a country known for their tourism, you aren’t the sole individual another can turn to for help.
  • Don’t overstuff your handbag or wallet. Keep it simple and neat and with everything within a fingers reach. If you have to stop to sort through your change and the notes, you are giving someone time to sneak up on you and part you from your money or any other important object from your bag.
  • Avoid areas which are lonely. There are optimum times to go sight seeing. Stick to those since those are also the times when the local authorities will be available to help you. Note: many smaller police stations are closed in Spain on weekends. It may make you go WTF but knowing that beforehand may mean the difference between wasting time waiting for a closed door to open and getting the right kind of help and in a timely manner.
  • Keep your country’s embassy’s address stored in your phone. You will need to go to them no matter how far away you are in order to get back home especially if your passport’s been whisked away.
  • Schengen visas are NOT going to be reissued by the country that issued them originally because those are the rules. You will need to either fly back to your home country or request the intervention of another country near by for asylum while you get a fresh visa issued. Keep in mind though, no country barring your own is obligated to let you enter. Don’t bother crying- if it’s not protocol, they don’t give a damn.
  • Do not attempt to evade immigration at airports by driving in or arriving by train to another country if your visa has been stolen. There is no guarantee that you may not be asked to show your papers. Failure to show your visa means deportation at best and a host of other issues at worst which may also include difficulty in getting a passport issued or even getting banned from international travel.
  • A visa is linked to the passport it is issued on. No passport, no visa. If a new passport is issued, its validity does not extend to the earlier visa. Again, don’t cry. It ain’t gonna help.

These and many many more things can help in preventing any loss or harm befalling you while traveling aboard but the people who carry them out aren’t doing this for a lark. It’s what they do. Their commitment to getting your money outweighs all moral dilemmas so try and not get stuck in the “why did this happen to me” rut.

If you aren’t physically hurt, thank your stars, take stock of the situation and immediately set about asking for help in cancelling anything that can be misused by others and then find a police station or a police officer and keep asking for help till they do what’s required or lead you to the people who can.

But don’t be too surprised if you get a blase kind of a response from the authorities. They will take their time to type out the report, they will listen to you impassively and then gesticulate widely with their hands and shrug their shoulders a whole lot but thay may not commiserate. They see it too often and are quite desensitized to the occurences. Keep a hold on your temper and just go through the essentials like filling out a police report and asking for copies in triplicate. You may be lucky enough to find a police officer who doesn’t say, “Doesn’t your embassy have a copier?” Your only job then is to get the stamped report in hand and move onto the next step- reissue of your passport.

I intend to go back to Spain. I don’t know when that will be but I will try and make it back. The place is gorgeous and I know I liked what I saw there. This experience was a wake-up call in many ways albeit one I could have done without. But we escaped without any scars and whatever hits our minds took, we will continue to recover from it. A little paranoia never hurt anyone while traveling. Go with the gut and be ruthless about your safety.

You can also check out these articles for the MOs used by the pickpockets.

Pigeon Poop Pickpocket in Marbella, Spain

https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/europe/spain/barcelona-pickpocket-capital-of-the-world

Forewarned is forearmed. Truly.

Safe travels.