26 December 2013

bad day blahs

there is nothing like watching the flurry of activity going on in the world at large to make me feel more dull, blah and listless at my own lack of 'happenings'. or to make me miss my family and friends. ugh. yes, this is me feeling gigantically sorry for myself.

i'm having a bad day. i was initially excited at being in india, comforting myself that everyone passes through here at some point, so surely i will be able to catch up on friendships every now and then. um, no. due to the colossal amount of family that people have to visit while they are here, not to mention all the shopping to be done, weddings to attend and so forth, no one ever has time to do anything else. as a result, i rarely get to meet up with most of my friends, no matter how many times they may visit.. today was another turned down invitation, which just hit me pretty low. i get that people have crazy busy lives, but still.. and you know, i cannot help that this will affect our friendship..

a considerable amount of my pregnancy and post twins weight was lost quite rapidly, but now i am stuck.. these last few kilos (which of course, are sitting at importune and unflattering areas of my body) refuse to go. it looks like i will need the help of some vigorous cardio... it will have to be something i can do in my room, and in a short amount of time.. any recommendations?

uh, before i start this new cardio regime, i think i should head down to the donut place.. :P

24 December 2013

people watching, schools and discipline

i took a train into town the other day, on my own. i was well prepared with my kindle and some polo mints for the journey, but in fact, i spent most of the time people watching. being on my own, without the twins, suddenly meant that i was free to participate in the larger world around me. when i go out with the twins, i have to say that i only notice other people if they have kids a similar age, or if they are interacting with the twins. most of my energy and attention is focused on the twins and other family members i am with.. everything else is superfluous. on my own in the train, i was fascinated by people's outfits, their choice of activity to pass the time, their accessories. there was an old lady sitting opposite me, wearing a sari, with her thinning hair left open (this is very unusual. not even middle aged women will leave their hair down here.. no idea why though..). she spent a considerable amount of time putting powder on her face and combing her hair, again, very unusual. the younger lady sitting next to her was busy texting on her phone, while i tried in vain to recollect who she so reminded me of. i noticed how muscular the women selling sundry items in the train were. i wondered why so many girls were wearing blue tops.. my hour long journey flew by! on the way back though, i happily immersed myself in my kindle.

schools are insanely expensive here.. who are the people that can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of rupees per year in tuition fees?? we need their jobs!! it has been a pain trying to select schools (the crazy competition and painful process means that it is easier and smarter to put your child in the nursery of the school you want them to attend. hence why i am looking at schools for my 16-month kids!!), but we have narrowed down a few.. sigh.. let's see how it goes.. we still have to find a decent playgroup that is not smaller than my bedroom, is affordable, AND is close to home.

a opened the dustbin, picked up an empty cheese wrapper and shook it on his head, ensuring some flakes of cheese covered his hair. m managed to peel an onion with his hands, and then proceeded to place bits of onion peel in his hair. where do they learn these things??

i need to figure out some discipline tricks and rules for the twins. 'no' at present seems to encourage them to increase the intensity of whatever they should not be doing. me shouting at them makes them laugh uncontrollably. removing them from the situation or removing the offending object is the only way to stop their behaviour, but this is not always possible or ideal.. most of the time i feel like i'm just shouting at the walls, and it is darn frustrating and depressing.

17 December 2013

random things and moments

many years ago, z and i decided there were two types of novels -plot based and prose based. we had lengthy conversations regarding the pros and cons of both, as well as our own preferences. the ultimate novel, clearly, is the one that uses magical prose to drive its fantastic plot. my love of marking pages, paragrahps and phrases, stems from awe at such prose.. my own personal test for how great a book was, was how many phrases i had marked in it (i used to fold the page corner and later copy down the relevant lines).

this practice has somewhat ended. i am not sure whether this is due to the soullessness of marking phrases on the kindle, or whether it is because i no longer take time to truly inhale the way sentences are built, but rather am too caught up in the plot. or, perhaps i just haven't come across anything that truly moves me lately, jaded that i have become in my early 30s!!

the twins are a-growing! they are no longer tiny tiny babies! i am so happy that they cry less, play more (lots more), communicate better. they are too heavy for me to carry around now, and i am trying to get them to walk more when we are out (WALK, not run or dance or randomly sit down on the floor). and yet, i love it that they are still small enough to cuddle, to sit (and sleep, but only just!) on my lap. m knows exactly when he wants to be lying on my lap, and he will come, push away my hands or anything else obstructing his space, and plonk himself down. ah, the cuteness :)

i went to a bookstore over the weekend. oh. my. gosh. to see all those beautiful books, on all those shelves.. to open them at random, smell their newness, oohhhh. i love my kindle, i am very thankful that it supplies me books that were otherwise difficult to access here.. but oh, how i miss real books. how i miss libraries!! and bookshelves, and armchairs. and books.

while giving the twins gol and roti today, i licked some gol off my fingers, and whoosh, i was instantly transported to my childhood and my mom's awesome gol and butter concoction.. there are not many things that invoke a feeling or taste of childhood (as opposed to memories).. i should perhaps eat more gol -it's yummy, it would get me eating more rotis, and it is iron rich, which i need. an overall winner :)

05 December 2013

great expectations

(i found this in my september draft folder, and am posting it without any changes)

why do we have children? what is behind this need to procreate, to nurture children into adulthood?

i mentioned before that since having the twins, i appreciate my parents much more, on different levels. and yet, i know that i am not the perfect child. (ok, i have no idea what the perfect child would be, but you understand..) and neither are my siblings. i witnessed an interaction between my mom and one of my brothers this morning, and it left me feeling sad, empty. i wondered what my mom was thinking in that instance, whether she wondered why she had children, or what the point of it all was.. perhaps not -i care for the twins not because i expect something in return, but because i must. as this post says,

It wasn’t even about choice, or making a career out of being a homemaker, or any of those glamorous debates. It was simply about doing what she must. In sunlight, we wear sunglasses. At night, we turn on the lights. When it rains, we look about for an umbrella. Circumstances change and we adapt. There is nothing to sacrifice, nothing to choose, there’s no option but to do what we must...

We play our parts, our cards. When life deals us a home, we run it; when destiny decrees us a passion, we follow it. Sometimes, we have the luxury of making a choice but, mostly, our choices are already made for us. Our happiness lies in our acceptance of who we are; our freedom lies in going with the flow. 

as i bathe, dress, change and feed the twins, as i entertain them and comfort them and put them to sleep, while running low on sleep, energy, food and patience myself, i recall that my parents did the same with me. i am led to believe that this is the repayment for all parents -when their children become parents themselves. and yet, surely this cannot be enough. we must all have expectations of our children, of our flesh and blood, who we so lovingly and painstakingly nurture.. i grew up in a culture that was relatively liberal, open and individualistic, even while being tethered to religion and family. i now live in a culture not as open, and not at all individualitstic, but more focused on family, social responsibility..

while i love the hindi movie 'baghban' and am even sympathetic to the protagonists' plight, and agree with their denouncement of their children, i know that things are not so black and white, people are not so black and white. children are not all bad or all good.. there are so many gradations.. sometimes a really good person could be a lousy son..

why is it that we would judge a lousy parent more harshly than a lousy child?

04 December 2013

life's routine

it's been a hectic and interesting couple of months.. from my dad's sudden surgery, to our trip to iraq, to ashera, to family wedding. H and i were both exhausted and in need of a break, so our recent weekend getaway with the twins was lovely. not only was i ecstatic to get out of the city (and the apartment!), but i was also thrilled at seeing the twins so happy to be out. we took them to the pool for the first time, and they enjoyed it, thinking it was a variation of their daily bath :P. the beach was a hit too: m was happy to sit and play with his bucket and spade and fling sand everywhere (sigh), while a was in awe of the huge expanse at his disposal for speed walking.

i was very sad to return to 'real life'. not only am i unexcited in getting back to the daily grind, but after having so many events to anticipate for quite awhile, i suddenly have only an empty canvas of time staring at me. it doesn't help that the holidays are coming up, with me recalling that last dec 31 saw me on a plane with my parents and the twins to singapore and hk.. how can i possibly top that this year?!

when i was complaining about this to a friend, he responded that, 'life is routine'.. and that reminded me of another friend, many years ago, saying that happiness was nothing but the stretching out of a few moments of bliss (or something to that effect).. so, instead of being upset at the larger 'routine', i will take joy in the little moments that make up this routine: waking up next to H, the twins' countless smiles, gurgles and hugs during each day, the short but touching whatsapp messages that connect me to my family and friends far away, chocolate (!) and so forth.. :P

having just finished hidden buddhas by liza dalby, which was one of those unputdownable books, i am finding it hard to get into something else.. i started moth smoke by mohsin hamid, but realized i didn't want to read about pakistan's degenerate elite right now.. similarly, the characters in barbara kingsolver's the lacuna also are not enthralling me.. ugh. a decade ago, i would solve this problem by simply reading 3-4 books at a time. now i am lucky if i can get through one book in peace.. most of the time, i know what i want to read and it is a painless experience to transition from one book to the next.. when this is not the case however, it is a huge pain, and i get quite irked..ugh.

on a more positive note, i came across this amazing poem on facebook yesterday, 'shrinking women' by lily myers, very much worth a read (or a listen

14 October 2013

writing and things to accomplish pre-8am

some time ago, i read mel stating that learning programming would help her to write, as it required one to be logical and precise, which was important in story writing too. this is true of not just writing fiction, but non fiction as well. tight, concise and logical writing can never go wrong.

today i read this piece, with 10 writing tips. the author is apparently the chair of the polsci dept at duke, which i found a little surprising. why? because his writing is not all that great, although his tips are very useful. and also, because he seems to have low standards, for both others, and himself. many of the comments to his piece also pick up on this.. 

writing a research paper is darn important. for me, my undergrad years were marked by my improved writing, research and analytical skills. this, to me anyways, is the entire point of a university education. it teaches you to think, to critique and to express your thoughts and findings. these skills will then serve you for the rest of your life, in whatever field you choose. those of us who have had to research topics online, and vet our sources, can now unerringly tell which website is useful when we want to google any information. i have come across many people who have not had this benefit, and continue to think that everything found on yahoo answers or from the christian science monitor is gospel. these skills allow you to pick up on the differences in news from different news channels/stations/papers and form informed opinions. 

writing a good research paper requires you to read widely. this is good practice for life in general i think; reading is so very important. literature, nonfiction, poetry, prose, news reports, analytical articles, reviews, academic papers, personal narratives, court judgments -all of this gives you a better picture of the world you live in, it opens eyes and doors and minds to so much diversity. 

at one of my first polsci classes, a professor mentioned an american president who apologized to his staff for writing a long memo, as he didn’t have the time to write a short one. this is something that has stayed with me throughout graduate school and beyond. writing a shorter article means you have to be more concise, which in turn means you have to know your material well. i want an education for the twins that encourages reading, writing and critical thinking. i worry that this is not so easy to come by here.. 

i too, am guilty of no longer ‘practicing’ my writing, of no longer reading as much.. i need to organize these components into my schedule.. 

speaking of schedules, i read this article on things to accomplish before 8am. sigh. i need to make my own list (starting small, of course), and really get things going. although i don’t get to bed till midnight as one or the other of the twins is still up, and although i have to wake up several times at night to soothe them, waking up late is not helping me. i have too many things i need to get done in the day.. and too many things that are simply not happening. exercise, even if only a simple stretching routine, is definitely a priority (my knees are killing me these days). praying namaz and quran is another priority. perhaps i could even squeeze in some writing and reading! sure, i could add household chores to my list too (which would perhaps make my MIL and hubby happy), but that would be a little too ambitious at this stage i think.. 

so, exercise and prayer will be my pre-8am goals! let's see how i go..

11 October 2013

twins september

this was a month of milestones and firsts.. 

both of you walk now! not with a whole lot of balance, but i'm sure you'll get there soon enough. the expressions on your faces are priceless as you totter about. you started the month by walking on your knees, particularly if you were holding something in your hand, which was hilarious. the day m learnt to stand on his own, he kept getting up after falling; it was a wonder to watch. may you always have this much energy, may you always learn to get up after a fall. 

we bought you your first pair of shoes this month, oh so excitedly, and they are so cute, but you are not so enamored of them, and spend more energy trying to kick them off than attempting to walk in them. 

i am so glad that you finally drink milk from the advanced sipper i bought you many months ago, and your bottles have stopped. there are still some bumps but we will get there inshallah.. you have also started drinking water from a straw, yay! i have noticed that with the bottle gone, you wake up less at night, which is manna from heaven to this sleep deprived mom!! i just hope and pray this continues, inshallah!! on the other hand, cleaning your bottles was MUCH easier than cleaning your sipper valves, argh. 

i am amazed how for some days you don’t know how to do something, and then suddenly you have figured it out. like getting down from the bed, playing with certain toys etc. your capacity to observe and learn and your persistence is inspiring. 

a started the month with vocab consisting of bum tum ba, mum ba, mum tum -as he insistently chanted this, he sounds like some passionate hindu ascetic! he also loves to say ‘baa baa’, occasionally followed by a mumbled ‘bla shee’, as well as ‘juuuulaaaa’ (swing). 

although you eat a greater variety of food now (roti, meat, cereal, pasta) feeding you is becoming more painful and time consuming, as you absolutely refuse to sit in one place during meal times. you are finally getting the hang of putting bits of food in your mouth with your own hands, yay. you have also made the switch from formula to cow milk, albeit with some bumps. you won't drink it without some flavour, which i was not keen on initially, but hey, there are worse things i guess.. 

you had your first feel of grass this month, and initially both of you refused to put your hands on it, because of the prickliness i guess. you began moving around on your knees, with your arms held out to your sides, it was hilarious. m got used to it quickly, and was suddenly crawling off on his own, and then standing up and trying to walk, without a care as to where we were! 

we hung up a swing at home at the beginning of this month, and it is nice to see you both enjoying it, albeit for short periods of time. it occasionally puts you to sleep as well, which is always a bonus. 

24 September 2013

ten years

it is 10 years since i graduated from university in cairo. it is 10 years since i started working with the ahrc, since i met ksa, nc and a few others. i suddenly just realized this a few hours ago, and since then i feel a little numb, a little bemused.

my immediate thoughts were gosh, where did the time go? and, what have i done with myself in these 10 years??

i remember celebrating my first post-cairo birthday, my first ahrc birthday, with two good friends. all three of us were young, we shared our dreams and visions and aspirations.. most of them related to changing the world and achieving vague milestones.

“Fate is unmoved by one's pitiful hopes; what changes, bowing to fate, is what one hopes for.”  
this quote perhaps, is what best describes the last 10 years. the world is no different now, then when i graduated and thought i could make a difference. me, i am very different to that young lady.. 10 years from now, what will i be like? what will my world be like?

the people who make spill proof cups, do they ever try cleaning them?? jeez. the nuby valves are so darn hard to clean. if anyone has tips, please share.

i finally finished stieg larsson's millennium series, which was awesome. the last book, the girl who kicked the hornet's nest, wow! :)

16 September 2013

life's learning curves

the twins are a year old. which means i am a year old mom.. that actually doesn't sound half bad. what i mean is, as a first year mom, i'm not doing too bad; in the same way that expectations of a first year undergrad are not all that high..

the thing is, and i've said this several times, expectations from mothers seem to equal that of saints. and i am no saint. not even close. most of the time i have no idea what i am doing. does it get easier? more importantly, does it get better in terms of knowing what to do? as i figure out how to deal with one thing, the twins move on to something else, so i am back at square one. i find this quite tiring.. i don't want to always feel like i am running on a treadmill that is way too fast for me..

i also wonder how other parents seem to know what to do.. i have had so many people tell me that i am not 'training' the twins rights, which will make my life easier apparently. but no one tells me HOW to go about this 'training'.. and how did they know about it in the first place? is there an instruction manual that i am not privy to? seriously, this whole parenting journey has just been me groping my way in the dark. in fact, the marriage journey is like that too.. forget statistics and physics, THIS is what they should be teaching in those extra classes that you are required to take at university. suddenly i feel that my learning curves are way too steep..

the twins tire me. some days, i am so glad that i can shut the bedroom door and escape into the online world with my laptop. if i wasn't working, wasn't using my brain to write and edit human rights material, i would go insane. work gives me space and time away from the twins.. it also allows me to read blogs, and just catch up on email.

of course, at other times i resent the time away from them, from their babbling and learning of new things, from their smiles and cuddles.

some days i don't have the energy to cook meals for them.. so i give them oatmeal and cerelac (instant baby cereal). there are even days when i don't bathe them. sometimes i am too tired to remove the phone/charger/some other unsafe object from their mouths for the 20th time. how bad a parent does this make me?

i have this insane fear regarding how i will raise the twins to be responsible, self sufficient and polite individuals. the fact that a continues to repeatedly wake up at night for milk, that neither of them will eat anything using their hands or hold their sippy cups makes me worry even more. i wonder what i am doing wrong..at present, me saying 'no' to them makes them laugh and want to do whatever mischief they are up to even more.

how much control do we truly have over our children's dispositions and character traits? i have seen awesome individuals who just lucked out with their kids' attitudes and tendencies.. were they just not as awesome parents? and if so, WHERE is the parenting manual??

i have had other people tell me that i shouldn't worry, all i have to do is make the twins feel loved and raise them to be good, kind people. um, again, i hate to sound repetitive (and whiny too methinks), but how?

parenting is hard. and i hear it gets harder when they start talking, having their own opinions, going to school. i don't deny the rewards and satisfaction, but this post is not about that.. i have read articles and posts that say yes, it is hard, but that simply means you are doing it right. really? because mostly i am not at all sure i am doing it right. i am usually too busy and involved to ponder it much, but there are moments when i am panic stricken, and wonder what on earth i am doing, how i could possibly think that i am qualified to take care of these tiny beings. there is no measurement, no markers, nothing to help me see how i'm doing or where to improve.. i want a syllabus, some practice tests, marking guidelines...

30 August 2013

reading, authors, blogs

i finished reading measure of love last night, by blogger melissa ford, pretty much on the heels of her first novel, life from scratch. i read measure of love in chunks (chunks in the sense that i have demanding twins who never let me keep my kindle in my hands..), oftentimes in the middle of the night after waking up to soothe one or other of the boys. it felt good to READ, to want to finish and know what happens to these characters.. seriously, i cannot wait until the time that the twins let me sit with my kindle in peace. it'll come soon, right??

i enjoyed both novels, but definitely liked measure of love more. why? oh, for many reasons.. because i knew the characters better now, so it was more in depth, which is always better than the surface level of introductions.. because it focused more on blogging, communication and relationships, all of which i can identify with.. because i loved some of the new characters brought in..

another cool thing about reading these two novels was that i know the author.. ok, i don't "know" mel, but i read her blog, so i know more about her than i do many of my favorite authors (is that weird? i actually am not one of those people who feels the need to know a whole lot about the lives of my favorite authors/actors/singers etc. i am more interested in their fiction than their reality..). i read life from scratch because i liked melissa's blog posts, and the book synopsis sounded cool.. i read measure of love because i needed to know what happened to rachel and adam..

if haruki murakami or david mitchell had blogs, would i read them? i guess it depends on what they wrote about.. there were similar themes in measure of love, regarding readers of blogs, and why they read, and what happens if you change what you write about..

the coolness of reading novels by someone i know is akin to growing with harry potter.. i hope that there is some awesome series that the twins get to grow with too..

27 August 2013

twins august: one year!

the twins are one. oh my! a year ago, they were still in my tummy. i went to the hospital, my heart in my mouth the entire time. unlike other countries and hospitals, H was not allowed into the labor room, so i was on my own. i will never forget the moment the doc held up a tiny, grey mass to show me.. and then another. 

when i look at their newborn pics, i can hardly believe how tiny they were, how much they’ve grown. not just in size, but also in personality! from two helpless babes, totally dependent on me, they are now little boys with loud babbles and big attitudes! they can suddenly open doors and drawers, they eat a wide variety of foods, know the difference between real and fake phones, climb on to the bed and sofa, and so much more. 

when did all this happen? suddenly, they learn something new everyday, and i can barely keep up. ‘the days are long, but the years are short’. oh, SO SO true. each day of this year has been long, and the nights even longer. and yet, without me noticing, somehow it has already been twelve months! 

with the twins, i have grown too. i have more patience than i thought possible. (it is still not enough, but that’s a different story.) my priorities have changed. i have started cooking! i appreciate my mom (and my dad) so much more. 

i am ecstatic that they are growing, it is so wonderful to watch them learn new things (yesterday a learnt to throw a ball. he now thinks every single object in his hand is to be thrown. repeatedly.), take more steps towards independent walking.. and yet, i cry when i see their newborn pics, when i have to fold away clothes too small for them, when they crawl away from me to examine some new wonder. this is how everyone’s parenting journey goes, i know, but it does not make it any easier, or make my anguish any less poignant.

happy birthday my beautiful boys. may you always be in wonderment at the world around you.

02 August 2013

words, reflection, humanity

i love words. the written word is my manna. word play, word games, reading, writing are all my idea of fun, of intimacy, of creativity, style and just pure bliss. words are sacred.

so i am careful with my words. words are not just outside, but they come from within. they reflect your thoughts, your perspective, your very essence. i say what i mean, and i cannot abide those who don’t. those who gossip about others behind their backs, but then say nice things to their face. those who spill vitriol in anger, and then pretend that those were just words, just emotions spilling in the heat of the moment. sorry, i will take every evil thing you said in anger to heart. swearing, abusive language -i just don’t get it.

i read an article today, on the racist and sexist behaviour of indian youth delegates to china, which reminded me of another depressing article on swearing and rape in delhi. since being in india, i have heard more swearing and abusive language than all the years i lived in hk. ‘motherfucker’, ‘he was too busy fucking his mom/sister’ is all too common, and it particularly irks me.

what does this say about your perspective, your views on women, on your fellow men?

(it’s interesting how many hindi expletives are related to female genitalia. does this apply to other languages too?)

india is a place where so little value is placed on human life. there is so much pomp and ceremony, so many rituals to suggest otherwise, but in fact, humanity is not valued. on one hand, the number of people falling prey to extrajudicial killings, torture and completely unnessecary accidents are ridiculous. this is all just routine however. on the other hand, all individuals, all relationships are seen as a stepping stone to something better. the patriarchal, nepotic and corrupt nature of society means that wealth and/or influence are necessary to get things done. everything is weighed, no good deed is done for the sake of a good deed. being good, kind, tolerant and fair are seen as weak traits. aggression and rule bending are rewarded.

it is also a place where the ‘other’ is so truly hated and defiled. within the country, there are so many castes, classes, subcultures. and there is so much enmity amongst them. caste discrimination is alive and well, regardless of what the country's constitution may state. there are residential buildings of a particular ethnicity that deny outside tenants. jokes are rife regarding various groups of people.

01 August 2013


i just finished life from scratch, by melissa ford. it's a fun, light read. i was struck realizing that the protagonist rachel, and her husband adam, divorced from a lack of communication. the moment when rachel realizes that adam never wanted to be a lawyer, the moment when he is told that she only suggested vacations so they would spend time together, not because of any particular lifestyle choice.. those are the moments that have been replaying themselves in my head. how does one stay with a person for several years, and not know that they are unhappy in their career?

another moment that keeps nudging me, is when rachel admits that she never actually told adam what she wanted; she made references, indirect comments, but she never came right out and said it. how many of us are guilty of this? i certainly am.

in fact, i know i find it quite difficult to directly ask for what i want. i have been spoiled by awesome girlfriends who can read me so well, that i rarely have to spell out anything. i am generally shy at articulating feelings and needs that i deem quite private (or that i feel may make me seem needy/wanting/weak), plus, having to ask for anything makes me quite uncomfortable... and if i manage to ask once, i could never stoop to ask another time!

however i resolve this, rachel and adam brought home how easy it is to totally misread stuff, to miss huge stuff right in front of us.. honest, direct communication is oh so important..

30 July 2013


as mentioned earlier, i enjoy cooking for the twins. this enjoyment has led me to try simple recipes for my own meals. simple means there is not so much room for disaster, plus, i figure if i keep doing it, i’m bound to get better. last night, i tweaked a thai basil sauce for minced meat by adding coconut milk to make it less spicy (and with more gravy). it totally worked, but i didn’t realize i should add more salt to compensate the dilution of the sauce (it’s ramadan, so no tasting while cooking; which is HARD!) i need to write this down somewhere, so i remember next time.

in fact, when i first got married, i had jotted down some recipes in a brand new journal.. i never tried them out however, and the journal is just gathering dust somewhere. now that cooking for the twins has given me the confidence to cook more adult meals, i am excited to try new things, tweak them as necessary, and write it all down for reference. (and, i admit, the idea of putting pen to gorgeous paper in a journal, also something i haven't done in VERY long, is just as tempting!) 

another nice thing about cooking for the twins, is that i can easily turn their recipes into adult meals -take the pumpkin risotto i made them a few days ago. not only does this save time, energy and ingredients, but it also means i get to eat a greater variety of food and cuisine! (the staple fare at home is quite different to what i am feeding the twins.) it is nice to have some control over what i eat..

how serendipitous (ok, maybe that is too dramatic a notion), that i am currently reading life from scratch, which is about the protagonist’s attempt to learn to cook and remake her life in the process :)

07 June 2013

allah and i

it was one of those whatsapp forwards, a little corny, a little reminiscent of kipling's 'if'. the last line though, got me: "because in the end, it's between you and god; it was never between you and them anyway".

so so true. do good, speak good, be good, because that is what allah wants of you. and in the end, allah is who you must explain your actions to. i have firmly believed this, i was firmly brought up with this philosophy, with the 'turn the other cheek' philosophy. it is easy to do when you are surrounded by people of a similar nature, when you live in a place where giving people the benefit of the doubt is the norm, not the exception. being surrounded by cynics, a 'survival of the fittest' mentality and coarse language, i notice that i am becoming more abrasive, more cynical, less kind and trusting. i don't like it. i cannot change my surroundings, i cannot changer others' perceptions, but i can definitely change my own reactions. and suddenly, it is so easy; i just envision allah's presence at any situation, and choosing the better, righter option is nearly automatic. my choice may not sit well with others, but again, i just have to remind myself that it is allah's opinion that matters.

the one downside to this attitude though, is that it can make your relationships and interactions a little clinical, a little impersonal... 

twins may

may was a long, difficult month. the beginning of this month saw both of you cranky, stubborn and ill, perhaps due to teething. your tears and tantrums are not as easily soothed or distracted now, and you are much more certain of who should be taking care of you when.

it was also a month of many firsts: first teeth, attending your first birthday party of twins, crawling (a crawls on his hands and knees like a pro, while m moves around on his tummy), and pulling yourself upright (it is quite uncomfortable when you decide to pull on my clothes for this purpose). the play gym you've had forever continues to fascinate you, and you now use that to stand as well, which is quite scary as it doesn't weigh as much as you! similarly, when you try to stand by grabbing on to the bed corners, i get visions of blood and bruises. pulling anything and everything in your reach, the two of you create chaos all the time. you have this new habit of throwing things, which i am not so enamored with.

your screaming has reduced, which is great, while your vocab now includes ‘te te te'.

we took a short road trip to nasik, which wasn't as bad as i feared (largely because you slept most of the way there!). you had your first proper view of yourselves in the huge mirrored walls there, which made you ecstatic. a had a long, enamoured conversation with his reflection, while m was happy to play ‘takkar’ with his reflection. that was one moment and one video i will never forget :)

i have started giving you cheese, graduates puffs, bits of bread, biscuits and sometimes you will eat rice if i feed you while we are sitting at the thaal. you've had egg yolk twice, once successfully and the other not. meal times are very stressful as you insist on sitting with us, and then proceed to try and grab everything. inevitably someone ends up refereeing you, and eating later. although you can drink water from your sippy cup (silicone spout) as well as a regular drinking glass, you are struggling with drinking milk from the new, advanced sippy cup. sigh.

we took you to a park and you had your first swing ride. a was happy while m was not. i wonder how many more things will differ between you both, and how many will be the same. i can see your temperaments and personalities emerging now, which is fascinating. it also makes me constantly wonder how lasting it is, how much you will change to become the persons you are meant to be. you now understand certain words, actions, pictures. you love your musical toys, and you also (sadly) enjoy listening to terrible bollywood music, sigh.

your expressions, your smiles and laughter, your babbling conversations, continue to have me enthralled. you leave me and your abu little quality time together, but the moments when we sit and play with you and crack up at your antics, are awesome.

03 May 2013

twins april

this has been an interesting month for you (and me!). while your vocab has increased to include 'ba ba', 'pa pa', 'ma ma' and 'abba', your babbling has also given way to screaming, which i am not so keen on. both of you scream till your face turns red and you need to cough. you have also learned to clap, which you do so sweetly and with such enthusiasm, that i cannot help but smile every time.

i am sad that i can no longer place you on the bed while i work, as now you simply want to grab and bang on my laptop, or suck the battery cord. you moved from the love of your parents' phones to their laptops quite quickly! 

you are so happy to see your abba in the evening. i love watching your faces light up, and watching the interplay between father and sons. when the doorbell rings, you both turn to look at the door; it is adorable.

you now happily position yourself into a crawling position, and even lift up your arms as if... well, that i don’t know! you then look at me as though something should be happening but isn’t.. you can lift yourself into a standing position too. both of you are quite mobile now, despite being unable to crawl, and i have to be so careful as to where i place you and what is in your reach. you are also very squirmy and active, and even in my arms and lap you never want to be still.

both of you have gotten the hang of drinking from your sippy cup. in fact, you love your sippy cups, your water and any bottles that you come across. you sit with us at meal times, but you are more interested in grabbing things than actually eating them. 

most importantly, this month you did mufaddal moula’s deedar while he was in kandivali, and got your sehras done, alhumdolillah :) apart from the masjid, you had quite a few outings recently, and overall they were quite successful. they require quite some preparation on my side, and carrying the two of you plus a huge diaper bag is taking its toll on my neck, shoulders and back, but the feel of you in my arms, your baby smell, and your smile quickly soothes any discomfort.

02 April 2013

kindle love

i did not expect to love my kindle so much, but it is awesome. i guess i didn't expect to love it because i was thinking of it as a replacement of a physical book. in fact, i love it because it is a replacement of a physical library! those of you reading this space regularly will know that i spent a LOT of time in various libraries in hk, and that there are a dearth of libraries in bombay, causing me much grief.

my kindle allows me to store about 1000 books, to buy and download a book in a matter of minutes from the comfort of my sofa, and to take this veritable library of books with me everywhere! it is super light, with a very long lasting battery, doesn't heat up in my hands, and the e-ink technology makes reading easy on the eyes. it's great for storage purposes as well -my tiny apartment simply has no room for books, especially with the arrival of the twins.

i miss books. marking passages on the kindle is nowhere near as fun as marking them on an actual book. i miss flipping through pages, i miss the smell and feel of a book. but i no longer miss reading, which is more important :)

also, browsing for free/cheap books has led me down book avenues that i previously missed/avoided. and reading new stuff is always welcome: stieg larsson, rachel joyce, matthew quick, jojo meyes. 

a huge thank you to ksa for this wonderful gift :)

parenting sans filters

i loved this article by claire bidwell smith, discussing all the moments as a mom and wife that she did not photograph; the dark, ugly and fearful moments that just as much make up motherhood as the hugs, smiles and cookies do. thank you aisha for sharing the article, and for sharing your own parenting difficulties. it really helps me to know i am not alone, that all moms, all parents even, have fears, hang ups and bad days. 

there really are so many articles and blog posts out there that make it seem like all kids are sweet but mischievous smiling angels, with awesome, patient and fun loving parents who somehow manage to parent, work and do the housework, all on minimum sleep. forget articles, i even seem to hear about such kids and parents. in conversation, no one ever admits to how HARD it is. 

i am not at my best at 3am. i am not the best wife at 7pm when h gets home, after bathing the twins at the end of a long day, and when they start getting cranky before their bedtime. i am not the best editor/writer in between the twins’ diaper changes, meal and nap times. i am not the best anything right now. everything that i did so well pre-twins, needs to be rethought, and sometimes i am just not sure how much balancing and juggling i can do. i am not sure how much sleep deprivation i can handle. 

insecurities, anxiety and exhaustion just seem so much more manageable when they are shared. when i know i am not alone fumbling my way in the dark. when i am reassured that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. i don’t want to be told what i am doing wrong, what someone else is doing right; i just want some empathy, some ‘yes, i am there too’, or ‘yes, been there, and i got through it. you will too.’

i do find parenting slightly easier than it was even a month ago. back in india now, i have settled into a routine of sorts with the twins. they finally respond to me as well as they did to my mom as newborns. i am comfortable with making their meals, bathing them, playing with them. (having said this, of course the universe will now decide that i am in need of a steep roller coaster ride..). 

seriously though, i know that things will change soon. teething will bring its own concerns, and as they get older, i am not sure how jealousy and sharing will work out. 

again, it’s good to know i’m not alone. truly.

01 April 2013

twins march

this month saw you both learn to turn on to your tummy, turn back, and in the past week, you both even sit independently, albeit for just a few minutes at a time! when m first learned to turn, he simultaneously learned to lift his tummy and butt up in the air constantly, as though that was the way to move around; it was hilarious! now that you can sit, you don’t like lying down much; you even want to be fed while sitting, which is quite a challenge for me! (yes, we need to invest in some chairs..) 

we returned to india this month, and the first few days were hard for you, but now you seem to have settled down. both of your babbling has increased, particularly m’s, whose volume and inflection are quite intense as well. i love watching the expressions on your face, as you see familiar toys and faces, when you are in wonderment at the birds flying outside, or the plants swaying to the wind, when you are concentrating on grasping your toy. 

in all the packing and unpacking that i have done lately, i have put away many of your outgrown clothes; cute outfits that no longer fit you. when you were born, oh-so-tiny, everything was too big for you. and now, suddenly you have grown so much, mashallah, that you are mistaken for older babies!

your interactions have increased as well. at times you are both so happy to see each other, which is a true joy to behold. you hold each other’s hands, pull one another’s hair, babble to each other. witnessing this is by far the best part of having twins :) i hope that your bond will only strengthen as you grow. 

you are now more aware of people, you don’t like it when one of you is being carried and the other isn’t. you don’t like it when you are left alone for long periods of time. 

you had your first outing to a park here, with another set of twins who are about two months older than you. more than the park, you liked interacting with the twins, which was fun to watch. i hope you have many genuine friends and close relationships with people who love you as time goes by. 

i generally am not a fan of cooking; peeling and chopping vegetables, cleaning meat, is so boring and tedious. pm and i used to say that why spend so much time making food, when it takes only 10 minutes to eat it up? and yet, i am happy to make your baby food. peeling your pumpkin and carrots does not bother me. i am excited to make food for you, to plan your meals, and even happier to watch you eat them and grow.

20 March 2013

friend, where art thou?

i want friends. i crave friendships, people to chat with, commiserate with, laugh at life’s inanities with, and smile with at its blessings. none of the awesome friends that i have live in the same country as me, forget the same city. in this city that i am trying to make my home, where my twins will grow, i really need friends. i need them for myself, and i need them for my boys. in the two years i have lived here, i am sad to admit i have not made a single friend. for some time i pretended it didn’t matter, and internet made my connections with my far away friends so easy that i thought it would be enough. as my internal world shrinks however, my need for friends right here grows. it is a desperation that i must satisfy. blogging about this is not just cathartic; part of me believes that if i finally own up to how badly i want a few friends, if i am willing to share this desperation here, surely the universe will contrive to send me a few like minded individuals? ask, and you shall recieve??

i am asking. i am not greedy. just two friends. please. the loneliness (of being in a strange land without friends and family, of being a new mom) is eating up at me. 

on a separate (but related) note, is there anything more lonely than being a mom?

27 February 2013

twins february

you started your first taste of veggies this month: carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin and doodi. both of your favourites seem to be carrot, while doodi was pretty much a non starter!
z (and many others) keep telling me to enjoy this stage of babyhood, as though i don’t. i share my concerns, worries and stresses with them; in the process, i perhaps forget to share the joy and wonder! i LOVE your current size. you fit in my arms, on my chest, so perfectly. i LOVE dressing you up in cute new outfits and then taking numerous photos of you looking adorable. you crack me up every single day with your toothless baby grins, laughs and babble. you have also become quite the drama kings, which also makes me laugh, no matter how exasperated i may be. i love watching you interact with your grandparents, mamu, friends and acquaintances who come to visit. you have started actively playing with your toys and all objects that you come into contact with, which also gives me great joy to witness. i love watching you reach for things, grasp things well, see you explore things and make sense of the world around you. you have your favourite toys, and love playing with your blanket. you also love playing with the sheet covering the sofa, particularly covering your faces with it. you are also currently in love with your own (and everyone else’s fingers). you even occasionally try to pull them off, which amuses and baffles me. 

my heart melts when you hold on to my finger, as though you will never let go. when you smile at me or laugh at my silliness. making you laugh has actually become one of my daily goals! my heart also melts when i see you play together, when one of you is babbling and the other listening intently. 

i am constantly amazed that you two tiny beings are mine. just as i am in wonder at how perfect your features are, your fingers and toes, your hair, your eyes, your smiles. amantobillah. 

twins january

january 29, 2013

ever since i started reading aisha’s monthly love letters to her son, i was in awe. i loved the idea. i wanted to do it myself. i planned to do it once i knew i was having twins. once you were born, i was going to do it. every month, i planned on writing, on getting back to the blog, on sharing you with the world, on sharing my world with you. today i read aisha’s one month letter to her newborn, and i am totally bummed that i still did not write yours, despite both of you being six months. 

so i am writing this. when i learnt i was having twins, i immediately wanted one boy and one girl. the girl would be my friend i thought. i hope that the two of you will be my friends too. i adore both of you. you are both so very different. i can see this so clearly, and i wonder what it means for the future. i cannot wait till you are older and can interact with me more. i have so so many dreams for you. so many aspirations. not the ‘i want you to be an engineer’ kind. be whatever you want, but be happy in your chosen field. be nice to everyone, be gentlemen. i wish for you lots of love, laughter, books, friends and travel. i wish you peace, courage and strength. i look upon the mistakes i made in my life, the opportunities i never took, and i wish for you to not do the same. the world truly is your classroom -don’t stick to one corner, be bold and explore. (i hope that the fact that your first flight was on dec 31, 2011, when you were four months, will have some lasting influence here..) 

i have learnt that parenting is little more than trial and error, so i hope you will overlook my failings and focus on the love and energy with which i tried. as i get one thing figured out, you are both more than happy to move two steps ahead again. i love both of you with my entire being, but i have to admit that i am not in love with motherhood per se. someday i will write a post on motherhood, beginning with baraka’s words, that the journey/story of “becoming a mother and all the ways that smashes into and fractures everything else she is, of being broken open and made anew, is one that takes a lifetime to understand”.

you have just started your sixth month. you now eat small amounts of baby rice cereal, and i plan to introduce you to mashed veggies in the coming days. you laugh and smile with abandon, you speak and shout in delight in a language all your own. you cry as much as you laugh at night however, which continues to distress me no end. you play as happily with my dupatta as with your rattle, and this is a lesson i am learning early -you really don’t need so many toys to keep your entertained. the toys are really for me!

the end of your life book club

this is the first book i started to read post-twins, and it was a good choice! it is a wonderful ode to books and how they enrich your life. the conversations in the book simply underlined my need to find time to read, for myself, and to the twins. it also gave me a long list of book recommendations, quite different to what i might pick up for myself.

“Printed books have body, presence... I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but can’t whack you upside it.” 

“That’s one of the things books do. They help us talk. But they also give us something to talk about when we don’t want to talk about ourselves.” 

"Mom preferred authors who paint with few strokes. She loved abstract art and I love figurative." 

“Really, whenever you read something wonderful, it changes your life, even if you aren’t aware of it.” 

“part of the process of Mom’s dying was mourning not just her death, but also the death of our dreams of things to come.” 

“when you’re with someone who is dying, you may need to celebrate the past, live the present, and mourn the future all at the same time.” 

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog is, in many ways, a book about books (and films): what they can teach us, and how they can open up worlds. But it’s really, like most great books, about people--and the connections they make, how they save one another and themselves." 

“joy is a product not of whether characters live or die, but of what they’ve realized and achieved, or how they are remembered.” “She was surrounded by books... They were mom’s companions and teachers. They had shown her the way... What comfort could be gained from staring at my lifeless e-reader?” 

“her conviction that books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books, in whatever format you choose... is the grandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in the human conversation.’

04 February 2013


i recently took a photo with my parents. it is a close up of our three faces, and upon seeing it, i immediately wanted to know which of my parents i looked like; did i look like a combination of the two? was i, physically and emotionally, a balance between their two separate identities? as i look at my twins, i wonder the same: are they combined versions of the best of H and i? (ok, they may have inherited some of our not so great traits too, but aside from that..) i see their small chubby faces, their toothless grins, and i wonder which one of us they will resemble more, which of our quirks will be mirrored in who.


i see the emergence of tiny fine hairs on the twins' faces and bodies, and i am sad that soon they will no longer be my babies.

yesterday, an elderly aunty (in her 60s or even older) said to me, ‘may your boys grow up healthy, and may they always live near you’. it sounded a little strange to my ears, but later, as i thought about it, it brought to mind aisha’s post of living in a neighborhood of retirees, all with children who’d grown up and away.. while i don’t hold any traditional notions of having my grown up sons live with me, right now i cannot imagine that they could ever be away from me.. simcha fisher said it oh so well, that in becoming a mother, “you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what?  Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left."

29 January 2013

ode to women

Eulogy for Girl X
Feminism is not a dirty word.
Feminism means you either have a vagina and believe that doesn't make you inferior or you know someone with a vagina and believe they're not inferior.

A vagina is not an invitation.

Your body is not an invitation. In fact, it's members-only and the members are whoever you'd like them to be.

That means you can still take pride in your long legs, your shapely calves.

You can love your high breasts, your slightly low but large ones. You can wear flattering necklines. You can accentuate your waist, or your butt, or your boobs. All totally your call.

You can choose to let the person who gives you tingles rest their hand on your knee. You can let them make love to you or make love to them. You can kiss them in the back of an auto rickshaw till you're both cross eyed with desire.

People might look at you. Chances are, that they will. Don't let that stop you. Looks can't hurt you.

Wear your body like a banner. Let your vagina be a badge of merit. Sure, you can only pee sitting down, but you have magical things going on over there.

The human body is a wonderful thing. All of it. Innies or outies.

If someone grabs you, don't go along with them because you don't want to make a scene. Make sure everyone knows your body is YOUR body. You give it pleasure, you feed it, you nurture it. Your body belongs to you.

If someone grabs you, yell. If someone lays a hand on your beautiful members-only breasts, tell them your breasts are your own. It might need a little knee to the groin to get this message across, but you are only to be admired from a distance.

You are a feminist, not because you hate men, but because you love women. You are a woman who believes in equal rights--including walking down the street in that fuck-off red dress--you are a man who thinks women can walk down the street doing whatever they like, as long as they're not harming anyone else.

You will not be raped today.
awesome, huh? i wish all girls and boys were made to study this in indian schools..

rape is a sickening crime. being super protective of personal space (mental and physical), the idea of some man thinking he has the RIGHT to violate a woman’s body, is something i cannot fathom, no matter any mind twisting contortions. WOMEN who make comments like, ‘she was asking for it’, be that rape or molesting, are perhaps even more unfathomable. living in india, i have unfortunately come across too many of such men and women.

compulsive confessions also has another post titled ‘why delhi gets away with rape’. the little that i read was enough to churn my stomach.. oh india, when will you not make me cringe?

a sri lankan woman was gang raped on january 23, and a colleague wrote the following poem:

A Woman for Other Women
Basil Fernando

Dressed in Red, nine older men
Wearing Wigs, sat, looking down.
In the middle, in two rows, sat
Men and women, mostly young.
Around sat the onlookers
In the large hall of the Supreme Court.
One by one, those in the middle
walked to the microphone.
In the middle of the hall
Each one read the solemn oath.
Came to turn, one more.
A young girl dressed in a black gown
Over her white sari and blouse.
In a clear voice, well modulated,
She read her oath ,
bowed and returned to her seat…..
Proud and happy inside.

Years she has walked the Hulsdorf hills,
Full of ideas and dreams,
That she will take her place
Equal to everyone else.
To fight injustice, a woman warrior,
Fearless and upright.
Listening to learned teachers,
Debating within herself
What was right
What was wrong.
In the books she read
What was “the general will”
Wondering what Rousseau meant.

All these pictures
Rushed to her mind
As now she faced her client
Lying in a hospital bed.
A forty-five year old mother of three,
Gang-raped in the early morning,
As she went to work,
Picked up by three-wheeler drivers.
What shall she tell those red-clothed men?
What do the books say?
What will bring justice
To this devastated woman?
Where is “the general will”
She wondered.

on february 14, there will be a global rising of women (and men) to demand an end to violence against women. you can check out the events near you and rise up with them.