Sizzling Saturday!

August 10, 2009

The kids put up a sterling performance this Saturday. Actually, so did I.

It started with 2-egg omelettes for breakfast. With onion, basil, and tomato. (I was thinking of you, Sup33.) In our household, this is not an everyday event. Specially not at the start of a long and busy Saturday.

We left home at 9.30 a.m., and got back at 8.30 p.m. All day, the twins were on the go without a break, and sweetly fell asleep in the car on the way back with nary the sign of a global meltdown. I have to admit that I have been overprotecting and underestimating them. Perhaps the 2-egg omelettes had a role to play too.

First we went to the doctor for their annual checkup. They’re not 3 yet, but they will be in a couple of weeks; and we also needed a medical report that has to be sent to the Family Court as part of the so-called “live report” that we must send every year till they are 18.

By the time we got out of the hospital, it was close to 11. We drove to Garuda Mall, which took close to an hour. We used the facilities, ate some cookies at Cookie Man, then walked to Kanti Sweets on Brigade Road: the twins needed an introduction to chaat (snack food of a particular category, typified by crunchy stuff, often mixed with boiled potatoes, topped with tangy sauces). They have already eaten the dry puri of pani puri (aka gol gappa, or phuchka, depending on where in India you hail from; for those unacquainted with it, this is a fantastic snack made of puris, which are small, round balls of dough fried to make a hollow casing, which is then stuffed with boiled, mashed, seasoned potatoes and chickpeas. This stuffed, bite-size ball is dipped into a spicy, watery dip or two, and is served and eaten in the space of a few seconds, before the whole thing disintegrates. Sounds complicated? It’s simple and delicious.)

Amit and me both being fans of chaats in general, we’d taken the twins for phhuchka often enough that their eyes now light up and they shout “phhuchka, phhuchka,” eagerly to each other every time it is suggested; but we’ve avoided giving them the actual pani-puri because it is usually made in far from hygienic conditions… and is quite spicy too.

At Kanti Sweets, we introduced them to a milder, safer, and perhaps less unhygienic version of chaat, dahi puri. This has the same puris, and similar stuffing of potato and chickpeas, but is smothered in rich, creamy dahi (aka yoghurt, or curd) and laced with sweet and spicy sauces. It’s delicious, and, naturally, the kids loved it.

We had a couple of errands to run, and then we walked all the way to Sapphire toy shop, where we bought a birthday gift for a birthday party we’d all been invited to later that evening. Then we rushed all the way back to Garuda, piled into the car and went to V,V & v’s place for lunch. We reached at the most horribly late hour of 1.45.

Lunch was great, as usual, and the twins were so thrilled to be playing with v and all his toys that they showed no interest in food whatsoever. They normally sleep for a good 2-3 hours after lunch, but with v to play with, that was completely out of the question, so we didn’t even try.

At 5, we all changed into fresh clothes and left for the birthday party venue – another mall nearby. We had never been to this particular mall before; by now we were about an hour’s drive from home!

The party was perhaps the best birthday party I have had the misfortune to be invited to in the last couple of years since we have been on the birthday party circuit. It was at one of those fancy, imported (I assume) play area things, filled with balls, and consisting of a slide, a cage, a tunnel, steps, and other fascinating structures and cavities. I have never seen the twins so completely comfortable and at home in so short a time as they were there; in about two seconds, they were part of the milling, swirling mass of children and balls. The fact that just about everyone else was bigger than them (the birthday boy was turning 5) didn’t seem to worry them at all. They just went ahead and did their own thing, only pausing occasionally to check what each other was doing, or to call to each other.

One of the reasons that this party was such a success was that almost all the kids (with the exception of our two) were the birthday boy’s classmates. So all the kids were of the same age and ability, and knew each other well. There was plenty of action, noise, and chaos, added to by loud background music. Since most of the parents, I gathered, hardly knew each other, it was easy to do nothing without feeling lost. Also, because this play area was an enclosed and self-contained unit, and was obviously almost 100% childproof, it was easy to leave the kids to their own devices without worrying that they’d wander off or hurt themselves. As far as I know, nobody got hurt, and nobody got lost.

The event management was also excellent. There were two attendants to ensure that the kids didn’t do anything they really shouldn’t. A few games were organised. There was musical chairs, which some of the kids didn’t really ‘get’. The losers appeared to be happier than the winners, because they could immediately run off and play in the play area again. The twins, of course, being younger than the others and not quite up to it, refused to join in this or the other games – anyway, they were having way too much fun just playing.

Then there was a treasure hunt, which involved digging under the one million colourful balls for the “treasure”, which was such a hit that many kids wanted to continue the game long after the treasures had been found.

Food was served in a most orderly fashion, and all the 20+ kids lined up on chairs at the table with their mothers hovering anxiously at their shoulders and breathing down their necks. Once the kids were mostly done, adults were served, and the kids soon ran off to play again.

The only thing less than perfect was the food itself – it was, at best, mediocre. But given that everyone was having so much fun, I don’t think anyone bothered about it; at any rate, I didn’t.

If I’d thought that the twins would be tired after their long and physically taxing day, they soon proved me wrong. It was past 7, when we dragged them off the playscape, kicking and screaming, and managed to bid farewell to our hosts. By 7.30, we were in the car, and by 7.35, Tara was sound asleep. Mrini outlasted her for only a few minutes, then she went out like a light too. If I could have, I would have followed suit.

All in all, it was a stellar performance from them, and now I’m pretty sure that they will be up to a Himalayan trek next year. Heck, who am I fooling – they’ll probably put me to shame!

Why Should This Ever Have To Happen?

August 6, 2009

This is a sad story I read in the papers yesterday and today. If you’re not in the mood for sad stories, skip this one.
There’s a young girl, educated but perhaps quite poor. Her mother committed suicide when she was very young, and she has a father and a couple of brothers. She has the misfortune to fall for a young, handsome boy from a different community. Despite staunch opposition from her family, she goes ahead and marries the boy. Her father and brothers disown her and have nothing further to do with her.

Her husband, of course, unveils his true colours by taking to drink and beating her regularly. Regardless of which, they have three children in rapid succession – the elder two are girls, the youngest a boy. When the youngest is born, the husband deserts her.

She struggles to survive for several months, then, when the youngest is almost a year old, and the oldest is about 4, she gets a job as a teacher at a pre-primary school. The two older kids (and this part I’m making up on the fly) also go to the same school. What is she to do with the youngest? Given that her family has disowned her, and her husband is nowhere to be found, and she obviously can’t afford any kind of day care… so she takes him along to school, somehow managing to keep him there between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Obviously, after a point, the school authorities object.

Now what? She can think of no other way, so she leaves them at home. She can’t leave just the baby, so she leaves all three of them. Locked up at home. The whole day. Because she has to earn money or what will they eat? Home is a shack with a tin roof. She’s not an uncaring mother – she leaves food for them. And water. But you can’t expect a four-year-old to responsibly look after a two-year-old and a one-year-old. One day, they find a matchbox and start playing with fire.

Can you imagine that? Three tiny kids, playing with matches, one of them catches fire, the other two panic, they have no idea what to do… three of them howling, but locked in…

They were charred beyond recognition. The papers say the experts say they must have died of asphyxiation before they were charred. I can only hope so – asphyxiation is not pleasant, I’m sure, but being burnt alive…

How can you – the mother, I mean – ever recover from something like that?

Brain Dead

August 5, 2009

That would be the most appropriate description of how I’m feeling right now. It’s not necessarily a bad feeling… but it’s not great either. It’s sort of like lethargy, combined with ennui. Not exceptionally tired – no more than usual; not exceptionally bored – no more than usual of that either; but just a little too much of both so that there’s nothing to do that seems worth the effort of doing. And that includes blogging.

I suppose I’ll come out of it eventually.

Meanwhile, could anyone out there tell me if, in casual conversation, someone said a particular movie was “nice” or “good” – would you implicitly recognise the difference? Or would you think of it as just two different ways of saying the same thing?

15 Months, 20,000 Views

August 1, 2009

Hard to believe, but that’s what the statistics show. Just thought it was worth making a note of.

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