Tuesday, 30 March 2010

"The Joys of Being Female"

This afternoon as I picked Dumpie up from Kindergarten, I was accosted by a rather stern looking Indian woman.

"I must speak to you" she said curtly, and took me off to one side.

I was perplexed. She hadn't even introduced herself...what did she want?

"At certain times in the month you must NOT walk past that temple."

What temple was she referring to?

She pointed to the tiny brightly coloured structure in the vacant lot separating our house from the Kindergarten. I cut across it twice daily with Dumpie, stepping gingerly over all manner of waste and bits of iron, coconuts, fallen branches, discarded bricks, etc. It's an eyesore, and believe me, I don't much enjoy traversing it (neither does Dumpie as he's always making me carry him lest he trip and fall) but it's a necessary evil as it saves me having to walk ALL the way down to the road and take the long roundabout way there.

(I must interject here and acknowledge that I am doing myself no favours in once again discussing commuting time to schools. Back in London I often got reprimanded for grumbling that Egg's school was a five minute stroll away when I could have easily chosen to send him to the excellent school directly across the street. But never mind...)

But back to the story....

To be fair, when I looked closely at the brightly painted tiny structure she was pointing at, I supposed that yes, I could see that it was indeed a (albeit somewhat hidden) temple.

I was told that every month I must NOT walk past it, for four days or so (she would later change this to five), insisting that I either skirt around the dangerous outside bit (like a demented crab), or better yet - take the long way round.

Wanting to respect her, I sort of mumbled, "So today - and for four days - you would prefer it if I didn't go that way?" I asked hesitantly, still no wiser as to the reason for her request, but assuming it might have something to do with a religious holiday or something...

She shook her head in an annoyed fashion and asked, "Is it your time of the month?"

I beg your pardon! What on earth would compel this complete stranger to ask such an intimate question, to me - a stranger, without even introducing herself?! Not to mention totally sidestepping her original request for me to keep well away from this little temple?

Moments later it all became clear. For reasons still unbeknownst to myself, this woman must have concluded that it was my 'time of the month' (which it most certainly is NOT I hasten to add) and wanted to warn me. (Either that or she has been sneakily watching me drop off and pick-up Dumpie from school everyday and given we've just passed the six week mark, decided it was well within her rights to make her move.)

I was flabbergasted...a touch embarrassed...and therefore muttered some sort of agreement, all the while trying to convey that TODAY I was going to take my usual route home because it was NOT 'my time of the month'.

She appeared placated, and as a parting shot suggested that I stay well away from the temple for five days each month - just to be sure. In a gesture showing that she understood the inconvenience, she admitted that at home, she's not even allowed to sit down on the chairs or sofa during her 'time of the month'.

Goodness gracious.

This odd exchange was rounded off rather nicely when I got home, when Dumpie pointed to my breasts and asked if my nipples had names.

I give up.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Egg has become OBSESSED with the game Junior Monopoly. So much so that his teacher has leant him the board game to bring home over Easter holidays. Much to our despair however, he seems unable to handle losing, and has taken to exhibiting mild freak-out behavior when this occurs (which is every time so far).

To add insult to injury, Dumpie appears to have a natural knack for the game (or maybe just 'winning' in general?) despite not having a clue how it's played. Try as he might to appease his older brother by giving him too much money and allowing himself to be cheated out of receiving 'property taxes' when Egg lands on his square...he just can't help winning - despite himself.

By this point in the game, Egg will be mournfully holding out a paltry bill or tow, whilst Dumpie sits quietly beside him, clutching a fat wad of the coloured play money, trying to give an inconsolable Eggie some cash 'for free' but Egg is having none of it. Instead, he sobs, "But it's NOT FAIR! Dumpie ALWAYS wins!"

Dumpie smiles gamely and sits calm as a buddha, legs gently crossed, dirty little toes wiggling to and fro, waiting patiently for his turn to roll the dice and make even more money (sigh).

The game always ends the same way. Eggie loses by not having enough money left to pay Dumpie, and after trying to swipe some notes from the bank, in one brutal, desperate bid to continue the game despite his cheating, he'll throw everything to the floor, tears rolling down his face, kick the board and run sobbing from the room.

Poor angel. Dumpie will then get so upset by Egg's sudden rage and incomprehensible hatred, that he'll start sobbing too, and I'm left with the mess of trying to calm down two runny-nosed, hyperventilating little monsters all the while threatening, "You are NEVER playing this game again! Do you hear me?!"

Until of course, the incessant, relentless, whining and begging from Eggie to play causes me to acquiese or suffer a nervous breakdown. I give in...foolishly...and the whole nightmare starts once again - from the top.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

"The New Addition"

Yesterday the husband brought back the latest addition to our household. A gleaming, chrome-glinting beauty of an Enfield.

Speechless, we stood there looking at it, any lingering bits of 'buyers remorse' fluttering away in the warm breeze, as we stood gazing at, what surely must be, the sexiest beast on the road.

Momentarily I forgot about potential road accidents, the hazards involved in driving two-wheeled vehicles around unregulated dirt roads, and the fact that there is but one bike and yet four people in our family.

No, none of this crossed my mind as I surveyed our latest familial accessory.

Nor did I blink an eye when both Eggs and Dumpie begged to be allowed to perch on the black leather seat and make 'vroom vroom' noises. (Perhaps this bike will be responsible for fostering a life long love of the motorcycle and I shall be plagued by 'mother guilt' and 'mother anxiety' for the rest of my days as a result...)

Or maybe this is just a rather stylish and easy way to avail our foursome of the now ripe and luscious mangoes from the nearest market town...

Or the non-winged creature which shall ferry us to even more divine and luxurious weekly massages further afield?...

Do I dare ask the husband to teach me the rudimentary skills necessary to take this formidable baby on the road? (The last time he tried to teach me to ride, it was in New Delhi many years ago, and excitedly gaining speed after only a few seconds, my career as potential kick-ass 'Hell's Angel', tattoo-ridden, cool chick ended the moment a fat young woman crossed the road in front of me, causing me to drive the Enfield into the nearest ditch.)

Oh, who am I kidding? I was born to ride on the back of a bike.

I'll leave the navigating and throttle power to the husband. He may not know how to get the most out of the two-legged female variety, but when it comes to two-wheeler - well he's the king of the road...the only one I'll ride with.

In a weird way, it feels like we've just adopted the newest member of our family. Only it won't poo-poo in public (Dumpie had another 'accident' at Kindergarten today damn it), drain our finances (Egg currently has more money in his allowance jar than I do in my wallet...is that right??) or talk back (good old Dumps is still rather scornfully referring to us as 'Stupid Woman' and 'Stupid Dada' with worryingly reoccurring frequency these days).

Oh yeah - and the best part is that if we decide we don't want it anymore we can sell it on. (Like that's going to happen. I can already see it being shipped across the ocean to join us back in London whenever it is we decide to return. Just imagine the school run...)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

"Waxing Lyrical..."

I don't know whether it's because I just saw 'Bright Star' on dvd the other night (loathed the film, but have a soft spot for the 'Romantics'...) or what - but I have the sudden compulsion to write a sonnet, in praise of a girl named "Kemy".

Who is "Kemy" you ask?

Only the provider of the most amazing waxing and threading technique I have ever had the fortune to experience.

For the past two hours (two hours!!) she has painstakingly, and with the methodology of a perfectionist (takes one to know one) rid my body of all extraneous hair. Now, bearing in mind that I am the most un-hirstute person EVER, even I was shocked that she would spend that much time on me. In fact her first words were, "But you HAVE no hair!"

This is true, but nonetheless I wanted to be stripped of even those miniscule bits of down that once sparsely covered my thighs. I wanted to become completely hairless. And now I am.

Not only did she give me the kind of first rate treatment I would imagine would be reserved strictly for princesses in the oil rich Middle East, but she did it in such a painless fashion that it actually felt like a very pleasant massage much of time....

(Those of you reading this, who have ever deemed wearing a bikini necessary, and have thus taken the steps necessary in order to prevent yourself from becoming an object of ridicule, thereby subjecting yourself to the torture that is waxing - will KNOW what an amazing claim this is)

I actually started to nod off at one point, and was so relaxed that I began to drool.

And just when I thought it was over, she pulled out a long piece of white string and began threading me for odd flecks of hair which might have had to audacity to stay put during the rigorous waxing process.

Now although this dedication to precision was very welcome, and quite astounding in itself, I must confess to feeling mildly ill at ease when Kemy began threading my bikini line. Surely I wasn't paying her enough to devote so much time and intensive labour to what is ultimately - let's face it - an undervalued part of my anatomy.

But no, she attacked that area with relish and soon I relaxed and began to think of other areas of my body she might transform into baby soft smooth zones.

Eventually of course we ran out of hair to remove. We both surveyed my clean as a whistle body.

"Is good?" she asked hesitantly.

"Oh yeah. WAY better than in England...way better. You are amazing," I gushed.

I handed over a sum of money equivalent to the size of the tip I gave to the rubbish girl who last waxed me in London the day we flew here. Then I handed over a few more rumpled notes in sheer gratitude.

She was overjoyed and grateful. I was ecstatic.

I love India...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

"War Paint"

I looked today at all the cosmetics I brought with me. How ridiculous. Especially as I have now adopted the fresh, bare faced native Indian look with relish. Despite wearing SPF 50 every day, I appear to be slowly changing ethnicity right before the husbands eyes.

Even moisturiser is a bit of a stab in the dark at best, as it's so humid here, that it just slides off my face in tiny beads of perspiration moments after I've slathered it on. And mascara? As if...

Given the amount of times per hour I'm wiping my face, if I was foolish enough to put black khol into the equation I'd look like an African warrior princess.

(Or maybe I do now anyway...especially when heatedly chasing a semi-naked Dumps around the front yard, trying to 'catch him' in order to get him dressed for Kindergarten. The little bugger is fast.)

Speaking of warrior princesses, the other night the husband and I watched 'Avatar' on our little home cinema system (comprised of his Apple laptop and our portable surround sound speakers). It felt like a 3-D interactive movie when a flying cockroach came hurtling through our bedroom window and landed on the bed. I was not amused.

"That's it. Take me back to England right now. I cannot stay in a home with cockroaches."

The husband sighed, disgusted.

"It's just a one-off."

Some warrior princess I am. The sight of a giant cockroach reduced me to a trembling mess. Saying that, as long as I don't see a rat I'll be fine. I don't 'do' rodents. I simply can't abide with them in my abode...

...anymore than I am capable of traveling to exotic places without a bulging cosmetic case of overpriced, unneccessary, yet exceedingly pretty eyeshadows and lip glosses.

Monday, 22 March 2010

"Kung Foo Fighting"

Dumpie has taken lately to giving Dada the occasional 'thwack' across the face, when the husband has had the misfortune to be holding him and scolding him at the same time. It is most embarrassing when said 'thwack' is administered with perfect precision so as to elicit a most satisfactory noise and stun Dada into speechlessness. Given how coordinated our youngest is, he never misses and is accurate to within a millimetre.

"Isn't it funny that you've produced something that is part of you and yet autonomous enough to attack you?" I asked the husband the other day?

He just glared.

Of course Dumpie never smacks me. He does occasionally get his chubby little arms flailing like a windmill and come barreling into me, if I am foolish enough to withhold biscuits from him for example, but given the current Oedipal complex he appears to be stuck in, I am usually the recipient of loving caresses and back rubbing - not 'thwacks'.

The other night we had a friend over for dinner and he barbequed fish on an outside fire. It was a whole grouper bought fresh at the market that morning and Eggs and Dumps stood there entranced watching it blacken, as the flames licked its body.

"Are you going to have some yummy fish Dumps?"


"Why not baby? It looks delicious".

"No. I no eat fish head. I no want it to talk to me."

Hmmm....he did have a point. The mouth was stretched open as if the fish had died howling.

Egg on the other hand was worried that the fish wasn't dead yet and we were burning it alive.

Either way, neither boy would deign to touch the fish and instead spent dinner jumping on their thin, cheap excuse of a mattress, sword fighting with empty water bottles while our childless film maker friend filmed them with his camera.

He then projected the footage of the monsters in combat, onto the husbands bare chest using his little portable projector. Surreal doesn't even begin to describe it.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

"The Writing On The Wall"

"Mama come take picture!" Dumpie grinned, pulling me by the hand into his bedroom and over to the far wall to check out his latest artwork.

My first thought was "Shit" as I realised he'd used cheap indelible Indian bought marker pens to scribble on his newly painted pretty yellow bedroom wall.

My second thought was "Actually, that's quite good. He's drawn the little boy inside the big Mama character and....it's rather clever and profound!"

Then I came to my senses and realised that no, it was really, really bad, and wasn't going to help negotiations with our landlady one. little. bit.

(He hadn't yet pointed out the other two drawings on the other walls - one just a massive black scribble, and the other, an almost life-size drawing of Dada.)

It's just typical that he would have ruined his bedroom wall, which WAS pristine and rather well decorated. He could have at least done it on OUR bedroom walls, which are a two-toned patchwork in greyish-purple (the result when you skimp on that extra coat of base paint). We would have at least gotten a much-needed paint job out of it.

Luckily our landlady is a 'Dumpie-Lover', and totally enthralled with the little squidget. She has two adolescent children and a look in her eye which suggests she might have yearned for a third if her husband hadn't spent all their money constructing this rental house we now live in.

I reckon we send Dumps over there to come clean and explain things. He can also return some of the bamboo sticks he's nicked from their front porch while he's at it. Worryingly they are spear shaped on one end and he holds them aloft while running barefoot through the yard squealing like a little piglet.

Our landlady finds him amusing. It remains to be seen HOW amusing...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

"Booze Bottle Alley"

Sometimes the temptation to scandalise is irresistible, though I suspect this one might turn round and bite me in the face one day.

At the urging of the husband, we spent the day at a nearby deserted beach. Some friends of ours also came with us, bringing along their adorable 3 year old daughter.

We got out of the rickshaw, trekked past a restaurant, behind some huts, over a few stone walls, through a football stadium sized mass of emptiness, then emerged past some palm trees onto the most heavenly site...a naked man taking photo's of a naked lady sprawled lavisciously on some big rocks. Very amusing. (It's the first time I've seen the photographer game enough to strip off as well for a saucy shoot - well done I say.)

The sand was fine beige powder, the water the perfect warm temperature, and the blue-green sea so clear you could see the bottom, and soft as a plush carpet underfoot. Even the waves were tailor made for perfection, softly lolling - neither too violent nor too placid.

Beach perfection in other words.

After lunch at the only shack in the vicinity (where nothing on the menu was 'available' except for some rice and beans, and a seemingly limitless supply of bottled Mountain Dew...go figure), I was urged to go and look at the two little ones. They were hidden behind a wall outside the restaurant, sitting amidst a pile of discarded liquor bottles...having the time of their young little lives.

I was torn between amusement, shame, and fear, lest they cut themselves on the bottles. However they seemed content to merely peel off the labels, and so 'amusement' won out and I snapped a picture, giggling quietly so as not to disturb their little game, then left them to it.

It was only later that I regretted this decision when the husband and I heard sporadic smashing sounds and I ran behind the building to find Dumpie, by himself this time, lobbing the heavy glass bottles overhead, onto the adjoining wall, smashing them to smithereens...utterly delighted. Oops.

Oh well. At least we didn't lose them today - something we're getting pretty used to, as they have now morphed into filthy, little, wild beach bunnies who race up and down and in and out of beach shacks with the growing pack of other children whose parents have also scarpered from 'civilised society' in order to raise their children in a 'different' environment...

...an environment where playtime revolves around chucking about some empty whiskey bottles...

Friday, 19 March 2010

"I Fought the Dogs and the Dogs Won..."

I've always thought 'Yoga-Bunnies' to be a somewhat sanctimonious lot. Unfair I know, but I swear, if I see one more 'Yummy Mummy' prancing around the high street in skin tight black tights, showing off her 'Yoga-Butt' to the world...I'll be ill.

Maybe that's why I took to running. As the husband (constantly) likes to point out....I am NOT a team player. Being in a room full of sweaty, groaning, posing, human elastic bands doesn't really do it for me, if you know what i mean.

Running, on the other hand, is a solitary, meditative, invigorating personal challenge - one I've been pursuing for half a year now. And this morning, as I ran, a brilliant idea took shape in my mind.

You know how boring it is to run the same route all the time? Sure, you can zone out and listen to your ipod, but essentially our minds and bodies like a change now and then. So I thought, what if there were 'Runner Obstacle Courses' the size of golf clubs, where the runner took off on a timed run and tried to make it through all sorts of challenges without getting maimed or killed?

There could be 'Alligator Alley' where you jog through knee deep water and hope not to tread on a beast...

Or 'Bird Bedlam' where you run through trees where there are nests and thousands of nasty black crows and dive bombing pigeons to avoid...

And 'Snake Sanctuary' could be the sandy bit where slithery scaled creatures lurk just out of sight an inch or two below the surface...

And no course would be complete without a 'Dogs Dinner' section where you have to pass a pack of wild, feral, beastly dogs who try and bite you as you run.

That's actually what gave me the idea this morning. I got bit (lightly thank god) by that one hated dog - the black/sandy/white mutt who has it in for me.

I watched as an elderly man ran ahead and wasn't bothered at all. Then two rather wide-hipped Scandinavian girls sauntered past, sarongs fluttering in the wind, but nary a growl from the nasty curs.

But as I went calmly jogging past, they all came snarling and surrounded me in seconds, the ringleader viciously trying and succeeding in biting me. Bloody dogs. I was furious.

Now I know why the Indian man I see walking the beach every morning carries a large wooden stick. I thought it was part of his meditative process, as he always looks deep in thought, and walks religiously for 45 min each morning barefoot in his yellow pajamas.

No. It's no bloody mediative process. The poor man is trying to protect himself.

So that's it. Tomorrow I'm going running with the biggest, sharpest stick I can find. I'll just get Dumps on the case. He has stashes of big poles and sticks all over the place.

Even now as I type this I can see the unfolding scenario tomorrow, which will involve a screaming, frothing-at-the-mouth monster (me) trying vainly to fend off a pack of wild beasts, but getting mauled in the process and having to go for needles in my stomach daily for the next two weeks.

And all this in the pursuit of a decent bum.

Maybe those Yoga-Bunnies are onto something after all...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

"Indian Trick-onomics"

It is very rare that someone bamboozles me in conversation. I am rather adept at navigating even the most convoluted and puzzling turns communication can take on occasion - but in this instance I had to admit defeat.

The husband and I had just finished our weekly massage from Dr. Jonny and his wife, of Shiva's Beach Hut, South Goa. We had previously been splurging on 1.5 hour massages, but had come to the conclusion that one hour massages would more than suffice from here on in. This was both due to economic sensibilities entering the equation, as well as the fact that we were getting shortchanged on time anyway. Our last massage had been a mere hour and ten minutes. Factor in how jealously we guarded our 'sans kiddies' time for creative endeavors and one hour just seemed to make sense.

How wrong we were.

We booked the one hour massage. We had the one hour massage. And when it came time to pay, the husband, instead of heeding my advice, depositing the exact amount into the outstretched plump hand of Dr. Jonny and bidding a fond farewell (how I would have done it had I been in possession of the wad of cash the husband carries around loosely in his Abercrombie shorts) - made the great mistake of opening a gambit.

husband: "How much do we owe you then Dr. Jonny?"

me: (whispered furitively under my breath...) "Just give him the _____ !"

Dr. Jonny: "Whatever you would like to pay is fine."

husband: "Ok." (hands over too much money) "Just give us back a hundred then."

Dr. Jonny: "Thank you Sir!" (makes no move to hand back anything)

(We all stand awkwardly..waiting...for someone to do or say something...anything)

Me: "Umm...Ok, so if you give us a hundred back, that's okay then?"

Dr. Jonny: (HUGE grin on face, rocking head jauntily back and forth) "That is fine Sir"

Me: (starting to get frustrated) "Ok. So. Last time we paid ____ for 1.5 hours. But today we just had an hour. So we pay ____.....right?"

Dr. Jonny: "Yes. That is fine."

Me: "So can you give us back 100 and then we'll be sorted...yes?"

(Again...the huge grin on Dr. Jonny's face does nothing to distract from the fact that he is in no way, shape or form making any sort of movement to suggest that his hand is going to go back in his pocket and retrieve our change. But I am confused. I can't let it go. I suspect the money is gone, forever, and that's okay. But I simply must know by which logic he is coming up with such random pricing, and am insistent on making him explain himself. The husband merely looks bemused. He too I suspect, is interested in how this one will play out. So I try valiantly one last time...)

Me: "So...you said you'd give us a discount right?"

(The husband chooses this moment to add his two cents worth by mumbling something about how we bring him many customers and are old 'friends' etc..blah, blah, blah...)

Dr. Jonny: "Yes! Indeed! I am also like you. I have family and young childs and you are on a budget. You are not traveling and playing and touring. No, you are like me and you have 'family budget' and it is my duty to give you a special price."

Me: "Thank you. Yes. We appreciate that. So just give us the hundred and you can keep the extra."

Dr. Jonny: "No, no, no, no. You have paid the discount."

Me: "Huh??"

Dr. Jonny: (finally starting to show a trace of exasperation with the insistent 'Westerners' in front of him, wasting his time and keeping him from a much-needed nap)

"You have paid me ______. That is correct for one and one half hour massage."

Me: (incredulous)

"But we didn't HAVE the one hour massage! We had the ONE hour today!"

Dr. Jonny: (looks at his wristwatch. We started at least five minutes late. We have also been engaged in this pointless exchange for at least five minutes. His watch shows that one hour and ten minutes has passed since the massage began.

"You see! Almost one and one half hour. So therefore I give you discount."

Me: (as an aside to husband) "Let's get the heck out of here. I'm hot. This is pointless. I give up."

So we take our leave, unable to have made any sense of the preceding conversation, except to establish the following facts:

1. No matter how long the massage we book is, we shall get it for a duration decided by Dr. Jonny and dependent on such factors as how many phone calls he takes on his mobile during the massage, what time he decides to show up for the massage, and whether he feels that our prone, privileged bodies have been given a sufficient enough rub down.

2. It is in our best interest to ask for the one and a half hour massage, as at least we run the chance of getting an hour and ten minutes. Also, we shall pay practically the same price for a 'one hour' - so we may as well try our luck.

3. It is pretty much a given, that when haggling, if one hands over an amount above and beyond what is the norm - there will be every attempt to justify this new amount to the giver, in order to retain this unexpected but much appreciated bonus windfall. (ie. YOU AIN'T GONNA GET YOUR CHANGE BACK...got it?!)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

"Dogs, Crows and Allowance Woes..."

I used to love dogs. Now I can't stand them. There are so many feral dogs in Goa that no one really knows what to do with them. Every morning on the beach, they roam in packs, then sit and wait on the shore for a target.

Like me.

There is one dog in particular (is it just me or does it resemble Stephen King's fictional 'Cujo'?) who comes for me every time, snarling and foaming at the mouth, his incisors just millimetres away from my calf.

I scream 'Chello!" (means GO AWAY in Hindi or some approximation of that) and it stands resolute, its matted black/brown/white coat flea-bitten and scabby. I want to smash it in the head with a rock (cover your ears all you animal lovers and judge me not - I used to be one of you). This anger comes from being terrified of being bitten. Not afraid of the pain - but the necessary injections in the stomach which would have to follow were I to be bitten by a beastly cur.

The family of black churlish crows who live in the tree beside our house are also pissing me off as of late. They are so bloody loud, sometimes the din makes even thinking impossible. And cheeky?!

The other day I had painstakingly prepared my afternoon snack (Nutella on two tiny squares of semi-fresh toast if you must know) and came outside, put my little plastic green plate on the ledge and reached back inside the door for my cup of chai (Indian tea).

In the seconds I had my back turned, one of the crows came and deftly flew away with a whole square of toast, mocking me as it hacked its way through the chocolate deliciousness just yards away under the tree...staring at me in defiance with its nasty little beady eyes. Urghh.

I suppose I shouldn't eat the stuff anyway. But when you're far from home, and in need of a chocolate fix, it's surprising how creative you can get with local groceries and foodstuffs.

I mean, the last time I ate Nutella was probably over fifteen years ago when the husband and I were backpacking through Israel and dinner could be had on the cheap by procuring a small portion of Nutella and some freshly baked bread.

Back onto the subject of food, we've recently gotten into Thali's again. Thali's are traditional Indian meals usually served on a large circular steel plate and comprised of at least five or so tiny portions of savoury/sweet foods. There is always rice, usually a chapati, some potato dish, a bean or vegetable dish, a bit of yoghurt and then some totally random sweet thing for 'afters'. The idea is that you dump the rice in the middle, and using your RIGHT hand (always the right - Indians are disgusted to discover someone eating with their 'toilet'-wiping left hand) you messily scoop us the various foodstuffs into your mouth before declaring your meal over by pouring water over your sauce-stained hands at the end.

The boys of course hate Thali's, though Egg did exhibit a heartbreaking attempt at swallowing some of it down whole with great gulps of water, looking pained as he did so, and croaking at the end of it, "Does this mean I get my allowance Dada?"

The boys get their allowance each night (well, Egg always does - Dumpie not so much) as part of their bedtime ritual. The husband sits on the bed with both boys and assesses the days events to see if they indeed 'earned' their paltry 5 and 2 Rupee handouts respectively.

Poor Dumpie is always getting into trouble. He winds the husband up to no end and subsequently it's a rare event for the handing over of metal coins to occur in that direction. If Dumpie is upset about this, he certainly doesn't let on too much though, for, as he told me last night, "Me can get Eggie's money in jar and take it."

He's got a point. Dumpie is incredibly good at nicking stuff and has proven to be a most excellent fibber - even at the tender age of three.

The other day at Kindergarten pickup, when handed the now familiar plastic bag containing his previous outfit, he tried to tell me that he HADN'T done a poo-poo in his pants and that the lady had just changed him because he was hot. Yeah, whatever Dumps.

When Dumpie and his little friend were at the babysitters for an hour on Monday, we received a phone call saying that the little girl was eating the rice lunch but that Dumpie was refusing to touch it because (and I quote), "My Mama say me no eat in other peoples house". (I have said no such thing.) I got on the phone.

"Dumpie, it's Mama. Why are you not eating?"

"Me no like."

Dumpie, if you eat your lunch like a good boy, Mama will buy you an ice-cream cone when I come and pick you up, okay?"

(Silence as he thinks about it...)


In the end the flustered lady was ordered by Dumps to make pancakes, which she did, but because they were honey pancakes and not lemon sugar ones (his preference), he merely nibbled a few bits and apparently binned the rest.

I've just had a brainwave. Maybe I should take Dumpie out to the beach with me on my morning runs. He can pelt the stray dogs with rocks and keep them off my back. I will happily hand over some Rupees for the protection, and Dumpie won't have to worry about pissing Dada off everyday and not getting his allowance.

It's a win-win situation I reckon.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

"We've Got the Fever"

Dumpie is currently pacing among the coconut trees in our front yard, walkie talkie pressed to left ear, conducting an imaginary (but heated) conversation with his beloved 'Auntie Ba'. As far as I can gather it has to do with him informing her of his immanent arrival to Toronto via motorbike to airport then airplane. He is trying to ensure that she has enough 'Timbits' (mini donuts), 'La-la's' (bananas) and mangoes ('like the kind Da give me') ready for his welcoming party.

No, my youngest has not lost the plot, but is rather high on kiddie Tylenol after being up all night with a fever. So he is staying home from Kindergarten today. And Dada and I have had to sorrowfully cancel the couples massage we had booked on the beach for midday (sigh). Life is hard.

Our friends flew back to London this morning after having spent a luxurious month in glorious Goa. They were gutted to leave, and are already planning their next visit.

So now we have little to do but wait for the arrival of 'Franny & Framps' (the husbands parents, my in-laws). They arrive in just under three weeks.

The husband has now grown despondent over his flash Thai-manufactured bike and spends more time fixing punctures than actually riding. So he's decided that an Enfield motorcycle must be purchased after all (and here I thought we'd lessened the chances of becoming roadkill by his preference for bicycles over motorbikes this past year).

I suspect that our lovely motorbike ride through pretty villages en route to a deserted magnificent beach yesterday had something to do with his renewed love affair for motorised two wheelers. I have to admit, it was fun. It felt like the old days....

Picturesque scenery, prettier than you could even conjure up in your imagination...the speed of the bike providing you with your own personal air conditioning...the freedom...the adventure.

Who are we kidding. The husband and I LOVED riding an Enfield through India those many years ago, and now, slicing through the dusty roads this many years later, it feels like no time has elapsed and it was beyond fun.

So...now the husband has informed me that he is seriously thinking of going to the big Wednesday Goa flea market tomorrow and procuring a motorbike 'for the family'. Because we need one. Because it would be stupid not to.


Maybe I should ask Auntie Ba's advice. She's apparently still on the walkie talkie with Dumps. I think he's now moved on to extolling the virtues of Indian manufactured 'Honey Loops' breakfast cereal (a vile smelling, probably horrid tasting version of Kellogs best seller).

Oops - got to go. Dumpie's just rocked up with the walkie talkie. And it's my Dad on the phone. Dumps is telling him to get over here because it's hot here and there are mangoes. And lots of cows.

He's not wrong.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

"These Hazy Days Are Here Again..."

Have been feeling rather run-down and slightly ill the past few days. Not an Indian 'dodgy tummy' situation, but more of a head cold...go figure.

The weather here has turned hazy and though still unbearably hot, it casts a dim glow on the beach and gives this whole place a surreal vibe.

The husband and I have decided that our lives have turned upside down (or in Dumpie's words, "Upsy-Daisy-Down") in many respects. Whereas we both used to covet the weekends, now we sort of dread them. We've gotten too used to the monsters being in school during the week and having the two of them at large on the weekends forces us to recalibrate our 'selfish-o-metre' and make necessary adjustments.

Today for instance, I was trying to do some stretches in the bedroom. I suddenly got pelted in the head by rock that came flying through the window!

A peek outside revealed a Dumpie armed with a carved out coconut shell full of big rocks which he presumably intended to lob into the room - in a possible remake of 'David and Goliath' if things got sinister enough.

Out in the main room the husband was having his own problems. Egg has been invited to a birthday party later today and the husband was trying to motivate him to make a birthday card, whilst simultaneously teaching him long multiplication, whipping of some of his own emails and dodging the ant colony which appears to have taken up residence beneath our kitchen table.

Perhaps they have moved in because the television has moved out. That's right, we lost our telly this week much to the boys dismay (and ours if I'm honest - the 24 hour cartoon network was a godsend). On a positive note, it means that we now have room to shift things around and set up our little music studio in the corner, so yours truly can find an appropriate outlet for the artistic angst which seems to be building up daily.

As I imagined would be the case, we are in some aspects gloriously happy to be here, but one month in, we are missing a few creature comforts (our stovetop espresso machine and REAL coffee.....decent chocolate...decent biscuits...cheese.....wine....ah, wine...). But more than anything, we are missing the sensation of feeling (and let's face it, BEING) clean. We are forever coated in sandy bits of debris, sweat, sugar, lotions and potions of the SPF 50 and 40% Deet variety, 'boogies' (from Dumpies nose mainly, wiped with relish and delight on our legs when we're not looking), more sand, watermelon juice...need I go on?

We are simply filthy. All the time. The coldest shower possible leaves you feeling fresh for about....oh...50 seconds...until your upper lip fills with beads of perspiration and you slink out of the bathroom, your feet covered in sand again momentarily.

Nothing for it but to go native. We must give ourselves over to this life fully, not expect the same standards of hygiene and care we practised back home in London (I reminded myself of this as I fished out a drowned ant from my banana porridge this morning), and just ease into it.

Our friends leave to fly back to London in a few days, but my in-laws are coming to visit us for the first two weeks of April. We are very much looking forward to their arrival. I know that when we see this paradise of ours through their eyes, we'll fall in love with it all over again, and be reminded why we came here in the first place.

And did I mention they're bringing chocolate...and coffee?!!

Friday, 12 March 2010

"Pret-a-Bloody-Porter Hai"

Yesterday I did my morning run to the next village, because the tide is still too high up the beach to allow for an even running surface. I got nostalgic as I passed all the shacks, and it triggered memories from all those years ago when the husband and I backpacked around India for seven months, stumbling around with too-giant rucksacks, like upright Beetles earnestly in search of adventure.

So when I got back, drenched in perspiration but exhilarated, I proposed that we drop the monsters off at school then take a wander through the village like old times.

"Uh. I should really keep on with my schedule," the husband said. He's been writing nearly every morning, and fair enough, doesn't want to lose his momentum.

Half an hour later we ran into friends who suggested we rent a scooter for the morning and follow them to an empty beach nearby for a lunch of fresh oysters.

"Let's do it!" the husband excitedly said.

I glared (feelings hurt) and promptly did an about face, taking off for my OWN nostalgic wander about.

"You always end up shopping," he called out defensively to my retreating back.

"Hmmph," I shot back.

Twenty minutes later found me arguing with a shyster over outrageously priced freshly ground cinnamon, procuring yet more dvds from a lovely young girl named Gita, and picking up a decent pair of Ray Ban fakes to make into prescription lenses (if at first you don't succeed....).

Then I found a little store where this orange henna-haired man churns out ill-fitting 'Western-ware' in wonderful fabrics, with the aid of 'The Ugly Stepsisters' (two scowling teenage girls - one skinny and one fat - each with her own sewing machine and bad attitude to match). If only I had known that the ratty little dress I haphazardly picked out, would turn into an hour long fiasco of me trying to direct the sullen, ill-mannered fat one into sewing one bloody straight line into the seam....well, I simply wouldn't have bothered.

In the end the skinny sister took over disgustedly, and ignoring all instructions from myself, made an alteration to the dress rendering it a size 10 on bottom and a size 0 on top. I sighed.

All four of us looked at the now ruined garment - they with blank expressions of calm and me with disgust.

In the end I passed them a wad of small notes and took off dejectedly for a swim, the husband's words still ringing in my ear....

Thursday, 11 March 2010

"If You're 'Appie' And You Know It Clap Your Hands!"

Our little beach paradise here in Goa is full of characters. I, like everyone else I'm sure, have my favourites...and my 'not so favourites'.

Ranking top of my list (just behind my good friend, the proprietor of 'Ali Baba Arts Emporium', purveyor of fantastic jewelry...for obvious reasons), is a lovely young teenage girl I've nicknamed "Happy". This is because her real name is 'Appie' and she is always smiling and always so....well, happy. She runs a little drink and snacks stall by the beach and we got to be friends last year on account of all the ice creams the monsters were going through at her place.

She is convinced that I am a 'movie star' or some such and is always complimenting me on how 'pretty' and 'sooo lovely' I look. Beats me. When I look in the mirror I see an exhausted mother of two young boys, hiding eye bags behind designer sunglasses, and covering ratty knotted hair with increasingly larger hats. In addition, I have taken fashion to a new, very bizarre level, with my pairing of random sarongs and whatever clashing 'London' tops I feel to be most lightweight for this sweltering Indian sun.

I have told her I'm a musician and so now she hounds me daily to play her some of my songs. She says she wants to hear my 'sad ones'. I have loads of those and am happy to oblige - only I keep forgetting to bring my ipod and headphones down to the beach. At any rate our daily exchange is pretty much this verbatim:

Me: Hi Appie...I'm so sorry...I forgot my headphones again...

Her: No problem Natasha. You are looking sooooo beautiful today!

Me: (incredulous and embarrassed) Um...oh thanks Appie...I don't think so but that's sweet of you to say

Her: No really. You are looking like Movie Star!

Me: I'll try and remember the headphones tomorrow ok?

And so it goes....

Now at the opposite extreme is a character I and many others (I can verify this having been merely eavesdropping on the beach...you'd be surprised what you hear) find smug, annoying as hell, and so cliched as to be offensive. I've nicknamed him 'Monkey Man' for he most resembles a primate in both stature (he's 5'4 if at all), hairy back, and his exaggeratedly long limbs and hint of a torso.

What has this poor man done to inspire such distaste in us 'sorta-locals'? Well for one he's the most expensive 'Masseuse' on the beach - charging double for a 'rub-a-dub-dub' what everyone else does. Secondly, he saunters around, head held intentionally aloft, parading his nubile body up and down the beach, his very gait inspiring instant dislike.

Finally, (and this is where it gets personal for me) every bloody morning I have to pass him on the way to my beach run, where he is contorting his lithe, yogi-like body in a succession of such extreme and bizarre poses, that it requires a double, and even triple take in order to ascertain that the figure in front of me is indeed human and not some sort of monkey monster hybrid (or worse, a disembodied murder victim left in a heap on the pavement...legs tucked away behind his head or twisted twice around his body or contorted in some such extreme show-off fashion).

Were Madonna to alight on these shores, no doubt she'd snap him up as a guru, faster than you could say 'anorexic granny' and the two of them would practice trying to outdo their respective inventive crotch-work.

At 7am, shattered from a typically bad nights sleep, sorry if I don't want to see every nook and cranny of some guys crotch first thing. I feel almost as intimately familiar with his nether region as I do my husbands. That can't be good.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

"Bully Boy and the Bruiser"

Somehow we've acquired three dogs, a (loud and obnoxious) pet crow, an infintissimal supply of ants, a very active wasps nest (complete with a dozen homegrown wasps), a chipmunk and a friendly ghecko - oh, and don't forget some domestic spiders.

Despite how hard we try, we cannot keep our house clean. I swear, all of our possessions seem to be reproducing at an alarming rate, and we're living in the midst of what feels like a very sorry church jumble sale...full of useless, random tat.

I am going through novels at an alarming rate, and still have not yet come up with a decent enough idea to write one of my own. Instead, I scribble madly in my little white notebook, lyrics for songs not yet composed, and wonder idly if we'll ever get round to setting up my little music studio.

The husband has helpfully suggested that one option might be to set it up on our bed, and dismantle it nightly. But given that our bed is already being used as a clothes depository, a sleeping space for four, a cinema, a library, and children's play area, I don't know if one more function can be squeezed out of the sorry chunk of wood.

Yesterday when I picked up Dumpie from kindergarten, the reception was less than cheery. With the handing over of the now familiar clear plastic bag and 'poo n' pants filled combo' it became immediately apparent why.

"I am SO sorry it happened again. I try to get him to go in the morning", I apologetically simpered.

The Indian woman just shook her head glumly and shrugged her shoulders.

"Did he not ask you to take him to the toilet?" I put forth pointlessly....Duh


So I gathered up Dumps, his little school bag, his poo bag and didn't even bother putting his little sandals on - just legged it out of there humiliated.

I know what these people get paid, and it's not enough to clean Dumpie's smelly bum on a bi-weekly basis, that's for sure.

The husband made him wash out his smelly pants in a big bucket - a task Dumpie so much resented that he retaliated by whipping the now wet poo pants at his father - necessitating a shower for both.

Later we took the monsters to the beach for sunset and an ice lolly. There, a 5 year old bully of a boy, whose parents apparently spend most of their time propping up the local beach bar, starting beating up on Dumps. I went to step in, horrified, as I watched the older child spin Dumps round, out of control and to the ground.

But before I could get there, little ol' Dumps had jumped to his feet, unscathed, and taken the boys arm and scratched it hard. The boy whimpered, "Ow! My arm!" and Dumps stood across from this bully, and pointed his finger in his face and said, "I told you NO hurt me or I hurt YOU!"

Oh my.

A little later, poor Egg my little 'Pacifist' was innocently playing football on the beach with some older children as the last of the sun disappeared into the Sea. The bully boy suddenly went charging toward him, for no reason, and knocked him to the ground, before trying to tussle with him and wrestle his shirt off.

Egg - shocked and understandably upset - began to whimper, but before I could run over and tell the child off, Dumps appeared out of nowhere, and came charging toward the big lad, tackling him to the ground in a move which in years hence might land him a football scholarship in some big American College. No way was anyone going to mess with his big bro!

Every family needs a Dumps. I must remind myself of that next time I'm handed the illustrious 'Poo Bag' at school pick-up. I wouldn't change a thing about my little bruiser :)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

"Let There Be Light"

The fan in our bedroom has five power settings. Turning the little white knob to Levels 1-3 do nothing discernible, save getting the thing to ever so slighty rotate in a wobbly fashion. Level 4 however, begins to inspire hope as the big wooden blades begin spinning at a speed just about good enough to get a bit of a breeze going.

But Level 5...whoa...you have to be ready for level 5. That's a whole different ball game. (One gamely wonders if there isn't in fact a 'missing' level 4.5 that the factory was too cheap to produce?)

For if you notch it up to Level 5 you feel like you're in the midst of a small hurricane. No wonder we have either Egg or Dumps creeping in to kip with us each night in our sweaty sandy cardboard bed. They must wake up thinking they're in the opening scene of Wizard of Oz and hightail it to the safety of the 'Mama-Dada bed', scared out of their wits.

For that's how I feel when I wake nightly to the frantic whirring and discover several bodies in our overcrowded bed. I have to turn it down a notch to Level 4 in order to get back to sleep and subsequently just have to deal with the humidity which creeps quickly back in. Frankly, it's a matter of choosing between a mellow but essentially ineffective Level 4 - or really going for it on Level 5 and hoping you're exhausted enough to sleep through the racket.

Last night there were several long power cuts. The husband was out on the beach somewhere procuring 'dinner' to bring home to us, but given the 2+ hours excursion (and remember we live across the road from the beach) I have my suspicions that he wasn't simply on a food run...but whatever :)

At any rate, the boys had been watching Indian cartoons (blue-skinned deities cavorting around in forests - provoking all sorts of questions later from my Sunday School attending 5 year old who had frankly been under the impression that there was only one God, and that He was neither blue, nor took the form of a monkey or an elephant). Then the power suddenly went out, the tv clicked off, and we were submerged into the blackest of blackness.

I felt my way to the kitchen and lit some candles I keep on the ledge for such emergencies, then gathered the boys into my room to listen to songs on itunes on my laptop. I had the brainwave of turning the trippy 'visualiser' option on, and kept them mesmorised for a good half hour with that. I even had an appreciative audience for some of my music and we happily passed away the next long while until Dada rocked up with soggy bags of fragrant slop which I suppose constituted 'din-dins'.

After a brief respite of light - and most importantly...working FANS! - the power again went off and dripping with perspiration I couldn't sleep so brought my laptop into bed and proceeded to watch one of the pirated films I bought on the beach for a quid, while the husband snored oblivious on the outer perimeter of the bed.

For Dumpie had decided it was also too hot to sleep, and armed with his little cow torch he waddled into our room, snuggled in between the husband and I, and was content to watch the movie snuggled up to me despite being deprived of sound (I had earphones on) until he finally passed on in a puddle of soft flesh and dimples beside me.

I was aware of the husband up several times throughout the night, tapping away on his computer, and obviously too hot to sleep without the aid of a fan. I recall awaking from a dream where I was at Glastonbury, cavorting around backstage with Lily Allan of all people and being force fed magic mushrooms.

I was none to pleased to discover that instead of downing vodka shots with rock n' roll royalty somewhere in the fields of merry old England, I was instead jammed up against the wall in a too small bed not Dumpie but now Egg sidled up against me and doing some serious damage to my right thigh with all his noctural kicking.

This night of hell was rounded off nicely when this morning the husband awoke to discover that he'd left our front gate open and the dogs had stolen one of his precious 'bicycle-riding shoes'. He stormed and stomped about in a bit of a 'Rumplestiltkskin-esque' rage with the remaining shoe held aloft, shoving it in the dogs faces, with no luck for the better part of an hour.

Finally, our lovely landlady (who I suspect knows better English than we give her credit for, and just may have heard my husband muttering about the potential torture he'd like to inflict on whichever bloody dog took his precious shoe) came over with a triumphant grin, holding up the missing shoe which she had found undamaged in the brush nearby.

So now peace has been restored to our household. All is now well and as it should be in our little neck of the woods. The husband has happily ridden off for his daily bike ride, feeling like the luckiest man on earth. I have had my morning coffee (grounds and all) and the monsters are both in school for the next few hours.

All that remains is to fix the hatchet job I made of my fringe in a moment of heat-inspired madness yesterday when I took to my hair with Dumpie's Crayola 'Kiddie Scissors'.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

"I Want Your Sex...(Not)"

Feeling in generally high spirits today because the husband and I have just made our very own first cup of FILTER coffee in several weeks. The friends of ours staying in the plush villa went on a road trip up north, and either grew weary of my incessant pleading or merely happened upon a store which sold cafieteres and Indian roasted coffee (literally impossible to find here down South) and took pity on us. (On second thought, maybe it's been my daily moaning about how awful instant nescafe is to a cappuccino addict such as myself, which brought about the detour and subsequent mercy mission to find this girl COFFEE...ANY KIND...AND ANYTHING TO MAKE IT IN)

Either way, with respectable daily caffeine levels now assured, we can get on with the sorry task of creatively amusing ourselves out here. Any thoughts of being original pioneers of the whole "let's bin our lives for a time and head for the subcontinent to write novels and live like yippee's" lark - were brutally dashed when the other day we met a random English couple on the beach who have, guess what, ALSO rented their London home, ALSO taken a year out of their lives and are ALSO writing a novel. Ho Hum.

Sometimes it feels like London central down here when you get a whiff of the Brit accents, see the young dolly birds with perfectly waxed pins, posing languidly on chaise lounges for the benefit of the uber-horny local Indian boys who can't believe their Hare Krishna luck to see such lithe young limbs covered by mere triangles of spandex and beads.

This is the first year I have noticed (and please don't call me a 'racialist' here, simply because I propose them to be of Germanic descent) the bevy of leather-hued floppy giant breast sacks being bandied about on these same chaise lounges by older European women who are in danger of being hauled away and hooked on a gigantic spit roast by some very drunk village men with rumbling bellies if they continue to blatantly fry their near naked 'meat' openly in public.

Often their sex is indeterminable, such are the lengths that these sizable breast sacks hang down on either side of their chest cavities. So if lying prone, skyward, reading a book, arms held aloft, the thick spectacles and short chopped grey tufts give little away. Only until you spot the gaggle of utterly disinterested men nearby, not even venturing a glance at their women folk, do you realise that they are here on holiday, have probably not the slightest intention of bedding their leather breasted wives even once while here, and instead are animatedly conversing about where they might procure the best beer, how much they are paying for their respective accommodations, and where one is likely to get the best deal on a rug to bring home.

You get the feeling that here in Goa, sexuality is quite low key. What is important is making money, and the pursuit of such in the short tourist season occupies even the most lustful of young minds.

The other day for example I was sat in my favourite place in all the area...'Sea Corner' as it's so charmingly called. On large cement steps which lead up from the beach to the only road going out of here, there exists a tiny shop with a sweet elderly man and his young helper who churn out countless cups of chai all day and night long to addicts like myself. I love nothing more that to lay claim to a portion of the step, write in my journal and sip the exquisitely sweet tea, while I take in whatever daily drama is unfolding around me.

Having figured out in early pubescence that I attract freaks like a moth to a flame, it was of no surprise to have my reverie burst by the Irish lilt of a loudmouthed woman sat directly on the stair above me. I counted to ten....one...two...three....and before I got any further she stood up, plopped herself down on my level, and started manically in with, "I just have to tell someone this or I'll burst".

In the presence of a seemingly total and utter loon, I had no choice but to reluctantly tuck my journal back into my bag, turn to her with what I hoped was a gracious smile and allow her to to continue on with her rant (I suspect even if I had donned earphones and looked the other way it wouldn't have made a sweet lot of difference anyway).

"There's this guy you see. He's Italian...good-looking I guess....in his sixties...not my type but okay....and he keeps giving me these looks - in front of his wife! And I just don't know what to do and it's driving me craaaaazy!"

I sighed. So she was not only mad but disillusioned. A horny housewife, kids flown the nest, has come here to 'find herself' and see if she can't bag herself a decent shag in the process.

I started to blah blah blah out some sort of semi-interested response, but before it got too annoying the husband fortuitously turned up, fell down beside me and watched with amazement as the woman jumped back to her step above and spread her legs, displaying her lady bits to the world at large.

I had noticed earlier of course. It was hard not to balk at the sight of her labia majora grinning gamely out from the side of her ill-chosen lime green too-short-shorts, which she had decided to don - for whatever reason - sans knickers that morning.

The husband was clearly fighting a range of confused reactions: fascination/horror/amusement/repulsion......you name it. This, I noticed, he was at little pains to hide, and I have to hand it to him, he did keep up a decent couple of minutes of conversational dialogue with the woman, all the while trying not to acknowledge the outrageously proffered vaginal display.

At the first chance we made a hasty exit and exhaling loudly as we cruised down the beach, monsters in tow, the husband let out of groan of "Man! DId you see the SIZE of that THING?!!"

So nubile teenage sun worshippers aside, I think it's fair to say that at least in this part of Goa, it's a place where you come to perhaps escape, 'find yourself', explore your inner Picasso, Mozart or Henry Miller, ride a motorcyle helmet-less around beautiful outskirts of jungle, and indulge your palate with all things currified.

If you hope to pull, well you'll probably want to head for another beach - not this one. Unless of course my description of the middle-aged crotch-flashing Irishwoman piqued your interest.

In which case, look me up and I'll hook you up.

You'll find me round sunset....at 'Sea Corner'...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

"General Musings From A Mind Spent In Leisure"

Who needs Toys-R-Us when you have a 3 year old in possession of a small plastic cup and a limitless supply of ants to capture and crush?

This is how I found Dumpie last night happily amusing himself on our kitchen floor as I came out of the shower. Egg as usual was practising his 'letters' (ie. painstakingly trying to perfect his messy penmanship in the little worn notebook the husband bought for him awhile back).

It was so hot and humid last night, that after evening showers (where thankfully, all those in possession of a 'winks' have one together), it was all we could do to just find some solace by perching under the nearest ceiling fan set on high.

Poor Egg has come to hate showers, putting up a fuss and crying most nights - lamenting his 'London baths'...poor dear. It seems that Dada's 'in-and-out-method-of-quick-cleansing' isn't to his liking, so on a few occasions I've had a shower with him and gently let him take his (very long) time getting slowly wet and washing his sandy little body in his own time. As a 'pleasure bather' I totally get it.

Dumpie on the other hand is usually naked and wielding the power hose before anyone else has even gotten their clothes off. He sprays himself in the face, giggles, and doesn't mind getting wet at all. But trying to catch the slippery little squidget when he's all soaped up and ready for a rinse is like having a buttery eel slither through your arms. And don't even get me started on trying to get him dressed. He runs, he hides, he laughingly lets you put one little leg in, then before you can hurriedly shove his other leg into the pant hole, he's quick as a whippet taken the other leg out and you have to start again....and again...and again....(until you give up and let him almost fall asleep naked before dressing him in the dark.)

Egg continues to daily inform his teacher that he learns (and I quote) 'absolutely nothing' each day (sigh). We've clearly come to the conclusion that we have a very clever little boy on our hands who LOVES to learn, and that perhaps the laid back 'Steiner' approach isn't perfectly suited for his driven little mind, but it's the best we can do out here in the sticks and with all of our supplemental material he won't miss out on anything anyway. I suspect he's starting to wear down even the teacher as she's gone from total disinterest to acquiesence regarding us bringing in some harder material for him to study. Egg is nothing if not doggedly persistent, and shares with his father the occasional inability to detect or decipher even the most obvious of social cues (and clues) - like when a party is nearing the end and the hosts are yawning and the husband suggests another round :)

Dumpie now spends everyday all day ordering me to find and purchase two 'Light Sabres like in Star Wars' (and he's pretty exact about this next part) with "little buttons on the front you press to make them light up", so he and Eggie can play 'Hiy-Ahhh' (think Karate talk) outdoors. He is quick to reiterate the outdoor part, as we have banned him from bringing his big sticks into the house as they not only cause great injury to whomever gets whacked, but are also damaging to glassware and large televisions perched on wobbly plastic tables.

Dumps continues to amass his large collection of big sticks from all over the area, thereby being ready to 'fight monsters' whenever the clarion call goes out. (I don't know if it's in anyway related, but the little garden outside our house is gradually losing it's barrier fence, and the poles do seem to be the exact size of the ones Dumpie is mysteriously acquiring...so it would appear he is possibly dismantling it gradually so as not to draw attention to it...)

This morning, going for a run in my crazy shades proved worthwhile. So intent was I on avoiding the ground (which truly, thanks to Indian optometrist trickery, does appear to rise up to meet me) that I distracted myself from my aching lungs long enough to run an extra length of the beach. Saying that, an old rave tune did come up on shuffle on the old ipod so I pretty much did it without realising, but still...was the highlight of my day so far.

No. Scratch that. It's Thursday. The highlight of the day shall be in half an hour when the husband and I drag ourselves off to our weekly appointment with Dr. Jonny.

Dr. Jonny and his silent (but strong) little wife, administer relief to our aching muscles, as we lie side by side on the beach in a bamboo hut, a giant reed wall separating us, with only the electric fan whirring constantly above us and the odd imperceptible moan (usually from me) to break the reverie.

Paradise has some upsides. I must remember this tonight when we're lying humid and comatose in sand-ridden sheets...which despite frequent washing, never really get clean.

And I won't even go on about the contant state of grubbiness the monsters are now operating in. With a bit of photoshop, blackening their blond tresses, they could easily be extras in a poster advertising the plight of local street children.

I suspect in another month or so, if they learn a bit of hindi, we might actually be able to put them to work on the beach collecting Rupees from F.O.T.P. (Fresh Off The Plane) tourists. It's worth a try...