Saturday, 31 January 2009

Just a Typical Saturday...

Tomorrow we will have been back from India for a week, and yet I'm STILL feeling jet lagged. It doesn't help that we've been up every morning at ungodly hours and have crashed before the evening news is even on at night...but really. Luckily Auntie Mo has been around to help with the boys and add some much-needed sanity to our off-kilter household.

For his part I think Jay is having trouble reconciling the about-face his daily schedule has taken in the past six days. Instead of morning motorcycle rides and gulping beer on sunny beaches he's now cycling through cold rainy London and sitting bored through board meetings.

For my part, the other morning I had a rude shock as to the state of my mental alertness when I almost sent Eggie to school with his grey uniform trousers on backwards. I was only alerted to this potential disaster when we were walking to school hand in hand and he was tugging at his trousers complaining that they kept slipping down. I bent down to examine the problem and only then did I realize that I was staring at a comedy crotch of ill-fitting elastic sans pockets (sigh). Luckily we were right by the library so I dragged him in, and in typical "Don't-worry-about-it-i'm-your-mother" fashion, I made him quickly strip by the non-fiction section and turn them right side around. (And I thought my mom wetting her finger to wipe my dirty mouth when I was young was horrible.)

Anyway, the other night Mo kindly babysat for us while Jay and I went to watch the film 'Revolutionary Road' with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. I loved it and thought the acting amazing..and Jay hated it. Typical. Saying that, I had read the book and he had not. The irony of the film being about a marriage unraveling and him really sounding off about it and nearly causing a row as we left the theatre, was not lost on me.

Tonight we're going out to a somewhat 'posh' dinner with some former colleagues of Jay's at the Hilton Park Plaza Hotel. I am looking forward to it for the simple reason that it shall give me ample opportunity to raid my neglected closet and revel in a glamorous game of 'dress up'. I shall likely go over the top and swish about in violet eyeshadow, dangly earrings and a slinky cape, whilst having just that little bit too much wine and potentially embarrassing Jay by telling all manner of silly stories about our family. On the other hand, the other guests are just as partial to a glass of this and that, so I'm sure my antics shall go largely unnoticed as usual.

Well it's time to go. I've done the laundry, ruined my manicure, had a bath, scrubbed the kitchen floor and contemplated tidying up the boys room. Egg is loudly counting to 100 in the other room (a past time he seems to enjoy these days, when he's not asking everyones age in order to ascertain how close they are to being one hundred and thereby their immanent departure from this world). Dumpie continues to soundly snore away his baby jet lag in his cot, and Jay is yet again on his phone, chit-chattering away to one of his mates.Just a typical Saturday then...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Still Traumatized...

So we've been back home from India for a few days now, and only now, this morning, can I even address the nightmare which was our 10+ hour flight home...with Dumpie. He didn't want to sleep - at all - and so while Egg was busying throwing up on three separate occasions onto the stranger next to him, Jay and I were taking it in turns to contain 'The Dumps' and keep him from getting murdered from passengers sat nearby.

We were partly to blame of course for having purchased a 'Night-Time' children's medicine at the airport, lying to the pharmacist in order to get it because it claimed that it 'may cause drowsiness' on the label and we thought we might be in with a chance. Oh no. Turns out that Dumpie is also in that four percentile of children who get the OPPOSITE effect of such medicine and become more hyper instead of sleepy. By the time this was infinitely evident we were well on the way to hell, and stay there we did for the next several hours. The people in front of us wanted us DEAD, and when we finally got off the plane Jay and I were too humiliated to look them in the eye, and just kept our heads down, shuffling off the plane trying to ignore the openly hostile glares.

It wasn't just the screaming that people objected to, for although blood-curdling it might have been excused had we the foresight to post a notice stating that a young Anti-Christ was seated in row 28. However the physical manifestations of boredom and hyperactivity in our two year old were not as easy to forgive. For starters, Dumpie wanted to do leg presses on the the seat in front, and that meant pushing till his little legs were fully extended, causing the person in front to be suddenly pitched forward a few centimetres. He'd then abruptly let his legs bend back towards himself and the person would now find themselves suddenly jerked back to their former position. This went on randomly and sporadically for the better part of ten hours, and I am quite certain that the manic giggling issuing forth from Dumps did nothing to quell their anger.

When Dumpie wasn't doing that he was playing with his meal tray...up...down...up...down....bang bang bang....up...down....etc. And when he tired of that he would stand up on his seat and try and rip off the velcro head protectors from other seats, then clumsily try and re-fix them again. Of course it would be our bad luck that there were no other young children on board to deflect from ours, and that we would be sat in the only window row without a window! (Usually the window shield sliding up and down is enough to keep Dumpie occupied for quite some time, but as it was, we felt claustrophobic and further misery was endured when we discovered that one of our seats was busted and wouldn't recline.)

So you see, every good and perfect thing has to be paid for with something of equally awful value, and for us, our idyllic Indian holiday was sandwiched between two hellish flights of so many hours as to make us lose our minds and the will to live. The only time Jay and I cracked a smile (albeit of horror) was during one of the meals when Dumpie took a dainty nibble from a piece of cubed, refrigerated watermelon, decided it was not to his liking, then before we could stop him, lobbed it straight across the plane where it no doubt fell onto the lap or plate of an unsuspecting passenger. Luckily there was no proof where it came from as Dumpie has a great arm and managed to heave it quite some way.

Last night Jay casually mentioned that he might be going to Mexico for work in a few weeks. When I brought up the idea of traveling with the boys and I to Florida to see Grandpa, and thus sharing the burden of the solo flight with me, he looked at me like I was a moron and said NO WAY! He made it quite clear that he would do anything in his power NOT to fly with us, even if it meant leaving a few hours later from the same airport on the same flight. I got the message. Who can blame him?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

"The Cost of Capitalism"

So today is our last day here in....ummm..paradise. It's mid-afternoon, scorching hot, and the boys have just eaten/spilled most of their vanilla ice-cream here in the internet cafe. The owners are being more than kind about it given that Dumps has seated himself at one of the terminals and refuses to move - thereby not allowing them to make any money. The not-so-Great British Pound continues to fall, which is unfortunate as i've chosen today to make my few purchases. Saying that I should get a good deal as the shopkeepers will no doubt be in a hurry to take whatever money is proffered just so long as I quickly usher out the destruction-prone monsters.

I am not looking forward to the return 9+hour DAY flight back to the UK, but I AM looking forward to sleeping sans Dumpie in the world's most comfortable bed (ahhhh...) I am not looking forward to the cold weather but I do suspect if I stayed here any longer I might just turn into a bona fide Kingfisher beer drinker - and that would not be good - either for my children or my no longer flat belly.

Jay is currently treating himself to a massage (I had one earlier) and it was so lovely that it begs the question as to why I didn't do it earlier - or daily for that matter - given that 1.5 hours set me back a mere eight quid. Perhaps if we move here my dreams of a personal masseuse might actually be within scope in some form or another. Saying that, in India, pretty much anything is possible...just so long as you're willing to compromise on quality. The Indian locals are loathe to let you down if they can waggle their heads, flash a huge grin and say 'Oooooh Yes M'am it is veeeeery much possible' instead.

Now, instead of kicking me out here, the husband and wife who run this internet cafe are shooting each other pained looks as the monsters run, jump and leap about squealing - disturbing everyone in here.

Okay, now my children have just exited the building and have slipped out on to the busy dirt road...bugger...I'm out of here!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

And one rolled over...

Last night we slept four in a bed and it was hell. There is no other way to describe it. Although we had been promised an extra bed, this came late at night in the guise of a dirty single mattress which was heaved unceremoniously on our beach shack floor by the surly teenaged room boy. Given that there was no mosquito net for this makeshift bed, we could hardly put our four year old on it to brave the mosquito's all on his lonesome whilst the three of us slept soundly, shrouded in worn netting. So that is how it happened that a formation of four filthy travelers settled in, with much reluctance, on two single beds pushed together, for what would be a very looooong night. We put Egg closest to the wall, followed by Dumpie, then me, then Jay. Lucky Jay was buffeted from the various nocturnal kicks, flailing and general flopping about which resulted over the next several hours. I kept drifting in and out of sleep only to be scared awake by an elbow to my head, or the pain of a clump of hair being yanked from my crown. At one point I sat up to find Egg crying in his sleep because Dumpie had completely reversed his position and was kicking his fat little legs into Egg's face as they lay opposite to each other in foot to head formation (sigh).

Bad sleeps aside, we trudged down the beach, slightly subdued, to breakfast at Madhu's Beach Hut for banana porridge, fried eggs on toast, chai, fresh orange juice and aloo paratha. Dumpie insisted on using a giant serving spoon for his repast and thus quickly created a huge mess which we were unable to hide from the waiter or indeed the other diners. His entire outfit was soon covered in sticky porridge and so were the pristine chair cushions. Moreover Dumpie decided that being a porridge monster did not suit his image and insisted (via loud shrieking) after every unsuccessful spooning attempt, that I use the wholly useless tiny, waxy serviettes on the table to wipe him down. Our charming breakfast culminated in Dumps pouring the remainder of our mineral water into a huge glass, then delicately dipping both fists into it, using it as a makeshift finger bowl. Once the water was clouded with dirt and bits of porridge, he proceeded to take the only other clean glass on the table, and measure out portions of this putrid water to drink. We looked on in disgust, and really should have put a stop to it, but it was keeping him quiet and content and we were loathe to piss him off. We all know the repercussions of that.

Egg has recently developed a love of all sports which is unfortunate for the poor bugger as both his father and I veer more toward 'Art Fag' territory and perhaps aren't equipped to raise a premiership player. To this end he has spent much of the holiday playing football on the beach with Dada and an assortment of local kids. Yesterday he discovered frisbee and it has been to my detriment as just moments ago he knocked over my ice cold bottle of pepsi. Plus there have been too many near misses to the side of my head to count. He and Dumpie have also taken to 'roughhousing' with each other and it drives me mad as they'll go from wrestling combat to tears in seconds. Egg's method of attack is usually a fist driven punch to the head and Dumpie retaliates by grabbing a fistful of Egg's golden hair and yanking as hard as he can. Surprisingly they are fairly well matched in terms of ability and resilience, though we all have to remind ourselves that Dumpie is only 2 years old as his behavior is more akin to a gibbering mafia don.

Anyway, we have one more night of hell ahead of us then we move on tomorrow. As glorious as this view is (I'm sitting in a hammock on a shaded porch, watching the deep blue sea just yards ahead of me) the torturous nights of four-in-a-bed just aren't worth it. I think Jay and I are both realizing that Paradise comes at a cost - and we're slowly figuring out exactly what that might be...

Easy riders...

So tomorrow we will have reached our halfway mark on the trip. Things we have learned traveling with two young children? Well, you're never really going to fully immerse yourself in the book you're reading. Just when you manage to get through a few delightful paragraphs uninterrupted you will suddenly be jolted from your reverie by the sound of either a) shrieking (as one child pinches/punches/shoves/pulls the hair of the other) b) your spouse yelling disgustedly at you as you look up and notice what latest disaster has befallen your children due to your latent parenting style (this could be a bottle of mineral water overturned, your child about to do his business on the beach in full view of the general public, or perhaps a giant food stand full of crisps teetering and about to topple because your greedy 2 year old is trying to reach up and help himself to a bag.

Something else you will not get a lot of is lying on a padded chaise under a palm umbrella, sipping a cold drink and listening to your ipod, gently daydreaming whilst the hot Indian sun beats down upon your sun-starved body. For starters, where are your children while you're doing this? Guaranteed they're not quietly playing at your feet in the sand with the overpriced plastic sand buckets and spades you gallantly purchased two of on day one and which now lay broken as a motley assortment of useless plastic bits. You can also bet on the fact that they are both not sound asleep, having blissful afternoon naps in the shade, and being attentively watched over by several cooing Indian ladies as your husband and you get slowly and deliciously drunk on Kingfishers in the hot afternoon sun. Nope. Even if you were foolish enough to attempt such a manoever you would not last a moment before one or both of the monsters came at you with dangerous plastic implements raised high in the air, resembling angry vikings as they charged and deposited buckets and handfuls of sand on your newly conditioned hair. Trust me. i know.

So you see, after 7 days in paradise we have come to several conclusions. First of all, we love this place. We desperately want to come back here for at least six months and take a sabbatical, learn the language, write, meet some crazy and interesting people, make music, and generally set up a commune (or perhaps fake cult) for like minded individuals. (All those interested please apply sooner rather than later as places are likely to fill up fast) However, we have come to the conclusion that if any sort of sojourn is going to occur, we are going to have to budget for an 'Amma' - some local young girl with boundless enthusiasm who can come over daily and relieve us both for a few hours while we actually try and achieve something more than just mopping up mango juice, kissing stubbed toes and breaking up constant squabbles. We shall also have to find a cook who specializes in boiled eggs (the favored food of mr. egg and mr. dumps this trip) and aloo paratha and chai (for Mama). Tonight Dumpie discovered 'Veg Pakora' and demanded another plate after shoving most of the contents of one into his mouth before anyone got a look in. We shouldn't be surprised, 'Baby Carbs' loves anything fried, dipped in batter, sugar-coated or dripping in sweet stuff. He is also showing no signs of letting up on the 'moneeeeeeey' fixation. Today for example, he spent most of the morning waving around a 10 rupee note in all the locals faces until one enterprising old lady swiftly removed it from him and hid it in the folds of her sari - never to be seen again. Dumpie started yelling 'Moneeeeey Mama!" and pointing at her, and the toothless woman and i just exchanged looks while I tried to change the subject out of embarassment. Hey if the old biddy is clever enough to take it off the Dumps I say she deserves it. Plus it seems I've inherited that peculiarly British behavior of being loathe to draw attention to an awkward situation - even if it is someone else's making.)

Really, the only thing that seems to take precedence over the 'moneeeeeey' issue for Dumps is 'Nay'. For those of you who don't know, it means 'sweeties/candies'. He used to call it 'Nay Nay' but has shortened the noun to a mere monosyllabic 'Nay' now that he's turned two. He often sneaks off with my bag searching for 'nay' and driving me crazy squealing for it. If he does see me pop the odd bit of chocolate or a candy into my mouth, he'll take note of where i stashed the rest and at a later point in time when he and Egg find themselves alone (which is a fair bit given Jay's and my lackadaisical mode of parenting) and will alert Egg to their whereabouts so he can climb up and retrieve them. I can't tell you the number of times i've caught them red-handed. When they spot me (or hear me shriek in horror) they'll scarf the lot and stand defiantly giggling while chocolate runs down their chins.

Anyway, Jay and I are now roughing it for two nights in a beach front shack where we sit on our little balcony and listen to the waves crash, only our little speakers playing reggae for company. We're in Agonda, a quiet, uber-chilled beach. The local children shouted with glee upon seeing us arrive today and promptly picked up both boys in their arms and disappeared intermittently into their grass hut with our offspring - we of course having absolutely no idea what they were up to. At one point I got a bit paranoid and went in search of Egg, only to find him in a sharing circle with a mad American lady and her young daughter and a few local kids. They were all sat together in cheap plastic chairs having a rather good time watching a cat make a poo poo.

I'd like to end now by referring once again to my current comedic drinking of beer. I will only allow a Kingfisher to pass my lips, it must be cold, and I must either be in a stressed mood, boiling hot, or eating spicy food in order to happily partake. So that's pretty much all the time. Tonight at dinner Jay and I shared three giant bottles. Such odd behavior on my part. I haven't touched the stuff since university and even then i didn't like it - i just drank it because it was the thing to do, and university students budgets don't exactly stretch to expensive cocktails and fine vintagesm

. At this moment in time however, I surprise myself with how much I can enjoy an ice cold beer. What's next, the four of us riding a motorcycle all over the countryside?

Whoops, we've already done that. Don't freak out as it was safe, we went slowly, and a side benefit was that we amused the locals to no end. One set of boy legs, long set of hairy tanned man legs, tiny fat-toed baby sandal legs, and super dark Mama legs all crammed on the seat of a 2004 burgundy Enfield, ambling by on dusty roads and vibrating in perfect harmony...

Friday, 16 January 2009

"The Cheeky Chapati"

Okay so now that the dust has settled and we're firmly on our way to going full-on 'native' (ie. we're all filthy, grubby, sandy pretty much all the time and think nothing of letting our child drink out of a dirty sippie cup and the other drink his body weight in mango juice all day every day....) it's time for some reflection. First of all we LOVE it here. For whatever reason this place fits our shambolic selves, and it's such a relief to see that the boys feel the same way too and are happy as anything playing about in the surf, making friends with the locals (Egg has already told one waiter that he is going to purchase him a ticket back to London and that he can stay in our guestroom) and trying all sorts of spicy new foods.

For the most part it's going brilliantly, but it has to be said that ol' Dumpity-Dump-Dumps is proving slightly challenging this time around (this is Egg's third trip to India and Dumpie's second you see...). Dumpy has discovered (and fair play to him for learning the not so subtle art of manipulation at only 2 years of age) that a mere shriek in public will elicit pretty much any behaviour from his red-faced parents when and if he deems us not moving quickly enough to do his bidding. For instance, Dumpie has recently taken a liking to money. I stupidly gave him a 20 rupee note the other day to purchase some mango juice from the corner store. Of course having made the connection between 'money' and 'treats' it was only a matter of time before he began the single minded pursuit of emptying our wallets in order to shop at the goodie-laden corner store. He now screams 'Moneeeeeeey!!' incessantly at Jay and I and will grab as much as he can from our bags or pockets, hoarding them in his fat little fists and refuseing to relinquish any of it...even if an impatient waitor is standing obediently by waiting to be paid. With the sand so fine and deep - even in the beach shacks, once a coin drops that's it - it's a goner. I shudder to think how much money we've already lost thus far. Moreover, even when he has extracted every last bill from Jay and I he'll still carry on screaming for 'Moneeeeeeey!!' at the top of his lungs, and I can't even fathom what native Indian onlookers must think of such capitalistic tendencies in our spoiled little munchkin.

Today we went to a lovely chilled beach called 'Agonda' and I looked down at one point to discover my bag was missing. Before freaking out I noticed that my baby was also missing, and turning my head wildly around I glimpsed Dumpie several yards away removing the items from my bag in search of more 'money'. It is worth noting that he had removed several hundreds from my bag and Jay lept up and saved most if not all of the bills before they could be carried away forever more into the hands of curious sunbathers further along down the beach.

Tonight at dinner it wasn't enough that he scoffed all of Egg's chips - he also nicked most of my chapati and tore it into pieces and formed something resembling a small hard baseball out of it. He then decided to stuff the entire hard clump into his tiny mouth all in one go (gagging several times in the process) much to the amusement of the next table of Argentinians beside us, who couldn't contain their amusement at our ridiculous clown of a child. His cheeks were puffed out like a blowfish and made him look so hilarious that I burst out laughing and so did he - resulting in a projectile spray of wet soggy bread which once airborne, managed to travel a fair distance a few tables over.

No sooner had we calmed things down when Dumps stood up and announced to all and sundry, whilst patting his ample behind, "Poo Poo!" I tried to quietly acknowledge it and whispered that we'd change him when we got back to our room, but he was having none of it, and paraded his nappy about for the next five minutes gleefully patting his own behind and announcing his sorry state to anyone who was interested (which by this point was most diners assembled). Forget the candles, soft music and chilled ambiance...anyone who was expecting a nice romantic dinner was not going to find it in our restaurant tonight and I swear that I felt the whole place breathe a sigh of relief as our motley crew stumbled off into the night, finally leaving everyone in peace, and off to find another atmosphere to pollute.

For his part Egg is being pretty long as he gets to kick his beloved football around the beach, is granted a constant supply of mango juice and the odd ice-cream, and allowed to play his new Nintendo DS Lite 24/7. Next to Dumpie he's positively easy as pie and the only time he really acts up is at night when he jumps into his mosquito-net covered bed, petrified to come out unless he gets bitten. He needn't worry. I have taken one 'for the team' and am covered in mosquito bites but no one else seems to have them. Not sure why. Most days I can be spotted stumbling down the beach labored down by manifold beach bags in one arm and a chubby Dumps in the other. For whatever reason, this holiday Dumpie has decided that he would prefer to be carried down the beach the millions of times we traverse it daily, instead of walking it like a normal child. Moreover he's chosen me as his favoured method of transport and will scream 'NO!" at Dada most of the time, leaving me to painstakingly lug his 20 odd pounds around. A few nights ago at dinner (why are the worst scenes always at dinner?!) he was giddy with tiredness and decided that it would be funny to stick his hand down my bikini top and fiddle about with my bits, in an obvious fashion, in front of the entire restaurant. I tried to ignore it but he was so lewd in his behaviour that I suspected people might think it perverted if i didn't respond. So i did. And of course that spurred him on to more of the same followed by hysterical giggles. He then proceeded to sloppily french kiss me for long drawn out kisses, my face between his little palms, making loud satisfying moans whilst he did so. I was so mortified that I started laughing uncontrollably (as did Jay I might add) and yet again, with very little effort, we managed to be the spectacle of the night.

So as you see, we're pretty well known in this sleepy little beach town, despite having only been here for 6 days. It's gotten so that we've pretty much worn out our welcome at most of the beach shacks and therefore have decided to give the locals some temporary respite and move a few beaches down for a little while. This will give residents and holidaymakers alike, some much deserved time to chill out, and allow a whole other beach community to enjoy and experience the "Power of Dumps"....It's only fair.

As I sign off, allow me to say that this is a great holiday so far, but it's certainly not the chilled out, relaxing vibe we had hoped for. As a treat this morning I allowed Jay to get up and leave our room early for some quiet time on the beach and to do some writing. Holding off as long as I could (which entailed feeding the boys Jaffa Cakes and allowing them to run riot around the guesthouse compound), by the time we reached Jay I was utterly knackered, fed up and stressed. Jay on the other hand was blissful and serene, gathering his chocolate-mouthed offspring into relaxed arms and shooting me a questioning look as if to say, "What's your problem? Can't you even take care of your children for a few hours without losing it?"

I think we've put off our trip to the chemist long enough. Tomorrow we might have to get our taxi driver to make a detour to one of those white buildings with the green cross on the side, and avail ourselves of some legal valium...truckloads of it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"Paradise Lost...I Mean Paradise At Last"

So the good news is that Eggie did NOT throw up as soon as our plane to India took off. But 'throw up' he did, and not once but twice. Luckily it was during the last couple of hours of the flight. Unluckily he was sitting in an aisle seat beside a kindly but complete stranger in the centre row. Luckily I don't think he managed to hit her with his heaving, but unluckily he did manage to expel a fair bit of liquid - most of which was interminably soaked into the economy seat, where it shall no doubt remain for many weeks/days/years to come. (I must say I was rather horrified when during landing, having sunk like a martyr into the offensive smelling seat and trying to buckle my seatbelt, I got rather more than I was bargaining for in the way of semi-congealed gunk between my fingers. Jay just leaned over, chuckled and said, "Nevermind Nis, I'm covered in the stuff.")

After a painless immigration exit (we're old pro's at this and hence had the good sense to elbow past the plethora of 'older folks' who were too busy smiling at our filthy teddy-bear carrying boys to notice that we were on a mission to secure front of the queue positions at Customs...), we hopped in a government taxi and began the long drive down south. It wasn't long before the boys complained of being thirsty, and so we pulled over to purchase some water and mango juice. This turned out not to be the wisest move when ten minutes or so later Egg got that funny look in his eyes and Dumps started moaning insistantly and pointing to his tummy. I forced Egg's head down onto my lap and he quickly passed out, but Dumps wasn't so lucky and violently heaved the contents of his stomach into my lap, soaking my new embroidered trousers and staining them blue with the half-digested remnants of his blueberry breakfast muffin from the plane.

Sooner than we imagined we were unceremoniously deposited on the side of the raod, albeit the end of a beach road. Two vomit-stained adults in winter gear, and two vomit-clad rug rats suffering from jetlag and car sickness were unceremoniously booted from the tourist vehicle onto the dusty dirt road. We were no doubt a sorry sight to the assembled locals and onlookers, who smirked and didn't even try to hide their amused curiosity. Having decided to wing it and not pre-book a hotel we left our three suitcases and three carry-ons outside the closet beach shack and filed in looking both elated and defeated. Was it brave or stupid of us to just 'go with the flow' and not pre-book our accommodation? Who can say, but in the harsh mid-day heat we had to devise a plan and devise one fast as the boys were starting to get tetchy and we were minutes from total meltdown.

We could of course have stayed at our 'assigned hotel' up in North Goa as part of the package deal, but being the seasoned Goan travelers we knew that the extra hassle and added expense was worth it if we didn't want to spend out two weeks surrounded by sunburnt, beer swilling Brits in too-tight bikini's, bargaining for tat all day long and stuffing their faces with 'finger chips' by the pool...)

Luckily the place we had discovered last year (run by a lovely French girl and her Italian boyfriend) had vacancy, and it wasn't too long until we were firmly ensconced inside our old room. It was hard to believe that a whole year had passed since we were last here.

The next morning, leaning lazily on cushions in a beach shack, staring out into the Arabian sea and sipping Indian chai and nibbling on fresh fruit salad, it was hard to imagine somewhere that conjured up the idea of 'Paradise' more than here. Smiling joyously at each other Jay and I silently concurred that the hell of traveling here had been well worth it - vomiting, tantrums and expense considered. There is nowhere else on earth that we feel as happy, content and as 'at home' as here in Goa. However it has to be said that after many years of package holidays, we have now been put off the idea of North Goa (which is where 90% of all tourists unwittingly end up) and are firm South Goa loyalists.)

I'd like to interject here that after a traumatic and wholly unsuccessful nap attempt with the monsters this afternoon, Jay has just emerged from the room, kissed me on the lips and said he's had it and is off for a bike ride...a long bike ride. Dumpie has stomped outside in his Goan uniform of nappy, cheap plastic sandals and Postman Pat backpack (looking not unlike a miniature German tourist) and is calling after him, "Bye Bye Dada!" whilst flashing his mischievous and evil little grin in my direction. I don't know what he did to 'Dada' but whatever it is it traumatized my dear husband and I will be surprised if he returns before sunset. Egg meanwhile has been raiding the 'treat bag' we stupidly brought along with us and is simultaneously stuffing his face with fruit bars, kitkats and crisps, whilst playing catch with the friendly big dog here in the garden.

We've had a brilliant few days, already feel at home here, and have been gorging ourselves on divine food (fresh kingfish steaks, moreish potato pancakes called 'Aloo Paratha' which are lightly fried then dipped into spicy lime pickle, plain yoghurt and washed down with strong chai tea, stir-fried vegetable rice, honeyed banana fritters and enough 'Kingfishers' - Indian beer - than you could shake a stick at). At this point I'd like to make it clear that i ABHOR beer. Aside from the occasional half-pint of Guinness, which i'll sometimes sip in a pub, as much for the atmosphere and experience as anything else, anyone who knows me knows that I.Do.Not.Drink.Beer. Except that currently, for whatever strange reason, i apparently DO drink beer - or so it seems. I don't know whether it is the hot weather, the look of surprise and pleasure on Jay's face, or the fact that it is relatively easy way to get a nice little buzz on, but I find myself sipping Kingfisher's and not hating the experience. I do however fear the onset of a 'beer gut' if this ridiculous behavior continues, and truth be told I am definitely more of a 'wine and champers' kind of girl, but I'm mildly amusing myself with the onset of my pretend beer drinking, and though I know it shall not continue off these shores, I am likely to continue on in this little sunset/dinner ritual for the next few weeks. (For this reason do not be alarmed friends and family if a picture is posted of me clutching a beer mug and looking stupidly happy. It is only another one of my 'phases' and not to be taken seriously.)

Anyway, I suppose I must go now as the boys are hyper and starting to kick the football into the beautiful garden, destroying many months of hard labour I suspect. Moreover the kindly French owner is staring nervously at us, silently hoping that we check out before her place is downgraded by a star or two.

Our room has one giant bed and one single bed. Egg sleeps in the single and Dumpie, Dada and I sleep in the massive one. This ensures that a) no romantic cuddling is on the cards b) we all have bad sleeps and are smacked repeatedly upon sleeping and waking by 'The Dumps' and c) we share our bed with a stinky teddy bear, a Postman Pat knapsack (which Dumpie adamantly refuses to part with - EVER) and various assorted foodstuffs and crumbs.

It ain't pleasant but we'll put up with traveling with the monsters if we get to escape bleary January in the UK and feast on papayas and watermelon everyday. At any rate Dumps has just run past me with our solitary room key dangling on a dirty rope from his grubby little fingers and is now attempting to feed it to the big German shepherd. Even I know when it's time to sign off. Laterz xx

Friday, 9 January 2009

"Gotta Go to Goa..."

To any faithful readers and semi-interested parties ( the goings-on of a shambolic London household), I apologize for my long absence from the 'blog-o-sphere'. It has taken awhile to get semi-back-to-normal after the craziness that was the Christmas season. I don't care if I never see a glass of wine, champagne or cheese again...and I don't know what I was thinking agreeing to be voluntarily bikini-clad so soon after the season of gastro-gluttony. Ah well - it shall give the randy single Indian students (who patrol the beaches in whispering/giggling groups) something to stare at.

As we are leaving tomorrow and it's already dinnertime and I haven't so much as packed a sarong, I suppose I should be more worried than I am. However the only thing causing me mild concern at the moment are my legs which due to the recent cold spell have not seen the light of day for some time and are looking less than lovely and not at all smooth and silky (sigh).

I started the laborious task of waxing a little while ago, but unfortunately Dumpie took a great interest in the task and would shout 'Ouch!" everytime I peeled off a strip, then got brave and started dipping his little fingers in the wax and...well...I don't have to tell you where that mess was going. At that point Egg wandered in, bored from cartoons, and proceeded to grill me for several minutes on the inconsistancies which dictate that a female should (ideally) be 'hair-free' and a male 'hairy'. I think he still remains confused. (Come to think of it so am I. Given the great pain of childbirth you'd think that some clever woman long ago might have flipped the gender stereotype which dictates that women have to voluntarily massacre their tender skin on a weekly/monthly basis and men can just 'let themselves go' in that department....)

You notice that I haven't yet alluded to the 9+ hour charter flight which awaits us in less than 24 hours. That is because a) I realize how fortunate we are to escape the winter cold for such an exotic climate in the middle of dreary January, and it seems spoiled to complain b) having been a few months since our last long-haul flight, much like the pain of childbirth, the trauma of child-ridden travel feels distant and I naively feel that 'this time might be different' and finally c) provided Jay and I can unearth an old valium and go 'splitsies' on it, we might just be able to get through the trip with minor mental anxiety.

Dumpie now being over 2, this is the first flight where we've been forced to cough up FOUR whole air fares (gulp) instead of three and though it may leave us dismally out of pocket, it ensures that Jay and I won't be bickering about who has to hold the chubby Dumps on their lap. (Saying that, Dumpie for whatever reason used to prefer MY lap the majority of the time, and I have a sneaking suspicion that seat or no seat, he's going to insist on same this round again. Our expensive seat shall likely be used to store garbage, books and unwanted meals.)

Anyway, i'd best be off. There is every likelihood that I shall blog from India provided Jay doesn't insist on a totally remote and deserted area which is devoid of internet. My goals this trip are to read (Ha! As if! Two small boys around water and danger 24/7...? Fat chance of that....), to sunbathe (ditto), and to steer clear of tailors and any hare-brained schemes to get clothes fashioned for me.

Whether I succeed on any front remains to be seen. Stay tuned....adios my friends! (NOTE: As I write this Dumpie is running around with his blue sunglasses on grinning and pulling his fake his father he's already into the holiday spirit)