Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Да ("da") and Нет ("nyet")

It's been many months since I have blogged anything.  One of the reasons is, no doubt, laziness.  If the flow continues, it is very easy to keep writing something on a regular basis; but once you stop, it is very difficult to get back to the habit.  The second reason and the more pertinent one is that my 'source of inspiration' is out of station!  Jenny and her mother have been in Kerala since the end of October.  And since this blog is basically dedicated to Jennifer, it makes it a bit difficult to write about her when I don't get to see her on a daily/regular basis.  But enough is enough: no more excuses.  I need to start writing again.

Jennifer left for Kerala at a stage when she just started walking and babbling.  In our small Bangalore home itself, she was walking from chair to chair, from room to room, and from parent to parent, taking small steps, one at a time without falling down.  She would say this and that (in her language) and try to communicate.  This was the situation when she left.

I went to visit them almost 6 weeks later.  By then, I have been hearing all sorts of stories about Jennifer in Kerala.  One thing I knew from the very outset was that she would have ample space to walk around, since spatial limitations in Kerala do not mean the same as in Bangalore.  Secondly, there would be much more human contact over there, compared to Bangalore where her daily interactions were merely between her mother and I.  Suffice to say, I was more than curious to know how she had grown.

To say that I found her walking about alright is undermining her achievement.  She does not walk, she struts around!  'Strut' means "to walk with a vainpompous bearing, as with head erect and chest thrown out, as if expecting to impress observers".  And that's actually what she does.  The only difference is that it is not caused by vanity but rather a matter of maintaining balance and it is less of walking by putting one foot forward and then the other as much as walking the way a robot does, but still...one needs to appreciate the effort!   Once the gates to the compound are closed, Jenny is free to walk around as she pleases.  She walks, she runs, she sits on the ground and plays with stones, scolds the dogs and so on.  

Give her a stick and her style changes, and I swear to God I have no idea where she got this from!!!  Once she holds a stick, her demeanour changes completely.  She 'speaks' in a sterner tone, she brandishes the stick and becomes almost the stereotype teacher (or policewoman!) whom one dreads.  She stands in front of the dog when it barks and scolds it (of course, by showing the stick!) or chases the cat out of the kitchen (this she got from my mom!) and so on and so forth....She becomes an authority figure almost instantaneously.  

And her talking has changed, too.  She babbles much more (still incoherently) but she makes it very clear what she wants.  In a funny manner, it almost sounds Russian when she talks!  Not that I know any Russian, but some words remain with me after having read dozen of cold-war conspiracies as novels!  When she doesn't want something, she closes her eyes, turns her head and makes a sound that sounds exactly like 'nyet' which is Russian for 'no'.  And it sounds exactly like 'da' (Russian for 'yes') when she does want something.  Whatever language it be, there is absolutely no doubt whether she wants something or not when asked a question.  This lady knows what she wants or doesn't. 

I keep travelling home almost every 6 weeks now to meet Jenny and her mother.  And I think it goes without saying that apart from the joy of meeting them, a curiosity of what Jennifer has picked up since the last visit dominates.  It is such a joy seeing her grow up...and I really do miss it that I cannot witness it on a daily basis.  But I am not complaining...at least I am getting to see her regularly. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jenny's Top Ten

Though it might not be the ideal location, we have kept our PC in our dining room.  The reason for us doing so are plenty, most important one of which is that we hardly have space for it anywhere else in the house.  But there is another equally important factor.  Getting Jenny to sit still during the course of an entire meal is almost impossible.  We might distract her to sit quietly initially by giving her something to eat or pick on but that will not last one.  So, we put music videos on the computer and she will watch those.  And if one would think that it could be any music, think again!  Unless it is a song she finds interesting, she will create a scene until we change the song!  She is a girl who knows what she wants.  It might be a silly topic for a blog, but I thought I should share her favourite songs (Reader Beware: the choice of songs does not necessarily mean I like them!)

Presenting, Jenny's top ten music video choices (I have provided the YouTube links to the videos)
  1. K'naan - Wavin' Flag  - She absolutely adores this song.  It can be version featuring David Bisbad or Nancy Ajram or Will.i.am or the solo version; she couldn't care less.  This is one song that will stop her in her tracks
  2. Shakira - Waka Waka -  I don't know what she sees in this song, but she likes it
  3. Sean Kingston - Eenie Meenie (ft. Justin Bieber) - Here I agree with her.  The song really sounds nice
  4. Smile.dk - Butterfly - The less said about this song, the better.  I mean, how many times can one listen to this song and not feel like smashing the computer!
  5. David Guetta - Memories (ft. Kid Cudi) - Maybe not the perfect video for a kid, but as long as she just enjoys the music, I guess it should be fine
  6. Yolanda Be Cool vrs DCup - We no speak Americano - Very funny Charlie-Chaplin-styled music video
  7. Celine Dion - I'm Alive - Very nice song....very interesting to listen to...and the video is perfect for kids
  8. Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Wonderful music....everybody should listen to it
  9. Celtic Violins - Again, very nice to listen to
  10. Ke$ha - Tik Tok - Hate the girl, dislike her to the core, but catchy music (My favourite is the Simsons version of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0Bx2phCINw )
We cannot even think of going somewhere without these songs of hers...even when we plan a trip to Kerala, these videos will be copied and taken along.  After all, the girl is too young for her own i-Pod and we parents need to take care of her needs! :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The big day: Jenny's First Birthday

Have you ever seen kids on weekends?  5 days a week, a stampede couldn't get them out of bed.  However on weekends, they miraculously awake before everybody else.  Ditto here.  I mean Anuja and I were already excited enough but on that day, Jenny was up and awake by quarter past 5!  And that, too, wide-awake!  We wished her, fed her and then took her to Church.  We attended mass and the celebrant blessed her.  That took care of the formal part of the birthday. 
A taxi had been arranged to pick up my mother and Anuja's parents.  They arrived 90 minutes late, but by then, we had breakfast hot and ready for them!  In the previous blog, I had mentioned an artistic friend of mine.  He came over and the two of us inflated around 3 dozen balloons in one hour!  His wife (also an artist) prepared some pencil drawings (which she coloured with crayons) based on the theme we had used for the cards.

By half past 4, my brother-in-law, my friend and I transported the balloons to the venue and spent more than an hour decorating the central area.  Hotel people were kind enough to help out.  By the time we were done, it was already past six and my wife informed me that people were already en route to the venue.

Guests: I wish to thank all my friends and relatives who attended the function.  Apart from a handful of people, everybody else was almost precisely on time!  And I especially wish to thank Nitesh, who came all the way from Mangalore for the function.  It felt so nice to be in the presence of friends and loved ones.

We had the cake cutting (during which one friend scared the group by bursting a 'Party Popper').  Cake was very good; very light and chocolaty like a cake should be.  Then the food.  I think I can safely declare that everybody liked the food...I myself found it very tasty.  And there was plenty to go around (we even had enough to take some home, which was enough for the rest of the weekend).  By 9 o'clock, the last guests left (it was a children's party, so no party after bedtime!!!) and I settled the bill and went home satisfied.

This was the gist of the party.  But how did the birthday girl like everything?  She loved it.  She wasn't cranky and she did not cry once (as long as people were not trying to carry her!).  She enjoyed the lights, the balloons, the cake and everything altogether.  In fact, when my friend Sandeep came, Jenny started giggling and laughing, as if his coming was the highlight of the entire evening!  Even after we came home, Jenny kept talking and talking (in her own language) about the events of the day and how she enjoyed the party.  By 11, we forced her to go to sleep.

One year...it's been one year since Jennifer has come into our lives.  I just cannot believe it how time has gone by.    I cannot even imagine a life before Jenny.  I know from the times she has been in Kerala how I cannot bear not having her at home.  I cannot express the joy I get by just holding her...by looking at her toothless smile...by hearing her babbled words...by getting intoxicated by her innocence.  I have enjoyed being a father all this year...and I can only look with wonder and anticipation on what all to look forward to with Jennifer in my life.

(Photos of the party can be seen @ http://tilput.jalbum.net/Jennifer's-1st-Birthday/ )

1st Birthday Series: Final Preparations

The final week before the birthday went by in a blur.  There were things to be done and on the other hand, there was nothing much remaining to be finished.  It's a paradox.  I took a friend along to the birthday venue (a friend who is much better at 'art' than I will ever be!).  We inspected the hall and decided how to decorate it.  The next day, another friend and I (yes, I do have more than one friend!) we went to Sahib Ibrahim Street (parallel to Commercial Street) and got ourselves all the decorative "this 'n that" one could want for a party.  The shop keeper also used the opportunity to educate us both that 'Birthdays are all about celebrations and fun'....maybe because we weren't buying enough!

After that, the cake had to be ordered.  I knew from the very outset itself which cake we wanted.  I had tasted it before at yet another friend's birthday and knew that this cake was 'the one'!  Wife and I decided that the cake should not be round (as cutting and sharing a round cake among 50 guests might turn ugly) and placed an order for a 3 kg Dutch Truffle cake from Daily Bread.  

The next couple of days were relatively calm.  We just had to sit back and make ourselves go crazy with paranoia that we left things out or that we planned things poorly or that the venue was insufficient or that the cook might mess up and so on and so forth.  My sister-in-law arrived two days in advance which was a huge help.  She shared the responsibility of taking care of the kid, which gave Anuja and myself more space and time to dedicate to worrying!

However, the big day was finally at the doorstep.  We were prepared and ready.  There was no turning back now.  It was time... (more in the next blog!) 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Twisted Rhymes

With Jenny growing older and becoming more verbal, we have started playing nursery rhymes at home.  There are so many versions of the same rhymes...some with better music, some slower, some with better enunciation and so on.  There is no lack of variety.  And they are quite cute...one can keep them playing at home and not be bothered by them.  But if one pays closer attention to these rhymes, they can be quite disturbing.  And I am not kidding.  They are really, really dark.  So dark, that I would actually think twice before explaining their meanings to my child.  In this blog, I intend to showcase some choicest rhymes and their meanings.  Thanks to the internet, I found sources that already dealt with the topic like I did.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep:  This song apparently has its roots in slave-trade related matters.  It has its origins around the year 1744 and it comes from Britain.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Rock-a-bye Baby:  Another British 1765 rhyme.  One attributed story of origin is that the baby is supposed to be the son of James VII and II, who was widely believed to be someone else's child smuggled into the birthing room in order to provide a Catholic heir for James.  The "wind" may be that political "wind" or force "blowing" or coming from the Netherlands bringing James' nephew and son-in-law, William III of England, a.k.a. William of Orange, who would eventually depose King James II in the revolution. (Source: Wikipedia)

Jack and Jill:  1765 Britain again.  One possible explanation is that Jack and Jill signify the 18th century Louis XVI of France, who was deposed and beheaded (lost his crown), and his Queen, Marie Antoinette (who came tumbling after).  (Source: Wikipedia)

London Bridge Is Falling Down:  1659 Britain.  The theory that the song refers to the burying, perhaps alive, of children in the foundations of the bridge was first advanced by Alice Bertha Gomme (later Lady Gomme) in The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland.  This was based around the idea that 'primitive' cultures believed that a bridge would collapse unless the body of a human sacrifice were buried in its foundations.  (Source: Wikipedia)

  • "Ring around the rosy" - A plague buboe appears on someone's cheek, that make little rings that look like rosé bumps all over the person’s body.
  • "A pocket full of posies" - A popular way of fending off the plague… they thought the foul air caused the plague, so they tried making the air sweet.
  • "Atischoo, atischoo" - Sneezing was an early sign of plague infection
  • (or) "Ashes, ashes" - It’s about the Burial of the Dead ("Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" )
  • (or) "Husha, husha" - "Be quiet, he's about to die."
  • "We all fall down" - We all die
Humpty Dumpty:  1797 Britain.  One theory is that Humpty Dumpty is King Richard III of England, depicted in Tudor histories, and particularly in Shakespeare's play, as humpbacked and who was defeated, despite his armies at Bosworth Field in 1485.  (Source: Wikipedia)

I guess I made my point clear...these are some of the most beloved nursery rhymes...and yet, many fail to understand where they come from.  I am not saying the origins I quoted are accurate or precise.  I just intended to show that there is more to them that meets the eye.

I have found another site (http://www.rhymes.org.uk/nursery-rhyme.htm) which deals with this topic.  I would like to quote one or two points from this site, as they made a lot of sense to me.
  1. A rhyme is often short and easy to remember and this was a critical element when many people were unable to read or write and a rhyme was verbally passed from generation to generation - it was also a vital element when commoners wanted to comment on the events of the day!  It must be remembered that direct criticism or dissent would often have been punishable by death!
  2. The wording of an individual rhyme can often be associated with historical events and the plausible explanations given to many a rhyme can be seen as political satire.  The first really important English rhyme dates back to the fourteenth century!  This little rhyme was passed quickly from one person to another, was easily remembered and led to an English revolution - a call for recognition and class equality!
In short, nursery rhymes do have their values and there is a sense in teaching them to our kids.  But it would be good if parents would just think and understand what they are teaching instead of just blindly singing them to your kid.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I was tagged!

Last Movie You Saw In A Theatre: Inception. It absolutely blew my mind.

What Book Are You Reading: Clive Cussler's Medusa.  Has been lying next to my bed for more than a month now.

Favorite Board Game: Mensch ärgere dich nicht 

Favourite MagazineDigit Magazine

Favourite SmellsThe smell of freshly baked bread

Favourite Sound: Church bells during the early hours of the day

Worst Feeling In The WorldFrustration

What Is The First Thing You Think Of When You Wake?  What day is it today? 

Favourite Fast Food Place: The Only Place

Favourite Child’s NameTILJ! 

Finish This Statement:  If I had a lot of money, I’dstart travelling and see the world."

Do You Drive Fast?  Not at all.

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?  Next question, please!

Storms-Cool Or Scary?  Very cool

What Was Your First Car?  A hand-me-down Tata Indigo CS 

Favorite Drink:  Chilled plain soda

Finish This Statement:  If I had the time, I'd …work on finding a productive hobby.”

Do You Eat The Stems On Broccoli?  The question should be: Do you eat Broccoli?

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Colour, What Would Be Your Choice?  What hair?

Name All The Different Cities/Towns You Have Lived In:  Towns and Cities?  I guess only Trivandrum, Bangalore and Mysore.  

Favourite Sports To Watch:  Decathlon

One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You:  She would keep reminding me that she 'tagged' me in this blog!.

What’s Under Your Bed?  Haven't checked in ages to be sure!

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again?  I surely would...but would others like it? 

Morning Person Or Night Owl?  Morning!  The earlier the better

Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?  Among the 2 options: over easy

Favourite Place To Relax:  Bench near a lake

Favourite Pie:  Strawberry

Favourite Ice Cream Flavour:  Chocolate

You pass this tag to:  SandeepFr. DanielSibiLeena

Of All The People You Tagged This To, Who’s Most Likely To Respond First?  I hope I can motivate Sandeep to do so.