Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Projects We Do For Love

I have been racking my brain for almost a week now. All blog ideas have deserted me and I am completely clueless about what to write.

Not that nothing interesting happened in my life the past week. I connected with my old college friends through Facebook and had some lovely lunch and dinner with them. My  husband survived his third trip to China and came back all safe and sound. ( Though there was a scary moment or two, like when he was served donkey meat for dinner). My parents went back to Kolkata after spending two months with me here. My daughter Ayushi grew up a bit more...despite my best efforts to prolong her childhood.

Not that I want her to be eight forever. I just want her to skip the 10, 12, 14, 16 part and go directly to a responsible 20. I am already dealing with one temperamental teenager and sincerely do not think I can deal with another one.

Another reason why I want to prolong her childhood is because I know what projects will be coming my way as she grows. Digestive system of a frog, a solar cooker, model of a sewage treatment plant and many such  more. The schools these days emphasise a lot on projects. Apparently projects are less traumatic than home work. The child is less stressed. Obviously, as the entire stress is on the parents and they have to think, plan, execute and take the elaborate models to schools on the submission day. The kids meanwhile happily play downstairs with their friends. No stress, no mess.

Last month it was a log cabin. Reams of paper were rolled and stuck. Windows were made of an acetate sheet. A chimney was planned to the minutest detail by the engineer dad ( finally the IIT degree was put to some use) and  the porch and the roof were designed by the architect grandfather. The entire concept and the idea was of course the mother's. The elder sister chipped in with some hard labour and finally, after some 5 hours of gruesome work, the log cabin was ready for submission.

This month, it is Antarctica. So we have been making mountains and oceans, penguins and seals, birds and icebergs. As the model had to be made of eco- friendly material, we had to make sure we did not use thermocol, plastic and toxic paints.( I cheated a bit though and used acrylic paint) I have been given lot of suggestions by well meaning friends, including " Use shaving foam with fevicol to make snow and ice, " to "Bake a huge cake. Cover it with white icing. Bake figures of penguins. Your Antarctica is ready. Whats more, the kidcan have a blast eating it after submission."  Though I do agree the suggestion was fantastic, I did not think the teacher would have appreciated my efforts.

So all of last week, I have been sitting till midnight making penguins and seals with atta( flour) and creating mountains with papier mache. The penguin and seal figures had to be baked in the micro wave individually and let me tell you that there have been some minor disasters in the kitchen. Thank God most Indian flats do not have smoke alarms.

Once, out of sheer frustration, I entertained the thought of just painting the board blue and submitting it. "Ma'am, due to global warming all the ice melted. Just the ocean remains."  But I do not think the teacher would have seen the humour in either global warming or my project. So atta and papier mache it is.

Seriously, what all we do for our children. And all those who think that the child should have done the project herself,  please think again. There would have been mounds of atta and glue on my kitchen counter, there would have been dollops of paints on my floor and that papier mache would have been reduced to some sticky glob of paper, stuck on my sofa. By taking the role of a leader and delegating the little one to be the helper, I made sure this whole process was less painful.

The Antarctica was finally ready 2 nights back. Unfortunately, my sleepy eyes could not focus and hence no final photo was taken. Yesterday, I heard from Ayushi that some boy mutilated the penguins and beheaded them.

 Honestly, I was not bothered. I had done my job. The project was submitted on time. What happened afterwards was not really my concern. I only hope the teacher is considerate enough not to burden the parents with some more projects in February.

Now you know why I did not blog for some time. And why I want the little one to remain little for some more years. I do not think I can handle the  digestive system of a frog.  Or the drainage system of Harappa. Not again, please God.

What has stressed me more  was that I was unable to reply to my comment thread on time for the previous post. When I told Ayushi my concern, she nonchalantly told me " So stop writing interesting blogs. No one will want to read them or want to  post any comments on them and you will not have to reply to them any more." Where did she get her intelligence from? I wonder....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Idiot's Guide to Opening A Wine Bottle And Having A Good Time

Let me begin by saying that this post is meant for women only. Men do not need to be taught how to smoke, open various alcohol bottles and be an ace athlete. ( Like Tiger Woods). They are born with certain superior knowledge. Well, on second thoughts, this post is for all of you who think Bubbly is a girl's name.

1.Though not necessary, you need an occasion for opening a bottle of good wine. Mine was a Christmas party. Invite your best friend, her mother, your cousins and who ever you think wants to have a good time. Whatever it is, the husband has to be conveniently away,on some official trip.

2. Raid your husband's cellar/ bar if one exists. If not, you can always hop across to the nearest wine store. Please note, if you live in Delhi or North India, send your driver or any other male to buy a bottle. People there think women who buy alcohol are all immoral. ( 703 walli madam to badi looje chracter nikli, akele hi wine-shine khridti hai ji)

3. Buy the most expensive wine you can get your hands on. Even if your tongue can't tell the difference, your brain can. You and other people will experience more pleasure out of your wine if you think you are drinking a  premium and pricey one.

3. I strongly suggest you buy some complex sounding, unpronounceable French wine, simply because they are supposed to be the best. I have been told that a Californian Merlot or the Italian Chianti can be just as good. If you are using your husband's credit card to buy your wine, do not discriminate and buy both.

4. Check if you have at home something that looks like a bottle opener with two arms spread wide and a bottom that looks all screwed up.  That is your wine bottle opener. Chances are your husband's bar has one. If not, send your driver again to buy it. Even if you live in Mumbai. This work is boring and should be left to a male.

5. Get your glasses ready. Remember, wine drinking is an art and you must create an ambience. Never drink out of stainless steel glasses. It spoils the whole feel.

6. You are not supposed to chill a red wine as much as a white one, but if you like it that way, go ahead and do it. Remember your ultimate aim is to have a good time.

7.Always remember the accompanying food should be out of this world. If you can serve low calorie stuff, your efforts would be appreciated more by your girl friends.

8. At the right time, with a lot of flourish, present your wine bottle. By this time, you all should have had some mouth-watering snacks and some pre-wine gossip session on men, clothes, men, make-up, men, getting old, men, and careers. ( Not necessarily in that order.) And no, I did not forget to mention the kids, the omission was deliberate.

9. Now comes the difficult part, so pay attention. Look at the cork on the wine bottle with complete concentration. If you stare at it long enough and hard enough and if you say your prayers right, it might, just might, open all by itself. If not, then get that damned corkscrew and start working.

10. Keep the bottle on a table and hold the hands of the corkscrew. Make sure you are holding them hard. Then gently, but firmly, lower the screwed up bottom on the cork of the bottle.

11. Now hold the head of the corkscrew and twist the head as viciously as possible. If  at that time you think of your arch enemy, the job gets easier. Make sure the wine bottle is securely held. You do not want to break it before you can even open it.

12. After some savage swivelling, the cork screw generally gives up and raises its arms in complete surrender. You  have  to be graceful in your victory. Gently but firmly lower its arms and pull. You will see the cork has come out of the bottle. Hurray.

13.Now ceremoniously pour the wine into the glasses and silently thank god for big and small mercies. Remember to clink your glasses and say cheers before you take the first sip.

Note: Resist the temptation to break the bottle on someone's head if you fail to open it. You just have to be good at the neck twisting and arm wrenching part. The rest is rather easy. If you can practice that move on your husband/boyfriend first, your chances of failure will drastically diminish.

If everything fails, you can just give up and have tea instead. And while you are having that beverage, just offer your heartfelt thanks that you were born in India and not in Europe and you do not have to do this every night before dinner. What a relief.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wish List

Another year has gone by.

A year, that was  for me, rather good. But still, there is a lingering sense of dissatisfaction. I feel I could have done a bit more, achieved a bit more. I wish I had set some new goals and tried  hard to meet them.  I wish I had gone to new places, tried out some new tastes. I wish I had learned a new art, like pottery. I wish I had an exciting job. I wish I had read more books. But if wishes were planes, the beggars would fly...

I never make new year resolutions. I know I am incapable of keeping them. I prefer to make some wishes instead. If they are granted, I feel happy. If not, I know they were never meant to be fulfilled. After all, there is also something called destiny.

So this year again, I have made some wishes. Who knows whether they will be granted or not, but there is no harm in praying for fulfillment, is there?

So here it is, my wish list for the year 2010.

1. I wish I would have the courage to read Brothers Karamazov and War and Peace. Each time I pick up  these two Russian classics, the task seems daunting. The sheer size of War and Peace has unnerved me in the past. I wish to read these 2 books in 2010. Though, I will require some hand holding for this.

2. I wish my children would start showing some respect to each other. They are constantly bickering and fighting. The older one tries to bully the younger sister. ( Ayushi, go get my books from the 
table or else,.. or Ayushi, if I ever catch you behaving like this, I will beat you..The younger one is not to be out done. (  Stop being so lazy and get your own stuff, or I already have a mother, I don't need another one...) I wish my older one would learn that bullying some one, specially when that some one is less than half your size, is not the most graceful thing to do.And I wish the younger one would realize that one could do with another mother in life, specially when that other mother is your own older sister.

3. I wish my husband would accept that it is almost impossible to know all the roads that exist in this city. That if he stops to ask for directions once in a while, no one, specially me, would think he was physiologically challenged. Think of all the fossil fuel we would save, not to mention time.

4. I wish there were companies that would re- employ educated and competent women who had left their jobs sometime back. I wish the corporates would understand that some women have to give up their jobs temporarily to raise their children. That these women can be dedicated and conscientious workers, though they may not be so young any more.

5.I wish shedding some extra kilos that I have piled up would be as exciting  and as easy as eating yummy street food. No matter how hard I try, I can not go back to my former slim and fit self. I know it was the the food in Delhi and Amritsar that kind of did me in, but I wish the food did not stick.

6. I wish I could blog about general, mundane things, like the road in front of my house or the children playing in the park. Those who have the ability to write on every day things are in my opinion true writers.

7. I wish to learn more about technology. I am pretty much a dolt when it comes to any thing new. It took me months to learn about the computer and I still need help from my older daughter when it comes to more serious issues. Technology should not stupefy me, it should be able to make my life less muddled.

8. I wish I would be able to totally conquer my anger. I battle with belligerence and pretty much lose every time. I scream, I use hateful words and I snap back. What's worse, I hang on to my frustrations and never let  go. I wish I had more control over my self. I wish I would learn to be calm and serene this new year.

9. I wish I could meet all my friends more often. There is nothing like talking to those people you have grown with, physically as well as mentally. I wish all of them lived near by and I could drop into some one's house unannounced.

10. And lastly, I wish I could open a bottle of wine effortlessly and gracefully. I wish I could show you what happened when 3 idiots -- a bottle of Merlot, a cork screw and I, met for the first time on a Christmas party. May be I will blog about it, if you wish for it.

So that's about it.  That was my wish list 2010. Towards the end of the year, I will know how many of them have come true.  I wish the year would end soon! And yes, I wish each one of you a very, very happy New Year! Have fun always.