Friday, 31 December 2010

"Roll On...Last Day of the Year"

Dumpie helping out with the rubbish
Dumpie is not too happy with me at the moment.  It's so easy to lose track of time here (I don't even wear a watch) such that we're never exactly sure what day of the week it is.  Thus, I mistakenly informed Dumpie yesterday that it was Friday - and hence the weekend.

He was not amused to find out this morning that Mama had made a mistake, and let me know it by way of admonishing me severely, his little face a mere two inches away from mine as he told me off.

Dumpie loves the weekend because then he doesn't have to go to school.  Not that he doesn't like school (for he's happy enough when he's there and loves playing with his little friends, climbing trees, rolling around in the dirt, chasing girls in the 'kissy game' etc.) but he likes the weekend more.

Maybe that's partly our fault, for we allow the monsters either a milkshake or their beloved mango 'Maaza' drink on the weekends.  Also, on the weekends we tend to eat brunch on the beach and they get to stuff their little faces with lemon sugar pancakes and fresh fruit juices to their hearts content.

Speaking of food, I did a very bad thing today.  We have been so overrun with friends and subsequent socialising lately that we have let our already meagre larder run dry.  Add to that Dada's occasional midnight snacks of muesli and/or toast, and it's understandable why this morning, when attempting to rustle together Dumpie's snack, I was forced to pack him off with a small bag of crisps and three little chocolate biscuits.  Oh the shame.

I tried to disguise this white trash offering by taking the crisps out of the bag and putting them in a little tupperware container - hoping against hope that the teachers think it's some kind of Indian dried vegetable (well it is sort of, isn't it?).  As for the chocolate biscuits, they are only one-sided, so there is a fifty-fifty chance that I'll get away with it (though I doubt it considering children can sniff out chocolate from a mile away, and I expect Dumpie will get mobbed by the more feral of his little classmates.)

At any rate tonight is New Year's Eve, and the husband and another mate of his have managed to secure the most excellent beach shack here (by virtue of having the biggest and best speakers, not to mention the most consistently good food) for a party.  There will be firecrackers, dancing, cocktails, and all manner of frivolity I imagine.

Obviously, we haven't managed to secure a babysitter for tonight, so the challenge will be how to tuck them up somewhere warm and cozy within sight and preferably away from the speakers.

As for the husband and I?  Mostly we can't believe we've come to the end of 2010.  Our year away is slowly drawing to a close...only a few more months left.

And on that note, time to go to the beach and properly enjoy the last day of the year.

Happy New Year!
Egg practising his best karate chop moves at a Pirate Party

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

"The Undesirables"


Tonight the husband and I joined a dozen or so friends for dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  This in itself was not newsworthy but the fact that we were sans kiddies was.

For you see lately, it has become virtually impossible to secure the services of a babysitter amongst the local Indian women here in Goa.  Our friends seem to have no problem, and other parents round here are often seen enjoying child free dinners on the beach without their offspring in attendance...which leads me to believe that there is something fishy going on.

Having suffered a string of unsuccessful babysitting requests, for somewhat flimsy reasons like, "Your house too far away" (we live across the road from the beach), or "No like the dogs" (our landlady has a few pets who occasionally bark at strangers but the husband always offers to go and pick the ladies up so....), it is clear we are 'undesirables'...but why??

What makes this rejection so hard to bear (aside from having such a detrimental impact on our post 8pm social life) is that we are offering good money - I mean REALLY GOOD money, especially by Indian standards - for a job which involves virtually nothing more than sitting down and watching the monsters watch a string of movies on their dvd player.

It's the social equivalent of offering your average Primark shopper a one hour no holds barred shopping spree at Marc Jacobs and being told, "No thanks, I'm not really into his look this season."  Seriously.  It's confounding!

Try as I might I can only come up with a few reasons why this may be:

1.  Our house is haunted or considered bad luck in some Hindu spiritualist manner, depositing a horrific curse on any locals who step inside...

2.  The 'universe' is trying to tell the husband and I that our time would be better spent doing Suduko or practicing yogic postures at home, rather than sipping yet more Kingfishers on the beach.

3.  Something is 'wrong' with our family, of which we are utterly and completely unaware (making the option of starving, or continuing to live in a tiny straw shack preferable to bringing home an excellent salary for doing sweet bugger all.)

I so want to believe it's not the latter reason, but then I recall the 'little problem' we had last year in London concerning our utter inability to keep the same cleaner for any decent amount of time.  Fine, the ones who got pregnant maybe had a legitimate cause, but the others who made up lamer than lame reasons to ditch us suddenly, inexplicably, and without reasonable cause ("I must pick up brother from airport" etc.) maybe cottoned on to something that these local babysitting women have.

Then again, tonight over dinner a friend mentioned that her babysitter had told her that Dumpie sometimes pinches her.  However tonight, returning a good hour later than promised (umm...maybe this bears considering?) we found Eggs and Dumpie quietly cuddled up in bed watching "101 Dalmations" looking as cute - and innocent - as can be.

Any/all in possession of a reasonable (or unreasonable) hypothesis/explanation, please send your answer on the back of a postcard to:

"The Undesirables"
Little pink concrete house
Goa, India

Saturday, 25 December 2010

"The (ALMOST) Best Christmas Ever!"

It's 10:42 pm and as I sit here contemplating the double issue of Grazia lying temptingly on my bed (delivered by a well-meaning friend from the UK today), I think to myself, "Ah,  what bliss, and what a perfect way to end an almost perfect day".

For the 'Almost The Best Christmas Ever' (more on that later) began officially last night, after 'marshmallowgeddon', wherein Egg and Dumpie consumed almost their combined body weight in marshmallows over the campfire, while the husband and I looked on with a mixture of wonderment, then later mild revulsion.

It wasn't until Dumpie turned to me and said, 'No more marshmallows Mama' that I realised that perhaps I should have put the bag away sometime after consumption reached double digits.  Uh oh.  But then I'm a pushover when it comes to sentimental occasions involving food and making memories :)

Bath time was skipped (though I'm pleased to inform that tooth brushing was NOT), and the munchkins were cosily tucked into bed - the husband stretched out face down between them.  I downloaded the proper (ie. long) version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and began reading the famous poem.  By the time I reached the last verse they were both sound asleep, and I even had to nudge the husband to make sure he was awake.

This morning at EIGHT (they must have been in a mild marshmallow coma from last night??) they woke up, grabbed their bulging sacks, their three gifts each, and bundled onto our bed to rummage through their loot.

Egg loved his magnetic dart board and chess set, as well as his 'Travel Connect Four' and his plastic beach ball.  Dumpie showed mild interest in his cheap imitation play-doh set, mixing all the colours together into one great lumpen ball, only to discard the mess under our sheets where I expect it will eventually harden and crumble into sharp little pieces which will further condemn us to more sleepless nights in the coming days.  However the 'counting beads' I bought him were given a desultory glance before being tossed ceremoniously to one side, never to be thought of again.  Oh well.

After a quick video chat with various assorted family members, we headed across to the beach and met our newly arrived friends (they of the visa nightmare conundrum) for a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit salad, omelettes, lemon sugar pancakes and porridge.  I however chose instead to ring in the day with a large mug of masala chai and a protracted bingeing session with the mince pies 'Aunty Kenz' had ever so thoughtfully included in her generous care package for the monsters (thanks again 'Aunty Kenz' you rule!  And no, I will not pilfer the boys sweets...okay not all of them).

Champagne was cracked, music was played and DJ Dada hit the decks and helped switch our section of our beach into a festive frame of mind.  General smiles of blissful contentment were exchanged all round (thought truthfully, I was still on a massive high from my recent mini mince pie face stuffing session).

Late afternoon a large group of us descended upon a local hotel for their big 'Reggae Sunsplash Christmas Party' where DJ Dada once again got out his virtual decks and filled the dance floor with grooving party goers twisting shapes to his cool ska vibes.  He rocked it.  And while he did that, the rest of us took over a large table in the back and proceeded to chat and sip our way through the day.

Delicious barbequed fish, jerk chicken, fish burgers, bean burgers, salads and baked potatoes soon followed, washed down with festive rum and fruit cocktails and banana fritters and lethally sweet Christmas cake bringing up the rear.  We gorged ourselves.  Egg and Dumps ate rolls with butter...but that may have been because they kept getting fed sweets from the young waiters, and were too busy chasing girls around the pool.

It was a most lovely Christmas, as good as one could hope for.  Were it not for the absence of our beloved friends and family (you know who you are!..Aunties, 'God-Uncles', Grandparents, 'pets'...) it might have been...quite simply...THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

Happy Christmas MoaningMum readers far and wide.  Thanks for following the trials and tribulations of my shambolic family this past year and for proving a most brilliant outlet for my many (albeit trivial) 'moans' which constitue the bulk of these pages...xx

Friday, 24 December 2010

"TwasThe Night Before (Our Goan) Christmas..."

It's the night before Christmas, and I'm pleased to report that not a creature is stirring, not even the Dumps.  Having spent a glorious sunset down on the beach with all of their friends whilst the husband dj'ed and spun us into the night with some amazing tunes at our favourite beach shack...they were tired little rug rats by the time we wandered back home.

Egg made the journey shoe-less as his beloved flip-flops went missing on the beach, and was only consoled by landing the privilege of being sole torch bearer in order to ensure he didn't squish his bare toes into any gooey cow pats.  

Dumps was too busy muttering 'marshmallows...marshmallows' to notice what he was stepping in.  Several days ago, knowing that the lack of a Toys R Us or equivalent was going to somewhat hamper the quality (and quantity) of gift-giving this year, I suggested that we have a family campfire on Christmas Eve and roast marshmallows.  They went for it big time and the husband valiantly whipped up a campfire a boy scout would have been proud of, in just a matter of minutes.  Okay, so he used some petrol from his bike to get things started - but still - if left to my own devices I would have had the children holding marshmallows on forks over our two ring gas hob.

I think we did a fairly good job this year, all things considered.  The boys have bulging 'santa sacks' filled to the brim with sweets and little toys (all of which will break within minutes but hey that's not my problem) and a few little presents each.  Based on how spoiled they were last year, I reckon it will be just enough to keep their attention before they launch themselves onto a stratospheric sugar high from all of those Indian additives and preservatives.

Our local town has a little shop where we procured a tiny plastic christmas tree for the boys the other day.  It's so small it's comical, and perched atop an old plastic chair, it's certainly not going to win any awards in Home & Garden.  Their bedroom is  bathed in a magical hue thanks to the little blue fairy lights which must go some way towards compensating for what must undoubtedly be a sandy bed ce soir, and our kitchen/living area is festooned with red tube lighting, making our home feel like the inside of a psychedelic hindu temple.

Tomorrow we will be breakfasting on the beach with fresh fruit salad, banana porridge and cheese omelettes.  If we were back home it would be homemade blueberry pancakes drenched in maple syrup, fresh whipped cream and strawberries, copious amounts of champagne and orange juice, and toasted cheese croissants.

Instead of warming up to a fire in the hearth after a long walk on the Common, we'll be baking in the hot sun, sipping fresh lime sodas like they're going out of fashion, and diving into the Arabian Sea to cool off.

Later, for Christmas dinner, instead of roast potatoes, homemade mince pies and a cheese board, we're heading to a Reggae Barbeque Feast at a local hotel which boasts the only swimming pool in the area.  The husband will once again get to flex his dj muscles there and we'll spend a no doubt lovely day mingling and giggling with loads of our friends - both old and new.

For lo and behold, Christmas wishes do come true.  After several abortive attempts it appears that our friend DID get his visa at the last possible moment and is currently squished into a seat in a big Air India jumbo jet hurtling his way east towards us now as we speak.  Our other friend sadly won't arrive till Boxing Day, but I'm betting that some major chilling out, a few Kingfishers and his first swim should put paid to any lingering hostility towards the Visa granting officials.  Grrrrr...

As for me, I've now got to re-fill the santa sacks, place the six presents around the tree for the monsters and hope neither of them get up for a wee break in the middle of the night and ruin the surprise.

And I've also got to empty the plate of treats Dumpie left out for Santa (two marshmallows, some assorted broken cookie pieces and some dried up raisins and cornflakes), and steal away the sweet letter Eggs wrote to Santa.

Then this tired elf is going to bed...visions of champagne and cheeseboards dancing in her head (...seriously)...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

"The Holiday Curse?"

It would seem that the husband and I appear to be cursed at the moment.  Three different sets of friends have been planning to fly out and join us for Christmas festivities, but EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM have been beset by the most unbelievably bad luck and currently have their exotic festive holidays stuck in the no man's land of Indian Bureaucracy.

And it's not like you can even blame the 'Great British Freeze of 2010' (as it will no doubt go down in history) or the third-world-esque conditions of the formerly mighty Heathrow.

No, it's plain and simple Indian Bureaucracy from the sounds of it.  One friend submitted the requisite photos needed for the visa application, as did his girlfriend.  They were procured from the same photo place, and indeed the only thing different were their respective mugs, but his was accepted and hers was rejected!

Another friend has also had his visa application curiously rejected today (he was due to fly in the next 24 hours), after having submitted it three weeks ago through a specialist visa service!

And our other mate was due to arrive a few weeks ago but had to rebook his trip for the end of the month due to...you got it...visa problems.

What's going on?  Are we bad luck?  Why do the official powers that be want us to be alone this year?It's starting to feel a bit like 'Lost', only we're not stuck on an island but rather the Indian subcontinent.  And it's not like we can't leave - only no one can come to us!

And that kind of sucks.  For this year the focus was going to be less about the 'presents' and more about the 'presence' (of our good mates).

Here's hoping they make it.  All of them.  And that we're not REALLY cursed.  Because that would really suck for all our friends and family.  Besides - it's pretty hard to believe we're cursed when we're currently residing in one of the Top Ten Destination Spots (according to a recent Guardian online poll) for Christmas 2010...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

"A Family That Parties Together..."

Last night we did something that many families across the world indulge in around this time of year...we attended Dumpie's Kindergarten Christmas Party.

Of course this being Goa, it was less lukewarm canapes and £5 bottles of plonk, and more watermelon juice, Kings beer and veg thali's accompanied by little clay pots filled with curd.  The husband even played a rousing duet of Jingle Bells with Dumpies guitar wielding kindergarten teacher as 'Santa Clause' (a huge tanned Spaniard) lumbered into the restaurant trying to escape the swarm of greedy little munchkins clustered at his feet demanding their presents.

I was none too surprised to discover that Dumpie was leading the charge and subsequently secured himself a front row standing room only place for the handing out of loot.  Upon receiving his present he calmly ripped it open, revealing a cheap plastic taxi car whose roof rack busted within the first few minutes.  (What do you expect when there are only three little toy stores in town, all with the same cheap plastic garbage, and you have a proviso of 100 Rupees per gift...basically £1.50!)

Despite my best 'vroom-vroom' sounds and energetic manhandling of said plastic junk, he was none too impressed with his little gift and spent the remainder of the party hunting for the now departed Santa in order to trade his gift for a better one.  (Ah, if only that were allowed, no doubt there would be a queue longer than the boxing day one outside Selfridges, comprised of disgruntled housewives clamouring to exchange power tools, ill-fitting lingerie and Paris Hilton perfume...)

The husband made himself fairly scarce throughout most of the night, choosing instead to chat to the most interesting person in the room.  No, not a fellow parent, but rather the somewhat elderly dutch dj of somewhat indeterminate sex, puffing away on a suspicious looking homemade cigarette...Apparently he/she owns 11,000 odd pieces of vinyl, has lived here in Goa for the past seven years and never made it home last night (this last little tidbit gleaned when seeing her/him ride by on a scooter this morning in the same bright blue t-shirt)

Fair enough.  I suck at small talk and so was doing my best to keep myself to myself, whilst monitoring the dessert table where Dumpie once again stood in prime position, waiting to get his grubby little paws on the first slices of the chocolate cake.  He was welcome to it.  I know from experience (and a tiny bite was conclusive) that Goans just don't 'do' good baked goods.  It was an eggy, bland creation which looked like is should have been oozing with dark chocolate goodness and instead left me mildly gagging and Dumps spitting up his remains onto my Havaianas underneath the table.

Aside from the general chaos resulting from a plethora of wild haired, sandy children running around tables and occasionally escaping outside onto the sand in a 'Lord of the Flies-esque' formation, it was a fairly moderate affair.  Even the sight of two progressive nursing mothers (their children easily able to talk, walk, and probably do beginners calculus) failed to elicit any real interest from my roving eyes.

Ho ho ho...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

"Mummy Giveth...and Mummy Taketh Away"

So 'Sprinkle' the kitten is no longer with us.  No, we did not kill it. (Though had we continued to 'foster' it for even a few more days that would have been fairly likely I imagine).

After cradling it for four hours in my t-shirt yesterday morning, stroking its little head with my index finger, and risking incontinence just because I didn't want to disturb its slumber...I was somehow able - despite the great emotional attachment - to hand it over to a stranger on the beach last night.

Now in all fairness, this stranger does volunteer at a local animal welfare place, but she also confessed that there was no way she was going to stay up all night and feed it milk every two hours through an eyedropper.  She made it clear that her three dogs took priority and that the best she could do was put it safely in another room till morning.

The husband looked hesitant, Egg looked distraught, and Dumpie kept repeating, "Why that lady take our puppy?" (Poor Dumps never got over the sudden 180 on the 'species switcheroo'.)

Being the voice of reason, and not wanting dear Sprinkles to die on my watch, I handed over the box resolutely and said, "No here - you take it.  It's better."  Then I marched off down the beach, Egg's hand in mine, trying to explain why we had to give his first 'pet' away, whilst simultaneously trying to decide upon which beach restaurant we should inflict ourselves for dinner.

It didn't go over well.  Poor Egg is still upset and bless his little heart this morning he took himself off privately to write Sprinkles a little letter begging him to come home.  Reading it brought tears to my eyes and I got a little catch in my throat.

The only thing for it is to distract him with thoughts of inventing. The husband recently got a miniature lab coat made up for him in town, which Egg wears when he's 'off-duty' at home.  He has even made a sign on his bedroom door which says, "Inventor Eggie".

I bet that right about now Egg is wishing he could invent a new mother.  One who didn't insist on the husband bringing a tiny UNIDENTIFIED infant animal home to nurse, only to casually give it away to a lady on a beach 48 hours later.

Hmmm...it's going to take an awful lot of Maaza's to make up for this one (sigh).

Monday, 13 December 2010

"I Think I Smell A Pussy Cat"

"Change your blog post" the husband advised, upon finding out that it was a kitten not a puppy we had rescued last night.

"No," I stubbornly said.  "Besides, I'm still not convinced it's a cat."

A mate dropped by today and raised his eyebrows when we showed him our 'puppy', declaring, "You know that's a cat right?"  Gulp.  No.  We did not.

Okay, so it turns out that we are in possession of a newborn kitty-cat - not puppy as we formerly thought.

(Mind you, the jury is still technically out on that one for me, given the gargantuan size of its 'paws'...but I digress.)

This morning I was greeted by an email from my sister saying, "Are you sure it's not a rodent you've rescued and are sharing your bed with?"  She was doubtful given the fact that we'd had to Google in order to suss out exactly which gene pool our new pet hailed from.

In fact the husband confessed last night to also waking up and double checking that we hadn't just begun nursing a newborn rat (you should see its tail).

Anyway, I'm kind of glad it's a kitten because there is no way I could give up a puppy.  I am after all, a dog person.  And the husband is a cat person.  Which might explain why he was up several times throughout the night, feeding the little thing through a straw and stroking it to sleep, while I, with the best intentions in the world, could do little more than gaze on through sleep deprived eyes, my only task being official 'light switcher-on person'.

Now it all makes sense.  Inherently I must have known that it was of the feline variety, and vice versa the husband.

But don't get me wrong.  I have spent the entire morning with this little ball of mewling fluff wrapped in my all saints cardigan, stroking its tiny head and rocking it to sleep.

Nonetheless, the case remains that as a 'dog person', I am not willing to take on any more dependents at present - especially the aloof, non-licking, non-wagging-of-the-tail variety.

(But it's still darn cute.  Check it out this morning as the husband gave our 'puppy' a bath in our pasta pot.  Priceless.)


Sunday, 12 December 2010

"The World's Tiniest Puppy...Or The Case Of The Criminally Cute Critter"

The husband and I are on our bed, gazing in wonderment at the tiniest of tiny newborn pups, swaddled in our old bedclothes.

What is a newborn puppy doing in our bed you might ask?

Good question.

On the way home from dinner on the beach tonight, the husband stopped when he heard this faint sound of mewling by the side of the road.  He bent down and scooped up a tiny abandoned newborn puppy (hey, this is India after all.)

It immediately stopped crying and I pointed out the obvious.

"We have to take it home you know."

"What about its mother?"

"Do you see any other pups about?  It's obviously been abandoned and if we leave it here it won't make it through the night - not with so many hungry predators about."

He sighed, knowing I was right.  Egg and Dumpie piped up chanting, "We want a pet please can we have a pet we've never had a pet pleeeeeeaaaaaaaase Mama Dada pleeeeeeaaaaaase?!"

So you see, what could we do?

As we trudged home, the husband delicately cradling this miniscule new life in his palms, he gently stroked it and muttered, "I've always liked cats better than dogs anyway."

It sure didn't seem like a kitten to me, but then who was i to argue? It was dark and he was at least consenting to bring it home with us, so I kept my mouth shut.  And, assuming it survived the next crucial few weeks, it would provide two adoring boys with a darling pet until we leave India.

Once home we heated up a milk and water combination, made sure it wasn't too hot, then proceeded to feed it droplets of liquid through a straw...mostly unsuccessfully, but some made it in.

Having looked up some information on Google, the husband has ascertained that it is indeed from the canine genetic pool and not feline as he had suspected/hoped.  Oh yeah, and he's discovered that it needs to be fed every 2-3 hours.

Oh no.  We've gone through this twice before with the monsters and night feeds consisted of one of us grabbing the baby, latching him onto me and falling promptly back asleep.  Somehow I don't see this working the same way.

What have we gotten ourselves into??  Currently it is 'feeding' then napping for twenty minutes then crying, then feeding, then napping for twenty minutes, then.....(get the picture?!)

All I can say is its lucky it's so darn cute.  Criminally cute.  Off the richter scale cute.  Seriously.  Will that be enough to ensure that the sleep deprived husband and I manage to pry our exhausted selves out of bed ad infinitum through the night?  I'd like to think so but...

Stay tuned...

Friday, 10 December 2010

"Sending Out An S.O.S....Husband Come Home!"

The countdown is on...the husband comes back today.  This past week's experiment 'solo parenting' the monsters has felt like the looooongest week in personal history.  
(The week I was overdue waiting to birth the Dumps felt shorter.)

Indeed, I am heralding the husbands return with as much excitement as I would Santa Claus (if indeed he were real), or a six hour carte blanche shopping spree binge-a-thon at Selfridges.  I kid you not.

I got the phone call yesterday afternoon.  The motorcycle had broken down about four or so hours south of here.  Something about a battery.  (I wasn't really listening...merely absorbing the fact that I'd be alone yet another night, and had ANOTHER nightmarish dinner to survive and yet ANOTHER bedtime ritual to complete on my own.)

Dumpies kindergarten teacher suggested that he may just be dealing with a surge of testosterone these days, or in need of an outlet to vent.  To that end we have been 'loaned indefinitely' the school's little Mickey Mouse punching bag.

He loves it.  He makes me stand there holding it aloft several times a day while he jabs and gives it a right,  a left, a quick right and then two sharp lefts.  The boy is a natural.  Should I be scared?

Meanwhile he's holding me hostage over dinner each night.  The deal is, Dumpie gets a milkshake for dessert if he finishes his dinner and doesn't cause trouble.  Of course this has meant that he's taken to burying his expensive freshly made fish fingers in the sand (much like I found him burying his 'toilet' in the front yard the other day using his sand shovel and sporting a cheeky grin - explaining that he just 'felt' like doing it outside...nice), and continuing to terrorise Egg for a go on his Nintendo DSi.

I am sick of breaking up sand throwing fights, stick warfare and water bottle tippage for laughs.  I am sick of being followed home by a chanting four year old, "Silly Mama stupid Mama...etc." while the local Indians look on with mirth - no doubt finding my rebellious, defiant, very naughty child the most fun they can have without watching telly.

I am sick of it taking 2+ hours to get Dumpie dressed in the morning, only to have whatever I've managed to get him wrangled in, lassoed into the bathroom courtesy of his 'light saver' and into the dirty toilet - rendering it good for nothing but the laundry bag.

I am sick of nightly chasing Dumpie up and down the beach after dark (his beloved birthday torch is STILL around believe it or not, but out of batteries due to almost constant use), stepping on cow droppings and utterly self-conscious in front of rows of assembled diners under the stars.

I am sick of having to pick out discoloured bits of wheat in Dumpie's porridge because they do not make the grade, whilst he stands over me with his toilet brush night stick, tapping me on the wrists if I do not do it fast enough.  And at the end of it all he is just as likely as not, to tip the whole mess over the side where it will be fought over by stray dogs and vicious crows, while Dumpie demands, "Toast and jam Mama!"

Can you tell I've nearly lost it??  It's so bad that Dumpie's teacher the other day gazed at me with great compassion and kindly asked, "Are you doing okay?"

Am I doing ok?  Ummmm....no.  I most definitely am not.

What lessons have I learned this week?

1.  Don't give in to a terrorists demands...however tempted you may be.  Chocolate milkshakes are just the beginning.

2.  Running up and down the beach after a startlingly fast little runner may be good for the heart but bad for the self-esteem.  Make sure you are not wearing flimsy bandeau at the time.  Not a good look.

3.  If you suspect you have spawned an uber-naughty child and find yourself 'between relationships', do something about it now.  It takes two to tango with a 'challenging' child.  One to be on the front line whilst the other self medicates with a cocktail or a massage.  Trust me.

Bring on the husband....

Monday, 6 December 2010

"Down in the Dumps"

This morning, trying to get Dumpie dressed for kindergarten, was akin to trying to rope a headstrong rodeo bull.

Shielding all vital organs, I grasped his giggling, wriggling form whilst attempting to reach over and manoever a t-shirt over his thrashing head.

He got away, grabbed his most recent version of a 'light saver' (the remains of a discarded toilet brush found in a junk pile near the beach a week ago) and went hurtling out the open door into the yard - gleeful and victorious.

This went on for the better part of half an hour until I managed to sneak up on him, grab him from behind and wrestle a shirt on.  A pointless endeavour as it turns out, for moments later he had undressed and stood laughing in the corner as he whipped the shirt across the room, overcome with mirth.  What fun.

Dumpie's N.F. ('Naughty Factor') has risen to an uncomfortable 10/10 I miserably told the husband when we spoke last night on the phone.  I think Dumps is taking advantage of his Dada's absence by seeing how far he can push his Mama over the edge.  So far it's Dumps 8 and Mama nil.

Every time we go to the beach, I spend a good portion of the time depositing Egg somewhere and begging him to stay put while I chase his little brother up and down the sand, trying to catch the little scamp whilst inadvertently putting on a show for tourists eating at the beach shacks.  As I am not wearing a high cut sexy red bathing suit at the time, and at any rate do not possess the assets needed to shift the scene into anything resembling an R-rated mode, I imagine the image is less 'Baywatch' and more 'World's Mummies Gone Mad'.

I really have no recourse but to hold on for a few more days until the husband returns from his motorcycle odyssey - hopefully refreshed, revitalised, and ready to deal with his second-born son who is clearly in method acting training for a role in the upcoming remake of the exorcist.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Might As Well Face It You're Addicted To...Umm...The Internet?!

Okay, okay...guilty.  I've been absent from not only my blog, but various bits of my life as well these past few weeks.

I've received some emails asking where the heck I've been, and I started wondering why it is that I never seem to have a spare moment to sit down and write anymore.

Two reasons (in no particular order):

1. Brand-spanking new Internet Connection recently installed in our Goan village home...ah let's see...around two weeks ago

2. Dumpie.  Nuff said.

First off, the husband and I have had to admit to ourselves that we're internet addicts.  Hardcore ones.  We had a connection in Bali of course, but it was intermittent at best and we had to log on each time, frugal with our usage as we were getting billed by the minute.

Now however, with all the worlds information at our fingertips 24/7 (!) once again, it has come to our attention that we have a BIG problem.  We just can't stay off it!

Whether it's emails, facebook, myspace, news sites, downloads, skype, ichat, youtube or whatever, there's always just 'one more thing' we need to click on, and before you know it, whole hours have passed with the husband and I staring intently at our laptop screens, barely acknowledging each other except by email (I kid you not).

So...going to have to work on that one.  After all, there is something inherently ridiculous about living the simple life, dressed in little more than a bikini and sarong everyday, yet manically browsing my favourite online fashion stores for clothes I'll never buy, simply because I'm in need of a fashion fix.

The internet is like crack.  (Note to self:  "SORT YOURSELF OUT SELF!  GET OUTSIDE, FROLIC IN SOME WAVES AND STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER... NOW!")

The other 'problem' (is it wrong to refer to your second born son as a 'problem'?) is Dumpie. (Hmmm...one to bring up at the next weekly parenting course...which fyi really exists and the husband and I - much to our amusement - actually attend...more on that some other time.)

I liken my darling four year old son to a character in 'Lord of the Rings'.  He is growing in power and strength daily, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to win even a fraction of the daily battles we have over...pretty much everything.  He is clever, manipulative, strong, fast, and cunning.  First thing in the morning before we've even awoken, it is common to come to and find him beating the husband and I about the head with a big pillow demanding we 'wake up and get out of bed'...even if it's still dark outside.

Nightly it's a constant battle to first get him ready for bed (coercing him into the shower, then chasing him down - often half naked - through the yard in the pitch dark following the light of his little torch) and then of course KEEPING him in bed long after Egg has fallen asleep.

He thinks nothing of terrorising fellow diners in restaurants, and just this morning I had to physically carry him away from his perch atop a nearby chair where he was heckling an Israeli man for having pakora for breakfast and eating too quickly.

I then found him minutes later chastising our waiter for being a 'bad boy' and not bringing his banana lassi fast enough.  I died.

Can anyone out there tell me whether there is such a thing as the 'Filthy Fours?'  I don't know what it is these days but the husband and I are being run ragged by the adorable but uber-naughty Dumps.  He is well known in the area...local waiters greet him by name, and often scoop him up for a cuddle as he walks by, before dropping him to the ground as he whacks them on the side of the head with his little light sabre and wriggles out of their grasp.

At any rate, in the spirit of camaraderie, I have insisted that the husband take off on a much-needed road trip for a few days.  There is no point the both of us suffering, and hopefully he'll come back with strength and determination anew.

Besides, I like a good challenge, and surviving alone with two little boys, no help and no husband for the time being will show me what i'm made of.

I shall not be sharing my revelations with you.  (Nor, does it seem, should I be returning to the parenting course to learn further ways to 'reason' with my children and pacify them using soft words and gentle little tricks.  The money would be better spent on an extra round of Kingfishers at dinner each night...in my humble opinion.)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

"Happy Birthday Mr. Dumpie!"

I can't believe that four years ago today...in the middle of the night...I gave birth on our bathroom floor (sisters looking on in horror)...and Dumpie was the result.


Ah, I recall it fondly...


My sisters had made the mistake of picking up the phone when the husband rang in the early hours of the morning.  Wandering over in their pj's from where they lived a few doors down, they had been promptly ushered into the bathroom to 'deal' with me whilst the husband busied himself in the kitchen, rustling up tea for the novice midwife.  In retrospect, perhaps rustling up a tea party in the kitchen whilst I lay beached in the bathtub moaning that i wanted to die, was perhaps not the best use of his time...but I digress...


The poor girls.  All they'd signed up for was babysitting duty for Egg - not accidental birthing partners.  Nonetheless, they were present for the whole shebang, and secretly I suspect that their reluctance to spawn up until now may have in some way been a result of witnessing firsthand the horrors of live birth sans ANY pain relief.


And then of course moments after a push or two (my mum on speakerphone across the ocean) the husband cried out incredulously 'It's a BOY!" shocking all of us - especially me - who had been certain a little girl was on the cards.
Now four years on I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade 'The Dumps' for even the sweetest, most darling girl in the world.  I really wouldn't.  (And that despite me having the most divine accoutrements to hand on to a daughter...what a waste!)


No, once you've spent some time in Dumpie's universe, you realise that he's a one-of-a-kind force of nature...a charmer...a scamp...a clown...a total and utter delight...and well - pure comedy from morning til night.  Since Dumps has come into our lives my scowl to smile ratio has gone off the scale.  Everyday is an adventure waiting to happen, and whether it borders on horrendous or hilarious is pretty much luck of the draw.  But I wouldn't have it - or HIM - any other way.


(NOTE:  Please consider these sentiments null and void if, in the coming years, Dumpie manages to do any/all of the following:  sets fire to our home, impregnates one of his classmates, kills a family pet, runs us into bankruptcy due to abuse of premium number lines, submerges my laptop into the bathtub, etc.)


My father teasingly tells me that Dumpie is his revenge on me after all I put him through growing up.  And he may be right.  For Dumpie is a carbon copy of my father in so many ways.  Whether it's his rogue-like wink of "Hey Lookin' Gookin'", his naughty smile when he knows he's just done something utterly horrid but sees I'm trying to keep from breaking out in laughter, or whether it's the confident way he meanders through life, charming all he meets...they share the same soul - of that I'm sure.


Today Dumpie celebrated his fourth birthday with not one but two birthday cakes.  The first was for his kindergarten class of thirty.  Let me just say that again.  THIRTY!!  Have you ever tried wrapping a 'pass the parcel' gift with THIRTY layers of toys and treats?!  Not fun.  It gets bloody big by the end of it I'll tell you.


Despite burning the skin off one finger while lighting the twenty odd candles (Dumpie likes to blow things out), the party was deemed a success.


Party Number Two consisted of Dumps opening 14 birthday presents, all wrapped up in gaudy silver and green foiled paper, later that day before dinner.  Pressie highlights included:


*his own torch (runs on three AA batteries...will likely be left at a restaurant and never seen again)
*a hula hoop (don't ask - was all the rage in the Gilli Islands a few months back)
*a 'light and sound' army rifle (husband abhors it but Dumps adores it - our neighbours not so much)
*Ben-10 Action Figure with sounds (from big brother Egg...in retrospect not ideal to bring to candle-lit restaurant...a tad disruptive)
*Lego 'Indian Stylee' (ie. looks like Lego but pieces probably won't fit together and will be lost within a fortnight is my bet)
*Ben-10 t-shirt (already stained with Baskin Robbins Bavarian Chocolate Ice Cream)
*giant coloured chalk (with which to decorate his walls with his own particular brand of graffiti)


Of course no birthday would be complete without the presence of 'Sandkelp' - Dumpie's 13 year old best friend from next door.  He came bounding in with a present of sand toys and a big grin.  Dumps gave him some chocolate birthday cake but then made him clean up all his toys and transport all his loot to the bedroom.  Luckily Sandkelp adores Dumpie and has a very obliging nature.


Dumpie insisted on carrying out his own birthday cake whilst singing Happy Birthday to himself - and who were we to argue?  Despite a near miss when his fine little locks almost caught fire, he did an admirable job.  And if you discount the fact that he insisted on opening every single present - even the few we got for Egg (who was greatly suffering from birthday envy to the extent that we invented a 'Birthday Brother' role which garnered him a few presents himself), he was on fairly good behaviour.


For a day which started with me chasing him from the landlady's house where he was yelling Sandkelp awake with cries of 'You've got a stinky bum bum!" to now, where he lies curled up with Eggie in bed next door, clutching his teddy and glow in the dark light sabres, looking like butter wouldn't melt...


I for one am glad the day is over.  It was fun, but I'm good for another year thanks.  Birthdays are exhausting.


Now I've just got bloody Christmas to worry about...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

"The Beer Vs Bikini Conundrum"


Isn't it funny how beer ads and commercials often feature at least one bikini-clad babe prancing around with a bottle suggestively clasped in hand, laughing and joking around with her mates on a beach somewhere?  Well if anyone stopped to think about it, they'd realise how ridiculous that notion is.  Yep, young people are always gathering for parties with their friends, drinking beer and frolicking about...but I guarantee there will not be a bevy of size 0 beauties prancing about with concave, 'Victoria's Secret' tummies and putting away several bottles in a session.

Why?  

Simple.  Beer makes you fat.  It gives you a beer belly.  It is notorious for filling up your tummy with empty calories and air and has no nutritional value whatsoever.  So....

A more realistic representation of beer commercials would be a bunch of overweight dudes sitting about with their pudgy, beer-loving, muffin-topped girlfriends, chomping on crisps and asking their mates to toss another one over (being too lazy to get up and get one themselves).  There would be little if any frisbee playing and less flirtatious looks and more burping.  Yuck.

So it is with all this in mind that I was rather relieved to put an abrupt halt to my short-lived but not insignificant beer drinking career.  You see, a long-timer here in Goa informed me a few days ago that my beloved Kingfisher Beer is made with glycerine and that if you open a bottle under water, keeping your thumb firmly pressed against the opening, it is possible to see the globules of glycerine float in revolting liquified dollops to the top.  Eeeeew!

That's all I needed to hear.  After all, I became a vegetarian for almost equally off-putting scenarios which I was never able to fully exorcise from my mind.  

And so the beer drinking curse has been lifted.  I now order fresh lime soda's and water with my meals and have lost all in interest in beer.  Which is good I suppose, as 90% of the coming months will be spent in a bikini and given the choice I'd prefer not advertise my love of Kingfisher beer by posting a free advertisement on my waistline.

The other benefit I suppose is that when I go to pick up Dumpie from kindergarten in future, it is likely that he will have made me a little bowl or a picture frame - and not (as happened last week) proudly be displaying the 'beer opener' he made for Dada and I at craft time (oh dear).

Of course, the lack of beer means that I will have nothing to wash down the deliciously spicy 'Masala Papads' with, and more importantly, have no means with which to take 'the edge off' when the monsters start throwing sand or chasing each other around the table at mealtimes.  

Instead I suppose I'll have to glean comfort from my rather flatter belly and try and not stare longingly across the table at the husband who shall be imbibing with a knowing smirk on his face...wondering when I'll cave in.


Friday, 5 November 2010

"Diwali Dawns"

Last night Diwali celebrations kicked off here in Goa. Diwali is sort of like an Indian Christmas. It's their biggest festival of the year, and they consider the new year to start today. It is tradition to wear newly purchased clothes and to get up at 4am and let off firecrackers.

Lying in bed early this morning we jumped in alarm as a flurry of firecrackers could be heard going off around us. And just now, Sandkelp, the landlords 13 year old son, shyly brought over a wrapped box of sweets for Dumpie...aw bless...

Last night Eggie's school had a Diwali celebration which we all attended. Dumpie had been coerced into attending, decked out in his matching Balinese two piece comedy Batik shorts and top set on the condition that there would be cake and games there (ALL his clothes are dirty...he had four separate 'accidents' yesterday because he was sick).

The students had decorated the floor of their outdoor classroom with coloured sand, depicting various pictures and designs. Little Egg had made something that resembled four red and green flowers and was ever so proud of his work. He also glowingly showed off his homemade lantern to us. (The children in his Steiner-led classroom may not be able to necessarily read and write at his age, but gosh darn it they can craft themselves silly!).

I was fairly exhausted having been up most of the previous night with Dumpie who had been suffering from a fever. When i had eventually managed to get back to sleep, the horrific 'Cujo Cacophany' which kicked off around 4am or so, was enough to ruin what was left of the night. It basically sounded like we'd been delivered straight down into dog hell for all eternity (well 45 minutes of what sounded like dozens of freaked out snarling dogs could scare anyone...especially when they're right outside your front door!)

So I spend most of my time off to one side, taking pictures, and watching Eggie proudly announce to all and sundry that his Dada was a 'great drummer' and thus would likely win the drumming game (he didn't). Then when the 'Smartie Game' started up between the parents (using a straw and some serious sucking action you had to transfer smarties from one bowl to another fast as you could) Eggie yelled out, "Can my Dad have a practice first?" Obviously he was a bit tense about his Dada performing well after his surprising loss in the drumming game earlier.

Alas the husband, though in possession of a most lovely and substantial pair of lips, was unable to keep up with the fellow next to him, who undoubtedly used the magical power from his long beaded hair piece (a 'rat's tail' I believe it's called) to harness the bionic sucking skill needed to win the game.

When snack time came, all parents having been asked to contribute, Egg made clear to all and sundry his father's generosity by declaring, "Would anyone like one of the twenty four samosas my Dada brought?"

Haha...

At any rate, it was a lovely evening, made miserable only by the random expelling of rather putrid gas a la Dumps (tummy troubles) who hardly left my lap all night, thereby leading fellow parents who had the misfortune to stop and chat, to assume that it was I who was responsible for such pungant flatulence. Great.

And of course it poured down with rain just as we were about to leave. So we arrived home soaked, having been accosted by little bands of children in the road who improvised roadblocks to beg for money for Diwali. The husband had to empty out his pockets for small change instead of just roaring through when we discovered Sandkelp the neighbour boy made up one particular band of ruffians.

Diwali however, is not without meaning for us.

For one, it's the most auspicious day to begin a new business venture or open your store. So fingers crossed that our beach finally gets up and properly running this week. The four on an Enfield thing is proving a bit challenging this time around - whether because the boys have grown that little bit bigger, or because I have yet to master the graceful dismount which entails peeling my moist thighs off the leather seat like velcro whilst lifting my leg high enough to get over the back 'bitch pad' rail, whilst not losing a grip on Dumpie who is in my arms. Add to that the husbands mega-black-bag he insists on carting around - and my own - and you see that we're nearing 'ten clowns stuffed in a car'
territory. Time to get back to good ol' walking I'm afraid.

The other thing is that Eggie is off school all next week. This is going to present a problem. Not only is Dumpie going to put up a fight every single day about having to go to 'stool' when Eggie doesn't have to, but the husband and I are going to have to try and find new and interesting ways to amuse our six year old each and every day (thank goodness for Nintendo...!)

And the husband has just announced that in celebration of Diwali (huh?) he's going to go out this morning and buy that guitar he's been lusting after. Never mind that we have no place to store it, can not take it back home, and it's likely to be used in combat at some point between Egg and Dumps.

As for me? Well I reckon I could get into the spirit of things if i tried...like stroll down the road and avail myself of a new outfit in honour of the day...after all "when in Rome" and all that :)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

"Two Husbands...Good Idea or Insanity?! Discuss..."




Ever wonder what life would be like with two husbands instead of just the one?  It's crossed my mind a few times, I don't mind admitting, but usually only when the husband has had a running streak of 'nights out' and I've found myself bored and lonely at home wishing I had another husband who enjoyed romantic nights in, cuddling up to me with a bottle of wine and a dvd occasionally.

Well this past weekend I had the chance to dry-run the idea when our family went en masse to Karnataka, the next state along.  We were headed for Gokarna, or more specifically 'Om Beach' - named such because of the formation of rocks along the shore which are laid out just like the Om symbol.

Having paid a small fortune to get his beloved Enfield tuned up after five months of being locked in storage, the husband was aching for a proper ride to flex those 'moto-muscles' of his and revel in the satisfyingly chunky 'clunk-clunk-clunk' tick synonymous with the Enfield engine.

As our friend from London was keen to come, the husband suggested that perhaps he could accompany the monsters and I on the train while the husband rode his motorcycle along the three hour stretch and met us there.  Our friend may not yet have any children of his own, but has more god children than we have friends, as well as being 'god uncle' to wee Egg.  

He thought it would be amusing to step in for the husband and get a taste of family life without the strings.  And of course, being a rather courteous and considerate fellow, we all joked about how he could be 'Husband Number Two' and I could try him out for size in case we ever decided to go Mormon and live in a reverse-gender-plural-marriage.

The journey there was surprisingly without incident.  The monsters weren't too rowdy, they held our hands crossing the train tracks and we all managed to find seats next to each other.  To be fair, Egg had his head buried in his Nintendo DSi the whole time and Dumpie spent the journey making faces at other passengers and surreptitiously trying to sneak into my handbag for chewing gum and crisps when I wasn't looking.  However the weekend itself proved to be a bit more of a challenge.  

Our friend (a model fake husband it has to be said:  always carrying the bags, making sure I was comfortable, helping chase Dumps across crowded restaurants etc.) showed his weariness only a few times, mealtimes being the most trying what with Dumps insisting he would only eat every other bite of food, and our friend having to choke back cold porridge in an attempt to coerce Dumps into eating.  The throwing the sand thing didn't go over too well (Dumps again), nor did the regurgitating unwanted mouthfuls of Momo's (delicious Tibetan dumplings) back onto the plate.  However I did rather enjoy having two men at my beck and call, allowing me to daydream about how lovely it might be to keep a spare husband for when the primary one is acting up or not fulfilling his husbandly duties!

I'm not entirely sure what our friend made of his experience of pinch hitting as husband/father for three days.  I suspect serious consideration has been now given to any plans he has for pro-creation.  I mean, as much as he adored the kisses, cuddles and watching Egg and Dumps sleep like little angels, he was also front and centre to all the chaos.  Highlights include:

Egg and Dumpie wrestling and fist-fighting in front of a holy temple in Gokarna, as the old holy men filed out after a ceremony and stared aghast at the boys attempting to tie up and choke each other - and me! - with long strands of 'holy string' i'd unwittingly purchased earlier...

Dumpie knocking frantically on my hotel room door, being pursued by an angry Dada, after having bolted the door on the outside of our friends hotel room and locking he, the husband and Egg in there for several minutes, refusing to let them out or even answer their pleas for release (luckily our friend was able to call out the window for a bystander to come and free them)...

The hardcore mud-slinging fight Dumps and I had on Om Beach, much to the amused delight of all the Indian tourists gathered near to watch my three year old literally pummel me with fistfuls of mud (his aim is scarily precise) as I sat there covered in mud, begging him to hold off and trying vainly to protect my bikini-clad modesty...

But the worst had to be the train journey home and getting chucked out of the air-conditioned first class carriage.  Much to our humiliation, we were sat next to a well to do older British couple who watched us get admonished and told to move along by a portly, uber-serious conductor who literally shooed me aside and painstakingly sat down, opening his notebook, pulling out a laminated fare sheet and powering up his handy dandy pocket calculator to begin the onerous task of figuring out just how much money he might potentially owe Rail India for our innocent oversight.  

Egg and Dumpie were of course at this point ensconced in a sleeping berth, curtains shut tight, eating crisps and chocolate and watching Tom and Jerry on the portable dvd.  Only occasionally would a hand emerge, with a little voice demanding that we open some package or another and pass in some mango juice.  We had to drag them, shamefaced, chocolate smeared faces and all, through three further carriages until we arrived in Second Class non-AC where we we taken pity on by a young woman who said that Egg and Dumpie could sit with her while we climbed up onto the highest berth to sit out the rest of the journey.  For my six foot something friend, this amounted to sitting painfully hunched over, necked straining beneath an unfortunately placed metal pole, while I just sat there contemplating how on earth I was going to be able to climb down gracefully in my tenously tied sarong and not expose my undercarriage to all and sundry upon embarkation.  

At any rate, we made it home.  In one piece.  I'm not so sure whether our friend is so keen to repeat the experience and pinch-hit for the husband again, but he at least now knows that 'husbanding' and parenting is hard bloody work.  He also doesn't realise that I saved him from one of the more harrowing tasks: seeing to Dumps when he loudly demands (usually in restaurants as our food has just arrived) "I NEED A POO!".   And did I mention that a lot of the toilets here are primitive mere holes in the ground?  So I have the unenviable task of having to bend over and grasp Dumps under the arms while he goes limp like a rag doll, splays his legs straight out in front of him and waits for his body to do the work.  And if you think that's bad try cleaning him up without the help of toilet paper - especially when he pushes me out the door (my job clearly done) and bolts it from the inside, and I hear the sound of the hose (the 'bum-blaster' a friend wittingly coined it) starting up.  Minutes later he'll emerge, soaked but triumphant, smelling faintly of poo, and ready to eat his meal.  Me...not so much.

Ah well.  Such is life.  Our friend leaves tomorrow to go back to London and I hope he's had a good trip.  We worked amazingly well as a parenting threesome, though I did realise that a permanent manifestation of such might be trouble in the long run given that both husbands might just spend a lot of their time drinking beer together and passing on their bad habits, until you were left with two unwieldy husbands to manage. 

And like Bono sings in 'Until the End of the World', 

"A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle"...

Think I'll stick with just the one.

Friday, 29 October 2010

"Broken Toasters, Ice-Cream and Beer"

Our toaster is broken. Our cheap, canary yellow Indian manufactured toaster no longer works. So I gave it to our landlady and asked her to get it fixed for us and said we'd pay for it. She smiled and said, "I clean toaster. I not use it when you are gone."

"I know!" I tried to reassure her. "I just was wondering whether you could get it fixed for us and whether we could pay you?" I was starting to falter here. I had the distinct impression she thought I was accusing her of having made shed loads of toast while we were in Bali for five months and blamed her for the breakdown.

She smiled, took the toaster and disappeared inside. The toaster hasn't been mentioned again, and that was several days ago, so I suspect our current method of dry-frying bread in our saucepan is going to have to suffice for the next few months. Which is a shame of course because toast is one of our staples.

Isn't it funny how certain environments engender certain eating habits? At home, I might have peanut butter toast once in awhile, but here in India, the husband and I have it almost daily. And take beer for example. I despise the stuff. Always have, always will...or not it would seem. Since we've been away I've regularly consumed both Bintang (Indonesian) and Kingfisher (Indian) beer with the husband. So I blame him of course. But I wouldn't dream of ordering beer in a pub back in England (I draw the line at a half pint of Guinness now and again, but that's a totally different matter), or cracking open a cold beer in the heat. Gross. No way.

So why do I suddenly take to sipping it nightly with meals as if I've been a Pilsner Babe all my life?

The only thing I can think of, is that my particular surroundings are conducive to such brew-friendly behaviour. Everyone else on the beach seems to drink it (peer pressure is never a good excuse but I'm just saying...), and there are only so many fresh lime soda's a girl can drink in a day, and...well...it just seems like it would be wrong not to.

At any rate, Eggs and Dumpie appear to feel the same way - but in regards to mango juice and ice-creams. Egg bawled his eyes out for a good ten minutes last night because we passed the Baskin Robbins without stopping in for a chocolate chip mint cone. And Dumpie has taken to walking up to wait staff and simply ordering his own Maaza's (mango juice) if we deny him. Come to think of it, Egg does too.

Unfortunately the boys are so persuasive that the local shops give them ice creams when they wander in and tell them that their Mama and Dada will pay for them later, and then the husband and I are surprised to find that we have tabs running at various beach shacks. I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

Mind you, Dumpie is currently on an ice-cream ban after cutting my beloved earphones in half last night. I was SO angry that I banned him from ice-cream for the rest of the year. This morning the first thing he said to me was "I have ice-cream today Mama?"

I looked into his adorable, twinkling eyes, smiled, and said, "No way."

I will NOT cave in. I will not. (I won't. I think.)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

"Thank Goodness For Gadgets"


In hindsight, it appears as though all the hanging out in malls in Kuala Lumpur was justified - at least where the newly acquired portable dvd player and refurbished Nintendo DSi are concerned (though not so much the super-duper-fake-eyelash-mascara purchased on impulse after being preyed upon by a gaggle of extra zealous sales assistants sporting 'trannie' lashes).  

Anyway, we took these gadgets for a test drive the other night at dinner...and guess what?  I'll tell you what...the husband, myself, and our dining companion enjoyed a lovely, civilised repast, with nary a whine, scream, disturbance or interruption to be heard.  Seriously!  Dumpie appeared oblivious to the hovering onlookers, transfixed by the mini screen playing out Star Wars episode IV (or 'Epo Four' in Dumps-speak).  Even the presence of a local cow wandering in mid-meal wasn't enough to distract Dumps from the Steven Spielberg saga or Eggie from his racing car game.  Result.

With a bit of a grumble, the boys have started school again, and this time round Dumpie's German teacher is heavily pregnant, which has predictably excited Dumpie's curiosity about how the baby is going to come out.  I let the husband handle that one - instead worriedly focused on the whole breastfeeding issue and wondering how to prevent Dumpie from incessantly quizzing his teacher on the intimate workings of her 'nipples'.  

I forgot how beautiful the light is here in Goa.  From mid-afternoon onwards there's just this pure, beautiful glow that descends, turning the scenery all 'story book' and making it feel like a crime not to sit it out on our front porch, fresh lime soda in hand, musing on how lucky we are to experience this bliss for more than just a two week package holiday this year.

Of course this self-same sun can be bright and blindingly severe in the mornings.  As I found out during my first run in several weeks which I unfortunately embarked upon too late this morning - resulting in a rushed, most unfortunate dressing error which saw me delivering Dumps to his kindergarten sans pants (and I'm not appropriating the North American vernacular here folks), trying to shield my nether region with Dumpie's knapsack on the way there, and hobbling shamefaced in retreat as fast as my mosquito bitten legs could carry me.  When will I ever learn?  In what universe do I remember to cover my lips in cherry pink lip stain, but forget to don undergarments??

Ah well, perhaps this season in Goa I shall turn over a new leaf as it were:  take up yoga, eat nothing but lentils and curd, and become a serene beach goddess...

On the other hand, I may just continue improving my G&T mixing skills, get on first name basis with the Baskin Robbins ice-cream man, and continue to deplete the local dvd shop of all its kiddie flicks - the better with which to mesmorise the monsters whilst the husband and I dine out nightly under romantic skies, uninterrupted by bored, restless progeny and ponder how to extend this great adventure we're on...for like fifty years :) 

That's kind of 'serene beach goddess' territory isn't it?  Or at least a step towards it?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Welcome Back To Goa...The Beach Bums Land On Indian Soil"

So here we are in Goa again.  Much like slipping back into a pair of old, well-worn, faded vintage Levi's which hug your curves in all the right ways, so have the past couple of days back on the Indian sub-continent felt like 'coming home'.  The monsters seem pretty happy to be back too - but that could just be down to the mango juice drink ('Maaza') which they are addicted to and which is served in every single eating establishment here.

We found our little primitive beachside cottage to be exactly how we left it.  Literally, I mean, exactly how we left it.  No painting or cleaning had been done in our absence, and traces of our scurried rush out of there five months ago were still evident.  Of course not everything was the same.  Waiting for us on our blue-tiled porch as we pulled in late the other night, having battled torrential monsoon rains from the airport, was 'Uncle Chancey' - a dear, dear friend of ours who had made the nine hour journey from London strictly to supply us with duty free boozes, chocolate and all the gossip we've been missing in London town these past eight months.  (Okay, maybe he also came to acquire a killer tan, eat chicken tikka masala nightly and watch pretty sunsets but still...)

Thankfully, the tropical deluge lasted merely a day and now we're firmly ensconced in sunny skies, even sunnier smiles and the wicked vibe here which signals the start of the new tourist season.  Although some are fans of the laid-back tail end of the season, there is something to be said for the optimistic attitudes of the beach hawkers, restaurant workers and fellow long-term tourists who are settling in for another glorious stint in the Goan sun.

Mornings have quickly resumed their usual routine:  up at 7am, strong coffee a deux, feed monsters porridge/cornflakes/eggs, chase Dumpie around the yard to get him dressed (whilst trying ones best to avoid being soaked with his newly acquired water gun), snatch and grabbing Egg's Nintendo DSi with one hand while trying to spray him with sun lotion with the other, then herding them out to their respective schools just before 9am.  

We do find we're missing our Bali mates.  A lot.  Only thing for that I suppose is to get them out here for a visit.  So to any 'Bali-ites' reading this, you've heard the clarion call.  Sort yourselves out...Air Asia yourselves over to the Arabian Sea and we'll do our best to make you feel as welcome on our turf as y'all did on yours :)

I confess I was sorely tempted to do a post about our two-plane-two-taxi journey over here from KL...but I realised it was the same old horror story as always - just the details differed.  Dumpie held the plane hostage (if not physically then in every other way) so much so that the husband, Egg and I found ourselves squished in a three seater row right behind Dumps who had somehow wrangled the three seats in front strictly for himself.  He spent much of the five hour plane journey standing up and pacing, laughing and whipping stuff back at us when we wouldn't pass up treats on demand for him.  Or just because he was bored.  And that was on the first flight.  On the second, (thankfully only a 50 minute journey from Mumbai to Goa) we had to go to our 'happy place' and try and ignore Dumpie's constant wailing of, "I hungry!  I huuuuuungry!  I HUNGRY!!!".  

As the husband later pointed out, on a crowded flight full of mostly Indians, what shame it was to have a child advertising the fact that he was not being well fed...and by parents who could well afford it.  Oh the shame.  (Never mind that the husband procured an overpriced limp 'cheese sandwich' from the cabin crew early on...Dumpie was having none of it....and while Egg obediently chewed the less than appetising sarnie, Dumps merely took a bite and spat it across two rows straight into my lap - and onto my expensive, newly laundered All Saints cardi.  Urghhh).

Disembarking, we waited till most passengers had exited the plane, on account of having smuggled in double the amount of hand baggage allowed, and being unable to move without bashing people on the head from both sides.  And as everyone passed, there were murmurs of 'hungry boy' and affectionate pats of Dumpies head as everyone got a look in at the starving child up in row 13.  Oh the shame.

Anyway, we got here in the end and thankfully there is to be no more plane travel for a few months at least.  And the school hours are slightly longer here.  And we have procured portable dvd players and fixed the broken handheld Nintendo.  Daresay the husband and I might be enjoy relatively civilised dining beachfront under the stars soon?  Ah bliss.....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

"The Mall Rats and Rugrats...do KL"

Last night I was privy to a rather unusual sight.  We took the monsters to yet another sprawling mega-mall here in KL in attempt to kill two birds with one stone:  let them run wild and expend some energy before bed...and feed them dinner.  

While waiting for the lift I spotted a young woman clad in full Burka attire, the tiny strip of an opening across her eyes the only visible clue of the woman hidden beneath a voluminous shroud of black.  What caught my attention was the hardcore eye makeup, reminiscent of a drag queen or perhaps a run-in with an over zealous assistant at a Mac counter?  But then she stepped saucily out of the lift in what looked to be six inch stillettos, and following her husband, she cheekily grabbed his arse and gave it a squeeze.  Wot?!

However I was only momentarily distracted as seconds later I heeded a frantic call of help from the husband who was across the way, busy chasing Dumps past Gucci, Coach, Jimmy Choo, and Prada.  He motioned frantically for me to go the other way and try and cut the little road runner off from the other side.  I was only partially successful, for although I managed to grab hold of Dumpies shirt, he wiggled out of my grasp and went spiralling back in the direction from which he came, giggling and screaming with delight.

Luckily the mall wasn't very busy at this time of night and the boys didn't manage to knock over any old ladies or anything like that.  However they did put on a rather riveting performance for the people eating in the surrounding restaurants...though I'm still not sure whether the stares were amusement or horror based.  

There wasn't too much time to ponder this however, as we were on the sixth floor (of a really POSH mall I might add) and Dumpie somehow managed to duck into a restaurant and avail himself of some ornamental stones which he then proceeded to whip at the husband's head as he was closing in on him from the side.  Had they gone over the edge it could have been lethal for an unsuspecting shopper several stories below.

I was torn between wanting to laugh hysterically on one hand, and keeping my husband from divorcing me on the other...(for laughing hysterically with - no sorry at him).  He was NOT amused.  He told me moments later (after we had managed to round them up and were holding onto the wriggling, near hysterical rugrats for dear life) that he was 'so over this stage' and 'needed time away from his family'.  Hmmm...  I can't help but feel that the sheer amount of condensed 'family time' this 'Family Gap Year' has afforded us, has been both a positive and negative thing for him.

He has expressed several times (usually during meal times in crowded restaurants when Dumpie is under the table squirting ketchup onto an unsuspecting Eggie's ankles, or Egg is wandering back into the kitchens, barefoot, asking when  his food will be ready) that he is almost 'ready' to going back to work.  I think he finds the sheer intensity of 24/7 child rearing fairly hardcore.  As do I.  But hey, a burden shared and all that.... :)

I suspect it has become abundantly clear why in the past, upon returning home from a hard day at the office, he may have, on occasion, found me perched at the top of the stairs, clutching a half-empty bottle of wine and looking completely shell-shocked after a shambolic day of child-rearing...

My theory for the sudden resurgence of super-naughty spazzing in public areas, is that for the past several months since we've been in Goa and Bali, the monsters have been so starved of consumerism in the form of bright, shiny tantalising showcases in malls, that they simply can't resist running spastically about, clutching and grabbing everything in sight before chasing each other down concourses to discover even more 'delightful things'.  (Hey, I wasn't so far off from this behaviour when I had my first mall outing in month back in Bali one glorious afternoon.  Just ask the Topshop attendant.)

I was quietly negotiating the cost of a new holdall in a rather upmarket luggage store today, when the worried looking Malaysian shop girl informed me that one of my children had 'taken' a bag from the window display and run out of the store. 

"Oh never mind" I said calmly, "my husband will catch him and bring it back.  Now, about that discount?"...

Later, Eggie came running out of a department store clutching a lovely new t-shirt and proudly showed it to us as we head towards Gap Kids.  "Look Mama, isn't this shirt great!"  I had to run back in quickly, dodge the security guard, and toss it onto the nearest table before quickly dragging him out and giving him a crash course in property theft.

Dumpie has no such qualms.  I watched him make off with not one but two 'Ben 10' children's watches today, and nearly died of embarrassment when he broke the clasp of one and simply tossed it on the ground saying "Don't want this one. It's broken".

Ahhhh....malls.  I DO miss malls.  What can i say?  I miss shopping, browsing, bright colours, new clothes, pretty, lovely, shiny new things all laid out in an orgy of consumerist gluttony.  What a treat it has been indulging my more superficial tendencies and traipsing around Kuala Lumpur's numerous AIR-CONDITIONED cathedrals to materialism, taking it all in and sighing with pleasure at all the new fashions...ahhh...

Even being trailed by a pissy husband and two surprisingly spry little monsters hasn't been enough to dampen my enthusiasm.  I'll miss KL.  It's a rocking city.  (And that has NOTHING to do with the fact that I managed to have a sneaky Zara run the other day, have indulged myself in gourmet lattes day in and day out, and have been imbibing wine the past 10 days like a camel about to go into the desert.)

Goa...I'm almost ready for you...but not quite yet.  Have one more day of decadent gluttony to get through then I swear I'll hang up the designer threads, wean myself off the espresso, put down the pinot grigio and settle in for months of simple beach living.  I swear.