Archive | December, 2011

What is appropriate here?

13 Dec

Remember I had mentioned a couple of our friends are having babies soon and how excited I was to find out if it was a boy or a girl? Well, the first of these new babies is out and it’s a girl. Tons of hair and the loveliest longest eyelashes ever. This lucky girl is never going to need any mascara, I tell you.

Anyway, this is not really about her (though it probably should be). It is about visiting the new born baby and her parents at the hospital

So for some background, the husbadoo and I traverse many social circles. There is the work group of people that usually does not extend to  the weekends, there are the went-to-grad-school-together- but really- have- nothing- in- common- now group who thankfully for us do not all live around us, there are the best-friends-on- paper- who- we- meet- almost- every- weekend, the ones that have- a- cute- dog- who- we-dogsit-and-guiltily- love- better- than- their- – baby , there are the husby’s cricket buddies who we catch up with sometimes and then there is this particular group that I am going to talk about.I have not been able to successfully classify this group in my head. They are the- slightly- older-have- cute kids-busy-as –a- result- who-we-meet- occasionally- group.

So there are about 8 families in this group including us and majority of them are quite close. I have never been able to completely bond with this group for varying reasons. One of the primary ones being we don’t have kids and I really don’t socialize much during the week when they meet for play dates etc .So there is often a big disconnect when we do meet every few month.

Anyway, one of the other 7 families rang me up to say that A has delivered. “We are planning to go see the baby today evening. Let’s go as a group.”

I was a little hesitant at first. Do you even  go see a new born baby unless invited? What about risk of crowding and infection? Does the mom even want to see anyone? What do you take? We are not very close to begin with, should I even go? Now if the whole group goes and I don’t it might offend the parents. ..

Anyway, I agreed to join the big “group” and with the husbadoo in tow we set off in the evening.

Our agenda (Husbadoo and mine) atleast was to just say  our “Hellos” – do our“ohh, cute baby crooning “ and leave without making a nuisance of ourselves

To start with the various couples and their kids got their a few minutes apart from each other. We were the 2nd to arrive. Ohhed and ahhed over the baby and her adorableness, enquired about the delivery which had been a c –section , and stood on the side waiting for an appropriate moment to leave.

The mother looked exhausted but managed a watery smile throughout.

Another family arrived with 2 kids in tow, and another with 1 kid, and another couple.

Soon the little room was crowded. Some of the kids ran around, no one did anything to stop them; they  leaned on the cradle, rocking it quite wildly . I was almost scared it would topple over.

How the little baby slept thru the din and ruckus, I do not know.

The talk was no longer about this baby or this delivery. It was about everybody else’s delivery and babies with much exclaiming all around.The few with no experience in that area like yours truly were talking about vacation plans for next week and airline prices. All definitely not in hushed tones.

Husbadoo nudged me to leave. I however, did not want to be the first to leave. No one else seemed to be making any motion to depart and the smile on the new mother’s face grew weaker and weaker. Finally after almost 30 minutes there, we bid our good byes and turned to leave, stumbling over 3 kids on our way out.

Just as we reached the door, we had someone stop us and pull us back in for a picture around the crib. We stood there – all 12 of us, kids included, and had our picture taken for whatever reason and left.

The party continued after we left though. I don’t know for how long.

We met our closest- friends-who-we-hang-out-with –every-weekend-but –dislike travelling-with a day after this and we got into discussing what is baby visiting etiquette at the hospital. Do you go at all? Is it unadvisable for the baby and mom as it increases chances of infection? If you do have to go, how long do you stay without over staying your welcome?

As none of us discussing this had kidsyet,  we ended with desperate promises that we would make it to see each other’s babies wherever we were and that somehow we would fix them up with each other 20 years down the line.(I seriously don’t know how it got there, but that’s another story!).

So I am throwing it out there, what is the expected protocol in these situations? Go on, share your views!

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The trip that was

7 Dec

So we did a trip with friends over Thanksgiving this year. I was very hesitant to this as in the past this has never really worked out for us.

Yes, there are some economic advantages with sharing accommodation, car rental costs … but really it ends with that. The husbadoo and I have realized that with 7 + years of dating and married life combined, the only other person we both can stand for extended periods of time is each other. I hope this extends to our own kids when we do have them.

We did New Mexico with friends 2 years ago. We were relatively newly wed – 3 months in. Had splurged on a Vegas trip, moving into a new place, new furniture and other luxuries in the  3 months of being married and had just wanted to stay in and enjoy our new place.

However our friends (A guy and a girl- not a couple, both single) convinced us to do a road trip with them to New Mexico .Now we hang out with these friends almost every weekend locally. We end up doing the weekend dinner, movie, coffee shop hangout, bowling, mini golf whatever. So travelling with them should have been a breeze , right? Well , no! When you hang out locally over a weekend , you get to go home and bitch with your spouse about the people you hung out with. However, spending every waking and sleeping moment with them over 4 days is extremely trying.

Anyway, to start with the husbadoo and I both hate road trips. Long drives make me a little pukey and very grumpy. The husbadoo is not his delightful best either- he prefers to grumble or sleep thru if he is not driving. So overall we not really a very fascinating couple to take on a long road trip.

We shared a room with 2 queen beds – girls on one, boys on the other. This being the only arrangement possible with 2 single friends of the opposite sex and a married couple.

Though we knew this before we got there, we grumbled a good bit to each other about not having our own room and bed and doing …err what newly married couples do.

Next was planning the day’s activities. Both husbadoo and I , prefer your wake up late, lounge around, eat glorious food, do a little bit of exploring in our holiday.

The friends we were travelling with however wanted to be up and about quite early (nothing wrong with that- just not our cup of tea), head out on long drives to every neighboring possible tourist spot even if it was 2 cities away, splurge on extravagant food and drinks with minimal veggie stuff for us and find a club for the evenings activities with loud blaring music.

We on the other head, wanted to head out to a quite dinner at a decent place which offered more than just a salad as a vegetarian option (Seriously- these place piss me off…$ 20 for a freaking handful of leaves with grated cheese…ugggh) , maybe saunter by the hotel’s casino, play a deck or two of Blackjack, head up to the hotel room after losing-just- enough- to- feel-  bored-  with-  gambling-  but- not-that-much-that- you- are-terribly- sad ,watch some tv ,snuggle together and sleep.

Put two totally different couples together and you have a very grumpy foursome.

During the day when you have two reluctant travel companions like us, hitting up every neighboring city is hard. We voiced on day three that we had had enough of gallivanting to see every single site within a 100 miles and wanted to retain the little remaining patience we had for the 12 hours drive back home. So the trip after that point,  for our friends was pretty much a wash with us being such party poopers. We also vehemently opposed extended detours to see our touristy sites on the way home and instead stuck to the 12 hour one which we just about survived playing some random word building car games.

We all took a break from the weekly hangouts for some time afterwards to completely recover from this overdose of each other and with much work the friendship survived post trip.

You would think we learnt from that, but no – we bravely embarked on a trip to Colorado with another group of friends and their friends (who we have never met).

I had more than just the travelling with friends reservations about this trip .I am not terribly into nature and scenic beauty. I am the city mouse in every possible way. London or NYC to me is a perfect holiday! So was really unsure about what I was in for in Colorado that is renowned for its natural beauty.

Anyway, armed with tons of snacks from the local Indian store ( man, this place has opened by our house that serves the yummiest $ 1 chaat, all sorts of farsan- spicy vayakai chips(banana) , bakarwadi, corn chivda and it is all so good) , we met the local folks travelling with us at the airport and flew into Denver. Here we met up with our friend’s friends.

The group looked like this – 2 couples (us included as one of these), 3 single guys ( 2 of these guys newly engaged with  fiancées’ in India)

We then started our drive to the hills in darkness.(Thank you,  stupid daylight savings )

Anyway, we found our cottage in Breckenridge which was lovely with 3 bedrooms, bathrooms, a lovely kitchen, a cosy fireplace, TVs all over, wooden paneling, snuggly armchairs- the works!

We feasted on Maggi, Chutney sandwiches (with chutney made and imported across state borders by yours truly) and tea.The evening was spent in ragging the 2 engaged guys embarking upon arranged marriages.

The next day turned out to be beautiful for skiing.  Breckenridge is such a lovely quaint little town nestled in the hills. As it was already quite dark that first evening, we didn’t see any of the quaintness till really the next day when we went out to get our ski equipment.

I must say skiing in Breckenridge is particularly enjoyable. For one, there is very limited hassle getting your rental gear picked up, finding the ski school and actually getting on the slopes.

(The husbadoo and I had skied in Tahoe 2 years ago and that experience really merits a post of its own. It had in particular been a hateful experience for me , which I promptly took out on the husbadoo. The worst part had been trudging across icy steps with the horrid snow boots on just to get your skis and on the ski lift. Damn – need to do a post about that)

Anyway, back to the Breckenridge experience . Relatively smooth sailing to get you on the slopes pretty quick.

The husbadoo ,  then transformed into adorable snow bunny and went off on his own. He snowboarded for the first time and kicked some butt. I didn’t see much of him the rest of the day.

If you have read my previous post on how sports and I do not go together, let me just say skiing is not an exception. Apart from being terribly clumsy , I am also terribly scared of falling.  Anyway with the half day class, I managed to overcome my basic fear, skied cautiously on the beginners slopes, fell a couple of times  , once pretty badly  off the magic carpet (conveyor belt) ,lost a glove on the chair lift when I went up to see the view (not ski of course silly- what me!) , and spent the last 1 hour trying to prevent from getting frost bite by switching the one remaining gloves between both paws.My goal was to not break any bones and in that I was successful.

The only sucky part of the day was the overpriced lunch .But then if you want a cheap lunch when skiing you need to make arrangements. $ 54 for a hot chocolate, fries, veggie sandwich and 1 slice of pizza is sheer robbery in my book. (Note to self: The husbadoo plans on getting our hypothetical at this point, kids on skiing holidays every year as soon as they can walk, so I am already thinking of some alternate lunch arrangements when we have a family. Of course, these future holidays involve me lounging in spa and hot tub and husbadoo and kids cavorting on the slopes)

After skiing, there was mild dissent in the group (going back home versus going out for coffee/dinner), the group headed to dinner at a strictly average Chinese restaurant in the midst of a snow storm. Driving up the hills with a torrent of snow in a skidding SUV will perhaps count as one of the quietest hours I have spent in a moving vehicle saying my prayers. Anyway, we got home safe and sound and sat down to desi snacks and a game of poker.

Day 2 we started our drive to the Rockies. The landscape had changed from the day before with the ground covered with 2 feet of snow. With much exclamation at each turn from the group (at the magnificent views around each corner, not his driving), the husbadoo steered us thru the mountains with my expert navigation to our next location 4 hours away.

We stopped for lunch at a Nepali restaurant ( Estes park is apparently full of Nepali restaurants- weird right). I saw more Nepal’s in 1 day then I saw in 5 years in the US.

Anyway, we had a decent Indian buffet and started a drive around the park. We stopped for several pictures, gazed at a beautiful sunset, took plenty of pics, saw some lovely grazing deer, spotted a couple of lonesome wolves and headed to another Nepali cum Thai cum Indian place. The food here was terrible, so I survived on a Mango Kulfi that was half decent once it thawed and we headed back to another cottage, as pretty as the Breckenridge one for a night of poker.

After a scrumptious waffle breakfast the next day (Seriously-the best meal in the trip so far.. the most non eggy waffles I had ever eaten) , we went back to the park. Did a snow trek around some frozen lakes.(Word of caution- wear snow boots on a snow trek- cross trainers get wet and socks get wet- NOT a pleasant experience).

After this, we again had mild dissent within the group about next steps. The group by now had naturally separated into couples who were hungry , wet and tried a wee bit restless and the single guys who were rearing to go and get their toes wet once more. We choose to finally do another smaller trail and saw a frozen water fall. The guys did some pretty steep rock climbing much to the husbadoo’s delight (he usually has no encouragement from me to embark upon stuff like this when we travel alone) headed back.

(Word of caution point 2- The rest rooms in the park are terrible. Think train toilets in India, but only 10 times worse as you are stationary.)

We headed to a late lunch in Boulder. After trying random places the last 2 days, we settled for predictable American-Italian fare- the Olive Garden it was.(Yes, I went all the way to Boulder to eat at the Olive Garden)

After stuffing ourselves with breadsticks, salad and pasta, we hurried to Denver, dropped one of the guys off at the airport and checked into our hotel. We had grand plans to see Denver downtown, the 16th street mall and some other spots but alas, it was too dark and we were all terribly tired.

A few of us had a much heated game of Pictionary into the wee hours of the night while the others turned in early. The rest of the trip was not very noteworthy. We left early the next day and got into ATX by early afternoon.

Overall, this trip made me revisit my theory that travelling with friends is a pain. It can actually be decently fun if you have find people who have atleast 70% in common with you (dunno where I came up with that number!).Not something I would do every year, but once in a way it can be fun.

Also, a holiday around scenic stuff is not too bad. (Though a lot of the views morph in the same after a while). I can probably stand 48 hours of scenery viewing on a trip, interspersed with some activity.

And most importantly, thank God, I have the Husbadoo turned snow bunny,  who is freaking awesome at almost every sport under the sun to give my hypothetical kids a decently balanced set of life experiences. They might actually turn out okay- I have some hope!

Tis the season to be jolly!

6 Dec

Does 1 hour of cardio count if you come back and eat 3 slices of delectable gingerbread baked by yours truly??

No seriously, how can I maintain my girlish figure with this season of joy, cookies, cake, chocolate bark upon us?

Why I am loving this month ?

–  I am between holidays. Finished a lovely one in the hills and heading to my beach one soon!

– The workplace is so lively these first 2 weeks. The 3rd week is when we will have people starting to leave for vacation.People are discussing their Christmas shopping status, their holiday plans, egg nog recipes in walkways.

– The work aisles are filled with lovely tidbits.I am snacking all day- some cookies here, some candycane  there.Really need to stop.NOW.

– I am on a baking high myself with all the lovely recipes floating around work and on TV.Really need to stop shopping for ingredients and baking.

– I am going DVR crazy recording every single Christmassy movie on Lifetime, ABC Family or TBS. Will do a blog post about my all time favs soon

– ATX weather is awesome right now.I am still able to wear my dresses or wooly skirts with lovely suede boots- with or without stockings.

– All the lights in our neighborhood and the hip outdoor shopping mall and downtown. I am transformed into a puddle of mush when I see Christmas lights around a window and get a tiny peek at the Christmas Tree, piled with more lights.

– I am thankful for close friends around us but sometimes alone time is so scarce. Not this month though! Most of my friends are off on their annual India trip or will be off very soon. Soon it will be just the husbadoo and me, cosying it up each evening , cooking and eating yummy stuff and catching up on our DVR’d shows.

– The husbadoo is in a lovely mood as he had a breakthrough in his research. Seeing him relaxed and happy is such an amazing feeling.

– Christmas sales – The mall beckons. I tell you it’s the lights!

We are so blissfully wrapped up in the holiday season,transitioning between vacations that we forgot to pay rent this month!Something I have done once before and the Husbadoo never ever has.Anyway, we paid up the fine and are now jolted back to reality.