what (pregnancy) books never tell.

It’s 3 am.

Okay, 3.07 am to be precise.

The only species you’ll find awake at this time – the insomniac, the party-animal, the traveller.

I’m the fourth kind. A new mother.

As I hum a self-made (hardly a) tune to my three month old, I happen to go back in time.

Four years ago.

The day I got married.

I think since the night I got married, my mother and my sister (another mother (then) with one in hand, one in tummy.) bombarded me with books on pregnancy hoping that I might get pregnant on my very first wedding night.

Why? Well, I was 28 then and according to all Indian elders you must have your first child before you turn 30.

So there I was, packing books (as I was moving country after my marriage) on healthy pregnancy, what to do when pregnant, what to do to get pregnant, what not to do to get pregnant, how to get pregnant, how not to get pregnant – never got this one though, probably the only one I had in mind at that time.

Books in Hindi, books in Marathi, new versions, older versions, hand-written versions, Indian versions, all-in-one versions.

Sometimes when I would walk into a bookstore, I would unknowingly walk into the pregnancy section and look for pregnancy in English – you know, just in case I didn’t enjoy the Hindi and the Marathi ones. And yes, I ended up buying one too.

So, by the end of year one I had enough books to help me deliver a happy baby – in my head.

Did I read them?
Of course I did.

Probably from year two of my marriage.

Not because I was planning on having a baby but because I couldn’t bear them staring at me from the corner of my bookshelf. So, I decided to pick one – the very first Marathi one.

You see, I always felt that I wasn’t really great with babies or even toddlers. I couldn’t baby talk to my nephews for a very long time, I didn’t know what to say to babies after a while, I never found immense happiness in gurgling babies or holding a baby never made me broody.

So, yes of course I read the books but for me it was like reading a book on how to get to Mars. Without knowing how far it was, how long it would take, what it really meant or honestly if I really wanted to go to Mars?

But I read every chapter.

Every page, every footnote.
Made notes.
Re-read.
Made more notes.
And many more footnotes.

I thought I was being clever.

Some days I would even wake up in the middle of the night thinking what if I’m already pregnant?

And then I would re-read a few more pages, scribble some more notes.

My friends were getting pregnant and ideally I should have sent them my notes but it never really occurred to me. You see, the whole process was so mechanical in my head. Everything seemed like reading fiction. Even when some of them told me ‘I’m 3 months pregnant’, it was a plain ‘yay’ to them.

Honestly, I didn’t know what ‘I’m pregnant’ really meant.

And then it happened, I got pregnant.

And you would think I would have announced it to my husband with a coy smile and he would have picked me up with joy and showered flowers in slo-mo.
No. That happens only in the movies. Bollywood ones.

One early morning, it was more like a whisper, ‘listen the home pregnancy test shows a plus. Go back to sleep.’
So, at least I knew I was ready to go to Mars. Definitely. But still clueless about what it really meant.

So, I continued reading. This time, all over again.

I watched babies, mothers with babies, the documentary ‘babies’, F.R.I.E.N.D.S with babies.

One could say I had enough information about what to expect when you’re expecting. (Yes, another book, which I bought and the movie, yes, saw this one too!)

But that’s exactly what didn’t happen.

What did happen was the most awesome thing ever.

I didn’t remember a word of what I had read, re-read.

I stopped reading pregnancy magazines because they only made me feel queasy.

I picked random autobiographies.
I read about book thieves.
About new countries.
About people.

Because now something else had started communicating with me.

My body.

All I needed was a mother who could relate to this feeling and help me interpret it and my elder sister and my mother were enough.

And there it was happening.

I was getting inquisitive.

I wanted to know what is it that my body is really trying to tell me.

All I did was interpret my body’s language. One day at a time.

Only now I had begun to truly understand the real meaning of ‘hey I’m pregnant’.

On 01-11-12, the mother in me was born.

Teary eyed, as I held the most precious cliché in my arms, I realised something that no book could have ever told me.

She doesn’t care if you know-it-all or you know nothing.

She doesn’t care if you’ve read a dozen books.

She doesn’t care if you’re a first mother or third.

Because no matter how much you read or watch in the end she’s the one who teaches you (in her little ways).

What to do, what not to, how to do it.

All you do is pay attention and interpret her lessons.

It’s like you’re all that your baby needs.

You’re enough. Truly.

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that box of old books.

I’m an eleven months old mom and I’m always in search of stories, real life stories. Stories that make you wonder, stories that give wings to a simple idea. Stories that turn ideas into reality.

Here’s a true story.

Story of a little idea that grew books.
Yes, you read it right, books-real books.

Here’s how.

In an extremely busy suburb in Mumbai called Borivali, stands tall a non-pretentious apartment called Cascade. From outside it looks like any other apartment but what’s brewing inside is what made ‘Cascade’ so interesting to me.

It all started with a very simple question – what do you do with your old books? Do you tuck them away in an old, rusty trunk? Do you give them away to your raddiwalla for some petty cash?

Or, do you start a library in your building?

Yes, a library of old books, books that you no longer read.

And that’s how five friends from Cascade who shared a common love for books got together and started a little library in their building, lovingly called ‘the Cascade library’.

This library started in a little corner under the stairs in this building. A corner no one ever visited, a corner that was forgotten until the five friends got together.

Here’s how simply this corner turned into a world of infinite stories.

First, these five friends brought their boxes of old books. A little announcement was put up on the building notice board about the opening of a library. Slowly, others brought their boxes of old books. And soon that little corner which had just 15 odd books, is now an abode to 1500 old, unwanted books!

This library is open two days a week for cascade residents only for just Rs. 100. Two books can be taken at a time and kept for a week each for an awesome amount of just Rs.10, Rs. 5 or Rs. 2 for a book or a magazine.

All the money received goes into getting more books. No, not from expensive bookstores but again from whole sellers or a book sale. Also, once the news spread, relatives and friends of these Cascade residents donated their boxes.

One of the five friends keeps a tab of all the books in a simple excel sheet. Again, everything is kept simple and humble. No fancy gadgets, no pretense; just plain love for books.

Isn’t it an awesome feeling to revive an old book?

To encourage reading, every month Cascade announces a reader of the month and a winner wins, yes a book!

What a brilliant way to encourage reading and loving an old book. Isn’t it?

Also, if at any point a person wants their donated book back they get it back.

So, if any of you living in Mumbai have that dusty box of old books and don’t know what to do with it call the following Cascade resident and simply donate the old books. They will come and fetch it!

Please leave a comment here in case you would like to donate your box of old books.

Here are some pictures of the library.

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here’s a special post.

this post is going to break the rule, for now.
special post of a special relationship.
grandma & a grandson & a grandson.
jayashree aji (grandma) & aditya (9yrs) & raghav (3yrs). nasik, india.

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grandma reads : grandma is an avid reader and reads a lot in marathi. currently, she is reading ‘anandi vastu’. vastu shastra is an ancient hindu science, which gives guidelines for construction of buildings. principals of vastu shastra are based on scientific reasons, which provide proper ventilation, & achieve balance between various forces of nature like earth’s magnetic & gravitational forces, space, air & wind, sunlight and heat, rain as well as the rotational motions of earth, moon & other planets. thereby bringing in health, wealth and prosperity & happiness. best part about granny’s reading – whatever she reads she loves to share. this will probably be my next read. sounds fascinating, doesn’t it?

big grandson reads : ‘the curse of the cheese pyramid’. enter the world of geronimo stilton, where another funny adventure is always right around the corner. each book is a fast-paced adventure with lively art and a unique format kids 7-10 will love.
i’ve been extremely curious about this range of books. it seems to be very popular in this age group.

so, who is geronimo stilton?
he runs a newspaper, but his true passion is writing tales of adventure. here on mouse island, his books are all best-sellers! his books are full of fun.

in this book, he is off to egypt!he climbs onboard a crabby old camel that would take him across the desert to the great cheese pyramid. there, among mummies and hieroglyphics, he would learn the secret of the seven wonders of the ancient mouse world. is your kid glued to this range too?

little grandson reads : ‘my little pet mouse.’ this 3 yr old watches his big brother read a lot and obviously wants to do exactly the same. how wonderful is that! a great habit isn’t it?

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joyeeta & neel & zidane (1 yr). bangalore, india.

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z1   z2mumma reads : ‘invisible monsters’ by chuck palahniuk. he takes on commercialisation this time (he has written fight club) through the eyes of a model and now is covered in veils. it’s very dark and gory.

dad reads : ‘maus’. it’s a comic book and an amazing account of a polish man’s survival through the holocaust, written by his son. the jews are depicted as mice and the nazis as cats. the story is dark but it has some wonderful light moments between the father and son and the tale is told almost like a family drama.

baby reads : ‘who wears what’. it’s an animal book, and he loves looking at the tiger. he also says ‘sssssss’ when he sees the snake.

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manisha & dhiren & manan (2 yrs). jo’burg, south africa.

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mumma reads : ‘shantaram’. a big fat read. i’ve read this one and surprisingly managed to finish it pretty quick. did i enjoy it? well, i felt it was written for a foreigner and honestly i don’t know how much of it was real and how much fiction. some parts did feel a bit over-the-top. a lot of my non-indian friends who have never been to india or mumbai, imagine mumbai like the way it’s described in shantaram.

dad reads : ‘a suitable boy’ by vikram seth. ‘a suitable boy is set in post independence, post-partition india. the novel follows the story of four families over a period of 18 months as a mother searches for a suitable boy to marry her daughter. the sequel, to be called ‘a suitable girl’ is due for publication.

baby looks at : ‘time for bed, farmer ted’. a bed time book for little manan.

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claire & phoebe (1 yr). jo’burg, south africa.

my first proud single mom! in all honesty, huge respect! i don’t know how she does it.

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mumma reads : claire loves magazines. a huge pile of magazines sits next to her bedside. when a magazine comes out she MUST buy it. (she calls herself a magazine whore – i love that term!). she also loves biographies. currently she’s reading ‘great with child.’ a book where a toddler’s mother, both an intimate guide and an affectionate coach, writes to a pregnant friend about the transforming experience of motherhood.  modern letters written in an old-fashioned way, not as hasty e-mails but more slowly and filtered through the sensibility of a spirited, fearless poet. though written for a specific person, their themes are universal, inviting all mothers to join the grand circle of giving and receiving advice about children. i think definitely worth a read, mommies?

baby looks at : ‘my first words’. i’m sure phoebe must be mumbling a dozen words. some you understand, some you don’t… but all so special. phoebe also looks at ‘miffy’s fun day’.

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gauri & hital & ira (8 mths). joburg, south africa.

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mumma reads : the treehouse. eccentric wisdom from a father on how to live, love and see. i’m in love with this one.

this highly acclaimed author – naomi wolf was brought up to believe that contentment is something that can be taught. in this magical book she shares enduring wisdom of her father, a well regarded poet and a teacher for sixty years.

he believes that heart’s creative wisdom has a more important message than anything else, and that our task in life is to realise that message. her house was a place in which if it came to the imagination the grown ups would always say yes.

and we all need our own treehouse. where we can listen to our own inner voice, it could be a cafe, a park, or just a corner in our room. it’s a beautiful read.

dad reads : 125 brain games for babies. an infant brain is 250 percent more active than an adult brain. the brain, by the end of the third year of life, has formed a thousand trillion connections – twice as many as adults have. with everyday items – keys, a cup, a paper bag and often nothing more than your hands and voice, you’ll help your little one develop her cognitive skills. simple games like where’s the ball? peekaboo, switching pitches, wash the toy and so on.

baby looks at : colours. what’s the colour of the sky, the sun, the grass, the fruit? simple, fun colourful fun :).

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vaishali & orko & kabir ( 5 yrs ). bangalore, india.

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mumma reads : ‘the good little ceylonese girl is a collection of seventeen short stories in which ashok ferrey writes about sri lanka and its people, wherever they roam, of the people who do not recognize that their country has changed during their absence. he writes about the western influence on sri lankans, of its turning them into caricatures, unmistakably genuine but far from the real thing. (source : the book online)

dad reads : a study in sherlock holmes. love the cover! what would happen if you asked eighteen top writers who don’t normally write about sherlock holmes to write about sherlock holmes? hmm… interesting. (source : good reads)

big boy reads: shipwreck of the pirate islands is chockfull of pirate lore, survival tips, sailor jokes, and even a recipe for “pirate soup”! (source: the book report)

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manisha & bosky & portia (11 mths). dubai. uae.

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mumma reads : the diet bible. i think need of the hour for me :). after eight months of motherhood it’s time to lose those extra kilos while chasing my little one crawl in every possible direction.

dad reads : the crow. i was extremely curious to know more about this one. the crow is a comic book series by james o’barr. and later adapted into a film in the same name. dad mentions, this movie was with the very famous brandon lee – bruce lee’s son who died while filming the movie. i think i would like to check this one out when i visit the bookstore next.

a little more about the plot.

The story revolves around an unfortunate young man named Eric. He and his fiancée, Shelly, are assaulted by a gang of street thugs after their car breaks down. Eric is shot in the head  and can only watch as Shelly is savagely beaten. They are then left for dead on the side of the road.

He is resurrected by a crow and seeks vengeance. The crow acts as both guide and goad for Eric, giving him information that helps him in his quest. (source: wiki)

baby reads : the goodnight moon. little one reads this before she sleeps. It is about a child saying goodnight to everything around: “Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon…” . cute hey?

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sonali & sagar & aditya (9 yrs) & raghav (3 yrs). mumbai, india.

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here’s another interesting family post.

mumma reads : good food. for those who love food. i guess for all of us :). she’s trying some new recipes, grilled ones. and mumma also reads lots of books by sri sri ravi shankar. the art of living. right now she has picked spirit of self enquiry.

dad reads : national geographic. new explorations. hmm, maybe i must pick this one too.

big boy reads : diary of a wimpy kid on his tablet. diary of a wimpy kid by author jeff kinney, it’s a story about a middle-school weakling named greg heffley. sounds interesting.

little boy reads :  noddy. i remember i read these as a kid. mr.plod, big ears, bumpy the dog.

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