Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Broken record

So one day, I found myself added to my school's WhatsApp group. I didn't know such a group existed. And they didn't know that I existed on WhatsApp. Anyway, other than the very annoying 'good morning' memes, 'interesting' forwards ('drink coriander juice every day and you will NEVER get cancer') and Santa-Banta jokes, it hasn't been too bad. A lot of reminiscing. A lot of leg-pulling. A lot of laughter.

You see, my Dad moved a lot when we were kids, so I ended up going to some 7 schools in 12 years. I conditioned myself not to get too close to my classmates, because it was too heartbreaking to have to move two years later. But this was the group that I was the longest with - four years. That too, when we were in the 15-18 age range. So obviously, this is the group that knows me the best, the group that I remember the most, and connect the most to. So I got a warm welcome, and within half a day, someone shot this question at me.

"So Sayesha, do you still like toota-phoota ("broken") songs?"

"Toota-phoota songs??"

"You know, the dukhi aatma ("sad soul") kind of songs?"

"What?! When did I like dukhi aatma kind of songs??"

Before I could even protest properly, they were all nodding in WhatsApp unison. Seriously? That's how they remembered me? That's how they ALL remembered me?

And then I tried to remember. It's true that I used to sing a lot of songs back then. On demand. In competitions. Anywhere and everywhere. I tried to jog my memory and think of the songs they had heard me sing - 'Tere bina zindagi se koi', 'Tere dar par sanam...', 'Rulaake gaya sapna mera', 'Dil kehta hai chal unse mil', 'Saare sapne kahin kho gaye', etc. etc. And I had to admit that most of the songs I sang were sad, or at least kinda romantic, but sad. But it was not because I was a dukhi aatma. It was because these songs had the most amazing, heart-touching lyrics.

So I decided to stand up for myself.

"Heyyyyyy! I liked songs with meaningful lyrics, okay??? I did not sing random toota-phoota songs like 'Tum toh thehre pardesi' and all that!" I protested.

I could sense their amused smiles in WhatsApp unison.


And then it struck me. Sometimes, it's your school friends who really know you the best, who can sum you up in a way that no one else, not even you yourself, can. And sometimes, it's okay to just accept it graciously.

So yes. I like toota-phoota songs. What can you do?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and put my latest toota-phoota discovery called 'Tu hai ki nahin' from Roy on loop. 34798236948327043280 times.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Frozen in time

"Let it gooooooooo!"

One day, Xena came back from school, singing this at the top of her voice. I was surprised. That song was not familiar to me. So I asked her to sing the whole thing.

"Let it gooooooooooooo!" She hollered. "Kyaanadaaaaa any more!"

"What anymore??"




"What's that?"

"I don't know."

"Who taught you this song? What song is it?"

"Belle taught me. It's the Elsa song."

I know Belle is her best friend at school. But who on earth was Elsa?

"Who is Elsa??"

"She's Elsa." Explained Xena, as if that was enough.

And then I found out. Elsa was some kind of princess in some kind of animated movie called Frozen. I don't really keep track of English movies all that much, and I'm definitely not a fan of animated movies. (Except for Finding Nemo. Who can hate Nemo?)

But this Elsa seemed to be a global craze among little girls. So much so that the director of Frozen Jennifer Lee has publicly apologised to parents for the song 'Let it go", which ironically the girls can't seem to let go of, even though it's been a year.

Over the next few weeks, Elsa became more and more prominent in our household. I was amazed Xena was so into her, in spite of not having watched the movie or knowing anything about it. I googled to realise that her "kyaaanadaaaa" was 'can't hold it back'. She refused to believe me. I played the song on Youtube to prove my point, but she simply refused to acknowledge that that was the Elsa song. When I persisted in my attempts to correct her, she protested saying, "But Belle says 'kyaaanadaaaa anymore'." Oh. Ok. That's settled then.

In the last few weeks, we have attended numerous Elsa-themed events and parties. I have bought her an Elsa dress, Elsa hair clips and an Elsa bus card holder. (Well, actually, it was Santa who put the Elsa card holder inside the ladybug bag he gave her for Christmas, but don't tell her that.) She also got an Elsa stationery set as a Christmas gift from a friend of mine who remarked, "I figured I couldn't go wrong with Elsa". And of course, she has already asked for an Elsa cake for her 4th birthday.

Elsa is now a household name for us. She comes up randomly in all kinds of conversations. As does her sister Anna and some kind of snowman in the movie called Olaf. Sample these:

Me - Xena, why is your bag on the floor?
Xena - Because I'm Elsa.
Me - ???

Xena - Mama, Belle is not my best friend anymore.
Me - Oh no, what happened?
Xena - I told her I am Elsa and she is Anna. And she said she is Elsa and I am Anna.
Me - Oh dear.
Xena - So she is not my best friend anymore.

Xena - Mama, I'm Elsa.
Me - Oh yeah?
Xena - Yes. And you're Anna.
Me - I'm Anna? Okay!
Xena - No no. Hmm... Daddy is Anna.
Me - Why is Daddy Anna?? Why can't I be Anna?
Xena - Because you are Olaf.
Me - ????!!!!!

When I try to discipline her jungle hair into a tidy ponytail or braid for school and she protests, I just tell her that Elsa always has her hair neatly tied in a braid, and it works most of the time. I don't know how long this craze will last, but I'm milking it for all its worth. The best thing that Elsa has done for me is what her teachers reported today -- she didn't want to eat lunch, and they told her that she needs to eat so she can be Elsa. And eat she did. (Note: This did not work at home. Of course. What was I thinking?)

Some day, when she is older, we will all sit down and watch the movie together. I wonder when that would be, and whether she'd still be as crazy about it.

Now if you'll excuse me, Olaf needs to go and shake the song out of its head.

Let it gooooooooo!
Kyaanadaaaaa any more!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Annual report - 2014

Wish you a very happy new year, bewdas!

Yesterday, we hosted a small new year's gathering at our house where a bunch of us recapped the year and shared our resolutions for the new year. One of my friends reminded me that I still haven't written my usual annual report post for the year, so here it is. But before that, I need to hunt down Bubblegum and Arun, two of the regulars at the bar. They had posted their resolutions for 2014 in the comments section of this post of mine, and I need to ask them how they did.

My resolution for 2014 had been a super generic (and 'safe', one might add) one - to strive to be a little better than I was in 2013. In every sense. I'm really glad to report that for the most part it did happen. Of course, I have to start with Xena. We were definitely less stressed about her in 2014, as she fell sick less and was mostly able to keep her blood oxygen levels in the normal range even when sick. Of course, we had one frantic run to the hospital, that too just before her birthday, but compared to the gazillion trips in the previous year, this was nothing. 2014 was also the year her weight touched the elusive double-digit milestone of 10 kg at the grand age of three, when most babies achieve this before they can even walk. She did go back to 9+ pretty quickly after that, and has again inched her way up, but still stands at the magic number of 10 kg. Her eating has been a lot better, though she still rejects 99.9% of all foods, and we still need to put her in her high chair with a book and feed her all her meals, and even milk. But generally, it has been a good year for her. *touchwood*

Work has been fantastic. Thanks to the deep faith shown in me by ex-bosses and ex-colleagues, I got some really interesting projects. I had been writing and editing mostly primary level science books for about a decade now, but 2014 gave me the opportunity to delve into a bit of fiction (kiddy-level, of course), and also a bit of Mathematics for overseas markets. Both were kind of challenging, but beautifully fulfilling and enriching.

2014 was a year when I worked hard and partied hard. Truly. Compared to previous years, I organised/hosted more parties. First, there was Easter, then Diwali (I got to wear a sariiiiii! YEAYYYYY!), then Halloween, then Christmas and New Year's Eve. I got to organise lots and lots of games at these parties. I also had a chance to attend a friend's baby shower, where they had some fun games -- design and wear a diaper using toilet paper, pictionary of baby-related phrases and make a play-doh model of a baby. It was refreshing for me to not be the organiser of the games, and my super competitive streak (I can actually be a little scary in that aspect) took over. I won the first two, and was the runner-up in the third --only because the winner violated the game rules and added to their model a sperm and an egg with a plus sign in between! Hmmph. (Yes, I may be very Phoebe for the most part of it, but put me in a game and I can be SO Monica.)

2014 was also the year when I ticked two important items off my travel bucket list - a trip to Paris and taking my parents to Bali. The latter was very very important to me, and I cannot be any more thankful for the fact that we did the trip and made it back safe and sound.

We also got to spend a lot of time with family. My sister-in-law, who used to live on the other end of the island, moved closer - literally 5 minutes from us. We have been playing badminton! Viv's second cousin, who lives here, got married and his wife is a total sweetheart. So we have all been hanging out together as a big happy family. My parents visited after 3 years, and my mom-in-law visited too. (Yes Appa, we missed you. Please come see your monkey granddaughter this year.)

Viv and I watched a LOT of English movies at home in 2014. First, the nearby library has a lot of movies that I can rent for free. Then, there's a DVD rental place within walking distance of our place. We have also been renting a lot of movies on iTunes. Xena is still off TV, so we put her to sleep (her bedtime is about 9 pm) and then sit down and watch our movies.

Three of our closest sets of friends had their first babies in 2014, and even though all three live in different parts of the world, it is so awesome and so exciting for us. It's like Xena suddenly had three siblings!

It was a good year for Viv too. He did a lot of Insanity. At 6 am no less, justifying the title of the workout. Om Shaun T, Shaun T, Shaun T Om. He also scored 144 runs in a division 1 cricket match. He was the opener and last man out, and we were very very proud of him. I know he is very appreciative of the fact that he can be out for cricket during weekends, but sometimes I just wish he played only 20-20 and wasn't away for the whole day. Just then, such instances happen and they renew my support for him and his love for playing.

So that's what happened in 2014. As for the 2015 resolutions, I'll try to be a little less generic this year.

- We're planning some major renovation this year, and though it's going to be a real pain and a lot of work (think hacking of walls, floors and wardrobes, getting rid of furniture, moving stuff into storage, finding temporary accommodation), but at the end of it, we hope to have the nicest house that we possibly can within our means.

- I need to continue experimenting in the kitchen to create high-calorie stuff that Xena will be less reluctant to eat. Her endocrinologist said that if she can hit 11.5 kg by her 4th birthday, we'll have a stronger reason not to go for the daily growth hormone injections. Of course, I don't see her putting on 1.5 kg over the next 3 months, but I'll do the best I can.)

- Viv and I plan to continue what we have been doing all along - keeping Xena away from TV, phone and ipad screens and letting her have real interactions with real people. This needs to be on the resolutions every year, because it is a little hard to implement with all the screens that people of all ages seem to be bent over everywhere we go. So far so good though.

- Exercising is another thing that is perennially on my resolutions list, because again, it takes effort. In 2014, I didn't go to the gym as much, but we hit the swimming pool more times than we had ever done in any of the previous years (mainly because of Xena's love for the pool, of course), and I enjoyed it. I need to learn how to do it properly though. (I swim with my head above the water at all times!)

- I'll take on more challenging and interesting work this year. At the same time, I'll try and not go overboard with work, and not burn all of my weekends on it. I'll try my hardest to make some time for intentional vella-panthi, something I've never really indulged in, but something that I have begun to think is really important.

- If all goes well, 2015 might be the year when Xena finally visits India. We ourselves have not been there for the last five years!

- I plan to work more on my spoken Chinese. At the moment, I'm probably still qualified only for the beginner's level, so I won't be taking the intermediate classes, but I'll try and refresh what I learnt last year using online tutorials.

- I'd like to pick up a new skill, something creative and fun. And going by my recent inclinations, it seems to be nail art. Will do a post on that as soon as I reach pro levels!

- And lastly, I'd like to plan and be part of more get-togethers, plan more outings for Xena, keep in touch with family and meet up with friends more often. The airline tragedies this year have hit us all real hard, and underscored the fragility of life. Anything can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Cliched as it may sound, we need to live every moment.