Thursday 18 February 2010

Farewell to our minivan

So our beloved Mazda5 gets sold tomorrow and I am feeling uncharacteristically low about it. I really don't care much about cars, and know even less about their mysterious workings, but our lovely minivan has been a favourite. Is it any wonder considering that I have spent so much time driving around in it? We had a nice sedan earlier - a Hyundai Sonata. It got totalled in a crash and we upgraded to a minivan. We didn't want anything as large as a SUV (ugly and harder to maneuvre) but the Mazda struck the perfect balance between looks and comfort, convenience and aesthetics. Before anybody thinks I am moonlighting in a Mazda dealership, let me tell you what a cousin of S's told me a month ago when he peeked into my car. This is what he saw:
1. A stroller
2. A child's scooter and helmet
3. A bag of sand-toys
4. A rug for spreading on the sand/grass
5. A case of mineral water
6. Several bottles of Gatorade
7. A jar of hand and face disinfecting wipes
8. A box of tissues
9. A clear plastic case containing complete change of clothes for each kid, including spare shoes, jackets and caps.
10. 2 umbrellas
So clearly we are always well-prepared to sit out an earthquake or thunderstorm in the car. The only things missing are snacks and diapers, of which I always have a stock in my baby bag (which I always carry with me:))
Is it then surprising that I love the car -- I spend so much time in it that it's practically my second home!
S's cousin commented that I am well on my way to becoming the quintessential suburban soccer mom, which is exactly the thought that had been crossing my mind as well!
Horror of horrors!! Definitely time to leave this country :)

Wednesday 10 February 2010

The best age to have children

I chanced upon this article in the New York Times and it ties in with the conversation I have had with friends about the best age to have children. I always tell them that if they want to have two kids, then they need to work backward and see how old they want to be when they have their second. Not only do eggs not work as well the older you get, the fact is child-rearing is an energy-intensive activity and it’s a far more pleasant experience the younger and fitter you are.

I turned 30 one and a half weeks after Ads was born. I was more or less on the median age for women of my generation, a little older by Indian standards and exactly on par with the rest of my friends, who all had their first child when they were 30 or very close to it. (I only have one solitary friend who had her first when she was 26 and even that was an accident!)

If I had to do it all over again, would I change my timing? I highly doubt it. I had 5 carefree years of marriage before getting buried deep in diaper duty, I had the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my career and I had more than 3 years to establish my credibility in my chosen field, after bowing out of the corporate sector.

It’s old-fashioned to ask a woman to have her kids early; but in this case old IS gold. And well, isn’t 30 the new 20 and all that jazz??

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Why are you going back?

The immediate comeback question when I inform other desis (and unfortunately, many friends and family living in India) that we are r2i is "Why?". WHY? WHY? This has to be the second most irritating question after "What do you do all day?" (which also I encounter more frequently than I care for).
No, I am not a jingoistic flag-waving type who thinks all Indians should stay in India. In fact, I think that nationalism, and religion are both outdated concepts. (Hmm...I should do a post about this). But it amuses me that when we told people that we are moving to the USA, not one single person asked me "Why?". It's assumed that the westward movement must be for the good, but the eastward movement is somehow more suspect. Why would someone want to come back to the dust and grime and potholes of India, leaving behind the oasis of America, right?
I find we have created a certain amount of dissonance in some Indians who are straddling the fence, emotionally attached to India and longing to go back but not mustering the initiative to take the plunge. In many cases, it's too hard, and justifiably so. As one of our friends put it, he is "terrified of sinking back into a middle-class lifestyle in India". In many cases, one spouse is desperate to move back, but the other isn't -- so of course they never do. I completely get that everyone has their reasons for staying, even if that reason is intertia! But the constant questioning of our decision to go back is not something I enjoy.
So, whether in India or USA, we are resigned to smilingly (not) answer the "Why" question with; "We never intended to stay here long-term"!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Ads' update (2 of ?)

Ads' obsession with drawing and Buzz Lightyear continues. He got to hear about the Power Rangers from somewhere and asked me what they were. I pulled up some videos on Youtube but they were violent and not something I wanted him to see. He didn't insist on watching them but seemed to understand that they were some variety of superheroes, and therefore, legitimate fodder for his over-active imagination. As I write this, he is jumping about on the couch simulating some Power Ranger moves!
He still goes to school for 6 hours (9 am to 3 pm) and seems to be the better for it. Sheets of phonics are regularly brought back home. They have been learning about the Americas in school (Montessori has a strong emphasis on geography) and he stumped me the other day by telling me he knew where French Guyana was. The only other place where I have heard this country mentioned is in the pages of The Economist! The day before that, we were talking about fruits and how they could be grown someplace else and consumed someplace else. I picked up the clementines we had bought that week and told him "Now, see, these oranges come from a country called Ecuador. Ecuador is in..." and he completed the sentence for me - South America!! IMPRESSED :)
The other habit he has picked up of late is to chide me when I repeat something a tad too often. "Amma, I already KNOW that!" he will whine. And sometimes add "Can you please not say that again and again?" It has conveniently escaped his notice that he never does anything if told only once, and that it requires sustained nagging to get him to perform any task!
He is mostly very good with little sister too, including her in a lot of his games and reading voluntarily to her. His biggest irritant is that she makes fun of him (yes, it's true -- the 4-year old is upset because the 1-year old teases him!) by mimicking his crying bouts. Whenever he is even a little bit whiny or cranky, off she goes, parodying his whining tone. Instantly he retaliates "STOP THAT!! I am NOT crying!" The more he protests, the more delighted Y gets, setting in chain a vicious cycle of protests and more whining. I have asked him to ignore her when she does this, but not giving his sibling the gratification of annoying him is a concept he is unable to grasp.
I have been very lax in getting him to speak Tamil at home. I used to be very diligent about this earlier but for the last several months, I have slipped; and it shows. Where he used to be very fluent in Tamil, increasingly English is the only tongue he speaks. I console myself with the thought that the next couple of months in Chennai and onward to Delhi will remedy this situation and soon he will be speaking Hindi as well as Tamil and English.