Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Straw that broke the camel's back and other stories

Wow! The title is pure genius! (Main apni favourite hoon :P) I wish someday I get published and maybe I will keep this as the name of my book. Thinking of which that was one of the reasons I started blogging. I thought I would be a prolific blogger, going on to be a best selling author and then I would have an easy peasy life giving press conferences, book readings and the regular sound bite on controversial issues to get my 5 minutes of fame once in a while. Pulling this chain of thought even further I infact wanted to be a journalist - a la Barkha Dutt. Never in my wildest dreams I thought I would end up being an engineer - huh - I who makes 2+3 = 6 (in my defense I read the + as * and there by hangs another tale) . Well where have I digressed to do you see. Note to self - cannot become (successful) writer  if you dont hold the attention of your hapless reader.

Straw that broke the camel's back
You know how babies are. You dont? Let me enlighten you. They (atleast mine) wake up in the middle of nights (BAD) and ask for comforting and then after what may be minutes or years go back to sleep (GOOD) . The most crucial time is when they are drifting to sleep - that can make the difference - whether time is going to be measured by the watch or by the calendar. The problem with parents is they take forever to get up and get their bearings once the baby is up (BAD ) and once the cherubic baby is asleep like nothing ever happened they are as awake as you would be in a town square (BAD). Baby 1 parents 0. 

Today baby woke at 0530. Started drifting to sleep by 0600 thanks to some crazy rocking by mom. Dad was also awakened. So what does he do? Give mom words of encouragement and praise? Nope. Dials office. Mom seethes but controls chagrin. Dad has the good sense to make his way out of the room. But just before exiting he says 'Hello?' BABY WAKES.

A toe nail away from the door - could'nt he have said the dreaded word after crossing the door?????? Mom lost it and flew into blind rage.  She was so angry, she could have made mince meat of dad. Thankfully she was pacified by some warm coffee and biscuits :) 

Sundays and Sunshine
I dont like shopping. Weird ? Yes - that's me. But then I did some analysis. Aur is nateeje par pahunchi that shopping ka maza is in who you are shopping with and who you are shopping for. I love the shopping sprees with my mom and sister. I remember back in Hyderabad with roomie dear our gang of girl used to paint the malls red (happy days). Somehow the lack of a shopping partner after marriage ruined the fun of it. Till I got my new BFF. Yep. Chiyaa. With her its real fun. I take her opinion - there have been instances where she has hand picked stuff. Yup.Literally. So last Sunday as the sun shone bright and warmed the place and thawed the snow, I ventured out with her. After the mandatory grocery shopping, it was time to pamper ourselves. Shopping for her is soooooo awesome . There is  no end to the cuteness and pink-ness in baby wear for girls! Aaah I could loose myself. 2 hours just went by and we both returned much energised and recharged.

Tall order
I decided to start setting my wardrobe. Trying the old clothes, segregating them into ones I fit into, ones I may fit into, ones I will never ever fit into but like them too much to give away and ones I will never ever fit into but are not important enough and can not be given away. It was an arduous task. I decided to take it further. I went on to one by one pick up each shelf and set them in order. It has been taking forever and I have some more forevers to go before I can rest. One thing that hit me was how much 'new baby' stuff I had in papers. As in books, pamphlets, coupons, discount vouchers, free samples and what not. See for yourself! 

I loaded this pile into one big carton - excluding the steriliser which is going to another expecting couple :) - and went straight to the garbage bin.Still 6 more shelves to go *shudders*.

Thinking of which there was a time when I used to read every line of every book and follow them to the dot. Now :) I read on happily on my kindle while baby amuses herself :P Kanfidence is the name of the game :P 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Selfish Gene

I am not one into non fiction. If we dis-regard Rich Dad Poor Dad and Freakonomics and the books I read during pregnancy and for parenting :P . I was tempted to pick this book by an excerpt written on Facebook by an ex-colleague. It seemed very interesting and irresistible.  So I searched heaven and earth to get a copy and finally managed to get a torrent. Thus began my first book on an e-reader. ( I started off reading on K's tablet till he finally gifted me a kindle mini for anniversary. The best thing ever!!) 

Well coming back to the book by Richard Dawkins- it was nothing like what came through in the excerpt. It seemed more like a sociology book. It ended up being a treatise on zoology! Now I have always like biology through my growing years - more so my dad being a professor in Botany - it was inescapable rather. I always wanted to be a doctor too :( There there there I digress again. Huh. Where was I - the book. Yes. The book explains evolution from the perspective of genes. It proposes how organisms - plants, animals, viruses are mere vessels for propagation of genes. They metamorphose every organism and they are ruthless and 'selfish' in their approach. Only the selfish ones survive the vagaries of nature and are able to propagate themselves.

The bit of the book that is most interesting is where he explains evolution according to Game Theory. He takes the example of the game of Prisoner's Dilemma. (Feel free to dose off now - this is going to be elaborate ) 
There are 2 players A and B playing against a Banker. They have 2 cards - Cooperate or Defect. They choose a card - which the other is unaware of and give to the Banker. Depending on their chose the points are scored. 

  • They both choose cooperate. They both get a bonus for it say +100.
  • They both choose defect. They are penalised for it say -100.
  • A chooses cooperate, B chooses defect. B gets paid for the temptation to defect +50 and fines A -10.
  • B chooses cooperate, A chooses defect. Its the mirror image of the previous scenario.
As per the author all organisms (err... genes) are playing this game iteratively. There have been computer simulations of this and there is the best strategy too! I am tempted to say it - but then :) Thats the most brilliant point of the book. I felt it works in real life too. That was one of the USP of the book for me. There were many insights which are purely technical but then seemed so true in human interaction. For instance :-

  • An organism has as much relatedness to ones own child as it has to its baby sibling (there is a mathematical proof to it) . Hence genes 'make' the organism care as much for the baby siblings because either way they get propagated further. Makes sense eh?  But then an organism is more sure of its child (How does it know its baby brother is really its 'own'? ) This gives rise to the increased attachment to own children. Seen many times in human life, how we tend to take care of our younger siblings as our kids. 
  • Quoting from the book - 'The mother lays the visible, tangible egg or bears the child. The poor father is much more vulnerable to deception. It is there fore expected that fathers will put less effort than mothers into caring for young. Similarly, maternal grandmothers can be more sure of their grandchildren than paternal grandmothers can and might be expected to show more altruism than paternal grandmothers.' He goes on to elaborate many such weighing of relationships. He does leave the argument open to challenging and states' Perhaps social anthropologists might have interesting things to say.'
  • The book elaborates how the male of a species is always the more decorated one - having a mane or an elaborate tail. But for humans it seems the battle of sexes is reversed. 'Modern western man is undoubtedly exceptional in this respect. It is of course true that some men dress flamboyantly and some women dress drably but,on average, there can be no doubt that in out society the equivalent of the peacock's tail is exhibited by the female, not by the male.Women paint their faces and glue on false eyelashes.' Again an area he leaves open for more debate and research.
  • Just like genes tend to propagate themselves, he advocates we have the equivalent of 'Mimeme' - ideas which propagate themselves. They could be in the form of tunes, catch phrases, styles, ways of making pots and pans and the like. He proposes that the idea of 'God' might have been such a 'meme' which has been successfully propagating itself since time immemorial. Food for thought :)

The most interesting must read chapter of the book is one named 'Nice guys finish first'. A very different thought in this dog-eat-dog world. Drove home the fact that even if the gene is 'selfish' good things survive.

Quite a different book from the general crop that I read. Was interesting enough like a novel but must confess skimmed through some bits which were too much into the subject. Not an everyday read, but am happy that I managed to read  it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bad mother

You are never good enough . You are full of limitations and do a job riddled with mistakes . You are always second guessing and mostly failing .

These are part and parcel of the emotional baggage of being a mom - so I had read :) I was never one of them . Yes there were the initial days when the little one was just days old and I was clueless as to why she was crying all the time. It took me a while to understand what works for her and what does not . But somehow I saw in myself an acquifer of patience . I am the one who is first to loose it - the bus is delayed, there is no electricity and my favourite show is on tv, I am not able to find something, my code is not working - I loose my patience . That was the one bit I was most scared of in being a mom. I am ok when things are happy but my lack of patience could make me a veritable monster for someone that feeble. Somehow my mid wife's words came true- she said women are meant to have babies don't worry trust your instincts .

And there I was instinctively managing - her feeding , her baths, her motions, her outings, her colic, her moods. I always remembered to give myself and K the credit. Nah not shouting it out from rooftops but the silent ones :) (the books say to do that :P increases your confidence and self esteem which gives good vibes to the baby :P And as they say if you don't value yourself who else will :D) For first time parents with no elders around we had done pretty well . Hail instincts !

There were of course the occasional outbursts when I would be a bit edgy- mostly if she would'nt eat . But then 'hungry kids eat' and it is true :) those small instances were few and far between and forgotten quickly .

Yesterday was different though. Chiyaa has a nagging cold which made her loose her appetite. Consequently she did not have much energy to play around. She did not prefer being carried or kept on the lap either - she was generally restless and unhappy.  She was especially cranky after her afternoon nap . I tried playing with her. Giving her small snacks since she did not have the energy for big meals. As usual at 2115 I tried to make her dose since she seemed exhausted . But she would not sleep after 45 mins of singing, rocking and patting. I gave up and let her play some mild games for some time. 30 mins later she seemed ready to sleep . Since it had been quite some time since her last meal I tried to feed her something - she was not interested. All these futile attempts resulted in a full blast bawl and I lost it. I let her be. I had no energy and more importantly patience to pacify her. After 2-3 minutes over come with guilt and teary eyed myself I got on to cuddle her. She sobbed for close to 30 more minutes before getting some shut eye.

I was truly her culprit. Poor dear suffering from a blocked nose and congested chest had only me for succorance and I fell short. I could not keep it together when it was needed. Feeling guilty does not redeem me. It will take a while to forgive myself.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Anniversary weekend

Yesterday we completed 5 years of wedded life. January though is a dull month as the holiday season ends and everyone gets on with 'life' has two occasions for me. One is Pongal/Makar Sankranti which post marriage is something I have gotten used to celebrating. The other being our wedding anniversary .

This year K being in his 'work like crazy' mode, I did not have much hopes in any fan fare. I was prepared to whip up something at home and have my way.

Friday evening K ended up coming home early since it seems everyone was pretty bugged with work and wanted a getaway . I had made rice and rasam(K's fav) and brinjal fry. The smile on his face when he saw that made my day. And seeing him take his time and eat slowly enjoying every morsel (though no 'actual' compliments were uttered ) was in itself the biggest compliment. We both are pretty hooked to Mahadev on Star Life OK ;) Watching re-runs of the show and playing hide and seek with Chiyaa was the most awesome way to kick start the weekend (yea we are growing old at an accelerated pace ;). )

K had been insistent on to tonsuring Chiyaa's head for a pretty long time( she was born with massive locks of hair :D) It held some significance to him. Saturday morning he got to show case his barber skills. ( K does harbor a secret desire to be a barber one day- that for some reason is his dream profession) The kitten rebelled and cried and screamed and fell asleep. Once awake she was fed and the finishing touches done. She looked so different - thin and sad :( :( Since she had had such a difficult morning already we were dilly dallying whether to take her for her swimming classes . She was also showing signs of a mild cold. But then we had inputs that swimming does not aggravate a cold- rather the warm water is soothing . Plus she enjoys it a lot. So we decided to go ahead . And did she have a blast !!! She was at her frolicsome best and we were happy with our call to come over .

K wanted to grab some grub at a South Indian place (ironical isn't it). But then we were a bit early and the restaurant wasn't open.:( So where did we go? McDonald's of course :P we binged like crazy on burgers, wraps, fries, ice cream and brownies. Huh gluttons us :( Evening since I had some time I decided to whip up a fruit cake . Lately I am trying to hone my baking :) in spite of my mom being a super baker I took way too long to realise the joys of it.

Sunday K had threatened that he was gonna have work and might not be able to spare much time . I sent over some cake for the bachelor colleagues who lived nearby. Since they did not answer his knocks K was forced to take the cake to work where his supervisor happened to notice them. When asked he told anniversary being the reason at which he asked K to make himself scarce :P 
I got the biggest surprise to see him come back and say - we are going out for lunch wheeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

We went to an Italian place and the food was gorgeous . Though we were stuffed like polar bears about to hibernate we could not say to our favourite Italian dessert - tiramisu. K was in dire need of some more sweaters and we were able to shop some very good ones . The joys of retail therapy :))))))Evening we got into a minor tiff cos Chiyaa was being fussy in eating and we were not in consensus as to how much force was permissible :) To end the day we wrapped up to watch Aiyya( utterly missable movie - was saddened that an actor of the calibre of Rani Mukherjee was summoned to do such a superficial role)

Well- another happening year over and we turned +1 :) Here's hoping for many such exciting times with my boyfriend ;) ;)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This Wednesday feels like a Monday is nt it?

The festive season is over - with a little pop. The year 2012 started waning with some negativity. K was  in a bad mood on the night of 31st. Office worries as usual :( He kept dilly dallying between what to do and what not. But then whose spirits a warm cup of ginger tea cant rev up ?

He had downloaded some critically acclaimed movies of the year 2012. We had started watching them since the Christmas vacations. We watched Supermen of Malegaon which was a very nice documentary. It drives home how much power movies have in enabling people to escape the daily grind. I was really inspired by how some people work so hard to make their small dreams come true. 31st we started off with Cloud Atlas which has the concept of re-births and after life as its backbone. It has some real crisp editing. Some bits are nail biting - literally. Dredd was next. It was no Sin City , but there can be only one Sin City I guess. Some of the action bits are very nice and the sine wave like swing between high low was something that appealed to me. The movie was a bit slow for being of the action genre.

Well,as we were into the movie, it turned midnight. The whole firmament was bejeweled with fire works. I love K's enthusiasm for fireworks. It literally brings out the child in him. Talking of which, our child woke up.Made me ponder - last year I was carrying her. We had gone to a friends for a midnight dinner. This year here she is 10 months old and the friends are expecting their second child.How things move! Which again made me think really babies are the hope that things will turn around. When I spoke on 31st to a dear friend, she told me of a big misfortune on their family. Her uncle had been killed because he protested against some ruffians who were pestering his daughter and his wife. It was so distressing. Today when I called to check about things, she told her sister had delivered a lil boy. This one thing had turned around the whole scenario. While a day back everything was so glum , the arrival of a little innocent life filled everyone with unbound hope and joy. I hope the kid has all the good things in life! And we adults don't make much of a mess of this good earth.

Philosophy apart :) 1st Jan did not start top notch for us. My penchant for taking photos and posing ended up rubbing K on the wrong side and we had a minor tiff to start off :( But a quick trip to the temple and meeting people there was a very good thing. We were having quite a nice time, till the Panditji started singing! Devotional songs of course :D But then first Tamil songs, then Hindi, then there were some Gujrati ones coming up. No offense but group singing is simply not my cup of tea. I asked K rather than waiting for this talent show to get over we should make a move. (Again no offense to any religious feelings - I somehow feel devotion is a very personal and private emotion. That is why I am even shy of going to temples many a times. I feel more connected sitting in a corner and concentrating on a plant. Weird? ) After setting base at home with a fast asleep baby, we called up parents and wished them.

An impromptu wish to go see a Christmas tree in the town square lead to us braving the cold and stepping out. The tree had been removed (or maybe never put up) but we ended up having a New Years dinner. Chiyaa had some bites of the cakes and pasta and blissfully drifted off to sleep during the return trip. We decided to continue the movie run by watching a tamil flick Few pages are missing in the middle. It is a pretty nice movie I must say - situation based comedy and some bits of suspense too. Worth a watch if you got a decent translator at hand :) 

There are lots of ifs, buts, maybes in the coming times. Holidays are scarce and far between. Going by the first day, the year augurs to be cloudy with a chance of meatballs err no glimmers of sunshine. But then lets hope we have something interesting to look forward to, someplace interesting to go to and some interesting experiences to gather.