Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Long Long Vacation (Hibernation)

Well, it has been a long time since my last post and have I been busy! Nothing special, just the usual - a bit of travel, a lot of knitting and sewing and cooking and visiting, along with my already busy routine work. Many a time I almost started my post and couldn't.

Sometime back my sister-in-law asked me, "Why haven't I seen any new posts, Akka?"  "Ever since R was born I have been busy," I replied. She had a hearty laugh and said, "But they are in the US and you are in India." "I am simulating having a new born baby at home," I said. Jokes apart, until few years ago it indeed was a busy time to have a new born baby at Indian homes. It is not very different in these days except that most women prefer to stay back at their homes and ask their mother or mother-in-law to go ever and help them.

Then, the whole house would be bursting with activity with so many people to help around. Activities begin from the time the news arrives that the daughter is pregnant. Discussions are held as to who should be asked to come and stay for those few months when the baby is born and the new born and mother are confined (the delivery is known as confinement in most places). There are always aunts or grandmothers who are free to come and spend a few months to be of help in the family. When the daughter is brought home during her 6th or 8th month of pregnancy, every care is taken to see that she is comfortable and eats well and exercises lightly. (Expectant mothers of today have no such luxuries, what with having to work almost until the date of delivery so that they could have all the leave available after the baby arrives). The maid is given special instructions to make herself available at all times.

"How will I contact you if my daughter goes into labour late in the night?"  my mother asked our maid  one evening, when I was expecting my baby at my maternal home. I burst out laughing and my mother said, "why are you laughing?" I said, "if I go into labour you should be calling the midwife and not the maid." "Don't worry about what she says Amma, what does she know. You just come to your backyard and shout my name, I will come," said the maid. She lived about a kilometre away and we could see her house from our backyard across paddy fields and a canal. Sure enough the maid was the first one to be informed as the lady went into labour. She is the one who would make all arrangements for the lady's comfortable delivery and keep things ready for the midwife and take over from the midwife after the baby arrives. She would sit with the new mother and baby and give them all the nursing care and also take care of bathing the baby and the mother . The aunt who had arrived for help would be coordinating between the new mother and the main household and taking care of the food and medicines of the new mother and the baby. The house would be in a perpetual state of activity like buying the herbs for the medicines and preparing the medicines as per tradition and boiling the bathing water for the new mother with herbs and preparing the massage oil, etc. And of course there were festivities when the baby arrived. On the 7th day the paternal aunt and grandparents would arrive with bangles and anklets for the newborn baby. This function is known as Kappu. Naming ceremony on the 11th day follows if the father of the baby is present. The baby is put in the cradle for the first time on the 28th day. The festivities would go on and on.

I was reminiscing on all these when my own adorable and perfect grandchild arrived though he was halfway across the globe. And yet my handsome and charming son made sure that we did not miss out on any excitement by calling us each minute and giving us the status report from the very minute the gynecologist advised my daughter-in-law to get admitted in the hospital for delivery. He even made me listen to the  first cry of the baby. Our days were spent here in India wondering if the baby slept well, fed well, how the new mother was, how were they managing, etc. So every evening and morning we would be sitting in front of our PC chatting with our son and asking questions about the happenings there and he in turn would patiently answer all our queries. Though it is not a tradition there, my son's mother-in-law graciously agreed to come and spend one month with them to be of help to them with the new baby.

As I said, the first few months after the baby arrives are very busy and critical especially in the case of the first baby as the mother is not experienced in taking care of the baby. This is especially true in the nuclear family set up, as the children do not get to see other babies growing up. Whereas in the olden days, there were always some little children in all the families and also in the neighborhood. And like I said, there was always help available to take care of all the needs. The first thing my mother asked me after my grandchild was born was, "who is giving bath to the baby?". It was a big question. I asked the same question to my son even before the baby was born. "We will take care ma," he said. Though my mother has 7 children and more than a dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren my mother does not know to give bath to a baby. We always had a maid to do that. My son sent me a movie of him bathing his son.

Today's youngsters are very very accomplished I should say. My daughter-in-law is managing the baby and home all alone and has no complaints. My son is able to manage his busy schedule at workplace and come home and take care of the new born baby and other requirements and also keeps us informed of all the happenings there on a day to day basis.

We all wish them a healthy and happy and long life.


Anonymous said...


Welcome back! It is great to see your blog after such long time. Thanks a lot for sharing about childbirth. Best wishes for your new grandson.


Ammupatti said...

Hi Anonymous

Thanks! It really boosts me up to see a welcoming comment as soon as I post is published. Thanks again.

Best wishes

kaveri said...

Hello Ammupatti

I have been following your blog for the past 2 months, but there was no activity. Great to see and read your post. All your posts are very interesting. By the way you may be interested in knowing that I belong to Puthocode too.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Kaveri

Thanks much. I am very glad to know that you too belong to Puthucode. May I ask for more details? I would be very happy.

By the way you have an interesting blog too.
Best wishes

Pavithra Vijay said...

God bless ! Expecting more posts from you this year.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Pavithra

Thanks. I shall try.

Best wishes

Poornima Magadevan said...

Dear Ammupatti

Welcome back :) I have been checking your blog almost daily to see a post from you. Am glad to see you back.

Best wishes and Hearty welcome to the newborn


Ammupatti said...

Hi Poornima

Thanks for your perseverance. You have some very useful blogs and why are you not updating them.Continue the good work.

Best wishes

vidya said...


I am not sure you remember me - I am Anand's friend from Utah.

I have been following your blog for a long time and tried quite a few recipes. I have never commented on anything though. Just love your blog.

It is very interesting the way things are done here. Your comment about how your mother had not given bath to a baby struck me to heart because it was the same with my mom too. She was very agitated as she had come to help me but she did not know how to give bath to the baby. In fact my husband, Sampath was the one who gave bath to the baby from day 1.

Narayan Swamy said...

Congrats, Ammupatti! Please upload pics of R.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Vidya

Of course I remember you. Anand keeps updating me of all the news about you or rather I keep enquiring about all details of you and other friends. Hows the baby? Take care.

Best wishes

supriya said...

Dear Ammu paati,
I have been following your blog for some time. It makes for informative and interesting reading..I can connect to our traditions and customs through your blog! Thanks :-)
Best wishes,

Ammupatti said...

Thanks Supriya.

Best wishes

prk said...

prk wrote
I remember when both my sisters delivered there were lot of acitivities at home.I used to enjoy the commanding power of the maid servant in dictating terms with my sisters of dos and donts.As a child of 10-12 years i was in charge of taking care of the senior child when the second one was born to my sisters...
Great old days...May be because of that i still share a great attachment with my nephew s and niece.....and also extended to the next generation of theirs also call me mama and adore me more than their mama...

Urmi said...

Hi Ammupaati, congratulations on the birth of your grandson :) Very beautiful post, enjoyed and savoured every single word :)

Ammupatti said...

Hi prk

Glad to see ur comment my dear brother. Aren't these memories very sweet? At the same time they sadden us also because our children don't have such ambiance.

love u da

Ammupatti said...

Thanks Urmi


prk said...

again let me tell you all that my children was also surounded by their matenal sisters,mama,gand father,grand mother and a host of other relatives.(the same attachment was not available for children of my wifes sisters since life changed a lot by the time they delivered their children.
Again a paradox.My elder son started walking at 8 months(ettam masathil ettadi) and started talking also.My wife used to talk to him about everyhting under the sun and he will ask innumerbale questions..But my daughter started talking only at the age of 2.2 years...Why?? no idea...
They also share an excellent relation ship with their uncles and aunts..
I used to tell stories to them to put them to sleep.Some real,some imaginary,some from history,puranas which i heard from my child hood village days from temple discourses,grand ma ,father etc....
Now it is very difficult for me to ask them to put down the story book...
Yes I am proud to say i gave maximum time to my children and family than engossing in work work work and dont get any wronf ideas..even in work i stole great heights which was unimaginable..

Ammupatti said...

Congratulations my dear brother

I am proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ammu Patti:

I am probably older than you. I grew up in Lankeswaram gramam in Chittoor near Palghat. My grandfather was a lawyer in the district court. Mine is a long story. I now live in Canada and have two grand children. I sing kaiveesamma and Ana muttu muttu to them. There was another song called kozha kozha kanne? do you remember it? Keep the blogs coming. Enjoy it.

Nimmi Abraham

Ammupatti said...

Hi Nimmi Abraham

I am very glad that an elderly person like you could connect with what I write and appreciate my urge to share my thoughts. We may have got uprooted but the sweet memories of childhood spent with loving people will always remain with us and get kindled very often.

I dont know "kozha kozha kanne"

Thanks for stopping by.

My best wishes to you and your family

Anonymous said...

Hi Ammupatti,
love your blog, the simple stories straight from the heart. Your Puducode chronicles are fascinating and even though I haven't had these experiences, something stirs in my heart.
kozha kozha kanne: is kozhu kozhu kanne un per enna?
I remember these 2 lines vaguely, my mom and my grandmom used to say that to my son when he was a little one.
keep the puducode memories coming ammupatti.
much love,