Saturday, December 26, 2015

Let me finish this task


There are still 6 more days to bid adieu to the year, but let me pen my customary post, and keep it to post on a later day. To top it, it's Christmas today so what better day to finish this auspicious task!

The year started with its usual coughs and colds. Chiyaa had some trouble settling into her new room in daycare. But slowly things returned to normalcy. We planned a vacation. It was an amazing trip. Since Chiyaa was 3 years old already, it was a very different experience. She was more aware of what was happening, where we were going, what she was experiencing. She was also way easier to manage and was very flexible. Its been nearly 8 months but she still remembers the trip and what all we did.

This year saw us competing 5 years of stay in the UK. It seems like yesterday that with so much uncertainty we moved in here on a strictly temporary basis. Time has flown and we are hanging around here. We have no idea how long we have daana paani in this country. But 5 years seems long enough sometimes and just like yesterday at other times. Theory of relativity is no wonder so popular!

My sister made a move on the job front. In these volatile times, a job change that is conducive on all fronts is hard to come by. This resulted in her leaving the nest finally. But she being her continued to take care of my parents with her trips home. She called them over to her place for a long vacation as well. She is so much a better offspring than me!

The job front was a year of epic fails for me. In my current organisation we need to apply for the next level of progression. Since there was an opportunity I applied for a role. I failed. It was a good learning experience, but the negative result was a bit disheartening. I also attempted to write a certification examination. I have never ever failed an exam. This time I did, not once, twice. I admit this with much shame. I can rationalise it as much as I want to. I can draw inferences and think of the positives and what not. But the truth remains. K also faced a lot of troughs in his career. Gives me the hope that things should even out in the new  year. Then again I am an external optimist.

One personal achievement I am proud of its the books that I was  able to devour. 15 and counting! Woo hoo! The penultimate month saw my mom coming over. I get to bask in her pampering. I get to have the time of my life again! 

I am not one to openly comment about political or international events. I have an opinion and prefer keeping it to myself. This year I was witness to the Syrian refuge crisis. In my years of existence I don't remember a situation of such proportions. It was heart rending  to see innocent people bearing the brunt of the vagaries of politicians. A news channel reported 'a humanitarian crisis is made up of individual humans '. In the new year I wish there is peace and cohabitation and we come together as human beings to alleviate the problem. I wish children don't face such massacres and genocide.

The new year stands at the threshold holding a lot of promise, a lot of uncertainty. As a family life will change for us. As professionals I hope it changes for the good for us. I wish the coming year brings us face to face with things that make us better, stronger and content. 

Wishing everyone a new year which brims with hope and prosperity.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's different this time

The second sabbatical of mine is turning out to be way different from how it was the first time. This time I have a Lil monster to look after ;) And I have mommy :) Two of the most amazing people I could be spending my time with!

Chiyaa goes to daycare for the second half only since I am home. It is interesting being with her. Some days are good when she plays around without any fuss at all. Other days she is a bit clingy and wants constant simulation to keep her engaged. The bad days are when she gets  bored and cranky. But whatever be the sort of day, it is mighty good spending time with her. I get to see so many aspects of her. I get to do activities with her, have a note of her 2 meals and generally just hang around with her. I also get to savour mummy's delectable dishes. She makes the simplest dishes with the bare minimum ingredients but with the most mind blowing  taste! 

Once we drop her off, it is awesome time with mommy. We try to go for a walk in the city centre on some chore or other. It is such a joy holding mummy's hand and walking. She quite enjoys taking the festive sights and sounds in. The cold is an inconvenience she has accepted very gracefully. Not once has she complained about it. Just reaffirms my belief that she is the best role model I could dream of. We enjoy each other s company a lot. Even if there is nothing to talk I just lie on her shoulder on a bench in the mall and that in itself is sheer bliss. 

The days we feel like getting some rest or the weather is too uncooperative we stay put at home with a garam chai ki pyaali.  Some days it's a movie we catch up, or discuss family and politics or just mind our own stuff. Mummy being busy with a book. I also try to devour a book or try to make some sketch. I have tried to learn the art of quilling. Still a novice at it. But after the initial hiccups I am hooked.



I have been waiting for these much relaxed days since the past God knows how many months. Now that they here I am enjoying to the hilt. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Snow Child

Once in a while one comes across a maiden book which gets one hooked. I picked up The Snow Child as a recommendation from Goodreads. 

I did not have very high hopes from it. But within a couple of pages I was engrossed. I knew I was going to love the book. The book is about an old couple - Jack and Mabel- who have lost a child. They yearn for one,  and the desire to avoid prying relatives, they come to cold and desolate Alaska. They start a home there with no hope though. Till Faina walks into their lives... A girl of the untamed nature. She ties the lives of Jack, Mabel and their friends Esther and George. 

The book describes the wild and abandoned Alaskan scenes with a unique touch. The quietness, the secretive creatures that lurk, the vagaries of nature all have an eerie feeling. I generally pick up a book without reading anything about it. The same was the case with this. But mid way when I started getting goose flesh on reading how having a freshly created snow man melt can feel unearthly, I had to ensure that I was not reading a book about ghosts or ghouls. The genre of this book is 'magical realism and fantasy '. I read some bits about the book to allay my fears of reading a ghastly tale. 

As I continued or turned out to be a page turner. Human emotions were handled with lots gloves and were so poignantly etched. The impact of one entity on so many lives and on itself keeps the reader thoroughly hooked. I am not a fan on surreal stories and this might be the first that I liked. The book leaves a lot of unanswered questions and leaves a lot to interpretation. I would have have liked a bit more closure. But overall it was sheer pleasure reading the book and I would recommend it highly

Would not do justice to the book without some excerpts : -

'This was nothing like back home. He  didn't enjoy his solitude in these woods but instead was self concious and alert, fearing most of all his own ineptness. ' I feel we all have similar emotions away from home don't we?

'As the cabin darkened, Mabel lit the oil lamps, put more wood on the fire, and tried to stop her rhythmic pacing. She thought of her mother, how often she had paced and wrung her hands when Mabel- father didn't come home from some meeting in the university. She thought of the wives of soldiers, gold miners and trappers, drunks and adulterers, all waiting long into the night. Why was it always the woman's fate to pace and fret and wait?'

'You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them,and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. ' 
So spot on. To believe in miracles one does have to let go of reason.

'In my old age,I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among trees.'

'Cradling a swaddled infant in their arms, mothers would distractedly touch their lips to their babies 'foreheads. Passing their toddlers in a hall, mothers would tossle their hair or even sweep them up in their arms and kiss them hard on their chins and necks until the children squealed with glee. Where else in life Mabel wondered, could a woman love so openly and with such abandon.'

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wrapping up

I am wrapping up work. Seems like yesterday I joined this place and here I am on the verge of finishing one innings. No am not quitting, just taking a break for sometime. Within a short span of time, I have already have been through so many changes, built so many relationships. It is really humbling how time passes and things take a turn for better or for worse. I had a slow period for a couple of months this year. I was awaiting the start of my break. But the last month and a half when I started working for K's project, things got busy again. It was exciting, learning something new, challenging myself. But honestly the work that was handed over to me was a beast. I had under estimated it. 

When wrap up time came close, I realised I had quite a bit to do. There were some wonderful weekends spent coding :) I had to bring work home for some days. The very last week K started to pitch in even more. Generally I finish at a  certain time so that I can pick up Chiyaa. The last week K volunteered to do it. So he would finish early and pick her up. No big deal. But I was really touched by his gesture. He could have shunned and made me take full responsibility of my tasks. Be it at home or work. But he chose to pitch in. Chiyaa really enjoyed being brought home by daddy. Father's have a unique way don't they? They would hop all the way home one day or walk backwards! Or better still he would carry her on his shoulders. None of which would happen with me. She would be bathed and freshly clothed when I reached home which K managed to do pretty easily. With me somehow it would be a coup de  resistance. 

Luckily with all the support I managed to finish the work on time! Phew! Relief on both fronts - home and work. 

Today I closed shop. I am still working from home, but there was a sort of closure today with me clearing my desk, packing everything up and getting home. Out of the blue K messaged 
I am not sure what drove him to tell that, my empty desk, my offline status in the office communicator, or nothing at all. I am tempted to believe he misses me,  our journey together to work, the lunches if calendars allowed, the cheeky messages. I will miss him. I would have missed me if I was him :)

Well this has been the end of a chapter not only for me, but for us. Here is hoping for an exciting next!

PS. We dont talk with all Ps and Qs. I think he sent that message from work and hence was taking an official tone :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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.

Friday, September 25, 2015

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! 



Monday, September 21, 2015

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 :((((((((((


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Homeland

Exactly a year ago I waxed eloquent about Breaking Bad. This year I have a new hot favourite. Homeland!

 I had seen adverts of it in a channel. But not being one into series, I gave it a miss. While browsing netflix one day, I remarked 'why not homeland?' Yes why not indeed? We watched the first episode! IT WAS MIND BLOWING! We felt as if we had gotten the best television had to offer. We binge watched it - 2 episodes per day after the kid went to sleep. 2 hours of our life diligently devoted to Homeland. If we were this diligent in exercising we would be small time models :) The day Chiyaa would delay her bed time we would count the passage of each agonising minute as an excruciating moment away from our favourite series.

The usp of the program was it was utterly gripping. Every single episode had you on the seats edge. Not a moment to call boring. Each and every actor was  phenomenal!  Claire Danes who plays  the tenacious CIA agent, Damien Lewis who is the returned marine after years of captivity and Mandy  Patinkin - the grounded but equally dogged CIA operative are all stellar in their performances. But the peripheral characters played by Morena Baccarin who plays the wife juggling a traumatised husband and being  mother to  a turbulent teenager, Rupert Friend - the one who takes care of bad guys (and Oh! what cheekbones he has!) and David Harewood as the CIA head honcho are equally well drawn and enacted  characters. As a viewer I feel a connection with everyone. I feel happy for the good guys, angry at the bad ones . I get excited when someone is on the brink of a breakthrough and frustrated if some move gets jeopardised. Every episode is a spellbinding experience . 

We are eagerly awaiting the next season to come in netflix. Till then we are passing our time watching House of Cards. But honestly that series is nothing to write home about. It is an utterly meaningless pursuit. It is a worthless program as bad as tea without milk and sugar! I have no idea how can it be so popular. But till the good people bring the next season, we just wait and miss and miss homeland and sigh every time we think of the brilliant episodes.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Outraged

People who are close to me know for a fact that I hate shopping. (I hope they know that :S) Yes, I am every guy's dream but only one has me ;) 

OK, before I  lose the few readers hanging around, I will get to the point. Because  I hate shopping, most of it is done by my sis and mom and parcelled to me since  the past God knows how many years and counting. But I desperately needed some clothes, since my shipment from India was getting delayed. I decided to take matters in my hand and go shopping. 

Since I am not one who asks for a shopping spree, I had to season the husband to get ready for some serious plastic money action. We reached the mall, and he agreed that I have unlimited time and privacy in the fitting rooms. That was one thing that did not happen because the munchkin nearly drove the father crazy. Well, that would be a post in itself. Beginner's luck - I found something I liked in the first shop I stepped into. Result! There was a bit of a trough - I don't select stuff that easily. After a short lunch break we were back in business and I ended up with 4 additions to my wardrobe. Hurray!!!!!!

You know how the shopping  bug is - infectious. K too caught it and ended up buying a pair of shoes. The happy trio returned home. Once we got home, per habit I started inspecting the days catch.  I remarked - I got only 2 dresses? K said - well seemed like much more. Then I screamed where is the dress from h&m and the jacket??

The shock and horror!!! I ran to check if we had left the 2 additional bags in the car. But they weren't there. Crest fallen I knew it was a lost cause. I rang the management suite of the mall. They took my contact  details and assured they would ring back if anyone came with the packets. I rang the shops we went to after making the purchases but to no avail. We were within minutes of closing time of the mall so driving back was not an option.

When all roads led to a dead end, I started crying. Yes! K consoled me saying it was just something material and mere clothes. We could get the exact same pieces. But I took a while to come to terms. I felt outraged. I was sure someone had just picked it up and gone home. Someone had just like that stolen it from me! My effort in trying them ( which I find annoying ) with K 's efforts in managing a berserk toddler had resulted in some total stranger reaping the benefits. This was a bit unlike me. I generally take most incidents and outcomes of events very casually. Something has to be epic to affect me. But this small instance jostled me, had me in tears. The logical me  tried a lot of soul searching and concluded it must have been the effort that seemed wasted. As of now lesson learnt - keep counting your baggage as my dad used to when we embarked on long train journeys as kids.

Have you ever felt something like this  - over the top response for something seemingly trivial?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Re-assured!

Well, some days back I thought I was going to die. Yes, I have a tendency for hyperbole. For instance, when K says he has reached the coach station, which is a 10 minutes away from our home and he does not reach within 8 minutes which is the time he should take by virtue of his long legs, I imagine the worse. I imagine he has been hit by a vehicle on the way and taken to the hospital and the good people who took him there are unable to find my number, hence they are unable to call me. I know sounds morbid and you would not want to be in my head. What actually happens is - he takes a detour to the fried chicken corner and has a date with some fried wings! Yesterday for instance, K went to escort the man who was about to deliver our grocery. It would take 10 minutes tops again to fetch him 2 floors below. K took way long yesterday. And my khurafaati (sorry cant translate that word into its quintessence in English... say creative :D ) mind started thinking all sorts. I imagined there was a heavy load which the guy asked K to carry since he had to rush to his next delivery and K being the goody two shoes agreed. But the bags burst open and all the pulses and grains and pastas were strewn all over the floor. Even the milk bottle ended up having a hole with the liquid oozing on. The reality was, the delivery man and K were standing on opposite ends of the building and took a while to find each other :|

Coming back to the point - I thought I was going to die. We went to a kid's play area last Saturday. Technically its a kid's play area, but parents have to follow them. So I had to follow her, get on rides, slides and what not. Not that I did not enjoy it ;) After we came back from the park, my back was hurting a bit. I thought it might have been the general running around. So a good round of menthol balm and a hot pack seemed to make me feel better. Next day the pain seemed a bit worse. The next day, I felt really stiff. The following night, I was stuck in one position. I could not move, bend, turn sides. I had to wake up K to give me a hand so that I could turn around and get up. It was excruciatingly painful. My creative juices started flowing. I was sure I had a slipped disc or a fracture (I was ruling out fracture because if you have one, it is agonising and any sort of movement is impossible) So I had a bad back condition which would need an operation of sorts. That would keep me away from my husband and kid. And worse still I would not recuperate and my condition would worsen and I would eventually.....meet my end.)Ridiculous - I know. But what to do reading all those books has given me a very active imagination. We gave a call to the emergency health services who directed me to an out of hours surgery. Since the kid was sleeping K stayed home while I took a cab. The cab driver noticed me get in very awkwardly into the car, so he asked if there was something wrong with my back. I said 'yes, it seems to have some problem and I am in acute pain'. He said with utter confidence ' ah! You know what! Sometimes these muscles get on top of each other. I had it once and was feeling as if I was about to die! But don't worry they will give you codamol which is a very good pain killer and you will feel better!' I was very glad to meet someone with my own imagination! Even he thought he was going to die! It was some relief to get some reassurance from someone even if he was not a doctor. 

I met the doctor who seemed groggy and eager to dismiss me. He did a urine test and ascertained there was no problem with the kidneys. Prescribed codamol and sent me home! If it was not for the cab driver I would have thought I was just royally ignored by the doctor. But thank God for that man whom I can never man meet to thank :(

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bluntly speaking - all the generalisation about working/Staying at home

Last month there were 2 popular forwards doing their rounds on Facebook. I take all the forwards on any social networking site with a pinch of salt. They are much to my amusement only. But these 2 - apart from amusing me, also angered me.

One of them was about Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO stating 'Choosing a partner is the most important career-decision a woman can make'. The second was about a post by a dad stating that he could not afford his Stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) wife, because her contributions were monetarily superseding his earnings. Predictably the former forward was most happily posted by working women and the latter by SAHM moms! 

The pattern, the generalisation, the whole tone of the both the articles angered me (I am not sure how much truth the articles hold) . And I have got to get it out.

First let me tackle my own kind - the working women. I think they are being supremely narrow minded when they are setting the be-all and end-all of their career as their husband. Yes husband's are important. There is nothing more gracious than a husband who shares house work, since the woman is sharing the accounts. But then is the husband the responsible party for the woman's career?! That is what is technically called a Single Point of Failure. So if we ascertain the single point of failure as the husband, flipping the reasoning, he would be the single point of success as well. How many women would be ok to give the credit of all their success - career wise - to their husband? Guess very few! We would love to take some accolade for our drive, motivation, hard work. If that works for a successful one, that works for every one. Women themselves are solely responsible for their careers. Children, family, husband - all play a role. Then it depends how we handle , or want to handle each of them. When my child was unhappy at daycare, I was on the verge of quitting. Something stopped me, and today both she and I are doing good. Had I quit, things would have panned out differently, but that would have been because of how I handled things. I can assure, my husband would have supported me either way. It was my call.

Another angle of it is most women are considering scenarios of the present generation only. I am a third generation working woman. My grandmothers used to work too! I have many grand-aunts who used to work. All my aunts work. I have seen many situations where they faced opposition from husbands, in laws - what is the need to work? Those were not the days of insatiable wants. But they worked - to improve their overall state, to engage in something fulfilling. They ended up etching a career for themselves and getting the approvals of dissidents. Where there is a will there is a way. It is very easy to pin everything on a single person. And everyone loves a scape-goat! 

Now for the cost of not being able to afford a SAHM. I have not heard anything more ludicrous than this! Attaching a monetary value for a mom feeding, giving bath, ensuring naps, changing diapers, et al. First of all, if the dad should get a fact correct - you attach a value to an economic service.  Parenting is not an economic service. If it was taken at that, you would need to attach a value to the first trimester of nausea, the second of bloated-ness and the third trimester of sleepless-ness and general discomfort. And pray do not ask me the price of enduring labour, or going through the recovery of a Cesarean section. Mind you - woman do lose their lives in child birth. I am sure if this dad accounted all that costs - that would have been an effective contraception against any progeny. 

What a SAHM does, is on her own volition. Adding it up - it is a voluntary activity. There is no price attached to a voluntary activity. If it is involuntary, which means, she was not fit for a job market, then again, she had no scope in engaging in any lucrative economic activity anyway. (I  know that sounds harsh!) It is fool hardy to attach a monetary value for child care activities - be it by a working woman or SAHM. It is ok to attach it to a child care worker, since he/she is enabling someone else to earn(i.e. the mother) - by producing goods or services. Hence they are a secondary service in their own regard.

Leaving the solid economic concept line,  I feel you cannot attach a price tag on everything. Can we attach a price to what our parents did for us? Can we attach a price on the worry our grandparents feel if they hear we are travelling and have not called back in the past 2 hours? Can we attach a price on the satisfaction on helping a stranger find the way, offering a seat to an elderly, letting a lady with a screaming child ahead in the queue? If we can, then am afraid all hope is lost for humanity!  

Well.... these are entirely my opinion, and I would love a healthy argument on either stems. But nothing emotional about it - I would love purely analytic arguments please :) 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Warts and all

On the surface I have everything going for me. I have a loving husband, a child, a job I love, loving circle of family and friends. I am mostly happy go lucky, and tend to take a devil may care attitude towards most things. I am a very firm believer of some nuggets of wisdom like 'Live and let live', 'To each their own', 'No one is black or white - everyone is grey' which helps me accept many road blocks. I have read quite a bit of Hindu scriptures (more their loose adaptations and re-telling by mom and mil) and the concept of Karma gives me further acceptance of people and circumstances.

In spite of all this, once in a while, I get jealous. Well... jealous is not the right fit. I get a rumbling feeling - what did so-and-so do to deserve such-and-such. I hate having such thoughts, as there is a popular Facebook wall picture - Never judge the happiness of others for you don't know what their struggles have been like (or something on the similar vein). Yes. I understand that too. We do not have full appreciation of what another person's life is in detail. How is any other person's bounty going to affect me? I have my kitty and they get their dividends from theirs. Their progress in no way impairs mine, affects mine. We are like different celestial bodies in the vast space, whose paths would not intersect come what may. Then why that negative feeling from me? 

This time I gave it a good hard thought... and since this space is my space for getting clarity, I thought let me try to write and analyse. Why this angst against some achievement of another? Is it because, in my not-so-perfect world, there are some wishes that seem should get a higher priority in the grand scheme of things? And when another person gets something he/she wants, I feel my desires are being pushed down a level by some Supreme Power? Is it because in my head, I have a designated state in which every person should be? Is it like I have given a time and space coordinate to each person, and any movement disrupts the field? Is it the case of misery loving company that I wish a lot of other people also wallowed in misery and defeat? 

I feel guilty for harbouring such thoughts. Being God-fearing, I dread being punished for having ill-will against another. But then I am a mere human... so help me God.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not a romantic arrangement

I did write about seat-gate in one of our train travels in my last post. One haadsa (incident) happened to us too.

The journey was long and after a day off sight seeing K and I were dead tired too. K in fact was feeling a bit claustrophobic in the crowd. There was a lady who was quite harried by her baby and toddler. She and the toddler occupied 2 seats while the baby was in a push chair. Finally when she got down, K grabbed the seats left empty by the lady. I sat on K 's lap. Why? Well I will unravel the reason in a bit :)

After sometime another lady came in a rush to occupy the seat in which the toddler was sitting. She pulled down the chair (the place where you place the bottom kinda folds up, like in cinema theaters ) and made a grotesque face and ran away repulsed.

Now is the time for drum rolls ;) The reason I did not take that seat was, the poor baby had puked all over it. So my sitting on K's lap (immaterial of how romantic it looked) was a totally infrastructural arrangement :P

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hum log( We people)

We recently took a holiday. While on holiday, what K loves the most is abusing.. er... using the underground metro system of cities. I like taking in the culture and noting the general behaviour of people. K says I stare at people :( I prefer to believe I observe ;) 

One day we got into a train and there was a family. Mom, dad, a boy and a girl. The boy was seated on mom 's lap and the girl in a seat. The dad was standing. The father said in  Hindi ' control main nehi hain dono, itna maroonga na main inhe ghar jaake! ' ( They are totally out of control. I am going to give them a good thrashing once we get back home)  The mom sat, listening, gently stroking the head of her son. Moms - aren't they the peace keeping force all the time? The father's words did not shock me, they in fact rung a bell - the old school disciplinarian dads before the daddy cool cult came in :) I absolutely love the new gen dads who do so much more. But I was raised by one of the retro ones :) so I know one when I see one :)

Yet another time we went to a place which was up in the hills. The trains were once every hour and the journey to the main city was close to an hour long. At the station a family got in - mom, dad and two boys. There was no place to sit in the train. But there were a couple of  steps on either side of the compartment. 4 steps! Problem solved for mommy! There was only 4 seats she needed! She made her sons sit on one side and she and husband  were about to sit on other two, when a man came and stood on one of the steps. She told the husband 'usko excuse me bolo aur baitho na!' ( Say excuse me and sit down). Husband hesitated. She said the golden words, the man moved  and they sat. But there was some more trouble in paradise. Someone had to use the steps on the other end and the elder son got up to make way. In the meanwhile his seat was usurped! (Boy we were having some musical step-chair going on there!) Elder did not mind and shared the step with his brother. Mom asked from the other end if he was OK. He replied yes. She went across the compartment to check. All the while her husband kept his hand on the step lest someone grab her step - chair!! 

15-20 minutes later, someone near the mom was getting down. Even before the passenger could lift one half of her bottom, mommy had secured the seat! She at once called  the younger one to take the legal seat :) Next station someone at the other end  I.e the end where elder was still seated on a step got down. Someone quickly came and took the place. Mom from the other commented 'usko dikh nehi raha tha wo utarne wali hai? Kitna gawaar hai yeah ladka!'  ( Didn't he realise she was about to get down? How rustic is he!)

K and I could not help but chuckle at all this. But what I also saw was protective matriarch. Society may be accept it, but just how willingly women take the responsibility of the whole family. Even if there are men! 

People do not cease to amaze me. And such incidents just increase my marvel :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Bluntly speaking - Kids

Roomie dear allegedly checks my blog site every single day and gets mighty disappointed not finding anything new. She even said, 'The Book thief had become the blog thief' :D Well said! I have been meaning to write something, anything at all. But my head was as empty as a null object (Excuse the atrociously bad joke, I am an object oriented programmer :P ) 

I am a very strong opinionated person. I think I started writing my posts, because I did not feel many people in the world could stomach my spoken word :D But then somewhere down the line, I veered away from venting much of my pearls of wisdom. Since there was nothing ground breaking happening anyway, I thought, might as well spread some shock and awe and reveal my ground breaking thoughts ;) 

Disclaimer before the reader proceeds : The thoughts are entirely my own. I would encourage a healthy hearty debate. I would love some in fact. But in good spirits of course :) 

Let me pick up something I have been having a lot of conversation about lately - kids. One aspect that I regularly see myself defending is why have kids? I was not a great fan of kids. I loved the bubbly, vibrant sorts who would get along with any stranger. But who does nt love those kids who perform to the crowds? I quite like kids now that I have had one of my own :D 

When asked why have kids, my rational, scientific mind says - because it is biologically natural to have kids. It is nature's dictum to try and improve our gene pool and produce the next generation. That is why I am a big proponent for cross cultural, cross ethnicity kids - mix the genes, make them stronger! I feel it is not only physically natural to have kids, it is emotionally natural too. Like the logical synapses of the mind enrich when we learn a new trade or pick a new skill. I feel the emotional circuits gets enriched when we have one additional person to love , to care. Why does gardening or looking after a puppy make one feel so good? Its the love and care that we put into something that gives us an intangible gratification. Imagine the gratification when you see something you have created out of your own self smile back, hold your finger, kiss your cheeks! It is surreal.

During the organic chemistry days, I remember, a lesson about covalent and ionic bonds. Without boring readers from other faculties (as if my topic was not boring enough :S ) , bonds are what tie elements together. A covalent bond is where some electrons are shared between elements, while ionic ones are where one elements lends some electrons and the other borrows some. Both result in a relationship - a bond. A covalent bond is way stronger than an ionic bond. Logical is nt it. A relationship based on sharing is stronger that one based on give and take! Look at that - science showing us the way :D With children I feel couples get the electrons to share. Some argue that, they have everything going swell. Why would they need  children to strengthen a bond. I do not say that kids strengthen a weak relationship or can mend bridges. They are an reinforcement to an already strong tie. Honestly, I have not seen a couple who have consciously decided to stay away from children, not being pulled towards puppies, kittens or the likes. The desire to nurture and rear is too natural.

I also feel, kids are a link to the previous generation. They not bind us to our parents. They see a miniature of their kids in their grand kids. In fact, the lack of day to day responsibilities, makes them look at grand kids as even more engaging exercise. Most talks veers towards the young ones, but then, that is so much more satisfying.

There is one last argument with which I would rest my case. I have met more people who have regretted not having children, than who have repented having them. So go on... parenting is worth it.

PS. I do not judge or cast aspersions on anyone who has chosen not to have children for whatever reason. It is after all a free world.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The book thief

Set in Nazi Germany, The book thief is a unique story of a child who is in love with words. This desire makes her steal books. It is the story of her foster parents Hans  and Rosa Huberman. Papa(Hans) has silver eyes and Mama is a wardrobe of a woman. But they are gentle and kind and have no qualms in sharing their meagre life.  There is Rudy Steiner with lemon coloured hair who is the best friend and competitor of the book thief Liesel  Meminger. Integral to the story  is the Jewish fist fighter Max Vandenburg and Isla Herman 

The story brings together the lives of all these non descript characters. Its the upheavals the actions of one man the Fuehrer cause on the people living in Himmel Street. 

The book's narrator is an interesting character. I was on page 7 when I had to go back an re-read to ascertain who it was! The times were hard and it is easy to be empathetic towards the people whose lives were dragged because of one man's wish to dominate the world. But the author writes about the trying times in a flippant manner. Still he strikes the right chords. There is one section about the marching of Jews to a concentration camp. The pathos would move stones. The only thing that did not work for me was the lack of anything new. The book was as if being written for the very predictable ending that it had. And there were flashes of brilliance while depicting human emotions. But they remained as flashes only. 

The book is a good story. It is about human nature. About the urge of humans to do things like steal  things that of no material worth - just to feel good. It is a story that reiterates  the inherent goodness in man. A tragic but positive story!

Some lines from the book that packed a punch
The day was gray, the colour of Europe.

I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, thats where they begin. Their great skill is their capacity to escalate.

Eleven-year-old paranoia was powerful. Eleven-year-old relief was euphoric.

It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents.

Their heartbeats fought each other, a mess of rhythm. Liesel tries to eat ers down. Te taste of heart was not too cheerful.

Liesel crossed the bridge over the Amper River. The water was glorious and emerald and rich. She could see the stones at the bottom and hear the familiar song of water. The world did not deserve such a river.

Say something enough times and you never forget it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

True love

My little girl sits near me eating and regaining her good mood. I give her a squeeze and kiss her fore head and say ' I love you my baby'. She looks at me with the most love filled eyes and says ' I love noodles'( which she was eating at that moment.) 

No wonder they say 'the most true love is the love of food!'

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Small stuff

The other day I went to the fish monger on my way back from work. I goto the small local shops in the farmer's market. I chose 2 salmon fillet cos that is exactly what Chiyaa likes. I opened my wallet to pay the bill. And I noticed there was not a single note of currency! I had not been robbed. K had chosen to sneak some dosh. I apologised to the fish monger and said I would not be able to make the purchase since I did not have any cash. 

One of them said 'you can use a card' I thought they meant I could use my card to withdraw some amount and pay them. The ATM machine was a walk away and the trip would have delayed my time of picking up Chiyaa. Not that it would brought the world down but my OCD would not like it. So I said ' sorry it's a bit of a walk. I will get the fish later  '. That's when the guy said 'no use your card here'. I asked ' oh you got a card machine!?'( It was a very small shop and I did not expect them to deal in anything but currency notes) The guy said ' Yea we have a card machine ' There was another person near him who was washing the place ( It was close to 1700 and most shops close by that time. Since this was a fish vendor 's they were cleaning up the stalls of the blood and gut and other remains of fish) Then he said, 'you can even do your washing here love'. I smiled. I stepped into the shop to put my card. 

Then I heard the man doing the washing say'what are you thinking?' He was talking to a lady standing at the shop. She was an elderly frail woman. She said 'I am dreaming.' 
Guy 1 said ' dreaming about me?' Washing guy said 'no of course dreaming about me ' 
Guy 1 responded'oh yes he looks good in a corset.'  
Washing guy responded ' yes I do look in a corset' 
Guy 1 said ' even your boy friend agrees to it '  
The old lady, I, the two men and some shoppers broke into laughter hearing this banter. I was chuckling for quite some time. They asked me to mind my step on my way back since it was all a bit slippery after the wash. 

It is these small gestures that make one s day isn't it?

Monday, January 26, 2015

What a weekend

Before you get your hopes up and then crushed by the end of the post - let me warn you. Nothing phenomenal happened :| But I am a worshipper of the God of Small Things. And I also wanted to write something :) So here goes. 

Well Friday was not a typical end of week work day for me. Generally  the 6th day of the week work either gets too bothersome that I can't wait for it to get over. Or it is so slack that again I can't wait for it to get over. But this Friday it cruised along to destination 'logical conclusion'. Woo hoo! Shop closed @ 1600. Hit  the gym. I try to sneak in 20 mins of gymming every alternate day of the week. Its not possible all the time and it's definitely not enough. But then something is better than nothing. Lately K recommended that strength training is better for toning down rather than running like a hamster on a treadmill. I was always a cardio freak. I enjoyed it more cos I could catch up on some catchy music ;) Then the wise man of the house quoted that strength would give better effect in  lesser  time. Well.... Why not try. Try I did. And K felt it was working! So the really short gym sessions are adding up to something thanks to K's recommendation. 

After the exercise there is another exercise which I don't quite look forward to. Picking up Chiyaa. Don't get me wrong. I want her home. Its her mood that is the pro. The mood of the toddler every day is volatile - much like the weather around here. Some days she can be an angel, munching her snacks, chatting away, playing by herself and then drifting off to bed. Some days she can be a tantrum Queen with nothing distracting her from her bad state of mind. Friday was one of her latter days. She seemed fine in her room. The moment we got near the pram she started wailing! I man handled ( woman handled?) her into the push chair and started  the journey home. The 10 mins walk seemed like eternity! When lo and behold suddenly what do we see? No not daddy. :P An earthworm! She has been seeing a worm in a book which we keep calling 'the wriggly worm'. So seeing a real wriggly worm in the street was like me bumping into SRK!!!! Just like the mere mention of SRK can keep me chirpy for a while, the worm kept her happy till dinner time. God bless you, you little creature. You may be small but you are so important!

K came home and offered to make dinner. It  was simply amazing! What did he make you ask? Oh well he made Maggi ;) It was perfectly soft with still the right amount of sogginess and soupiness. I made scrambled eggs to go with it since Maggi with scrambled eggs is just the wow combination. Dinner done it was back to back episodes of modern family till it was time for night night :)

Hmm I have filled half a page and I am still on Friday! The rest of the weekend in the next post then :D

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Lowland

 Jhumpa Lahiri writes about displaced people. She writes about misplaced people. She writes about India, more specifically Calcutta. She writes about being a migrant in a developed nation. She writes about the quandaries at home. She writes about the freedom but rootless-ness abroad. A lot of her writing resonates with me. Maybe because I was in Cal for quite a while, maybe because I am a migrant at the moment. JL  writes about human bonds. Bonds that add meaning to existence, bonds that suffocate. This book starts as the story of 2 brothers 15 months apart. They are veritable dopplegangers. As they grow they evolve. Subhash is the composed, measured one while Udayan is the passionate, impulsive idealist. They branch and embrace other characters. Gauri the strong willed, cerebral lady is thus introduced. The changes she impacts are far reaching. Unprecedented. 

The characters are strong. As a reader I was at no point sitting on the fence. I knew who I was rooting for and who I to use a mild term 'did not like'. Apart from the characters and the peep into their psyche, the book was like time travel. Not jerky. But smooth. Fluid. It spanned 4 generations and when each was presented it was like a different view after the bend in a river. It was like seeing the same thing in a different perspective each time. It was like being in a carousel and the same thing seeming  different after a turn.

I loved the way she has expressed some very real and likely situations. The part where she narrates a character dealing with insomnia made me feel so frustrated and helpless. The bereavement felt by another  pulled my heart strings. Anger, reticence, despair - each page is drenched in a variety of emotions.

The book is a journey. The book is an emotional unfolding. The book is a sheer masterpiece.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Numbers game

Numbers measure so much. Most importantly our passage on this earth. We have the customary milestone years. 3 - the start of preschool, 10 the first double digit, 13- start of the teenages, 18- officially adults (?), 30-the advent of middle age, 60- pensioner. After that it's more of a wait to meet the maker(?). Hmm that seemed a very melancholy stream  of thoughts. 

When I am the very opposite of melancholy now :D It is our seventh wedding anniversary today! As with most occasions if something was to go wrong it had to. The trio woke with a royal cold :( Being the typical us with romance having eluded us, rather than doing the customary candle lit dinner or romantic movie, we had decided to climb a rock. OK let me come out clean, not a real rock, an indoor one ;) The only thing between a corpulent couple and the heights of glory was an unwell kid. Chiyaa was down with a cough. We were in two minds whether to drop her at day care. But when she started feeling a bit better we asked her if she wanted to go and meet her friends. She said yes! Which prompted us to drop her for a short while. We were gonna rock \m/ ;)

After the adrenaline rush of climbing a rock had gone down we could not feel our arms and legs any longer. We thought of giving the movies a shot but nothing tickled our fancy. We instead gave sushi a shot. K loved it! Surprise of surprises since he was never one to like something wrapped in sea weed! Inspite of being the more adventurous one, I didn't like it so much. More for the lack of fork and knife. Only one new thing at a time :( Grub done we picked the Princess early and let the chaos begin :D

A day full of myriad experiences - just like my life with K. 

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