Friday, October 19, 2018

Sometimes rains are good?

Sometimes rains are good. They force you to stay indoors. They force you not to have 'plans' for the weekend which pretty much are synonyms to shopping (even if you don't need anything). They force you to take a pause, put your feet up and just relax. ( None the less, it would help if it was sunny for sure :D)

So yesterday was a rainy Sunday. My rota in the kitchen since K once in a while likes if I make stuff ( the spices tweaked) to his tastes. After cooking it was time for a movie ( more so to calm down the kids since they were getting increasingly agitated for the lack of something to do). As I watched the movie I thought. About random things. More about what to write in my next post :) 

The main thing that struck me was  I was a week old in my new place. I had managed to come to the weekend at the new job. And it did all seem quite weird. You know how they say everything in a new job seems so much better than the old place for the first few days. And then monotonity seeps in. I think I am a bit more grown up ;) Not everything seemed sparkling to me. Yeah the kitchen was amazing. I loved the fact that they did not use any plastic cups or glasses. Everything was glassware with a dishwasher. There were proper bins with a view towards recycling. There was a dryer for drying gym or running clothes. There were shower rooms for people who might be seeking a lunch time run. Not that I am ever going to use them but I liked the fact they existed.

But it was a proper office environment. Even people with laptops were at their desks. In fact people with laptops were leaving their laptops plugged in at work and going home. ( Maybe folks really like coming to office!!) In my previous working from home was rampant. It afforded brilliant work life balance. I had not made a 5 day week in my previous place in a long time. Except my last week when I had to go in on a Friday to give my laptop back. As well as that, at the last place there were amazing Flexi time and agile working options. People worked 4 days work weeks, 3 days work weeks, 9 weeks fortnight (!! So that means they worked 5 days and 4 days alternatively taking the any day within a 2 work week period off. Complicated? I know!), finished early, started late, logged off for childcare responsibilities and what not. Here it was way more regimental. 

Coming in to office 5 days was tiring. Not just the physical exhaustion of waking up( Yes that is definitely the hardest part. How I hate the sound of the alarm), getting ready, getting Chiyaa ready ( she has her breakfast etc after I leave but I get her hair and dress sorted), getting the lunches and breakfasts ready for K and me. There was also the mental time bomb. Leaving house at a certain time else I would miss my bus, leaving office at a certain time else I would be late to pick Chiyaa, waking Chiyaa at a certain time, finishing Pumpki 's chores by  a certain time. It is something I was sure would be different. It is something I had signed up for when I started looking for a new role. I should be happy that the location is not too out of the way, the company is one of repute and I have my parents as back up. 

The worst part is waking up though. I remind myself of a book I read as a new mom called '365 meditations for new mothers'. It said it's the exact moment of waking up that's hard. You just need to get over it. I have to think of it like that every day. But it's not that easy. Waking up for a baby is something totally novel! Anyways we try to make our peace.

As I was thinking all this, I chanced to meet an ex-colleague who had been made redundant in the selection process. She convinced me, change is good. She had been with the organisation for 13 years! She was dead scared of change. But she had to and she was liking it. I who have changed 6 times in 14 years should know better. Maybe I was getting complacent and lazy at my last place. Maybe I need this scenario to get on into the professional mode full on- rather than wearing a parent's cape all the time. 

I will never have the sort of flexibility I had. But we move on and learn. No pain no gain right. Let's find out in a few years time. Till then we wake up early. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

I left the last post abruptly...

..... because   I did not want a very long post. :)

It all wrapped up Friday. A long association with my last organisation. The dots join up only in retrospect. 

Going on a reminisce trip I remember my newly married days. K was struggling to get a project. He ended up being put forth for one with an American client. Possibly an on site assignment. The Durga Puja that year was full of crazy anxiety with us deciding on what to do. I had been in my Chennai job for a little over 6 months and things were looking up for me too. We did not want to make a career move which involved the sacrifice of another. Somehow  K's project did not come through and he ended up with a real tough UK client. It involved long work hours. He used to be back at home at 2 in the morning and start back at 0530 to get the 6 am morning bus back to work. 

His hard work was rewarded with an on site trip to Leeds. It was for a year with a possibility of extension. By the time I quit my job in India and joined him, the possibility of extension seemed more certain. I started looking for a job in the UK and got my first within a few months. The extensions kept happening. My job continued. We even became parents. Life seemed 'settled'. 

After 4 years as if following a typical pattern, I felt the need to up my game. I started looking for a new job. 

What are the odds? I ended up being recruited by the same company and into the same team as K's. It was quite a coincidence. The people I had heard of, the office dynamics K spoke about and the software application I had been tangentially involved in became real - they became my team and it was my software application. The work was good. The benefits were good. I started working as a big team. There was lot of new stuff happening.  As work progressed, friendships happened too.

Seemed like a short run but I had finished close to 18 months with the firm. I had my maternity break. There was a change and we moved to Ipswich. There was a redundancy cycle through the organisation. Two of my friends moved on and one was made redundant. I managed to retain my job. 

I still remember the working from home days. That was so novel - with the monthly once trip to Leeds. I worked in that fashion for a year. Again when I was going through it, it seemed like a permanent thing. We were close to taking a house and settling in Ipswich. My distance working pattern seemed confirmed. 

Change happens. Many times unwarranted. We moved back to Leeds. And the office became permanent. Ironically the number of exciting challenges were depleting and I had to look outside.

As I pursued a new job, the simple benefits of my current role were not hard to miss. Primary was the flexibility. I was available for school assemblies, meetings with teachers and any impromptu arrangement with respect to the kids. Working from home was another.  One could work from home - no questions asked. It made me participate in simple pleasures - I could feed breakfast to Chiyaa peacefully, tie her hair, heat and have my breakfast, have green tea, pick Chiyaa and Pumpki earlier from school and recently being around my parents. They will be all a thing of the past. At least for the next 6 months while I am on probation when I have to work in the office a bit more.

That's the future. As I walked out my past, I felt nothing. I didn't feel any nostalgia. I was anxious about the future. I was worried I don't leave stuff lurking in my laptop. But otherwise there were no feelings. Maybe because I was never a part of the team. I was never one of them. I always felt like the new comer( people in my team  had spent 20 years or over within the bank)  I was always addressed from a distance. There was somehow a wall - a metaphorical one and a literal one since I sat near a pillar. 

There is no looking back anymore. Maybe it's a step forward in the right direction. The future will tell. The dots connect much later don't they?

Friday, October 5, 2018

For the love of change

Things move so quickly don't they. K just treated his colleagues for completing   1 year with the organisation. Does not seem that far away in the past that we were going through the stresses of hunting a job and settling down. Time has flown, K got a job, we moved back in to Leeds - temporarily into a rented house first and subsequently made our move permanent by getting a home of our own. The children have slowly settled in. Chiyaa has her ups and downs at school. Pumpki has her moments at nursery. Overall they are growing their roots - becoming typical Yorkshire kids. 

But my soul with its wanderlust craves action and change. I constantly felt I was not doing enough at work. I was not challenging myself. I was spending the close to 7 hours at desk and investing the time in travel. But I didn't feel I was contributing to my full potential.

I started looking outside and within  for new roles. Within the firm option closed down fast because there was not enough happening locally. Outside was what I had to go for. I started attending interviews. It was not easy. I had quite a few criteria - with respect to my next role, the package, the  technology stack and the company size. Equally important were the flexibility in work environment and the distance from home. 

There were a few which were easy rejects. I went for a conversation / interview, but I knew from the word go that even if an offer materialised I would not accept it. Some were a bit hard to decide. But things fell into place since I either did not succeed or the interviews never got set up. 

With Amma around in the first half of the year, it was possible to balance things out. When she went back, I suspended the job  hunt till my parents came over. Then I started looking again. But I was getting a bit frustrated now. It was over 7 months that I had been job hunting. I felt as if the meaty roles were already gone and I was being put forth for the scum. K asked me to be patient since companies go through a churn and roles keep coming. 

Work at my office was becoming increasingly theoretical  which was getting  harder to bear. At this point on a day I got news of a colleague moving on to a new role and the news of my rejection at an interview. It broke me down and I felt really desperate. Should I continue looking for a new job  till I found one? Or should I place a limit on the duration? Or should I make peace and stay - people do that too. What was the need for a ' challenge'? I had my personal commitments to the kids and a lackluster work was not something I had to necessarily address. I wasn't sure at all as to which path to chose. 

When God closes a door, he makes sure he opens another one. A friend of mine who has a linkedin account ( I dont have one) was contacted regarding a role and she thought it right to just pass on my details. One thing led to another and within a week I had a new job!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Chit chats

Here are two interesting conversations with 2 interesting people!

Papa: you said the neighbours were elderly couples. I saw the one on right and he is not old.
I : what do you mean he is not old?
Papa : He is as old as me.
I : And what are you? Aren't you old?;)
Papa : I am not old! Old is someone who is like really old. 

That coming from someone who is 68!

Chiyaa: Bye Darren!
Darren looks back and says bye.
Chiyaa  : He is cute isn't he?
I : (aghast) What do you mean he's cute?
Chiyaa : He is cute. He is year 2 but he is cute.
I : ( a bit relieved) What do you mean cute? Cute like your sister?
Chiyaa : Yeah cute. Short and cute. 
I had no response :D

Monday, September 10, 2018

The sun moves on

Well actually the earth moves - not the sun. But thought it was a funky title to the post after the previous one :)

How long can the sun shine? It needs a rest too. And it slowly drifts to lie down. The earth is moving away and the sun is making its journey southwards to the tropic of Capricorn. As a result our days are shortening. 

Even then who says not to make the most of what we got. Papa mummy reached here in early August. After that it has been  a mix of chaos and fun. Chummi summer holidays were on for a month. Thanks to mummy and papa the kids were well taken care of. There was fresh food, lots of games and good fun. We went on a walks together, to the parks together, on a few trips together. I have gotten  rid of the alarm at 0545 and have the one at 0630. The tea sessions in the evening are back with discussions on welfare system in UK to landmark supreme Court judgements. I can come back from work rest assured I have a back up. And that feeling is superb. Even if I am delayed by 5 minutes I don't have to keep worrying that the routine might get disrupted. 

Chummi has started her new year at school. The distance of her school is a concern for us. We would like to have her closer to home. But till she gets a place in another school, the current one is the one for her. 

Pumpki has settled in beautifully in her nursery. In spite of my parents ' protests, she goes to daycare for the afternoon. We would not want her to get unaccustomed to the schedule and people there. She goes and comes with Papa, chatting all along. She is forming a routine and also a bonding  with her carers. 

Papa and mummy also have their system. Papa sticks to his program as if he was back in India. He wakes up around 0530 and gets busy writing his book ( he is authoring a curriculum book in India). He goes on his hour long walk, which cos of the pleasant weather stretches to 2 sometimes. He cleans around the house, the garden, and plays a lot with the kids and continues his writing. Mummy is always busy. Along with the kids, she has of course taken over the entire kitchen where I get to step very sporadically. There are the texts of 'when will you start', 'where are you', 'what do you want for dinner' - which mean the world. 

 The  best thing is the way my parents are reliving their lives. The shenanigans of the kids reminds  them of  stories of my sister and me. Papa who is the nostalgic  and enjoys a good tale regales us with what my sister and I did. For that matter when he used to go pick Pumpki, he would inadvertently say my sisters name. They are being parents again - comparing my girls with their girls. And I love to see and hear the comparisons! 

As the days get shorter and air gets colder, here is hoping all the love will keep us warm enough. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Summer Sun

I love the summers. The sun shining down. The kids at home. The lack of routine. It all spells awesome.

Last summer I was freaking out before the vacations began. How to keep two kids entertained at home. I am one season older. So of course more accustomed. I took the first week off for being with the kids. And it was amazing. Waking up at 0730! Relaxing coffee followed by play time with the girls. Then a trip to the park, lunch, siesta for the little one and screen time for the elder one. Evening another trip to the park( yeah we have a lot of parks around), then dinner followed by books or TV or games. No routine, no sleep time - Chiyaa would keep playing and suddenly say 'I am tired' - her cue for bed. So would Pumpki. She would mention 'I want to lie on the bed' and off we would go. 

We made a trip to an amusement park too. We stayed in an on premise hotel. It was two days of purest fun! There were rides( we elders are chickens so we all went for the kiddie ones), walks, dancing ( mostly by the kids) and fun and games in the water park. What endeared me most was the bonding between my daughters. I am so so so happy with the way they bond that I just hope it stays like that forever. It's not hunky dory all the time. Pumpki tends to go for the toys Chiyaa is playing with which results in us telling her to relinquish it. Which in turn leads to her getting upset since its always she who is asked to give up a toy. Then a whole lot of screaming and shouting ensues. 

On the way to the resort, Pumpki was getting a bit fidgety in the car.  Chiyaa made all the effort to keep her happy. She kept offering toys, sweets, singing rhymes and the whole lot. It was really sweet to see the effort she was putting her baby sister engaged. The night Chiyaa drifted off to sleep first and Pumpki roamed around aimlessly asking for didi. They are lost without each other. They seek each other as if  pulled by some gravitational force. On the return journey Pumpki fell car sick. Chiyaa got the wet wipes and spare clothes ready even before we stopped the car. When we moved on, again she was the responsible elder sis taking care of Pumpki . They are two amazing creatures who drive us crazy and make our hearts overflow with joy. May the love always shine as the summer sun.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Right a wrong

She never got it right. No matter how hard she tried. Her cakes tended to implode. She read blogs, checked online videos, consulted friends who were adept bakers - but to no avail. Her cakes ended up being wrong. 

But she wanted to get it right. At least once. She wanted for once for every corner of the house to be invaded with the heavenly smell of baking. Over the weeks she had managed to speak to a colleague who had given her  tricks - sieve the flour, equal amounts of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, do not open the oven before 20 mins, keep it at the lowest shelf at a low temperature in the oven. Some she knew before some were new. 

As she was walking home from work, inspiration struck. Why not attempt a cake? 

She opened the door, checked the clock, put on the apron. Bowl, sieve, mixer, flour, sugar, oil, butter, eggs, baking powder and soda. It looked like a mini troop had assembled on her kitchen counter. Sleeves rolled, she took the sieve and started to pour the flour. It looked like white rain. The flour gently falling through the sieve onto the bowl. Her nose twitched. Uh! A sneeze was bubbling. In her enthusiasm she had ignored that she was highly allergic to particulate matter. Before she knew the aaaaa became a chooooo. The grip over the vessel of flour loosened and bam! there were  clouds of flour in the room. And a heap of it on the floor. 

So much for baking. Dejected she started packing up. As she was keeping the sugar, inspiration struck again. She kept a pot on the gas burner, poured some clarified butter and poured some jaggery. It started to melt, looking like shining mud. She grated a coconut and roasted it. She mixed the coconut in the jaggery, added a pinch of cardamom. She waited for the mixture to cool. She shaped balls out of the mixture and placed a roasted cashew on each like a kiss

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative forIndian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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