Business with acquaintances

I have always found it weird having to interact with people I know personally in an official setting. But I have had innumerable such scenarios. My schooling was in a small town where the predominant establishments were a steel plant and a technical college( where my mom and a maternal grand uncle were faculty). People lived in official quarters provided by either of these heavy weight employers. People literally lived in each others pockets. I had a few teachers who were wives of my mom or dad's colleagues. So when I passed them in school I had the wry smile that I know Miss Sahu as Sahu aunty as well. Papa was a professor( not in the technical college but a general one) and some of my teachers were aware of it. They reached out to my dad for advice as to which set of courses would be good etc. This increased the circle of acquaintance. Some of my friends  knew Miss Mohindra had visited our home to have a conversation about her daughter 's admission. And when I would get the wink wink nudge nudge if she smiled at me. Trust me I never got any unfair advantage. On the contrary I had to be extra extra good and well  behaved lest I ruin their impression of me :(

Papa 's college provided what is the 11th and 12th standard courses in higher secondary education. I opted to do in his college, since his transfer was imminent. Getting an admission in his college provided the fall back option of moving to a new institution when he moved. Now the two years here were pure nightmare. I literally knew the whole college faculty. To top it, since we lived in the college campus the 'bumping' into each other was way more frequent! Luckily there were a few more kids of faculty so not all limelight was on me ;) But I hated it if I got a good on my diagrams, some other kids suspected favouritism. In fact there were a few teachers who asked me more questions for no good reason evident to me. If I missed a class, Papa was asked the reason. He gave me compete autonomy as to which classes I wanted to attend. But I would not have liked being asked why my kid did so and so every time she did something. There was in fact an occasion  where one colleague of my dad 's who did not get along so well with him complained to the principal about me! Whew that one came from no where.

Ironically I joined the popular technical institution in the city and it was all back to square one in terms of people. In fact my grand uncle still worked there and he kept me on a real tight rope. 

After my education was over, I was sure gone were those uncomfortable  days. Yes I would have loved having a friend as a colleague. I made new friends with colleagues. So much so I ended up marrying a colleague ;)  Things have come a full circle now and last year I ended up joining the same organisation where K works. That was good enough. I had  a permanent lunch buddy. Now last month we were pitched in the same project! Hmmmm deja vu.

Now this is a whole new world of awkward. In status meetings K is unable to keep a straight face when talking to me :P I on the other hand am  extra extra formal and cautious. I think all the years of conditioning to be a 'good girl' kicked in. After meetings K  many times pings me on the the internal communicator with 'abbe what sort of update was that ' I would retort' is this how you talk with all your subject matter experts?' There are times when he reaches out to other colleagues for updates he could get from me just to avoid talking to me but then go on speaking about the project at home much to me annoyance. With some desk moves he sits closer to me. He is not directly in my field of vision but I can see him when I move around. Sometimes he gives me a squint eye or funny face when I pass through. It has me in total splits. 

Seems like the story of my life that I have someone who makes me 'uncomfortable' at my professional eco system :D

The weekend of dreams

The weekend that went by was the stuff that you always fantasize about. The kinds you wish would happen, but you know the chances are as great as dinosaurs roaming the world again. No I did not bump into a celebrity or win a lottery. (And those are not the stuff I day-dream about either).

Long long ago – more precisely 10 years ago, my bestie and I were lying on our hostel bed and making glorious plans for the future. One of them included having a family vacation together once in a while. I know there are people for whom such dreams materialise. There are people who are neighbours with their best friends! Such things don’t happen to me. Of the few friends that I have, none were in the same city as me for a long time after graduation. Now none are even in the same continent. 

But then life has a knack of throwing that odd bouncer, which struck just right goes for a six! After a decade of work and life, Ashma had the opportunity to visit a neighbouring island. It felt like an arm’s reach from UK. Of course she would come and visit us if she was coming to Ireland. There was the initial dilemma of whether she would accept the offer or not in the first place, given that she had a young child. My suggestion was to accept the offer with open arms and bring family along since it would be a very good opportunity. At least her fares would be paid for and they would have a mini vacation abroad. Everything progressed smoothly from then on. They were travel ready, but then she had a personal emergency due to which she had to cancel all plans. We were kind of prepared for some dreams being too good to come true. 

As months moved on, the opportunity presented itself again. Yayyyy !!!!  This time she was finally and definitely coming! It was all happening   very fast and we thought we would go about planning everything once she landed. She landed and we did some sketchy planning. Her trip was super compressed into 3 weeks giving her 2.5 weekends. She had to make a trip to UK in the middle week. Coming all the way to UK, she definitely wanted to give London a look. So the Friday, Saturday and Sunday she decided to come to UK with Saturday reserved for London. 

Friday morning Ashu, M and her lil boy S reached home. It was wonderful to have her make tea while I flipped dosas. K was trying to work from home :D. The home was filled with warmth as the adults chatted and kids after their initial shyness played along. I will admit, that thanks to technology its not we are totally out of each other’s worlds. We keep messaging each other, swapping pictures and I make it a point to call twice a month. We have our long chats about everything under the sun then. So though I was seeing her after 6 years, it was not 6 years  of white noise. It was  6 years where we were ‘virtually’ in touch with one another. Evening the men decided to hit the bar while being typical women folk, we busied ourselves with kids and cooking. It was very interesting to note the little bickering, competition for attention, the clamouring for same toy and the final reconciliation that the kids had amidst themselves. Evening it was gorgeous Indian takeaway and an early night in since Ashu and co had a rise and shine at dawn for London. 

We spent most of Saturday by ourselves. Sunday Chiyaa had her swimming class. Since Ashu was the only one awake (miracle!) she came along with us. As Chiyaa and K took to the pool, we got another half an hour to just randomly chat. It was S’s birthday! Once back home, after breakfast, it was time for cake! Woo hoo! The gift we gave to S was a bone of contention as both the kids wanted exclusive rights over them. It was so funny, entertaining and educating to watch how the kids dealt with the situation. Just because S began to cry at a certain point, Chiyaa started crying as well. Finally peace reigned and they played together. We were too lazy to venture outside. But finally at 5 in the evening K took control and asked everyone to get started. We went to the nearby docks which was a pleasant walk together. The kids were going berserk literally using anything and everything as an item to play with. We have been in this city for 5 years but we had never used the water taxi that ferries on the canal. With friends around, it was the best excuse and we all took a ride in it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Some really amazing Indian food was the perfect end to the evening. 

Back home, the kids played as we packed and got ready for the upcoming Monday. There was just so much to generally talk, the refugee crisis, disease control in India, fate and destiny and what not. I literally had to pull myself away when the clock approached 2200 since they had to depart to the airport at 0430 in the morning. I had a weird dream where I saw K and me walking with Ashu to drop her while M was coming along in a car behind us. At the end of the journey, Ashu just turned back and hugged me. I felt very vacant after that dream and it was a bit tough for me to get back to sleep. Finally the hands of the clock indicated, it was time to say goodbye.

The house seems vacant today. But somehow Chiyaa and the routine around her is making everything bearable. It is oh so rare that we get to have real friends over – friends with whom the times apart does not matter, because there are no actual times apart. Friends with whom one is perfectly comfortable making calls home or playing games on the computer without thinking what they might think. Friends with whom one is ok to venture out for a couple of drinks even if you have met them for the very first time. Friends with whom one is crazy enough to think of a family vacation together again in the near future.

Still Alice

To be honest, I never understood the big deal about Alzheimer’s disease. You slowly forget everything. Which in a way is a good thing is nt it? No grudges remembered, no embarrassing memories, no idea if you have a good or bad relationship with a person – it’s a come as you may world. Living each moment. Sounds like a good thing in fact. But then no memory of your achievements, of that moment when you felt you have found your soul mate, of the family get-togethers,  your children. That seems like torture. Apart from these enhanced attributes, what about the basic attributes which separate humans from other organisms – language, control over bodily functions, threat perception. What happens when a human being slowly loses those brain cells that hold the information about these. That definitely is not a happy place to be.

A friend of mine had a relative who succumbed to dementia. She used to tell me some instances and episodes. Though I had some awareness, I never fully got the impact of the ailment. Till I read this book.

The book is about a Harvard professor – Alice Howland who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She is only 50 which is a very unlikely age to have the disease. A mother of three successful and intelligent kids and a celebrated teacher and professor – a debilitating disease of the brain is the worst thing that could happen to her. The book is the journey of Alice from a point where she is a bit incoherent on a downward slope. It is a very realistic portrayal of the everyday struggles of someone with the illness. It certainly helped me appreciate just how important our brain is! ( I know of course it’s important ). It also brought to life the feelings of family and immediate carers. 

Read the book for an insight into the mind of someone who is slowly losing grips on her identity and individuality. For a true appreciation of how lucky we are to have healthy bodies and more importantly healthy minds. A fantastic read! 

My cruel husband

K and I took the stairs to get to the second floor. I must confess that I am a bit out of  shape and was breathless as a result of the climb. 

K looks back at me and chuckles and says ' you look like Kung fu Panda!' 

Kind words indeed :((((((((((

Positivity indeed

I: ( Looking longingly at the picture of something I had done before ) I am not sure I can do it again.
K: You have done it once. You can do it again.
I: I have done it only once before.
K: One out of one is 100% isn't it? Of course you can do it again!

Such words from a grim Cancerian! But gives me the   confidence for sure.