Thursday, June 30, 2011

Out of the picture

So Sayesha Smitten Showbiz Kitten (SSSK) gets a call from an association called 'Hindi Chalchitra Hindi Kalakar' -- a bunch of folks protesting the presence of 'phoren' actresses in Hindi movies. They have approached the powers that be and got permission to have these actresses go through a Hindi test, and only those who pass it would be allowed to work in Hindi movies. They selected SSSK to administer the test because they wanted, in their own words, "someone cheap and jobless". Ahem. The invites have already been sent out to affected actresses, and the date, time and venue have been fixed. SSSK quickly gets to creating the test questions.

On the day of the test, SSSK is stationed at the registration table when the folks from the association arrive. They collectively frown at the large banner that SSSK has put up. The banner says:


So they ask SSSK, "What on earth is that? What is hitch-hiker's ass??"

"Oh, I wanted to put something which the actresses would understand," says SSSK. "'Hindi Chalchitra Hindi Kalakar' kind of shortens to 'Hitch-hiker'. Besides, it is symbolic, isn't it?"

"Symbolic?" They ask.

"Oh yes! Since these actresses are kind of hitch-hikers who have hitched a ride on the Bollywood bus, it just makes sense, no?"

"Hmm... But what about the ASS?? What's that??" They ask.

"Oh I wanted to put 'association' but I ran out of space so I had to stop at 'ass'. And... this is symbolic too!" She says proudly.

"The ass is symbolic??"

"Oh yes. These people can't speak Hindi but act in Hindi movies. They only made it to our movies because of their good-looking asses, no?"

Various forms and stages of amusement, awe, confusion and disgust appear on their faces. Nevertheless, they walk in and take their seats.

A pretty actress walks up to the registration table.

SSSK (taking out her notepad and pencil) - Name, please.

Pretty actress - Jacqueline.

SSSK - Hold on, let me write that down. D-R-Y-C-L-E-A-N.

Jacqueline - Dryclean?? Excuse me, I am not Dryclean. I am Jacqueline. Jacqueline Fernandez. Former Miss Sri Lanka. I am in the new Murder movie.

SSSK - Ah ok. Sorry sorry. Please take your seat.

Another pretty actress walks in.

Giselle - Hi, I am Giselle.

SSSK (writes down laboriously) - G-CELL. Hehe! Your name sounds like a battery, no?

Giselle (gives SSSK a dirty look and proceeds to her seat) - It's Giselle. Giselle Monteiro.

SSSK - Next!

Barbara - Hi, I am Barbara. Barbara Mori.

SSSK - Heh heh! Barbara Mori, main nahin maakhan khayo...

Barbara - Excuse me?!

SSSK - If you knew Hindi, you'd get the joke. Sigh...

Barbara takes her seat just as Katrina Kaif walks in, looking furious.

Katrina - Why am I here??? Why do I have to take the test? I have worrrked in so many Hindi movies!!

SSSK - Memorising the dialogues is a different thing, Katrina. This test is for your knowledge of Hindi.

Katrina - Oh please. Mera Hindi achi hai. Mujey yahin test kar lo?

SSSK - Ok fine. Katrina, tum shuddh Hindi mein ek vaakya ka nirman karo.

Katrina (aghast) - Wha... What shuddh... Vaakya... Nirma... You mean the deterrrgent powderrr?

SSSK - I rest my case. Please take your seat.

Katrina takes her seat, fuming.

The test begins.

SSSK - This is a buzzer round. I will name some Hindi movies and you have to tell me what the name means. Whoever presses the buzzer first will get to answer first. Twenty points for the correct answer, minus ten for the wrong answer.

The actresses exchange puzzled looks with one another.

Barbara - Buzzer? Where's the buzzer? All we have in front of us are steel plates and spoons...

SSSK - Ah yes, that is the buzzer. Our budget is a little low, you see...

The actresses roll their eyes but quickly pick up the plates and spoons.

SSSK - Hmm... so the first move name is 'Nagin'. If you know its meaning, press the buzzer NOW.

Jacqueline (clangs plate) - I know! I know!

Other actresses look at her jealously.

SSSK - Very well, Jacqueline. What does 'nagin' mean?

Jacqueline (confidently) - It means "Don't count." Correct??

SSSK (makes a face) - Minus ten.

Jacqueline (indignantly) - But... but... Na gin... Don't count...

SSSK - Next word - Aatish.

Barbara (clangs plate) - Ummm... I know this one!

SSSK - Excellent. So what does Aatish mean?

Barbara (confidently) - An incomplete sneeze!

SSSK (rolls her eyes) - Minus ten. Next word - Parampara.

Giselle (clangs plate) - I know this one. It's the sound made by a trumpet!

SSSK - Minus ten. Next word - Rajnigandha.

Jacqueline (clangs plate) - Uhhh... It is when superstar Rajnikanth forgets to bathe...?

Some of the association folks look horrified.

SSSK - Minus ten. Next word - Khandaan.

Katrina (clangs plate) - Of course I know this one. It's what Salman donated to the Being Human foundation. Khan daan.

SSSK - Sigh... Minus ten. Next word - Baghban.

Giselle (clangs plate) - Ummm... When you are disallowed entry into a garden 'cos you plucked the flowers?

SSSK - Minus ten. Next word - Banaras.

Jacqueline (clangs plate) - Easy-peasy. It means "Make juice."

SSSK - Minus ten. Next word - Bemisal.

Barbara (clangs plate) - Countries that signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?

SSSK - What?! Oh! Be-missile... Hmmm... creative, but still minus ten. Next word - Dastak.

Giselle (clangs plate) - I know this one! My Hindi teacher says "Dastak gino" all the time. Dastak means 'until ten'!!!

SSSK - Minus ten. Next word - Hawalaat.

Giselle (clangs plate) - I know this one! I was trained in Brazillian kickboxing. It means kickboxing. Hawa laat.

SSSK - Minus ten. Next word - Naraaz.

Jacqueline (clangs plate) - Ha! I know this one! I am starring in Raaz 3 you see. Naraaz means 'no secrets'.

SSSK - Sigh. Mere Bollywood ka kya hoga... Last word - Qurbani.

Katrina (clangs plate) - I know this! I go for it all the time, especially before the release of some of my movies.


Katrina - Yup, at the gurrrudwarrra.

SSSK - Qurbani at the gurudwara????!!!!!!

Katrina - Yeah. It's soothing, isn't it?

SSSK (almost falls off her chair and then has a sudden realisation) - OH!!!! You mean gurbani. PHEW!!!! AND... MINUS TEN!!!

Katrina - But I answerrred corrrectly... Didn't I?

SSSK (ignores her) - Okay, it's the end of the quiz. And all of you have flunked it. Hopeless. HOPELESS!! I want to disqualify all of you but I have been asked to pass at least one. Just so the Hindi Movies Dubbing Association (also known as DubAss) won't lynch me for taking away their jobs. I'll give you one last chance. Each of you write down the names of 5 hindi movies and remember to spell them correctly. The one who scores the most will pass.

Barbara, Jacqueline and Giselle whisper amongst themselves. "Not fair... Katrina has been around for so long... we are newbies..."

SSSK (eavesdrops) - Remember, the spelling is key. You have to spell it exactly the way it is spelt in the movie.

SSSK tears a sheet off her notepad for each actress. She clangs a plate and they get busy writing. SSSK walks around, invigilating. The actresses are nervously trying to remember the names of the movies mentioned in the buzzer round. Jacqueline has written one word 'Nagin'. Giselle is trying hard to spell 'Parampara'. Barbara has written 'Be-missile'.

At the end of the test, SSSK collects the 'test papers' and quickly marks them. Katrina Kaif is announced the winner. Apparently she has aced the test. Katrina punches the air and leaves the room. The association folks and SSSK also leave.

The other actresses gather to discuss. "How did she ace the test?? Even if she managed to think of 5 Hindi movies, how did she get the spelling right???? With all the numerology stuff, it's not easy to spell the names of Hindi movies anymore!"

Suddenly they spot the test papers still lying on SSSK's desk. They make a mad dash for Katrina's sheet and find the following written on it:

New York

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

True colours

I dress Xena in blue as much as pink (and whatever other colours I can find in her size.). We were at the ICA today and she was in a blue top, with a white and blue swaddle. A lady, who had been looking at her for a while, turned to me and said, "Oh, what a handsome boy! "

"Thank you," I said. "It's a girl though."

"Oh!" She said, "What a pretty girl!"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rhyme and reason

Xena has finally finished her homework given by Mom-Bhai -- that of writing down ten nursery rhymes. Here they are:

Twinkle twinkle little star
I have entered mommy's bar
I will charge hafta so high
Her bewdas will cry and cry!

Baa baa new bewda
Have you any hafta?
The bar now has cover charge
which I will take rafta rafta!

Baby Xena
Yes Papa!
Charging hafta?
No Papa!
Open your fist, what are you hiding?
*Opens fist* Ka-ching ka-ching!

Pussy cat pussy cat
Where have you been?
I have been to the bar
And then an ATM machine.
Pussy cat pussy cat
What did you do there?
I paid hafta at gunpoint
If you're going there, beware!

Little Miss Xena
Was having her dinner
Of spicy pani puri
Along came a bewda
And eyed her dinner, aha
So she crushed him in fury.

Little Bo Peep
Has lost all sleep
'Cos Xena took all her sheep
As the hafta was too steep.

Humpty Dumpty sat on Xena's wall
No wonder they got into a brawl
All of mommy's bewdas
And all of mommy's bouncers
Couldn't put Humpty together at all.

Hickory Dickory Dock
A punch, a kick, a sock
Xena struck only one
And that too in fun
But all of the gundas ran away in shock.

I hear thunder
A bigtime gunda
Oh do you, oh do you?
Dhishoom dhishoom punches
Dhishoom dhishoom punches
'Cos she knows kung-fu.

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To meet the Bhai's daughter
Both fell down
And left the town
After watching the scene of slaughter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

For cryin' out loud

Xena has been home for about 3 weeks and I believe I have deciphered most of her cries. Here's what I think they mean.

1. I'm hungry!
2. I'm hungry! Again!
3. I'm hungry! Again! (Don't give me that incredulous look. I'm a baby, what do you expect?)
4. I'm sleepy.
5. I need a diaper change. Not that I have done anything, but I would like it changed, thank you.
6. I miss my papa, is he working late today?
7. I don't care if it's 3 am. I want to be held.
8. I'm bored. (Of course we newborns get bored!)
9. I just sneezed/coughed/farted/peed/pooped/burped/puked so I need to cry.
10. I can't believe you left the room; I was only pretending to sleep!
11. Are you guys laughing at me?!
12. Please change the playlist. I can't take it anymore.
13. Please stop singing, mommy.
14. You, papa, should never sing. Ever. You don't even know the lyrics to nursery rhymes!!
15. Please don't address me by that ridiculous nickname. How will I show my face to my baby friends??
16. Why is everyone around me sleeping?
17. Please don't make me wear this. Contrary to what you think, it is not cute.
18. No camera, please.
19. Hello??!!! A phone camera is also a camera!!
20. Please don't touch my hair, you're messing up my 'do.
21.The swaddle is either too loose or too tight, I don't know which one it is.
22. Take off the swaddle, I want to sleep without it!
23. You put me to nap without a swaddle?! Of course I'll wake up in 30 seconds and cry!
24. I am a very busy person and I just had a long, tiring day.
25. I started crying and I don't quite remember why, but I am a girl of principle and hence I shall continue crying.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Got milk?

So we went to the hospital yesterday for Xena's surgery follow-up. After we had seen the surgeon, we dropped by the special care nursery to pick up the last batch of frozen breast milk (some 20 bottles) that we had delivered while Xena was there and that she had not consumed. From there, we went to the ICA to sort out Xena's immigration status (yep, she is still considered a social visitor until she gets a passport/IC).

Viv was in the queue and I was sitting in the waiting area when Xena started crying. I had got a bottle of milk for her, but I was finding it a bit hard to open the milk bag while holding her. Seeing my predicament, a lady who was just leaving, offered to open the bag and take out the bottle. She opened it, handed me the bottle, and left. But not before giving the strangest look, first to me, and then to Xena. Oh well, I thought, she is really tiny, and sometimes people do give us strange looks.

It was only when I was putting the bottle back that I realised what had happened.

She has seen the 20 bottles of milk at the bottom of the bag.

Somewhere, a lady is probably blogging about the strange woman she met at the ICA who seriously overestimates her tiny baby's appetite.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Spot the difference

So Viv had to go to the US for a week on work and returned last night. I asked him if he noticed anything new/different about Xena. Since I stare at her face for 23 hours and 30 minutes a day, it's hard for me to tell if she now has fuller cheeks or more defined features, etc. etc. I figured that he had not seen her for a week so he would be able to spot any differences.

"So? Anything new?" I asked.

He stared at her face for a few seconds and then said jubilantly, "She has eyebrows!!!!!!"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Collateral damn-age

Now I am generally not the "Why me???? Why only me???? Why not them??????" kind of a person, but recently a situation presented itself before me that made me say these very words.

Recently, my niece Aishu celebrated her 5th birthday. Mom, who is in the US now to see her freshly-minted grandson, was giving me the low-down on the phone. Aishu had had a lot of people wishing her and asking her how old she was. "I am FIVE years old!" She declared. In jest, my mom asked her, "And how old is your mom?" She looked lost for a while and then came up with what she considered a number much bigger than five.

"Ummm... Mom is fifteen years old." She said.

"And your Dad?" Asked my mom, after she was done laughing.

"Hmm... Eighteen."

The rising levels of amusement around her and the fact that nobody was correcting her was making her more and more confident, so her answers started coming in thick and fast.

"How about grandma?"

"Grandma... Twenty-four years old."

"And grandpa?"

"Twenty-seven years old."

"How about Mausi?"

"Mausi? Thirty years old."


No seriously, why me???? Why only me???? Why not them?????

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Air apparent

As a new parent, one of the first things you learn in Baby101 is the importance of burping the baby. Yes, that bodily function which when performed by a grown-up in public earns dirty looks, is a vital part of feeding a baby. Tiny bubbles of air in your little one's stomach can cause much discomfort for the baby and heartbreak for you to watch her suffer. It is for this reason that you must learn as quickly as you can, the art of burping a baby. It is a real art form, and technique is king. Pat the baby's back too gently and all you'll get is a dirty look from your little one ("You can't burp a baby??? Epic fail!"), but pound too hard and you'll have a merlion situation at your hands.

So today Xena was in one of those cranky modes where the skies erupt and the earth trembles and I pull my hair out. I was very distressed. I had bathed her, fed her, changed her diaper, held her, and done everything I could think of. But she just kept crying. And that's when I wondered if she needed a second round of burping. Now my technique of burping her is a little different, especially when it's burp round 2. I hold her upright in my arms and walk around the house in a sort of fierce dance mode -- something that looks like a cross between tap dancing and bhangra, and something that amuses my mom-in-law to no end. Viv, however, thinks it looks like Haka. Yes, the traditional war dance from New Zealand. Sheesh.

So I did the tap/bhangra/haka for a few minutes and suddenly out came this industrial-grade burp BURRRRPP!!!

There was complete silence for a few seconds. And then the sun shone and the breeze blew and the birds chirped and everything was all right with the world. Xena looked at me and blinked her eyes innocently, as if she had nothing to do with what had just happened.

The first words that came out of my mouth were, "Kyun re shyani, nikal gayi teri saari hawa?"

Whooops. Occupational hazard. Too early to teach her the stuff?

I know I know. I have got to stop behaving like a Bhai and start behaving like a mother!

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Note: Thanks to all bewdas for the overwhelming number of comments on the 3-part Xena posts. It was especially heartening to see such a large number of lurkers/first-time commentators sending their good wishes to the gundi. Please pardon the delay in responding to the comments. I have just finished replying to the emails I received. I will, of course, be responding to every comment.


More snippets from Xena's and my hospital stay

- Since I was in the hospital for a month with not much to do, I got really friendly with the nursing students. I remember one particular pair that had just started their internship that day. As expected, they were not given anything important to do. They were so bored they would come by and chat with me every few hours. "We have nothing to do!" They would lament. The next evening, they popped by my bed, looking super excited. "I reckon someone gave you some work?" I asked. "YES!" They said. "We just changed the diapers of TWO babies!" They said, almost breathless with excitement. I was so amused. Talk about crappy jobs!

- I hated the hospital food. But the good thing was that you could actually order the kind of food you wanted (Chinese, Malay, or Indian), so I kept trying different combinations to see if I would finally get something to my liking. I didn't, but one fine morning, I took the lid off my "Indian vegetarian" breakfast and almost fell off the bed with delight. Luckily the gazillion probes and sensors that bound me tightly to the bed prevented me from falling off. One of the medical students attending to me that morning stopped in the middle of his speech, eyed my plate enviously and said, "Is that pav bhaji????" Muahahahahahaha!

- The babies in the special care nursery had name tags on their cots. All babies were identified by their mothers' names, but there was a blank for the baby's name too which parents could fill if they wanted. The baby boy next to Xena actually had 'Superman' on his tag! I am not kidding you. We found out later that he was one of twins and the father had temporarily named them 'Superman' and 'Batman' for their SCN tenure.

- During one of the classes we took on caring for premature babies, the speaker wanted to say, "All visitors must wash their hands before touching the baby." He ended up saying, "All visitors must wash the baby before touching the baby." It looked like only Viv and I got it. Needless to say, we nearly fell over laughing in the middle of the class.

- Just before my surgery, the anesthetist held a slab of ice somewhere on my skin to check if sensation had indeed gone off and the surgery could start. "Sayesha," he asked, "Can you feel that?" I responded with a "Feel what? Where?" He laughed his head off and then said, "Okay then, that settles it. We'll begin."

- One of the cleaners in the ward took a real liking towards me. And like many people, she assumed that just because I am Indian, I could speak Tamil. She would talk to me nineteen to the dozen in Tamil and I'd pick up key words and nod along. She was really surprised to see me stay for so many days and one day she told me something strange. From the keywords and gestures, I guessed that either she was talking about someone who ran away from the hospital or she was advising me to run away from the hospital (an option which I did consider at one point). Anyway, I nodded along. The next day she came in, looked at me and said, "Still here?" Hmm.. So I reckon she had asked me to run away then?

- During kangaroo care, Xena would move her hands and legs a lot. One day, the alarm started beeping very loudly because her heartbeat was showing a very low number. DONG DONG DONG! went the alarm. The nurse came running, took one look at the number on the screen and immediately picked up the baby to check what was happening. It turns out the naughty girl had nicely peeled off the heart rate probe from her chest and stuck it -- guess where? On my chest! The nurse couldn't stop laughing.

- In a similar 'pin the probe' game, she had stuck it on her diaper. This time it was a doctor who noticed the strange numbers and checked. "Oh so that's the diaper's heart rate!" Both of us said at the same time! Heh heh! A doctor after my own heart.

- When Xena was moved out of the incubator into a cot, she was finally given some clothes to wear. All this while she had just been in a diaper. They put on what they called a 'baju' (Malay for 'shirt/top'). She was still so tiny that the baju reached her ankles, making her look very much like Yoda. I could totally imagine her rolling her eyes and saying, "Fashionable this is not."

- Once in a while, they also put on a cap for her. There was this one particular cap that came in a ghastly shade of orange, which was probably meant for an XXL baby. It was so big for Xena that they had to roll up the edge like a thousand times before it fitted her head. I swear she looked exactly like Shah Rukh Khan in Paheli.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A familiar beat

During the six times that I was wheeled to the delivery suite, I met some of the nurses again and again. Most would recognise me as 'that crazy case' and welcome me back so I was erm, kind of getting spoilt.

However, there was this one nurse who didn't recognise me even though she was attending to me for the second time that week. I was feeling a bit disappointed and almost said, "Remember me? The crazy case?" But I controlled myself. Anyway, she was hooking me to the CTG machine to record the baby's heartbeat. As usual, gundi Xena was using the walls of mommy's womb as her personal trampoline and it was very difficult to put the probe on a single spot on my tummy and 'catch' her to get the heartbeat. The nurse tried for a full 10 minutes (it usually takes about 10 seconds), and then looked at me for a while, showing faint signs of recognition. "Ah!" I thought, "Finally she recognises me!"

But she didn't say anything to me and I was disappointed again. I figured she saw thousands of faces every day so it was understandable that she wouldn't remember a particular one. She turned to try and locate the baby again. Once again, Xena gave her a tough time. Finally the nurse looked at me, grinned widely and said, "OH!!!!!!! THIS baby?! I know THIS baby!!!"

Thursday, June 02, 2011

You don't say

So I decided to compile a list of marriage/pregnancy-related things people have said that have come across as insensitive, inconsiderate or just plain annoying. I am more than certain that they didn't mean it to be this way, so I thought it would be best to put them all together so we don't unknowingly end up saying any of these to others. Feel free to use the comments space to add on annoying stuff you have come across!

- Let's start from the beginning. When you meet a newly married couple, do not say, "So how is married life treating you?" Trust me, married people hate that question. It's really stupid, cliched and don't even get me started on the phrasing. You'll find that it's always single people who ask that question. Married people never ask other married people that. Because they know how annoying it is.

- You have no right to ask anyone when they plan to have a baby. Trust me, there is no polite way of asking. All versions of that question are rude, and should not be asked.

- Just because you had a baby as soon as you got married doesn't mean that is everyone else's plan.

- Do not use the phrase "family way". If you ask a couple when they are planning to go the "family way", you are implying that the two of them are not a family. What the...?!

- Another super annoying question, "So when are you giving us good news?" The only thing more annoying than the phrase "good news" here is if they spell it as "gud news". Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!

- Never look at anyone and ask, "Are you pregnant?" You may end up inadvertently calling them fat.

- Never email anyone to ask if they are pregnant just because you have a hunch/feeling, etc. etc. You have no idea what they may be going through and they would not know how to answer your question.

- When someone tells you that they are on leave because the doctor has advised complete bed rest at home due to pregnancy complications, do not say, "Oh ok. Enjoy your stay at home!" Enjoy?? What do you think this is -- a Hawaiian vacation?

- When someone has preeclampsia due to which their blood pressure is shooting up, please do not say, "Relax." Preclampsia-induced blood pressure does not just go away if you "relax".

- Right after you ask someone how their baby is doing in the ICU, do not take out your mobile phone and say, "You want to see pictures of my newborn baby?" Trust me, I don't.

- When you find out that someone has had a premature baby who is in the ICU, do not chirpily call or send a message saying, "Oooh congratulations!"

- When you ask them how the baby is doing and they tell you that the baby's brain is not mature enough to do several things at once, and so when she is drinking milk, she forgets to breathe, do not laugh. You may be tickled by the idea of someone forgetting to breathe, but trust me -- a baby forgetting to breathe is not funny.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Shadow play

A serious is-sue

Me (looking up from the Dr Sears' website)- Hey Viv, did you know there are 31 ways to soothe a baby??

Viv (without batting an eyelid) - But why on earth would you want to sue the baby????

Me - :|