Together, depart, repeat

The air has got that crisp dryness which announces the advent of Durga Puja. My favourite time of the year. The other day Mummy was putting some of her clothes away in her suitcase and she thought, 'the time for packing has come'. There is still a little over a month for her to start back to India, but I have already started preparations. I have started steeling myself, that in some more weeks, it would be mad crazy getting ready in the morning, it would be real empty coming back to a vacant house in the evening and it will be very weird seeing the second bedroom lying unused.

The first half of her stay (I divided her stay into Before Papa Came And After Papa Left) seemed way quicker. Maybe I was eagerly waiting for Papa to come that I was willing time to pass quickly. Time for a change heard my wishes. Or maybe it was the peak of summer and we had so many things to do, so many places to be that we did not realise the flow of days. Papa was here for a short time of 3 weeks. The time Before The Trip went on at a slow pace but After Trip was just about winding down. I miss our coffee sessions. Papa and I have this funny quirk. We love picking peanuts from Indian Mixtures when we are  having coffee in the evening. We literally used to have contests to grab the next visible peanut first. I find no fun in eating all the peanuts by myself now. The short walks with him, the general chit chat… well I still see all the pictures of his time here every night before going to bed. Chiyaa took some time to realise that Ajaa (that's what she calls Papa) was missing. I think for the first few days she thought he has gone somewhere and will be back. On the fourth day, she kept searching for him at the places he used to hide during their peek-a-boo sessions. Then she started dragging Mummy to search for him outside. At one point, she would pick up any available phone and say 'talk to Ajaa' and start blabbering something. On seeing any elderly gentleman with a coat she would start jumping and saying 'Ajaa'. Slowly she has come to terms that Ajaa would appear on the computer only. It breaks my heart to see her thus. She is innocent, she does not realise, and she will forget. But wish we could have everything we want at one place.

A month down the line, the same would be the case for Tubi(that’s what she calls my mom. :D) But I  have got my lessons learnt after Papa's stay. I try to max up the time with Mummy. K wonders, what do we talk everyday? I can tell him the exact details, but I know that would put him to sleep. We discuss clothes, banking, coding, colleagues, work experiences, spirituality, books, movies and what not! Even if we had an infinite number of days together, we would still talk this much.  This time, I will have Mummy with me for Durga Puja. She will also spend Diwali here but start 2 days after that. It is some consolation that she will be around for some important functions. We may not do anything out of the world, but at least we have got some more company.

We are already making plans for our next India trip and for getting Amma here again. I wish we could make more frequent trips to home like some people do, but with a toddler and 2 jobs it’s difficult. We are thinking about what to do in the long run. There are too many parameters, but I keep reiterating, when the time comes, we will look at one deciding factor and take a call. Till then these sine wave periods  of tremendous joy and bitter agony will continue.

You took a little bit of cheer away

Papa started back to India today. It was only 3 weeks back that he got here. It seems like yesterday that we were worried about him travelling all by himself . He's already gone back and halfway home :(

Papa talks to me about very different things. We discuss genetically modified foods, population of countries, immigration rules- you get the flow :) Once we have discussed something we are  quiet but I really enjoy having those discussions with him. I always learn a lot. Sometimes I teach him too :) I also immensely enjoy having the morning and evening coffee with him. He especially likes the brew I make. He savours the biscuits with coffee as much as I do. It is good fun sipping coffee and munching biscuits with someone who loves every bite and sip as much as you do. 

He is a big fan of walking. When we were kids, I 10 years old and my sis around 5, we used to go for evening walks every day with him. I still enjoy any opportunity to just walk with papa. Evenings I used to come home , have the coffee with mummy and papa and then walk with him to get Chiyaa from the daycare. It was just like old days, walking with him, talking about something current. The days I would not be able to wrap up work early I would go directly to the daycare and papa would have already reached there with a banana or an apple or a piece of cake to give the kitten on the way back. Such simple things but it gave me immense joy! 

Chiyaa also took to him very easily. He was not cautious with her at all. The moment he reached he picked her up and started jumping. From that moment he became VIP for her. He had to take her to the toilet, give her food and water, put her to sleep , play with her. Boy did they play rough- shouting at the top of their voices , running around with Chiyaa chasing him on her bicycle , putting stickers together , and a host of other activities. He loved taking her to the park, pushing her pram for giving her a stroll and doing anything related to her. He also did a lot of work around the house, getting the grocery, putting the trash away, cleaning odd bits . I used to always come back to a house that was clean and well stocked. I cannot thank my parents enough for just taking on the mantle of keeping my house in order. If I had to go anywhere, absolutely anywhere he would accompany me. If he was tired, I would ask him to get some rest since I was used to doing things alone. He would say he was aware I could do it alone and I would anyways be all my myself in sometime, but if he was around , he preferred coming with me. 

It was a very nice experience having him around. He was very different from mummy when it came to being in changed circumstances. He complained about the cold but quickly appreciated the cleanliness. He missed the variety of Indian vegetables but loved the quality of potatoes and cauliflowers so much that he said he won't have them bday more back home . He relished the coffee while disliking the tea. He always kept the balance. If he expressed his lack of appreciation for something he was quick to praise something else. 

There are so many things I wish I had done with him. Taken him to so many places, bought him a burrito from an eat out  that makes amazing ones, got him a pair of sports shoes, had more coffee with him, taken more holidays to just hang around with him. But ... 

He hid his feelings prior to his departure. He spoke about his anxiousness to travel but not about missing us. I would notice him suddenly put a hand in Chiyaa's head as she played and I knew he would miss her. Today morning she wasn't even awake when he started. We asked him to come to her room and see her. He came in and said 'sleeping' mimicking the way she says. Then he stroked her head, kissed her and walked out with a big sob. He was falling apart. 

What terrible torture it is to go away after having spend such wonderful time together. It pained me to see my papa, my hero sit in the taxi and wave me goodbye without looking back at me. 

Chiyaa felt something was different but she could not place her finger on it. As I saw his towel  which he left since it wasn't dry, I felt a blob in my throat. The place where his shaving kit stood all the while in the bathroom stared back emptily. The house felt stark. Papa I wish you could have been here longer. :(

An eventful trip

The last Bank Holiday of the summer got over on Monday. We had planned a trip to Belfast with Mummy and Papa. It was marked with lots of events :)

1. The morning flight was at 0835. K is not a jittery traveller. He is a VERY VERY jittery traveller - the kind who can spend the night in the airport if encouraged. He said we were going to reach 2 hours before. That is 0635! Since the airport is in a city that is 1 hour away, we had to start at 0530. ( It was not necessary since it was a domestic flight and we did not even have any check in luggage.) But K ko kaun samjhaye?? We had booked a cab. To add fuel to fire the cab driver messaged and said he could come early. K was ecstatic . He advanced the ETD much to my chagrin . Which principle of project management recommends you to do this? Like people of Pompeii fleeing the lava we scurried and got into the cab.
The driver seemed like a Kumbh Mela bichda bhai of K. He asked us to hide the kid since traffic cameras might spot us with a child on the lap which is illegal . Try hiding a toddler who is as slippery as eel. The hour long journey seemed an eternity after which we all heaved a sigh of relief.

2. The name of the hotel in our booking reference was Hilton Belfast TemplePatrick. Since we were totally new to the city, we said the name to the cab driver at the airport. He said it was a 25 mins drive. It seemed a bit strange since we were sure, it was some 10 minutes away. Well, we could have been mistaken. So we went ahead and reached the hotel. All the while, we were totally buying the cab driver's offer to take us on local tours. We reached the hotel and our booking was not to be found. Weird. We searched our printouts, the lady at the desk searched her records, there was nothing to be found. Ultimately we realised, we were supposed to be at Hilton TemplePatrick while we had been deposited at Hilton Belfast. Urgh. We had to back track 20 minutes, not to mention the money lost and the time wasted. The cab driver also lost some future customers. Hmpf! 

3. Most of our trips post Chiyaa revolve around her. So the first stop was a zoo! I was very keen for the zoo, since it housed elephants. We have been to a lot of zoos but never seen one with the pachyderm. We decided to give it a go. It was very thrilling to watch all the different animals. Penguins, giraffes, elephants and flamingos particularly appealed to Chiyaa. Papa was especially excited to see giraffes and sea lions. So the zoo was a resounding success. We decided to book our return cab by the same company whose cab had ferried us from the incorrect hotel to the correct one ;) They estimated the time of arrival at 30 minutes away. We started winding up our tour as we neared the 30 minutes deadline. 40 minutes gone, no sign of the cab. 60 minutes gone, no sign of the cab yet! It was getting colder, windier and evening was setting on. Chiyaa's susceptibility to cold worried us. K rang the company and there was no response. The zoo was not in the middle of the city either. It was on top of a hill and coming down on foot would have been a challenge for Mummy and Papa. At long last, 70 minutes later, we got a call informing us the cab slated for us had met with an accident and a backup was on its way for us. The back up reached 1 hour and 45 minutes after we had placed our initial call! It was really a tiresome wait, trying to keep the kid engaged while battling the cold and the wind.

4. We reached our rooms and we did not need anything more than Mummy-made-room-coffee. She can breathe life with the bare minimum elements. It had been a really long day. All we needed was some shut eye. 

5. We spent most of the next day roaming the coast of Belfast in a cab. It was a very picturesque drive . Once we reached the hotel, Chiyaa seemed to be having a temperature. It had come from nowhere. We were worried sick. We applied lots of menthol balms and hoped and prayed that she got well soon. 

6. By God's grace the temperature had receded the next day. It was mostly tours of the city in an hop in hop off bus . Now the little birdie was not very happy being seated in the bus for long durations. She kept singing twinkle twinkle little stars at a volume such that stars could also hear it! There were moments when the tour guide had to stop talking till her voice receded ;)  She went on her singing spree. We tried to keep her a bit quieter by giving her a sticker book. She loves stickers!!! She was engrossed for sometime till the driver had to brake suddenly . She hit her head on the front board. She let out a wail. And kept crying for a good 15 minutes. There was nothing that could pacify her. The guide literally hushed for the while duration. The poor bunny tired herself and slept off after that :(

7. We retired early the next day too since as usual we had an early morning flight and as usual K was the panic cat. I had set the alarm for 4 since we were checking out at  5. Around 0420 there was a loud knock at the door. Guess what? Yes we had slept through the alarm . We did not have any check in luggage. And we had managed to carry a toothpaste which was more than 100 gms on weight. It was dumped by security on the onwards flight. Papa's toothpaste had survived since it was a smaller tube. So we were sharing that . Since we had not gone to their room till 0415 they inferred we might be sleeping and came to give it to us! Imagine if we had our own toothpaste and Mummy Papa had assumed we were on with our morning chores till the 11th hour!!! Oh the horror !! Dekha jo hota hai insaan ke bhale ke liye hi hota hai!

We are all back home and the normal routine has resumed as the brilliant holiday with those wonderful experiences never happened. But the heart holds such wonderful memories that it can barely be uttered in words! 

Papa here

I feel blessed. Big Touchwood. I have both Mummy and Papa with me now! Its temporary, but having them close to me, I am speechless.

Mummy has been here for 3 months now. I had planned Papa's travel a bit later, since there were tasks at home which need him. We were doubtful whether Papa should travel, but I thought, he needs to see his grandchild who is growing up so fast. Papa has a deep rooted liking for kids. He loves them. In fact he is a kid himself. My maternal grandma says, he is still the same as he was when he got married 32 years ago! I did not want him to be bereft of the pleasure of being with a toddler who drives you crazy ;) 

His travel was not meant to be straight forward. We had the initial jitters because Papa had never travelled by air all by himself. We were worried about travel sickness. He is also very absent minded. The whole journey involved a domestic flight and then an international with a transit in Abu Dhabi. We were concerned whether he would be able to manoeuvre through all those transfers. Him raising questions like 'Will I be able to identify my luggage?' and 'Where shall I keep the luggage if I need to visit the washroom?' were not helpful at all. To add fuel to fire, he is not very keen to take advise and information either. My sister literally gave him a lecture on how to go about things. At the end of it he exclaimed 'Lets hope and pray I reach' *rolls eyes * Imagine the utter exasperation of my dear sister.

There were road blocks all through the time. Some or the other outage kept happening at home. Every issue seemed like it was going to take a while to get resolved. That added a question mark to Papa's travel plans. 3 weeks before Papa was slated to travel, my sister got very sick. She started having severe abdominal pains. We were very concerned. She went to a hospital and they took her at once for a colonoscopy and MRI scan. The doctors gave indications that she might need a surgery. Mummy was beside herself with anxiety. I assured her, that I would make arrangements for her to go back. My mom's sisters assured her that they would take care of everything, and Mummy need not return since Chiyaa was dependent on her care. Papa's travel was kept on standby, if things took a turn for the worse, we would cancel his tickets. I was worried for my sister and hoped that all was well with her. The reports suggested that she had an abscess in her lower intestine. Surgery was the preferred route but the doctor opted to try medication first. It was a very slow and painful recovery. 2 weeks later, she was not totally fit, but definitely better (Thank God for that) Papa's journey seemed highly likely.

That's when his elder brother was hospitalised with renal failure. Being diabetic, things were not looking very promising. It was rapidly deteriorating with uncle suffering a stroke and going into coma. The next day, he passed away, leaving Papa crestfallen. He was able to participate in some of the ceremonies before setting for his trip. In spite of all the trials, he was able to finally board the flight was a miracle in itself. When he reached UK , I was thrilled and excited. It was beyond comprehension to see the joy on his face when he entered home, picked up Chiyaa and started jumping. That was the moment I was waiting for! 

Business Sutra

I have been ignoring this space :S I have also not been reading my favourite posts :( Which I feel bad about, but can do nothing much.There is only one person to blame for this. My mother :D Yep always blame the mom :P In this case it is really the case. Details about the hows and whats in a separate post maybe. This post is about the book Business Sutra.

I love everything Indian! I love mythology too. Reminds of the lovely train journeys we used to undertake when I was a kid and the stories of Panchtantra were such a pleasant company. I also want to do an MBA one day (someday in the not so distant future when I have the time and money *sighs*) . This book hence is a double whammy. It amalgamates theories of management with stories of mythology. It also has some really well drawn illustrations and 'points to remember' sort of sections which are very catchy. 

The book is a slow starter. The writer draws out some ideas about what is 'Indian' and what is not. He contrasts the 'Indian' attitude with the 'Western' and the 'Chinese'. I personally do not see them building in any way to the topics further on. Or maybe I was missing the point. There is a case study after every tale which is very interesting. I am not sure whether the author meant the book to be used as a curriculum book and hence left the stories and the case studies as he did. As a lone reader, I wish he had elaborated both the instance and the case in question. It would have been a much fulfilling experience for me that way. 

There is lot of usage of Sanskrit and Hindi terms. He does beg his pardon for the number of non English words used, but claims English is limited in conveying all the Indian  ideas. I understand that. But I feel Hindi is not known all over India either. By attaching so many non-English words, he has unknowingly antagonised a very big clientele. There is a glossary of the meanings which I feel a non-Hindi reader might find useful. I personally find it a bit annoying switching between pages to get the meanings of words.

The book as such is a very wholesome reading experience. Leaving the management concepts aside, it is quite enjoyable. There are ideas on how to be a better person and a better professional which makes one contemplate. The author does reiterate his theory that reflection and thoughts focused towards the way ahead (which he claims is 'gaze')should be what propel us. Instead of mundane material, social or physical gains. Some people might find it a bit biased towards the Hindu way of life. If we chose to take just the content rather than the context, it is very valid. The writer has claimed that critics have dismissed the book as 'religious mumbo-jumbo'.  Being pretty irreligious, I did not find it so.

I will not be able to give excerpts from the book since it is best read in the words of the author. But let me ponder on some of the interesting thoughts :-

He distinguishes between 4 types of people :-
Duryodhana  - The rule upholder, one who has adhered by rules always. But his motive was his own gain.
Ravan - The rule breaker, who has always broken rules for his dominance.
Ram - The rule upholder for the good of others. He is a success as a King (professional life) but fails as in his personal life (as a father and a husband)
Krishna - The rule breaker for the good of others. One who grows and has made others grow. 
This clear distinction makes one think, which category one belongs to and why. It also makes one think, which way of life is worthwhile. The author does not judge any  of the characters or evangelize. He just urges us to contemplate and gives case studies which make us put them in context.

He states there are 3 different types of hunger :-
For Lakshmi - resources to nourish our physical body.
For Durga - or power which makes us feel secure.
For Saraswati - or identity to nourish our mental body.
Only when the mind expands, we are able to stretch our vision to see what actually matters. We are able to invoke our deep rooted potential rather than concentrating on limited goals.

While hunger can be of the aforementioned types, different people can have different take on hunger. One can be a  :-
Shiva - Who has no hunger, who neither gives nor takes.
Indra - Who is driven by pleasure, who never gives and always takes.
Daksha - Who is calculative and gives and takes in equal measure.
Vishnu - Who has no hunger, but always gives and never takes.
Again, the author wishes us to think how we are as individuals, what we hunger for and what should be the best and sustainable way to achieve it.

There is a wonderful piece on an organisation being merely a set of people (I have always agreed with this. I believe every industry is end of day a knowledge industry with the people being its USP.  Once the people are gone, everything can crumble.) I really admire the way the author has driven home this thought. He states, an institution is made of of innumerable Taras - isolated people with talent. They in turn merge to form a constellation of Rashi/Nakshatra. This is when groups of people start to matter. Grahas are talents whose individual personalities can make an effect on the organisation. What matters most in all this is the relationships between all these celestial bodies (or personalities) which etch the path of a firm.