Monthly Archives: October 2014

To All the Divya Kumars Out There (Part 5): It’s not funny any more…

Ok guys. This is it. It isn’t funny any more. Yes, Divya is a common name. There were three Divyas at my daughter’s birthday party recently. Cue sepia-toned flashback to my own childhood parties. Clearly things haven’t changed in 30 years. Divyas with K initials or surnames beginning with K are also stupendously common. Case in point: that infernal Divya Khosla Kumar who clogs any and all searches of ‘Divya Kumar’ on Google (yes, I’m still at it. Yes, I’m aware it’s sad).

BUT. I think the ridiculous frequency with which these ladies (and yes, the occasional gent) seem to use my email id for various purposes is, well, ridiculous. I went to the bank recently. Money matters are not my strong point. In fact, I suck at managing my finances. I was, as I always am while meeting my ‘relationship manager’ at the bank, nervous, ill-prepared and faintly guilty (about being so irregular and vague about it all). When he asked for the id number on some  investments, I couldn’t find the documents, and in the midst of getting all frazzled, I suddenly remembered an annual report which had been emailed to me from the bank. Tada! I whipped out my new smartphone and feeling ever so, well, smart, pulled up my gmail account and gave him the details. I waited. He made a call. His eyebrows creased. A feeling of foreboding came over me. He looked up at me, confused. “Ma’am, but this is for a Divya Khanna in Delhi.”

I just stared back at him. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I didn’t know whether to feel embarrassed or angry. Or both. It had finally happened. I’d actually been duped by one of these wrong emails.

Why? Why did Divya Khanna think this was her email id? She was so certain of it, she was actually having her mutual fund details sent to it. I mean, was I somehow sharing this email account with 30 others and not realising it? Seriously, this whole thing was taking on a slightly Twilight Zone feel.

It happened again just a day or two ago. I couldn’t remember my Skype password and so clicked on the ‘forgot password?’ link. Skype promptly emailed me, and I was zapped. Because, apparently, there isn’t just my Skype id attached to this email address, there’s three. THREE. All belonging to different Divyas. Again that Twilight Zone feeling. Was it me? Was I creating accounts in my sleep or something? Only pretending to be Divya Damodaran instead of Divya Kumar?

And so, I say, this is it. It is’t funny any more. It’s getting a bit freaky. Does this happen to other Divya Kumars? Is something wrong with my email address? Is something wrong with me?

It’s time to open this out to all you Divyas. We need to talk this out. Discuss the issue in detail. I mean, don’t you guys miss getting your emails? Are you sitting in your homes writing long, rambling blog posts like this about emails that never reach you? Or about how Skype never lets you change your password? We need to talk, ladies.

I have noticed a new trend recently, a sign perhaps that some of the Divyas out there are trying to find ways around this identity swap nonsense. More and more of you seem to be experimenting with funky new spellings. Divia. Diviya. Divaya. I appreciate effort, but just thought I’d let you know that it’s not really working. I’m still getting your emails. Yeah, really.

So, let’s try and sort this out. It’s time to end this, ladies. I spend enough of my life being confuzzled without my email id taking me into Twilight Zone territory over coffee every morning. Post on the blog! Or email me at… scratch that. God knows whom it will reach. Messenger pigeons perhaps?

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Toddler Talk: Tears for Fears

Firecrackers, hair washes, ticking clocks… a whole host of things can trigger toddler fears

Hair dryer? Or hot-air blowing Monster of Doom?

There are few things as tough to handle as a toddler’s fears. Let’s face it, this is a weird world we live in. It isn’t easy to get used to all the strange things – the noises, the sights, the smells – we surround ourselves with. As busy, hassled adults who’re constantly bombarded by sensory input, we hardly notice most of these things anymore, not unless we’re literally assaulted by them (which would explain the nature of our news channels these days. Right, Arnab?).

But to toddlers who’re just getting acquainted with their environment, a lot of things can be upsetting. Sudden, loud noisemakers such as pressure cookers, hair-dryers, and firecrackers are obvious triggers. Through the second year of my daughter’s life, I had to hide in the bathroom or kitchen to use a hair-dryer, because she’d sob as though Godzilla was coming if I turned it on in her vicinity. She was apparently convinced that this growling, hot air-blowing monster was going to eat mommy, and nothing I said or did could change her mind. It didn’t matter that we kept a cooker every day; she still cried for each whistle, each time. And needless to say, our Diwalis haven’t been particularly ‘happy’, since my daughter spends it mostly with her face buried in my lap, trembling at each loud cracker-burst (like ostriches, toddlers are convinced that burying their heads will make scary things go away. Only, instead of sand, they pick various portions of mummy or daddy’s anatomy to dive into, so be prepared for lots of ouch-inducing head-butts).

Not all kids are the same, of course. Some are less highly-strung, others more. And they react to different things. One little boy I know went through a phase when he became acutely sensitive to bad smells. Every morning, just as he left for playschool, the garbage truck would enter his street. Every morning, he would throw up his breakfast. Every morning, without fail.

At least with loud sounds and strong smells, you can try and find ways to protect the child. You can avoid garbage skips like the plague. Risk electrocution by blow-drying your hair in the wet bathroom. Move to Iceland during Diwali. But other fears are tougher simply because they involve tasks that can’t be avoided. Like a fear of head baths. There’re only so many days (weeks?) a toddler can go without washing her hair before she becomes a bit of a stink-hazard herself. My daughter even went through a (thankfully brief) period when she was terrified of having her face washed (yes, bath-time was an absolute delight).

Even tougher, though, are the utterly irrational fears. They’re the hardest to understand, and the hardest to deal with. Like when, one fine day, your toddler decides she’s petrified of an uncle or great-uncle she’s seen hundreds of times before, and refuses to take her face out of your shoulder unless said uncle leaves the room. Or when she decides, for whatever reason, that she’s scared of ticking clocks (my daughter’s latest) or of her own shadow. Try finding a way of avoid those. If it wasn’t for the clock on my phone (thank god for the digital revolution!), I’d completely lose track of time because all wall clocks and alarm clocks in my house are currently in forced hiding.

But really, the most heart-wrenching part is seeing your child gripped by fear. You feel helpless, because nothing you do – no amount of explaining or reassuring – seems to work. It’s frustrating because you want so much to make them feel better, but instead, at the end of a long stretch of holding and comforting, you just left feeling wrung out and exhausted. But the good news is that they do grow out of it. My daughter actually let me use Godzilla, I mean, the hair-dryer on her recently. And I’m sure we’ll have clocks on our walls again. Eventually.

TIPs:

  1. Never ridicule your child’s fears, even if they seem random. It’s very real to them.
  2. Comfort and reassure, and then try to distract.
  3. If it’s something that has to be done, just do it. Faces need to be washed, hair needs to be cut, and that’s that.

‘Toddler Talk’ is a weekly column that appears in The Hindu MetroPlus.

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Filed under Humour, Motherhood, Toddler Talk column