Thursday, 23 August 2012

Adjusting rented home at a time!

Wow! I cannot believe I am writing this post out almost one year after moving into my new home! It is annoying to think that there still are rough edges to be smoothened over all around, things to be fixed and yet many more things that are still waiting for their own 'space' in what is fast becoming their old home. Welcome to my world of a Mumbai 2 BHK - 2 bedroom-hall-kitchen i.e.
This home of ours, which comes at a rent so high that one has to whisper and look apologetic while mentioning the sum. Apologetic, simply because it sounds (and feels) like a criminal (bleeding, bleeding!) waste of money. Granted there are so called amenities - club house, pool, etc. etc. but travel up just a few kilometers and the monies for something similar would be significantly lesser - and not to mention less polluted! Anyhow, that rant is for another day.
For the time being my bone of (dis)contention is the fact that I am still 'adjusting' us into our new home. By that I mean, our needs, our belongings and our differences in height. Do not consider the last bit jest. Consider this - tables. To begin with the dining table. Since the spouse had cleverly allocated furniture purchases to yours truly(within a certain budget of course), I had shopped according to my tastes and abilities. I brought home a fairly simple glass topped dining table with a cute under pane of glass - you know like a display rack? When the table was delivered, what do we have but the husband going ahead and knocking himself on wood. No, seriously - he of the 8 extra inches than me length has his knees knocking into the aforementioned 'under-pane' wood, every single time he sits down at the table! And since given the size of the house, we do not have a separate work area for him (as yet - more on that later!) he has to sit at the dining table to work. And needless to say I don't have the heart - or the moral right indeed - to stop him from eating dinner, sitting on the sofas.
Without going into what happens to be very many such instances - big/small, equally niggling - all I can say is that things can get pretty uncomfortable. This happens to be the 5th house that we've moved into in the last 7 years. And this is discounting some short term rentals! And obviously, over the years we have collected some furniture - depending on that particular life stage and - woe- shape and size of the house! And I have come to believe that my wood is just like me - too bloody stubborn and with a mind of its own - in most cases it doesn't fit in and sticks out like a sore thumb! There I've said it now.
I know it is quirky yet to be expected in lives such as ours - lived as it is in homes we do not own. I neither have the heart or the money to throw out all that is old and keep getting new things every time we move. In a way it gives us semblance of continuity in our married story - like all good home furniture should. There are broken bits and scratches that shout out an anecdote every time we pass by. And since I'm not much of a photograph chronicler - these are more permanent markers, however hotch potch! Now only if I didn't get a backache every time I sat at my 'desk' - a chair I bought as a newly wed snuggled next to a builder built console - in a drastically different colour too. Sigh!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Stay at home holiday for a stay at home Mom!

This has been a long weekend. A six day long one to be precise. Thats a perfect holiday length and the time of the year is good too. So, what stopped us from packing our bags, upping and going off to someplace nice(r)? In the land of aplenty, ennui has set in, unfortunately.
For the last couple of years, after having been housebound for a short while with a young kidlet, we have been intrepid travelers - like many others of our socio economic milieu. Like my corporate slave spouse will vouch - getting away from it all has become a necessity more than a luxury. The pace of our lives, generally sky high stress levels and lesser and lesser 'family-time' as such has ensured that a 'holiday' is the best thing that the good doctor could prescribe for people like us. We have willingly joined the generation of weekend travellers - looking forward to 'long' weekends with the impatience of milk starved puppies - or some such!
This weekend was a much anticipated one to begin with - 6 days yaar! Thats enough time to go to Bangkok for a combined spa/retail therapy holiday. We also have half a dozen nations which await us with visa on arrival only. Woe be to us - last year - this is exactly what we did. Hopped on the next available flight to a south east asian country - only to be greeted by half of Mumbai there! Trust me I like a familiar face or two - but entire batches of people you know? Anyways, that also is beside the point. Like a frequent flyer will tell you - after a while airports all merge into one and traveling is hardly unique - and much less -de stressing. And traveling with kids honestly - is - for want of a better word - a pain! Young kids can be annoying and demanding - and travel can bring out the worst in them. I have done enough holidays by now to really really dread trips that involve me travelling alone with the kidlet. However many electronic gizmos you may have at your disposal - there are ear aches, tantrums, spills and managing gazillion tit-bits of hand baggage and kid while making a visit to dirty loos in airports, petrol stations, burger joints etc. etc. etc..! Needless to say, over the years I have become one unhappy camper. I dread holidays. Especially since the days and opportunities for solo holidays are long gone.
Enough complaining now, no? Today is the 6th day of the aforementioned 6 day holiday. One has survived living at one's own address for the said time period. More importantly the kidlet does not look very deprived of the 'lost' opportunity of travel and widening her worldview (or any other such lofty aspirations we sometimes try to ascribe to our wanderings!). We have entertained ourselves with swimming, mundane other classes and vapid visits to Hamleys - not to mention going down to celebrate Independence day instead of being outbound from the homeland! I have not gone out of the way to do anything remotely educational or crafty - or inspired. I've just let things be. The plumber and electrician and other sundry workers have been around to fill in the hours. Its been life as usual. Television has been used as a baby sitter and Mommy has been taking long afternoon siestas. And its ok. We have survived!
I dont really know why it feels like such a big deal. But it is. Over the last few years, I've been almost scared to spend a 'unplanned' holiday. It has become a big deal - to DO something. Anything. How can one waste a holiday? How will one entertain the kid? Yes - how? Like sitting around, doing nothing, is the absolute worst crime in the entire world! Well, now that I've done it and feel no worse for wear - I can highly recommend it. Didn't Seinfeld do 'nothing' make millions and retire in comfort to do much the same? Even though that fails as an analogy (far-fetched - my middle name) I tell you on - nothing beats - siestas on your own bed, and pigging out on pocorn in your own living room. Try it - its a different kind of home stay!!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Are you ready to give your kid a 'Tablet' ?

A week ago kidlet's school had a meeting where parents were told that iPads were bad for young minds and arms. Expectedly so, there were murmurings all around at the debatable decree. Though the teachers went on to state that they were not saying 'not-ever' but rather 'not-now'.
Brought me back to ponder our own decision to not get an iPad - for us, the home or indeed the kidlet. It was not a well thought out, all pro and cons weighed decision to be very honest. Actually the decision was hardly one to be made at all since we are a very techno-ambivalent family who are likely to be unexcited about anything gadgety. However, there were social pointers all along (at least since the last two years) kids around us were raving about this new 'toy'. Conversations were about the latest apps. Local newspapers started running features on best educational apps. And the killer - playground mothers claiming sharp jumps in vocabulary and math skills- all thanks to fantastic apps!
I was tempted to think about it for a wee bit of time. But one feel of the iPad and my tiny kidlet's wrists and the decision was easy to make. And there we let it rest. Thats until - I went and got myself an iPhone! On our trip to the US this year - the only time we got unlimited access to super-fast WiFi - I downloaded a few 'educational' apps. None the wiser about popularity of these things I just trusted the star system to choose. Kidlet was predictably very happy and it took her almost no time to figure it out. At first I was very impressed at how fast she picked up the game (it involved addition and subtraction - concepts still new to her). Also, come on - what a fantastic baby sitter! I could suspend imagination in my book and she could be soundless for stretches of time en-gripped by her game. I can see why its so easy to get hooked.
Back in India with the lousy net connection on my phone and the aforementioned gadget unfriendliness, the addiction to the games fortunately died a slow and natural death. But to be very honest it did make me wonder- what's the harm in learning a few new things through technology? After all that IS the way forward - if not already the way. And there are so many things out there that kids pick up that you and I, on an ordinary day would not even fathom acquainting them with?
The meeting the other day in kidlet's school made me start thinking again. How early is too early? How much is too much? And are our inhibitions based on evaluations of benefits/dangers or are they just schema based on our own childhood experiences and what we have been taught to believe? Wish there was an easy answer to that.