Sunday, 27 May 2007

Three On The Dance Floor

I had a pleasant surprise on Friday. I was in Mumbai and had planned to meet my old friend Vijay and his wife Y for drinks. We met at the Hawaiian Shack, a great little club. While we were screaming at each other over the hip-hop music, I realized Y was not looking her best.

"You're hair looks terrible", I told her. "I never asked for your opinion", she reminded me. "No, seriously," I said, you need to do something about that hair." She gave me one of her I-am-glaring-at-you-and-therefore-I-expect-you-to-be-scared-of-me looks and offered a plausible explanation. "Maybe it's because I'm pregnant".

After I had picked myself off the floor I asked her if she was serious. She was. I asked her how many months pregnant she was. Seven. I got up off the floor again just in time to hear her ask me incredulously "Do you mean you did not notice? Or did you think I was just getting stupidly fat?"

Even I am smart enough to know that you never answer that question.

So I cleverly went on the counter-offensive. I thought of someone we could both agree to blame. "Why the hell didn't your husband tell me?!?!", I demanded to know. Vijay tried to pretend that he had told me but he knew he was guilty as charged.

My ploy worked. Y was torn. She wanted to protect her husband. But she knows that she owes me for being the first person in the cyberverse to link to her blog. We silently agreed to not argue the issue and instead decided to inspect the dance floor.

Good on you Y, for a woman with a nearly-done bun in the oven you sure shake a mean leg. Just for that, I'll forgive Vijay. But when your baby is born, I advise you not to count on him to text the announcement.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

6.6 billion, and one

r had a baby on Monday. I went to visit him and his wife at the hospital, and this is what I learned:
1. It's a bad idea to visit new parents when you're hungry. Because then the moment you you see them you say "Do you have any sweets?" instead of "What a cute baby!".
2. Even if you've had a baby of your own, some things do not change: all newborn babies look the same. And that is not a compliment.
3. Hospital beds are cool. You press one button, the back gets elevated. You press another button, it gets lowered. I could spend all day playing with a hospital bed.
4. Hospital rooms are cool. Behind the bed was one valve labeled "Air" and another labeled "Vacuum". I figure if you connect the two, you could make a perpetual motion machine.
5. Hospital food sucks. Even the Milo is bland. I don't get it. When I have Milo in the office it is always sickly sweet. I had it at the hospital and it tasted like it had been steamed.

Last (and by no means least), paternity leave is brilliant. At least while you're still in the hospital. You get brownie points for taking time off from work, you have a comfy room (with a cool bed), cable TV, and plenty of time to read the newspaper. Sure, you need to share the room with a baby, but if you get tired of it the nurses will take it off your hands. All you really have to do is smile vaguely when people congratulate you.

Congratulations, r.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

There's Noah Place Like Home

Earlier today I returned from a trip to Australia. It was a trip I'd been looking forward to because it was to be my first visit to Melbourne. I'd heard from many Melbournians how nice their city was, and I discovered they were right. I loved the wide roads, the generous greenery, and the interesting buildings. But the highlight of my trip had nothing to do with roads, shrubbery or avant-garde architecture. It was a visit to a lady who lives in the suburbs with her family.

I was sitting in her living room and had just started making conversation when out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. I looked up and saw a snake. And then another. And another.

And another.

Luckily for my composure, by the time I'd finished counting the snakes I had realized that all four of them were safely housed in a large glass cage. Having thus evaded a heart attack I decided to have a closer look. To my surprise, they were gorgeous! I usually view snakes with a cordial blend of distaste and distrust. But these were lovely black and gold and green creatures. Their skin had a burnished chrome finish that screamed "clean and healthy". And they had no odor – no sign of the gamey smell that saturates the air in snake parks. They were simply beautiful creatures.

My hostess was obviously pleased by my interest and she proceeded to tell me more than I really wanted to hear. It turned out that they had more pets. A few more snakes at the back. A box of scorpions (?!) and a bunch of tree frogs in the living room. Some guinea pigs and rabbits - although not all the rabbits were pets; some were snake fodder. Gecko lizards. And in the midst of this menagerie they also had a dog. It was so odd to have an ordinary animal along with all the others, that it felt as if the dog was the exotic pet. Finally, she (the hostess, not the dog) told me a little sadly that she also used to have a stick insect, but it had died a few days previously. I gave her a nod that I hoped look sympathetic because my thoughts certainly weren't. All I could think was "Who the hell keeps a stick insect as a pet?"

It all made a little mores sense when she (the hostess, not the dog or the stick insect) told me she used to work in the Melbourne zoo. And as she talked some more, I realized how great an environment it was for her kids to grow up in. They each had their tasks to perform such as feeding and cleaning. And they knew that the pets depended on them. So they were learning lessons in discipline and responsibility.

Of course they were also learning about nature. The lady told me about a time when her nine-year-old son had filled his water bottle with dirt. When quizzed about what he was trying to do he explained that he was using the bottle of dirt to keep a spider he had found. The thing that impressed me most was that this kid knew the name of the species of spider that he had.

What a cool house for a boy to grow up in! And what a cool thing that I got to visit it!