Selectively Linguistic

My native language is Bangla. Am not entirely proficient in it. I can speak it but the “purists” can usually gauge that I’m not one of them. Apparently it reeks of being an “outsider” aka from outside the hallowed boundaries of West Bengal.

I can manage to read and write it but it’d be better if I didn’t. I can manage better with Gujarati and can more than scrape by in Hindi. Not counting English here since it’s the global ‘must-have’ language we were brought up to regard and revere.

Red’s native tongue is Telugu. He’s proficient in speaking, reading and writing. The less said about his spoken Hindi the better. I’ve written a few blog posts trolling it and he hasn’t been a happy camper.

The Offspring (TO) has chosen English as the language he’s most comfortable with and is sticking to it with the tenacity of barnacles on a sunken ship. See…all those years of cramming figures of speech in my head finally did some good.

Anyhoo, back to TO. He has been spoken to, yelled at, cajoled at, cooed at in both the languages Red and I speak in but somehow it was the whole water&duck’s back scenario.

But every now and then, he slips up and answers, verbally or non-verbally, in response to a question asked in Bangla. And it makes me annoyed and smug at the same time. Would it hurt his otherwise perpetually busy mouth to speak a few words in other languages? Especially if they’re a part of his cultural make-up? But noooo…one cannot hope to prevail upon children of today over these sentimental issues. They (the kids) are pretty pragmatic and don’t see much value to doing the ‘little things’ which make their folks giddy with happiness.

This morning over breakfast at a resort we’re staying in, I asked him if he wanted a repeat of his soupy noodles. I asked him in Bangla and he shook his head no. I asked him again just to be sure and he said “No”. When Red asked him a bit later, he still said no. So no was the way to go.

But am onto his little tricks. He pretends he doesn’t get what I’m saying when I speak in a different language but I know better. No kid can spend 7 years being scolded in a language and not pick up bits and pieces. No sirree!

Although, and am just playing devil’s advocate here, given his Bong genes that are predispositioned towards food and gluttony, he could just have memorized every tense of the phrase containing the words ‘eat’ and ‘more’. Going by my luck with this boy, it’s far more likely that’s what he did.

There go dreams of my conversing with him and teaching him the mix of Banglish (Bangla+English)+Hinglish (Hindi+English) I usually speak.

I is sad. I is annoyed. These kids! #smh but since every parent’s goal is to get their kids to do things without telling them 20,000xs or throwing stuff at them; as long as he answers back in ONE language I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Siiiiigh.

Oh God! You Ape!

The Offspring (TO) had his second brush with the Big Questions- where did all life come from, does God exist et al? The first one was when Red’s grandma passed away.

Apparently the child who can believe in different categories of dragons, is having trouble believing that a “Supreme Being” created Man.

He got off the bus one day, engaged in a minor aggressive strap fight (hitting someone with the strap of the bookbag) with a classmate. The reason? The classmate sided with another child who said God made the Earth and people and is R-E-A-L. TO took exception to all of the above and then the problem began in earnest.

Most parents tell their kids that God exists and He should be deferred to because he made the whole universe etc etc. For Hindus, we have a whole smorgasbord of Gods to choose from and we even mix it up depending on the days of the week or festivals or situation that’s on our radar. Might sound flaky but it isn’t. Just years and years of indoctrination in following and believing in a way of living that works for most of us.

Red and I discussed raising TO to either believe or not believe and decided that we wouldn’t stop him from getting exposed to religious practices that are a part of our traditions and surroundings but neither would we fill his head with stuff about Heaven and Hell.

However, we have not got around to taking him to temples or any places of worship either; proactively. If it’s happened, it’s been purely incidental. And in the process we have a child who has questions about a LOT of things but who essentially perceives the world mostly in black and white.

His thinking hasn’t allowed much of gray to seep into his cognitive palette (ooh that’s a nice example of a neologism) and he tends to be rather absolute as for the most part.

When I was listening to him talk about the “incident”, I asked him how he knew there was no God or that He/She hadn’t created the World and he said that he’d learnt in science that homo sapiens came from apes. And that all life started from small “things” in water and then they started to grow and change and we got reptiles, birds and dinosaurs. The conversation unfortunately lasted too long while being expounded on dinosaurs but that’s par for course. *rolls eyes*

Then came humans who were weird looking (am paraphrasing here) and who crawled and then they learnt to stand up and walk straight. Then we got apes and “normal” human beings.

I kept trying to ask him in as many lay terms as possible about the point of origin of creation etc and finally simplified it to stating that reptiles, birds, mammals are all different from each other so how did all these different forms get created. For example, where did the monkeys come from? And pat came the reply- from monkey parents. Can’t top that can you?

So cheers to you Darwin and whoever and whatever created the world. We’re sticking to our monkey parents, thank you very much!

P.S: Maybe when he’s 30 I can tell him my theory about the galactic amoeba who may be responsible for the whole kit and kaboodle!

Paying For It…Literally

Once upon a time there was a world which had movies and t.v shows up to the heavens. It was a lovely world. All (almost) the latest episodes and movies uploaded as soon as they aired and it was FREEEEEEE! There were heroes like Yify who made the world a happy, happy place.

This world needed slight maneuvering in stealth aka incognito mode because of the mine fields of toolbars, extensions and slithery worms that lurked and wanted to make their new home on your beloved instrument of happiness (click here for to know about another take on the same).

Anyhoo, after quite a few years of binge-watching AHS, GA, HTGAWM, 24, Bones and whatnot, my online streaming rampage came to a crashing halt. TO was given access to his very own laptop at the start of the school year. To say he loves it like the sibling he never had would be exaggerating it. He probably loves it more. I have seen him caress the damn thing and look lovingly at it!

The first day he got the laptop he was schooled (‘cuse the pun) on the best sites to download music and games from; again in stealth. When he got home, proud to show off his prowess in downloading and claiming his place in the long-standing family tradition, he got a rude shock. Apparently it was *not* ok to download stuff for free from dubious websites. Gasp! Who knew?!

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My goto #dafuq gif. #gottaloveIceCube

Red gave him a whole litany of reasons why it wasn’t the right thing to do especially since access to Prime and Netflix was so easily doable. The child absorbed the shock and immediately told his father, “So that means A can’t download movies anymore either, right?” And then, right there in that little moment, the parents got schooled. And were grudgingly proud of it.

So here I am, paying for Prime, Netflix and occasionally renting movies from Google during the movie&junk food weekends that all kids (big&small) seem to love. At times I wonder why I should have to pay to watch a movie like ‘The Meg but then I remember that I didn’t pay a dime to watch about 3 Sharknadoes and a whole host of shark movies which most people wouldn’t watch even if they got paid to. Well Red wouldn’t. I still did watch this one and swore that I wouldn’t waste precious bandwidth on that kind of imbecility ever again. I’ve kept to that promise. I think.

When I was looking over my cc statement I found an ever-growing list of charges towards movie-viewing: in the theaters, on the telly and all totally 100% legit. Yup…we’ve turned a new leaf. And paying a pretty penny for it too.  But we are not subscribing  to Animal Farm!

P.S: we pay for our music too.

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Of Middle Fingers And Snakes

I recently changed my ride from a hatchback to an MUV. When I say recent I mean just a few hours ago.

I was picking up the offspring from school and he was happily frolicking in the backseat, bouncing with joy and making crinkly sounds in the plastic covers that I’d not had a chance to take out as yet. All in all he was a happy camper. And as the case is while he’s camping happily, he asks me a series of ‘Do you know’ questions. Today was no different.

We started with a question trap that I’d inadvertently fallen into when I told him I’d seen a monitor lizard cross the street very close to his school. After interrogating me about the size and the gaping maws and the venom of the said reptile, he gave me a disdainful look when I told him I’d only paused briefly while trying hard not to squish the lizard when it scurried off into the bushes. It, unfortunately, hadn’t stopped long enough to give me its life history and venom potency details.

Then began the story of reptiles and their offspring. We spoke of ovi and viviparous snakes; something I’d rather not have spoken of at all. All while I was enjoying the smell of a new car, listening to songs on brand new speakers…which apparently is the most apt time to speak of baby cobras.

Anyhoo, on special request he agreed to stop talking about king cobra babies hatching and killing grown people and then he threw me for a toss! Here’s how he did it-” Hey Ayu…do you know a boy in the 2nd grade showed someone the middle finger in school and then he got into trouble?!! Have you shown (he said showed but my grammar mode refuses to let me be ungrammarly) the middle finger to anyone?

And this is where you cross the realm from being a good, honest parent into one who lies to their kid because isn’t 8 too young to be flippin’ the bird?! Or talking about it?

I told him piously that NO I hadn’t and what did showing the middle finger mean anyhow? I was told very solemnly that it’s a very bad thing and kids can go to jail for saying it. And that’s when I had to know more about this oh-so taboo word that sent kids to jail. So I did a dramatic,” Oh no…really??!!” And pat came the reply-YES!! It’s worse than saying F***!! I never say F*** because you told me that saying F*** is a bad thing so I never say F***. Ever!!”

I think some days the universe has a smartass mode it activates just to give parents their comeuppance and to prevent them from being smug-knowitalls!

Disambiguation: Need Of The Hour

My son can be a lazy lump. Anything that requires more effort than he’s prepared to put in; gets shoved under the rug (literally and figuratively) and often outsourced to us.

He’s starting to make some strides in reading now and today’s homework has words that distinguish the gender between people viz mother-father, brother-sister et al. That it doesn’t address the third gender type didn’t worry me much. He still mixes up his right and left shoe so am sure we have long walk ahead of us before we tackle that topic.

I was super happy when he wanted to add to the list by bringing in the animal kingdom. So we sat down and started writing out the animals names which have separate terms for their hes and shes. We did the usual ones..lion-lioness, tiger-tigress when my son started naming all sorts of weird “girl-animals”. In order to show him how not everything is called a girl-fox or a girl-whale I told him to look up what a female fox is called; because let’s admit it…if I say thing is white he won’t rest until half the world aka the internet has confirmed it as well.

Now comes the laziness part. He didn’t type it in but used OK Google instead.and got the answer- vixen. Yay for technology and all that jazz.

Then the lump decides to see how vixens look because he thought the girl animals will be different from boy animals (not sure if he was expecting big bows in the hair and whatnot) and told OK Google, “show me vixen” and that’s when a small child’s mouth dropped open because that particular command brought up all manner of busty, latex-clad women instead of the demure, orange-fur fox.

Thankfully he doesn’t have “boy” hormones yet and made a face and asked Google to show him the girl fox. Google apparently does have boy hormones because it showed him girl f****. And after a heated struggle between mother-child and an under-attack laptop I yelled out Jesus Christ!! GIRL FOX!  That too was a bad call because Google turned up images of Jesus Christ of Fox…whatever that means; and studly men appeared in the search.

After that it was a toss-up who was going to be airborne- my BP or the laptop; out the window. And so I counted to 20 in my native tongue and found that it didn’t help a bit. In the meanwhile a small child was wondering why his already excitable mother was looking to strangle the laptop and he started tip-toe away. I hauled him back, opened up Google and asked him to type out ‘what is a female fox called’ with his stubby little fingers and LO and BEHOLD! Eureka and all the gang appeared and there were vixens and foxes raining like manna from the heavens. There were National Geographic picture quality ones, even some Disney ones thrown in for good measure and finally I could breathe again.

Until I heard him evoke Google again saying, “show me a girl whale”. I rushed back in time to see whales AND massive thongs and butt cracks appear on the screen.

Gods of Google: Please put in a disambiguate plug-in for the sake of my sanity.