Facebook VII

Lots I want to write here – Anna and Niki’s birthdays for one, but taking the easier option for now. Hopefully a proper post will be up soon.

“Mumma, I soo wanted to be the blue fairy. But Ma’am said ‘so and so’ is doing better than me, so she will be the blue fairy. I will not be ‘so and so’s firend.” Tears, first heartbreak, difficult lessons, a chance to grow, a chance to learn. My heart was hurting for her too; a tiny part of me wanted to say ‘your Ma’am knows nothing’. But I hugged her and smiled; told her that we should try our best but we may not get all that we want; that feeling hurt and disappointed and jealous is normal. but we have to try and get over it; that we should never look at others and decide our happiness, our happiness is in our own control. 
She’s too little to be facing all this, but we must take it as a chance to learn an important lesson. It’s such a small thing, but so huge for her. A lesson for me too, I no longer have the power to protect my baby, to keep her happy always. 
I taught her a childhood favourite and it did seem to make her fell better.
Do your best,
And leave the rest.
It will all come right,
Some day or night.

The Terrible Two’s Round Two:
I had somehow foolishly thought it would be easier this time. 
‘Doosra’ has now been replaced by ‘Nahi’ as the favourite word (like his sister at the same age but his is far more vehement). 
He refuses to wear his clothes but gets wild with anger if I take them away. I try to dress him; he runs away; I try a few more times and tell him that he can stay like that and I am going to get dressed myself; he howls and screams; I try to dress him again; he runs away; repeat.
He won’t brush his teeth.
He won’t sleep.
He wants chocolate.
He wants to watch songs on the TV.
He will not let me hold him when he is crying. Lying naked on the floor is so much better.
He breaks my heart when his lower lip quivers after I scold him.
When he really wants something he says in the sweetest voice, ‘Mumma pleaaase de do’. I am trying hard to resist.
He makes me beg for kisses. 
He is irrational, stubborn as hell, naughtier than I ever expected, will not tolerate being ignored, will not tolerate being forced, makes me realise how well-behaved his sister is, has pushed me to crazy new limits, sometimes makes me dread the years to come but can always, always bring a smile to my face; no matter what.
Hopefully this caterpillar will turn in to a beautiful butterfly.


Niki pointing to Anna’s doll house – “Tumko chahiye”(meaning I want that).
I happily give it to him, glad that for once we will play a ‘gentle’ game. 
We put the dolls in bed and he puts his finger on his lips and says “Shhh, dolly so rahi”. Then he grins, swipes his hand, the beds with the dolls come crashing down and he laughs. Then, “phir se”.
Me: “Umm. Tumhari blue car kahan gayi? Chalo dhundhen.”

My funny little baby, now you are two! In the past one year, you have learnt how to talk, play football, sing songs, jump with abandon on any cushion you come across, listen to songs, sit on my lap and ‘read’ books, talk to and charm anyone you meet, keep us entertained all the time. We’ve also been experiencing the terrible two’s for the past many, many months. But maybe you’re done with that by now? 
Happy Birthday Niki!

Anna grabs Niki’s favourite ball as he’s kicking it around.
Niki: Didi, ball do. 
Anna, ball do.
Annaaaa, ball do!
Anna, bad boy!
Finally she gives him the ball.
Niki (very sweetly): Tank yoo Didi.
Non stop entertainment!

The day you had been impatiently waiting for finally came; ‘Mumma how many days to my birthday?’ From 2-3 months, to a month, to a week, to 2-3 days to finally here. You got up much earlier then usual and immediately demanded your card and gift. 
You are a proper little girl now, you eat by yourself, can bathe yourself, when your best friend comes to play, you take her to your room and shut the door, you demand that we go somewhere for summer holidays, you are learning to read and write, you can add and subtract small numbers and the list goes on. The hard, physical part of parenting you is long gone. It’s so much fun to play with you, hear your stories, your plans and be a part of your wonderful world. 
Sometimes you get jealous of the attention your little brother gets and you copy him and behave like a baby; sometimes you are whinier than I could ever imagine; sometimes I feel like you are the most spoilt, self-entitled brat in the world; but not a single day goes by when I don’t find myself marvelling at the delight you are. The lovely, well-mannered, intelligent, cute, sensitive little girl is now 5. 
Happy Birthday Anna!

For Anna, the word was ‘nahi’; the word used to make Mumma’s life as happening (difficult) as possible. For Niki, the word is ‘doosra’. Give him a biscuit and he says ‘doosra bikkit’ and keeps taking biscuits and licking them till the whole packet is empty. Try feeding him a bite and he insists he wants a ‘doosra’ bite from the same bowl which will somehow be different. Middle of the night, he wants milk, I give him his bottle but he keeps whining for ‘doosra duddu’. Sing/play him a song and he’ll keep demanding ‘doosra’ song. I am sometimes tempted to tell him to go and find a ‘doosra’ Mumma.

Anna, Niki and I were playing near a hole which was dug in the apartment complex some time ago. They were throwing stones into it and I was hanging on to them so that they couldn’t throw themselves in. Then Anna points into the hole and says “That’s Kunchamma and she’s trying to get out of the hole. She can’t get out so I am throwing food for her. In Baby Town (the place where according to her all babies go to play), she is my Mumma”.
Me: Okaaay. Let’s go home.
The next day, the hole had been closed.
Still creeped out!

Got Anna’s ‘report card’ the day before yesterday. As expected, all ‘A’s and ‘A+’s, plus some very nice comments from her teacher. The icing on the cake was the ‘Most well-behaved child’ certificate that she got. We’re enjoying it while it lasts because I’m pretty sure Niki won’t be receiving any such certificates in the future.

Question: Papa ka naam kya hai?
Answer by Anna (age one and a half) : Ravan
Answer by Niki (age one and a half) : Papi
R, do they know something I don’t?

We were talking about climbing trees. Then she said, ‘I can’t climb trees because I’m a girl’. I asked her, ‘Who told you that?’. She said, ‘Nobody, I just know it myself’. I took a deep breath and then we had a loooong conversation; about how she can do whatever she wants; she can play cricket and her brother can play with dolls if he wants to; if anyone tells her that she can’t do something because she’s a girl, she should tell then ‘My Mumma has said that girls and boys can do everything’. It starts so early and no matter how hard I try I can’t keep her away from such thinking. But I will never ever let her believe that she is ‘just a girl’; somehow inferior. The world needs more feminists.

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Naughty boy

What do I say about Niki? The one word I use most often to describe him is naughty, but he is so much more than that. He is the funniest baby I have ever seen, he is gorgeous with his creamy skin and brown eyes and brown hair, he is big and strong, he is cute, he is totally lovable. Nineteen months old; I as usual have trouble believing that.

He has really picked up on talking in the last couple of months. No sentences yet, but lots of words and sometimes he strings two together. He doesn’t babble much, usually we can make out what he’s saying. R has taught him various ways to call ‘birdies’ from the window so he can say ‘Aaja birdie’ in a singing voice, in anger, and in a loving way. Ask him ‘Birdie ko pyaar se bula do’ and he says ‘Aaja birdie’ in a very sweet voice with an adorable little flick of his head at the end. He recognizes various animals in pictures like elephant, dog, cat, monkey, lion, snake and knows the sounds they make. Also stuff around the house like pot, painting, light, fan, TV. He still loves ‘lighties’. He isn’t as fond of books as Anna was but he does sit with me and go through his board books. We haven’t yet graduated to paper books because he’s even managed to tear some of his board books.

He’s a very active baby. He doesn’t walk if he can run. On the bed he goes crazy. He’ll throw himself face down on the pillows, turn somersaults (seeing Anna doing them once was enough for him to learn) and makes sure that we can’t relax for even a second. He’s quite good at kicking a ball around and has been since he became steady on his feet at around 14 months old. He can climb up and go down on a small slide all by himself. He loves going out.

Water makes him go mad with excitement and there is no way we can keep him away if he sees it. He’s figured out how to open his sippers and will spill all the water if we let him. R has to somehow keep him distracted while I give Anna her bath in the morning, because if he sees us he will howl until I let him in. I just need to tell him once that it’s ‘brush time’ or ‘hand wash time’ and he will go and stand on the stool in front of the sink. As soon as I switch on the tap he starts throwing the water around. If R tells him it’s bath time he immediately comes running to me and says ‘Mumma nai-nai come’. He obviously loves his bath time and does his best to drink the bath water. He’s also become smart about it, he’ll try to distract me and then open his mouth wide and dive into the water. Or if he’s in a naughty mood, he’ll look me in the eye, smile a naughty smile and try to drink the water. He loves it when I say ‘chee’ in disgust and repeats it after me. Though then he insists that the water is ‘accha’, which is what he says whenever he eats something he likes.

He is thankfully still fond of food. He will immediately ask to eat whenever he sees anyone eating and will at least take one bite of whatever it is. He doesn’t like sweet (the exceptions being lollypop and ice cream) but will eat stuff which is spicy.

He knows everyone’s names and say a mangled version of each name on being asked ‘so-and-so ka naam kya hai?’. He has started throwing huge tantrums with either really loud screaming and flinging himself down on the floor or heart-breaking sobs if he doesn’t get his way. When he’s screaming he’ll try to look out of the corner of his eye for our reaction and will increase or decrease the volume based on what he sees. Sometimes distracting him works but sometimes we have to let him scream and get it out. He specifically wants whatever Anna has and it’s becoming a challenge to stop this behaviour. We obviously don’t let him have his way most of the time and this has lead to quite a lot of screaming in the past one month.

Here he is, wearing R’s glasses. He looks like a little Harry Potter :).

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English Vinglish!

Growing up in the eighties and nineties in India meant that being able to speak comfortably in English was quite an asset. Most parents weren’t very comfortable with the language and it was not spoken at home in most families. In schools it was usually compulsory but most students spoke to each other in Hindi unless in class. A lot of the teachers also had trouble with the language (even in the ‘good’ schools) and ended up teaching the wrong thing. I was very lucky because both my parents (specially my mother) have a really good command over the language. My mother grew up studying in convents with strict nuns and her English is impeccable. She’s been an avid reader all her life, English was one of the subjects for her Bachelor’s and she’s also really good at speaking in public (both rehearsed and impromptu). My father grew up studying in Hindi medium schools so maybe initially he wasn’t as fluent in English as my mother, but over the years the differences have vanished.

We shifted to Germany when I was a month short of three and according to Mummy didn’t know much English at that time. But within months, I was fluent in both English and German which isn’t surprising since kids can pick up anything. After a couple of years we moved to London and stayed there for a year. I think I really picked up the language there and can remember writing long stories in school. We then moved back to India and again within months I had dropped my ‘British’ accent and was back to speaking English like a normal Indian kid. By then I was also an avid reader and along with plenty of grooming from my mother meant that I used to get the highest marks in English in my class (till Class XII). In fact the subject I used to struggle with the most and get the lowest marks in was Hindi, even though it was the language spoken at home (in spite of help from my father whose spoken and written Hindi are excellent). I guess after a time Hindi stopped being the language of my thoughts, the language I dreamed in and that reflected in my aptitude with the language. I also blame the way Hindi was (is?) taught in schools.

Now things have changed so much. Now I really don’t know anyone (above a certain social level) who can’t speak competent English. All the kids in my apartment speak only in English and that too with an American accent! It’s partly due to the fact that everyone’s mother tongue is different but also because for these kids, English is their mother tongue.

When Anna was born, we didn’t put much thought into what language to talk to her in. We continued in our normal way, predominantly Hindi with some English thrown in. By the time she was two she was speaking fluently in Hindi but didn’t speak English at all. We used to read to her a lot and all the books were in English but we would translate into Hindi. Her playschool teachers would tell us that she understands commands in English but always replies in Hindi. We weren’t worried because we knew she’d pick up English eventually but if she didn’t learn Hindi in the first few years chances were that she’d never be fluent in it. Luckily during her school interview (when she was two and a half), the headmistress who was asking the questions allowed me to translate them into Hindi for Anna.

Within a couple of months of starting school she started speaking sentences in broken English. That was also the time Niki was born and both Mummy and I were around all day with her. We decided that this was the right time to get her comfortable with English and started speaking to her mostly in English. While reading also we would first read a sentence in English and then translate it to Hindi. We also encouraged her to keep asking if she didn’t understand a word or sentence. By around this time last year we stopped translating into Hindi and would only do so if she didn’t understand something.

Now she has almost completely stopped talking in Hindi unless it is required (if the person she is talking to doesn’t know English or if we’ve specifically asked her to speak in Hindi). She even seems to be dreaming in English because if she mutters something in her sleep it’s always in English. Even when she talks in Hindi, that slightly foreign inflection is there; she doesn’t have an accent but you can make out that this is not the language she is most comfortable with. When she talks in Hindi, she tries to say all the words in Hindi. Like she’ll say “Main apni gudiya ke saath khelne jaa rahi hun” rather than “Main apni doll ke saath khelne jaa rahi hun” which would flow more smoothly from her tongue.

We’re now making a conscious effort to talk to her in Hindi because mostly she speaks in English and we automatically end up speaking in English as well. She protests sometimes and insists on English and we let her because we don’t want to make her resent speaking in Hindi. In any case the maids don’t know English and she talks to them in Hindi so it’s not as if she’ll forget the language. As for little Niki, he’s currently in the parrot stage and tries to repeat any word spoken to him irrespective of language. He’s not started stringing words together but when he does I’m pretty sure he’ll follow in Anna’s footsteps and start with Hindi.

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On having two kids

I’ve blogged about having/not having a second kid here and here. Both were before I got pregnant with Niki so I thought I’d write one more post from this perspective.

First of all I can easily say that I have never for even a second regretted having a second child. Sure R and I sometimes fantasize how our lives would be if we had only Anna and sometimes we do get overwhelmed but those moments are fleeting. What I do feel each and every day is a deep sense of contentment, a frisson of joy, the conviction that this is what was right for us all. Specially now that Niki is almost one and half years old and they are able to really play with each other. It just fills me with so much joy to see them together, to know that they have each other and I hope so much that they remain close to each other throughout their lives.

For me the transition from one to two was much easier than the transition from zero to one. When Anna was born I really struggled for the first few months and I feel that I was able to get comfortable with my new life only after she was a year old. Mostly it was ignorance (I had never been around babies before for more than an hour or so and was the first among my cousins/friends to have a baby), and the shock over how much my life had changed took some time to get over. Second time around I went into it with my eyes wide open, my body and mind were much better prepared to handle the change, I no longer expected anything to be easy and it wasn’t but I could handle it. It was tough, our lives had slowly gotten back on ‘track’ now that Anna was no longer a baby and everything changed again. Having two is definitely tougher than having one but I never doubted for a second that it was worth it, I never wanted to rewind time to before the delivery like I used to wish about doing in the first few weeks after Anna’s birth.

In fact now I feel I could have even handled them closer in age and am so glad that they are still fairly close –  three years apart. School wise they may be four years apart since Niki is August born and most schools have a June cut-off but I guess that doesn’t matter much.

Overall I just feel so happy that I am done. Though I have enjoyed Anna’s and Niki’s first years, I have realized that I like the toddler and preschooler stages much more. I feel that the painful parts are over and we can maybe soon start enjoying the fruits of the hard work; seeing them playing together, entertaining each other, and basically giving us some time to have a life apart from them. Sometimes it seems to me that for the past more than five years I have either been pregnant or had a baby at home and not done so many of the things young couples in our position take for granted. Hopefully in a couple more years life will be easier, but even if it isn’t, seeing them together makes it more than worth it.


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Facebook VI

Just a few.

Couple of days ago, R had taken Anna to the doctor in the evening. Niki was fine for some time but then he kept asking Didi? Papa? non stop and kept going to her room to look for her. I finally had to put him to sleep because he got so upset.
Yesterday it was Niki’s turn to fall sick. He had a cold and was quite dull and listless while playing with us. But the minute Didi entered the house, there was a big smile on his face, cold was forgotten and he was back to jumping on the bed with her.
Sometimes when life seems even crazier than usual, sometimes when it seems that at any time somebody or the other is crying, sometimes when neither of us gets a break because one kid is always hanging from our necks, sometimes when we feel frustrated to be back in the ‘baby stage’ after leaving it behind once, something like this happens and I remember that this difficult stage shall pass but they have each other forever.

So Niki flung my four year old Kindle on the floor and it stopped working. I shed a few tears but then R ordered the new Kindle Paperwhite for me as an early birthday gift. It arrived yesterday and is the most lovely thing I have ever layed eyes on – excluding my babies of course 🙂

Anna: Mumma, (two of her friend’s names) Mummas don’t go to office. You also tell your office and don’t go.
Me (struggling to find an answer): But Baby, Mumma likes going to office. Everyone should work.
The tough questions have started!

Niki spotting a car from the window – K-k-kaar! SRK move over – Niki is going to take over.
Hanging from the same window shouting ‘Aajjaaa bardie’ at the top of his voice; surprised because no birds are coming. 
He bites me (really hard) on my shoulder and then is furious when I don’t let him bite me again; dissolves into angry tears when R scolds him; the ‘life is unfair’ look on his face is hilarious enough to make me forget the pain.
He loves lighties. Will switch one on and give a fake gasp when it turns on. Then switches it off and says firmly ‘lightie op’. 
Second love is lion. First animal he recognized was lion, he can growl like a lion and he insists that most four-legged animals are lions; gets quite offended when I refuse to agree that the horse in one of his books is ‘lionie’.
He plays hide and seek; when he finds us he waits for us to say ‘boo’; if we forget he says it himself, ‘booo!”.
He wants everything that Didi has, wants to drink water from her bottle even though his is almost the same, wants to play with her piano, wants to eat her books, wants the exactly same thing she is holding; then when he gets it (sometimes) he shows it to her with a superior look on his face. But when she gets up in the morning (he’s awake long before that), he gives her his biggest smile; shouts ‘Didi’ and rushes to hug her. Touchwood.

Some photos

Anna made the card for R’s birthday and I made the cake.


Lion or as Niki calls it “Mammo”


Running around in my in-law’s garden.


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My gentle child

Anna is a gentle, submissive child. This makes me partly happy and partly sad. I’ve written about this before, more than two years ago and she’s mostly the same.

What I am trying to accept and I think I’m getting there is that THIS is what she is – this is her nature and while as her mother I can try to guide her, I cannot change her basic nature and should not have any desire to do so.

One example: Anna and her best friend in the apartment are playing in the garden. Another little girl is also there and she gives Anna a pretty leaf. Anna’s friend wants it and either takes it from Anna or convinces her to hand it over (I missed this part). Anna comes to me and sadly tells me that ‘A’ has her leaf. I tell her that she should ask A to give it back. So she goes to A and asks her for the leaf, A gives it to her and walks off in a huff. Anna runs after her. Soon after I see that A has the leaf and Anna has a flower. She comes and tells me, “this flower is pretty too, Mumma” and goes off to play. A’s mother who is sitting with me says that Anna is too submissive.

Anna’s other good friend is a girl D in her class in school. At the last PTM, her teacher told me that D bosses Anna and we should encourage Anna to play with other kids in the class. She told me that many other kids also want to play with Anna, but Anna’s favourite is D. There have been many, many instances of Anna telling me that D and I were playing in school and I wanted to do some xyz but D didn’t let me/D got angry. I’ve told her so many times, D is not your boss, not you teacher, not you Mumma, not your Aunty; you don’t need to listen to her; if she doesn’t let you do what you want to, don’t play with her; if she doesn’t take turns, don’t play with her; tell her that we need to take turns/share etc. etc. She nods her head but again the same story is repeated. Tomorrow they have a drawing competition in school and have to draw something related to India. We did a few drawings at home and came up with a ‘girl holding an Indian flag’. Since yesterday, she’s telling me that D is not allowing me to draw girl with flag, I will draw lotus/mango instead. R and I have both talked to her so many times, told her that she should draw what SHE wants to, she should tell D to not interfere and again she nods her head but I really don’t know what actually happens in school.

I am so conflicted about this whole matter. I don’t think it is as simple as – the other girls are dominating my daughter because they are like that. I think Anna’s nature is equally at ‘fault’ here. Just keeping her away from ‘A’ or ‘D’ is not the solution. I’m pretty sure the next friends she makes will be the same. She needs to toughen up. She needs to learn to stand up for herself. She has no problem doing that at home, any perceived or real injury is met with loud complaints and accusations against the ‘culprit’. But out and about, it’s a different story.

We try, we keep telling her to be strong; that she does not need to listen to her friends; if they don’t take turns she should tell them and not play with then if they don’t listen; if someone troubles her, she should loudly protest; she should do what she wants to do; she should be friends with all the children in her class and not stick to just one girl. But I don’t know if it’s working.

I don’t want it to seem that it’s all bad. I feel so happy that my girl is not the one troubling some other child. I’m proud of the fact that she has manners, doesn’t push and shove, doesn’t grab, isn’t loud in public places. I just don’t want her to be troubled by others. She NEEDS to be strong or else it’s difficult to survive in today’s world. I don’t want her to be a follower. She may not be a leader and that is okay, but she should at least think for herself. I can see the brightness in her, the intelligence, the sincerity and I don’t want it to get lost. We all want our girls to be fiery and spunky and bold and those are qualities I would love to see in Anna. And I think that is the problem, in our expectations. Nobody cares about nice or sweet any longer. Those are old fashioned traits, but those are the traits I see in my girl and it makes me so glad. But at the same time, submissiveness is not something I want to see in her and we need to keep working on that.

I also need to manage my expectations. She may never be the fiery, bold, vivacious type and that is perfectly fine. As long as she is strong, it doesn’t matter if that strength is loud or quiet.


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A day in our life

Get up any time after 5. On good days Niki sleeps till around 6 by mostly he’s up by 5:30. He does stay in the bed till 6 though so I can at least lie down till then though I do have to get up at around 5:45 when the cook shows up to open the door and tell her what to make. Change his diaper, put on his socks and bring him out. Wake up R if he’s not up by 6:15, Anna also gets up soon after R. Drink tea and start on the work – make the beds, start a load on the washing machine, pack Anna’s tiffin, have a bath. Then Anna’s turn, brush her teeth, give her a bath, dress her for school. In the meanwhile R entertains Niki. R has a bath while I give Anna her breakfast and clean up the morning mess all the while with Niki hanging on my hip. R joins Anna for breakfast while I bathe Niki and sit with him for some time while he plays in the tub. Get him out and dress him up (this part is hard), then strap him into his highchair for breakfast. Luckily he usually eats well. 8 o’ clock R and Anna leave. R gets her onto her bus and then leaves for office. I feed Niki then eat my own breakfast while he plays. The cleaning maid arrives and starts the work. I somehow sneak away for 2 minutes to clean up the bathroom and then get dressed. Then play time with Niki till 9. The babysitter arrives and I leave for office.

Reach office around 9:20. I spend around 20 minutes on FB etc. and then work. Lunch break at 12:30 and tea break at 3. Leave office at exactly 5 o’ clock.

Reach home at around 5:25. The kids are playing downstairs so I get some time. Straighten up the house, get their night clothes out, have a snack and by then it’s 6. The second baby sitter (who arrives at 12) leaves. Hugging/kissing/play time with the kids. Brush, hands/face wash and change of clothes for both. R comes home anytime between 6 and 7. The first babysitter leaves when he’s home. Sterilize Niki’s bottles, prepare his bottles for the night and then bedtime. I take Niki and R takes Anna. By 7:20 they’re usually asleep.

One more round of straightening up, put the curd to set, login and check mails/order grocery and then dinner time around 8. After that if I have work then back to the laptop or else collapse on the sofa and read/watch TV. In bed  by 10:30 latest. Change Niki’s diaper if it seems full. After that he gets up a few times in the night for milk/paci. After 2 I usually pull him close to me and he sleeps snuggled up. Every few days his diaper will leak in the middle of the night and I’ll have to change it.

I’m pretty happy with our current schedule. Luckily work pressure is not too bad so I get some time for myself. Life is full and I am loving it :). Touch wood.

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A lovely Diwali

This year was our first Diwali together as just our family.

First Diwali after marriage was with R’s parents (as per custom – it’s a custom I don’t like since why not with the girl’s parents or why not just the couple?), second Diwali R was in Finland and his mom was staying with me so it was just her and me, third Diwali Anna was 6 months old and Mummy was with us, fourth Diwali Anna and I went over to my parent’s place, fifth Diwali I had gone to US and returned just before Diwali and R’s mom had come over to help out and his dad also came over for Diwali, sixth Diwali Niki was 3 months old and Anna and Niki and I were again at my parent’s place.

As a result, I’ve never been the one doing all the preparations and making the decisions and this was in a way MY first Diwali. And I think I did do a good job :). The days leading up to Diwali were not really great, first Niki was sick, then even though he’s okay now he’s become really naughty (more on that in a separate post) and tires me out so much that by the time he’s asleep I don’t have any energy left to do anything else, then couple of days before Diwali my maid also fell sick (she’s fine now thankfully), so I was thinking that we’ll have a really low key Diwali this year. Plus the weather’s been really horrible for the past ten days (it even rained a lot yesterday evening) so the gloom had been infecting me.

But somehow on the day things fell in to place. I made kheer and for the first time it turned out really yummy and just like Mummy makes it. R had put up the lights on the balconies and bought diyas and stuff already so that was taken care of. He bought a few sparklers for Anna and she was really impatient for ‘pataka’ time the whole day. For the maids (all four of them) we’d already bought saris and sweets and so along with some money their ‘gift packs’ were quite nice and I think they were happy. They work so hard for us and make our lives so easy that no matter what I do for them it always feels less. In the afternoon Anna and I made a simple rangoli at our entrance and I was really surprised by how good she was at it and the fact that she didn’t spill a drop of colour anywhere (on the floor or on herself). Then we made a paste of rice and water and made Laksmi ji’s footprints. Again Anna did most of the work, dipping her little hands into the paste and pressing them on the floor to make the foot while I made dots for the toes.

Then we all got dressed up (I am getting quite good and quick at draping saris :)) and went to my cousin’s for a quick Diwali visit. Came back, the kids had dinner – aaloo subzi and poori (always cheers me up) and of course my yummy yummy kheer (Anna loved it but Niki refused to eat it). By then it was time for the pooja. Lit up all the diyas and just managed to sing Om Jai Jagdish (rather hurriedly) since Niki was doing his best to grab the flames. Then R and Anna lit some sparklers while Niki and I watched. My little girl who a year ago was so scared of ‘patakas’, was not scared at all this year and really enjoyed herself. Niki was just happy seeing all the ‘lighties’, one of his most favourite things in the whole world. Then bedtime for the kids (Niki was almost impossible to put down and I looked and felt like I had lost a wrestling match when I came out after he was finally asleep). We then put the diyas all around the house and collapsed on the sofa for a couple of hours of mindless TV watching (and snuggling).

All dressed up.


Proud of her Rangoli.


She’s such a big girl now.


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Easy Peasy 🙂

My second little baby – sometimes ignored, sometimes spoiled. Always being crushed by Didi’s enthusiastic hugs. Growing up quietly day by day without our even realising it. Today you are are a year old. Today I find it hard to remember how we were when you were not here. You made me realise that being a mother is not so very hard after all. You became a year old without a fuss. Just keep being the lovable, squishable baby that you are.
Happy First Birthday Niki!

Middle of the night, something makes me open my eyes. Only to see a baby face inches from mine giggling in (holy or unholy?) delight. Happens at least twice a week. But still my heart stops for a second each time.
I ignore him and try to go back to sleep. Sometimes it works. Sometimes stage two happens – pulling Mumma’s hair, poking little fingers into Mumma’s eyes, nose, mouth. If this doesn’t work, stage three always does. Try and climb over Mumma and dive head first onto the floor.
Sleep, I thought our breakup was supposed to be over by now?

Anna (while hugging me tightly): Mumma, I love you sooo much.
Me (metling into a puddle of mush): I love you too sweetie.
Anna is following me around the house trying to hang onto my legs.
Me (a bit exasperated): Anna why are you following me?
Anna: Because I love you.
Melting again.
Anna: Mumma do you know how much I love you? Thiiiis much (spreading her arms as wide as she can).
Melting again and again.
The fabulous fours! I am loving it .

Anna (to R): Papa mujhe tennis khelna hai, cricket racquet se.
R: ???
What she really wanted to play – Badminton.

A house full of toys. But both of them still manged to fight over an old, torn sticker. Stupid babies. Or maybe stupid Mommy. We should stop buying over priced Fisher Price stuff and just ask everyone to donate whatever old, broken stuff they have.

Four years ago, you were a tiny little baby. Today you are a big sister. The past year was both the most fun and the most difficult. Going to a proper school, getting used to a tiny little being who takes up a lot of your parents’ attention, spending 3 months in a new city with yet another new school and no Papa, coming back to Bangalore and getting used to Mumma going to office again after a long time, getting used to sharing your life with the little being who got older and naughtier and more demanding, showing so much love and concern for him (Didi aa rahi hai Niki, ro mat). I am so proud of you for the maturity and intelligence which seems far more than could be possible for a four year old. The tantrums and screaming and whining are still not gone – which is good otherwise we would forget how small you actually are.
Happy fourth birthday Anna!

His eyes light up the minute he sees her. She can just say something random like ‘pink hat’ and he bursts out laughing. She just has to be in the same room for him to keep looking at her. It’s her kitchen set he most wants to play with (rattles are so boring Mumma).
She was a very demanding and active baby. He is relatively laid back and easy to handle.
She did everything super fast – rolled over at 4 months, said ‘mama’ at six months, crawled at seven months, walked at 11 months, was talking in full sentences before she was two.
He rolled over at six months, said ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ at 8 months, and at 9 months old the lazy little bum is still happy in just one place.
They are both so perfect – and they are mine . Watching them together – pure bliss!

Anna recently got a tattoo painted on at a birthday party. She has since then been obsessed with tattoos.
Sample conversation:
Anna: I want a tattoo.
Me: You can’t get one everyday.
Anna: Lekin mera bohot mann hai.
Me: You can’t get one. No more discussion.
Repeat above 100 times.
I just hope we don’t start having this conversation again once she’s sixteen.


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Niki’s Birthday

I know I am late – by a full 3 weeks. Anyway, my little baby turned ONE year old on the 1st of August and I am still in shock. I no longer have a ‘baby’ in my house. There is an pre-kindergartner  and a toddler. No more babies in my house ever again. Sniff sniff.

Stuff he’s up to – crawling like a pro, walking from one end of the room to the other (though walking is still not the preferred mode of transport and he needs to be coaxed to do it), running full speed just holding onto one finger for support, 5 teeth out and more on the way, recognizing loads of stuff and the two big things – slowly learning to talk and loving to be ‘read’ to. He still doesn’t have any words other than Mumma and Umba (for the maid) but is making loads of new sounds. He points to something he wants and says ‘buche’. He points to where he wants to go and says ‘udhe’. Ask him ‘lion kaise bolta hai’ and he growls. He loves, loves, loves everything electric/electronic. One of his favourite activities is to be taken to a switch board and switch on and off the lights. He toggles the switch and looks around each time to see the light going on/off. Musical toys are still the best and he has an instinctive understanding of which buttons to press, even in the more complicated ones which used to belong to Anna (when she was older than he is now) and which she never played with.

For the past few weeks he’s really picked up an interest in books and I am so thrilled. When Anna was a baby I always used to hope that she’d love reading as much as I do and she’s right on track to being an avid reader. With Niki I never hoped – maybe because he’s the second baby and I usually stay more in the moment with him knowing all too well how fleeting these moments are and also because having ‘two’ babies who like books seemed too good to be true. It’s just the beginning and I don’t know if we will grow up to be a reader or not but he is showing interest now and that makes me so happy. He loves sitting in my lap and flipping through his board books. When he first started picking up the books some time ago he would get really frustrated with them and start yelling and then throw them away. We figured out that maybe he’s angry because he turns the pages and presses the pictures but (unlike his toys) nothing happens. No music plays, no lights come up. Then we started telling him what was on the pages but it had to be a running commentary or else the yelling would start again. Now he seems to have understood what books are about and sits and sees the pictures and turns the pages. Dear Zoo is his favourite and he’s already managed to tear/fold some of the flaps unlike his careful sister whose book it originally was.

His birthday was pretty low key. My father had come over for a week (and then he and Mummy left – sob sob) and we’d called over some guests a couple of days before his birthday and were still eating the leftovers (including cake). So I got just one pastry and stuck candles on it and Anna and my brother’s daughter blew them out and cut the cake. We all went out for lunch the following Sunday (including my brother/cousins and our many children) and all the kids enjoyed themselves. Niki liked it too since there was a big garden and he got to walk around a lot. He was cranky by the time we cut the cake and went to sleep 5 minutes after that so the cake cutting pictures mostly feature him with an almost crying face.

He is an overall serious baby. He does laugh and play a lot but his default expression is a serious and slightly suspicious one so other people specially think that he’s an angry young man. Which he isn’t actually. Till now he’s been pretty low maintenance – plays by himself, doesn’t give too much trouble in eating, sleeps a decent amount and at good times, became a year old without my even realising it! In fact he was really sick this past week (an extreme case of hand foot and mouth disease) and still ate a bit, took his medicines without too much fuss and played whenever he felt better.

Here is what I had put on Facebook for his birthday-
My second little baby – sometimes ignored, sometimes spoiled. Always being crushed by Didi’s enthusiastic hugs. Growing up quietly day by day without our even realising it. Today you are are a year old. Today I find it hard to remember how we were when you were not here. You made me realise that being a mother is not so very hard after all. You became a year old without a fuss. Just keep being the lovable, squishable baby that you are.
Happy First Birthday NIki!

Twelve months of Niki

 niki collage

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