Games my toddler plays

Inspired by one of my friends, who has begun chronicling interesting and astounding things her son says these days, I thought of writing about current games that my toddler has made up . I hope to laugh at them when I read x years down the line, though currently to me, not all are entirely entertaining. My husband enjoys them and howls- especially since I am the one who my toddler expects to play these with.

As another friend once mentioned to me, my toddler P, so far seems to be a mamma’s boy, having spent a large part of his infant life away from his dad. Though now things are changing finally, more than 1.5 years after we returned to Indonesia to join his dad, I still am his go-to for everything, his play-bouts with dad lasting for max to max 15 mins. He will come back to me for a tiny break at least in between 😊. So, without further ado, these are the current games my toddler plays:

  1. Dada padla (दादा पडला)-this is probably the first game he invented and has been playing for more than 5 months now. Dada means brother and probably he has taken it to mean boy because he calls himself dada. Padla means fell. This game involves lying down all of a sudden on the floor and to say “Dada Padlaaaa!”. Anywhere! The dirtier the floor, the better. Then to watch the embarrassment of parents. Usually also involves rolling on the floor, rubbing back and hands against the floor. A great source of enjoyment at public places. So far he played this game at various places. Once at the grocers, the owner asked me to kindly bring him around 10 am every day so that the store doesn’t need a mopping service anymore -which I laughed too loudly with embarrassment and complimented the owner on clean floor -which thankfully it was. He has played this game at various malls at Jakarta, regularly in the lobby of our building, various stores, homes of various friends, even outside the public toilet in a Singapore mall. Imagine the kind of cleaning exercise that takes place after such things. Also, usually this is to be played when accompanying parent/s have their hands full with things so that they can’t pick you up. Even if they try, you just let lose your body or resist being picked up and create a scene. Such scene was once being recorded by a lady on Changi airport and my husband had to request her to kindly mind her own business! The only time this ‘benefitted’ us parents was when he lay in front of immigration desk and the officer allowed me to jump the queue because of that !!
  2. Ta-daa – This game involves asking the unsuspecting mother to lie down on the bed because you want to sleep and then lie low in ambush till the sleep deprived mother Is herself half drowsy and thinks you have slept. Then slide out and quickly arrange pillows on the top of her and before she understands anything, shout ta-daaaaa and throw yourself roughly on the pillows so that her world shakes literally!! The first couple of times this happened, it caught me unawares. I was almost sleeping, which these days happens a lot – while putting him to sleep in the afternoon. Then I began catching him as he would slip away, and he would howl in anger because he wanted to play ta-daa. Then I arranged pillows on the mattress and asked him to play ta-daa, but hey, where is the fun in that. So he never complied. He hasn’t forgotten this game though I now prohibit him every time (Almost! – occasionally I did give him the pleasure) and immediately goes for arranging pillows on my tummy every time we go to take afternoon nap.
  3. Aai baau (बाऊ) – Baau in Marathi baby language means injury. So no prize for guessing what this game involves. This game is open in its intention where you just ask your aai (mom) if you can play ‘aai baau’? and irrespective of her answer pounce on her to start roughhousing. This game involves roughhousing it with aai and scratching her, pulling her hair etc. She needs to shout “aaaaargh!!”, “maajhe kes!!” (my hair) and all for the game to proceed and conclude. This can last a long time and aai is really exhausted by the end of it. Not allowing him to play this game has led to very long bouts of crying. Initially it was lot of scratching and hairpulling. I have resisted every time and never encouraged him to continue this game thinking it would lead to an aggressive behavior. However, I have noted that he is in fact reserved by nature and not aggressive outside of home.  I felt he needed some roughhousing as a toddler and he chose me as his candidate to try it on because I am available all the time. It took a lot of scratches and training to focus on masti rather than scratching to turn this game into fun activity (For him. For me it is still exhausting) – which involves pillows and mattress jumping and roughhousing that doesn’t involve much scratching (though little bit of hair pulling is still there). Of course, I have to over dramatize the ‘injury’ always.
  4. Shouting gaau (गाऊ)– Gaau is derived from gaa in Marathi – which means to sing. Instead of ‘say’ he usually uses a form of this word – gaa or gaau. Shouting gaau is a precursor to his career in death metal I think sometimes… Shouting gaau means shouting in chorus. This is an ‘exceptional’ game because it is one game he tries and enjoys with his dad and they shout ‘aaaaaaaaaaaa’ in chorus till as long as they can. Or when we are sitting together he will first ask his dad to join, then me in the next round and then all three of us in the third round.
  5. Fekla! Kashala fekla! (फेकलं! कशाला फेकलं ) (Threw. Why did you?) So he has a tendency to mess things up while saying tidy up! Tidy up! It began when, inspired by various online articles on Montessori parenting, I thought it would be cool to teach him to clean after himself as a toddler. It began at 16 months that whenever we would tidy his area, I would keep saying tidy up, tidy up! He watched enough and one day joined us! Whenever I would put a toy in basket, he would throw it out saying tidy up! Initially I thought this hilarious but later, as it continued over months, extending beyond his play area to laundry basket, our closets and shelves ( some of which are unfortunately at his height too ), I lost my temper at times and would shout “Fekla! Kashala fekla?” – which is now the new name for his game of ‘tidyiing it up’ involving throwing tidied items… Maybe I need more than online Montessori articles – to implement the Montessori way. Or maybe, I need to ignore all the parenting mumbo jumbo and plain simple discipline him. Not that I haven’t been trying – but at the age of 2 he is still away from the concept of that mom can be upset about something (done by him). So I am still tidying it up after all the mess. An acquaintance whose son is 10 now told me, when her son was small she never tidied up his play area at night because he would always come in the morning and mess it up! For a moment I felt relieved that someone actually practiced what I secretly had been thinking. But alas, I cannot actually make myself follow this!
  6. Whoa – So Whoa is a game of trying to free fall while falling cautiously (because  – its how we naturally are). P is a cautious toddler mostly, except while roughhousing with me. Its entertaining to watch him laying his head on the floor. Slowwwwly! 😊 but these days he is inspired by Marshall, the paw patrol puppy. Marshall is a cute Dalmatian and a fire fighter and a para medic puppy. He owns a cool fire truck cum x ray machine etc. For P however, his most appealing characteristic is that he is extremely clumsy and accident prone and falls down everywhere. So being a cautious toddler, P has found a way to imitate marshall, where he holds a corner of sofa and then tries to fall, or he holds my hands and pretends to be falling off a cliff . Many a times, before playing whoa, he places a pillow on the floor where he expected to fall and then proceeds and changes the pillow properly if he notes mid way his ‘fall’ that it is not placed correctly. 😊 . At other times, he just crawls everywhere, including public places, pretending to be marshall and expecially on the wheelchair ramps, he will try to slide shouting Whoa whoa whoa. Those ramps are not too high. So he loves sliding on them and pretending to be Marshall sliding down the paw patrol lookout – rather than sliding off actual slides. 😊 Though he likes actual slides as well (if they aren’t crowded).

With these games being frequently played at my home these days, I am kind of busy and exhausted. I applaud all sorts of internet and Instagram parents that seem to be doing so many cool things with their kids, activities, discipline, reading wise. Kudos to you all !

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Dating !…of sorts…

I spotted you from a distance…. As you stood under a tree
The sun shone upon you, as you basked in all its glory
Your eyes, with pleasure alight, upon the tot at your knee
And I saw a ray of hope –  a kindred soul in thee

 

As I approached you, you noticed me and I smiled shabbily
You narrowed eyes appraisingly, as I stood so flabbily,
I tried some witty remark on weather that I offered as a bait
I thanked my stars in my mind, that finally someone worth I met

 

Then we exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a while,
And what I learned about you then, really made me smile
You stayed nearby and came to the park daily at this hour,
You too were seeking to meet someone these days that had been so dour

 

Accidentally daily at same time we seemed to bump always
One day at park, my heart hummed its time to seek the ways
To spend more time with this one, she’s the keeper you see
So I gathered my wits and my courage and invited her for tea

 

We bonded over diaper brands, we gushed over babyfoods,
We shared agonies with each other complaining about our broods
Dear reader, the rest is history, of this love story of sorts,
Its about one mom dating another one, now control your snorts…

 

The end!

Probably I have overused the poetic license , but these or any other words wouldn’t do justice to one important agony of the mom life! Finding new friends – er make it new mom friends.

Mom dating! Yes, Mom dating is the term for it, and about accurate and succinct description – of the struggles one faces as a mom, trying to make friends with other moms. This agony may not be faced by every mom. But many of the first time moms (that’s FTMs in modern mom world lingo) that have willingly opted to be a stay at home mom (SAHM – another modern mom world lingo aka MMWL), do face it. Like any other decision taken in the heat of the moment – where we later try to justify it  (including that of marrying, having a child and so on) (LOL) – the decision to quit job never really estimates the impact of lack of regular (almost constant) adult interaction, that makes up for even the lack of social life otherwise, in some cases (like mine to an extent when I was working in India with 14-15 working hours a day). Working moms have colleagues for some sensible adult conversation throughout the day. They connect over one common aspect – work. Whether they like each other or not, they must accept each other. It is sort of God given (or fate given – take your pick) arrangement, where you need do nothing. You can meet your other friends during the weekends – but mostly you are busy with chores on weekends – and spending valuable time with your kids. There is no time to feel , think etc.

For us SAHFTMs (Ha! I just thought of it) – life is all fun initially until the extended break seems to be extending towards infinity. You spend your day cleaning, bathing, feeding (rinse and repeat) ,putting them to sleep, obsessing over number of feeds, number of poops, colour of poops, figuring out exactly why the baby cried and so on… I have elaborated more than enough I suppose. It is a mix of awesome, fun and frustration in equal measures and worth every moment spent in doing these I agree. But as days go by , and the signs of clinginess of the baby don’t dissipate,  you do miss some adult conversation. The husband being the only remaining earning member of the family, cannot cater to this whim exactly when you feel like it – like when the baby is asleep in the afternoon or when out for evening stroll, since he is probably stuck in some corner of his office, trying to make sense of something on his work screen. Plus who would really want to bond with you to discuss your frustrations about a diaper rash cream , a baby detergent and so on??? Unless that person is a mom of a similar aged baby herself!!! That’s why SAH-Mom dating is needed. Some adult conversation, similar concerns and so on!

But what is the reason for a blog post if it was as smooth a sailing as in the poem above, which is just a figment of my imagination. In reality, if you notice someone at the park, in all likelihood they already belong to some mom-clique and will tend to ignore you. If this important hurdle is crossed, probably you have won half the battle. If not, then park probably was not the right place for you. You need to find other places – like playgroup drop off and pick up area, playgym / music / activity classes etc.  You cannot be seen looking shabbier than your mom-target, nor can you look unachievably chic holier than thou (though sometimes it could lead to aspirational popularity  – because everyone always wants to be friends with the cool chic mom in the class/area isn’t it?) You try to bond over clothing, stroller brands, parenting style and passing judgements about how other moms are acting (and in a way try to know each other’s compatibility).  You start discussions with discussing number and quality of playgroups in the area (I tried this), saying – “how has been your experience of ____ playgroup? Would love your honest feedback.” You send Facebook friend requests and then compliment now and then on their photos whenever you possibly can.  You receive and give compliments on baby clothes, get asked about doctors and so on. All this can be asked genuinely too of course, but these conversations, if happening too frequently are “masked friendship requests” so to say :-D. Sometimes, your “friendship requests” are met with a royal ignore. You do wonder things like – am I not interesting? Not funny? Am I not cool enough and so on –how easy it was during childhood. My toddler shares his toys with people he likes. If someone doesn’t play with him, he moves on…after 3.5 decades of life, such rejections are hard on your ego….

All in all, making mom friends is hard. Just like romantic dating I would say. Similar level of uncertainty and bruises to ego, which become more difficult to bear because of the advanced age (as compared to the romance years) I’d say, if you meet someone, keep the momentum of friendship going, because you never know- the 15 days you were absent from park were enough for your target mom to meet someone new and move on

The cat who… got lucky!

At the outset, I am NOT a Hello Kitty aficionado.

In fact, this post is specifically to ponder over the unbelievable popularity of Hello Kitty. In general, most of the popular characters have followed commonly trodden path of first being introduced through comics or cartoon series and subsequently have found themselves being peddled as various kinds of merchandise. Clothes, accessories, toys, paraphernalia. Hello kitty as per my knowledge is the only such extremely famous character which has traveled a reverse journey. First, as a bag and subsequently in other merchandise and a few years later into cartoon. If there are others as grand and as famous who have emerged in similar manner, I am not aware of them of course.

In India, I have seen Hello Kitty in various forms, especially on bags and lunchboxes, ribbons and dresses of little girls, which, I have to conclude were illegal imitations, now looking at the price of its official merchandise in various stores in Indonesia. I had always wondered back when I was a kid, who Hello Kitty was, because unlike other cartoons I had never come across animated series of Hello Kitty. Years passed and cut to present years in Indonesia, where I came face to face to the gigantic brand that Hello Kitty is and was astounded by its penetration at so many levels in the merchandise world. I was particularly flabbergasted to notice she was on this packet of sugar :-D.

IMG_20140629_143358

I mean, though I have studied finance,  subconsciously one does ponder brand association with products every now and then. How is Hello Kitty relatable with a day to day item which is used thoughtlessly? Maybe they want to say the sugar is as sweet and the character Hello Kitty is sweet natured too. Though, since Hello Kitty is almost a collectible brand now, one would think, they’d skip merchandising it in form of a generic consumable like sugar.

Kudos to its creator, Yuko Shimizu, who, in comparison with the Disneys of the world, did not have to even create a story for her character to sell so much of the merchandize 😊 . Today, as per Wikipedia, Hello Kitty is a USD 5 Bn brand, as per this article, it is USD 7 Bn.

On the other hand, was there a dearth of cute comic characters? There wasn’t. There were cute care bears for example, the popular series during late 80s and 90s when I grew up. Remember seeing them in Archies greetings too. They have faded now. But Hello Kitty, which was ‘born’ even earlier (is apparently 43 now) than these bears, is still thriving, and is being followed; my niece aged 7 for example is a big fan and owns everything Hello Kitty from erasers, dresses, books, toys and all-that-you-can-have. Though many who were her fans in childhood are now adults and have her as tattoos for example. The Taiwanese Eva airlines has her on their planes and in flight merchandise apparently!

Really, is Hello Kitty that unique? I personally am not really into Hello Kitty (or any character, or a film personality, star, singer and so on), so I cannot understand this phenomenon of mass following, especially the owning of merchandise, posters, dresses etc. Sometimes I feel this tendency of mass following has got to do with feeling some sort of sense of belonging. The fans belong together in celebration of something. An exclusivity etc. Despite the great many explanations on Hello Kitty phenomenon, including by people who have studied her for decades apparently and explained how her lack of mouth is adaptable and empowering to women etc., I just believe Hello Kitty and its promoter company got lucky to put it simply! Despite other Kawaii or cute characters in Japan, only one was picked up the world over…. By luck., and congratulations to its promoter company Sanrio for that!

The Key to knowing Bahasa street style

Sample this – random texting between my husband and his friend:

Husband – Hey, long time , lets catch up!

(I am sure, the real message was even shorter. Something like – ‘Let’s meet’ or even ‘Meet me’ or ‘Meet!’ – all of this is probable considering my husband’s low patience for all sorts of texting, further tempered by the fact that it wasn’t his client)

Friend – Hey, sure! Let’s meet at Kunci? (Knowing his friend too, I know it was much shorter reply 😀 )

So, my baffled husband turns and asks me – “do you know a place called Kunci? “

Ever proud of my own better Bahasa Indonesia skills (only as compared to my husband), I set him correct. “Kunci? Come on! Kunci means a Key Swapnil, a K-E-Y! Key! That which helps to lock and open the door??”

He made a noncommittal noise and went back to messaging, then smiled looking at me. “You’re wrong. Apparently Kunci means mall Kuningan City”.

We spent a moment in amused laughter. In almost 6 years of my residence here in Indonesia, one thing never ceases to amuse and baffle me. Its the abbreviations created by people. The local slang language or ‘Bahasa Jalan’ (Street language) as they call it , has evovled a ‘tendency’ to create short cuts. I call it tendency because I notice this leaning towards shortforms in almost every sphere of local life. I have come across abbreviated forms of so many unexpected words, places, things and so on, that sometimes, when I learn a new word, I ask the native Bahasa speaker if it is a shortform or a real word.

So you have shorter names for malls like Mangdu for Mangga Dua, Kokas for Kota Kasablanka, Sensi for Senayan City and so on. Not just malls, even place names become shortforms and you tend to get confused. Once while reading a running race schedule, I noticed the location was Jakpus. I got quite confused before realising that in all probability it was Jakarta Pusat  (Central Jakarta). Similarly Jaksel, Jakut and Jaktim. Names too do get shortened here, say a Wijayanto becoming Yanto, Arianto becoming Ari and Christina sometimes being called Tina! Which I guess is the only abbreviation, commonly practised throughout the world. 😊

While these abbreviations are mainly a part of street language, they are formally used sometimes  – such as Jakpus / Jaksel on the website of that racing community. The national monument in Jakarta is called Monas, which is shortened ‘Monumen Nasional’ . There are many communities with shortened name. Certain ‘national communities for so and so’ being called Komnas __ ___. Even the ministries have faced same fate. Kemenkes for example means Kementerian Kesehetan (Health Ministry) . Minsitry for information and broadcasting is called Kemkominfo and formally so.

Once while travelling I came across a series of shops named Warkop. Example – Warkop Ibu Yeni , Warkop Pak Nurul and so on. I wondered aloud what warkop meant. Our driver informed us – it was Warung dan Kopi (Snack and coffee).

With so many shortforms floating around, you would think, that there wont be many long words in Bahasa Indonesia. That’s extremely far from truth. To get a taste of the long words, one glance at newspapers is enough. Sometimes the words seem so long to me, that I wonder when they will end , even while reading them 😊. All in all , maybe these long words are what prompted the locals to start with shortforms. Whatever it takes to make communication easy! Only, they should have this kunci (Word key) for us newcomers though and regularly update it. That will make our life easier. 😊

 

Achche Din

I had created this cartoon on Bitstrips to share amongst the friends as an announcement of my pregnancy. I found it today while cleaning my mailbox and thought of preserving here permanently. It comes off a bit silly now, for sure, but since I was trying to be funny back then, it really feels in line with that intention now.

Bitstrips has ever since stripped off its own existence. It was fun though, to create cartoons, and then check out other users’ who were mostly teenagers and probably had no idea it was a lady in 30s whom they were encouraging through their comments on my cartoons 😀

 

Acche Din

 

 

The greenery and the scenery amidst the traffic

One of the things I love about Jakarta is its greenery. I haven’t really traveled to many commercial centers beyond India and some regions of SE Asia. However, having lived majority of my life in Mumbai, the most important commercial city in India, I find myself pleasantly surprised by Jakarta, almost every time I step out. The city is still green thankfully and that creates pleasant vistas within concrete jungles. Sure, Jakarta doesnt have huge public parks that many other (mainly western) cities are known to boast about. But it has enough greenery to cool down your eyes amidst the super horrible traffic that it is known for. I live in almost CBD area and across my home is a boulevard laced with lush evergreen trees. I would also love taking a walk around my office area, which too boasts of lush greenery. This post is just to share some pix of the greenery that I took in during my post lunch walk around my office block. One more aspect that I miss about my work 🙂

Rants of a stay at home mom!

With the birth of your child, comes the birth of your new role as a parent and your whole life changes. It is true, everyone says that. But one more change, that happened in my life as a new parent – which may or may not happen in case of other parents – was my transition into being a full time stay at home mom. Making this decision was not easy for me, having worked for several years, usually long working hours for a majority of my career in India mainly. Making this decision in Indonesia was even harder than quitting my job in India (to relocate to Indonesia). In addition to excellent work culture and learning, important fact was that I was staying very close to my office and that provided me with good amount of work life balance. However we had to make this decision till we were convinced of a good child care option.

During my youth I was extremely influenced by a book called ‘A road less travelled’ by M Scott Peck, the psychologist, who had contended that a significant part a person’s nature/personality is determined by how s/he is raised till the age of 4. I had determined to myself back then (when I was around 19-20 and really inexperienced in the ways of world in general and ways of parenting in particular) that I would take a career break if need be and really raise my child in the most ideal manner etc. Blah blah blah…. Cut to present day and I find myself missing those early morning market and current affairs analyses during team discussions, deadlines, meeting clients- here it was even more interesting because different language posed new challenges. The tea time converations, and so on. With so many years of working behind me, how could I believe that I would be immediately okay with the sudden end to it? This was in a sense me time. I never realised how much I have enjoyed my work before I had to shut my shop so to say and sit at home. Raising child in ideal manner etc was thrown out of the window, the day I gave my child my mobile phone to watch youtube for a while so that I could drink my tea in peace.  There is no ideal. Parenting is always about uncertainty and guilt. I learned soon, sadly.

Yes, it is mainly the work-life, the excitement of working on a new project/case, new sector, the rush of chasing a deadline… all these things is what I am reminded most sorely. This was also my personal space. Socialising has definitely reduced, but I was more or less prepared for it,having noticed change in the lives of new parents around me.

Is it wrong of me to think of my worklife since my priorities have changed? I do not feel guilty, despite being subjected to constant judgement the moment I mention this. As a new mother, every woman is subject to constant judgement anyway, so I have taken it in a stride. I do enjoy being at home and being available through all milestones and stages of my child for sure. I have enjoyed it to the fullest and am most thankful for this opportunity. Not many have this luxury. At the same time, I remember how wonderful I felt while working too. The sense of independence , confidence in my work etc were wonderful to experience. On some days, I envy those who have resumed working and on others, I am extremely thankful for being at home with my child.

Not a unique rant, I know. Many must have gone through it, many must have either resumed or reconciled to staying at home. But sure, most of them would have ranted atleast for a while, and it is my turn today!

This blog is not dead….

This post comes after a gap of closer to 2 years. Wow! I never realised it had been that long since I updated. The real life had taken over. I was completely immersed in taking care of my baby, who now, as a toddler still commands most of my time. Therefore I cannot make commitment to myself to write regularly. But yes, I will be writing more often. Now that my toddler is getting more and more independent, I do find myself with some time to spare. Especially, the lack of regular adult conversation (with friends) these 2 years past, has made me realise the need to gather my thoughts and ponder on something that doesnt involve meals, sleep schedules, poops, toys and so on. Living in a foreign country, you do get used to a pattern of friendships that ebb and flow with several incoming and outgoing expats and if you are the one that stays at a place for long time, you do get used to welcoming new comers with enthusiasm, building friendships over the period only to bid them good byes with aplomb…. In short, in 2016/17, 4 of my friends relocated. That made the need for this kind of conversation with myself more apparent. However, whatever spare time I would have, would be spent in browsing through yet another parenting group or article or milestones update from the babycenter … LOL.

However, lately, I began missing this whole process more and more. Writing usually always allows me to come to a conclusion if I am stumbling. It always brings me at peace. It always makes me more and more in tune with myself and that is why I always think it is one of my greatest friends. So I do see myself writing more and often on this blog again….

Bucketlist – Things I’d love to do on a day off.

Today, I took an off. Was tired of routine. Was unwell too. So just thought of pausing for a moment. It wasn’t an ideal day though – nevertheless, I felt much better for it. I thought of listing things I’d do on an ideal day off 🙂

  1. I’d wake up to cool morning breeze and lightening sky. Would love to take in the calmness of early morning. Peace and quiet. Just be. Take in lovely pink and orange hues of the skies.
  2. Make myself a cup of steaming ginger-flavored tea, listening to the early morning classical raagas. Just absorbing every taan, aalap, every nuance of a bandish… experiencing its mood, sentiment, just dissolving my existence, going to faraway places within that song – that raag. Its been ages that I have done this…. I guess these days, early mornings are all about getting breakfast ready / lunch boxes ready.
  3. Would then go for a walk on the podium. It is lovely around 7 here. Much brighter than I would like, but on an off day, I am hardly going to wake up too early 🙂 . What I love about Jakarta most is its green surroundings. At least compared to Mumbai, where I lived most of my life, this city is several times greener. Evergreen trees laden in their full glory all the time. 🙂 No fall here … The facility management of this apartment complex has done lovely landscaping work and maintained well all these years. Its a pleasure to walk on the podium – especially when it is less crowded. Mild morning weather, chirpy birds, green grass, evergreen trees, flowers… would just take in everything. The hibiscus near swimming pool with bright pink blossoms, frangipanis  just about everywhere, dotted with yellow flowers, at times which are scattered on the lawns below, making a beautiful picture. I would stop to notice the toddlers over at the kiddie-swimming pool. Their laughter and bright faces will be sure to set my mood. Maybe, I will just sit on one of the benches for a while, all by myself  – just observing. Just being. Doing nothing.
  4. I would return home to be served delicious breakfast. On a day off, I wouldn’t have had to bother about deciding the menu or even cooking it. I’d just get it ready in my hands. I would eat it while scanning through the morning papers. I’d find just the right news to debate with my husband and chat leisurely. Or just to talk about nothing and everything. No rush to get to the work – no rush to be on time anywhere. No meetings, no deadlines, no notes to be written, no follow – ups.
  5. I’d then tidy up and just lounge about with a favourite book to read. I think I haven’t read a book end to end for quite a while now. It would be fun to just read for 3-4 hours at a stretch.
  6. It would then be lunch time and miraculously home made lunch would be ready waiting for me 🙂 On weekdays, I cook only a part of my morning meals, and on a day off, I’d shirk from even that. It would be awesome to eat my favourite meal – varan-bhat-batata bhaji – poli – tup and limboo. Simple Maharashtrian fare. It would taste like my mum’s cooking.
  7. After lunch I’d probably watch some movie or tele-series, out of the collection of CDs that has been accumulating here over the last 2.5 years, but really never accessed yet….
  8. Or I’d go to a spa and pamper myself – especially my feet, I feel too worn out these days.
  9. Tea-time I’d just make some nice snacks. Try something new – and quick 😉
  10. I’d then make an hour – long call to some friend . Catch up. Laugh, cry and be happy. Maybe even gossip a bit.
  11. Husband would be back early from work. Or he too has stayed in and just lounged about with me. Maybe, we will go out for a nice dinner or just stay in. We will cook dinner together. I will cook and he will be with me in the kitchen, chatting about his day, maybe he will lend a hand. Would play some nice music – maybe consorto music? maybe Vivaldi’s four seasons while we cook. We’d have risotto, some bread and some salad. 🙂 Numero uno of comfort food.
  12. We’d then walk up to the terrace and just watch the city go to sleep. Try to catch some stars in the clouded skies of Jakarta. Or we’d take our sleeping bags and just lie down, listen to radio, playing old classics.

🙂 thinking up all these things in itself made me giddy with joy. Now I can’t wait for a real day off to arrive.

The culture of respect ?

“Ibu, aku terlambat , pesawat belum datang.” I heard a part of what my colleague was saying on phone. We were in Lombok, on an assignment and stuck at the airport. The plane taking us back to Jakarta had gotten delayed by 4 hours.  I had already called up my husband to inform and was waiting for my colleague to finish his call, before we went back to work related discussion again. “Ibu, nanti aku telepon ketika pesawat mendarat”. …

I was sort of surprised + impressed that he still calls his Ibu (Mum) first, even in his mid thirties. Indonesians are very close to their family – mostly like Indians, I had heard, but this was little out of ordinary for me.  I wouldn’t call my parents immediately under such circumstances, they need not know that I’m getting delayed and then worry about me. Maybe, he lives in a joint family. ‘The analyst’ started making her assumptions. Anyhow, after he hung up, I asked him how came he called his mother because she might worry unnecessarily. Indonesians do tend to ask even more personal questions and even to casual acquaintances or even strangers. Though I knew he wouldn’t have minded – he’s a friend.  Anyway, he did a double take – “Mother??, no, I called my wife”.  Then it was my turn to do a double take – “you  address your wife with ‘Ibu’?”. Till then, to me, Ibu meant only following things:

  1. Ibu is your own mother
  2. In formal situations, it is a title of respect – similar to ‘Madam’ – for someone senior in age / designation – mostly aged 30s and above.

So I was even more impressed with this colleague, who was addressing his wife ‘Madam’. Not jokingly, I could tell from his expressions. He added, “Of course, that’s what I always call her”.Having returned home, I mentioned this to a local friend and he set me correct. “We always call our spouses with the relevant title”. This was a shock and relief to me. After hearing the Bahasa Indonesia word for the word ‘husband’ – Suami, which has been derived from Sanskrit ‘Swami’ (master), I had been flabbergasted. So this new information was a happy shock.

 This means, husbands will call their wives – ‘Ibu’ (Madam) or Mbak (Miss) while addressing and wives will call their husbands  – Bapak/Pak (Sir), Mas (young sir I guess?) while addressing them. This to me initially seemed too formal, until I recollected that in many parts of India there still is culture of addressing significant other ‘aap’ (respect) irrespective of gender. Even kids . India always has culture of addressing husband as ‘aap’ – being the patriarchal society that it is. But in some areas even the wives are addressed in kind. In Maharashtrian culture too probably till last century I guess, the culture of calling significant other “tumhi” (respect) existed. However, I don’t think adding a title for those considered ‘junior’ was ever a part of our culture. Fortunately, today we have again gravitated to an era where genders are on equal footing when it comes to addressing each other (genders to come on equal footing in India in real sense will take probably couple of centuries more… but that is besides the point).

So, coming to the point, so far in my interactions, I haven’t come across anybody in this country, irrespective of his/her age, situation,  social status, profession etc, being addressed without title. Titles – Pak/Bapak, Mas, Mbak, Ibu, Nona (for young miss) etc are used in formal as well as casual situations. I guess, in situations with extreme familiarity, sometimes, you could be addressed only with your first name, parents calling their children etc.  I call some of my friends on first name basis, but I think their acceptance of it could be more to do with the fact that they understand differences in cultures.

To me it is amusing how the use of titles does not really impact the level of intimacy in this culture. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Indonesians are very genial? – that they always have given respect to anyone irrespective of their status / situation by addressing them with titles?  I can only make guesses.