1) That’s the sound you emit most these days
2) Advanced language is highly overrated
3) I just may be incapable of sophisticated communication at this point
I’ve been terribly remiss about blogging (as is apparent, how clever of me to point it out!) and am going to blame it squarely on eustress: good stress caused by positive life changes, in this case a new job, a visit from family, travel, several celebrations, and the contradictory urge to romance my couch and see no one but my Boy.
With that long-winded excuse out of the way, let’s collectively acknowledge some fun milestones in this, the best of months:
In Other News…
When the Boy’s brother got married last year, I heard a strange word for the first time: “co-sister”. Apparently, in the south of India, this term denotes women married to brothers. Being a similar combination of un-Southern and irreverent, my sister-in-law (the one of cake fame above) and I cracked up over the term, came up with instagram hashtags for it, invented a co-sister ghetto sign, and even harmonized “Hey sister, co-sister” (Lady Marmalade). Can you tell I love her? Will I be forever banned from kanjeevarams and mallige for this? *beats chest at the thought of no more bisibele bhaath in her life and eyes some Angus divinity in its place*
My 18-month-old niece called me this morning. She is currently visiting family in Texas, saw her mother’s phone lying around, found my contact on it, dialed, and chirped “Hi OJ Mami!” When my uterus finally un-puddles itself from the floor, I can’t wait to watch her in mid-toddlerhood-almost-preteen action.
We’ve been taking visiting friends and family to this Gujarati thali place that serves the most amazing shrikhand and khichdi, among other delicacies, but I won’t be going back for a bit, because the last time I had 5 helpings of khichdi and they started looking at me funny and avoiding my gaze and I’m mortified that I might have eaten them out of business. This redness of face isn’t rosacea, my friends, it’s ignominy.
How do you solve a problem like more khichdi?
How do you turn a seventh helping down?
How do you walk away from yummy khichdeeeeeeee?
Ignore the glutton, she’s just being a clown.
Swimming: I’ve been the resident hippo lately, breast-stroking gently through cool, turquoise waters on these warm summer days while our American neighbors wear toddler-sized swimwear, chug beers, burn themselves to a crisp, toss their hair and pose, and do everything but swim. Most puzzling, this behavior.
Books: Sindh: Stories From a Vanished Homeland, by Saaz Aggarwal, and To Marry An English Lord, by Gail MacColl and Carol McD Wallace. Both recommended for history buffs, albeit very different eras and geographies.
Heard in the OJ-Boy home:
Me: I think I’m getting food-averse. I don’t think I’m so interested in it anymore.
The Boy: Good. Now we can buy a house next year.
Adios, my friends, pardon my future busybeeness, although I will put up a recently-published article before the month is out and would love to hear your thoughts!
“OJ Mami,” he says with all the breathlessness of a critical revelation, “milk has 2 names: last name Du and first name Du.”
And with that, my 4-year-old nephew gulps down his glass of cocoa.
(Yes, yes, I only married the Boy for his genetic material, so sue me.)
My niece came to visit the other day. A feisty 4-going-on-14, she bounced on my chaise lounge and dimpled up at me, demanding a story. Looking around for inspiration, my eye fell on these little fellas who hang off a corner lamp.
And, with her participation, a story took shape. The concept is simple, so with language modifications, this can work well for 2- to 5-year-olds. I hope your children (even the one that lives inside you) enjoy it.
This is a story of five friends, elephants all, named Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum and Englishman. One day, Englishman hosted a garden tea party for his friends. It was a beautiful , sunny day and the flowers were in full bloom. As they were all eating cucumber sandwiches and blowing bubbles into their lemonade, Englishman’s Papasan came stomping onto the vast lawns. Englishman started to tremble, because he had done something very naughty earlier in the day and knew Papasan had found out.
“I’ll just be back,” he said in a small voice to his friends and looked around for somewhere to hide. The ground rumbled as Papasan thumped his way over to the little group sitting on their stools, doing full justice to Cook’s jam tarts. His generous figure loomed closer and closer, and Englishman realized it was too late to run! In a flash, he took the lid off the teapot, dived in, and slid the cover in place just as his father’s booming voice shook the table. In the teapot he stayed, breathing through the hole in the spout, all the while that Papasan was looking for him. When he finally clambered out, Papasan was long gone and his friends had run off to the play area for a game of tag.
“Here I am!” he announced, catching up with Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum, and ready to join in. “Why is the rock talking?” asked his puzzled friends, and ignored him, as he stood in the rockery, camouflaged by a thick brown coat of tea water on his hide. Englishman scampered after them. “Here I am!” he tried again, waving his hands and wiggling his amply belly at them. “Did that tree say something?” his friends asked, as they stopped playing Pin the Tail for a brief moment. Quickly moving on to a game of Ele-ballet, they ignored the voice, leaving Englishman bewildered and wondering what to do.
“I know!” he said to himself, and climbed up the play structure to the tree house, decorated in earth colors and natural wood tones. “Here I am!” he shouted down at them, certain they’d look up and spot him. “A talking tree house?” they shrugged, now used to voices emerging from things, and unperturbed, Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum continued to play.
This is getting absurd, thought Englishman, who stood alone and sad in the doorway of the tree house, watching his friends play and missing being part of all the fun. He hung his head dejectedly, and lowered his eyes to the ground, but they fell on something else instead. A slow smile split Englishman’s face and he considered the object of his attention. The tree house was built over a frog pond, and, clutching his trunk tightly shut, Englishman made his second dive of the day.
Splash! And he was in. The sound made his friends turn around, and they saw Englishman, now rinsed of the tea and his natural red again, climbing out of the pond, a family of frogs looking on in alarm. “There you are,” they cried in unison, and tumbled over to him. “We were wondering where you’d disappeared to!” Englishman only smiled, shook himself dry, and joined Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum at their grass-stamping game, glad to be nothing but himself again.
Now do you understand why Mammas and Daddies say tea isn’t good for children?
Take my sister. I’ll give you 10 bucks.
~My 5-year-old nephew, making me a business offer oh-so-casually, as the 18-month-old commodity in question waddled about us.
[This one was written for an adult audience. With language modifications, it can work well with ages 4 and up.]
It’s been a while since we visited our friends in Sascha’s bathroom, hasn’t it? Them of the bottled feelings and mostly well-meaning hearts, they’ve lived through arrivals (hello, Hair Serum and Lotion,) and departures (adieu, Baby Powder!) as Sasha lopes eagerly toward teendom. Now a tall, long-limbed girl with blue-and-brown glasses, she undertakes athletics training at a neighborhood track thrice a week, and comes home all sweaty and red in the face. On one such evening, she bounced into the bathroom, humming a tune that the bottlehood had heard before. It was called Favorite Girl and a boy with irksome hair sang it on the telly. Peeling off her sportswear, she tossed it into the laundry basket, proceeded to shower, and hurried out when done.
All was quiet for a while. The family was in the dining room, Nanny was folding laundry and the maid worked in the kitchen. Then, in the growing darkness of the advancing evening, Condi, Shampoo, and their friends heard sniffling. It came from a far corner of the bathroom and they strained to listen. There it was again, two muffled sobs this time, and a sigh. Emboldened by his last act of bravery, Condi spoke up. It couldn’t be a burglar again, he reasoned, and this sounded like someone in distress. “Who’s there?” he ventured, glad to have Serum and Lotion by his side. The crying stopped. For a full minute, the room listened intently, and they were soon rewarded with a tremulous answer.
“It’s us,” ventured a voice from the laundry basket, “we’re Sascha’s socks. She calls us Floppy 1 and Floppy 2 because we can’t hold up,” and it broke into fresh sobs of pain. “There, there,” whispered her twin, and leaned toward her, trying to put on a brave face. The bottles saw them in the dim light, two soft ankle socks, dull white and sorrowful, huddled atop orange sweatpants. “Don’t be sad, friends,” chimed in Lotion, who was as shiny in her heart as she was outside. “How can we help?”
They shook their cotton heads and more tears spilled over. “It’s no use,” said Floppy 2, “Sascha’s tired of repeatedly pulling us up.”
“A day or two and we’ll be gone,” Floppy 1’s voice trembled.
The bottles took in this news silently. No one knew quite how to make the Floppies feel better. They all dreaded the day they would be declared redundant and have to say goodbye to the security of their bathroom world. As they stood under a pall of gloom, a throat was cleared on the top shelf.
Starchie McStarcherson was a big, tall bottle with an officious manner and deep voice. He took his job very seriously and had no time for the likes of Shampoo and Bath Salts, whom he thought frothy and irreverent. Older and aloof, he lived with his old pal Detergent on the top shelf while the rest of the bottles camped on the window ledge. The newer entrants to the bathroom kept out of his way, knowing well enough to lower their voices during his nap times. Starchie modeled himself on a butler he had once seen on telly, while working in Sascha’s parents’ bathroom. He had been watching the unfolding dilemma with remote interest until a bulb went off in his wise old head. “I can be of assistance,” he boomed imperiously, as the bottles all craned their necks shelfward. Quickly taking charge of the situation, he crystallized a Plan.
The action began at midnight, when Sascha was safely in air-conditioned slumber, the bathroom door firmly closed. At a signal from Starchie, the Floppies flung themselves off the laundry heap into a waiting bathroom pail. “We’re in,” they called up, rather unnecessarily, for their every move was being watched by the entire bottle sorority. Next up, Tap did a little pirouette, dribbling hot water onto them until they were submerged. Her number done, she added a curtsy for effect, and turned the other way. Now, it was the Big Moment.
With Detergent holding on tight, Starchie leaned over the shelf. His positioning had to be precise, or else he’d tip over and ruin Operation Stop-the-Flop. He leaned. He leaned further. Then he leaned some more. And then some more. “Steady on, old boy!” grunted Detergent, acutely aware of the dangers of being carried off by his bulky friend, and struggled to keep him grounded. Starchie looked below him. And then regretted it. A wave of dizziness hit him hard and he keeled. The shelf slipped out from under him. He heard a collective gasp from the window ledge. His life flashed before his tightly shut eyes, slow-motion and everything. It had been a good life, he concluded, one rooted in duty. He could’ve been friendlier with the bottles, he realized, even as the thought surprised him. Next thing he knew, he felt determined arms yank him backward and landed with a thump on his rear end.
“What…??” he cried, disoriented and embarrassed. Detergent was holding on to him for dear life, and the bottles looked delighted! “Want to look down again?” teased Detergent kindly, and when Starchie mustered the courage to do so, he saw the Floppies floating in a starch-water mixture, looking up at him in gratitude.
A cheer went around the room. Bath Salts and Shampoo bubbled with delight. Condi showed off his smooth moves. Lotion sparkled in all her pink glory and Tap did several pirouettes until an annoyed Floppy 1 asked him to quit. The bottles let out hoorays for good old Starchie, and Detergent thumped him on his back. “A million thanks,” called out the Floppies, who were now delightedly doing flip-flops of their own. “You’re welcome,” Starchie acknowledged stiffly, and managed a little smile.
When Bai found the Floppies late next morning, she hung them out to dry. Their moment in the sun had arrived and soon they were crisp like soldiers headed to battle. Sascha wore them on numerous occasions, and fleetingly wondered where her old socks had disappeared to, but you won’t tell her, will you?
A rechristening is in order: Now that they aren’t Floppies any longer, they’d love another name. And you who shared in their story are invited to chime in. Starchie will be the Master of Ceremonies, so I’d advise no late arrivals; and yes, do hazard a glance at your own socks before you come in.