<%-- Page Title--%> Slice Of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 143 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

February 27 2004

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Richa Jha

Iím not sure how many of you have attended a Baby Show, but it was certainly the first one for me. A Baby Show (BS) is something like a Dog Show (DS), where you're meant to flaunt your own assets along with those of your baby or your dog. Much more than at the other social gatherings, it's the only time when all, yes all, eyes will be on you with absolutely no one else to steal your one minute of fame. Until the person accompanying the next baby or dog walks in for his/her turn.

My child will soon turn three. By BS standards, it is old age, but then this was a BS and a Talent Search show combined. The stars of tomorrow were to be earmarked from this BS.

Just as both men and women parade their dogs at the DS, I logically concluded that it would be a similar arrangement at the BS. Since The Hubby's paunch is more presentable than mine these days, we decided he would look better sashaying down. With neatly trimmed moustaches and close Mach-3ed cheeks, with a floral yellow tie and a burgundy bespoked shirt, knowing that he was dressed to kill, he strutted out of the bathroom early morning on the day of the show. I looked at him and suddenly felt those moustaches had no business being there. They go well with dogs, not babies. Especially, these days when the metrosexual look is so in ('Chikna' we call it in Mumbai). So out went his straight handlebars.

Our child slept through his father's readying drill. He slept through his own. Similar to what happens while getting a dog ready for a DS, we clipped his nails, snipped his locks, and basted him in foundation and compact (he'd better have been the fairest of them all). The previous week he'd been fed on a diet rich in butter and ghee, so that he looked fattened and ugly, but "cho chweet" by the BS or DS standards. Trouble was, the buttons of my son's pants wouldn't come together that morning. The expansion had not been factored in while buying new clothes especially for the BS. The only thing that finally did fit him were his home <>pajamas. Pajamas<>, as you will agree, have an unassuming capacity to accommodate, whether big men or small.

With few last minute rehearsals of how to keep his head tilted to one side while gingerly walking down the ramp, how to keep waving at the crowds with one hand and holding the baby with the other, how to smile with one corner of his lips, careful not to let the teeth show, and so on, we left the house. The Hubby promised that he would keep his yellow teeth concealed and would not scratch his head. He also promised that he would hold the child as if he were his own child, not someone else's. I don't know what he meant by that, but in all probability, he was just repeating what the crowds had said about the winner of the previous year's DS- that he'd held the dog close as if it were his own child. Placing words in the right context is not something The Hubby is terribly good at. But I'm glad he made a sincere attempt at it. As I said, there's little difference between a BS and a DS.

Our son slept through the drive to the BS venue. Ditto when the participants were being lined up for the contest. Horror of horrors, we realised that The Hubby was the only male participant. The other mothers were busy feeding last-minute dope to their children. Things like, "remember to smile when we are there; or don't pout too much; or show them how independent you are, and yet part with the I-love-mom and I-love-dad message. Also, as my son still slept, I overheard two parents discuss that this little child looked drugged! But when he finally did wake up, and set his eyes on his dandy dad, he hollered. I was apprehensive about cracks appearing on the surface of his make-up, so I had to quickly think of a way to placate him. Therefore, I jumped into the ring.

But his dad's makeover had shocked him. He sucked on his thumb furiously, wailing every time he thought of the clean-shaven man. So while the other babies went up on the stage and performed, my son cried hugging me tight. He cried, and I watched helplessly as the other babies out-performed him. One mother told her child to recite Wyatt's poems, he did. The other mother made her child dance to one of the million Hindi remixes floating around these days, she excelled. One toddler raced two remote control cars at the same time. Another one rattled off multiplication tables from 2 to 20 all toddlers, these. When my turn came, I exhorted my child to at least get off my arms and stand up on the stage, but he refused and bawled even more.

When in the final Q&A round, each child was asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, most girls said they wanted to be Miss Universe, while most boys wanted to be cricketers. My son, as expected, opened his mouth only to wail.

The future, as you will agree, is bleak for my child. In the mean time, we are thinking of bringing in dogs as pets. With a bit of training, they should be able to participate in the forthcoming DS. At least, they will not let us down, and they just may have their moment of glory at their show. And with them, we too. Besides, The Hubby's moustache would have grown back by then. Perfect timing.





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