Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Czechin' Out Now

Downtown Prague, August 2011

Lola Bites Back, 2005-2011

Whew, it was a whirlwind few years there, eh? From the most miserable go-nowhere job I ever had (that's you, IIE!), to the most transformational experience I ever had (eternal gratitude to Mata Gangaji), to the most fairy-tale experience I ever had (you're my inspiration, Herr Fritz) ...

There have been a lot of ups and downs with plenty of learnings in between over the last six years, and no doubt there will be many more, as my newest guru is just starting to speak.

Not to worry, though, my writing career is far from over. It's just on hiatus while I focus my time and energy on the little one. Children grow up fast - goes the colloquial wisdom - and someday soon little Mo will be off having adventures of her own. At that time I may wish to revisit this forum to once again ..

Or not... who can say for sure?

No long-winded goodbyes for me, tho, I leave you only with my newest favorite quotes. May they bring you as much peace and reassurance as they do me. It all comes down to our expectations, after all:

"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted in a profoundly sick society." -J. Krishnamurthi

"Happiness is but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain." - Thomas Hardy (The Mayor of Casterbridge, a.k.a. The Life and Death of a Man of Character, 1886)

Thanks for joining me,
Om Narayana,

PD I will continue the occasional email with pictures...just contact me should you like to be included.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Whatever gets You Thru The Night

Whoa, there. Where does the time go? I been wantin’ to post an update for a long time now, but honestly there is not a single leftover minute in my life. I guess this is how God keeps us on the up and up…no time to dilly dally, no time for idle hands, no time for any kind of real trouble anymore.

For Yogis and other evolved peoples, having children is most likely a detour from the spiritual path. But for me, it’s a big spiritual leap forward; I’m constantly thinking about the needs of my little terror monkey, which leaves little time left to worry about my own. “Selfless service”… that’s motherhood, and Karma Yoga, in a nutshell.

My time is largely spent feeding, soothing, cleaning and cuddling this sweet, sensitive and aware little person as she discovers the world and learns to navigate her new tiny body, which is frankly not all that comfortable. I often imagine infanthood as a typical Kafka scenario... an infinite, omniscient, peaceful soul is suddenly and brutally confined to the grossest, most limited form possible: a helpless three kilos of baby human being. It's a rather horrifying prospect when you really consider it, so I try mostly just to comfort her during this difficult time.

All my other duties as Queen of the Household get squeezed into those rare moments when the baby sleeps, on her own, without a boob in her mouth. Keeping up with food shopping, cooking and cleaning are the main priorities while everything else gets relegated to the bottom of the pile. Which, unfortunately, includes this blague.

Despite my busy schedule, I somehow manage to continue my previous –lifelong?– pattern of existential worries. I never was so satisfied with modern culture, and now that I have a little munchkin, I’m still not. I feel the weight and isolation of western life as much as ever, only now it’s German style.

I would love nothing more than to ruminate on this for hours, but my time belongs to a little monkey now and she says I can have twenty minutes (every other day, but not consecutive).

So, existential worries aside, our little baby brings with her a whole load of hope for the future, hope that bubbles inside me as I watch her chewing on her feet. It took me nearly thirty years to really home in on the spiritual priorities of life. With God’s grace, Moira should be well on her way long before that.

But as much as I delight in her smiles, myriad facial expressions, screams of delight, tiny little feet… those existential worries aren’t going anywhere. Just what kind of future are we looking forward to, anyway?

Future Generations Will Thank You for It

I’ve often seen Indian parents hold their infants so they could pee or poo in the bushes and was always intrigued by the fact that Indians don’t have or use diapers. Then –boom!– I had my own little munchkin and I realized two things straightaway; One, I’m not a big fan of washing poopy diapers and two, wallowing helplessly in your own excrement is undeniably Kafkaesque.

The first time I put Mo on the potty at around three months old, she peed. We immediately went from three huge loads of diapers weekly to less than one, no exaggeration. Within a week, we began sleeping diaperless, and now she spends the vast majority of time without one. Of course there are accidents, but she hangs out on waterproof mats and pee accidents require little effort to clean up (poo accidents are rare). The experience has turned out to be so successful, in fact, that I might even have started a bit sooner.

I share all this only because if I can just plant the idea, perhaps convince just ONE family out there to give it a try, well, that’s thousands of diapers saved.

Yes, thousands. One estimate I found puts the number of single-use diapers for one child at 7,349. “One-time use throw away diapers are the single largest non-recyclable component of household garbage, creating one ton of garbage per year per child.”

Garbage. As it is, the USA is a big exporter of it. I sometimes imagine that in the new world order (there’s bound to be one), when the US no longer holds the balance of power, our expansive country will become the next Greatest Place to put Your Landfill. It’s both logical and karmically ordained.

Think about it: can more than one billion Indians – not to mention the other cultures around the world who train infants to go to the toilet on cue – really be wrong? Do yourself, your child, your friends and family, your bank account, your environment, your world a favor and buy yourself a potty. Ours cost 3.99.

Moira Devi Super Baby

Mo is four and a half months old now. A couple of weeks ago we went for a check-up with the doctor and everything is AOK. She weighs 5.95kg (13lbs) and measures 62cm (24.4in) long. Herr Fritz and I are still considering whether we want to give her any immunizations yet.

She’s as adorable as ever, and certainly high-maintenance. Nighttimes are a dream and daytimes can be exhausting. She grabs everything in sight and prefers to do it while mama or papa carries her so she can reach all the things up high, like the leaves on the fig tree. She’s starting to sit on her own now but still refuses to have anything to do with crawling. She drools like a madman, enjoys devouring paper and gives me plenty of hickies (knutschflecken) on my arms, chin and neck. She is mesmerized by the telephone cord and so far has tasted a few foods including a strawberry, a carrot, a kohlrabi, and some avocado, but so far no teeth..

We recently bought her a sippy cup, which she holds with both her hands and feet. Her eyes are still dark blue and her hair is golden as a field of wheat. She loves bath time with papa and doesn’t mind showers with mama. And it looks like we’re evolving towards one long nap in the afternoon, though getting her to do it on her own will be tricky to say the least.

She’s a pro on the potty and now that we’ve been using it for about six weeks, I think I’ve finally identified the look she gives when she needs to poo…it’s subtle, though. Morning time she turns her head and looks me straight in the eyes, dead serious. That’s when I know it’s time. And like a good Indian baby, she poos regularly first thing in the morning, with or without an afternoon accompaniment.

She still loves her books only now she prefers to gnaw on them. We read One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish as well as my own personal favorite Auf Dem Flughafen (At the Airport) ad nauseam and now we’ve moved on to Catcher in the Rye. Next up is Democracy in America (De’Toqueville). We don’t have a wide array of English books so we make do.

Motherhood is Pre-Programmed

In case any of you young, fertile ladies out there is worried about it, let me assure you that motherhood is pre-programmed. One caveat, though: you can squander all that valuable built-in knowledge by reading too much about it or listening to too many people who give unsolicited advice…it will only confuse you. And don’t trust what you hear so much…different cultures believe different things about the needs and abilities of children; African babies are often trained to sit at just a few months old. Nobody knows what your baby needs better than you do.

How Do You Know When a German is Drunk?

Over the last year I’ve been digesting my limited experience of German culture, and all I can say for sure is that it’s by no means an easy one to assimilate. For a while I’ve even had the impression that I can relate better to Indian culture than I can to German.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered the Germans’ cultural philosophy summed up in three little words and printed right there on the ubiquitous Ritter Sport (chocolate)package: “Quadratisch. Practisch. Gut.

Squared, Practical, Good. What more is there? Indeed, Germans appreciate Order in all its ordered greatness. They like it so much, that “in Ordnung” is the accepted method of indicating that you are doing well. Sample conversation:

“Hallo! Alles in Ordnung?” Hello, how are you? (lit. Hello! Everything in order?)

“Ja, ja, alles in Ordnung.” I’m good. (lit. Ya, ya..everything is in order.)

Perhaps that’s one reason I’m not such a great fit for the Germans…they’re a serious bunch, and my frequent self-deprecating remarks – about my laziness, for example – are not considered funny. But it’s okay, ‘cause I finally found a friend, Harriet. She’s Scottish and when we get together it’s absolute madness. Herr Fritz calls it “Spass und Quastch” (fun and nonsense).

And how do you know about that drunk German? He’s smiling.

and one last fun bit

That’s all for now!




Saturday, April 23, 2011

Just home from the temple.

Slowly getting used to the barbaric car seat.

On a picnic overlooking our village.

Yesterday was the end of baby Mo’s eighth week and we celebrated the milestone with a baby blessing at the local Hindu temple. The entire family gathered for what turned out to be a lovely puja experience. Mo made it through the important parts and cried through the rest. Afterward we enjoyed some traditional Indian foodstuffs including rice, vada (spicy fried things) and sweet balls of something I was unable to identify.

I was proud of our little munchkin because the temple ceremony was 100% authentic, which meant plenty of incense, loud bells (the louder the better), hard cement floors and stifling heat. Fritz and I had such a good time that we’ve decided to become regulars. We even made friends with a couple from Madras who speak English (and no German). Fritz invited them over for chai.

In retrospect, the first week of Mo’s life was a breeze. She slept all the time and she was so tiny that her tiny little poos seemed cute. But soon she began to realize where she was and she was none too pleased. Her digestive system seemed to function poorly and she cried a lot from what I think was gas pain. Fritz and I spent long hours trying to soothe her. Perhaps for karmic reasons, she only likes to listen to Heintje. If you are not German and don't know who Heintje is, count yourself lucky and don't ask too many questions.

By five weeks her gas pains ceased and she began to sleep quite a lot at night, even chilling out with us in bed until 9am...and her first morning hours are the cutest; she's in a good mood, smiling at us and trying to talk. She follows me around the room and seems interested in my clothes when I am dressing.

She is quite a lot of work, though, as everyone has always maintained. She likes to be held at all times and sleeps only when accompanied by a warm body, preferably mine. She enjoys complaining and when she is overly tired, the only thing that calms her is a walk outside. Apparently, she looks just like her father, but behaves more like her mother.

But she is so cute I just can’t stand it! And getting cuter and cuter all the time... I just adore her little feet, her sneezes, the way she stretches up her arms when she’s just waking up… everyone is right, it’s the best, most unique experience ever. (That said, we are thinking that one is enough.)

Baby will be up soon and complaining. Pictures from the temple puja will come soon I’m sure, but as I didn’t take any myself, I leave you only with a few other recent shots.

Hari Om and wishing the best for everyone!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Grand Entrance of Miss Moira

The due date came and went. I bided my time playing solitaire and labeling the spice jars, but the waiting game is not an easy one.

Although my entire pregnancy was normal in every regard, I simply did not go into labor. So the midwife sent us to the clinic to get checked, and while nothing indicated any problems per se, the doctor there decided that, at eight days overdue, it would be best to induce labor. She instructed us to arrive early the next morning.

Herr Fritz and I spent our last evening washing, packing and cleaning the house to prepare for our baby's imminent arrival.

We checked into the clinic around 8am. At 10:30am they fed me a pill to help initiate labor contractions. Fritz and I wasted some time goofing around while we waited for something to happen. I had a couple of painful contractions after lunch, but nothing regular. At 2:30pm they fed me another pill and within thirty minutes, labor had begun.

At first, my contractions were irregular and only uncomfortable; the real pain began a couple of hours later. Around six o’clock, I undressed and got into a big hot tub. The midwife had dimmed the lights and put lavender oil in the water and as I lowered myself in I immediately noticed that the pain was much less intense. With happy relief I told the midwife "sehr besser" in my best German accent (very better). In between contractions, I laughed with Fritz, saying “they were right, this IS painful...ha ha ha!”

At seven, I was no longer laughing. I began to vocalize my pain and the midwife pulled me out of the tub for a cervix check: 2cm dilated. Convinced that the baby wouldn't arrive until the early morning hours, my morale dipped. Already I was exhausted - not having slept the night before - and with contractions coming every three to four minutes, there was no mercy in sight. I gripped the side bars of the tub and told myself over and over “never again…I will never do this again.”

The hours passed but there was no longer any perception of time. As the pain got progressively worse, I wondered if I would survive. I prayed for a break – just ten minutes – but the waves of pain were unrelenting. I could no longer speak. I tried to breathe as deeply as I could but couldn’t resist the urge to cry out.

At a quarter to ten I suddenly needed to use the toilet, but nothing came out. I returned to the tub and as I was about to get in, my water broke. It seemed like there was blood everywhere. The midwife returned and I begged for pain medication; it was finally too much and I felt desperate for it to stop. I was brought back to the examining room and an IV with pain medication appeared. The head midwife checked my cervix again and said it was time to move to the birthing room. I was nearly fully dilated and there would be no time for pain medication after all...

She asked me if I could walk and I said NO. They wheeled me in and instructed me to kneel on the bed with my face to the back wall. By now I was screaming during contractions and after one warning not to push, the two midwives in attendance told me to go for it.

I felt a burning ring of fire as her head began to emerge, an experience not unlike passing a turd the size of Texas. But it was heartening to know that the end was near, and in just about 20 minutes, our little baby was finally squished out.

Herr Fritz told me it was a girl. Sweaty and trembling, the midwife helped steady me so I could turn around and hold little Moira. She was a bit purple and so tiny that I was nervous to hold her. We looked at her in amazement, examining her tiny hands and feet. She looked at us and cried. When I saw tears in her eyes, I thought about the difficulty of being born, of all the new limitations she would now face. But she was perfect in every way and although we were all of us exhausted by the experience, Fritz and I spent several hours marveling at the new little person in our lives.

She began to nurse and my uterus began to cramp and, for the first time in nine months, I was allowed to have a single ibuprofen ™ for the pain!!!!!

Fritz and I stayed the night and went home the next afternoon. Mo slept really well that first night, waking up only once to nurse. (But turns out that was just a fluke.)

As for me, I emerged from the experience relatively unscathed. There was no need to worry about all the hideous post-birth difficulties I had heard about. There were no complications, no tearing, no stretch marks and minimal bleeding, praise the Lord!

And let me say that I am hugely relieved not to be pregnant anymore!! I lost 10kg during the birth and immediately began returning to “normal.” I no longer harbor irrational fears of soft pretzels, milk chocolate or sunflower seeds. Toilet visits have dropped from 30+ times daily to only six or seven. I’m back in the clothes I wore at 4 months pregnant, and climbing the stairs is only nominally difficult. Best of all, that pregnancy-induced psychosis has finally gone..

Now there are a whole new set of challenges. Moira is less than three weeks old but already I have a perpetual backache (from carrying and holding her) and I’m learning to function on little sleep (a good night is one with a three-hour stretch). And typing this is a slooooooooow process. As it is now I am holding Mo in my left arm and typing with my right hand..

Stay tuned for my next installment called: Babies 101: A Crash Course

Until then I leave you with a couple of pictures from Moira’s first bath last Sunday (top)…

Hari Om,



ps I will try to get to my emails now that this update is finished..

Saturday, March 05, 2011

It's a Girl!!

Moira Devi

It was a natural birth and thanks to God's infinite benevolence, labor was a relatively quick seven hours with no complications.
Details of this most intense experience are coming soon, but to be honest Herr Fritz and I are TIRED (we only just managed to change the message on the answering machine)...
Thanks to everyone who has already sent their congratulations,
hari om,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Approaching Critical Mass

Happy (belated) Holy Days!

Week 36 has commenced, which means that we are quickly reaching full-term status. And now that our little beastie could be here anywhere from 2-6 weeks from now, Herr Fritz and I are in full baby preparations. Today we made our first actual purchases...something I've been looking forward to for a while now. I indulged in a cute organic cotton baby outfit with owls on it while Fritz was excited about our new baby harness (he said a "hippie sling" was okay for me but he needs something more manly). We also acquired a baby potty (with baby Ganesha on it) and, of course, the all-essential ukelele.

Baby is in head down position and ready for showtime. As for me, I'm feeling remarkably good considering I am the size of a baby elephant. My belly measured 104 cm (~41 in) on Monday. Holy shit. And I'm having some trouble sleeping. But my blood pressure is low and I'm not swelling, which makes me a Happy Camper. My only complaint is the single sharp pain in the middle of my back. And the fact that elephant size is remarkably inconvenient; Fritz has to help me put on my shoes, stand up, walk, etc. etc.

Call it hormones, but Domestic Bliss is in full swing and both Fritz and I are in Nesting Mode. I've been busy cooking and organizing while Fritz has set up our new office. And we've been shopping for some comfortable chairs...mama will be here in a few weeks and we decided it's time to own some.

Unfortunately, domestic life is none too exciting so there's not much to share. Last year I was bathing with 6,000 Indians or meditating 10+ hours a day without food. This year I'm organizing the closets so all the clothes face in the same direction.

Regarding my blague, I guess updates will hereafter be few and far between. I am completely absorbed by impending motherhood and my desire to write has virtually disappeared. Not to worry, though, I will be sure to post an update when the latest addition makes his/her grand entrance...we are so excited about welcoming our little baby to this brave new world!

Life is good and God is great,
Om Narayana,

Monday, November 15, 2010

She's So Heavy

According to my handy wheel-of-pregnancy, I am at the end of my 27th week and nearing the end of month number 7 of The Miracle of Life.

Baby is the size of a "head of cauliflower," weighs about a kilo, and expresses a preference for Mean Mr. Mustard.

I am finally getting accustomed to this new development and, I daresay, even starting to enjoy it. Aside from a few horrific side-effects (anyone know what the sciatic nerve is?), I'm getting excited to have the baby. Everything is a "bunny" or a "buggy" now, and my early intermittent pleas for a kitty - flatly and heartlessly refused by Fritz - found a receptive audience at Oma's birthday party a couple of weekends back..

There I was with six or seven of Fritz' female relatives gathered around, relating my sad tale of kittyless existence to nods of deep could he deny me such a request?! In Deutschland, pets rank higher than children on the totem pole, so I have a good feeling about Christmas this year.

And now that we've found a new home, it's looking even more likely. Just up the street we discovered a huge house for rent with seven rooms, a huge yard and garden with a porch, a basement workshop and wine cellar. It's a dreamhouse and if we get it (we'll know later this week), it means I can have the baby at nasty hospital/doctors required.

The Bagel Incident (apropos of nothing in particular)

Long before we headed to Berlin, I had a program for when we got there: locate a bagel with cream cheese. It was a singular desire for many many weeks and when we finally arrived I was excited to spot a cafe advertising bagels. Of course, it would be impossible to find an actual bagel shop, so I had to settle for the cafe-with-bagels-on-the-menu deal.

To my chagrin, the cafe did not have a toaster. I repeat, I could have my bagel, but it would not be toasted. It get's worse. All the bagels come as sandwiches, with lettuce, onion, tomato and regular cheese. Truth be told, I have never been confronted with this kind of scenario before. Sure you can get a bagel sandwich in California, but it's strictly a sideshow. The hot bagel toasted with cream cheese is the point. To Germans, the bagel is just another piece of bread.

Blindsided by the injustice done to the bagel, I begrudgingly ate one anyway. The next day, we passed yet another cafe with "bagels" on the menu board. We decided to see if they had a toaster, which they did. My faith renewed, I immediately ordered my "bagel with cream cheese." Ten minutes later, I was horrified to see my toasted bagel served in sandwich form with green, herb cream cheese. Needless to say, I resolved never to order another bagel again.

The Power of Necessity

My limited mobility, the cold weather and my endless cravings for all things American have resulted in some impressive culinary creations. Thanks to the internet and fellow ex-pats around the world who miss their beloved bagels, I happened upon a bagel recipe and decided to give it a shot.

And then, for Oma's birthday I decided to experiment with an apple pie. The pie tins had to be ordered from the U.K., but a little determination goes a long way...

I also produced some yum biscuits - American ones, of course - but those puppies didn't last long enough for a photo.

Facebook is Evil

Some months ago, I decided to get off of Facebook (TM). But when I got around to deleting my account and information, I discovered I couldn't. Any pictures already posted are permanent and it wouldn't let me remove or change my name or email. My requests to change my information were "rejected by the system." In the end I managed to change my screen name temporarily to "Horace Dikshit," but this was a superficial change. I finally selected the "delete account" option and signed out. But FB does not delete anything. You can sign in for the rest of your life. My "friends" wondered why I changed my name. They sent me messages. I finally understood that there is no way out. So heed this warning, kiddies: those pics of you (and me) getting drunk with friends will be there long after you're gone.

Enough rambling. I'm exhausted (all the time). Just 13 weeks left!
until soon,
Hari Om

PS: Congrats to the two high school friends who are also pregnant right now! It's spawning time..