Saturday, December 31, 2016

Customary year end post

It's the last day of the year already and now I am sitting down to draft my year end post! Phew! What was I thinking? Uh well as long as this post makes it before 2017 breaks in - am good. 

What a year it has been. So full. So sumptuous. Started with the care of a little baby. Those tumultuous months of frenzied nappy changes, feeding, post partum care and the mandatory  weight loss attempt. Some things were harder this time around while some were easier. The most special bit was making the trip to Bradford with the two kids and mummy in tow to get the travel documents for Pumpki. Both the days were cold and wintry and rainy. But with the warmth of the ones who love you, it is so special. 

We moved to a new place. We bid goodbye, packed, searched houses, booked tickets, unpacked and rearranged, settled down and started afresh. 

It was followed by the lovely Indian summer! We laughed, we ate, we roamed, we shopped, we wept as we bid goodbye. The moments, the time, the feel of being home - something I will hold very close to my heart. 

Back in the UK with a lot of heartache we resumed life. It included school, new work, a bout of sickness,trial at new ventures and the wait with trepidation for results. 

This year has been fabulous. Extremely busy and full to the brim with activities. I read a lot. Wrote a lot. Spoke a lot. Heard a lot. Loved a lot. Lived a lot. Here is hoping a tranquil 2017. Here is hoping a successful 2017. Here is hoping a healthy 2017. Here is hoping a year we are at peace with. Happy new year everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Diwali nehi Christmas sahi

Remember how I said that I totally missed Diwali this year? But there was Christmas to be celebrated.

Being in the UK for the past 6 years, I have honestly not been able to understand the big deal about Christmas. In India it was more of a religious thing. I remember the nativity plays and the carol singing in school. Later I was more in tune with Christians going for midnight masses. Yes with a large number of expats coming back the malls in bigger cities started getting trees and hosting sales. 

In the UK it seems an entirely commercial event. The purchases start from September. There is a wild frenzy with 'Christmas adverts' and 'sale season'. I know it's a bit like Diwali in north or south India or Durga Puja in east. But come on we don't go berserk like this!

This year we did! We had Pumpki 's birthday party planned for the 26th of December, since 28th - her birth day was a working day. The 'party day' being boxing day - the official start of post Christmas sale was bang in the middle of a long weekend. People have plans. So we extended the invitation right in advance. K had a few out of town colleagues. I started getting on with the venue and catering.

Since it was a long weekend many had out of town vacations. Some had work related issues with year end release from projects. So K had a few dropouts. The venues and catering were also a bit difficult to get because of the holiday season. We took a leap of faith and decided to host the party at home. Since we were looking at a small gathering, we decided to cook at home and maybe get some of the items from restaurants. 

Weeks before the party I started fussing over the return gifts, the menu, the cutlery, the decorations, the attire and all the other details. Things got thrown a bit off balance with the chicken pox season hitting the family. With K and Pumpki contracting it a couple of weeks before the party, things seemed more doubtful. Thankfully a speedy recovery was on track. 

Two days before the party the frenzied cooking started. There were numerous trips to the town centre and supermarkets to get this and that. Sticky tape, tumblers, gift bags - no matter how much one plans there are still the last minute dashes.

We had a quiet party with few of K 's closest friends. It was really lovely. I totally enjoyed Christmas. I totally got the fuss. If I was having panic attacks  planning a party with a few people and deciding the return  gifts for a few children - imagine the stress of organising one for your whole family with gifts, food and what not! 

I had a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas. The best thing was I could celebrate the little one's birthday within my maternity break. Here is hoping to make the most of my last week before work. Wow time......  Where does it go?






Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tagging along


Remember those times when tags were so popular. I used to do one a month I think. Finally Amy did a tag and it was simply awesome.  She executed it so nicely that I could not resist it. Here goes...

1. If we didn’t work to earn money, what would I be doing?

Cooking :) I aspire to be a tea stall owner :)

2. What would I say in my own eulogy?

A thoughtful person with her heart in the right place. But also her head in the right place which made her seem like an emotionless b. :)
It's my eulogy, I can swear :)

3. Where do I see myself in 10 years?

I hope to have made my peace professionally and enjoying my time with my girls who would be just the right age then - not kids nor adults, not clingy nor indifferent.

4. Do I receive more than I give, or give more than I receive?

Always equal. For me the scale seems balanced. Maybe I tune my giving to what I receive. 

5. What is the one thing I can do better than others?

Debate. I am too logical and can nail a debate.

6. Whom do I want to be like?

Michelle Obama - those killer arms, that wit, that intellect, those gorgeous daughters and that cool husband! 
But really - I have always wished to be like my mother.

7. What have I done for which I’ll be remembered after I am gone?

This blog - I hope. 

8. Who are the ones who make me happy?

I am a very selective person, and anyone within my circle makes me happy.
Mummy, Papa, Lichie, K, Chiyaa, Pumpki, Ashu, Sam, roomie dear 

9. Do people miss me if I’m not present in a gathering?

No. I am nondescript in gatherings, why would I be missed?

So would you take a shot at this tag?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A meh birthday

Mehbe.... Depends.... You decide ;)

As I might have told umpteen  times I just love my birthday. Just love it. December starts and I start planning the lovely day. Well this December hasn't been the usual cold rosy December of other years. It started with Chiyaa being ill. Chiyaa is getting better and though she has a cold I hoped that she would be ok in time for my birthday. But sadly last Saturday  I noticed some spots On K 's back and neck. Having had an interaction quire recently I suspected chicken pox. K had contracted the disease earlier. Since one is immune lifelong generally after getting it once, we had our doubts. 

We anyways called the 24 hours helpline and K got an appointment the next day with the out of hours clinic. I think those doctors must have gotten used to seeing our family over the weekend. I was very sure it was chicken pox by Sunday morning since he had all the classic symptoms. He headed to the doctors and he was seen by two because it is pretty rare to contract the disease twice. But it was concluded as the chicken pox and K was asked to keep an eye on any worsening symptoms.

K kept his pain under control and generally retired to netflix. Last year the impending birth of Pumki stole my birthday thunder. And this year it was going to be daddy. 

On the eve of my birthday we ordered food from outside. The food turned out to be delicious. It was an Indian/ Bangladeshi place. I ordered Brinjal bharta and tarka dal and the seasoning with mustard oil was simply superb. It was not the style of cooking we were used to in Leeds. It was a very pleasant surprise. 

Birthday morning K felt particularly weak. He asked me to drop Chiyaa at school. Now if the weather is nice and sunny and you are in no hurry, the buses run spot on time. But it is raining, you need to get in time an  in a nutshell you need a bus - it is never ever on time. Yes Murphy and his laws. I didn't want to risk it so booked a cab. But the cabs were not around from the 0820-0840 slot. The slot we needed to reach school on time. But we had one for 0815 and booked it with alacrity *rolls eyes*.  To get ready 10 minutes early we had to rush. I didn't have time to feed and linger behind Chiyaa. So I made her sit with her breakfast and kept yelling at her intermittently to shove food down her mouth. Not ideal. Not what you want to do on your birthday. But then who said reality is all rosy dandy. 

We reached school real early. And I had to keep her amused by making observations. It was fun actually. At one point I remembered and said 'you know it is mummy's birthday today '. She hugged me and said happy birthday! A far cry from last year when she used to think it can only be her birthday in a year. She used to get so upset if we said it was anyone else's birthday.  A birthday for me but my child had grown. 

I could catch the bus back home but then thought about a walk. It was dark and damp but what better way to up the birthday spirit by getting some endorphins via exercise. So music on full blast I walked back home. 

Back home I gave the meds,  tea and general tlc to K. After sometime to get his mind off the pain, he put on some series on netflix. The binge watching started. A week ago it was CBeebies and now it was The Good Wife. The tv is an overworked appliance in our house.

Evening keeping with the norm if me not entering the kitchen, we ordered some food. It was good. Finally an awesome thing happened! Roomie dear made a video call. It was weird talking with our kids on our laps. But it was wonderful. We should have done it sooner and should do it more often time permitting. A has started working part time now with Thursday Friday being her non working days. And once a week  we catch up. I have never felt more connected. Thank god for the Internet revolution.

I could not have asked for a better birthday gift than K being around.  And in a distorted way I got it! Maybe it was God's diabolical way if ensuring that we spend the day together! I know not ideal. But then isn't perfect boring. 

Coming back to the case in point. What do you think - was it a meh birthday or a yeah one?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Limping back

Chiyaa started school today after a gap of 8 school days. She is still not 100 percent but the school office encouraged that if she feels well in herself and has no new blisters she is ok to be brought in. Poor kitty has not been sleeping so well. The scabs itch a lot and she has trouble sleeping. In fact she is very scared and conscious of the blisters which look more prominent in the scabbed out format. She kept telling 'I have  boils and am poorly I shouldn't goto school'..but we tried to convince her by saying that her teachers and friends missed her. We all went to drop her. Reaching back she was given lots of hugs by her friends. She cried a bit when they all settled down. I promised we would take a bus ride home. She really loves a bus ride :) Her teacher was also very considerate and inclusive. There will be no cbeebies running endlessly at home. I had started to hum the tunes of some of the shows Chiyaa watches :) K was like seriously?  :) what to do, the tunes are catchy.

Pumpki did miss her sister today. The sisters have a way. I play with her but I cannot match the fun she has with big sister. In fact I have a video call with mummy in the morning. All the way in India across the window she felt the emptiness of Chiyaa not being there. In a way things are slowly going back to normal.  Even I stepped out of the house after a span of 15 days. All my outings in the interim has been visits to hospital or pharmacies.

If by normal I mean my work then the countdown has started. My 'suspended' account was reinstated yesterday. I had to search the house to find my work laptop - which I eventually did! I guessed my login password and voila was greeted by this

Going back to work will be such an experience this time around. It reminds me so much of the previous time. We have lot of things being the same, the most important is having mil  back. She will be here with us next week. She is raring to go and with her prior experience feels much more confident about  handling the little one. Things will be a bit different. Since I have moved to Ipswich I have a different working arrangement. I will be travelling to Leeds twice a month and will be working from home for the other days. Seems so much better than being away at work. I will be around hopefully mil can have her lunch in peace , or get help setting  the pram  (last time she was nervous about a lot of things like how to put the struggling toddler in the high chair or how to get the pram sorted. She eventually managed it but had her initial apprehensions. The good part was K was right across the street, so he could run to her aid anytime - meetings permitting). But I have worked from home before and it is a challenge with kids. I am not sure if I will be permitted to be efficient. Kids have a way of throwing a fit when one is  right in the middle of a very crucial discussion. I will also be travelling and in January when I join, I will be away for 2 nights. It will be interesting to see how things evolve, we are still open to the option of kids travelling, but given Chiyaa's fragile health, are not fully convinced to travel yet. 

The coming days are the last sprint. It fills me with nostalgia. How time literally flew! I wish I could just make it all stop. But stop we mustn't, for we got a party to host. Yeah Pumpki turns one in 3 weeks!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Season of sickness again

The season of sickness persists in our house. Chiyaa barely recovered from her infection and I was caught by a horrible throat infection. As if the throat infection was not enough I got a bout of mastitis. It was severely painful and ended up throwing everything off gear. K had to take care of a lot of household stuff. Maybe it was God's way of ensuring the inaction I craved. A week passed with recovery being slow. I was slowly regaining my sense of taste and appetite. 

Last Friday once Chiyaa was back, K noticed some pustules on her back and neck. We were unable to get through to a gp but we got some advice from the helpline towards chicken pox. We were crest fallen. She had barely recovered from the last onslaught. We ploughed through Saturday but Sunday had us concerned since Chiyaa seemed to be having a lot more rash and very high fever. We went to the out of hours clinic and the poor kitten was diagnosed with chicken pox and a bacterial infection of the throat and nose. Her temperature was very high and the doctor advised us to keep it around 38 degrees C. If it did not come to that neighbourhood, we were to visit the doctor again. After 4 hours the temperature was reducing but still in the high range we were advised to get to the out of hours clinic again. It was depressing to note so many little ones waiting to be seen by the doctor. Honestly the healthcare system in the county is in tatters, all these tiny tots should ideally be seen by a normal doctor and not an emergency practitioner. The doctor asked us to keep a tab for one more day and if the temperature persisted she would need medical attention.

We came back and somehow pushed some fluids into her. She was in no mood to eat or drink and in the whole day had consumed only a tiny bit of chocolate. Sunday night was relatively ok since she was knocked out by the meds. Monday there was more of an outbreak . K took permission to work from home since we needed an additional pair of hands. Pumpki was relatively so calm. She too had a temperature on Sunday night, which got us worried about an infection. Chances are bleak that she will come out unscathed, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that both the kids are not poorly at the same time. 

There have been quite a few sleepless nights. Seeing her writhe in pain and groaning is the worst possible sight. All we hope for is the little ones pain to come down and her health to be restored.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Didn't I say no more action?

Yes literally 2 days back and now I am back to post something. Which means obviously something must have happened. And something has -but don't worry not the scale of tricks Mr.Modi or Mr. President Elect can pull ( by the way have you noticed how the whole world calls him President Elect? Is he like the president of the whole world? I don't think the UN President Elect being called so universally! Who cares about the UN now a days anyways, even the president of Philippines  doesn't :P And there I go digressing again)

Coming back to what happened. So Chiyaa has resumed school and she is still a bit under the weather. Today as usual dad and daughter started at 0820. The kids go in at 0845 and K is back home by 0900 ish. Today the clock ticked to 0910 - no sight of K. Well might have stopped to re-fuel the car. 0920 - no sight of K. Might have bumped into a colleague or a might be speaking to the teacher in detail. 0930 - no sight of K ....hmmmm ... a bit worrying. He was complaining of a severe backache in the morning - had he hurt himself and driven straight to A&E? People who have been with me long enough might know of my vivid imaginations. Was Chiyaa ok? Did she take a turn for the worse and warrant  medical attention? What was I to do with Pumpki with me? I had no idea where to start 'looking'. 

I called school but no one picked.  The office must have been busy with the drops. K had left his phone I decided I would call a colleague of his and let him know of the situation. The clock had ticked to 0935 by now. And I would call a cab and start to school. But first I had to feed Pumpki so that she was at ease. 0940 and I heard the click in the door. 'PLEASE TAKE YOUR PHONE WITH YOU DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW WORRIED I HAVE BEEN?' K replied very calmly ' I know but it was a total mind ****' . And then he told the story very liberally interspersed with expletives. 

Today was Pudsey Bear Pyjama Day at school. So everyone came to school in their PJs. The teaching staff, the kitchen staff - everyone, everyone! Chiyaa got down from the car and could sense she was the odd one out in her school uniform and started crying. She was very reluctant to go to class and felt very ill at ease inspite of daddy convincing her. Daddy being a softie in the hands of his first born, promised the teacher 'I will be back' (ooooo Schwarzenegger) . He drove to the nearest shop (mind you it was before 0900 so he had to drive to a super market to get clothes). He bought Frozen themed pjs and drove to school. He got her dressed and came back home - a bit late. 

Phew! I was so proud of K. But still he was on the wrong so I wanted to have the last word ' Don't forget your phone at home.' Well... the last word was not supposed to be mine since wham! came his reply 'Please don't forget s*** like this '

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

No more action

That was the very sensible advice I received from my sister. There has been way too much action... Would put any James Bond and Ethan Hunt put together to shame. 

First we had Pumpki. We had to deal with getting her documents sorted before the trip to India  which involved quite a bit of travel at break neck speed. K moved places. We moved places. We moved countries for a few months when the kids and I got to have a wonderful wondrous Indian summer. Once back there were some major upheavals on the job front. These were reason for much tension, a look out for new job, juggling of kids, some difficult conversations and return to ground zero. 

There was something happening all the time. There was no time to just sit back without something  to analyse, discuss or brainstorm. It was never ending. But there were so many permutations and combinations of cause and effect that it was impossible to let things go. That's when my sister said 'no more action'. She asked me to sit back and let things run their course for once. What's the worst that could happen. And I am so grateful to her for showing me the light. Yes literally, the power to chose is actually an illusion (courtesy The Matrix). So I have decided to sit back and enjoy the show. I have even given up on exercising and counting calories. 

Early in the year we had got a school, denied the school, researched how to apply for a new school and followed up with municipal authorities across counties for a place. Chiyaa started school and as with other changes she did not take to it so well. She used to cry when being sent to school initially. Till now when she has reached a point when she cried when I told her she won't be going to school! Why? Well she has been rather unwell. The usual cough and cold kept bothering her for a week or so till last Friday she was wrecked by fever. The fever got in to a rash that spread across her body along with diarrhoea. There was a perceptible swelling on her face on Sunday which made us reach out to emergency care. The doctor figured it was a bad case of viral infection which had unleashed a full on attack. A fungus joined hands and  caused an infection in her mouth which made eating and drinking a torture for her. She gave us the required meds and we have been seeing a remarkable improvement. So she had been off school for the past two days. 

Talk about I more action and literally  there has been no movement since Friday evening. We are holed up with the television running kiddy shows. Thankfully K had his wfh facilities enabled last week which came as manna from heaven. I wanted inactivity albeit not in this format. I keep thinking of being careful what I ask for. Here is hoping there is peaceful inactivity till the end of the year *fingers crossed *

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Receding images

Since this place in the World Wide Web is a repository for anything and everything I write, here is a short story I put forth for a contest.

Uma was the one to leave. Sitting in the rickshaw drawing away from her grandmother's home. Such wonderful memories - the afternoons filled with games, delicious mangoes, scrumptious food - over and over again. A summer vacation that should not end. Those beautiful times overridden by a single image - the lonely figure of her grandmother belittled against the grand arcade, waving her hand. And Uma, waving hers, till the rickshaw bent round the corner and she could not see her beloved grandmother any more. Maybe she kept waving her hand beyond that.... she could still visualise the frail figure in the white sari still waving. As she made the overnight journey back home, routine would take over. How Uma wished, the idyllic vacation carried on. But reality consisted of school, tuitions and exams. One day she would be a grown up and then she would not leave any one. She would always be around the ones she loved, she would do whatever she wanted to do. Isn't that what grown ups did?

But before Uma got there, she had to go through college. A small price to pay for a life of independence. The best college was in another city. Just four years of staying away from family and then everything would be a lot right. Her parents came to drop her at her hostel. She was scared of the strange surroundings. She was petrified. How Uma wished to lie on her mother's lap and keep listening to her father regale them with stories of the day at the university. But she had to get ready and bid them adieu. She went to the bus station. She held on to her mother's outstretched hand till the bus started moving. Then she waved. Kept waving. The bus receded to the size of a match box. She kept waving. She was not sure if she was waving to the bus or to two random rear lights. A sudden breeze brought her back. Four years would pass within the blink of an eye. But the four years would consist of many trips home. Trips to savour her mother's cooking, her father's stories, even see her grandmother who had become even more frail in built. 

Though she missed her parents, through college, she made priceless friends. Friends with whom she could open up. Tell her secrets, share her fears, show her anger and cry her tears. Friends with whom there was no pretence, with whom there was no vested interest. Four years was not long enough to have all the chats, go for all the fun trips, eat in all the roadside stalls. Four years ago with tear filled eyes she had said goodbye to her parents. She was again on the threshold of saying goodbye. Her head out of the window of the bus, she waved. Waved till the friends merged with the trees, till her hands went numb, till her eyes hurt and fell asleep. She would see her parents the next morning. 

College was over. A job beckoned. A bigger separation. A bigger city. Isn't being in a fast city on your own what being grown up is all about? Earning  a living, having fun with new friends, meeting those crucial deadlines and partying till the morning hours. But what about her real dream? Of being close to those few people she really loved. Having those friends around her, with whom she could open up - not people she would just 'hang' out with. Maybe once she had enough money she could have this dream. For then she would not need to work. She could just be - with her parents, her friends, her simple wishes of tea and conversations. 

Though it was naive of her to think so. Of course she had to go on and build a family of her own. She had to get married to the most capable man - qualified, cultured and caring. Just that he did not even live in the same country. The distances seemed to have a way of their own. They kept expanding. Earlier she could touch and see her family as she moved on. Standing in the departure lounge of the massive airport, she was separated by ropes from her parents. She held on to their finger tips. She kept looking back, to what seemed like her mother's vermilion streaked head, her father's spectacles. She lost balance on the escalator since she was more interested in spotting the pieces of her heart she was leaving behind. She sat in the plane and looked out, she did not have the luxury of waving them goodbye one last time. She had no clue what her parents were doing? Were they crying? Or were they happy that she was going towards a good life? Or was their heart also split in the middle - trying to catch a glimpse of any plane that flew over head and imagining their child in it.

She made a life in a country that was not her own. She made acquaintances, not friends. She had people to talk to, people to listen - but not her parents. Her children grew in a whirlwind of school runs, swimming classes, music lessons and holiday clubs. She wished she could keep them close to her. But she was wiser. She hugged them a bit tighter when they came back home, she stayed a bit longer after they had drifted off to sleep, she cooked them special dishes even if they said they were fine. She stayed up when they studied, she sat through their sports classes, she lathered them with every bit of love her body could summon. She knew one day they would go, leaving the house silent but echoing with their voices, clean but with a halo of a sock there of a bag here, empty but full of memories. She knew time would time would play spoil sport. She had prepared long. But was any amount of preparation enough to steel ones heart to separation? Her little ones were ready to leave the nest. They hugged and cried. Uma bit her lips and stroked their hair and asked them to be strong till the next time they met. As they walked away, she stood waving, weeping silent tears. She wanted to shout, to scream, to run and hug them once more, to smother them with kisses. But she stood, waving, as she saw her children become one with the melee.

Uma knew life would be an endless waiting game. Waiting for her children to call, waiting for their homecomings during term breaks. They were shackled by assignments, projects, courses. At least  she had time for elaborate conversations with her people. She had technology too. Till the letter arrived. A letter in a company letterhead. A company she had never heard of. She did not understand when she read it the first time. She read it again.... something to do with her being appointed as the chief translator of a firm that would sell handloom products from a small town in India. The town seemed familiar. The name of the signatories looked familiar. She collected herself. Her children had given her the gift of going back to her dream by giving her a job. 

After two decades she sat on a flight clutching her husband's hand. Seemed like yesterday when she dug her fingernails into his palms to stop her sorrow filled heart from choking her. She sat again feeling bubbles in her stomach as she made the trip back home - for good. Her parents were there to receive her. Coming down the escalator, she saw them as mirages through her tear filled eyes. Slowly like a lens adjusting itself, they came into focus. She wailed when she hugged them. She was back... not to go leave, but for good. The ornate door of her grandmother's house welcomed her. She was back....not for a vacation... but for good.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

First ever term holiday

I am this person who unnecessarily panics when it comes to kids. I should not be admitting it publicly , as no one will take me seriously when I raise a concern about kids again! But then yeah.

I was at my wits end with respect to Chiyaa 's school admission. And once she started school, I was all antsy regarding her food, her pick up drop , her everything. Little did I realise, the turnip is a good and relatively problem free child(Touchwood). Anyhoo, me being me was all jittery when her half term holidays came up. What was I going to do with her at home all day? How was I going to handle 2 kids? How was I going to manage all the house work? Boy was I dreading the forthcoming 5 days. 

Day1: we could all snooze till -730! Wow! Since I had the whole day, there was no need for me to get agitated regarding Chiyaa 's breakfast. Murphy's law, she in fact had her breakfast all by herself. I booked the tickets for the movie Storks. It was to be an experience, since this was the first time I was going for a movie with the two girls and with no Daddy to help. To top it Pumpki is not a pint sized infant who can be smothered to sleep anymore. Madam has her moods now. So fingers crossed, I ventured. The kids were extremely well behaved. I had been bit of a conniving mother in not letting Pumpki sleep till the movie. So one feed in the theatre and bam! The nuclear arsenal was contained ;) I loved the movie. It is brilliant and I would recommend it. Movie done, we had some toasties at subway and then were on our way back.

Day2: again a lazy start. Awesome! I was definitely getting used to the extra slumber and the absence of 0830 dash to school. We ventured out on a trip to the town centre. Towards lunch we caught up with K and then spent some time in the grounds. Chiyaa and Pumpki went crazy on the swings and slides. 

Day3: It was a cold and murky day and we decided to stay indoors. It was wonderful to see both the girls play. I was dreading how was I going to manage the two divas at home, and here they were playing with each other and in fact making things a bit easy for me. Evening we went outside for a small stroll in the town centre. Now on the way back, Chiyaa managed to throw a grand tantrum for which she received an earful. I admit I should have been a bit more patient. I so often fail when it comes to her :(

Day4: I had a work related meeting in another town. So daddy had to take care of them. Boy was I nervous. I was reminded of the one weekend  when I had to leave Chiyaa in K's care. This time there were two of them. But K was a cool customer, no nervousness whatsoever! I was finicky and made arrangements to the N th detail. I realised K had roped in his best friend Mr. Technology. The kids were just fine and the house was in order. I had some deliberations and was a bit busy brainstorming. I let Chiyaa and Pumpki play at home and watch TV. 

Day5: the holidays seemed to have begun only yesterday! I planned to take the kids to an indoor play area. But once we reached we found it closed for a Halloween party. So we decided to go to our old favorite open play ground. Since the sun was shining, it was simply amazing to hang out. 

Saturday was a hot summer day in October and the kids simply went crazy in the park. It was also Diwali for K's side of the family so there was some special food around. Sunday was Diwali for me and we visited the temple, but I am not sure why I didn't feel it much this time. Diwali is my most favourite festival and this year got over and I don't feel it made a dent. I am not sure if it has to do with all the things uncertain on our plate or being in a new place, but now that it's over I miss it:(

Anyways what's done is done. I rue the foolishness with which I was searching for 'things to do in autumn break' while all I had to do was be around. The first ever term break is over and I am so looking forward to the next 6 weeks to get over so that the Christmas break starts. After that I have to condition myself to get back to work, get ready to leave the 2 muchies and generally for the good times to end. The end of a break for me. 


Monday, October 24, 2016

Time with you is literally flying...

..dear Pumki. You will turn a year old in a couple of months and I am still clueless where did the time go? I feel as if I missed it all. 

You were handed into our arms looking like an exact replica of your sister. In so many ways it was total recall being with you. If you could understand the spoken language you would go crazy at the number of times we exclaimed ' just like Vaibhu...' at your shenanigans. 

But then in so many ways you are so different. You are calmer. You are naughty in the quiet way. Daddy summed it all by saying Vaibhu is a cat and this is a puppy. That is how different you both are. Sometimes you seem like peas in a pod while at others you are like chalk and cheese. 

You interact so well. Since you were a mere two months old, you started making solid eye contact. You are not a fussy sleeper...in fact you love your sleep. You have slept through nappy changes, through an entire medical examination and one time where we changed mattresses. But when you are not happy, boy do you have a loud mouth. When you cry all hell can break lose till we give you exactly the stuff you want - a feed, sleep, or a cuddle. But then we have watched four movies with you already. You have been to India and back along with having bus rides to nearby towns, car rides, and a couple of train journeys. The greatest achievement has been the change of city. You were so accommodative through an entire change of location. It seemed daunting when visualised, but we did not take into account what a fuss-free child you were. It seems like a cake walk on hindsight where there was absolutely no trouble from you on the packing , travel and unpacking. 

The most enjoyable part of your daily bath. You just LOVE a bath. You start giggling and dancing and cooing when it's bath time. But being the understanding head that you are, there is no crying when bath time is over.

The thing that makes me happiest is your bond with Chiyaa. You cry when she leaves for school, get all excited when she is back, split into giggles when she plays and sneakily try to get her toys when she is not looking. She treats you as if she owns you and you are perfectly fine with it. She can bring a smile on your face anytime and you in hers. You divas are a team and I swell with joy seeing your bond. 

You will soon be walking, throwing tantrums, talking and growing up and becoming your own independent person. I love you lots and you give me such immense joy.....I am ever grateful sweetheart.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

weSurvive VI

It's been over two months that we returned from India. Still I do not get the 'settled' feeling. Somethings just like that I get reminded of the time in India - the bottle Pumki uses, a Hindi song, a picture, Chiyaa playing Luv-Kush (she was hooked to that animated series back in India) with her toys. Or out of nowhere I picture the beach in Chennai or the air conditioned room in bbsr. It just hits with a pang. It seems like yesterday that with glowing sentimentality we bid goodbye to our family with promises to meet very soon...reality is so different from wishful thinking. 

The days are super hectic. We have the morning school run which compresses the time from wakeup to 0830. Once Chiyaa leaves I get on with cooking for the night and a light meal for my lunch. These are interspersed with feeding, bathing and playing with Pumki. There is generally a trip to the town centre on some errand or the other. 

Christmas is round the corner and the shops are getting decked up. The sale season is also upon us. Last year the same time around I was eagerly waiting for my mother to come. I was counting days to wind up woke and wait for the baby. I remember the days before Pumki when mummy and I used to drop Chiyaa at daycare and stroll around hand in hand. After the little one came, we used to get our daily dose of fresh air through the walks. Even the transition to Ipswich was cushioned by mummy's presence. Going around with her to familiarise myself with the town, made everything seem easy. Everything reminds me of her absence.

Since the last few days I have made it a point to meet K during lunch. It adds to some steps in my goal of 10,000 steps since my target weight loss is way off track :(( Work is a tad stressful for him and he gets rejuvenated being with the little angel for a bit. 

1430 starts the school pick up run. Earlier K was driving Chiyaa back. But twice he forgot!!! Imagine that! Moreover his work place does not have good cellular network which makes contacting him to remind him an unreliable option. So I volunteered to pick Chiyaa. It also gives her an additional 30 minutes of walk and outdoor activity, a chance to grab 2 fruits and we get to talk about what happened in school  :) 

It is a very scenic route and an absolute joy to walk (except when it rains and it rains often now that it's autumn) I also have to remain mindful of Pumki. The days she is not in a very good mood becomes a bit difficult.



Once back, after washing up, it's time for some snacks and my mandatory afternoon coffee. I so miss my mother and our conversations over coffee. I get the dinner sorted and once K is back I heave a sigh of relief. The days he is late as he will be today I grimace at the thought. I try  to finish as much of the house chores as possible. I keep preparing. I wish for that day to come and go soon. I don't know why. Its not that Chiyaa or Pumki are very uncooperative kids. Its maybe that I don't want to take a chance that they are in a foul mood and don't let me do my stuff. 

I don't know why, I feel as if I am living by the clock. My head just keeps track of the ticking time and I am hurrying around egg shells. Feel like a wound up spring. Is it just because of the school runs? Is it because of the looming uncertainty with regards to our work? If just school runs can give me this much heartache boy am I super unprepared for the world ahead. :|

Thursday, September 22, 2016

You are teaching us another lesson

Dear Chiyaa,
You have started school and yet again daddy and I are the ones who are learning.

You started off with enthusiasm on day one. But then you did not realise one goes to school everyday. And you started showing some reluctance. I am not sure if the elaborate lunch routine makes you nervous ( I have been with you once, and I felt intimated by the maneuvers. Taking ones tray, asking for what one wanted, walking back to the dining hall and after that depositing the utensils in designated place before making ones way back to class is a pretty elaborate set of steps). You also do not have the luxury of knowing anyone at all. Mostly children have some one from their daycare or neighborhood who acts as a familiar face. But  you have been uprooted from the place you still call home - Leeds. You live in a different place, you are just back from 3 month long stay in India - you are taking things pretty well though. Much better than mummy and daddy for sure. In the midst of this school! Lots of strangers and yet another change. No one takes well to change, inertia is a big a big a big deal. How would you get on with so many upheavals  - a little thing of just four years ? We knew in some manner we had to expect this, the reluctance to go to school, the daily convincing that school is good, you will make lots of friends there, you will have lots of fun there and you will learn lots and know the answers to a lot of questions. You get convinced. But then with those beseeching eyes you ask ' But mummy I want you to be with me'. I wish sweetheart I could be with you, I wish I could ensconce you, I wish I could forever and ever protect you from the slightest difficulty. But you know what, that would not be very good for you. Just like twinkles made you that gregarious, out going person, I am sure, school will make you an even more confident individual. 

And already you are doing immensely good. You said you had pointed to some 'wow' words which your teacher appreciated. Not only that, you have not for a single day given me any trouble in waking up. You wake up pronto at 0630 without needing any help. You have been utterly cooperative doing the morning chores. And when mummy gets anxious and agitated as to what to offer you for breakfast, you suggest what you need. Most of the days you eat to my satisfaction. Could I ask for more? 

Because of you, our experiences with Pumki seem so much easier. You have shown us the way, made us be prepared. You after all have taught us parenting.

Forever indebted,
Your mummy

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Something is wrong with me

Any change seems disconcerting. Any change has a potential to throw a spanner in the works. But any change is advantageous. Any change is a chance for better. 

But I think I am not getting any good at changing my sails to the winds. We moved to a new place. I am still not at home here. In the place's defence I was barely here travelling to India  within a short span. Still.... I don't feel like accepting it. The return from India was uneventful. The commencing week was supposed to wring life out of us. On the contrary we were so busy we missed out on finding things amiss. I coped through the first week brilliantly and if there is any truth in morning showing the day, I felt, well the vacation and the glorious time had a positive rejuvenating effect.  Chiyaa was to start school a week on, the start of new routine and better things.  

Things are not turning out as expected. I am feeling a loss. I of course miss having the trouble maker at home. The little one also misses big sister and is super clingy. This leaves with nothing better to do but miss the company I had. I miss having all the people around. I know it was a holiday and  temporary. I feel all alone in this strange new setting. I am ill at ease, restless, diffident. Since Chiyaa started school I sent pictures of her in school uniform to her nursery. It was a pleasure hearing back from the nursery managers and them appreciating how Chiyaa had grown. But since most nursery emails are not relevant to me any more, I unsubscribed from their mailing list. It was like cutting a crucial tie. A part of me hoped to meet all the amazing nursery staff again while another part pondered what would I talk if I did met them again? My own thoughts don't make sense to me.

I am high strung for no apparent reason. Just holiday blues? Simple lack of sunshine? Or the overwhelming feeling of having too much to do? Or am I missing my little birdie? Seeing her get ready in a uniform makes it all seem so strange. She is such a little thing. Seems like yesterday I had her in my arms. Now she is in yet another setup, dealing with new people, trying to forge new friendships, having new experiences.  One  half of me wishes to just hold on to her..... Keep her from slipping away. And  another half wishes for her to grow up sooner, so that we can go for walks and swimming and trips.  I don't know what I am hoping for. I so wish I knew.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hangover and a few thoughts

It must be close to midnight now in India. I cannot just like that WhatsApp a friend or family member. It takes some time to get used to the time difference after 3 months of seamless contact. The change in the time zone which happens automatically on the smartphones still comes as a shock to the untrained eyes. 

India was all about abundance. Abundance of space, heat, time and people. The lack of the big four makes everything very still here. The adults to kids ratio of 1:1 makes us feel a bit under handed since the 2 divas can throw quite some fits. We have busied ourselves with grocery and school uniform shopping. The car batteries going dead and a friend inviting for a house warming function have made us busier. Our parents are supportive and have asked us to be calm for a couple of days after which it will all feel normal. I remember when I came back from Hyderabad and was speaking to Dino all loaded with nostalgia... And he said ' don't worry we learn to forget '. Well... Don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. But I blog to remember.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Last few days

I have not written about my last leg of vacation. 

After K reached bbsr it was a mad rush. Food, family and the final packing. My sister was around and those were my time with her. My sister had come over to spend the first 4 days with us and work from home for the next week so that mummy and papa did not feel our absence. I really like her thoughtfulness but then in many ways she is a much more mature person than me.

The day we were up start, it was raining heavily. As if there was a pall of gloom all around. I had insisted that no one come to drop us since I wished to say my good byes at home. We boarded the taxi amidst tears and hugs. It will take some days before the image of Papa, mummy and Lichie crying at the gate is obliterated. 

While there was grief at bbsr there was revelry at Chennai for the granddaughters were coming home! As soon as we reached, we took a walk to the beach which is a few minutes from home. The lovely sea can make one feel a lot better. K was at home. In every aspect. Roaming around in  track pants, in the place where he was born and brought up, I could see him blending in all aspects. We had a trip nearly everyday to visit a friend or family member. An example of India shining, I could see how Ola and Uber had revolutionised transport. Auto fares had actually seen a decreasing trend.

I managed to meet two friends of mine which made the trip worthwhile. Renu from bloggerville. I have been following her blogs since 2008. It was a special thing to meet up with her in person. She is a vibrant, optimistic lady who sees a lot of good in the world. I was impressed by her positive views of everything down south though she happens to be from the Hindi heartland. We could have gone on chatting if a certain four year old and infant  did not keep interrupting us.

Being a bit unsocial I have single digit number of friends. One of them is Preeti from school. She came over all the way from Bangalore to meet me. That she felt I was worthy of it was humbling for me. The evening zoomed past and I will have only memories of it. Just like I will have memories of the day spent with my college friend Basu who travelled 4 hours to meet me at bbsr. Just like I will have memories of the past 13 weeks. 

In these last few emotional days as usual my best friend K comes in as the sounding board. I asked him if he was sad that his holiday was over. He said 'I couldn't have asked for more '. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A pilgrimage

Hyderabad is one of my favourite cities. Recently I made a four day trip. It evoked lot of fond memories, of times with friends and time  around with family. I had done most of my wedding shopping here. I had spent a very nice year just before marriage. But the main draw of the place is the Chilkur Balaji temple. 

I am not a very devout person. I believe God does stuff and He will do the needful. We need not coax Him, bargain with Him or bribe Him. But I had some desperate times in my first firm. I was unhappy on a lot of fronts and needed a change. That's when my close friend S told me about Chilkur Balaji. For people who are not familiar the deity is also called Visa Balaji for devotees get their visas approved upon visit to the temple! The concept of the temple is very simple. One needs to do 11 circumabulations of the temple when asking for a wish to be granted. Once the desire is fulfilled one needs to do 108 circumambulations (pradakshina). I am not a believer in such stuff. Once I tried to fast on a Shiv Ratri because there was an important cricket match and could not do it beyond 1300. One horror-scope errr horroscope dude had asked me to leave non vegetarian food on Sunday for some  problem and I was like go take a hike. So when my friend told me about the Chilkur temple I half heartedly gave it a 'shot'. Kinda like ' yeah bhi try kiya jaye'

When I entered the temple I could feel the positive vibes. I think that is the most important part of visiting a temple....to get a good positive feeling. People were going around the temple and chanting  Govinda which gave  goose bumps.  I did the 11 pradakshina and within a few days my desire for a change was fulfilled . Coincidence? Maybe. But I was a convert. 

The priests at the temple keep extolling that there is no special puja or darshan. All that is expected is chanting of Vishnu 's name and concentrating on Him. I feel it is a very rational expectation. If we feel God gave us something all we need to do is concentrate on Him and fill ourselves with good thoughts for the 2-3 hours that it takes to do the circumambulations. For the health oriented ones, it's good cardio ;) 

I had prayed to the God during some tough times. I don't even remember how many times I had prayed to Him. Per my estimate it was four. Since I am in India this was a chance to visit. My school friend Sam was also around which made it a double whammy. The first day we just went to just visit. Since there was no crowd I decided to do 108 pradakshina s. Chiyaa also did a few with me. She was skipping, running, jumping and doing all sorts of antics. She made the whole ritual so much more pleasant. The darshan was spectacular! We saw the deity from such close quarters. I have been to the temple many times but never seen Him from such close proximity. We had plans to visit the next day but because of a bit of mis-planning we were not able to make it. I visited the next two days and completed three out of four. The visits were splendid! There was no crowd and we viewed the deity from such proximity! The children were ultimately well behaved and though I had some doubts as to how they would be, He took care of them. 

I also noticed the popularity of the deity. There was a sardarji doing pradakshina. I heard Odia, Bengali and Gujrati in the crowd. There were people on wheelchairs and babies in prams. The feel, the vibe, the aura was surreal. And in typical Indian style the driver who ferried us everyday was a guy called Shaik! Talk about  secularism :) Indians live it.

A fantastic four days filled with piety and of course some shopping ;) My mother and shopping gp hand in hand! ;) I have a few more prayers..... Here is hoping I get to visit Him soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Arm chair thoughts

I have a lot of time to chew the cud and just observe and think about a lot of things. So here is a log of my totally random thoughts.

One aspect I notice is just how busy my father is. He is retired but is a visiting professor. He is also the editor of a science magazine and is involved in authoring curriculum books. He is also the chairman of the association we live in and is actively involved in activities such as coordinating with municipal authorities for improving civic facilities, organising cultural events, publication of the local newsletter. Along with it he does his regular household tasks of putting the washing machine, keeping the drinking water from the purifier, the weekly cleaning of the car, bike and bathrooms and the like. He does not relinquish those activities because he is not satisfied if anyone else does it.  To be honest, my mother has always been busy with with housework, stitching, gardening etc after retirement. I was concerned how my father would pass his time. But seeing him so occupied makes me feel very happy.

A day before I was to get married, a neighbour whom I fondly called didi told me, you might be getting married but you will always keep coming back here. Truer words have not been said. I keep coming back to my maika for emotional succour,honest advice, encouragement, and a shoulder to cry on. They inspire and urge to be a better person and a professional - even today when I think I have done enough they push me by example. I would be nothing without them.

I love to see the desire to improve and excel. One of our neighbours has a watchman. He generally sits for 8 hours. I saw a crude patch of land with banana, pumpkin, drumstick, curry leaf plants. The watchman to uses his time to add some greenery and grow some vegetables. Such motivation!

When I was younger I never fully understood the importance of the famous Rath Yatra. The coverage of the journey was viewed by my parents but I used to take it as something running in the living room. I was never around ever since we moved to Bhubaneswar to grasp the importance of the festival. I was always in a cosmopolitan environment where some specifics of my state were not explicit. This has been good in that I accept different cultures very easily. This time I am at home during the Rath festival. And I appreciate how important the event is to the Odia ethos!I am a Krishna bhaqt but  I can feel how strong is the bond and the association with Lord Jagannath. 

 I am in India for a long time after a long time. Long enough for the 'special' status to fade and I am not treated as a royalty. I love the feel of family. And as I see the changes I love the way the country is moving. I have had this thought numerous times but now I feel more strongly that to what end am I in a far away place? Away  from where my heart is? Truth be told UK is a very expensive country (among the top 10 in the world), so money is not the reason. For that matter my peers in India earn the same or more than me with the perks of being in India (I know they may not think of it as a perk). Yes I enjoy first world infrastructure  with no class system and of course without the unsolicited interference of acquaintances. But is that reason enough? I have been talking about this quandary with my friend A and my mother a lot. They both say 'stay there'. They must know better. But this time more than ever I am divided in half and will be giving the return a serious thought before the kids are big enough to have a say.

There are exactly 6 more weeks to  go... 3 here and 3 in Chennai. I have no idea how I will fare with mummy not being there. Even a simple task like going to the toilet will need planning with a toddler. I have done it before but I have been pampered by my mother over the past few months. I will be taking the change head on. Added will be Chiyaa 's School (which is still undecided) and maybe something drastic on my employment front. Plus we won't have the lovely sunshine that can cheer you up. I know it won't be an easy transition. 

Well... Life will go on.. Let me live it now.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Time

There is less than a month left. For this idyllic vacation to end. It seemed like a project when it was conceptualised. A month in Bhubaneswar  and a month in Chennai. K's work timelines ended up making it two months in Bhubaneswar and a month in Chennai. From afar it seemed enough. In fact I was naive enough to think what were we going to do for do long. I was searching play schools and swimming classes to keep Chiyaa occupied. How silly was I to underestimate the time needed to bask in the love of grandparents. To be pampered by granny and grandpa. To soak up in love where time is not a slave to routine.

But relativity kicks in. Time seems to zoom when the experience is as pleasant as this. And already the majority of our stay here is over. It seems two months is not such a long duration after all. 

Chiyaa is counting days to see daddy. She can't wait for it to be August. I was so scared of missing K. I even shed a few years bidding him goodbye in UK. I am eager to see him. But I will miss my parents. I will miss this time. I will be heartbroken to think what my parents will undergo. They who carry each child in their arms nearly every waking moment. How will they cope with a clean house smelling of children? How will they cope with no shouts of joy, no cries of anger, no squeals of delight? How will they cope with the emptiness? 

Time again will step in as the best healer. I hope it does a good work. 

Parents

I think about a lot of things. I have the time , but more than that I have an empty head. Which is amazing. I don't have to keep ruminating about a 101 infrastructural issues, lunch time, dinner time menus, my to dos , even my toilet timings. All of these need precise planning when I am on my own. But with my parents around, things just flow. I have to handover the little one to Papa or Mummy and I can go sit on the swing and chat with a friend. This would be unthinkable in my 'real' life. 

One thing I have noticed being at home is all the stuff that is around. My sister and I  have left the nest, but we have left behind quite a lot. There are clothes, books, shoes, stationary. So much so,  Chiyaa is playing with our Barbie dolls, which are a good 20 years old. That my parents have kept  them across the numerous transfers, change of cities and houses is truly commendable. In this 'instant everything' life, those are the true keepsakes. 

I must have confessed many times that I am morbidly afraid of lizards. Bhubaneswar has no dearth of them. The other day, there was a lizard in the bathroom. My mother spent half an hour trying to shoo it. When it went to a corner which she could not see, she asked my father to have a look. My father came in with a torch to have a look. He did make his teasing remark that lizards had caused a few human casualties ;) . But still he was persistent in finding the lizard. Doing this for a 10 year old is fine, but the time and effort they were putting for a  middle aged daughter ! I told mummy later, that I really appreciated their effort and she said, for one's children nothing is an effort. Honestly I hope I am half as good a parent as my parents are. 

As children, my sister and I were never denied anything. We had a very comfortable childhood by God's grace. But we were never spoilt. I remember a story Papa once told us about some scientist (whose name I have forgotten). There were people at his house to collect money for charity. They heard the scientist scolding his help for wasting a match stick. The folks for the donation had least expectation from the scientist who seemed to be pretty tight about money. None the less, they approached him, and he gave the most generous donation. One of the charity workers couldn't help but remark, how could he give so much money when even the wastage of a match stick irked him. The scientist said, it's not about the thing, but it's utility. He was cross at the wastage of anything, be it even a match stick. Because by wasting that thing was lost for ever, never to be used again. This thought has stayed on with me somehow. I give a lot of thought before I buy anything, be it even a small tit bit. If it's not going to be used to its fullest, I rather not buy it. I see so much of it in my house still. We have tattered bed sheets used to mop the house and all sorts of waste containers used as pots for plants. It is not about being a miser, it is about using everything to their fullest potential. 

There are so many other tit bits that is entirely the teaching of my parents. And one of the most important one is children are a very important commitment. Mummy always says, children imbibe a lot from observing and not just when they are young, but throughout. Even small things like how parents treat each other , their relatives, their jobs have an impact. We were taught to be respectful to others and diligent in our jobs because we saw our parents do the same. 

 Growing  up we were always at the centre of everything our parents did. I remember in the cold December temperatures of four degrees in Rourkela at 5 in the morning, Papa used to drive 13 Kms to drop me at a tuition. He would drive all the way back, get my sister ready , drop her for school and drive again to pick me up (mummy was working in a different city since she had a transferable job). All these runs before 10 in the morning after which he had a full day at work.  This was just one of the things. There were numerous runs for special classes, debate, essay competitions, picnics and birthday parties and what not. Mummy used to take loss of pay leaves to be with us around all important examinations. Just because I liked someone around as I studied late at night, she used to lie on the floor in the same room and give me company. My parents were totally invested in us! Not were... Still are. Even now, we sisters are number one priority. We are total VIPs at home. 

Mummy, Papa... You are truly special.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Home Is....

  • Where morning is somewhere between 0700-0900, unencumbered and uninhibited 
  • Where ginger tea, biscuits and newspaper are a morning tradition as are afternoon siestas
  • Where the local dhaba's chicken  biriyani makes a fabulous combination with mummy's fish curry 
  • Where malai chap, chena poda, kulfi  and kalakand reside in the fridge always for a quick snack, dessert or just like that
  • Where taking bath using the bucket and mud and splashing water everywhere in the bathroom is every child's dream come true
  • Where mausi's evening massage is divine
  • Where bhata(rice),dali (lentils), aloo bharta (mashed potatoes) and amba khata(mango chutney) are so satisfying and fulfilling that one could eat them morning, noon and night and still ask for more
  • Where the huge balcony the bedroom opens into gives the feeling of sleeping in close proximity to nature
  • Where the cuckoos create a racket in the morning which can wake you up 
  • Where one gets the rest and relaxation no Thai massage or expensive getaway could ever  give 
  • Where the heart truly resides

Featured Post

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 scen...