Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Double trouble

Old bewdas of the bar might know why I always say that I don't love Viv for his jokes, I love him in spite of them. I just went back and read this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and gosh, the man has cracked some reeeeeally bad PJs.

And his latest was performed smack in front of the 3.5-year-old Xena, with no regard whatsoever for the consequences. I was going through some Hindi flashcards with her when we got to the 'o se okhli' card.

Viv - Xena! You have okhli, and Poppy has Oakley too! Ha ha ha! Let's tell Mama!
Xena - Ha ha ha! Let's tell Mama!
Me - :/

It was therefore no surprise when I discovered that Xena has most definitely inherited and/or absorbed this trait from her Poppy. Here are some latest ones from her:

Me - Xena, please don't take your toys into the bathroom. They might fall in the toilet!
Xena - Mama, I want to put them in the toilet.
Me - Huh?! Why??
Xena - Because it is a TOY-let. Ha ha ha!

Me - Xena, we're going to the minimart now.
Xena - No Mama, it's not minimart.
Me - Huh? What is it then?
Xena - Mickey mart! Ha ha ha!

Xena - Mama, when Ryan (her friend) cries, what does he become?
Me - Hainn?
Xena - Cryan! Ha ha ha!

Me - Xena, come sit on the kitchen counter while I do the dishes.
Xena - This is the counter?
Me - Yes.
Xena - It can count from 1 to 10? Ha ha ha!

Xena - Mommy, when Poppy mops the floor, what does he become?
Me - What?
Xena - Moppy! Ha ha ha!

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?

*thunk thunk thunk*





Monday, August 25, 2014

Bhatt of jokes

It's been quite a few weeks since the bar had a 'video of the week', and here's the perfect video for the comeback.

Is she cool or is she cool?

❤️Alia❤️




Monday, August 18, 2014

A smart cookie

A few months ago, I had blogged about smartphones and why I was so wary about getting one. I was happy with my Nokia whatever-model-it-was. Until one day it stopped working. Like many mothers, I would also like to blame the toddler for the breakdown of any appliance. It was HER water bottle that leaked in my bag and ruined my phone. (It's a totally different matter that it was ME who put her water bottle and my phone together in the same compartment of the bag.)

I still have to give it to the phone though. It coughed and spluttered and revived itself, and chugged along for another four months. And then SOMEBODY dropped it. I won't say who that SOMEBODY was, but I can tell you it was the same person who was silly enough to put a water bottle and a phone in the same compartment of the bag. And from there, it went downhill. Like a cat, it died and resurrected itself some nine times. The most effective strategy I used to revive it whenever it died involved a lot of thought and precision -- I had to determine the exact height from which to release it so that it neatly divided itself into four components, which then had to be immediately put together and the phone would become fully functional. For another three and a half hours.

It was in the middle of this that I wondered if it was time to recontract with my service provider, who would then put me out of my misery by giving me a new phone with my new contract. I figured it was best to get a smartphone, but without any smart features that would distract me and/or Xena and turn me into a smartphone-wielding zombie. At the same time, I could take good pictures and perhaps use WhatsApp only on WiFi for all the events I organise with others who only use WhatsApp. It would surely avoid stuff like the Easter party fiasco. And guess what? It was indeed time to recontract. So we went to the shop and had a look at all the phones. There were a few free phones they were offering with a new contract and Viv, after using his HTC to read reviews and comparisons, remarked how good some of them were. "The smartphone industry is getting really competitive," he remarked. I nodded smartly.

Anyway, they offered me a $50 voucher for the new contract and told me I could use it to offset against the value of my new phone. We picked the Asus Zenfone, which they were offering for $48.  The first thing that struck me about the phone was how big it was. Wait a minute, weren't phones getting smaller and smaller at some point? Weren't the smallest phones the coolest phones? When did they start getting bigger again, and most importantly, where was I? Anyway, with a beating heart, I held my new phone and observed it as it did cool and scary things that I was not familiar with.

"So now I need a screen protector." I said, brimming with the confidence that only people who have never had smartphones exude.

"Oh no, don't." said Viv. "It will interfere with the resolution." I nodded smartly again as if I really understood how it would impact my life.

Viv doesn't like any phone accessories. I have to admit though -- his phone actually looks sleek. Kinda naked, but sleek. So I knew where the conversation was headed.

"Ok, but I surely need a cover for the phone." I declared.

"No, bad idea." He said.

What was with all this negativity, dude? I decided to fight it out.

"I need a cover."

"You don't really need a cover. It makes the phone look ugly."

"I need a cover. What if it falls and breaks? WHAT IF I DROP MY BRAND NEW PHONE AND IT BREAKS?" I tried to make a strong point by speaking in all caps.

And then he provided me with the solution. A solution so simple and elegant and amazing that it reminded me all over again why I married this brilliant Homo sapien. A solution, which I think should be immediately shared with the entire humanity so that billions of deprived smartphone owners all over the world can partake of its amazingness.

"Don't drop it." He said, shrugging his shoulders.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

The jungle look


Xena (pulls out two combs and hands one to me) - Mama, come let's comb our junglee hair.
Me - What?! My hair is junglee?
Xena - Yes.
Me - And yours?
Xena - My hair is junglee too!
Me - And Poppy's hair is?
Xena - Handsome. 


Thursday, August 07, 2014

Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn!

In case the title made you think that Xena somehow overpowered me and assumed full control of my keyboard, let me assure you that it is not so. The title simply means 'Long time no see'. In Chinese. Woohoo! Yes, I'm learning Chinese. Mandarin, to be precise.

A few weeks ago, somehow, the universe conspired to firmly plant me in a Beginners' Mandarin class. Well, this is what happened. My sis-in-law, who is staying with us now, had signed up for the class and then she got a part-time job and the timings clashed and she couldn't defer it and the stars aligned and bam, next thing I know I'm asking her if I can take over.

I must have been out of my mind when I asked her that because my July and August schedules are already jam-packed. I'm doing four projects at once, and one of them has daily deadlines. And Xena has been sick almost the whole of July and has lost another kilo, adding to my stress. So it was not exactly a great idea to completely ignore the existing contents on my plate and pile on one more thing. But somehow, somewhere, a hypothetical, rolled-up Chinese newspaper was thunking my head, reminding me that this was a sign and that I had always intended to take up Mandarin again.

Yes, I said 'again'.

You see, exactly a decade ago, I had enrolled myself in Cambridge Language School for a 10-week Mandarin course. Viv, who just happened to be with me as I was enrolling, suddenly found himself signing up too. I was thrilled. Here was my chance to show him his aukaat - his level. Muahahaha. My mom once told me that she thought I was very intelligent until she met Viv. Sheesh. Great. Thanks, Mom. So here was my chance at a face-off. To show him what stuff this first-bencher nerdy class topper was made of. He rolled up his sleeves too. Next thing we knew, we had become one of those obnoxious couples. You know, the kind that sits together at the first bench in a Beginners' Mandarin class and kicks everyone's ass? Yeah, that one. Needless to say, everyone hated us. Except the teacher, of course, who loved us. And somewhere along the way, in spite of it being a very difficult language to learn, I forgot about competing with Viv, and started truly enjoying the lessons.

Our teacher ("lăoshī") was from China and she spoke in very pure Mandarin. She was also exasperated at how, in her words, "so many Singaporeans kill the beautiful language with their bad pronunciation". So under her influence, here I was, telling my friends that they spoke bad Chinese, while they gave me looks that could only be interpreted as, "Please go back to your country." I know better now. And I can seriously tell you that the most brutal murder of this beautiful language happened at the hands voices of the back-up singers of the song 'Ajooba' from the movie 'Jeans', who sang "Ooowaanee oowaanee!" instead of "Wŏ ài nĭ wŏ ài nĭ" ("I love you, I love you").

Anyway, back to the topic. At the end of the course, I carefully kept my books and notes in my bookshelf. And never saw them again. Sheesh. It was sad because even Viv and I never practised together. So our Mandarin rusted. Into microscopic pieces. Until it was no more. The thing with learning a language is that you need to keep practising. You need to keep talking in that language. In Singapore, I rarely get that chance because everyone speaks English. (In fact, many of my Chinese Singaporean friends tell me they themselves rarely speak in Mandarin, even at home.) And when I did attempt to speak the language, I got laughed at. I blame the damned tones. Ugh, the tones. You see, unlike other languages, Mandarin has this amazing feature. The same syllable can be said in four different tones, and they all mean different things. So you might end up calling your friend's mother a horse because the word for both is the same, but the tones are different ("mā" means "mother", while "mǎ" means "horse"). My teacher told me that "mā-ma mà mǎ" means "mother scolds horse". Try saying that. Trust me, at the end of it you won't know if the mother is scolding the horse or the horse is scolding the mother!

Anyway, so here I was, back in the same boat I'd boarded a decade ago. I'd missed one lesson (the first one that my sis-in-law had attended) so I was a bit nervous when I entered the class. And obviously there was only one question in my mind -- would I be able to... bag a seat at the first bench? Of course, I got one very easily, because the first row is the 'danger zone' and no one wants to sit there and put themselves at grave risk. Especially during role play when the teacher asks the first person on the first bench to start off a conversation in Mandarin. The back benchers have nothing to worry about, because by the time the teacher is done making sense of what the front benchers are saying to one another, and correcting our 2727364638 mistakes, it's time for the lesson to end.

And yet, week after week, I sit there with courage in my heart, struggling with the tones and the grammar, attempting to string together one coherent sentence. Why? Because I love it. It is a very fun and interesting language to learn (well, the spoken form, at least). One of the perks is also that now I know what Xena says when she tells me something she learnt at school. The other day, as I attempted to stuff an apple slice that was approximately 0.0008876 mm thick into her reluctant mouth, she pointed to it and said "píngguŏ!" And I understood. Omg. I mean OMG. I understood what my kid was saying in Mandarin. I can't even begin to describe the thrill I felt. The other day I was at a shoe shop (where else?) and the shop assistant said, "Nĭ yào shénme size?" ("What size do you want?") and I was so thrilled that I forgot to say "sān shí jiǔ" and said the very boring "39" instead.

Learning Mandarin also helps me make much more sense of Singlish, which I'm fluent at, but never really saw the 'behind-the-scenes' of. For example, the simple "What do you want?" in Singlish is "You want what?" which makes so much more sense when you see that it's a word-for-word translation of "Nĭ yào shénme?" (Nĭ being you, yào being want and shénme being what).

I have two more lessons to go. And after that, I'll be on my own again. I don't know how much better I'll do this time. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. For all I know, I'll be signing up for another refresher in a decade's time. But for now, all I know is that I'm really enjoying it. Especially the fact that I don't need to learn it; I want to learn it.

Good night, bewdas!

Wǎn ān!

(Sorry, I don't know how to say "bewdas" in Mandarin. I don't think I want to ask my lăoshī either.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

(Made) my day

Before putting Xena to sleep, I always ask her to tell me about her day. She gives me a detailed account of every little thing that happened from the morning till the evening.

Recently, she finished her account and then suddenly asked me, "Mama, let's talk about your day now." I was surprised but I started, "Well... In the morning, I made breakfast for you and Poppy... and then I packed your school bag and got you ready for school..."

"No, Mama..." She interrupted. "Please talk about YOUR day, not my day and Poppy's day."

:')

Sunday, July 06, 2014

A bird's-eye view

It was only when I heard myself say, "Tree ke branch par ek blue bird ka nest tha" during a routine story-telling session with Xena that I realised it was not exactly Hindi I was teaching her. The plan is to have Xena take up Hindi as a subject in school and so the tree, branch, blue bird and nest were not going to help. So, much to my sister-in-law's amusement, I corrected myself by saying, "Vriksh ki shakha par ek neele pakshi ka ghosla tha" to a very surprised Xena.

Since then, I've started to consciously use more Hindi words. The other day we were looking at a bird resting on a window ledge. "Pigeon!" She said. "Kabootar!" I said. She was very amused at the word and kept repeating it.

"Xena, do you know there is a kabootar song?" I asked her.

(A big thwack with a rolled up newspaper on the heads of bewdas who immediately thought of the lotan kabootar song. Dhikkar hai tum sab par. Sharm karo.)

"Mama, can you sing it for me?" She asked.

So I sang "Kabootar ja ja ja" from Maine Pyar Kiya and explained to her that "ja" means "go".

"Why are you asking the kabootar to go away?" She asked.

So I explained to her that in the song there was a story, and in the story there was a Bhagyashree Aunty who had a kabootar and she wanted to send a letter through it.

"Just like postman uncle!" She exclaimed.

"Yes!"

"Bhagyashree Aunty ne kisko letter bheja?"

"Salman Uncle ko."

"What did she write?"

"She asked him to come back."

"Where was he?"

"Errr... At a party."

"Why did she ask him to come back?"

"Umm... Because she wanted to meet him."

"The kabootar flew to Salman Uncle?"

"Ummm... No. It was a very smart kabootar. It did not know where Salman Uncle was, so it went in Salman Uncle's manager's car."

(Yes, I was surprised at my own memory.)

"Then?"

"Salman Uncle read the letter and came back!"

"How did he come back?"

"In his car. He drove back."

"And the kabootar came back in the car again?"

"Err... No. It flew back."

"Why didn't it come back in Uncle's car?"

"Umm.. Uncle asked it to fly to Aunty."
(Well, selfish Uncle did sing, "Tu yeh sandesa unko sunana, main peechhe aaya.")

This conversation really made me crave at least the song, if not the movie. Here it is for you too, bewdas. Let's reminisce about the time when underneath Salman Uncle's vest was not his six-pack, but ribs and hair instead, and underneath Bhagyashree Aunty's visibly bad make-up were visibly bad pimples. And oh, let's not forget the end of the song when apples that grew on grass tumbled away and turned her on.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A clinical report

Yesterday, I took Xena to her mothership for an appointment with Dr. T, her lung doctor. The slot we had got was for 2:50 pm, which meant that Xena would have to skip her afternoon nap. Parents of toddlers would know what catastrophe that spells. Fortunately, I was packing her hospital bag when I discovered a set of stickers inside. I was thrilled. Though Xena has tons of stickers, these looked new. I had no idea where they'd come from, so I was sure they would serve well in keeping Xena distracted in the bus. I usually take a small toy or a book for bus rides, but stickers are flatter and lighter and so much better.

We entered the bus at 2 pm, the exact moment when she goes to nap. Sure enough, in about 3.45773 seconds, she started getting restless and I took out my brahmastra. She was just as thrilled to see them as I had been. "Thank you, Mama!" She said as she took them from me. She examined them for a few seconds and then said, "Oh, Mama! I forgot to say 'Thank you!'".

"No, baby," I said, "You did say 'Thank you' to me."

"No, Mama! I forgot to say 'Thank you' to the nurse."

"Which nurse?"

"Dr. L's nurse. She gave me the stickers."

Oh wow. These 3-year-olds and their memory. Dr. L is her endrocrinologist whom we'd seen more than a month ago. After she said it, I vaguely remembered that her nurse had indeed given some stickers.

She played with the stickers throughout the bus ride and soon we reached the hospital. She was still fiddling with them when we entered Dr. T's clinic. Dr. T always likes to start off by making small talk with his small patients, and so does the nurse in his clinic. He said, "Oh, you have stickers! Where did you get them?"

"Dr. L's nurse gave them to me." Xena said.

Dr. T looked stumped for a while, and then said, "Oh you saw Dr. L? Hmmm... let me check what he said." He flipped through Xena's hospital file to look for it and really struggled because with all her gazillions of health issues starting from her birth, her file is the size of a Yellow Pages directory. I kid you not. His very competent nurse jumped in and in less than 3 seconds, had found the page he was looking for. He read it and then turned to his nurse. I thought he was going to discuss something Dr. L had written in the file.

"So Dr. L has been handing out stickers, huh?" He said to her. The nurse smiled and turned around to fiddle with something I could not see. Dr. T went back to examining Xena and then asking me the usual 2098437598435 questions about her. By the time we were done, the nurse had conjured up a rabbit toy, complete with long ears, out of... a blue surgical glove! (At first I thought it was a regular animal-shaped balloon, but Viv pointed out that it was a surgical glove. Mind. Blown.) The nurse even showed Xena how to make the rabbit's ears flap and then handed it to her. Xena was over the moon.


So that's what she had been doing when she had turned around. She had even drawn a face using markers. And the entire time, she had still been paying keen attention to everything he was saying because she recapped it for us very clearly (next appointment, medicines to take, etc.).

Dr. T looked at Xena's delighted face approvingly and then proudly grinned, "They are giving out stickers, huh? Well, we are giving out animals!"

"So it's a competition between the clinics!" I remarked. They laughed.

I was still smiling as we left the clinic. It was so cute and so heart-warming. In the middle of a busy day in one of the busiest hospitals in Singapore, a doctor and a nurse, without compromising their primary duties, had found some time to conjure up some fun.

For everyone.




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Catch-up #6

Hola, bewdas!

I was going to start this post with 'How are you?' but it reminded me of the letters I used to write to my grandfather as a kid. I'd always - ALWAYS - start them with 'How are you?' until I got annoyed with it myself. So I switched to opening with 'I'm well and hope you are too.' So let me start my catch-up post with that. I'm well and hope you bewdas are too. I know several of you worry for Xena and send me emails whenever there is silence at the bar, and I thank you sincerely for thinking of us. So far so good, I'd say.

(Just a note that I reply to every single bewda/bewdi who writes to me. So if you have emailed me and not received a reply, please check that you haven't sent it to my old email address. That address had a totally unnecessary z somewhere, because in those days I was silly enough to join the bandwagon of adding a z after everything and actually finding it cool. Sheesh. Anyway, my new email address is visible when you click on my blog profile.)

The last few days have been crazy-busy. I've been wrapping up some projects, pitching new ones, going for Xena's hospital visits (regular check-ups, regular check-ups!), trying to get appointments with dentists and contractors (we are planning to renovate some parts of our home; I hope that it will be a neater place after that, but with a jumpy toddler in the house... who am I kidding?). The weird and wonderful thing is that in the middle of this chaos, I've also been able to slot in some time doing stuff for myself. My thoughtful sister-in-law Clueless, who's staying with us for a while, treated me to a pedicure last week. Complete with paraffin treatment and what not. (They put your feet in molten wax, sit back and pray that you don't scalded. Then they simply pull the solidified wax off your feet. Like a cast. I kid you not. I don't know if it does anything to beautify the feet, but it sure was an awesome phenomenon to witness). Clueless also persuaded me to go for a shade of nail-polish which I felt was too dhinchak, but it's grew on me, and after Xena's two thumbs-up rating (but then that woman would praise anything that's pink!), I really like it.

Thanks to Clueless' presence, Viv and I have also been able to watch some new movies in the theatre. IN THE THEATRE! We put Xena to bed and head off for a late show in a mall nearby, and then walk home. It's a 2-3 km walk and we actually get a real chance at conversation, without being interrupted every three seconds by Xena's alarmed accounts about her toys, "Mama, Poppy, Felix needs to poop NOW!!" (Why Felix needs to poop so much is honestly beyond me.) Anyway, we have managed to watch 'X-Men - Days of Future Past' and 'Edge of Tomorrow' in the theatre! And oh, did I mention that we watched these movies IN THE THEATRE??

Last night, as we exited the cinema just after midnight, we were stopped by a gang. No, we didn't have to turn in our phones and wallets. (Actually no self-respecting mugger would steal my phone.) If anything, they handed us a phone. It was a gang of friends having a surprise birthday party. They were crowded around a chocolate cake that had been placed on a supermarket trolley! They asked us to take a picture for them. Viv took it and then I realised that the plastic bag the cake came in was smack in front of the cake and though the friends were all in the picture, all you could see of the cake was the flame. They had already thanked us and taken the phone back, but I interrupted. I may be a lousy photographer, but I'm particular about composition and the story that a picture should tell. So I removed the plastic bag and rearranged stuff to make everything nice and visible and memorable. We redid the 'shoot', much to the amusement of the gang. We wished the birthday boy and moved on. I was reminded of the many midnight birthday celebrations we had during our university days, and how the birthday boy's/girl's hair, face and clothes were 'decorated' using a handmade mixture of cat food, flour, toothpaste and cabbage oil. They didn't call it 'birthday sabo' for nothing.

Aside from movies in the theatre, we also watched some DVDs I got from the library. We watch them accompanied by Breezers, after Xena has gone to bed. I quite liked the two recent ones we watched (Brothers Bloom and The Guilt Trip). I thought Brothers Bloom was particularly poetic, but Viv thought it was quite meh. The Guilt Trip, though somewhat predictable and armed with a really low rating on IMDB, was actually not too bad.

I have also managed to catch up on the trailers of the upcoming Hindi movies for 2014, and nothing seems really exciting. Ek Villain sounds a little promising, but after watching Hasee Toh Phasee, I'm of the firm view that in spite of Siddharth Malhotra's presence, a movie can be really bad. (I actually started disliking Parineeti after watching that movie.) Oh by the way, I'm going a bit mad over the songs of Ek Villain, especially Galliyan and Banjara. If you haven't, listen to them NOWNOWNOW. I do everything either humming the songs or playing them. Even Xena has started singing along with me. I'm seriously impressed at Shraddha Kapoor's rendition of Galliyan. I hope it really is her.

That's pretty much what has been happening here. And I'll wrap up this post with an extremely unusual ending.

How are you? :)

 

Friday, June 13, 2014

No fear

Viv and Xena were reading a book about a bug hiding under the bed and making strange noises.

Viv - ...The children heard the strange noises and got very scared...

Xena - But I'm not scared!

Viv - Oh yeah, why not?

(Both Viv and I were totally expecting a "Because I'm very brave!" kinda answer.)

Xena - Because I'm not in the book.