Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chronicles of sickness

Popcorn…Noodles…Plain-rice…Chapati with jam…Steamed corn…Bread with butter….Juice…Milk with chocos….

All the above choices, I offer to my daughter time and again and all I get is just one blunt reply...”Nah”.

She’s been sick since last couple of days with heavily infected throat accompanied by fever and vomiting. Not to mention lassitude and weakness, followed on its own. I sit helplessly next to her convincing to eat something which she plainly refuses. It’s been almost 2 days since she has eaten something substantial.

Seeing your kids sick is the last thing you desire for. When they are hale and happy, there’s so much cheer and bliss around which suddenly evaporates with the quite entry of illness. My son is habitually a quite creature. He finds absolute solace and glee in his own company so his presence doesn't really make up for my daughter’s trailing dynamism. The deadly silence at home when she is taken to bed is way too much for us to endure.

Can't stop her naughty gestures even
while battling with the sickness
A visit to the doctor only reinstated my credence that the unceasing weather fluctuations are to be accused for this illness and infection around. Number of helpless parents clutching their sick kids wasn't a cheerful picture in the waiting area. The weakness had taken over so much that the small rides and other play-mates in the kids’ waiting area were almost empty and no kid wanted to play around. The doctor confirmed an awfully bad throat infection and the vast list of medication followed.

Like all sick kids, my daughter is totally weak and no longer cheerful. Strong doses of antibiotics have turned her nauseated and losing appetite. It’s such an agony to see your child out of action who is otherwise too much to bear. Her chirpy talks fill the house with ecstasy; her naughty little feats keep me engaged all the way through, her small loving gestures makes me thank my stars all the time. I am missing her usual self and I hope she gets back to what she’s best at; sooner the better.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travelling with a Child....

The below article is published online:

Travelling with children can be a more tedious than housework, laundering, shopping and office backlog put together. Factoring a child’s needs into your travel itinerary can be far more challenging than sticking on that CD of nursery rhymes or making the frequent and unplanned toilet halts.
However, travelling as a family allows experiences to be shared and treasured. It can add significance to family time together away from the burdens of work and mundane routine. You can gain different perceptions on places when accompanied by kids.
If you plan aptly, the disaster times seem to dwindle, and the memoirs of the events together get reminisced. Here are some parent-tested tips to help prepare for a hassle-free and safe journey.

Be flexible with extra time
As long as you go with the flow, travelling with a child can really be a delightful experience. Small kids can get over-excited with too many new places and noises. Similarly, making your toddler sit immobile or tour for a longer period can make him fed up and irritable. Carry a sling or a carrier to strap your toddler to keep him out of trouble. Also, keeping the itinerary simple works wonders. While planning ensure that only one major activity is scheduled for a day to accommodate the last minute adjustments if your child gets exhausted or cranky.
Babies and especially toddlers love to wander around and explore hence don’t expect them to respect the time limits of your travel program. Therefore, you're more likely to retain your cool if you factor the ogling, delaying, toilet breaks and grumpiness into your travel plan. 

Pick a right destination 
A peaceful destination that’s friendly to young visitors should be favoured. A lazy seaside, family camping, Club Med or similar child-friendly places are good options. Jam-packed, over stimulating tourist charms or places without any shade should be strictly avoided. Scout for hotels that offer good discounts on the rates and some freebies like free breakfast without negotiating on the child-friendliness and safety aspect. It’s also not a bad idea to ask about the child-minding services or crèches or other child friendly facilities and activities.

Two things you just can’t miss before leaving on that long awaited trip is plenty of water and a bag of snacks. Flights can dehydrate most of the young travellers and small toddlers just can’t always hold on until the proper mealtimes. Raisins, breadsticks, small juice cartons, dry fruits, rice biscuits, small packets of dry cereal are some of the best bets. Don’t forget to stock on wet wipes for those messy clean-ups. The journey can also be made fascinating by dispensing snacks at pre-announced intervals, for example, once you board the aircraft or after you’ve covered a certain distance.
If you are travelling with a small baby or a toddler that is not fully toilet-trained, it’s prudent to stock on the diapers and the rash creams. Also carry a liquid bath soap to avoid messy handling and subsequent contamination. If you are travelling to chilly areas, carry loads of moisturising creams and a good sunscreen if you choose the beaches. It’s also not a bad idea to carry your own electric repellent or at least a cream to keep those mosquitoes and bugs away. Pack the clothing as per the climate at the destination; however, avoid carrying too many clothes by mix-matching and re-using some.

Plan recurrent rest stops 
“We spent too much time in planning our first holiday with our 2 year old son, Vivan. We decided to drive down to Goa from Mumbai. Everything was a fairy tale affair until my husband started to get twitchy at the repeated unplanned breaks we were taking to attend to Vivan and his tantrums. This led to frivolous arguments between us turning the entire journey into anguish.” Priya, a young mother from Mumbai, shares her experience.
Driving can often be fun for adults but seldom for small children. Hence, plan proper breaks in your voyage to give your child consistent chances to stretch and ramble around. A quick game of football with your little one or some simple jigsaw puzzles for some quite times can be good choices. Early start is extremely logical to give you enough time for that much desirable unwinding after a long day on the road. Had Priya and her husband considered these breaks beforehand, they wouldn’t be in those spiteful situations.

Safety first 
It’s always a good idea to carry your own childproofing kit to use at your destination. Make sure your baby is properly fastened in the car seat, if you are travelling by car. Invest in a pair of good quality removable window shades to keep your child protected from the sun. This may sound hilarious but it’s always advisable to dress up your child in some brightly coloured outfits so that he can be easily spotted at crowded places. Also, don’t forget to put a small chit with your details like phone numbers and address in one of his pockets in case you get detached. A number of packing and travelling checklists are easily available on the internet for more ideas.

Pack a goody bag 
Carrying a goody bag with toys, snacks and drinks is definitely one of the best means to keep your child calm and comfortable on a trip. Try and include their favourite play-mates, books and even some surprises. Wrapping them separately and presenting them to your child once a while will benefit in tackling those fidgety times. Jigsaw puzzles, soft toys, hand puppets, some coloured paper for drawing, non-toxic crayons and clay and picture books can prove extremely worthy for the toddlers; while babies can be kept motivated with some attractive new stuffs, baby-proof hand mirror, musical toys and rattles,  pop-up toys or teething rings. You need to start building on the collection a few weeks beforehand.

Whether they’re jetlagged, out of routine or eating less healthily, most kids seem to fall sick on holidays. Hence, it’s particularly important to carry your child’s medical history along. Also, make a quick doctor visit before the travel to ensure that your child is in good health and suitable for travel and the environmental changes. Carry the doctor’s prescription for all the important and common medications; even better if you carry the medicines. “Last year we were holidaying in some remote parts of North India when one of my Twins developed an upset tummy in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying the right medicine and we had a hard time dealing with the situation. That night taught me a significant lesson and now I just can’t think of leaving my home without the medication kit, even for smaller journeys.” Ashlesha, a mother of 3 years old Twins recalls.
Other basic constituents in the first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, bandages, sting treatment, and a thermometer. Don’t forget to pop a small bottle of hand-sanitizer in your handbag.

Preach and practice
Small children are flexible and shouldn't be too distressed by a provisional break in routine, but a little groundwork will help your child relish his trip. Showing pictures of your destination and chatting with them about what and who you’ll see as well as what you’ll do there can be really helpful. Whenever you talk to them, make sure you take an optimistic approach in conveying the enthusiasm and positive feelings about the impending trip. Your child will definitely take his cue from you and odds are your little one will approach the tour the same way.
And to conclude, as someone rightly said, stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey, it entirely depends on how you approach your trip. Apposite planning, little positive attitude and endurance will go a long way in making that much awaited trip thoroughly memorable!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Those fins and gills

I am a niche Goenkar.. And however trivial that may sound to you but I take immense pride in being one. Apart from the 'susegado' siestas, one important part of my personality is the creatures with fins and gills... Fish!

I come from a background of hard-core fish eaters. Thanks to my Dad, fish was a part if our meals throughout the year except those one and a half day during the Ganpati festival. It's still considered a customary ritual in some of the Saraswat homes in Goa to cook the fishy dinner on the day of the Ganesh Visarjan. In my home, it's still graciously followed where the men go hunting for the catch to even far away markets.

A part of me feels extremely blessed when I see my children loving the basic essence of my personality. I feel overwhelmed when I see my son, more than my daughter, relish his meals whenever he spots a piece of fried pomfret or kingfish in his plate. My daughter's favourite is prawns fried in basic masala flavours without much spice.

When I got married, I could hardly cook...forget about making those elaborate fishy lunches and dinners. Although, I had made this quite clear to my husband before we were committed, I could sense that he and his father did expect me to at least learn how to cook the basic fish dishes. Cooking is one area where I terribly missed having my mother in law around. My mom used to give me some lessons over the phone which finally helped me overcome my cooking inhibitions in a great way. After many years of trying, I can finally say that I can cook descent meals now that I myself can eat without any inhibitions.

Coming back to the point, I believe that cooking is a great art and some take a lifetime to master it...I am one of them, for sure. My mom is a great cook and whatever I can manage now, I owe it to her.

The patent 'prawns sukhe' in a typical Goan meal
Cooking fish is a complicated affair in Goan cooking. There are different Masalas for each type of fish. Besides, one fish can be cooked into different dishes. Hence, I have always respected the Goan ladies for their super-sharp memory and the perseverance. In most houses, buying the catch is the job of the men and it ends right there. Cleaning, cutting and cooking is then entirely taken over and well executed by the ladies. A fried fish is almost like a compulsion in a normal meal; vegetables being an option and mostly limited to few holy days of the week like Monday; being dedicated to Lord Mangesh.

In Mumbai, where I currently live, finding fresh fish easily is a big challenge making it compulsory to make those weekly visits to bigger fish markets and stock on. After trying a number of such markets, I have finally settled on one at Andheri (W) and I cannot thank enough to few of my friends for their suggestion and few others with whom I tag along.

So, next time you spot me with that big bag early Sunday morning, you know where I am heading to.....!! To the land of the fins and the gills.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Sunday, November 25, 2012

2 Buckets of Popcorn....

"2 buckets of popcorn, 4 large Pepsi please...."

The guy in front of me placed his order. There were these massive queues at the snacks counters. The young chap behind the kiosk swiftly got into action. His KRAs are quite strict about the TAT, commonly known as Turn Around Time in technical terms (Oh! I am sooo missing my Mastek days suddenly). The lady behind me has almost got into a 'train' mode giving me a slender shove hinting that it’s my turn now and I rather be prepared... I give her a precise gloomy look with a tip-off that 'look, I have spent almost 30 mins to reach where I am and I am not leaving this counter for at least next 3 minutes and most prominently, I certainly don't care about your eagerness... She reciprocates with an even dirtier guise.

More than the movies, the ambience at the theatres has always fascinated me. What really makes it worth spending epic money on tickets, apart from the movie itself, is an opportunity to watch and judge different sets of individuals during those waiting times. Just while I write this on my mobile notepad, I see a young lady heavily dressed up in an opulent sequin saree with loads of jewellery. She made me ponder whether she chose to watch the movie only because she missed that last bus that could have taken her to a wedding/reception. There are others who are so skimpily garbed as if they will just turn around and request for some help to splurge on some descent clothing. I am not against anyone’s dressing sense and neither a ‘What-Not-To-Wear’ host so please be aware that these are purely my own personal thoughts; they should not be treated as offensive in any way.

Love is the ultimate thing on this earth and if you can manage to bargain for it at a secluded corner in the waiting lounge, there’s nothing like it. This is the biggest lesson some of the couples, especially young, newly married ones try to demonstrate except they hardly realise that it can get really awkward and uncomfortable when you have small kids around who are more than eager to explore new horizons. But I guess, someone rightly said, love has no confines and certainly not the time limits.

There are others who are busy putting their babies to sleep as a safety measure to be able to watch the movie undisturbed. I have gone through this so I can definitely pacify with them. Some hurriedly want to make that last visit to the wash rooms before the movie commences. Some want to make that one quick phone call to inform that their phone will be switched off/silent henceforth until the movie is over. Some busy preparing their kids with some preamble about the movie. Some like me occupied by their mobile phones and then there are some who just like to observe around, again like me!

Finally, I see a huge queue lined up outside the screen where I am supposed to share some space with 'Richard Parker'. I head out to get blended with the flock and just while I am about to enter, I witness this beautiful National Anthem presented by the deaf and mute kids on the celluloid. Not that I am a great patriot, but this anthem always brings a tear or two in my eyes. It’s so wonderfully filmed and executed that words are just not enough to express the feelings about the kids who present it.

And finally, I am in my chair…waiting for the movie to begin and enjoy my own rendezvous with Piscine Molitor Patel!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Roar of the Tiger!

It’s been quite some time I blogged. Got totally busy with my brother’s forthcoming wedding and the ensuing preparations. Then the Diwali and just while I was still plunging in the verve of the festival, there comes the news of the death of Balasaheb Thackeray and another charismatic member of my family. I know that this is not a germane start to my paused blogging but I still decide to go ahead.

I really wanted to write a lot on the legend. The charisma that ruled Mumbai and taught Mumbaikar’s to hold their head high up. The perpetual guiding force for many who had lost the hopes and succumbed to the situation. But I choose not to. Because, I feel I am too trivial and slipshod to write about the legend that I really don’t know that well. I may not approve the ways he adopted to ascertain his point but I salute the intents and his honest and brave eloquence that endeared the masses on a larger scale.  ‘Tiger’ that he was called, was an apropos title he lived his life with. With his death, the financial capital of India comes to a stand-still faster than anything else; such is his supremacy and the influence on the people of Maharashtra. There will never be another stern tiger like him. He has gone forever and ever leaving behind a legacy that needs a terrific leadership to proliferate and nurture. 

Rest in peace, Saheb! You will be forever missed!