Saturday, 29 January 2011

"The Trials and Tribulations of Being An Egg..."

Egg has gone through a fair bit of trauma recently. Firstly, the other night he left Bacon (his bear, his best friend, and the best loved flea-ridden plush toy ever) on the beach.  Yep, on the beach.

It was pre-bed shower time when this was discovered, and a freak out of such proportions ensued that the husband and I were left quarrelling about who should trek back out to the beach and go on a hunt for the lost bear (which Egg said he thought he'd left on the sand 'somewhere'.)

I hadn't even gone out to dinner that night, so was arguably annoyed that the husband thought it my responsibility when in my opinion it was his fault for a) letting Egg take his bear out to dinner in the first place  b) not ensuring Egg brought bring it back home again (esp. given Egg's predisposition to lose anything not tied onto himself or otherwise permanently affixed to his person).

The husband countered with the argument that his right foot was weepy and infected, and that it would cause him considerable discomfort to walk back out there.

We were at an impasse.  Egg was inconsolable.  However a sudden brainwave courtesy of the husband resulted in a cleverly executed phone call to the restaurant whereby we were informed that another little boy from Egg's school had found Bacon and taken him home for safekeeping.

Egg immediately calmed down.  And Dumpie (who usually shows absolutely no interest in HIS teddy bear - hence it's usually found at the bottom of a heap of dirty laundry or discarded toys) came strutting by, proudly clutching his teddy and proclaiming, "I am sleeping with MY teddy tonight Eggie."  Little rascal.

Then, a few days ago, Egg began furiously scratching his head.  It would appear that after dodging the dreaded scourge of 'nits' for over six years (yes, I can proudly state that as a family, we have had a perfect record of having being 'nit-free', despite all those dreaded mimeographed sheets handed out by teachers informing us of yet another 'outbreak' in the school) we've tragically succumbed.

(Oh how fast and hard the proud and mighty fall...For years I would affix a kindly but hesitant grin on my face when hearing of how other mothers had found 'bugs' in their children's hair.  The very thought disgusted me and I prayed I'd be able to get through the primary years unscathed.  Wrong-o.  Now it's my turn to feel all the other parents eyes on Egg and Dumps, watching each scratch with lowered lids and an accusatory glare...alas.)

To make matters worse, Egg has been anticipating the arrival of his beloved 'Grammitay' (my mum) and 'Auntie Ba' (my sis) with the same fervour and anticipation as many religious folk eagerly await 'The Second Coming'.

He has been counting down the number of 'sleeps' for the past fifteen days, and thus when two days ago we were informed that due to severe storms their flights had been cancelled, Egg went into a depressive meltdown.  Not only that but their trip has been delayed by an extra two days.

At this point I don't think Egg actually still believes that they're coming.  But coming they are.  And now I have to figure out a way to get OUT of the promise I foolishly made to Egg a week ago saying that he and I could get up in the middle of the night and sit across the road and wait for their arrival.

Don't get me wrong:  I love my family and I'm absolutely dying to see them.  But the thought of fending off potentially rabid dogs in the pitch black pre-dawn with an over excited six year old repeatedly asking, "Are they coming yet?  Why aren't they here?  I'm cold...I'm hungry...Mama WHEN are they COMING?!" is so not my idea of a good time.

Perhaps I'll make it up to him by letting him take some time off school while they're here.  I suppose it's not going to harm his chances too much of getting into Oxford one day if he misses the opportunity to fashion yet another finger puppet out of straw and cardboard or brush up on his meditative yoga chanting.

Though Egg has already pipped us to the post in that regard, having apparently informed his teacher and classmates several weeks ago that he shall cease attending school for good once his visitors arrive.

Maybe things are about to take a turn for the better for wee Egg (especially as I have it on good authority that some Reeces Peanut Butter Cups - his absolute fave - are winging their way towards us as we speak).

As for me?  I am too heavily traumatised over this nit thing to be caring about much else at the moment.  If I didn't think it would freak my mum and sis out so badly I'd be sorely tempted to pile the whole family onto the Enfield right now and head for the local barber and have us shorn en masse.


Friday, 28 January 2011

"Baby Casanova"

Dumpie:  "Mama you are cute."

Me: "What Dumps?"

Dumpie:  "You are cute...and pretty...and beautiful...(he pauses for a moment)...and lovely"

Though suspicious of such flattery being in all likelihood the preemptive buttering up, uttered for the express purpose of getting his grubby little paws on a pre-dinner biscuit....I fall for it nonetheless.

And to his credit, in this instance he merely follows up such heartfelt admonitions with a cheeky grin and a kiss to my arm before toddling off - taking his four year old self off to see what mischief he can get up to.

Perhaps it's just that he's coming into himself - or should I say his masculine ways - and practising up for a lifetime of wooing the ladies, starting with his exhausted, world weary Mama.

For the other day as I dropped him off next door at the Kindergarten, one of the male teachers greeted him  with, "Good morning Casanova!"

I looked at the teacher, smiling but puzzled, then glanced over to where he was gesturing.  Hanging off the swinging wooden school gate where no less than five little girls shouting excitedly at Dumpie, waving and bouncing up and down.

I was rather shocked.  Didn't know what to make of it.  The teacher smiled and said, "You see why we call him Casanova?  All the girls love him very much."

I'll say.

Glancing over at Dumps I could see a mixture of pride and embarrassment clouding his features.  So what did this tiny testosterone-bundled munchkin do?  He stopped a few feet from the entrance, spread his legs in a warrior stance and Judd Nelson-like (as in the last scene of the Breakfast Club) punched his fist into the air in a triumphant gesture and just stood there, scrunching up his features like a little tiger growling, 'Grrrrrr'.

Okay, so the little guy has some work to do on his follow through...but I reckon with continued development in the charisma and flirtation stakes, he's on course to become a real life Casanova.

The husband anticipates that we shall be in for some very difficult years fielding phone calls from irate fathers of daughters...

And where shall I be in all this?  Probably letting Dumps get away with murder on account of his continuing to state, "You are so pretty Mama...and so nice...and I love you so much...and you are so lovely...and so cute."  (And this when i'm a greying toothless old crone with bunions or some such...just wait.)

Thursday, 27 January 2011

"All Curried Out"

We have to leave India.  We really do.  We've only two and a half weeks left in this South-East Asian paradise before we board the airline with a beer for a name (good ol' Kingfisher) and head back westward toward dreary skies (and an even drearier economy).  Amusingly, we shall be departing on Valentine's Day.  Sipping lukewarm beer, eating sodium rich nuts and watching banal Hollywood inflight films, is how the husband and I shall spend our umpteenth V-Day together.

I suppose I would be more gutted about leaving if it weren't for one small fact:  I have TOTALLY gone off Indian food.  If I never see another Indian curry it will be too soon (of course feel free to remind me of this in say six months time when I'm spotted lurking outside the Spice Palace on Brick Lane, hankering after a poppadom or four).

Ironically, in years past when we have come to for a two week getaway, it would be fair to say that a great proportion of our time has been spent gorging ourselves on the delicious food, contemplating our next meal, and generally stuffing ourselves to the point where we lie there afterwards, groaning on the bed (and I don't mean in a sexy way),  gently rubbing our distended bellies and swearing we won't order so much next time.  But we do...and so the cycle continues...such that we end up returning back from holiday as slightly browner, rounder manifestations of our formal selves.

However after months of eating at the same dozen or so restaurants, having sampled all the divine fish tikka, tarkha dal, channa masala, raita, roti, vegetable papad, malai kofta, kadai veg, etc WITHIN AN INCH OF OUR stomach - and taste buds - are in a full-scale revolt.

I have finally reached my limit, and have therefore been forced, for the past few weeks or so, to subsist within the borders of a terribly confined culinary selection.  In other words, I've been mainly subsisting on fruit, breakfast cereal and peanut butter toast.  My body is crying out for BLAND food, for Western food (as inferior as it could be argued it is) because frankly I've had about as much ghee (butter), creamy curry and savoury naan breads as I can take.

You know what I'm most looking forward to?  A Mark & Spencer's Cheese and Celery sandwich, devoured with a bag of salt n' vinegar crisps.  Yep.  If I were on death row right now that is what my last meal request would be.

(Of course as I say this I am wondering why I'm advertising to the world at large, my favourite sandwich...not only do I sound like a daft cow but I risk the likelihood that this delicious partnering of moist bread, creamy cheese and tart celery will become even harder to come by on the shelves if more people are to discover just how yummy it is.  As it is I have had many a disappointing foray into good ol' M&S only to find that particular shelf laid bare and have had to resort to a disappointing Ploughman's to ease the hunger.  But I digress....)

The point is, that I think I am finally ready to leave.  Seriously.  When I am daydreaming about what is essentially a bloody sandwich, and am ready to trade sun, seas and spectacular sunsets for said says it all really doesn't it?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Yesterday at the fruit market I saw some delicious watermelons.

"Are these good ones?"

"Oh yes Madam...very good"

"Are you sure?  Last time you sold me some and they were rotten inside."

"No Madam...these ones very good...very cheap.  You take two?"

I take two.

I go home, cut them open, and...they're rotten.  (sigh)

In a lot of ways that sums up India.  Major problem with quality control.  That is why you will sometimes find ants in the sugar bowl, flies in your cornflakes, and buy something only to have it break apart minutes later (like the mickey mouse on Egg's newly purchased 'Crocs' last night - for a fiver).

I had dragged Egg into a roadside stall to purchase him new (fake) 'Crocs' after his old (authentic) ones were lost on the beach (the graveyard to most of his hats and footwear this past year).  I had an amusing back and forth exchange with the owner until I succeeded into bullying him into a fair price (just stopping short of getting Egg to recite some Hindi words to prove we weren't 'tourists').  I could have hammered him down further, but got distracted by his adorable baby daughter toddling around wearing comical over sized sunglasses, and realising he was a family man...softened.

Then of course we got home, Dumpie tried them on, and the Mickey Mouse decal promptly broke off.  Didn't feel so bad after that.

Though sometimes they take things too far here.  At our local Baskin Robbins (a weekly indulgence) I never fail to become amused by the sight of the counter staff popping our cones onto a little scale to ensure that not even an extra gram of ice cream gets mistakenly doled out to a greedy Westerner (a local would have to think twice about parting with 80pence for a cone).  Talk about meticulous.

If only my fruit stall fellow could employ even a fraction of this meticulousness and stop stacking his shelves full of deceptively green but internally rotting melons.  It would mean that I would probably stop casing the Baskin Robbins as often as I do, waiting for it to open and get my mint chocolate chip fix.  And I would look less like a tourst.  Which would mean I would probably stop getting quoted tourist rates when attempting to buy my child imitation Crocs at inflated prices.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

"Watching the Rupee Drop"

Lately, Dumpie has turned our cheap blue porcelain Hindustan toilet bowl into a little wishing well - tossing shiny silver one and two rupee coins down to the bottom where they settle and glint in ironic fashion.

Last week it was Egg's Nintendo stylus which was sacrificed to the cause.

I suppose I should be grateful that my pearl earrings haven't (yet) made it down there.

Problematically, these coins are procured from Egg's glass piggy bank (which originally began life as a jar of green pesto), since Dumpie does not possess one himself, long ago giving up on the whole idea of nightly 'allowance'.

In truth, the scheme fell flat several months ago.  You see Dumpie would go days without getting his allowance (due to naughty behaviour) then would torment Egg (who always got his) by stealing his coins and causing a huge uproar.

Given that they rarely got to actually spend their allowance (the choice being horrid Indian sweets or nasty plastic toys), the currency became quickly devalued.  Literally.

So now neither boy collects allowance, but Egg still has a jar stuffed full of coins...which Dumpie continues to pilfer and toss into the toilet as the desire takes him.

It's clear that we've failed miserably in trying to teach the boys about the value of money.  What with all their starting up of 'tabs' in the local beach restaurants and the way Dumps tosses full glasses of expensive juice down the kitchen sink after a mere sip or two to quench his thirst, it's clear that the monsters have a steep fiscal learning curve to traverse in their futures.

I already shudder imagining them helping themselves to items in cafes in London, thinking it will all just 'go on a tab', and being mortified by the icy stares from store staff assuming I'm using my little ones to nab free smoothies and muffins.  We're still in a recession after all.

Sharon Osbourne for ASDA (not that the plastic Queen of Darkness has EVER set foot inside an Asda - aside from filming the bloody stupid advert) claims that 'every little bit helps' as she double pats her own pantsuit-clad arse with a cheeky grin.

And they say (whoever 'they' are) that one must watch the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.

I wonder if watching them gleam from the bottom of a dirty toilet bowl counts?  Maybe next time I go to the loo I should make a wish.  Wish for a cleaner to fish the coins out of the bowl and scrub the toilet while they're at it.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

"Please Pass the 'Schhlocket' "

Why use a glass?
Dumpie has inexplicably begun speaking with a Dutch accent.  Well actually more like a Dutch baby.  Friends of ours recently visited and their two year old was just getting to grips with language.  Dumpie must have decided somewhere along the line that cute blurted out words, winning smiles and pointing are the way forward in terms of garnering adult attention.

For why else would he be addressing me thus:

"Me schleepy...go schleepy now Maaaamaaaa."

As opposed to what he would have typically said previously:

"I am NOT going to bed now because I am NOT sleepy.  If you are sleepy than YOU go to bed.  I am going to stay up and watch Star Wars."

I seem to recall that 'acting like a baby' behaviour is totally normal and will usually cease on its own, and that it's best to just go with the flow and tolerate your child's linguistic and behavioural regression.  However, given that some of this 'baby behaviour' is manifesting itself in a sudden surge of 'wee accidents' is not encouraging.

Though I suppose in one sense it does make a nice change from being mouthed off to by a four year old  too clever for his own good.  And one who, until the recent Dutch affectation, was speaking with a mild Indian accent (something my sister on ichat found to be most amusing).

The husband and I have now given up all pretence of trying to 'tame' the boys while we are here.  When we are out they quickly disappear, swallowed up in bands of marauding little savages who roam the beach, building forts, hassling each others parents for money to buy ice cream, and chase each other around waving big sticks.  It all looks like great fun, and if it weren't for the nervous fear hovering around the edges of my consciousness, that we may never fully be able to 'socialise' them back into 'normal society', then I suppose I wouldn't give it a second thought.

But at some point they are going to have to realise that wearing shoes is NOT optional, that dirty fingernails are NOT okay, that running up tabs for mango drinks and milkshakes in various restaurants is NOT on, and that taking off for ages at a time without letting us know is NOT going to be tolerated forever.

Of course it's not all bad.  Both boys can now sit in the lotus position, little fingers curled gracefully by their knees, and Egg can even chant a Hindi meditational singsong.  It's rather cute actually.  And they have both made so many new and amazing friends from all over the world.  (Egg even recently procured the email address of a rather fetching ten year old girl from England who expressed an interest in keeping in touch via their respective Nintendo's!)

With just a month and a half left to go in India I suppose I should just let them roam wild and free while they can.  And if that means, in Dumpies case at least, being a Dutch speaking serial bed wetter...then so be it.
The world's best playground?!

Monday, 3 January 2011

"All Is Quiet(ish)...On New Year's Day!"

A stunning start to the New Year!

So it's the new year, and we're back to our daily routine of hustling the monsters off to school before 9am amidst a flurry of toothbrushing, muesli eating and multiple clothes changes (courtesy of Dumps).  At least we didn't come across another dead chipmunk en route today (or 'chickmonk' if you're Dumps) which made me both recoil in horror and wonder why the dogs hadn't eaten it.

We have now all adequately recovered from New Year's Eve festivities - even our friend from Kuala Lumpur who sadly came down with a case of 'Delhi Belly', as did another friend of ours, on the great night itself...meaning that a couple of fresh lime soda's were as raucous as things got for them.

I kept it moderate, given that the husband spent the majority of the 12 hour 'rave-a-thon' up near the bar behind his beloved decks, spinning tunes and air thumping along to others when his mate was at the helm...leaving me as sole carer to two simultaneously hyper and exhausted little boys.

Being Goa, there were tons of little ones about - either dancing with the parentals on the homemade dance floor inside the beach shack (something I cannot imagine ever happening in the UK), waving glow torches and lighting magic kite lanterns up and down the beach, or cuddling up en masse in the sand playing made up games together in a 'Lord of the Flies-esque' posse (minus the sinister element, obviously).

Though many of the little ones were too excited to sleep and thus wide awake for the seemingly endless 'Apocolype Now' type rendition of amateur firecracker displays up and down the beach around midnight, Eggie and Dumps crashed well before then, curling up like two little sleepy sausages in my sarongs.  I rarely left their side, afraid that some oblivious party goers might mistake their sleeping forms for rather comfy cushions, and instead enjoyed watching the flow of human traffic up and down our beach.

As the husband dropped 'Salt N' Peppa's PUSH IT' at midnight, the sky was alight with crazy crackling and coloured constellations and as I looked around at all the happy faces and the grinning smiles of our friends who had traveled all this way to spend New Year's with us, I felt really blessed.  Some old friends, some new, they all helped make this occasion a memorable one and I had to try and recall a better New Year's Eve in recent memory (I couldn't).

Surprisingly the monsters slept through all the craziness and sometime after midnight, after a few bottles of celebratory champagne were quaffed, the husband stole off with me, laden with Egg (and I with Dumps) as we trudged through the sand to deposit the monsters into their rightful beds.  Given the sheer size and weight of Egg these days, and the fact that I was wearing a floor length black dress at the time which was impossible not to trip on, the husband and I did not enjoy the journey back IN THE SLIGHTEST.

However he somehow managed to find the energy to slip back out and continue in the festivities, whereas  I was quite happy to call it a night and crash with the monsters.  Of course the next morning when the monsters woke us up at 8:30am, it was payback time as I was rewarded for my abstention whilst the husband was punished for his lack thereof...attempting to get through the first day of the year on a mind numbing two and a half hours sleep :)

Nonetheless, it turns out that we made history by putting on the first ever proper dance party on this particular family beach...ever!  (And if that weren't enough, surely the presence of a reality show celebrity and a supermodel spotted on our beach proves that our little bit of paradise is now in the ascendancy?!)  The shack owner is so pleased about his reputation as the 'best place on the beach' now, that he's offered the husband a bottle of champagne as thanks and now greets him as a long lost friend.

That's great and all, but I think I'll pass on the champagne thank you very much.
Two sleepy bundles of boy
Not even a fresh orange juice can help two and a half hours kip!