The joy of okra and controversial parenting

I always look at the funny side of things...even if the following incidents should really set alarm bells ringing in the parental part of my brain which judges wrong from right...or is it right from wrong? I recently read an article on the 12 most powerful words for parents (

I have a suggestion for the 13th but it's highly controversial and I risk being severely reprimanded. God himself may strike me down as I write these 4 letters shortly. Failing that, my Mrs. Seth certainly will but luckily for me, she hardly ever reads my blogs. Pressing 'Like' wouldn't hurt now and then...or ever. My unlucky number 13 is 'iPad'. But it's true and it works, I tell you. Ok, it isn't my 'Goto' solution for terminating tantrums but its certainly 'If all else fails, then Goto' option. I even carry it around in the bag just incase there's a 'pramtrum'. That's my gift to all parents - PRAMTRUM. Can I copyright a new word? If only I got a franc for every disapproving glance whenever Miro's swiping away at the iPad in the pram, I wouldn't have to worry about getting a job. I say one franc and not one cent or rappen (I had to google that) because Geneva is expensive! That's the cost of living here. If I have to pay 13 francs for a idli and dosa meal then I'm sorry but you have to pay the price for your disapproving glances. iPad also features amongst Miro's growing list of new words. The funny thing is that he pronounces it as 'iPaad'. While the father in me feels guilty, the 5 year old in me finds it hysterical. You see, 'Paad' in Hindi means fart. Now you see the humour in it? Perhaps not but I can't get enough of it. Does he want the iPad or is he telling me he just farted? Small pleasures and all that...

On the topic of Miro's speech, he's currently doing a killer Sean Connery impersonation. Yesh, Shpichy, houshe...

As for Tino, after 4 months, I realized that I have finally left my stamp when he said to me - 'daddy, can you scratch my back?' and then directed me to it's exact location. Strangely, as I scratched away his itch, I was overwhelmed with immense love for my older boy. He may look like Heidi but he's got my pores. Tino also only eats the egg whites every morning with me and then flexes his guns. Mrs Seth has yet to witness this marvelous moment. She would query the wisdom of having me at home.

On a separate note, within 3 weeks, I have not only met 2 stay-at-home Australian dads but 2 stay-at-home Australian dads...from Canberra!!! When I mentioned this to one of them, he said - 'Some may consider that bad luck!'

I also found a shop called 'Madhura' just 15 minutes walk away which sells all Indians spices and vegetables. I've never been so happy to see bhindi (okra).  Suffice to say, the products are ridiculously marked up. I paid 5 francs for mongo pickle. I shall not be sharing that unless it's Sachin Tendulkar.

Bowling, new buddies and a childhood dream fulfilled

My friend circle here is slowly but surely widening (about bloody time as well) and I have hit double figures. Something I often struggled with a cricket bat in hand. Now to add to my list of a Bhutanese bodybuilder, an American realtor, a German IT whiz, a Canadian information architect, a Spanish architect and a few Nokia finance gurus (Heidi's colleagues really but I'm claiming them here), are an English chef, an Australian programmer and a Finnish fireman. Quite a diverse bunch, don't you think? 144 - besides that being the infamous match winning score by Sourav Ganguly against Zimbabwe in 2000, it is also my very own match winning bowling score in the dads outing last week. Ironically, it was also the very same total I lost to in the second game. Damn!!!! What's more irritating is that I lost to an Australian. Even in bowling...even in a social daddy get together...even in Geneva...the Aussies just can't let someone else enjoy the satisfaction of coming number one. I was sporting in defeat (i think) and somehow coaxed myself to say - 'Well done mate!' coupled with a politician's fake laugh. On the inside though, I was gutted and sledged profusely. He's a top bloke though and since he lives in my neighbourhood, I plan to meet him on Fridays with our kids.

Are all chefs characters? My new English chef friend certainly is one. He looks like crocodile dundee and talks as much as Anthony Bourdain. Mind you, one has to have a sense of humour if one's taking care of one's 3 children....all girls!!! Hats off to him.

Last week, I overheard some Finnish being spoken at a playground. A quick parental scan revealed the source to be a fellow dad. I was ecstatic and casually pounced (is there such a thing?) on the opportunity to have some adult conversation and showoff my language skills. Once I had exhausted my vocabulary in Finnish, so that's 10 seconds later, we reintroduced ourselves in English and our respective offsprings. Turns out he's a fireman. Yes, a bloody FIREMAN!!! How does a man react when he meets a real life fireman? What I instantly felt was a mixture of awe and envy with a generous sprinkling of worthlessness. My self esteem took yet another blow. I sheepishly shared my expertise in making sports TV programs, average ones at that. Once I had regained my confidence, my next line of query was whether the poles in the fire stations are a myth and how many cats do they rescue from trees on a weekly basis. Thankfully I didn't 'burn any bridges' with my crap attempt at comedy. Because we've had a few playmeets (not play dates!) since. We even had a day trip with the kids to visit his fire station at CERN. Now, like Tino, I also want to become a fireman when I grow up. We took turns wearing the helmet and pressing all the buttons in the fire truck. But ONLY I got to wear the orange jacket! They even have a full fledged gym and are officially allowed to train there 2 hours a day. They play floorball, football, table tennis and even tennis in the big indoor space when the fire trucks are parked outside. I'm no Sherlock Holmes but I'm guessing there's a fair amount of downtime. But then, the rest of us don't run the risk of being exposed to radioactive material on daily basis so who am I to judge. They are not just firemen but are trained paramedics as well. Unlike in France where they encourage hero culture, the Finnish fire training is quite analytical. You are taught to pause, analyze and take precautions before doing anything impulsive like charging in bare chested. As I left the station, my parting words to the 8 firemen on duty were - "keep the city safe lads!". What an idiot! I think I said what I said because I was intimidated. Also, Sam was on holiday. The lazy git!

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Daddy's got a boo boo

I can take care of my 2 sons single handedly now. Before you call me an arrogant prick, let me elaborate. You see, it's because of the efficiency of the Swiss knives and my inefficiency using them. I have managed to cut my finger twice in 4 days. I was totally handicapped. Washing the poo of a 2 year with one hand is a little tricky and a whole lot messier. I know what you are thinking. A picture or it didn't happen. So I took one of my 'Boo Boo' for everyone's benefit. Or 'Pi Pi' as we call an injury in our household. Before you call me a big wuss, it hurt, i tell you! And it took ages to write this blog. It's my typing finger! And it bled like a bitch! On the topic of bitch, Heidi's gone for a work dinner tonight. I wouldn't be jealous if it wasn't a michelin star Indian restaurant. I bet his butter chicken would be bloody awesome! Not sure if they do doggy bags so I asked Heidi to empty the leftovers in her handbag and shoes. She thought I was joking. I wasn't. Those winter boots can store a fair amount. And the feet don't get as sweaty here. Whenever Miro has a 'Pi Pi', daddy has to give it a magic kiss to make the pain go away. He loves the process. I love the process but I can't see it lasting. I wish it would but it may get a touch embarrassing for him if I turn up in school to give his injury a magic kiss when he's 15. Or in my mind, running up to the pitch at Lord's to give him a magic kiss when he's hit on the grill. He would be on 199. He would be playing for India. Ravi Shastri would still be in commentary I imagine. But with Sachin Tendulkar. They would then call me up to join them as a third commentator. I could go on...

By the way, can someone invent a plaster which would stick at the top of one's finger please! The current geometrical shape just doesn't work. I had to do a Macgyver and used sellotape to keep it intact.

Miro a buddy captain, personal trainer and class monitor but he's trouble...

When your nearly 2 year old imitates your angry growl, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker. When your nearly 2 year old has figured out what buttons to push to annoy his elder brother like knocking down his lego house, standing right infront of him while he's watching his favorite cartoon and painting over his artwork, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker.

When your nearly 2 year old wants to hold the hand of every girl he meets, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker.

When your nearly 2 year old says 'daddy' when his mother wants him to 'Aiti' and follows it with a cheeky grin, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker.

When your nearly 2 year old, has figured out that salt and pepper are insufficient seasoning for his meals, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker.

When your nearly 2 year old, thinks the naughty corner is something worth laughing about, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker.

When your nearly 2 year old, knows that his gloves are just not trendy enough, it's a sign that he's a troublemaker.

Miro is trouble. But he does have incredible concentration powers and patience.  For instance, he loves to lineup these little penguins at least 3 times a day and it's a sight to behold. He definitely didn't get that from me. The only time I'm patient is while having dump. He has the makings of a great class monitor and cricket captain. His field placements will be immaculate. Tons better than Dhoni I tell you.

Now, back to these tiny penguins. They have a lot in common with my sons. For instance, I love all of them equally, just like I love both my boys equally. I'm obsessed by them, just like my boys. If they're not with me, I constantly think about their whereabouts, just like my boys. I go to great lengths to ensure I don't misplace them, just like my boys. I bath them together with my boys. The fact that I've lost 3 penguins is a little worrying mind you.

Miro is also my personal trainer. During the day, I do pushups with him on my back. I manage about 50.....Ok, that's a half truth. I manage 25 but they are proper pushups I tell you! But as soon as I collapse, he screams  - 'MORE MORE MORE MORE', like a lunatic. I dread to think what he would say if he had a larger, more vulgar vocabulary. I push myself to do another 10....ok, another half truth. I do another 5ish.  He screams. I do a few more. By this time, I'm ready to shit myself. Then, Tino jumps on. Game over! Can you imagine how funny it'll be if I take him to the gym one day. The little laloo, tottering about, telling all the meatheads - 'MORE MORE MORE MORE!!!'

Tell me many of you guys occasionally pickup one of your wife's magazines to gawk at the pretty ladies? I'll admit it, I do it sometimes. So Tino clocked me instantly and said - 'daddy, that's a girl's book. What are you doing?' Busted!!

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Dads don't do playdates

One of my friends from the daddy group, Chris, came over yesterday with his 3 year old son, Ren. Tino finally has an English speaking buddy and the only word to describe the morning is...carnage! It was a toy explosion and they wanted to play with everything simultaneously. In short bursts between feeding and entertaining the kids, Chris and I did catchup. Turns out we have a bit in common. He likes a drink or two, he's got a sense of humour and he plays golf. Most will agree that I too like a drink or 10. Some may disagree but I too have a sense of humour. Most will disagree that I too play golf. The only downside - he called one of Tino's toys a "big crayon". It was a stump. He is American. By the way, I'm not calling it a playdate. Dads don't do playdates. The Singaporean in me wants to call it playplay but perhaps playmeet or playlaugh are more apt. I shall discuss this with the other dads.

I also met my second Hindi speaking friend yesterday. This was at the gym and when I overheard Hindi being spoken, I must admit, I smiled. On the inside of course. An actual smile can easily be misinterpreted at the gym. Turns out, this Sunny from Chandigarh is quite the hero in Punjab. He's also a villain in a recent Punjabi movie. He's a singer and a music producer. He's Sunny Chemma! Yes! THE SUNNY CHEMMA! Ok...i hadn't heard of him but a quick google search revealed some of his dance routines.

Heidi starts her French lessons today so I'm on duty for longer the usual. The only time I can have a constructive arts n crafts session is during Miro's nap time. Sometimes I even let Tino to join me.

Da Krens

My first blog of 2013 a few weeks ago became nearly my last. It sounds dramatic but I really haven't had the time and honestly, I'm losing the motivation. Much like a pigeon whose given up pooping on heads and MS Dhoni on test matches. Since I joined the gym and try to make it there on most days after Heidi's back, I just don't have the energy to write any sense. Not that I was writing much sense before but you get my drift.

The other reason for my lack of eagerness to pen down my feelings are my old university buddies who I caught up with last weekend in London. There are 2 kind of good mates. Those who motivate you. And those who take the mickey. 'The Kreny Crew', as we oddly called ourselves, are the latter. The origination of the name is lost in the filthy student pubs of Manchester and more specifically the walls of those pubs where we stood lined up ready to chat up any female who mistakenly walked past. And more specifically get verbally slapped by them. Those of us who were brave enough to attempt were brutally ripped apart by clinically delivered cusses. So I was prepared to be subjected to some ridicule when we met for the most English of meals...a curry. Luckily it took some time for me to readjust to their individually unique/strange accents of Wolverhampton, East London and Burnley so if there were some jokes at my expense initially, they went over my head. We had a great laugh reminiscing about those good old days and the highlight was when one of the fellas turned up in the same pale blue turtleneck he was so proud of a decade ago. Going by the record number of rejections we had collectively accumulated back then, I would never have imagined that we would somehow persuade a few fine specimens to marry us let alone bear our children. We counted 11 offsprings between us and I'm fairly confident we were correct. Not taking any names but our palest crew member was also the most....persistent. He was on such a roll once that he used the same chat up line on the same the same night. We have even been guilty of pissing off the the library. One other thing I remember from that get together. The auntyji sitting next to us had brought her own McDonald's take away. The curry house was in Slough. Need I say more.

I can't understand why there are so many Barney haters in the world. Of all the things you can hate these days, why this poor purple creature? Guns, racism, pollution, loud motor cycles, loud children on trains, Ian Bell, Que cutters, Ian Bell....all understandable. But not Barney! People are so dedicated to the cause that there are entire websites bad mouthing B. While I won't be lining up to burn effigies of him, I do find him disturbingly alluring. There, I've said.

Tino went to a play gym today. Tino is now traumatized. This particular one didn't allow parents to stay there so I had to leave him there. He was happy enough when I left. And the friendly French speaking lady spoke some English. What she lacked was some common sense. I got a frantic call from another woman who didn't speak English half an hour later. Since my phone never rings these days, I mean never, I rushed up to the play gym to find Tino terrified and bawling. Turns out she had popped out to run some errands and didn't bother telling Tino she was going to be away. Her replacement aunty didn't speak English and poor Tino was clueless and very very scared.

Tino & Miro are playing together a lot these days. It's an eye watering sight. But it always ends in massive fight. That too, is an eye watering sight. If I see them quietly playing together, I soak it all in and ready myself for the big outburst. I have almost nailed the countdown to the screaming. It stands at 5 minute 35 seconds. It's amazing how accurate Miro is in irritating his big brother.

Below a picture of the crew in Finland some 10 years ago at our wedding. And a few from last weekend. Haven't really aged, have we?


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Au Revoir Finland

There are few things in life more satisfying than hitting a 6 and filling the perfect dish washer. Both of which I've been quite unsuccessful at in my life. And the times I did achieve them, it was by fluke. Having said that, I do remember a few occasions when I cleared the long on boundary of my former club in Singapore, Indian Association. If it sounds like I'm boosting, that was my very intention. Village cricketers around the world would share that sentiment. My teammates would cheer in unison and we would talk about my innings late into the post match session. Ok, that's a lie. I would talk about it late into the night with whoever was willing to listen. But there was some clapping. It could have been from the adjacent cricket ground but screw the details. Unfortunately, there's only one dish washer in a household, so when I placed the last plate in my well planned vacant slot there was zero applause. Mrs did not oblige. Totally unreasonable and I plan to discuss this topic in length once she's read this blog. So that's early 2014 then. This was in our friends, Lotta and Tomi home in Helsinki. Now there's nothing that this couple can't do. They have built this amazing house recently and both are extremely hard working, modest and giving individuals. Everytime we visit them, they plan incredible menus and serve us an inexhaustible amount of booz. Tomi is a true masterchef in my book. His chicken rice was bliss. And on top of that, he juggles. Poorly but still 2 balls more than me. O'Malley still working my way up to 2 balls. He even manages to make my kids eat better than I can. So my visits to Finland always end up with all kinds of envy. This time it was house envy, cooking envy, bicep envy, putting kids to sleep quickly envy, cutlery envy, coffee cups envy, cheese slicer envy, microwave envy, balcony envy, hat envy, scrambler envy, Christmas tree envy and snowman envy. Tino's snowman was better. I even had a resurgence of height envy. As I was trying fight against gravity and genes, to reach the plates at the top shelve (which seem higher in Europe), I saw a hand, a feminine one, effortlessly pick up the required items. There was strength envy when my mother in law asked me to open a jar. Thankfully, i managed, just about but I had to go into the other room just incase. You know, I had a lot to eat and the risk of the contents exiting my body was increasing by the second. I don't think its the 'grass is always greener on the other side' syndrome, I suffer from. It doesn't. I didn't see any grass here. Back to reality on Monday. Back to Geneva.  Looking forward to it actually.

New Year's Eve - Alavieska Style

For the past 6 days, I've been in Alavieska. People are quite materialistic here. I can tell. They all have a tractor and the spoilt 16 year olds drive their treasured family vehicle to school. Need I elaborate more? Even if I tried, I can't because that's the most interesting fact I have on this place. Over the years, I've perceived myself to be the object of much desire in this part of Finland. I thought I was eye candy for the local drunks hanging outside the supermarket. I think I was mistakened all along. So this year, I have boycotted the trips to the grocery store and for the past 6 days, have'nt left the premises of my mother-in-law's property. Nevertheless, It's been fun. My brother-in-law was here with his Mrs. and 2 boys, Pyry and Samu, both of whom are the same age as my 2 laloos. You can imagine the decibal levels reached while they were awake. I am certain the swiss have some law restricting more than 4 children under one roof and they would have been furious with such a racket. But luckily the Finns are a lot more tolerant. Especially here in Alavieska, where our closest neighbours were some 100 metres away and atleast to a city boy like me, they seemed like  moos of content and not complaint. It did get a bit loud on new year's eve though when the fire crackers went off. We set off a few rockets of our own which the boys enjoyed immensely. I was a bit eager to get rid of the fire cracker in my hand and as it fizzled away in the snow, my brother-in-law was quick to critisize my light and throw technique. As I coldly (more in actual terms than emotional) stared at his chiseled nordic chin, I considered smacking the smug smile of his face. I held back. I wasn't convinced I could reach it. Tomorrow we move on to the final leg of our holiday. Helsinki beckons once more. I just might bring out my spice box again.

In 2013, I would like to get more hits on my linkedin profile, try not to starve my children and get a job. 2 of these are achieveable. The third seems like a stretch.

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White Christmas

Findian is a word that our good friends, Ari and Gaya, had brainstormed a few years ago. That's even before they and we had extended our families by times 2. While I always knew that Tino, Tanya, Miro and Mia weren't the only Findians in the world, I was a little skeptical that I would ever meet more. That's until the Indian chap in the cabin next to ours during the train journey to Kemi, offered a hand with the Seth travelling circus. We got chatting and once we had discussed Tendulkar's retirement, the topic of our own stories came up. It turns out that he lives in Tornia (the Indian equivalent of....well...can't think of one that small right now) and has Findian kids of his own. He's even got fellow Indian buddies who have settled here and started families. It's funny how a 15 minute conversation with a complete stranger can give you a sense of community. I foresee a dhabba at santa's village selling reindeer parathas and salmon raita in the near future. So what can I tell you about Tervola? you can hear yourself think here or in my case, nothing at all. The Finns are buying ear plugs that shoot off daylight into your head. I couldn't expose myself to such a device and risk the Mrs seeing the light edition from my other ear. Time stands still here. Everything is frozen in time. Atleast it feels that way and just to confirm it hadn't, I counted the second hand on the clock tick away. I can't even remember the last time I did or heard that. That's how peaceful and quiet it is out here. The few orange bellied birds that I saw, fed on pork which my father in law has generously served them. They weren't the angry kind but angry birds have indeed taken over this country. Quite a few of Tino's presents were of that particular brand. Once again he threw a curveball at me when he asked 'why are angry birds angry?'

For someone who is used to having an alcoholic beverage only when it's dark, I found it hard not to reach for one at 3pm. -25 degrees is very very cold. I could feel my nose hair (which i seem to be getting more and more of lately) freezing. I did see the sun rise at 11am and it was a strangely fulfilling experience. I was in the car on christmas day when the horizon turned a brilliant orange while everything in the distance was covered in powerdry snow. It was like the sun was playing pikaboo, smiling, wishing the world Merry Christmas. It was happiness extreme and I felt quite emotional. Most of the time though, the sky is grayish during daylight. I use the term 'daylight' very loosely here. As someone told me recently, you don't intentionally need to take black and white pictures here. I still think that Finland during the winter is like a mood stimulant. It exaggerates what you may be feeling at that time. If you let the walking dead creep into your mind, then it all looks a bit eerie and grim. I can see why a depressed soul like that bloke who recently jumped infront of a train here, would consider suicide as an option. But if you're happy, then it does enhance that particular feeling as well.
My father in law is like the Finnish version of that lead actor from the sitcom 'Home Improvement'. With a loud voice and exponentially bigger laugh. Surpassed only by his belly. One that Santa would be well envious of. For some reason he thinks I'm well versed with tools and on every trip proudly shows off his garage. I'm not the most handy guy around and for someone who did mechanical engineering, I'm ashamed to admit that it was only recently I located the lever for hammer drill action on my black & decker. Mikael did not judge me for it...I think. So my half an hour chat with Mikko felt like eternity. I now have several ways of nodding and they range from approval to amazement. They are my 'goto' body gestures in Finland. I never leave home without them along with my 'sorry, I still don't understand a word you're saying' smile. I used the latter sparingly when Santa came to visit. The boys were incredibly excited but not as excited as I was when Tino opened his remote controlled BMW convertible. It's the best present a boy and his father can ask for. I may not be able to drive an actual vehicle but I can certainly make one skid 180 degrees. It's now ranked as one of my greatest achievements in life. I impressed all the family members but Heidi wasn't fooling me with her nod of approval. Being a creator of many, I instantly knew she was faking it.
I've almost finished my bottle of Tobasco.


Train journey to the edge of Lapland

This post is purely to document my excitement about our overnight train journey from Helsinki to Kemi. We are off to visit Heidi's dad in Tervola which is on the edge of Lapland. Going by the number of big lens I have seen hanging on layered necks, me thinks this train goes to Santa's home. Will let you know what -27 deg feels like when we get there. Meanwhile, our bunker bed ensuite is a boy's dream come true. Boys of all ages. I might be even more hyper about this tiny room than Tino and Miro. Infact, I know I am! Free WiFi. Even a shower squeezed in. And all those buttons! Can't wait to test them all out. As soon as the kids are asleep. Wonder if they have room service? 11 hours of fun awaits.

Let it snow, let it snow....ok, that's enough snow. You can stop now.

If there's one thing Finland has in abundance, its snow. And blondes. One can never prepare oneself to the unlimited amount of either here. Its a sea of white and all shades of yellow (even though Heidi says blonde and yellow are different colours). I am in a constant state of bewilderment, confusion and stress. Bewilderment because of the sheer amount of snow. Everything outside is covered with it. Trees, cars, people who walk slowly. The Sherlock in me has deduced that it'll be a white Christmas.

Confusion because now I'm getting my limited French muddled up with my limited Finnish. At the cashier, I used Bonjour instead of Moi, Merci for kittos and please for..well...please. Finnish doesn't have a word for please, you see. It makes you jump to the conclusion that they're not so big on unnecessary politeness. In reality, its just that they're not so big on talking to strangers so they keep the chats to a minimum. They are though, quite subtle about telling you to be well mannered. When I burped at our host, Sussana's home, she told me to whistle. When I asked why, she said - 'its to let others know that you're not just any pig. You're a circus pig!' I laughed on the outside but felt like a 3 year old being told off. Perhaps now's the time I should tell her that her nickname 'Sussu' in Hindi means Piss.

Why am I stressed? Because I am scared to lose my wife in the blonde blurryness inside malls. Its like when Alex 'the lion' couldn't pick out his best buddy Marty 'the zebra' amongst the zeal of Zebras in Madagascar 2 (I googled that! Zeal of Zebras. How many of you knew that? You see, my blogs are educational so spread the word). Now, I am not implying that all blondes including my wife are Zebras even though that's exactly what it may seem like. They don't all look alike. Some even have great personalities. Likewise for blondes.

On the topic of kids movies, I think Miro's alter ego is Mowgli from The Jungle Book because he really hates any form of clothing. Winter is his worst nightmare. He's in his element without any form of textiles on his body and his lion roar is something to behold. Its the same roar he uses for bears mind you so I need to test his swinging on trees technique to confirm this theory.

On the topic of bears, I bought a pair of excellent waterproof winter boots. I felt like the British adventurer Bear Grylls in them. Until Heidi told me that the salesgirl had sold me the women size. Even a female version of Bear Grylls would be more macho than me so I'm keeping them. Remind me to post a picture next time. Meanwhile, here's one I took with Santa in his best Santa beard.



The Swiss red tape is tougher than gaffa

It was a terribly frustrating day.  As frustrating as nailing a painting on the wall only to be told it's crooked and waiting for Sachin's 100th hundred aaaaaand now his retirement. It started at 0645 hours when I left for the immigration to get re-entry visas for the boys and me. You see, nearly 3 months into our stay, we are still waiting for our permit Bs or residency permits. They are in the printing stage I'm told and apparently the guys there are flooded with work. Nothing to do with the tightening of swiss immigration laws then! At 8am I was given the cold shoulder by the receptionist aunty saying the boys need to be present as well even though we were told otherwise. Annoyed, I headed back home to release Heidi for work and then at 10am, I returned with little Seths. A 2 hour wait is painful. A 2 hour wait with 2 fidgety toddlers is a gazillion times worse. Luckily I have watched India lose often enough in recent years so I had experienced days of excruciating pain at a go.  The saving grace was the free WiFi so Tino was partially entertained. Finally our turn came only to find out that the visa required a picture of the boys which were to be snapped in another room which looked like a sterile dungeon. Tino was easy to persuade with candy but if you thought that taking a passport photo of a new born was tricky, taking one of an 18 month old is infinitely more difficult. Especially when the person in charge of pressing the button (he wasn't a photographer) is an arrogant idiot. I instantly knew he didnt have kids of his own. He was as gay as the blokes in modern family. I realize that the chaps in the TV series have an adopted child so my comparison doesn't really work. This gimbecile (gay+imbecile) was not only unhelpful, he was sarcastic about it. And not the funny kind either. He wanted Miro to sit up straight, look down the lens and hold his position. By now Miro was terrified and was screaming like he's about to get a jab at the doctors. Meanwhile the moron kept repeating, 'little bit down, to the left, head straight...oh! There's shadow!' I was fuming and told him to just snap the bloody picture. It was hard enough keeping Miro still. He told me 'No picture, no visa' and 'I can go get the swiss rules changed'. Eventually he said, this isn't working and to come back when the child's calmer. Not sure but by CHILD, he may have meant ME! So even the button pushers along with the receptionists in Switzerland have the authority to tell me to bugger off. Heidi came to the rescue and faced a similar scenario. Let's just say the gimbecile's sarcasm fell flat infront of the Finnish bluntness. As you can see, Miro's expressive in the visa says 'PISS-OFF'.

The following article on vodka saving 2 elephants did cheer me up -

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Tino meets santa

It was my first experience watching Tino in a performance today. More of a candle carrier really but the joy and pride I felt is unsurpassed. There were other kids carrying candles as well but I thought Tino's technique was quite splendid. It was at the Finnish school christmas party which was brilliantly organized. The house moms and the teachers had done a fantastic job and the spread was exceptional. From pies to pizzas and cakes to cookies, there was no shortage of food but it lacked samosas. A good party is judged by it's samosas and accompanying condiments. These mothers are robots I tell you. Up from the wee hours in the morning, slaving away in the kitchen to bake some pies and they're not shy to tell you so much. Fortunately the expectations from a stay-at-home-dad are as low as the Indian cricket team and Steven Seagal movies. Imported dried mangoes is what we took, all in the name of exotic. It's a word I've bastardized and unashamed to use just because of my 'exotic' background. I'll use it as long as I can get away with it. With much pomp and show, Santa arrived. The excitement was 'electric' but for me he needs to work on his 'Ho Ho Hos'. Finnish santas are not big on them for some reason and just like samosas are a must at parties, a triple Ho is a necessary skill for father christmas. Tino's eyes were glued on his bag though and I think he had forgotten to chew his cake stuffed in his mouth (see pictures). All in all it was fun day. A day which started with me cooking daal....from scratch. And not the premixed masala either. The original pressure cooker style with Hing and all. Very nice!

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Put them in the box and make them think out of the box

Are you one of those who has a vision but the end product turns out to be better than what you had imagined? Well, it doesn't for me. Inspired by something I saw on Facebook, I decided to put the cardboards to good use by constructing a sanctuary for the boys where they could let their creative juices flow. A place where they could paint in peace (or not) without my constant nagging about what a mess they had made. Being the lazy human being that I am, I've always looked for shortcuts to reduce workload. This was to avoid cleaning. So the goal was attained but it was really....architectural vomit. My engineering professors who had taught me structural design back in uni would be embarrassed. But luckily for them, I didn't really exist. The boys were excited though, so I am proud of my creation. I plan to attach more wings to the structure but I doubt there's enough gaffa tape in Geneva to hold it up. I no longer give a shit how India do in cricket. It's piss poor and I blame the following alphabets for the state of Indian cricket - IPL BCCI.NOKIA Lumia 900_000454

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New flat, road trips and the handsome uncle Mikael

IMG_5380I probably sound like a self indulgent buffoon but the job of a stay-at-home-dad never stops. It's true! So what have been upto for the past 10 days or so? A lot, I tell you! and thankfully it didn't allow me to watch any cricket. The 3rd test at Kolkata didn't happen at all in my mind. Much like the BCCI. I hadn't realized but Heidi just said that I've been doing this for 2 and a half months. So I have matched the maternity leave in a few countries. minus the breast feeding of course. To be honest, it's tougher now that the winter is here. My least favorite time of the day the is when I have to dress up the kids before venturing out. It's a tedious process layering the boys especially when by the end of it, Miro says 'Kaka!'.  That's poo in Finnish. He's a feisty little fella. Firm in saying his 'NOs', promptly follows them with a pout and proceeds by hurling the closest thing he can reach. It's quite funny actually and I can't stop laughing. I know he's thinking - What's so funny old man! Do you see anyone else laughing?' Well, Tino actually, smarty pants!

We moved to our new flat. We unpacked. We organized. We had our first visitor, Mikael, whose handyman services I shamefully exploited in exchange for my below par curries. I'm so hungry for a compliment that I even passed on a bowl of my attempt at butter chicken to our young French neighbour. She was very grateful although I'm not convinced whether the contents were consumed. Know-it-all Dorji ' the bodybuilder' bhai, wasn't fooled though and at first glance, bluntly told me - 'It doesn't look like butter chicken bro'. He had no inhibitions devouring my serving mind you but he would eat any form of protein. I took the act as a compliment. Ignored his words.

We also put up the christmas tree. We rented a car. No! A mini-van (which Mikael and Mrs Seth drove). We went to Ikea. We went to Annecy, France. We went to Montreux. All the while I was like the 3rd (unwanted) child belted up at the very back. I even took a nap which Mikael rudely photographed even though I denied any  such dozing. By the way, why do parents also lie about sleeping? 'I was 'Resting' my eyes. Tino wasn't fooled. He was watching me and when I opened my eyes said - 'Are you awake now daddy!'. He even had the audacity to tell me a few days later 'daddy, why are you always sleeping?' and also 'daddy, why are you always drinking?'. It's NOT true! I was 'RESTING' and giving 'MIKAEL COMPANY'. kids! what do they know!

An American, a German, a Spanish, a Canadian, a Finn and 2 Indian went to an Irish pub. As much it sounds like the start a corny joke, thats exactly what I did to share the mental agony of Tino's highly exaggerated comments. I joined my dads group for an evening of beer consumption and what lovely blokes they were. They understood me. The group of us shared numerous daddy tales while the rest of the packed pub were on another planet. A planet where everyone's young and earn big bucks. We were neither but unperturbed, we laughed. We had fun. It was the release I was looking for. Mikael had joined me as well and after listening to all our ranting for 3 hours, said he's considering turning gay. Not because we were good looking. It had to do with the harsh reality of parenthood.

By the way, the movers broke the glass front of my Tendulkar autographed T-shirt mounting. You can imagine my response when he said that the insurance will cover it. Is that a bad omen or what! Not long before the maestro hangs up his whites. There! Yet again, I have used one of the most overused of cricketing phrases.

It gets dark by 5pm now and I find myself a little insecure walking alone. It's not that I'm soft. It's just that I'm still scarred from the mugging that I suffered in Manchester many years ago. In my defense he was a big bloke but then there's no such thing as a small mugger. Having said that, now I know where Tino gets his trait for stretching the truth.

I regularly check my linkedin page and it's depressing to see how many people have read my profile. 8 in 30 days is definitely a record low. Even less than Harbhajan Singh! Shameful!

Below are a few pictures that uncle Mikael took. He said that he hates being in pictures. As payback for my napping snap, I had to add one of the man himself. He was an absolute legend. Even took Tino to the museum.



The suppository story

I had a really uncomfortable experience today. And I wasn't even on the 'receiving' end of things...or rather the thing. You see, I had to deposit a suppository to bring down Miro's high fever. Somehow, I have managed to avoid this but in my current role, it was bound to happen. As if the process wasn't hard enough already, Tino screaming in my ear 'Daddy, what are you doing?' made it even tougher.  While Tino and Miro had an expression of disbelief plastered on their tiny little faces, mine was somewhat a mixture of determination and discomfort. My lengthy explanation didn't seem to convince Tino because he recoiled when I approached him with a thermometer. It's a task that I'll never get used to. Placing a suppository is like watching someone get hit on the family jewels. You WILL cringe. We had a visitor from Singapore last night. Our former East Galleria neighbour, Valerie, was in town and she popped over for dinner. My lasagna was appreciated. That too, without me digging for a compliment. She works for an exclusive bank based in Geneva and now I know where to go when I make my first million. I just hope she's still a banker in my next life.

On Wednesday, I visited a Finnish mom's house where we had gathered to make christmas decorations. That's how much I have grown as an individual. I'm comfortable in my manhood. I was hoping to showoff my creative side but there's only so many ways I could glue 6 beads on christmas tree shaped wine bottle cover thingys. I also wanted to show-off my biceps. I failed in that as well since my good buddy, Dorji a.k.a Mr. Bhutan, had his guns out. He's perfected the art of flexing his muscles while glueing stickers. I also feel there's just not enough room for 2 non-Finnish sub-continental stay-at-home-dads in the Finnish group. I'm kidding of course! Him being there, made things a lot less awkward. We were chatting in Hindi and when one of the moms enquired about the language we were conversing in. I quickly replied - 'can't you tell, it's Finnish with an accent!'. I thought it was witty at the moment but now as I write it down, it was a lame thing to say. I had made curried egg sandwiches which I thought were sensational. I got one compliment. Two, if you count me talking infront of the mirror. That's after I had pimped my sandwiches around like it  was some ancient Indian recipe. It was off the cooking app. Epicurious. Dorji told me they were tasty but I could tell he was thinking 'my pizza's better'.

It's a busy week coming up so not sure if I'll have time to blog. We move on Monday and Tuesday plus Heidi's cousin, Mikael, visits us from Finland. Him and me have had some awesome drinking sessions over the years where we have mapped out several business ventures...atleast I think we have. We are a lot alike. He's extremely creative. I only think I am.

By the way, I'm now on whazzup, fiber, tango, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, email and mobile. I get lonely which explains my picture in a batman outfit

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I had a really uncomfortable experience today. And wasn't even on the...shall we call it...receiving end of things. You see, I had to deposit a suppository to bring down Miro's high fever. Even Tino, the observer, had an expression of disbelief plastered on his face. His screaming 'daddy what are you doing?' in my ear made the job much more stressful. 'medicine is supposed to go in your mouth daddy', he added. My lengthy explanation didn't seem to convince the little fella and I think he's scarred for life. When i approached Tino with the thermometer later, he instantly recoiled and shouted 'not in my bum!'.

Chalo Paris Chale

'Heavy' was the first word that came to mind when I laid my eyes on the Eiffel Tower. Not the most creative of adjectives, I know, but then I don't have the vocabulary of my illustrious namesake,Vikram. So 'Heavy' was what my brain could come up with. Big, metallic and heavy. And now, I'm the proud owner of 2 replicas bought of my Bangladeshi brother. I was too much of a cheapskate to spend my own euros, mind you. It was gift from our hosts who quickly figured out that this Indian wasn't about to contribute to the French economy. On the topic of our hosts, Eurelie & Eric, would do wonders with all the gaps in the tower. The man's a creative genius and their home was obviously his playground. It was the best use of space I've ever seen. There was storage in every corner of the house from under the floor boards to under the kitchen shelfs. There were hidden drawers in the coffee table. All of it, he had designed and made himself. My biggest worry was not to lose Miro in one of his many storage units. It was like a boathouse. A jacket with numerous pockets. A toy fire engine with many hidden compartments which they also had by the way and I had fun playing with it. From feeding us duck to fresh chocolate croissants and homemade tiramisu, from serving us only their best French wines, from escorting us around Paris and educating us on their city's history, it was truly a cultural eye opener. Their was only one small niggling issue. They could have had a quiet word with their 6 year old daughter to let me win in the game of Dobble. She's really too smart for her age, too smart for my age even. My joyful high fives and applause somewhat lacked conviction. I was distraught and traumatized, the truth be told. Not only am I unemployed, I can't even beat a 6 year old in a game of Dobble! What's worse...Heidi won. On top of that, the little girl rejected my chicken curry as well. Thankfully, the adults seem to enjoy it....'seem' being the operative word.

While it was amazing to see the talented french painters and one particular incredibly talented football juggler in action the next day, it did nothing for my self esteem. With every stroke of their brush, with every deft touch of his feet, they killed something inside me. I felt like a worthless little idiot who proudly made a blowup balloon dinosaur only to find out the rest of class had recreated a full size T-rex out of popsicle sticks. (cricket) Watching Kolhi's dismissal on a full toss made me feel a little better about myself.

Paris isn't kids friendly at all. All their fashionable little cafes are 'cute' but not suitable for families. Lugging the mountain buggy around was especially tough since their underground transportation system has way too many stairs. Thankfully there was always a friendly hand or two to help carry the pram.

Our trip did end on a sour note. I'll admit Tino is a talkative and inquisitive little boy. He may or may not take a breath while talking. Depends of the topic of conversation. About 2 hours into our return journey, a prick....hang on!....A F@&KING prick shouted at the top of his voice 'NOW SHUT UP ALREADY'. Now Tino works on a slightly different frequency but he wasn't screaming or shouting, merely talking. No one tells my boy to shut up but me! I was fuming but refrained from picking a fight. I told the A$$H*L@ he was welcome to call the conductor. He did...what an idiot! We did ask Tino to talk quietly thereafter which he must have thought was strange but kindly obliged. The mother sitting next to us informed us that there's zero tolerance for noise on these trains and generally speaking, it's the same in Geneva even if you're in your own flat. It's obvious to be me now that the tolerance for gobby morons who deserve to get their heads bashed is quite high. I think this city needs a superhero vigilante to sort out these kind of scumbags. My cricket friends would agree that perhaps it's a job for Captain Cook and his bearded sidekick Sir Monty!


The day we met Dr Evil's feline friend

My mom would be proud of me. For someone who specialized in the art of making a good spicy plate of maggi and the token annual butter chicken, I've become quite confident in the kitchen. Granted, confidence alone doesn't taste of much but coupled with my improvisation, it's a solid foundation for a budding Masterchef of the Seth clan. My marinade for the chicken curry was a blend of yogurt, Indian spices, ginger, garlic, lemon juice and....mustard. The oven did the magic and I used the juices to cook the rice. It was sensational, if I may say so. The only thing lacking was a standing ovation at the end but I shall brief the family next time. Tomorrow, I'll be attempting beef brisket. The other thing I'm getting confident with is traveling on my own with the 2 laloos. In the afternoon, we went on a little excursion to Versoix (just outside Geneva), to meet Tshering Dorji, my Bhutanese buddy and his daughter. They have a scrawny little cat who suspiciously looks like Dr. Evil's feline friend but with a dog's personality. It jumped me and climbed all the way up to my shoulder to say hello to Miro. Suffice to say, my little anti social offspring didn't take too kindly to the cat's greeting. He's traumatized for life now. Tino didn't have any such issues and had a great outing. The return home at peak time traffic wasn't so much fun but luckily even the most hostile of people don't tend to mess with a daddy pushing a mountain buggy.

Finnish school tomorrow and I'm looking forward to showing off Tino's christmas cards. Dorji will be there as well so I'm less worried about the coffee.

Nyon, vegetarian zoo and the racist ticket machine

What is it with kids and animals? My boys are totally infatuated with them. Ok, I understand the attraction with lions and tigers but dogs and cats...really? When they see one, everything must STOP! We must collectively gawk, point and say 'look...a dog!' What must they think! It's the same with Heidi mind you and to be honest, I have done the same with cricketers...'Look...there's Venkatesh Prasad!'  It's worse with farm animals right now. Maybe it's because having lived in Singapore their entire lives, the kids are familiar with the 2 dimensional images. Anyway, I took them to the mini zoo here today. It's a vegetarian zoo. Only goats, rabbits, sheep and such like. It's an awesome walk though. A touch challenging but I'm blaming the mountain buggy.  Otherwise, I would sprint up...yeah right! Spectacular view as you'll see from my pictures. It was our second time there and the boys were still spellbound. They said sheep, I said chops. They said chicken, I said butter. They said ducks, I said peking. they said goat, I said cheese. They said swan, I said overrated. They said donkey, I said England. The last 2 are cricket related which conveniently brings me to the subject of India kicking some ass. We watched the victory together this morning over breakfast and it was so...oh! so sweet. i love Kolhi for changing his bat when the scores were tied. He's such a prick that he can't help it, can he! But he's OUR prick. He's a prick that belongs to all of India : ) I feel for podgy Patel though. Two bad decisions but for a person who has consumed enough ghee for Gujarat, what was he doing missing those leg side deliveries? My mom could have flicked them to the boundary....I couldn't. I swear I heard the sky commentators crying about BCCI's stance on the referral rule. Whinging..comes to mind! And can someone tell me what is it with the recent track record of these British Indians playing for England? Owais, Bopara and now Mister Fat Pat! I have always admired the English media for their single minded dedication to the cause of churning out new and creative puns so here's mine for the first test - 'Cook and co. fried at Ahmedabad'. Not my best work, I know. We went to Nyon on Sunday to visit an old friend whose name I have rudely mispronounced and misspelt for a long time...Marijs! They have a wonderful house outside Nyon and I felt at home as soon as I stepped in. It was her Indian inspired furniture you see and I felt like I was in Jaipur. The raclette lunch she served though was nothing like I have had in the pink city. The trip started on a bad note though when the little man inside the ticket machine was being raciest and refused to give us the ticket. 8 francs down the drain. Both the Hindi and Finnish profanities surprisingly didn't work. I took a picture of the offender just incase there was a spot check on the bus. We had even prepared our excuse in French - 'cet idiot machine à mangé mon billet, le cretin!'  For someone who has taken train rides from Delhi to Jaipur, the train ride which followed was an eye opener...albeit an extremely overpriced one for a bloody 15 minute journey. 32 francs!!!! I expect the next bollywood hit to be shot in the loo of a swiss train. It's massive and quite nice.

I'm looking forward to our trip to Paris on Thursday. They have a big tower I hear.