Monday, March 25, 2013

Two be or not two be?

So this is my 990th post. "So?" You ask. Well, the number 990 holds a lot of significance for me. 990 was Xena's birth weight in grams. Bewdas who are new to the bar but not new to the normal birth weight of a newborn might have fainted at the above statement. If so, may I please direct you to read about Xena's birth and her struggles here.

And it is of special significance that my 990th post is about her 2nd birthday. Well, her birthday was on Sunday the 17th of March, but I'm only writing it now because it wasn't a very happy birthday for her. She fell badly sick and had to be hospitalized on oxygen for a lung infection. She's back home now and from her antics, feeling much better, but the doctors did warn us that premature babies with very low birth weight are susceptible to lung infections that regular babies are unaffected by, so we need to be careful.

Well, it's still two months before doctors will consider her as a two-year-old (they use the expected delivery date rather than the actual birth date for babies born before 37 weeks of gestation), so I'm still wondering if I should consider her a two-year-old yet or not. Two be or not two be? More importantly, have the terrible twos started, or do I have another two months?

As she grows, we might start seeing some of the things doctors had cautioned us about and it is a little scary. Of course, we rejoiced at every step, when she was taken off oxygen support, when she was taken out of the incubator, when the bleeding in her brain stopped, when the hole in her heart closed, when her hernia surgery was successful, when she finally came home after two very challenging months in the ICU... but we are aware that the difficulties might not be over and there may be other challenges along the road. Like her eating. Rather, the lack of. She is two and she pretty much survives on two small bottles of milk in a day. She weighs as much as a 9-month-old. Sometimes it gets exhausting. I have been offering her food multiple times a day for the last year and a half, and she has rejected it every single time. Sometimes I dream of the day when I will wake up and see her eating. Actually eating. Food.

During her recent hospitalisation, the doctors who saw her were quite taken aback at her size and one of them actually started asking us if she is okay in terms of developmental milestones. "Can she walk? Can she run? Can she speak at least 50 words?" I wanted to laugh. Honestly, one of the big reasons why I've still not joined the workforce back is to help her catch up on such things. (Doctors had said that her total rejection of solid food and lack of the chewing action is very likely to cause a delay in speech, and at one point they even referred us to a speech and language therapist.) So I had been working my ass off. I knew I couldn't do anything if she didn't want to eat, but this dragon mommy was not going to give up without a fight on the speech delay possibility. So I talked and I talked and I talked to her. All day long. I talked so much that I often gave myself a headache. I kid you not. And then I would make adrak ki chai for myself to get rid of the headache. And then I would talk some more. In the beginning, she just gave me "You crazy woman" looks, but soon she started responding. Very well.

So when the doctor asked me if she can say 50 words, I laughed. I nodded to assure him that she could. When we came back from the hospital, I had a fun idea. I sent an email to Viv's parents and my parents asking them to guess how many words are in Xena's vocabulary at the moment. The guesses ranged from 100-300 words. And then I sent them the answer with the list of words that I had been compiling for her 2nd birthday. The list only included words that she actively and voluntarily uses in conversation (I excluded words that she can repeat because she can repeat almost everything). And the magic number is 501, far off from all their guesses! 436 English words and 65 Hindi words. I feel like I can breathe a bit now. There may be another 28283764739292 challenges to expect in the future, but here's one down and nothing can stop me from celebrating. :)

As someone who has always been totally and hopelessly in love with her vocation, I can't help but compare my life now to when I was in the office. And sometimes I feel like I use principles from my working life to parent Xena. Well, at least some aspects of it. However, I have to admit that parenting is the hardest 'project' I have ever done. It is so random, so grey, so unpredictable, that at times you feel lost and can only find comfort in the fact that you did the best you could. It's hard to stay sane between the extreme feelings that having a kid brings about. The good stuff is really good (when your kid runs towards you to hug you, or when she falls asleep in your arms), but the bad stuff is really bad (when you are 7 months pregnant and you don't know if your kid and/or you will make it, or when you are rushing her to the hospital in the middle of the night).

So whenever someone asks me for my views on being a parent, I really don't know what to tell them. I can only say this. Think of the best feeling you have ever had in your life. Now think of the worst feeling you have ever had in your life. Now multiply each feeling by infinity, and mix the two up. That is parenthood. I know this doesn't make much sense, but that's the way it is.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Copy that

First of all, my thanks to all the bewdas for resurfacing on the last post. I did not mean the post to be a bewda roll call, but it is really nice that so many of you are still frequenting the bar with the missing bartender. :)

Speaking of nice bewdas (by the way, the term includes bewdis too), I wanna thank Kanan for pointing out two more cases of blatant plagiarism of posts off my blog. She sent me three links:

I wrote this post in 2005 about lyrics that I had misheard.

My post was blatantly copy-pasted in 2011 by this blogger AND this blogger.

Shocked and annoyed, I left comments on both posts to point out the plagiarism. Within the next few minutes, the first one Chikkizworld, who calls himself/herself a "vehemently passionate writer" had vehemently and passionately deleted not only the copied post, but all of his/her posts. Erm, okay.

I checked again after a few hours and the other blog, belonging to this person called Poonam Dangi, still had the copied post. I then went to check out what the rest of her blog was all about, and when I scrolled down, I could not believe my eyes. Purana bewdas of the bar might remember this post I wrote about Viv's pictionary skills. It is one of my all-time favourite posts because it truly brings out Viv's personality. And to see it copied and pasted like that, with the exact title, in the exact font and colour, the exact pictures of his drawings, with no mention of who Viv or baby Aish (who was referenced in the post) were to her, was a real shocker.

And you know what disgusted me even more? The plagiarised post was only her second post on her blog, and guess what was the first? I have copy-pasted it here in its entirety because it is so unbelievable that a person who wrote this as her first post would simply steal someone's stuff as her second post.


Okay soo this is my first post ever and u cannot imagine how nervous I am. I know blogging is not a big taboo but it's something I'm doing for the first time and the fact that this is on Internet which means easily visible to all. But will anyone actually read this?? During the process of building my stage that is this blog I came across questions like what if no one ever reads it?? or people make fun of me/start hating me for the things featured over here.actually I don't know why I decided to write a blog of my own, neither do I have any reasons or objectives to be raised nor do I want to be confined in a single genre. But these can be referred to as an inspiration to start this: 
To write and comment bout things i like..even a book would have done so...but dude.. 
Blogs have such nice templates whereas books...have those white pages scribbled with some black dots. 
Here, my opinions won't be contradicted ..preferably not... 
I have already driven my friends mad by narrating them my stories so I thought of irritating people on larger scale internet being biggest network serves my purpose well. 
To confess my guilts cos I can't do that in person. 
To make some new friends. 
To fulfill that silly secret desire of being a writer.

Here's some more appalling stuff.

I just told Viv all about this and he shared my indignation. (Obviously. Some random woman is trying to claim him as hers!) And he agreed with me that though there is no way to stop such acts of plagiarism, at the very least I should name and shame when I find out about such instances.

So thank you bewdas, for looking out for me. All cases so far of plagiarism of my posts have been brought to my notice by some nice bewda who cared enough to drop me a note about it. Thank you very much. It truly means a lot to me.

And to those whose hands do not shake when using the CtrlC+CtrlV function, just find some time to look in the mirror, yeah?  

Catch-up #4

So I'm looking at the date of my last post and in the words of a teenager, I'm going "ZOMG!!!!"

(Ok fine, not just in the words of a teenager. In my words too. Yes, I admit it. I use ZOMG. Well, sometimes OMG just doesn't do it.)

I have neglected the bar a lot in the last 2-3 years. And every time I do it, I find no other way to spring back than to write a catch-up post like this. Composed of all things random and then some more randomness.

This time, it's been too long. A month almost. All my bewdas have probably wandered away, but for some strange reason, I have started getting emails from companies who pretend to have read my blog. They send me 'proposals' such as 'invites for you to write about us', feature me on this 'new social network that helps Indian consumers discover new stuff', getting some 'bucks for your traffic and driving up ranking' or make me 'write something relevant to your blog but relate it to our product'. I ignore all such emails the way one ignores random fraaaandship requests on FB, and most of the time that's that. If their email is a little personalised, I might just drop a reply to say that the bar doesn't feature ads. But sometimes they send a follow-up email which makes me laugh. Especially when they say something like "If at anytime, you are thinking that we are ruining your site revenue strategy, then I will persuade you to believe otherwise." (True story, that.) My "site revenue strategy"?? Hahahahahahahaha.

Honestly, I don't think the bar is what it used to be in terms of traffic, and I am ok with it. I have not been as regular or interesting as I was a few years ago when I was young and foolish. Now I'm just old(er) and foolish. So... here's a message to all these companies -- trust me, you will not make any money advertising here. Even if you are okay with earning 3 cents a year off my blog, I don't want to feature any ads. The bar was and always will be my random hang-out place, it will never be a business. If I didn't make it a business when I had a crazyass number of hits a day, why would I do it now when there are ummm... five people who read it? (Hmm... I should totally write a book called 'The five people who read my blog'. I bet it will make more money than Mitch Albom's book.) I think even Viv doesn't follow the bar anymore. Let's see how long it takes him to express his indignation at the previous statement. *evil grin*

A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I don't know where to start my catch-up post. But I do know that I will refrain from any Xena-related stuff on this post, because it's only once in a blue moon that I don't write about her.

So I will start with the next most important topic to me - Bollywood. I watched 'Special 26' and was not too impressed. I think the standards set by 'A Wednesday' are too high. Plus, after watching him in 'A Wednesday', no self-respecting Jimmy Shergill fan will support a movie that has him playing a pansy.

Speaking of things that disappointed me, I also caught Priyanka Chopra's album 'In my city'. I thunked my head on the wall. I can't believe a former Miss World and a Bollywood A-lister couldn't find someone to at least make the video a little classy.

Speaking of thunking my head on the wall, I read an old issue of Filmfare and you know that section they have been running for 8354876875486 years, where Shatrughan Sinha answers inane questions such as 'What do women want?', sneaking in a 'Salman is God' whenever he can? Yeah, so some girl had asked 'How should one ask the boss for an increase in salary?' And his prize-winning answer (I kid you not) was 'How can you, an intelligent woman, ask me such a question? You have the most important weapons, a smile or tears. But if they fail to shake the boss for a raise then the only potent option one could suggest would be just to sleep over the matter.' Honestly, I fell off my chair when I read that. I cannot even begin to list the number of ways in which his reply is sexist. And this was a prize-winning Q&A. Tsk tsk.

We also recently watched English Vinglish. I had watched it in the theatre but Viv had not because he was watching Xena. But it's such a lovely movie, I totally didn't mind watching it again. Especially when it was in the company of friends. We are trying to see if we can all catch up at least once or twice a month, even if it's just getting together at someone's place to watch a movie. We actually had a Govinda-themed party some time ago, would you believe it? Pizzadude won it hands-down, but I think I was a close second with my light blue capris, a fluorescent green spagetti strap top and a checked shirt containing the colours red, blue, green and black. And oh, bright pink slippers to complete the look. If visions of that are blinding you, try and imagine Pizzadude's attitre. The theme for our next party is 'Wear something that has been lying in your wardrobe forever, but you have never worn it'. That should be interesting.

Speaking of friends, our bestest friends from Dubai came-a-visiting and it was awesome! Guys, if you're reading this (you should be; you're two of the five people!), I miss you! Come back! Soon!

Recently, I had a chance to read Ashwin Sanghi's 'Krishna Key'. I had missed his 'Chanakya's Chant' which I'm told is very good, so I thought I'd try this as I'm very into Indian mythology. And then I read it. No, I made time to read it. And then I finished it. OMG. No, ZOMG. Honestly, I have never read a book worse than this one. Seriously. When I read the end, I did not know what to do and how to get all my precious hours back. A reviewer once said about a book, "You simply can't put this book down. You absolutely need to toss it out of the window." That is exactly how I felt after reading this book.

Viv and I bought Shaun T's Insanity workout program, and goodness, the name speaks for itself. It's just an hour each day, but the workout really lives up to its name. However, you will really feel your fitness level rise. I must warn you though, it is NOT easy. I am still doing the month 1 workouts and will probably never be able to proceed to the month 2 stuff (yes, it is THAT insane), so I keep repeating the month 1 routine. And it kills me. Every time. It's not for nothing that the Insanity people say 'My warm-up > Your workout'. (Disclaimer: I have not received any money from the fit folks at Insanity for the above paragraph. I would be really stupid to sneak in an ad in the very post where I am bashing blog ads.)

Speaking of stuff one can do at home, I actually attempted my first haircut by myself. I frankly can't afford the time to find a babysitter for Xena, and go to a salon for a haircut, especially if I'm going to come back looking like a scarecrow because the stylist can't cut Indian hair. Ok fine, junglee Indian hair. I figured I can't cut it worse than them so why not? It lasted 5 days. The hair-cutting process, not the hair. I actually started cutting bits and pieces whenever Xena was sleeping. On day 3, Viv looked at me funny and I had to explain to him that I was in the middle of a haircut. Thankfully, on day 5, I was happy with the results. So yes, it's possible.

All right, that's it for now. What have you guys been up to? :)