Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Lost Post: Happiness at Aisha's House

For two years now, Rohan has been attending day care at the loving home of Aisha Abdel-Ghaffar, her husband Abdou, and her children, Yasmeen, Zizi, Hossan, Ehab, and Sharif. He loved it from day 1, which was January 5, 2009. "Aisha-r बाडी जाबो! " he exclaims as he puts on his shoes and coat.
Aside from all of Aisha's traditionally appreciated qualities (kindness, good cooking, patience, philosophy, consideration for parents), one of the things I appreciate is that she remembers and reports the funny things that Rohan says during the day.

1. Zizi was using the blender in the kitchen, when Rohan came in eating a waffle, his favorite snack.
Z: "Hello, Mr. Waffle!"
R: "Hello, Mr. Noise!"

2. Aisha: "Rohan, where is your poop?"
Rohan: "In my butt. I'm stinky boy!"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Basketball Obsession

The NBA playoffs are over, but you'd never know it here in Arlington, Massachusetts.
This morning, as I listened to Rohan's unstoppable monologue, I noticed that just about every other word he said was "Basket." Idly, I started marking every instance of "Basket". Can you guess how many times he said "Basket" in 15 minutes?

A) 15
B) 25
C) 40
D) 60

The answer is D.
Rohan's obsession with basketball grows daily. To ferret out the cause, we looked through our photo albums, and noticed the recurring theme, starting with the "Chhoto basket," a wonderful toy from my aunt given to a 5-month-old Rohan.

With Rohan's acute basket-radar, he can detect baskets from up to 2 city blocks away, and even when baskets are disguised as satellite dishes or pieces of toast.

In the last week or so, Rohan has begun to string words into sentences. Appropriately, some of his first sentences were:
"I see the basket!"
"I go to the park, basket."

Thanks to numerous library books about basketball, Rohan's basketball-related vocabulary now includes:
Jump / Bounce / Shoot / Court / "Noke" (i.e. loke=person playing)
Net / Pass / Slam...DUNK! / Oh-no-basket/Fall-down-basket
"Nei-nei basket" (i.e. basket without a net) / Unchu (high) basket
Boston (i.e., home of the Celtics) / Paul Pierce (#34 on the Celtics)
Chain basket / Basketball / Hoop / Throw

I was going to write about Rohan's other obsessions in this post, but I realize that Baskets are enough for now. So here are some of Rohan's other declarations to think about:
"I go in the hammock."
"I fly the plane."
"Nei nei basket, jabe."
"Mamma, Dadda, backpack trail -- GO there."
"Bye-bye gaan, bye-bye oboe, bye-bye double bass."
"I don't go to up-park, I go to the airport."
"Go to library!"
"This is the hose! I want the big hose!"

Who can resist orders such as these, even at 5:45 AM, when a little voice pokes you in the ribs and observes, "THAT'S the Dadda."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To India and Back

March 6, 2006
Agra, India

February 8, 2010 -- Aurangabad, India

Four years ago, Mike and I last visited the subcontinent. You can see us in front of the Taj Mahal, fairly newly wed, Mike looking gaunt after a bout of white-guy-in-India disease.

Four years later, we are with my parents in Aurangabad, where the last of the Mughal emperors died, and the "Baby Taj" built by his son for the late empress is the only memorial there for the once-vast empire. Mike and I try to recreate our original pose, but I can't remember whether I'd been on the right or the left.

Not that it matters -- we realize that anyone looking at the photo will only be looking at the little person in between us.

In 2006, Mike had been THE center of attention all over India -- whether it was my family commenting on his handsome features, his primitive Bengali, his love of hot chilies, or his appetite for sweets, or village children chasing him ("Sahib! Sahib! Give me one pen!"). In 2010, Rohan outperformed Mike in his ability to attract people with cameras, schoolkids, waiters in restaurants, you name it.

And to the family? Though still a great guy, Mike is Old News. Rohan met both great grandmothers and hordes of aunts and uncles, in general jumping into the arms of anyone who would either take him outside, let him climb stairs, or enable him to touch fascinating items/animals. Rohan quickly got used to India's rhythms, and VERY used to having his grandparents at hand 24/7.... we couldn't have made the trip without my parents for sure.

That's the summary of our two weeks -- but in India, the beauty is in the details. Visit our photo pages to meet our family and see highlights of Delhi, Kolkata, Aurangabad, oodles of ancient cave temples, and Mumbai.

And a few excerpts from my diary can help fill in the blanks:

January 31, 2010:
"What saved the plane trip was the bassinet. Obviously useless for Rohan sleeping, but a place of novelty, refuge, exercise, and independence. Mike did a lot of the "up-and-down" from the bassinet game."

February 1, 2010:
"We walked in Karol Bagh [the Delhi neighborhood we stayed in] with R. in the backpack. His reactions to most things were 'Whoa!'. Such things included:
  • Lorries blaring down tiny streests
  • Stray dogs running
  • Roosters/hens in alleyways and on roofs of corrugated tin
  • Roadside goats
  • Cycle-powered carts carrying immense cargoes
Mike shakes his head, seeing a man carrying a pickaxe while texting on his Nokia. Things have changed in 4 years."

February 5, 2010:
"Dimmoni [my grandmother] had directed M&B to get Rohan a toy. To check for leaks, Bapik decided to inflate the giraffe in the parking lot. Fate would have it that [family friends] happened to encounter them in the midst of giraffe-inflation. Because the giraffe is spotted, Rohan calls it 'Moo.' Dimoni was pleased by the giraffe. Photos were taken with everyone, including Shima [the nurse] who made sure the giraffe was in the picture."

February 8, 2010:
"Our sendoff meal from Kolkata was one of [my aunt's] best. Mike cleaned his plate and even deboned his own fish. India transforms anyone."

February 9, 2010:
"Ajanta will live in infamy because of the papparazzi chasing Rohan. Our guide, Mr. Joshi, asked if we planned to put a black mark on Rohan to ward off the evil eye. I laughed at the suggestion, until my mother admitted that she had already bitten Rohan's little finger to achieve the same effect. One curious trend, or lack of trend, is the diversity of ages, classes, and marital status of people fawning over Rohan. Certainly teenage girls -- but also a fair share of single men, older men, little boys. At times, a nucleating effect at work."

February 11, 2010: (Mumbai)
"I can't imagine living without ever seeing the three massive faces of Shiva at Elephanta. Lined with a long-lost humanism, the faces are alive."

"While Rohan slept in Mike's lap, we explored Gandhi's room in Mumbai, where Gandhi learned to spin cotton. We saw the books he read, the letters he wrote to FDR, Tolstoy, Hitler. He owned about 16 objects. I will aspire to this level of detachment when I am old."

February 12, 2010:
"At the legendary Trishna restaurant, Mike and I had a dinner of springy, fresh king prawns in hot black garlic sauce, a stroll through the Kala Ghoda arts festival. Then despite a bad cab driver abandoning us in the "Muslim Electronics Neighborhood' we got to watch most of Three Idiots at the Alankar Cinema. Three Idiots and Three Cheers for grandparents babysiting."

February 13, 2010:
"As the trip wears on, Rohan becomes more and more attached to his Dimoni and Dadan. Bapik spoils him, taking him up and down stairs, to see pigeons at Gateway of India, feeds him breakfast. Mike jokes that we need to make a Bapik-mask so that we can wear it and have Rohan eat for us."

"A 2-day escape to Matheran hill station, to avoid the Mumbai opening of the controversial film My Name Is Khan. Threats of Shiv-Sena violence dominate the news. Cinemas are heavily guarded, TV crews line the Regal next to our hotel. So we take the narrow gauge rail to Matheran. Rohan leans out the windows to see the locomotive and the valley falling away beneath us."

February 14, 2010:
"Underneath the gazebo in the park in Colaba, we played Pop Goes the Weasel (Rohan hides behind the pillar and jumps out saying 'Pop'). An 8-year-old Muslim boy played with Rohan, and his uncle explained to Mike that he had a little brother Rohan's age at home."

"That evening we spent in Pawai, at Uncle Shubhai's apartment. My cousin Tin Tin is now 13, and plays soccer. Rohan was excited enough by their picturesque flat, fireworks from a nearby wedding, soccer balls, Tin Tin's guitar playing, that he stayed awake until our plane boarded at 2:30 AM!!"

February 20, 2010:
"Recovery. I return to Millipore Marcom to find major restructuring. [My boss] laid off [the other scientific writer]. I'm now alone."

I add this last entry to explain a bit of why I'm writing this ultra-long synopsis of our trip, 2 months after it's over. And I already can't wait to go back.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho!

What do these 4 beings have in common?

ANSWER: According to Rohan, they all say, "Ho, Ho, Ho."
At an early age, he has completely grasped the Christmas spirit.

Rohan first encountered a Santa Claus in the CVS drugstore nearby, sometime around Thanksgiving. Soon afterwards, we got our Christmas tree (long-needled pine as always) and decorated it ("Ball! Alo! Ho, Ho, Ho!") One day, we had gone with some friends to our local garden center to see the train display, llamas and goats, and ex nihilo appeared a Live NBS (Naturally Bearded Santa for those without family members investing in Santa-rental companies.)

Rohan was wide-eyed with awe at seeing a breathing incarnation of the man he knew only to be a tree ornament. When Santa walked away to go take a break, Rohan chased him, saying, "Ho! Ho!"

Never having really believed in Santa, and being a poor liar, I am avoiding the Santa myth. But from the library, I brought a nativity book that Rohan read multiple times, often saying "Baby," as he pointed to Jesus in the manger.

Last year, I was mostly terrified every time I put myself in the shoes of Mary, probably crushed by the weight of the knowledge that her baby, probably drooling and saying, "ooo, ooo, ooo" a week past epiphany, was to be a Savior. This year, I felt stronger in the face of snow-covered nativity scenes on porches and lawns all around.

Jesus's Christmas vs. Rohan's Christmas
  • Jesus's visitors: shepherds, magi, animals
  • Rohan's visitors: 5 cousins, 4 grandparents, 6 aunts/uncles, countless family friends
  • Jesus's gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh
  • Rohan's gifts: toy vacuum cleaner, tricycle, books, blocks, + more
  • Jesus's dad built: probably something out of wood. Cradle would have been nice.
  • Rohan's dad built: a four-entrance cardboard box fort (see our photo gallery for a pic!)
Probably because of this last effort, Daddy (or "Dada") is now Rohan's favorite person, possibly superseding Santa. "Dada. Dada. Dada," he intones constantly. When he sees Mike, he escalates to a squeal of "DADA!!!!!"

Recently, however, two other people have been named "Dada" by Rohan, and here are the honorees of this title:

Yes, CK, this may be the only time in your life you'll be lumped with our commander-in-chief, so make the most of it.