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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

16 April 2008

Feeding Fiascos

‘My lips are sealed’ - that’s Caitlyn’s stance against eating solids. Ever since she turned six months, I’ve been fighting a losing battle to feed her. The score so far: Caitlyn = 37; Mummy = 7.

My daily feeding ritual goes like this:
Peel, cube, steam, mash, puree the apple/pear/carrot/sweet potato/insert any veggie or fruit you can think of.
Sit Caitlyn in her new highchair.
Put on her bib (I made the mistake of forgetting to put it on once – never again!).
Pretend to eat her food, with lip-smacking noises et al, so as to tempt her.
Offer spoon to Caitlyn.
Offer declined with stony-faced resolve.
Start singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’, followed by ‘When You’re Happy and You Know It’ and ‘The Wheels of the Bus’.
Caitlyn gurgles in response to my song ‘n’ dance show.
I try to sneak a spoonful of food into her mouth.
Food is spat out a nanosecond later.
“Eat. Your. FOOD.” I tell her in my ‘Don’t-Mess-With-Mummy’ voice.
She glares back, unblinking.
Fifteen minutes of cajoling, distractions, bribes, pleading, praying follow…
I capitulate.
She acknowledges her victory by pumping her little feet and hands in glee.
I sop up the mess.
And the food goes down the drain – yet again.

Oh, she’s great one for giving me false hope… The other day I was in a mall when I noticed her staring at my chicken avocado sandwich. So I put a little avo on her tongue; she couldn’t get enough of it. Of course, I bought four avocados with glorious visions of Caitlyn licking her bowl clean. She clenched her jaws shut.

And last week, at Mothers’ Group, she ate every morsel of her apple and pear puree – all a big act in front of her audience. When I tried to give her the same thing at home, I got a look of pure disdain.

Today, my Artful Dodger perfected the art of turning her head away at the precise second I aimed a spoon at her mouth, thus ensuring that the carrot puree stained my clothes/the sofa/the carpet/her cheeks/all of the above a brilliant shade of orange. So long as it went anywhere but in her mouth.

If only her mother could show such steely resistance towards all things edible!

05 April 2008

Nuts Over Coconuts

I bought a tender coconut from Woolies a few weeks ago and thought to myself, ‘$3 for one?? That’s almost a hundred rupees! For that price, I could have bought ten in Bombay…’

I don’t know about you, but for me, certain foods offer so much more than their taste; they conjure up memories. Coconuts remind me of lazy summer holidays on Gorai beach under the swaying coconut palms; of feasting on fiery fish-curry-rice for lunch at my Nana’s house; of the cool sweet nariyal pani (coconut water) and milky white slips of melt-in-your-mouth malai (cream) from a tender coconut; of Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) and eating pancakes stuffed with moist coconut filling; of nimble men shimmying up coconut trees to take down the lovely bunch of coconuts; of sipping on palm feni while holidaying in Goa…

But most of all, coconuts remind me of when I was little and sometimes accompanied my dad to the Bandra bazaar. This Sunday morning ritual usually meant a stop at the coconut stall owned by Ramzan a.k.a. ‘I-tends-to-talk-in-plurals’. “Good morning, Tonys!” Ramzan would call out to my dad. “Good to see yous! Beti, you will haves nariyal pani, yes?” He’d cast his eye over all his coconuts, patiently sitting one on top of each other, and make his selection. With one firm ‘twhack’ of his koita (chopper), he’d crack open the hard brown shell and deftly collect the fresh, sweet water in a glass underneath. Mine to drink - for free! If I were lucky, (and you really had to be reallllllly lucky for this to happen), the coconut would have a baby flower growing inside it. Fascinating stuff!

No wonder, then, when I first moved to Perth, and later, to Sydney, the thing that struck me about the landscape was the lack of coconut trees. :( :( :( Me thinks a trip to Bombay is in order…

03 April 2008

Capital Stuff in Canberra

Last week, Breslyn had to go to Canberra on work. Since I’ve never been to Australia’s capital, Caitlyn & I decided to go along for the (3-hour) ride.
The city, if you can call it that, is so well-planned! Broad streets, enormous roundabouts (unfortunately, they threw me for a loop; I’m the world’s worst map reader), leafy trees soon to sport their glorious autumn garb and, of course, the national attractions.

The highlight of my trip was the guided tour through Parliament House. Smack dab in the middle of the city, sitting majestically atop Capital Hill, this magnificent edifice overlooks Old Parliament House. So much thought must have gone into its creation; the design to bring in maximum light; the buildings in the shape of two boomerangs enclosed within a circle; the muted green colour scheme of the House of Representatives chosen to mirror our native eucalyptus trees and the corresponding dull pink in the Senate to reflect the gumnuts…

And I learnt some interesting trivia, too… Did you know why the kangaroo and the emu were selected to be on Australia’s coat of arms? Because they are the only two national animals that cannot walk backwards, thus suggesting that the country always look to the future.

We also visited the Australian War Memorial, its displays and collections a fitting tribute to the service and sacrifice of Aussie soldiers in wars ranging from WWI to present-day conflicts.

Our next stop was the National Gallery of Australia, housing works by masters like Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Monet, Reubens, Aboriginal landscapes, Indian sculpture… My head started reeling from all that art!
And on the way back home, we took a detour through Murrumbateman, home of the famous Clonakilla Winery. We just couldn’t leave without a bottle or two of its prized Shiraz Viognier. Cheers!!

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