Tag Archives: #kids

My Child: My Biggest Cheerleader!

I sit with my mom and sob as I pour my heart out about a troubled last week, and as I start to cry, my usually oblivious preschooler looks up worriedly and asks, “Why are you crying Mamma?”

“Nothing darling! They’re tears of joy – you remember I told you about that concept. I was crying with happiness because I was remembering how you always tell me I’m the best mamma in the world!” She looks down at her blocks, unconvinced, and mutters, “No! You look really sad for that!” I’m shocked by her sensitivity and insight.

I read somewhere that girls are very tuned in to facial clues while boys are more observant about what’s going on in the environment. I know for a fact that my little monkey may live in her imaginary world all the time, seemingly clueless to the present, weaving crazy stories about her pretend Pakistani husband Chillu Purkhan who took her to see the Eiffel Tower, or making up tall tales about cooking up “Pakistanian” specialities for her visiting in-laws like “Pangkor” and “Buskair”. It’s easy for me to forget how emotionally cued in she really is when I see her talk about her Dr. Seuss-style mad, mad world, but one tear, and she’s right by my side.

I remember when she was only a year and a half, verbally quite advanced for her age, kissing me and repeating, “Mamma.. no cry. No sad. Ranya wipe your tears!” And recently, the one time that I fell and hit the equivalent of a funny bone in my knee, and was rendered incoherent for a minute in the bathroom, she brought the whole house down, telling them with great urgency that I was hurt (when I had recovered just as she stepped out of the door).

Sometimes in life, you feel down and out; you feel like you’re no good at anything, like you don’t have a deserving bone in your body, but no matter what you feel, when you look into your child’s eyes, you see the unbridled love and adoration they feel for you. One only encounters that kind of pure love in the eyes of their parents or grand-parents; the one that doesn’t keep questioning whether I’m worth it to begin with; the love that just keeps loving, despite the number of shoutings given, punishments meted out or angry words shared.

Maybe the reason God gifts us with children is so that when our parents are no longer around, we can still have cheerleaders in the world, standing on the sidelines, rooting for us. When we feel like the scum of the earth, we can look into our children’s eyes and feel that comforting love that comes without condition, and helps us resurrect our souls again!

Post Baby Status: Mein Mother India

After I got married, I found a distinct difference in the way guys started looking at me. People who had been my buddies for eons suddenly started treating me as “bhabhiji”* as soon as I tied the knot. And the weirdest part is that my hubby had been friends with them as long as I had. We were a group and all of them knew Nandy to be lacking a jealous bone in his body, yet I become “Jagat Bhabhi”*- devoid of any attractiveness or sex appeal. I felt like friends who used to hug me and punch my arm suddenly wanted to fold their hands and greet me with a serious “Pranaam Bhabhiji” when they saw me. It made me feel like an androgynous molecular animal.

After I had the baby and packed on the pounds, I felt like my husband also started leaning towards this attitude. A respectful namaste was a more appropriate hello than a cheery kiss (I’d have settled for the cheek, forget the lips). Luckily I never caught him calling me Bhabhi (only BabyA called me that all through her twos, parroting her maid), but he often let a “Mamma, can you read a book to A?” slip out. Granted it was always in the presence of BabyA, but the idea of my hubby calling me Mamma sent me into a tizzy! Isn’t that what couples did, long after the fire went out of their marriages, referring to each other as Mamma and Papa. Even if it was perfectly normal, it gave me the creeps!

I guess you couldn’t blame him because most nights, after BabyA entered our lives, went something like this: I would be trying to make BabyA sleep, doing my best Louis Armstrong bass voice, deep into the chorus of “What a Wonderful World” and I would hear snoring. Relieved, I would open my eyes imagining that the little devil had finally succumbed to sleep, but in the dark, I would see her doing leg lifts, back flips and other gymnastic feats, while the hubby had floated off to “la la land”- a land where Mammas sang loris* to him and kissed him goodnight. So how could you find fault with him for letting “Mamma” slip out a few times?

“Your relationship becomes completely platonic at the end of your life”, my Dadi* would philosophize often (Yes- those were her exact words! I have one cool Dadi). Well, if this was my state of affairs then she wasn’t so wrong after all, because I was ready to end my life very soon! Except that I had two kids to raise: one 3 and one 36.

It’s not like I wanted people to be hitting on me, but I would have greatly appreciated normality, where my friends still felt comfortable being the same way around me as they used to be: mischievous, funny, goofy, confiding and sometimes confrontational. I had become so devoid of femininity that I was now being regarded in everyone’s eyes as Mother India- like it was almost unholy to treat me in any way but with sisterly/ motherly respect- even by the husband.

Nargis’s character as Radha: The quintessential Mother India (in the movie by the same name)  was a beautifully chalked out one for those times but it’s highly unrelatable in today’s age. This goddess-like, moral, sacrificial epitome of maternal-ness is something that moms of today may find too idealistic. We wear such one-dimensional labels (of Maata transforming into Jagat Maata/everyone’s mother) with a pained expression very similar to Radha’s while carrying the weight of the world and the “hal” on her shoulders in the iconic Mother India movie poster.

Speaking of Radha being a Maa, the Radhe Maa controversy is at its peak. Irrespective of whether it’s true or not, I have to say I can relate to what she must be feeling. Maybe the lady was fed up of being everyone’s mother and just wanted to discard her holiness, to remind people that she was still a woman- red mini skirt, matching knee high suede boots and all. Maybe Radhe Maa, during her pravachans (sermons), just wanted to grab the microphone with pizzazz and let people know that “Radha’s on the dance floor, Radha likes to party, Radha likes to move that sexy Radha body” but no one would listen.

And after this phase of bhabhiji/mummyji, I was accosted with some friends who wanted me to become “Behenji”. When Nandy and I were in the U.S. for his MBA, one of our very close Indian friends told me, “Rakhi’s coming! Why don’t you become my sister?” Mooh-boli* behen is a much loved concept in India. I have never understood why Indian men feel the need to instantly classify a friendship with a girl as being their “love-interest” or as their “behen”. Everything doesn’t have to be black or white. Why can’t we be comfy somewhere in between: as real friends!

I have enough of brothers. I told this friend of mine that I was completely ok being friends with a guy. I didn’t have to become his sister to be able to digest our relationship. Nor did my husband.

Bollywood movies also feed us with enough crap like “Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahin hote”. Why? Are our minds so screwed up that Indian men can only be comfortable around a woman as long as she falls into the categories of Behenji, Bhabhiji, Mummyji or Meri Oh-jee*! And even Monish Bahl expressed these regressive thoughts to Salman and Bhagyashri in the late 80’s in MPK. Surely we’ve come a long way since then.

“Or have we?”, I wonder as my maid tells BabyA to call her (4 month older) friend “Shaurya Bhaiya”. His mom and I both recoil, telling her that he’s just Shaurya to her. Their generation will hopefully be able to experience true friendship without the trappings of gender rules and expectations.

So as my daughter comes home and proudly tells me that BabaV* is her best friend forever (despite his affinity for balls and hers for dolls), BabaV’s mum (MY best friend forever) FaceTimes with us from Gurgaon because Baba would like to talk to Baby. And they talk in their stream of consciousness, nonsensical, toddler ways: having parallel conversations where no one is listening, and I hope that they can always maintain this pure friendship- where Baba and Baby never turn into Bhaiya and Behenji!



* Bhabhi- sister-in-law, Behen- sister, Maa- mother, Ji- respectful suffix, Jagat- of the world, Pranam- Respectful hello asking for blessings, Loris- lullabies, Dadi- paternal grandmother, GuruMaa- Teacher-mother, Mooh-boli behen- A girl who has become a sister because she tied ‘Rakhi’ (an Indian sibling custom) to a guy, Meri Oh-Jee- Wife, Baba- Indians call small boys Baba; different from little girls who are addressed as Baby.

Don’t mess with the Mom-inator!

It’s common knowledge that as you grow older, you get calmer. Experience teaches you patience; maybe because you realize that people are going through their own hardships in life, so not to react too quickly.

I have always been the black sheep of the family. My elder sister has been a sea of calmness, while my younger brother was Gandhi-esque in his patience towards my bullying as we grew up. I’ve always been the firebrand of the family: choleric, impatient and the “don’t-take-crap-from-no-one” kind. I imagined that this attitude would wither and I would learn to maintain a tighter reign on my very slippery tongue, as I matured.

I can’t say people were wrong: for a long part of my life when I had no child, I did start getting more mellow and understanding people better. Either that, or I entered a comfort zone of school/college friends who were like-minded, so I didn’t have to deal with people that didn’t sit right with my sensibilities. Either way, I was seeming more and more patient.

But since the day I pushed a child out of my body (starting on that very day itself), I lost all semblance of patience. As the anesthesiologist placed his hand kindly on my hand and explained to me that the baby was ready to pop, so he could not give me the epidural injection, I swatted his hand away mercilessly and told him, “Get your hands off me doctor, and get me the bloody epidural!” And then I erupted into a blood curdling scream, not fast enough to miss seeing my husband’s face turn tomato red in embarrassment at the way I had just spoken to a doctor.

Since that day, I have no patience for any damn bullshit* that anyone wishes to dole out to me. I can’t stand the nuts: From the moms on the message groups dictating to everyone which brand of chocolate must be distributed for birthdays, so as not to offend their little princes’ tonsils (taste-buds?) to the overbearing mums you meet ever so often who are so full of themselves, throwing at you parenting techniques and warnings on how your child will turn brain dead the moment his fingers touch an iPad or showing off about how her daughter eats on her own, sleeps on her own, pees on her own, can play Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 29 on her own (while doing a headstand, at that), at the delicate age of 2.
Stop with the damn BS* already!

Newton’s 3rd law of motion says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This has gotten so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I can’t stop myself from being confrontational: I must tell the messaging mom very sarcastically that I shall only distribute dark chocolate truffles freshly flown in from La Maison Du Chocolat, Paris from now on (because 3 year olds are such connoisseurs of truffles to begin with) and I have to turn around and tell Sri Sri Maa Parvati that her sermons must stop because brain dead computer nerds are ruling the world right now! The only thing dead is Beethoven!

I talk to my friend (a fellow mum of a 3 year old) about this, as I am often scandalized by the things that come out of my mouth soon after someone has annoyed me, and she says that she’s the same. Her explanation is that the Terrible Twos, and the Horrendous Threes, take up so much of our patience, that after that we’re left with nothing to help us counter the huge amounts of BS we encounter in life.

But I hear the life of our children is made up of stages- so till now we have only encountered negativist, tantrum throwing toddlers. How aggressive am I going to get when BabyA becomes TeenA, and scares me with her disappearing hemlines, plunging necklines and dope-head, grungy boyfriends?

By then my patience will have worn out so much that I will don a “BS-Terminator” suit and roam around armed with a fake Austrian accented one liner and a tranquilizer gun, by which I can shoot all these crazy mommies so as to paralyze their mouth muscles temporarily.

Or else, I will land up shooting the one mommy who needs some “tranquil”izing the most to get her chakras in balance-> Me, just so I can calm down and become more zen (chemically-induced or otherwise) in life.

The only fear I have is that the tranquilizer will eventually wear off, and I’ll still be the “high BP due to no tolerance for BS” psycho mom, donning the suit and toting the gun, mouthing off, “I’ll be back!”
Steer clear poor mommies! No one messes with the mom-inator!



Pilots, Dinosaur Princesses and other Fairy Tales

I remember, while growing up, the one thing that got me really upset was unfairness! So, every year, when my grandmom would ask my younger brothers to do the Diwali Pooja before me, I got really angry! Shouldn’t it have been by age?

I’ve always been a feminist, even when I didn’t know what it meant. It’s easy to be a feminist wife, or a feminist daughter-in-law when you’re married in a pretty fair family to begin with. The only time I have been struggling with myself is during this experience of being a feminist mom. I’m not a radical as I believe men suffer due to patriarchy too but as a mother, I’m starting to get a glimpse at my own hypocrisies, and they startle me!

I grew up hearing Fairy Tales about Princesses and loving Barbies, but I don’t want my daughter to! I read the stories to my daughter but with disclaimers: letting her know that life isn’t perfect and that fairy tale princesses are dumb! All they do is traipse about, curtsy and debut at balls so they can find their Prince Charming. I do this because I think Fairy Tales have ruined more lives than drugs (Ok- so I’m a tad radical about this!) But children will do what they want to do. Or maybe I have to lead by example more than by preaching.

My daughter isn’t great at sports. Everytime we play ball (with the princess ball she was once gifted, I may add), she throws and then I throw, and then she talks to me about throwing for 5 minutes. In between every ball exchange, she needs a talking break for 5 minutes before we can start again. Is it that she’s sports- challenged like me or that she doesn’t see me doing anything sporty: only telling her to be sporty?

When we see a female pilot, I tell her, “You can be a pilot if you like. If you work hard, you can be anything you want to be”, to which, pat comes the reply, “Really Mamma? Then I want to be a Princess or a Dinosaur”. *Sigh!* I’m tempted to say that I’d rather she were a dinosaur but that would make her extinct, so I’m left exasperated at the choices she has put in front of me. But I guess she looks at her mom, and wants to be like me! She probably views me as being some sort of a Dinosaur Princess who is as old as the hills, but lives a comfy life with a nanny, cook and mommy lunches (at which point she also assumes that taking care of her is a bed of roses that I joyfully lie in every day, and she’s unable to imagine that to be hard work).

For the longest time, I would keep telling my best friend that she should get her son more “feminine” toys but then someone gifted Baby A a dump truck, and my first primal reaction was to dump it on her head? A boy-toy?

And then I wonder why BabyA wants to spend hours setting out picnics for people, or putting fake nail polish in front of her pink dresser? The truth is that she’s like I was at her age. And as she grows up, she will be whoever she is destined to be, and I will have to accept it! All I can do is to teach her what I think I know, and besides that, I have to accept that she is a separate entity than me with her own, evolving identity.

Eventually, I must cut the umbilical cord and let her be whoever she wants to be, whether it be a Pilot, a Dinosaur Princess or a Fashion Diva! I can grit my teeth if she becomes a serial selfie-taking, bubble-headed, self-proclaimed, new-age Princess (images of a giggling Sonam Kapoor float into my head. *Brrrr!*) but I guess if narcissism keeps her light-headed and happy, then I will have to be happy that at least she’s happy!

No Fight: Confessions of a Tired Mommy

I scream, “No..don’t drink that” as my only born slurps the water from her bathtub. “BabyA, that water is not for drinking. Yuck! Look at that! There’s a dead spider in it.”

She is unphased by my drama. She takes a bored look at the mangled spider floating, and bends down to start slurping the soapy water making its way down the drain; licking it like the kitty cats she so admires. She doesn’t even hear me shouting any more.

As an expectant mom, you assume that the time when you start losing control will be around the teenage years, or maybe the Tweens for this generation, but somewhere you believe that you will have a say till then. The truth is that every day I feel powerless in front of my tiny toddler.

Now don’t go mommy-judging me: of course she gets time out when she tries hitting me or does something completely unacceptable, but for all the things that hang in between the segregated realms of wrong and right; for the behavioral patterns that lurk in limbo land, I find myself not-in-control in front of my three year old.

I have never been overly fond of children, except the home-grown variety, and that’s why I had a thousand and one opinions on other people’s upbringing and their progeny. That was until I had BabyA, and since then, God has made me eat my words over and over again.

I used to find some kids extremely rude, like the kind who didn’t greet uncles and aunties “hello” and “ta-ta” or the variety who had nervous breakdowns if someone so much as smiled (at their cuteness), crying, “Why is she laughing at me?” I was sure my kid was going to be nothing like that! I would set her straight if she even tried!

But my kid is exactly like that. She never greets anyone that she doesn’t meet more than once-a-week and when she was younger, would flip out when people smiled in her presence as she would suspiciously shriek, “Why are you/they laughing?”

These are extremely uncomfortable situations for me as I was brought up by a dad who wasn’t fascist about anything but the “5 golden words” of politeness (and doing “chap chap” while eating but that’s a whole other story). So I grew up to be an extremely polite person. I thought that I could discipline my child into being polite, or doing things that I viewed as important (albeit not integral) to one’s character. Short answer: not possible! It’s a classic case of no longer being able to control the (little) monster you created.

And as a parent, you start realizing that you don’t have the fight in you to battle everything. Most of the time, you’re just too damn tired to disagree:
“Mamma, can I jump hard on your tummy and booboos alternatively and pretend you’re a horsie?”
“Mamma, can I blow germ-infested spit bubbles into your milkshake?”
“Go ahead”
“Mamma, can I walk all over you wearing Mami’s 9 inch heels?”
“Be my guest!”

I’m going down! After all, I got no fight!


My iPhone playlist displays “Reason by Hoobastank”. “Hoobastank? Who’s that?” I think although the song name sounds familiar. I play it and it’s my all time favourite song, and I can’t help but wonder how this information has been erased from my memory.

It’s called being mommy-brained. Just the way you have hare-brained and twit-brained; in the same family of semantics is the condition of Mommy Brain-ness (I don’t call it Brainy-ness, which may sound more grammatically correct, because it would wrongly connote that this was some kind of an admirable condition).

It’s like, after a child comes into your life, she assaults all your senses and then occupies them, ALL THE TIME, for life. I know I make it sound horrible but it’s wonderful and then a bit miserable, but never horrible. Nothing is yours any more. You no longer focus on yourself and so, soon enough, you no longer know yourself without her.

You only watch what she likes, and if at some point, she senses that you may have gotten away (sitting in your room having a jolly good time watching “Modern Family” reruns without her), she runs to your room, to make you switch to “The Adam’s Family” cartoon series which you must watch hand-in-hand with her!

You are constantly sensitive to the aromas of the world, trying to focus on what might bother her: protecting her before yourself; from pollen-infested flower sniffs, smoky mosquito repelling fumigations and stinky bodily emissions that you are more allergic to than her.

The only music you listen to any longer is the Preeti Sagar Nursery Rhymes’ CD she wants to hear, on a loop. And you flinch with every bursting ‘phataka’ (firework) as if you’re the one whose frightened of pyrotechnics. Ganpati Visarjans are even more torturous, and more than once, you have mentally enacted the scene from Kill Bill where Uma Thurman slices her enemies, with the Pandal DJ playing your villain.  “After all, no one messes with my baby!”

Your taste buds are no longer able to enjoy the explosion that you enjoyed in your mouth while slurping some spicy rasam and your only thought when the waiter brings out that pink sauce pasta is that dimwits without kids don’t understand how crucial simplicity is. You can’t fancy it up by putting in some colour or exotic veggies: Mac n Cheese is on all kiddy menus for a reason!

Food for you is now something that lets you live. You shovel down the truffle gnocchi without appreciating the subtleties of its preparation, and you eat copious amounts of chips, cheese toast and even tasteless apple purée just so starving kids in Africa don’t find out that your child wasted some food.

In fact, feel is the only sense that becomes more enhanced after you have a baby, and that’s what makes the miserable part so damn wonderful. Till now you haven’t truly understood how your heart can soar when you’re sleeping and someone wakes you up to butterfly kisses all over your face. You haven’t known how your heart skips a beat as that little baby, who can only be an innocent angel of God (it seems, at that point), suckles to your breast and is comforted from any feeling of fear, discomfort and insecurity… all because you’re there!

I may no longer know what kind of music, TV shows or food I like. I may have lost all control over my senses (and bladder, post delivery) but the way my heart leaps when I see that little soul clinging to me, like I’m no less than God herself, in her eyes; that’s the part that makes motherhood so damn worth it!

Mommy Guilt: My Shadow

As I try to make BabyA sleep (which always proves to be the hardest task of the day), she’s at her chattiest best! Maybe she feels like it’s the one time that I can’t multi-task in that pitch darkness and she, finally, has my undivided attention. She turns to me and says, “Mamma, you had to go for work outside today?” and she repeats herself in the most innocent tone, that stabs at my heart and fills me with guilt.

Mommy guilt! The perennial, life-lasting mommy guilt. It becomes our shadow the moment we deliver a newborn. The funny thing is that I’m an SAHM (Stay at home mom), so I don’t “work outside” (to quote BabyA) but those words pierce through me when she says it like that.

Yes- I have been leaving her a little more, of late, but always under the supervision of either grandmom and her maid. And it has only been for 2-3 hours in a day to do my “work” which basically means to run errands and possibly spend sometime un-mummifying myself (pun intended), because with the way I look on most days (out of shape, hair plastered to my forehead and the nape of my neck due to pesky perspiration problems, wearing tracks so I look like I’m going to, or coming from a workout, which I’m usually not), I better work on transforming myself so that my single friends still recognize me as the fun person they used to know.

So, as I try to snap out of the Mommy Guilt haze (and BabyA hoped that at least in the dark, I couldn’t multi-task and she had me to herself!) and give myself some perspective on what a great mom I am, I see her: The street lamp light (we don’t really get any moonlight in Mumbai, although it would have been more poetic to have written of that) pours in through the window and I see her, tickling her nose with the furry tail of her Hanuman stuffed toy, looking pensive. I ask, “A- what are you thinking about?”, sure that she is still upset about my child abandonment stint in the day.

“About sheep Mamma! Sheep and Halloween Pumpkins!” she replies, still deep in thought.
Of course you were! Silly me- thinking that you were picturing mommy witches, all wearing masks with my face on them!

Mommy guilt is inescapable! I need to calm down and relieve myself of it. After all, I’m doing the best job I know how to do, and I’m sure BabyA will be able to see that… eventually, if not always.

In any case, kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for: no matter what makes them momentarily sad, they always bounce back (much like when you drop them on the floor, and they usually bounce right back……. Not that I ever did that! Just sayin’…)

Wake Up Sid: Daddy’s stealing all the limelight

I’m going through BabyA’s baby pics on my phone and it’s filled with shots of Nandy and her.
Photo 1: Nandy looking disoriented as he walks with her, head resting on his shoulder, in the middle of the night.
Photo 2: Nandy grimacing as he peeks into her diaper to find the explosion that almost rocked the house.
Photo 3: Nandy fast asleep as Aranya manages to rest her feet over his face.
Photo 4: Nandy, tired after getting back from a long trip, sleeping with Aranya snoozing on his tummy.
I suddenly realize that I’m Anupam Kher from Wake Up Sid! My daughter is going to look at all the pictures from her childhood and never see me. She will think that it was her father who woke up every time she cried in the middle of the night, to feed her and then walk her (she in his arms) for hours till she fell asleep. She will believe that it was he who always changed her dirty diapers, wiping the rainbow coloured potties she was capable of exhibiting in her tiniest years. She will think that he was the one who would silently put up with her constant unintentional violence (kicking, slapping, etc.) as she slept and only wanted to cuddle with him at night. Ok- so the last one’s true but not the rest! The rest were ME – ALL ME!
Eventually her memories will morph into a false photoshopped MMS where her father will be the one who would spend an hour (sometimes two, no jokes!) singing “What a Wonderful World” and “Yeh Honsla” (from Dor) in alternation, to her while unsuccessfully rocking her to sleep. But no! That was ME too! Sang till my voice was hoarse.
My husband wasn’t a baby person and that’s why when I saw how he warmed up to his own child, I wanted to capture every sensitive moment on camera. So each little moment of father-daughter bonding was caught and archived for her to view as a grown up.
Of course, since I am the mother, and supposed to be responsible for everything to do with this baby, nobody was there to click me when I had my finger up her nose trying to take out a booger that wouldn’t let her breathe. Moms do that! Who cares?
And that leaves me feeling like Anupam Kher in Wake Up Sid: my daughter will grow up seeing these pictures and thinking that it was her father who was always there: for the first word, to nurse all her boo-boos, for the first heartbreak. But she won’t ever think about who was behind the camera, taking all these pictures?
The only thing I find solace in is the hope that perhaps at the end, when she’s peaking at her mommy-hatred (because that’s naturally bound to happen at puberty with any daughter), he will tell her… Just like Supriya Pathak told Ranbir Kapoor: “Who do you think was holding the camera all this time? Who do you think wanted to take pictures of you all the time? Who do you think loves you so much?” (Or something like that).
And then I will be redeemed in front of my tattoo- toting Goth daughter (because that’s my image of what teenhood looks like). A slow, K-Jo approved, heart-wrenching tune will start in the background and she will run to hug me, hair flying. From therein, she will give up her rebellious ways (and gear), only to wear lemon yellow chiffon salwars, worship me and marry the boy of my choice!

The Holy Trinity of Schooling

I’m sweating, my heart is palpitating really quickly… I have a million butterflies in my stomach. Oh wait! They aren’t butterflies! They are like obnoxious toads causing a ruckus in my tummy. I think I’m going to be sick!

She got in, she got in NOT? The prayer that one repeats while fingering the rosary beads every morning. Your jaap when you sit in front of your mandir. Nursery admission time is the time when the haves are separated from the contemptible have-nots. When the cream is spooned off and the rest of the milk is thrown, of which rivulets try to spread around, willing to settle in any crevice that will take this undesired milk.

If I had known earlier what separates the creamy mommies from the not-so creamy ones in Mommydom, I may have married differently. I had no control over the fact that my parents decided not to send my sister and me to the very prestigious Cathedral school, despite her having gotten in but I did have control over my marriage. If only I had known that the criteria upon which we choose a life partner (love for me, wealth for some, looks for others) has been all wrong. What we really should be giving sole importance to is Schooling. The first question one should ask before dating a guy: Which school did you study at? (And then demand to see a leaving certificate to make sure there is no story fabrication and conning involved).

My marriage to my husband was one right out of the movies with all the pre-marriage craziness: psycho-mad-possessive love and family turbulence, and break ups and make ups over 5 years of seeing each other, but I often joke with Nandy that I made a mistake: I shouldn’t have married him for his elite sports club membership but instead should have married someone from the holy trinity: Cathedral School, BIS and Campion, if you have a son, and Cathedral, BIS and JB Petit, if you have a daughter. Of course, Cathedral figures right at the top of this holy trinity, and in the school admission evaluation process, if you studied at these schools, they roll out the red carpet for you. If you didn’t, your existence has no meaning. You’re simply rubbish that no one wants to touch with a pole- unless you or your husband are NRIs, foreign expats or investment bankers and then the schools see dollar signs! Ka-Ching!

Filling out school admission forms are so stressful for me because the part in the form that I thought would be the strongest for my hubby and me, turns out to be the one I quiver to fill in.
Nandy: B.Com, M.Com (Best college in Bombay for Commerce), Chartered Accountancy- Intermediate, MBA at University of Pittsburgh.
Me: BA (Best College in Bombay for Arts), MA, M.Phil both in English Literature.
No one gives a damn! Did we study at the holy trinity of schools? No! Kicked to the curb.
I have gotten so used to getting reject letters from NURSERY SCHOOLS (yeah- it starts there!) that I don’t even know what an acceptance letter looks like (I hear it’s a call though. Letters are for losers!) The quivering hand now opens the letterbox every morning, so happy to see loads of wasteful junk mail but no rejection… for now. But it comes eventually: “We are sorry that we will not be able to accommodate your child right now as we have limited seats.” I have read those words so many times, I could write the letter in my sleep.

The one thing we have to our advantage is that my parents sent me to the best nursery of that time, and that’s the only reason why Baby A goes to a good play school/ nursery. If I hadn’t been from a great Montessori school, I’m sure we’d be looking at a big RED reject stamp on our foreheads again!

Sometimes, in interviews, they ask the parents, “Do you have any questions for us?” and when they do, every parent is baffled because when you grow up in SoBo, you grow up knowing that you don’t have questions for schools because you don’t choose schools; they choose you! Unless you’re from Cathedral School, and then you can swagger around and tell them that you don’t give a flying f*%k what they have to say because your kid will get into Cathedral anyway, i.e. The Holy Cathedral of cool kids and cool moms.