Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oh, the places you'll go!

The Age of Perception

Nino, to Nino's Mum, who is trying to get her son to sleep before she falls asleep in exhaustion: Where's Dad?

Nino's Mum, trying her best to keep the irritation out of her voice at the daily ritual question: At work (silent #$%&*!), baby.

Nino, very matter-of-factly: Is he poor?

Nino's Mum, caught between guffawing and concern at her son's perceptive economics: Why do you think he's poor?

Nino: Well he works hard all the time. He's working all the time. Yesterday (Nino's concept of 'when I was younger' is usually yesterday) he din't work so much.

I liked the fact that Nino thought only his dad was poor, and 'we' were not (must have been all the books I bought!), but I thought it was time to explain to him time difference and the consequences for working for an American company.


Nino, spying Nino's Mum watching bits of some random movie on HBO in silent mode, smiling away: Are this kaka (gujarati for uncle) and kaki (gujarati for aunty) married?

Nino's Mum, wondering if her son's moral standards are her punishment for her belief in live-in relationships: No, baby, they're just friends .

Nino, after having watched the uncle and aunty in question, kiss and embrace: They're definitely husband and wife, mama.

The Age of Wisdom

Nino's Mum, walking in on Nino and his cousin, viciously caning a plastic dog-toy: NINO! Why are you hitting the dog?

Nino: He was naughty.

Nino's Mum launches into this great-big explanation how animals can't really express their pain and they're ours to look-after, much like babies.

Nino's Mum: We can't hurt babies, can we?

Nino: Why do you hit me?


Nino and I are parked on the side of an extremely congested road, waiting for Nino's Dad to come. Honks abound, and so does guilt, I'm obviously contributing to the congestion.

Nino: When is papa going to come?

Nino's Mum: Bhagwan jaane. (A often-used Gujarati curse, that means God only knows).

Nino: What's he doing with Bhagwan?

Nino's Dad finally arrives and I rant and yell and nearly explode. Nino's Dad catches Nino's eye and grins.

Nino: Mamma must be hungry.

The Age of Gluttony

We're at this nice restaurant for a Sunday brunch along with my sister and nieces and we're oohing and aah-ing over the perfect consistency of the risotto and the melt-in-the-mouth ravioli.

Nino, making clean work of his spaghetti aglio olio: This is impeccable work.

Nino's mum, wondering where Nino picked up the adjective from: What do you mean impeccable work?

Nino: When we do good work at MM (name of school), S (teacher) says impeccable work because impeccable work makes her happy.


Nino, pointing to the sponge-like substance inside the picture of a bone in his anatomy book: What's this?

Nino's Mum: That's bone marrow.

Nino: Like in mutton?

Nino's Mum: Yes, like in mutton.

Later that night, Nino's Mum is trying not to smack her son who is blowing, sucking and drooling on her elbow. Attached to the elbow should be the new phrase, she mutters to herself.


Nino: Your bone marrow's very yummy, mamma.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book-lovers beware

The scene: A beyond crowded CG Road, one of Ahmedabad's only so-called high streets, at 9:00pm on Sunday evening. Roads choc-a-block with traffic, haphazardly parked cars, commuters in Sunday slow-driving mode, benign chaos, and the like.

The characters: A hungry Nino, Nino's Mum on a mission, An irritated with traffic maneuvering Nino's Dad and a very entertained Geetaben, Nino's care-giver.

The premise: A book fair.

Ahmedabad suffers from a frightening paucity of book stores and book fairs. So when a really good book fair came along, I was not going to be one to miss it. I'd wanted to have a go at it alone, so I could pour over the books without Nino's patience wearing out or for that matter of Nino's Dad's as well. Somehow I couldn't work that out and we ended up going to the book fair, all of us together.

The unity of the Nino family however, was doomed given the timing and the various moods of the characters. So eventually I stayed at the book fair and Nino's Dad drove Nino and Geetaben to a takeaway place where they grabbed some food and decided to pick me up on the way back. Unfortunately, I wasn't done. So they parked the car and fed themselves, arguing over spilt food, traffic rules and why three-year-olds-cant-have-chewing-gum. Atleast five irritated and abrupt phone calls from Nino's Dad later, I emerged from the book fair at around 10:30pm, sweaty but grinning at the lot I'd managed to pick up for Nino.

(Nino's Mum, walking towards car, struggling with jhola, and two very heavy plastic bags, phone ringing in her butt pocket): Hi! I'm back.

Nino's Dad: (to no one in particular) She's back.

Nino's Mum: Sorry, it was just too good to be true, I picked some great books for Nino, lots of Eric Carle...

Nino (interrupting): Mama, why can't three year old's have chewing gum?

Nino's Dad (before Nino's Mum can answer her budding 20questions champ): Did you remember to take the credit card back?

Nino's Mum: Yes, of course, what do you mean, the last time was an accident. All right and then I spent....

Nino (interrupting): Why is it called chewing gum, mama, can we really eat gum?

Nino's Dad: Why don't both of you get settled so we can get going?

Nino's Mum, who is quite dejected at the lack of interest in the books she's picked up, turns to Geetaben and says, with big smile: I got lots of books Geetaben, some 80 per cent off! 14 books for Nino. Some to keep for later... some I ....

Geetaben: You din't pick up his shampoo and soap?