One step at a time

Today was a milestone day in Iras life, she walked over 4K with no tantrums.

We woke up around 7AM since it was an off day for the kids owing to Janmashtami. The kids got ready with us and we decided to drop Sonali at her office as it would be chaotic in the evening owing to the dahi-handi related crowds on the road. Once we had dropped her off we decided to go to the Bata store at Belapur, buy a pair of bathroom slippers for Ira and come back. She had been asking for one since we got a pair for Ria last week so this was kind of on the agenda. On the way I asked the kids “do you want to walk from the “dudu wala cold drink shop to the shoe store? I’ll get you lollipops for having on the way”. It was greeted with an excited and unanimous “yes yes”. It was pleasant weather, not raining and clear skies. So we went and parked in the parking lot near Seawoods Estate. Took Rias’ raincoat and an umberella just in case it started raining. Got the lollipop stock from one of the stores next to the gate and set off. Ira and I have been doing this circuit fairly frequently of late. If she wakes up at 5:30 with Ria she insists on going out with us to drop Ria off at school. So instead of running after I drop off Ria I go walking with Ira on this route. With an air of a pro she starts pointing out the familiar landmarks to dida… “dekh yeh horses ka ghar hai, potty ka smell aa raha hai naa?” “yahaan is lake mein samingos hote hain” (her word for Flamingos)… as she’s walking she tries to pass on acquired gyaan as well “dida agar hum log walk karte hain to hamari tabilat theek rehti hai, meri bhi, dida ki bhi, mamma ki bhi aur papa ki bhi… haan walk karna chahiye”…. then we reached the entrance to the forest she points it out and says “yahaan monkeys hote hain, yahaan dida ko gira diya tha monkey ne, iske andar nahin jaayenge”…. so on and so forth…. in the process three lollipops stumbled out of her mouth.. one every time she opens her mouth to give gyaan without first securing the lollipop…. Ria tells her the story of the greedy dog with the bone….

We reached a patch of the service road where it narrows down to a single lane and there’s a bit of slush in the usable section of the road…. carefully we navigated through but shoes were all mud caked. Ira promptly attempts to clean her shoes on my feet (I was wearing my floaters). Anyway we get to the end of the service road and then timing the signal properly cross the main road. As we are reaching the Bata showroom finally Ira starts showing signs of getting tired so we gave her a little bit of a pep talk about slippers and she’s fired up again. We reached the block which houses the Croma and Bata stores and realized we reached a tad early as the Bata store is not yet open. So Ria gives a bright idea “lets go into the Croma store and look at stuff there while we wait for Bata to open”…. I asked the Croma guy who was opening the store “when does Bata open?” says “11AM”…. we are about 28 minutes early. So I look at the two eager pair of eyes wondering “what now?” and think “ok that’s going to be a bummer Ira is going to get a little cranky if we do not get the slippers”…. then I ask them “do you girls want to walk back to the car, pick up the car and then drive back here, the Bata store would be open by then”…. a very emphatic “No we’ll wait here” comes from Ria. Then I spring the camouflaged option “how about we walk a little more to the MacD, get something to eat… this store will be open by the time we’re done at MacD”…. “YES! YES!! MacD MAcD”…. so that’s what we do…. had I asked them to walk more they would’ve cribbed…. you need to be very tactical about such things…. both of them walked without an issue….

At the MacD we got us a Pancakes meal with a chocolate milkshake, hashbrown with an egg-cheese burger for the kids and a filter coffee for me. They insisted on sitting on the bar stools rather than the low seating sofa…. a relaxed leisurely 45 minute affair… 11:19AM we start heading back after visiting the wash room and ensuring bladders were ready for the walk back… The Bata store was open this time, they were busy removing the sale stickers and decorations apparently sale ended last evening. We go up to the kids section Ria spots the slippers that we eventually buy…..

the slippers we went to get
the slippers we went to get
super excited kids now as they can’t wait to break into the slippers at home…. they practically ran all the way back racing with each other…. this service road is a blessing in that manner… not used by any vehicles so kids can be free… of course within limits…. I still had 2 lollipops left over which they worked through on the way to the place where we had parked our car…. Ria was very thirsty by the time we reached the car and wanted to keep walking to the shop so we could buy a bottle of water…. but I somehow bundled them in and drove off…. stopped at the shop on the way out of the parking lot… got a couple of lollipops and a bottle of water as they vociferously shot down the suggestion that we could have cold drink if they wanted it (yeah strange kids they do not want cold drink)….

Back home by 12:20 I suggested they get a massage from Kullu aunty before having a bath… Ria agreed to that Ira was too excited to bother with a massage…. she has never liked the idea of a massage all along. Lunch went down pretty easy and then Gauri, their friend from A802, came over…. I was in my room upstairs but from the sounds it was a happy bunch of kids playing, telling stories etc. etc.

In the evening around 6:15P we left to pick up Sonali from her office (it being dahi handi day the roads would be overflowing with rowdy idiots and SG didn’t want to take a chance driving in that sort of drunkard infested traffic)… Ira slept off around 6:30 just as we were reaching office…. long day longest walk so far…. it was a total of 4.46Km. Broken up with the almost one hour break (MacD and Bata) but even so I think commendable job for a 2 year 4 month old. I don’t want to turn them into any sort of athletic freaks, I just want them to make healthy choices in life. That they choose to run marathons or whatever is up to them all I can or want to do is to introduce a respect for the active life…. So yeah big day for a small kid….

The meaning of a name

A friend today asked about the meaning of the names of the two kids. I began by giving her an explanation which went something like this:

we wanted a short and sweet name for the elder one…. also since my last name was anyway going to be slapped to the back it was entirely Sonalis choice…. Ria is the name of a Greek Goddess the mother of Zeus…. but that wasn’t on her mind when she picked that name…. I found out about it later on and it was a nice coincidence as we are a lot into those Greek mythology related games …. so yeah anyway that’s the origin of Rias’ name… as for Ira we asked Ria to suggest a name and she came up with “Ria”… I said ok lets keep the letters and make it Ira and that kind of went down well with everyone…. so yeah very simple story behind the names…. Ria it seems in Greek means River…. and Ira means “watchful” in Hebrew

….then I went and googled her name and landed up on this wiki page Turns out we named her something meaningful….

Ira is actually extremely watchful she never misses anything that’s going on around her…. even from a very small age she is very careful and protects herself much better in a fall than Ria used to at that age…. now a little older she is extremely observant and protective of her big sister even getting into fights with other kids for Rias sake…. . That’s the part that is related to the “watchful” and “warrior” interpretation of her name.

Neighbors are surprised about her ability to communicate so well and speak so clearly at less than 2 years of age.

Ria on the other hand means River in Greek and our elder one is exactly that…. always giving every calm…. it’s a humongous blessing to have such a person around us… she is always willing to give away even her last toy if it someone asks for it and talking to her is therapuetic the way she resolves conflict and cools you down…. so yeah name meanings do make sense… and unknowingly (to a large extent) we got ourselves two amazing names for our perfect daughters :)

Day 1 going pretty decent so far

Sonali has started going to office from today. She had taken a 5 year break to focus on bringing up these two mutts. We had had a long discussion and taken that call in 2009. We again had that longish discussion start of 2014 and decided that beyond 5 years she would be practically unemployable and that would be the end of a superb career, something that would be really disgusting and wasteful. She is doing great as a partner in my freelancing jig but it’s not the best utilization of her core competence… besides I did not want history to repeat itself…. my own mother, a mechanical engineer and a career woman who actually had a better chance at being successful than my uber successful father, gave up her career when I came along. To date I hear the “I gave up my career so that you could succeed” jibe being thrown at the poor guy….. oh no no no no no no not going to give SG that ammunition in circa 2040…. besides it’s time we realized our full potential and discovered the diamond in us (Arindam Chaudhury aap sunn rahe ho)….. so anyway Sonali pinged Shriraj at Paladion Networks…. they said that they would always welcome her back if she chose to come back.. she met the core team at Paladion to discuss it further and was offered the job title “Head Products”… basically the ideator who would chart the route that the products division takes over time… pretty much the same level that she would’ve been at had she not taken the 5 year break (Paladion is a very simple, sorted out and spectacularly grounded success story…. the sort of company I would like to build some day once this transition phase has been suitably handled and the kids are ready for another change)….. So yeah SG has done her bit bringing up these two kids who are some of the most intelligent, strong, sharp, beautiful, considerate….. I could go on after all there’s a bit of me in there as well…. that I’ve ever known/read about…. and now they are at a stage where they are practically self sustaining…. well almost…. we do have some bit part to play in the sustaining bit for a few more days I guess…

So to prepare for the transition we had started doing a few things that would kind of condition the kids for mammas absence during the day time…. we started waking up at around 6:15 instead of lazing in around in bed till 9AM like a bunch of alligators… once up we would quickly clean up and go out for a walk. It gave us time to discuss and plan the day/days ahead (stuff like garbage bags, and milk cartons are going to be over we need to make a grocery trip OR we need to put in a request for reinvestment of this particular SIP as its not performing well consistently over the past two years etc. etc.)…. the bigger goal though was to set up a time when the girls were mildly exhausted, from the walk, and had also had some “hang” time with mamma…. it’s slowly turning into a habit I hope to move the time even further back to around 6:30 getting out of the house type early …lets see…. besides it gives me time at the start of the day to fit in a quick run which is great as I’ve been struggling to get the routine going for forever now….

The other thing she did was talk extensively to Kulsum, our maid from heaven (she’s been with us for 10 years now, touch-wood to that)….. they discussed what all will need to be done, how to manage the baby sitter who is relatively new…. meal plans (there’s actually a menu of the day that has been shared with me on google docs…. talk about wired lives)…. so anyway that was important as the kids are very comfortable with Kulsum and will take a bit of time to acclimatize to the new sitter (previously there were two other sitters who are sorely missed… the first one lasted 4 years and then got married and went away, the second one who overlapped for a bit lasted 2 years and then had a baby so went away…. after that a lot of riff raff passed through…. hoping this new kid is better and lasts for at least 4 years….)…. so anyway that was handled….

There was a bit of shopping involved for office worthy clothes, FabIndia made a neat little fortune off of us but that’s ok they deserve it…. (side note: if anyone is looking to gift me something in the near future, please consider the linen pants at FabIndia…. fawn or olive green or white or any combination there of will do… my waist size is 35″ at the moment and those pants cost around 1600 bucks…. the ones with a draw string…. ok end of advertising my own agenda ….moving on). We also experimented with a dry run when mamma went off to Rajyams place for half the day and then made a trip to Hypercity for the second half… mammas car got a once over, tank up, new car freshner the works as she would be driving to work most days….

So basically we just went about preparing for this transition over the past couple of weeks. The trip to Jaipur was cut short, my school reunion is being skipped (first one in 22 years) and we did a lot of talking to the kids as well…. the most important thing of course was the talking the kids as contrary to popular belief children understand and they adapt better than adults.

Anyway to today morning we woke up and went out for the walk/swings. Ria was not really as excited as usual and wanted to skip the walk and go straight to the swings. I took her along with me while mamma handled Ira…. I gave her the legendary “Khan ka gyaan”…. told her “look kiddo when you feel uncomfortable about something that cannot be avoided the best way to handle it is to do it first and do it quickly so that it’s out of the way”…. gave her examples of how a bandaid should never be taken off slowly :)) or how if it starts hurting while you’re walking back home you should start walking faster (the pain wont go away but you’ll be home sooner)….. so anyway she completed the 2K walk and then SG took the girls to the swings while I finished my remaining 3K run….. back home Ira wanted to get bananas so SG and Ria went upstairs to make oats, get showered and get ready for the day….. Ira and I walked to the fruit store, got us bananas and walked back to our building found a bench and finished the banana…. she spotted a cat… the distraction helped finish the fruit faster…. back at home the girls were ready…. I took Ira to give her a shower and told Ria to get Iras’ clothes… said buhbye to mamma as she was supposed to slink out while we were in the shower…. which she did.

By the time we were done drying off, powdering, putting on clothes Kulsum aunty rang the bell…. she took over the kids from me and boy were they happy…. turns out Kulsum had reported to work a full 1.5 hours early and is going ot do that for the next few weeks till schools reopen and the kids do not need to be taken over that early. So yeah there was breakfast and some art work and some playing which happened while I put in an hour of work….. then the sitter came in around 10:15…. kids were a little cranky as Kulsum moved to the kitchen to cook for the day and so I went and sat in the living room to give them someone to come and bash up for whatever was going through their heads…. Ira knew that mamma has gone to “ophish” and will be back in the evening. The sitter is a 16 year old kid and kind of clueless on how to get buy in of the kids…. so I gave her a bit of talking to explaining how kids can sense your inner joy when you interact with them and how these kids were the only reason she has been hired no other services are required of her…. she shook her head like all irreverent 16 year olds will do when being talked to condescendingly…. there has been a considerable amount of improvement though as the kids have been in their room and everyone including the sitter is in one piece so far…. lunch was ready at 11:30 so we had it at 11:30…. Preeti didi (the sitter) was unable to convince Ira to eat so I took a call and asked Kulsum aunty to feed the little one and Preeti to clean up in the kitchen in exchange…. that worked out pretty well…. after lunch the kids went back to their room playing with some blocks and chatting up Preeti didi…. I was actually able to get a 15 minute nap…. around 1PM when Kulsum and Preeti needed to have their lunch I read stories for the kids…. no crankiness all good…. smooth so far… Ria completed her writing as well (30 to 70 number names skip 2 and a page of story writing). They were hungry again at around 4PM so I asked Preeti to give them the bread pakodas that Kulsum had prepared for the evening snack….. the little one had half Ria had a couple of them…. good again…. I made nimbu paani which again was well received…. so yeah smooth so far… They’re having a bath right now, Preeti is monitoring them (there was a small incident with camphor which made me order an out of turn bath and mouth rinse…. nothing huge).

So yeah day one going good so far. Looks like we’re going to be ok. Tomorrow the plan is to let them simmer a little more…. we’ll start fitting in a few activities from Wednesday onwards… activities that we usually do with mamma just so the girls get used to the idea a little more…. lets see the real stories would fly once mamma comes back from office around 6:45PM….

The life and times of Ira