Friday, June 21, 2013

Fathers' Night, 2013

Fathers' Day, technically, was nearly one week ago. Yet in this house and in two others nearby, Fathers' Day is only marked by an outing of three Dads to go out to a late show of a "guy movie." Thus, Mike and friends C. and L. can mark their paternal experiences by Hollywood gems like The Hangover and the A-Team. Tonight, it's .. oh, I can't even remember the name of it, but I do know that it's 10 P.M. and the men have JUST left for the Fresh Pond Cinema.

I suppose, once all of our children are a bit older, they will be able to better express what Daddy means to them, and we'll have more to remember Fathers' Days by.

This year, I was inspired by my niece and nephew to have Rohan fill out a Fathers' Day questionnaire. The results:

"My dad's name is :   Mike"
"My dad eats :    Spice"
"My dad drinks :   Milk and Water"
"I like it when my dad:    Gives us a piggy back ride."
"It's funny when my dad :    Shakes us and makes my mouth go wawawawawawa."

Uma's answers were less intelligible. She, instead, created a "Father Day Painting" for Daddy, and insisted that she "write name." Rohan helped, and labeled it, "Rohan Uma".

"It says Rohan and Uma, because we're friends, AND we're in the same family."

Mike is a dad who devotes his whole self to whatever he is doing. Here he is, blowing perfectly sized, well-aimed bubbles for two friends who happen to be our children. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Giant Girl meets Saraswati: What does pujo mean?

 There are those American-born Bengalis lucky enough to live close enough to the communities in which they grew up. Pujo remains, for them, largely the same as ever. Then there are the transplants, like me. We try to make our own traditions, one "superhero" at a time.

Our Saraswati pujo day started at home, watching music videos of popular Rabindrasangeet, sung by happy animated creatures of the forest and grassland. Then Rohan wanted to make his own "Bengali music video," so he drew a great white shark and we made it "sing" Alo Amar Alo.

Then we went to the library, of course, for Saraswati is the goddess of arts and literature. We walked out with a volume of Marvel comics, Avengers series, featuring Storm, Wolverine, Captain America, Spiderman, The Hulk and Giant Girl.

We sat in the pews of the Unitarian church next to the library, then, listening to the Arlington Philharmonic rehearse Benjamin Britten and examining the transformation of Janet van Dyne to Giant Girl. As we drove from the church to the pujo, I explained to Rohan that Saraswati, too, is a superhero. Like Giant Girl. But her powers are to make people appreciate books and music.

Rohan was slightly fearful, understandably, after his terrifying encounter in October with the heavily armed, bloodied goddess Durga. He looked visibly relieved that Saraswati bore no weapons, only the veena, and was accompanied by a pleasant swan or two.
Scary Durga; Oct 2012

What will pujo ultimately mean to our children? To my young self, Saraswati pujo meant running amok with our parents' friends' kids, entering sit-and-draw contests, demonstrating our nascent Rabindrasangeet skills for a forgiving audience of mashis, dads playing bridge, and eventually performing plays.

So distant from our 45-minute, pre-nap pujo outing to a neighboring high school, that the kids remember for its snack machines that contain Chortles. It's the only place I've ever seen Chortles for sale. They're pretty good, and are guaranteed to have "over 65 in every bag," but have nothing on my mom's sandesh.

Just as this feeling of distance had peaked, Rohan declared (now filled with Chortles) that he would like to sit "over there" in front of Ma Saraswati. For a satisfying length of time, we watched the priest read Bangla poetry to the goddess, examined all the yellow decorations, and Uma embarrassingly called some ladies "Dimmi!" because they were wearing saris as Uma has only seen my mother wear.

"They have the same hair, too," added Rohan loudly, not relieving my embarrassment in the least.

I had the kids offer pranami money on the plate in front of Saraswati, and asked the deity for help in ensuring Rohan's successful entry into Kindergarten this fall. We retrieved our books ("Port Side Pirates" and Richard Scarry's "A Day at the Fire Station") from Saraswati's feet, and rushed home for the rest of our "abangali", secular, shark-themed day.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Merry Christmas, Mike.

It's the beginning of December 2012, and my present to you is some memories and some wishes, that usually only come out in the form of tears (when I'm sleep- or sunshine-deprived), drool (when I'm really tired and fall asleep on your pillow), and snarfs (when you make ridiculous jokes while I'm drinking water or brushing my teeth.) But I'm a writer, so I should be able to "do" words, right?

One of the main reasons I love being married to you, is that you are a witness to the otherworldly absurdity that constitutes our daily lives. You know the meaning of:
  • Fooer (device used to fan food and cool it down)
  • Boosher (container used to dump water over heads during baths)
  • Dino blanket (green, fleece blankets used by me and by Rohan)
  • Hoppy game (two kids, one crib, chaos.)
  • Bonn Baynor (sp?) (superhero of unknown powers)
  • Nap pants
  • Pap dudh (what R. used to call his bedtime milk bottle)
  • Boo (what U. calls her milk cup)
  • Peepee, Poppy, Scrufty, Slashy and French (names of some stuffed animals here)
  • Flying-in-the-air Museum (Boston MFA)
  • Tree-fell-down-in-the-pond (Habitat Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary)
  • Struction-con cones (the orange things on the road)
And only with you can I discuss the plotlines and characters of just about any Arthur the Aardvark book. Only you understand how frustratingly mysterious it is when Arthur says "That's no camp, that's a zoo!" when he passes Camp Horsewater. We will just never know.

Which brings me to the realization that 2012 has been largely dominated by ice hockey, race cars (still!) and Arthur.
So. Much. Arthur.
To the point that even Uma knows lyrics, some dialogue, and characters in the books.  I swear I heard her sing, "... adve-enture.." the other day, in the car on the way back from Aisha's. And you know she always says "DIM!" when Arthur calls D.W. a dimwit.

So Mike, as an additional Christmas present, I forgive you officially for accidentally referring to Rohan as "Arthur" the other day.

What will 2013 bring?

Here are my predictions (I don't do resolutions):
  1. More sea creatures. As if our FOUR visits to aquariums (aquaria?) and multiple readings of ocean life books in 2012 didn't already make us all experts on sandtiger sharks, anglerfish, and stickleback gar.
  2. More date nights. Uma is finally warming up to grandparents, and if I manage to wean her of "baby-snacks" by the time she is two, we might finally get to go climbing.
  3. Less screaming in automobiles. This is a risky one. Uma hates car rides so much that those Peltor earmuffs have been a staple for dad and brother, in our Honda Civic. But I'm hoping that turning her carseat front facing in June can work wonders.
  4. We finish at least two seasons of Mad Men. Mike, I admire you for your extreme patience with my glacial pace of TV watching. I know, I know, it's been over two months and we haven't even gotten through season 1... but we'll do it. You'd think that having freed ourselves of cable TV would accelerate our Netflix pace but no.
  5. I try another recipe that your mom says you used to love. Yes, it took me seven years to attempt the corn pudding... give me a couple of months to make our next celebratory dinner.
 When I first loved you 9 years ago, I could not have predicted the contents of this post. I guess that means that all 5 of these predictions may be completely wrong. But I strangely don't care. Whatever happens, you will share it with me, and that fact will make everything even better than our combined expectations.

Here's to another year of surprises!
your wife.

Massive List of Sayings From Rohan: 2011-2012


“NO tickle-face. Daddy is TOO scratchy.”
M: “I shaved! My face is not scratchy.”
“Your NECK is scratchy.”

Me to mike: “I’m going to go over and check him for poop.”
R: “Mamma, go back there and eat your lunch!”

“Get the hat with the crossbones and the hat with the yellow-diamond-blue-diamond-red-diamond!” (Pirates hat and Steelers hat.)

“I bumped my Noggin with the cup.”

In the Mt. Auburn Hospital ER waiting room: “Daddy, I’m racing my Nasty Cars!”
M: “You mean, NASCARs…”
R: “Yeah, my nasty cars!”

“I’m Naked Boy playing baseball.”

“It’s not the spiky pillow, it’s the norom one.”
“Rohan has brown chul. Mamma has black chul. Daddy has chul like Tessa. Dimmi has gray chul. Dadan has… ektu bit of chul.”

“Don’t come near!”
“Don’t say no!”

“That could be an idea!” (when he thinks of something he wants to do.)

“Do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around;
That’s what it’s all about! Doodlebug-doodlebug!
I like to say Doodlebug at the end.”

“I’m your little doodlebug. I’m daddy’s little doodlebug.”

“Tessa, you wanna ankh with me?” (holding sidewalk chalk.)

“Today, we watched the funny cars race. It was Great Fun!”

“I will eat more, I will get bigger, then I will play football.”

“This is the blanket-snake! I LOVE this!” (about the striped afghan)

“This is a special crib for this noke and the bad noke. Two babies in the crib. Like Asha and Thomas. They are at Dimmi’s house. Sometimes I live at Dimmir bari. Sometimes Dimmi and Dadan live at Yerxa Road, and I can show them this special crib.”

“I race the motorcycle on your no-hair part.” (about Daddy’s side as opposed to chest/stomach.)

“I like to pick flowers. I give them to Mamma and Daddy sometimes. I’m not dogs! Dogs don’t want flowers!”
Mike: “Dogs might eat the flowers.”
R: “Oh, yuck.”

“I could give this flower to Tessa. She could love it.”

“This guy fell down! Poor little noke.”

“I liked the part where the frog played the guitar, sitting on that wood.” [first time watching Muppet Movie.]

“What are you likh-ing, Mamma?”

Mike: “I don’t know that song. I’ll have to look it up on YouTube.”
R: “MY tube??”

“Uhhhh, Daddeeeee…( I’m ‘tending to cry.)”

“I want to shun that gaan.” (about God Bless America sung by Fozzie Bear.)

“Daddy, you could dress up as a peddler, with caps on your head. You would be a Handsome Boy.” [demonstrating pile of caps]

“Quite incredible!” (about jumping over pile of pillows)


“It’s NOT time for dinner. It’s time for racing.”
Me: “The cars are hungry.’
R” “No they’re NOT. They’re hungry for racing.”

“Daddy, you need to shave. You have Whiskers.”

“Maybe Santa’s pups could make it.” (meaning elves.)

“What happens when you put cars in the dryer? They turn into Hot Wheels cars.”

“Is this an animal?” grabbing Uma’s feet.

"My skeleton is rattling around inside my body."

“Daddy, my naked is the same as your naked! We’re ALL naked!”

“The Washington Capitals are sleeping with the Boston Bruins.”

“If you cut off all your hair, you’ll look like Dadan.”

“I don’t want to go to preschool, I want to go to a Mojar Jaiga!”

“Bridger and me went fishing, and we caught a great white shark.” [one of many Bridger Tall Tales.]

R: “Can we have a new baby?”
Me: “No.”
R: “We could borrow one!”
Me: “We could visit Owen’s new baby.”
R: “Yeah, and bring it home and put it in your belly.”

“Come on, Daddy, let’s go for a Nailed swim!” (about the beach in Ocean City NJ)

“This is the running-water.” (describing the water before a wave breaking)

“If Uma saw this scary movie she would one hundred cry.”

“I had ELEVEN pee!”

“If Mamma went to Daddy’s work and Daddy went to Mamma’s work, it would be so silly.”

“We definitely can’t buy a Real Gun.”

"I'm making this fort 'shnug' for Uma."

“I don’t want to see ANY ankylosaurus.”

“These firefighters did a big big dushtumi. They didn’t slide down the pole.”

"This is a mousie in the picture. I think Uma will love it."

(sniff) “This house smells like cat food AND dog food!” (after I made slow-cooked bbq ribs.)

"We made whooped cream, and then it turned into cupcakes."

"My stomach feels like something's crumpled up inside it."

"This nutcracker is not scary because he doesn't have a sword."

(to Aisha, recounting the holidays) "We went to Nana and Papa's house and Dimmi and Dadan's house and made a 'splosion and Uncle Justin drank the 'splosion!"