Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baby boy

P, the young woman who works in my house as a maid, delivered a baby boy last week. When I visited the hospital, it was quite crowded outside and I wasn't sure of the visiting hours that after a few minutes hesitation, I called her. Thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phones that even moms who have just delivered keep at an arms length I was able to reach her right away. "I will send someone," she said and added, as way of identification, that the girl coming out to fetch me was of really dark complexion. I wondered how she would describe me to that girl - bespectacled? has a deer caught in headlight look? benign with a 'pavam' look? 

The ward was  quite noisy with quite a few young kids running around. Out of the three beds in the large room, two were occupied by women who had already delivered but the third seemed to have just come in with labor pains. Their families milled about. P was delighted to show me the baby. She asked why I was not holding him, 'I am afraid,' I said sheepishly. P laughed quite amused by this. Her husband had just left to buy a cradle she said proudly. The matron came and asked some random questions.

After some time I took leave - P was still disappointed I didn't hold the baby. This little hospital with people walking in and out like a carnival, with its noise was definitely so much in contrast to the hushed environs of the upscale maternity wing of the hospital not a kilometer away. Those young mothers I felt would certainly not ask me to hold their three days old babies I felt. Which mothers are likely to get postpartum depression I wondered.

I came out to a bright, bustling, bangalore morning. The little boy with no name yet [only three months later, she told me], born at this time and at this place has all the potential for a bright future I thought. And if he had her pretty smile that brought the dimples out, then there is no doubt about it. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Must remember safety pins

Typically whenever I blog about a Chennai trip it involves a road trip. This time though I took the plane to go to Chennai. I have a history of arriving at the airport well ahead of time and then somehow managing to be the last passenger in. Last time, thoroughly lost in some random book, I was startled by the 'last call for passenger radhika'. Then the time in Florida when I arrived so ahead of time, I spent about an hour sitting on a nice recliner reading a book. I was still the last passenger in because that time I managed to mix up the arrival time of another airplane and departure of my plane to/from the same place. And then that flight from San Jose when I realized just before boarding that I had lost my phone. I ran the length of the airport and managed to come back with the phone just before they closed the gate, completely out of breath I should add.

So this time I parked myself near the gate, set alarms on my phone and was totally alert. The old man next to me suddenly stood up and sort of gestured a  request asking me to watch his luggage and vanished in the direction of the loo. I vaguely thought about luggage from strangers etc., but wasn't really perturbed. Five minutes later I wondered if I should be worried. Ten minutes passed. Either the man had a really upset stomach or something sinister was going on. The queue rapidly dwindled and everyone but me seemed to go enthusiastically down the stairs to catch the bus [to the plane]. I stood up, fidgeted, looked pointedly at the airline staff but no luck. And then at last just before the airline staff member plucked the mic to call for my name, the old man arrived. I ran to the podium.

On the way back, for the first time I was late. Thanks to a wedding in a politician's family and rain, I arrived about five minutes before they closed check in. Apparently they don't do tele-checkin, despite my pleading. I ran to the podium and my sandals broke. If it were a bus, or even a train, I would have chucked my sandals in the nearest bin and ran barefoot. I did run to the podium holding my sandals but after checkin, tried to hold the broken strap with my big toe as I hobbled to security. My churidhar was knee deep in dirt thanks to the rain, hair was streaming all over my face and with the broken sandals that I was dragging my foot on, I must have looked quite a site.

It was so mortifying and embarrassing that I kept low even when the man next to me said some provoking stuff about the 'woman' pilot in his last plane.