Friday, October 23, 2009

Madras Ahoy

Well I started this post as a Toys R Us/toys for kids in general rant. But then I figured I might as well make it a what's-up-in-my-life-now kinda post. I know it's very charitable of me, but I have since learned that I have a few more uncommenting readers and a couple more interested in the joining the Janani-blog-reader bandwagon, provided I get them a laptop from the US, bookmark my blog clearly as "Janani's Blog" in all browsers and leave a prominent link on the desktop. The lengths I go to make people read my blog! Whew!

As you all know, a trip to India is in the offing, and one of the highlights of the trip is that I get to meet my cute nephew/cousin A (Yeah our family relationships are pretty weird) From what I see in the pics, A is the cutest, sweetest, most good looking baby in the world (despite resembling his father! :-)) So I wanted to buy something for him and I headed into Toys R Us. After stopping for awhile in the Wii/Playstation aisle, I figured I would head into the preschool/infant section and be spoiled for choice. Boy was I wrong! What's with the toys for kids these days? Why do all of them have 1000 small loose parts that are definitely going to get lost 5 minutes after opening the toy. And why do all the toys make some sort of noise? My expectations were simple - I wanted to get something for A to play with, something that endures for atleast a month in entirety. There were a lot of walker kind of toys, but I didn't want to get those since his parents might have some definite ideas about that and buy that themselves. And for the same reason, I didn't want to buy any DVDs since his parents may have some rules about the kind of DVDs they want for their child. (Though I was sorely tempted to buy Blues Clues seeing the kind of publicity it gets on TV shows) Ultimately I chose to buy a Leap Frog product that makes a noise, but seems to be reasonable (atleast as per my standards). And also I like the ads on TV for Leap Frog and really think they are edutaining. And while I am at it, what's with all the pink and glitter for girl babies? I dream of having a daughter someday, whom I can dress in a pink frock and a bow, but isn't there something as too much pink? And I was also buying a baby doll for one of my aunt's friends. Most of them were cute and lifelike and said Mama, Papa and giggled to a good effect. And then I saw them. Pooping baby dolls. Ewwwww! Really, do kids like them? And more importantly do you want your kid to play with doll poop? Ewww!

And I was sorely disappointed with the service at Toys R Us. I walked to an employee and asked her for suggestions to get something for a 6 month old boy. Her only remark was to comment that I was in the right aisle before politely walking away. Contrast this with Barnes and Noble where I have been thrice to get books for babies and toddlers. The staff there were very helpful, walking with me across all the aisle and pointing the different kinds of books and what babies might like. And to top all these, I realize that the Leap Frog toy that I bought in Toys R Us is almost $8 cheaper online and in Walmart. Makes me feel silly now, taking the pains to go to Toys R Us. I have half a mind to return the stuff in Toys R Us and buy it from Walmart!!!

Talking about shopping for India, buying something for Appa has been an epic fail! :-( My parents never ask anything for themselves. Don't get me wrong here, they make me buy plenty from here, but everything is for someone else. When it comes them, they don't want me to buy anything that costs more than $1. So I was pleasantly surprised when my Dad, for the first time in his life, asked for something without my begging and cajoling. He said that he wanted a couple of good quality T shirts, which are collared and had a front pocket (for the times when he is in a veshti). So the next time I am in the mall, I figured I would check the out the T shirts and to my horror I found that none of the T shirts had a pocket on them. I became desperate and yesterday when I was in Kohls, I saw collared T shirts with a pocket on them. I called S in glee and discussed which size would fit Appa and then I noticed that they were full arm T shirts! I sorrowfully called home and told him I would buy shirts instead, which he didn't want. To cheer me up, he asked me to get a 2010 diary for him, the only stipulation being each day had 1 page dedicated to it (My father is an avid diary writing for decades now and he needs a lot of space for the kind of details he maintains in his diary) Again, after scouring Barnes & Noble, Borders and the likes I failed to find him one. So finally he asks for the DVD of a movie called "Seven Times Seven" that came in the 60s or for Laurel and Hardy DVDs with some specific episodes. Again, unable to find the movie DVD and the required episodes are spead over multiple DVDs which cost $45 apiece if at all they are available!

On the subject of buying things for India, I am really at a loss for what to get for everyone. I think people who lived in the US a decade ago had it easy, coz these days anything I mention has people going "Oh we get these in India now." Well, I am giving up on buying anything for anyone this time, due to the lack of time and monies. It makes me feel a little sad because I used to love getting stuff from V Mama when I was a kid. But then, you people get everything in India now right? :-)

Ok I have to sign off. Gotta go and buy random crap to take home :-)

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Life is a Set of Bullet Points

Yeah it's easier to write longer version tweets than writing stories and then thinking of appropriate endings :-)

  • I have become so much more lazier in the last few weeks! Seriously. All I seem to want to do is sit/lie on the couch and read/watch TV/play on the Wii. The apartment cleaning has dropped to half of what I used to and I haven't stepped foot into a grocery store the last 3 weeks. I think it had a lot to do with S staying home. Either his laziness is rubbing onto me or he is spoiling me to bits :-) And the gym that I was so regular in going to - I haven't set foot in it for the last 2 weeks. Since S is now off to Ohio, I have decided it's time for a change and I started cleaning the apartment yesterday. I have also packed my gym stuff in the car so that I can drive right upto the gym after work. Now that it's all written in black and white, I am now accountable to the blog (and the few readers stringing along for the ride)
  • In contrary to the above point, my hobbies and activities has increased tremendously. I take French lessons every week and I can feel my French improving considerably. I am able to make up simple sentences and starting to grasp the complex grammar. I need to ramp up on the studying at home though. Apart from that, S & I are taking swimming lessons every Saturday. I had a sort of breakthrough this weekend and I was able to swim 1 whole lap. I am really really pleased with that. My endurance is pretty bad though and I am exhausted after the 1 hour lesson. Anyhow, the fact that I can now swim for however long my hands and legs keep up and tread water shows that I am making good progress. Again need to get into the pool more often. Usually S and I just stay longer after every class and practice, but I think I need to go in once more each week. If this weren't enough, I decided to take art lessons from a local artist. I don't know why, but I have always had the itch to sketch, but I never do anything about it! I have just had one lesson, but I am enjoying working on my homework. Time will tell if I continue with this or just quit. (S nearly had a heart attack when he saw how expensive sketch books and the umpteen pencils that I bought cost. So he might force me to continue lessons till he sees some return from the investment. And S, FYI I am buying an easel too. :-))
  • Appa is mighty skeptical about all these and feels that the money spent on all these would be better off sitting in the bank. Well I don't blame him, I have always quit on everything that I begin. The tennis classes in my 3rd and 4th standard, carnatic music lessons that I took for more than 5 years, multiple crafts and embroidery classes during the summer holidays, glass painting that I took up in Hyderabad, the tennis classes that I took last summer in Madison and so on. So I really need to not quit and show him. (I know I really have a great attitude :-))
  • You know the JC Penney Salon that I used to heart? Well I am over them now. On Saturday I decided that I absolutely needed to get my eyebrows waxed and called them to get an appointment. I usually get my pedicure at this small place nails place in the mall. They are really good, but I was getting grossed out by the napkins they used. So I thought I would try JCP and took an appointment for a pedicure too. When my eyebrows were done, the pedicure person was guiding me to her station, when this rude person at the billing told me I would have to pay now for both services. I agreed and I was whipping out my card when she told me the amount due. I staggered visibly because it was way more than what I had expected. I berated myself for not checking the cost of a pedicure before making the appointment and swiped the card. And then she asked me if I wanted to leave a tip, in front of the person who was going to do my pedicure! Tell me if I am wrong gentle readers, but isn't a tip something we leave after the service is done depending on how well it is done? I had no choice but to give her a good tip and hope she was worth it. To break any suspense, she was worth the tip, but the pedicure very blah for the price I was paying. So all woman readers of my blog, avoid pedicures at JCP like the plague.
  • On other note, my love affair with McCafe Iced Latte is ending since I have found out iced Filter Kaapi tastes much better. Of all the pots and pans that I dragged all the way from India, I am most thankful to the filter. Now if only I could get Coffee Day coffee podi in Madison.
  • While I am at it, what's it with people who describe themselves with their sun signs? "I am a typical Scorpio" blah blah. So now apart from listening to their rambles, I need to look up Scorpio or Taurus or whatever too? Or do they think I am as jobless as them to know Linda Goodman from cover to cover. (You didn't think I would have a post without a single judgy, condescending sentence did you? :-))
Now I am done :-)