Vocabulary of a two and a half year old

When I have nothing else to do, I spend 2 hours recording the vocabulary of my 2.5 year old daughter. Why am I doing it? For no other reason than curiosity. Well, also, I was wondering how long it would take before I could speak as fluently in Telugu as she does in English? I mean, how many words do I have to master ( grammatical construction aside). Turns out as many as 402!

While indulging in this amusing pastime, I also learnt that:

A 2-3 year old’s vocab is usually anywhere between 200-300 words

To provide perspective, here’s what somebody has put up in wikianswers:

Grade 1 Student = 1,000+ words

Normal Person (Graduate) = 5,000 to 6,000+ words

University Professor = 15,000+ words

Spelling Bee Winners = 30,000+ (as claimed by them)

College Dictionary (Abridged) = 50,000 – 70,000

Total Words in English Language = 250,000+ (Growing)

Dictionary (Un-abridged) with derivatives = 450,000+

Shakespeare used 60,000 words

Anyway, she’s got a long way to go, especially if she’s going to be standing on the Spelling Bee podium. But as of now, I’m quite a proud mother, since I attribute a large part of her vocab learning to my own conversations with her ( she’s spent most of her time with me after all!).

Here’s the whole ( unabridged list) of words N knows and can use accurately in English ( she also can do a little bit of Hindi, and a few words of Assamese). Highlighted some of the ones that are non-typical. My favorites are : massage and pedicure 🙂

Body parts
Eyes ears nose head teeth chin mouth tongue cheek hair bum hand arm fingers nail leg feet toe stomach armpit moustache

Fruits
Banana apple orange pineapple mango watermelon grapes papaya

Vegetable
Tomato Potato beans carrot

Food
Rice daal roti curds milk shakes ice-cream water juice

Clothes
Pant half-pant t-shirt jeans panty socks shoes

Animals
Hippo rhino tiger lion mouse monkey zebra giraffe crocodile chicken duck pig gorilla camel turtle elephant cat dog dinosaur crab rabbit sheep lamb cow buffalo horse goat octopus shark fish

Birds
Pigeon crow parrot peacock ostrich

Flowers  Tree plant pot gardening

Daddy mummy friend teacher grand-father grand-mother aunt

I want to do where is you a tell that throw Dance sing play clap eat jump sleep drink exercise rhyme big hug little small tall fat thin how smile sad happy angry scary thing school kiss love please thanks sorry special thunder rain light darkness good bad why what know shop playground swing see-saw sand box Sofa chair bed table phone bangle bindi chips less more give take baby girl boy man woman enough tomorrow today get up down come here there everybody not yes no one two three four black red green yellow orange blue brown black white pink in at and but because pull push downstairs tennis basketball cricket football spicy TV movie cartoon sweet salt sugar curtains glass plate spoon fork Talk her him Book yoga waterbottle computer laptop god airport plane car seat bus truck cycle scooter basket mirror bottle sticker fridge kitchen bedroom butter burger pizza paneer cheese road jam jelly peanut-butter Doll toys teddy ball blocks clock window sky sun moon stars oil bath shower bucket candle birthday balloon cake gift bag dots doctor also door kite butterfly tea coffee paper comb dress cap uniform toothpaste toothbrush soap shampoo Bread noodles soup massage pedicure restaurant pressure-cooker specs break pillow crayon colouring camera call blackboard write behind look wall fan floor bangles lift towel hanky sandals scratch knife hurt fell around paining drum cover remove bike wash laugh pluck ground fallen cloth mosquito well fever cough piano skin so do clip slowly careful mischief tear break hole naughty shout scream howl step only lie truth stamp beat scold photo feel umbrella mouth snake scared happen okay boots tears jacket sweater shorts hair-band disturb trouble nosey diaper powder swim swimsuit necklace purse lipstick nailpolish touch racquet teach learn stick nailcutter shave find with earrings

Hyderabad Half Marathon and 10K run

I have been practicing for the Hyderabad 10K run. Getting up at 6, going to the Botanical Gardens with the Runner Girls of Hyderabad ( we haven’t formed the group yet formally, but thats happenning soon). And running about 7 – 8 kms , touching 10K only on one day. The past week I’ve only done about 3-5 K, conserving energy.

As usual, I procrastinated, and registered myself on Day – 1. Corporate registrations had closed, so me and Appa went to the booth at Eat Street in Necklace Road. Which was really good, because guess what happenned? On an impulse, Appa registered too.  Before I knew it, both of us were running for the half-marathon, for which I was, well, half-prepared and Appa was, as usual, not prepared.

Surprising it was then that we both actually managed to finish it, and under three hours too. Though that is not record breaking by any standards, it certainly felt special. And having Appa next to me meant I actually sweated it out and finished it. And enjoyed the whole thing, instead of feeling it was a punishment.Appa’s Dad put it to us this way: “You guys did the marathon. Half and half equals one.” 🙂

Here’s us with the runner girls and their families at the finish line.

I will resist the urge to record minute by minute details of our achievement ( it was a whole of 160 min, and thats a lot), and stick to the basics: the arrangements were great, the run started on time ( believe that!), and there was refreshment every once in a while. Traffic was kept out of the runners way by enthusiastic traffic police ( managing to control traffic in a way I have never seen them do in Hyderabad). And even the timing was recorded through little chips we had to tag onto our feet.

The scene at the Finish line was amazing, the 10K runners were also finishing up ( they started an hour later), and there were rows of corporate groups, a group from ISB, people running for various causes, etc. etc. We waited around to cheer a good friend who was finishing the 10K.

All in all, a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Return gifts and Pizza corner parties

Yesterday, N and I attended a Birthday party. Uninvited 🙂

A friend and her daughter were going, and we had nothing to do really what with Appa also being away on a recruitment trip, so I thought why not? The friend had already wrangled some sort of an invitation for us, or so she told me. I’d never spoken to the Mom or the kid whose Bday party it was.

Anyway, it was a nice party and N had fun and we got to know both the Mom and the kid, so that was good. What struck me though after the party was how different it was from the Bday parties we used to have.

For starters, we didn’t know if our parents would have a party for us at all or not. If the kids of today are told months in advance about the kind of cake they will have for their Bday, I could not be sure I would even have one. We were not deprived, but somehow a Bday party with a large cake was not part of the must-haves.

What we did have was a Puja on our Bdays. Nobody asked us kids if we wanted that. But anyway, I guess it pleased the parents, and the Gods.

And sometimes, we did have our uncles and aunts and neighbours coming over in the evening. Ma would make Luchi/ ghugni, and there would be a rosogola, that was it. We would get crayons and sketchpens as gifts ( when did Barbies appear on the scene?) And oh, we’d take a bagful of Eclairs to school, and hand it out to the kids in class, and the teachers. And we could wear a Bday dress instead of our usual grey and white uniform.

The Bday that I went to was as much a contrast to this as there ever could be. First of all, it was at Pizza corner, not at home. The menu ? Potato wedges, cold drinks, cake ( a LARGE white one with Disney stuff on it), pizza, garlic bread . And icecream. And everything was being served by the Pizza corner staff.

Somehow, the Mom should have looked less hassled, what with things being taken care of. But she was looking really troubled, a very uneasy master of ceremonies.

Then there was the tattoo man, who was busy painting butterflies,  mermaids and spiderman on little boys and girls. But he would paint only one, because that was what was told him.

The little girl whose Bday it was looked a little overcome by the event when the time came for the cake to be cut. The Mom and Dad, both unused to being in the limelight, were hesitant to stand out and hold her hand for the cake-cutting. In fact, the poor little girl was unable, for a while, to see her own cake with the throng of kids around her.

The other strange phenomenon was the absence of the Dads. It was as though the invitation ( which I of course did not see or hear), had a Mom and child only written on it or something. I found it a little bizarre that the Dads were kind of barred from the celebrations – the only guys there being the Bday girl’s Dad and Granddad.I was told by my friend that its quite common, and in fact, people do have Bday parties where they say Mom and kid. I don’t know whether it is to imply that the Mom is also invited alongwith the kid, or that the Dad is NOT invited.

Then finally there is the matter of the return gift. I come, I eat, I get tattooed, I dance – and I am happy at the end of it to be there. Why, then, do I need to get a return gift also? There is something about this return gift business that really irks me. Call me anti-social or whatever, but I just don’t get it.

Things have changed drastically, all in one generation. We’ve got more money than our parents, and we have less people around us to lavish it on. So we lavish it all on our kids. Our kids, those lucky ones, have nice elaborate parties, and good for them too! I hope they all love it, and make it worth their parents while.

And I hope they don’t do what the parents often fall prey to – her Bday cake was bigger than mine.

1 year anniversary of our return to India

Nov 3rd, 2008 – we landed at Mumbai airport after an 8 hour flight from Rome, planning to surprise Appa’s parents on Diwali. We were exhausted, after a 3 week trip through Italy, with N still a toddler of a year and a half.

Yesterday, Nov 3rd, 2009 was the one year anniversary of our return back to India. Appa celebrated with his colleagues – by going drinking at the Boulder Hills Club. Me? I celebrated by being a good Mom. No exasperation or frustration. Just taking things as they come.

The last year has been, well, a mixed bag as they say. Alongwith the candies and the sweets we had really nasty things coming out of that bag. And our return, sadly, started with something nasty.

Here’s what happened  just the week that we returned – bomb blasts ripped the foundations of Guwahati, the city that I grew up in, and in which my parents and relatives lived. 18 bombs, killing more than a hundred people. I was struck with horror, and hollow with shock for a few days.

Then, just a month after, Mumbai was rocked with the brazenness of the terrorists who brought down the city to its knees for a harrowing day and more.

Appa and I thought, in all selfishness, was it right to come back, and put N in a country where there was such a blatant show of terrorism?  On the other hand, most of the people we loved and knew were here ( and after all, terrorists had already struck at the heart of the US too, no place was safe, as it were). At least this was our country, good or bad. Maybe the good would show up soon.

Of course, one of the good things that come out of that mixed bag was the constant touch with parents, and my sis, and other relatives who we would rarely get to see. We were counting the other day how much family N has met since we got back – and its been great. As soon as we came back, she spent Diwali with her Tata and Paati in Mumbai. ANd then of course there was the meeting of the two great devils in my life, my little sis and N.

Then I went to Guwahati for a month and a half with her , where she had a rollicking time. And she started speaking good Assamese. Okay okay – so it was a mix.

“Aita, Another Sau”, meaning Aita, move again, in Assamese, N said one day, asking my Mom to move coz she was trying to sweep the floor. Ma died with laughter that day.  Koka was buying her Chocolates every day.

In April, I went back again, this time to attend my cousin’s Thread Ceremony, something that I  never could have done if I were living in the US.

In March, and then again in June, we travelled to Bangalore for Appa’s cousin’s engagement and wedding. AGain, unimaginable if we were in the US. For the wedding, Appa’s brother came down from Canada, alongwith his daughter Anoushka. This was great, because Aswin and his family are now faraway, and N will get to see her cousin only occasionally.

During this time, Paati, Appa’s Mom, broke her leg – hit by a speeding maniac on a Bike. She is still hobbling around on her leg, and gaining the strength to walk, after 6 months of the injury. Definitely, one of the worse things that came out of the bag this year. N and I spent some time in Mumbai helping out.

In July, Paati and Tata came to visit us inHyderabad.  Before that, my Mom, her sis and Riku, her son who’s only 10 came over. We had a blast, showing them around. My sis visited with her boyfriend, and I found myself driving for the umpteenth time to Charminar and Laad Bazaar ( not that I did not enjoy it).

And then, in September, we made a 10 day trip to Delhi, to make sure we met up with everybody in India we knew pretty much. It was a blast, especially because we were there during Durga Puja.

During this time, of course, Gypsyfeet Travels was being born. I spent 10 days in December and 10 days in April travelling, minus N. The first trip was to Upper Assam, all the places that I had always wanted to visit while growing up. In fact, more, I travelled all the way to the Myanmar border. In april, I travelled to Bhutan, a trip that was, to put it simply, exhilarating.These trips were also pilot trips for Gypsyfeet, the travel company that we were starting. I blogged quite extensively about these travels.

We did our first trip in the NE, called Walk in the Clouds. It was in July, 2009.

Our second in September, Land of the Thunderbolts, in Sept 2009.

And our third trip is coming up soon, in Nov, 2009. We have many more trips lined up for the coming months.

And I have published a series of articles in various papers and magazines on my travels, so I can call myself a travel writer of sorts. And my children’s stories may get published, sometime in the next year. So personally, I have done some very different stuff from what I was doing in my corporate job. Of course,  I had teething problems, and some of them still remain.

Appa loves our move back to India. He takes off on his Enfield Bullet everyday from home, off to work at Microsoft, where he does a hard day’s work ( or not!). He comes back in the evening to a well-kept house ( relatively speaking ) , because we have help at home, and I have the time to look after the house.

Life, in short, is very different from when we were in the US. We have much more family engagements ( commitments!), and we travel often to meet family, whereas in the US we simply travelled to see a place, or, sometimes, friends. I spend more time taking care of the house, and of N. N is growing up very differently from how she would have in the US – for one, she has a South Indian accent instead of an American one. She is also learning Telugu, something her Mother has not managed over all these years!

We continue to play a lot of sports, and I have started doing some more demanding athletic activities like longer distance cycling, and running. Even then, we end up spending more time indoors or in some AC environment, because the outdoors are just not pleasant – there’s fumes, and there is dust, and there is dirt. Or there is traffic. So I go out in the mornings and evenings, and avoid traffic hours where possible.

Gypsyfeet takes up a lot of my time, and I am travelling to the NE in December for another month, to set up things. Busy times ahead.

Appa is happy and secure and confident that the move back was good. That we did the right thing? Me? I don’t know. I feel we made trade-offs .. and got some good things and some not-so-good. Would I do it again? Probably. Maybe just for the little pleasures.