Friday, February 20, 2009

Bonding With the Nephew

(This is a picture of my brother and Li'l General taken about a fortnight ago, at my hometown.)

Let's start at the beginning. I have one sibling: a brother, who lives in the US; we meet once every year in January. January, in particular, because two years ago, in 2006, my brother came down in December to be a support for mom during my delivery. Thanks to Li'l General, the January time-line for vacation has stuck with the family ever since. We have a reunion of sorts at my hometown with mom coming in first, followed by me, then my brother, and finally dad/The Seniol.

The picture above was taken a day before we left for our respective destinations this year; it brings back a lot of memories of the twenty-odd days LG spent with my brother. Last January, when my brother saw LG for the first time after his new-born days, he was a little crawling cutie who was all over the place. Old enough to have fun with others, but still too young to forge bonds, understand separation, and crave to hang around with someone. In that respect, this vacation was quite a contrast. From the minute, my brother landed, LG enjoyed his company every second. It was strange in way because LG is familiar with all members of the family through pictures that I show him on the laptop everyday. However, pictures of LG and my brother taken together are all online and I've always been lazy to show them to LG, so my brother's face must have been as good as a stranger's.

LG literally idolized his uncle this time. Every thing he said or asked LG to do, was etched in stone; every instruction to be followed; every word to be repeated, it's just endless. LG is an early-riser. My brother, on the other hand, has had a screwed up sleep schedule for years now. He goes to sleep for a couple of hours at 5:00 a.m. (which ever part f the world he is in), and is the most irritated if someones tries to wake him around 8ish. LG would go around announcing to everyone in the house that his uncle is sleeping and that he is not to be disturbed, full with sound effects and actions (titled head to indicate sleeping, shushing, and a finger in the mouth). And then, when he can't bear it no more, he will go in say, "mama gepuck" (read: get up). After two or three attempts, he will be like "Pein, pein, wapuck."(read: wake up). LG doesn't get my brother's name right, so says "Pein, pein". If his uncle is to take a shower, LG will ask us to switch on the exhaust fan, and ensure "Pein" has taken a towel etc. One day, it was quite funny, when he said, "Pein, tchoap, tchoap) (read: bathe with soap). LG raised hell when my brother had to go for two days to attend his friend's wedding at a neighboring town. He misses him a lot now. Puts on this sad face every time we refer to my brother in conversations.

The maturity with which my brother handled LG, took extra care of him every time we went shopping or for a stroll in the evenings touched me. He went that extra mile to carry him on his shoulders while we navigated our way through the busy roads. His sensitivity for a toddler's timings was much appreciated. He went to extra lengths that was uncalled for which I did make clear (read: buying gifts everyday for his dear nephew from a battery-operated flying helicopter to a remote-controlled car). Who would go at 10 in the night to get batteries just so that the helicopters would fly the next morning when his nephew wakes up? That was stretching it too far, right?
Most importantly, he would LG for me so that I could go out of home for a while, if only to get some fresh air. I've never felt so privileged. It's awesome to have family. Seriously. And the bonding between my brother and LG was delightfully overwhelming.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 7: Bahrain City Center is Magnificent

One thought that kept crossing my mind the time we spent at Bahrain City Center - home to global brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, Forever 21, Bata, Mango, Zara, Diesel, Guess, next, Carrefour, Debenhams, and Virgin Mega Store among others - was how similar it was to strolling down the Magnificent Mile. The recently opened mall doesn't boast of all the usual superlatives in town - the biggest, largest, tallest, finest etc but clearly is the best I've seen till date around here.

A three level car parking with a magnificent view of the city skyline, the waterfront, and the zig-zag roadways complements with what the mall has in store for one inside. The infrastructure is a replica of what one is used to in the West. What makes the Bahrain City Center stand out from the rest in town is its brilliant layout, thoughtful grouping of stores, a very neatly lined up outlets in the food court, easy directions for one to find their way in and out, less hustle-bustle and there is a general air of sophistication one gets to see, which in turn means one finds more serious shoppers, fashion aficionados and less of the first-time-visitor who is there to get a feel of the place! For once, the decibels were way less for a place this huge, less of jostling, no hustle-bustle and absolutely no queues in the food court. In all, a great place to hang out. Most stores as expected are upscale in nature catering to the elite, so it might be tough if not impossible to find something within one's humble budget.

LG had a good time at Mothercare, the toy store, and the rides at Magic Planet. The kid came back home happy. This is proving to be one true vacation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 6: Sea Water Doesn't Taste Sweet

Li'l General learned a important lesson of life today: never ever to taste sea water. In the two years of his existence, he has never seen so much water together as a tub filled with water (in real life, ofcourse!) About a month ago, enroute Trichy we passed by Kallanai which is about as big a water body he has seen for the first time. But he was grumpy from lack of sleep in that journey for the magnificence of the dam to register in. The reaction I recollect is LG repeatedly saying "su", "su" and opening his mouth in awe before falling asleep tired on my lap.

Today's trip to the Juffair beach was his first brush with a sea. Saying he enjoyed every bit of it is an understatement. A discarded boat, a huge fountain far off, wet grey sand (yes, that's the color of beach mud here) was all the boy needed to go about jumping. For a while, he couldn't gather himself. He was all over the place trying to get a good view of the sea while attempting to go near it, and then sat down on the dirty mud; before I could react he had put a handful of water in his mouth, the expression thereafter was worth seeing.

The weather isn't totally normal yet. With the cold breeze blowing, we decided to head back home before briefly stopping for a closer view of the sea and the fountain. There's a nice lawn-laid park adjoining the barricades, and he had a whale of time running around the grass and hugging date trees.

In the evening, it was mall time again. Off we went to Dana Mall with my father and the grandson bonding over liberal display of electronics at Lulu Hypermarket, while Mom and I splurged on cosmetics, dresses and shoes.

Fussy-eating phase is back in full swing. He loves eating chocolates and puddings but shudders at the sight of rice or rotis. I've absolutely no idea how to deal with it. With just two full time meals today and a glass of milk, he has gone to bed. I don't know if it's the weather, the bread from two days ago, or just another phase that will pass on its own.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 5: Yoga is Stimulating

Today was a relatively quiet day for me. Not quite so for LG who went on a socializing spree with mom. He accompanied my mother to her yoga class this morning. The class got canceled so the kids ended up playing while the aunties gossiped for a while; mom is returning after six months so it was more of a catching up session.

In the evening, it was still cold and windy from yesterday's dust storm. We briefly stopped at the supermarket to shop for veggies, fresh milk and stock up on LG's puddings. I've been down with a nasty stomach bug since evening. The shooting pain got worse, so we cut the trip short and returned home; I curled on the couch once we got back home. The pain just didn't subside. I can't recollect what I fed LG or how he got into bed beside me. A few home remedies and a nap of few hours seemed to do the trick. It was well past 11 when dad woke me up. He gave me a cup of cold curd whirled with sugar; I am all set to get going now. It's going to be a long night and I'm just getting started with my daily project...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 4:Dust Storm Grounds Us

One rule I had forgotten from my early days in Bahrain: check the weather before you plan for the day. We were all set to leave this morning for shopping when I stepped on to the balcony to pick my towel. To my surprise, it was cold and yellow all over. I got back in, washed my face, and stepped out again (to wake myself out of the slumber); it was still the same, if only worse. Nothing was visible beyond a few hundred meters. That's when I realized it was the dust storm. Commonsense dictates not to venture out in this weather, and to walk will be the easiest way to kill oneself. So we stayed indoors for pretty much the whole day and in the evening dad took us for a drive to DHS where LG had a great time going through the toys, picking clothes for himself and a green dolphin to give his pink one at Bangalore company.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 3: Boys and Tools

Li'l General's vocabulary of words at 26 months is driving me insane. It pretty much consists of these in varying combination:

Aby (Helicopter)
Pan (Fan)
On / Band (Close)
Begine (Machine)
Pone (Phone)
Zoom (Car zooming)
achee (A/c)
Cachachum (computer)
Plintal (Printer)
Ion (Iron box)
Vacum (Vacuum)
Thlead miiii (Tread Mill)
Mikchie (Mixie)
Mico (Microwave)
Caamala (Camera)

I've no idea what is so fascinating about a a/c or a fan that he stops by to see the same a/c a zillion times while I'm trying to show him a beautiful carpet of a hookah. His craze for electrical and electronics has frown hundred fold this past 1 month. There have been days when he has driven my brother and I mad by saying "aby" like a thousand times a day. All he said on some days was just "aby" and "charge" and "battery". My brother got him two sets of motorised helicopter from the US, that required 6 batteries each. He operated it so much so that the set of batteries would last hardly for a day. We would put him to sleep under the pretext that he can resume playing the next morning. LG would wake up the next morning and the first words would be "aby". Both the sets of helicopters are now in pieces so we had to leave them behind.

After coming to Bahrain, it's all about a/c, heater, and other machines. Is it the case with all boys or is it just LG?