Thursday, March 14, 2019

Updates time

The last post was very solemn. The fallout from there on was grim as well. Every time I came upon my space to post something, I would see the last post and retreat.

I was hugely impacted by the state of events in India in February. I have always felt very strongly about defence and defence personnel. In fact I was very keen to join the army short service commission back in the day. But I spoke to a very distant relative of ours who was in the armed forces. He gave me a good reality check. He did not dissuade me, but gave an overview from an employment and employability perspective. I had my well meaning parents who also gently nudged me towards a more traditional career. But the dogfight in February made me think about it and I decided to start a signature campaign to get justice for a martyred soldier. I was skeptical about signature campaigns, and I read up a lot online. The verdict was still out there. I thought it was better to take steps and know rather than not know. I went ahead and raised a campaign. I got a slow trickle of signatures. The initial aim was to reach 100. As soon as there were 20 signatures, I received an email to make a contribution of £20 to get the campaign publicized. It would get more views and its chances of going through would be more. Now this seemed like a proper scam to me. I was not averse to paying the £20, but the whole raison d'ĂȘtre of such campaigns was being violated by asking for money. Wasn’t the whole purpose of such campaigns was to bring in such issues to the forefront about which people had a certain opinion about. Linking money to it, made it seem very trivial. There was also the very real threat of accounts being hacked. I would be putting my payment details into yet another site! And with the current spew of hacks, I was not so comfortable doing that. So in case you have thought of online signature campaigns, you know a bit more now.

While I was trying to make this impact (and failed), I was also motivated to make another change. Again historically I have been quite an environmentally aware person. I used to carry plastic bags with me as a teenager in India. I tried to continue as far as possible. In the western world it is quite easy to be flippant about nature since for the sake of convenience a lot of things are  disposable. I feel in that respect a lot of Indian values are far better. The way many street side foods are served in plates made of leaves, snacks are served in paper and in fact my sis and I were reminiscing that in Indian railways, the eggs used to be cut with thread and given. The Indian lifestyle is far more harmonious with the environment. Our wedding decorations are reused, we use so much bamboo and environment friendly artifacts. Any bad habits that are creeping in are more due to the mindless emulation of economically developed countries.  In the west, there is a manic obsession for plastic packaging. I was reading an article which questioned the rationale behind packaging something as transient as fruits in something as undegradable as plastic. The fruit rots away in days while the plastic remains for centuries. It is hard to eliminate plastic – they are all pervasive. As I was setting up our house last year, I tried to get stuff made of natural products like rubber, fiber or recycled plastic. I have also opted for cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda which can be bought in huge bulk and thus abstain from using a lot of bottles. I read up on making natural body scrubs and for the past 3 months have stuck to using a sugar scrub (sugar + olive oil /any oil of preference + few drops of essential oil for fragrance), thus avoiding the shower gels. It also helps me avoid the body lotions and the bottles there of. There are few other changes too, such as doing away with disposable wipes for cleaning surfaces. Last month after toddling with the idea for a long time, I went full throttle. I started using menstrual cups. I was completely cynical of them at one time, but then without dilly dallying I went full on in one month. And I would recommend to anyone who has been thinking about them. With my environment friendly ways, I feel better. I don’t feel like a hippie, but I can imagine how they might be feeling being so one with nature. It’s a good way to live though in all honesty it is time consuming. Everything natural takes time. Again in all this I think how much has the west got to learn from India. I remember how my mom used to apply turmeric and yogurt on our face, wash our hair with egg and yoghurt, the mandatory oil massage, the natural way of living. I just hope and wish we keep going back to them, because for the sake of convenience of a few minutes, we do end up doing a lot of damage to ourselves and to the world around us.

Speaking of the world around us, to anyone and everyone who likes to pick a book – I am recommending The Spellman Files!! It is an amaaaaaaaazing book! Please read it. It’s a book about a family of PIs (Personal Investigators). They are a quirky family and the way the book has been written is quite quirky as well. There are so many instances in the book that just make me chuckle aloud in the bus. It is a fantastic book. I see a few regular people who take the bus from my neighbourhood. And the book makes me want to find out more ;) (Recreational Investigation as book calls it! ) Don’t worry I am not going to go around following others, nor am I going to keep looking over my shoulder. But well, it’s a very interesting book and well worth a read. This is one book I will ensure my daughters read when they are ready. This along with Summertime by J M Coetzee. Thankfully both my girls like reading. I hope this is one habit they retain as they grow up. Because this is the only habit I have managed to retain. I think I am old enough to find TV boring!!

Well my old fingers have run out of strength to type any more. So till next time, be well :) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

In the hope of peace

I had a lot of thoughts in my head. Lot of things to write about. But the news of the attacks on 14th February kept hovering. The attack made me feel sad, as if something heinous had happened in my backyard. What haunted me most are the images of the families. I couldn’t  help thinking of the lives lost. The men hailing from villages in India, mostly join the forces as a source of employment. They are posted in the most remote and inaccessible places by government order – waiting for the tiny thread of making it back to family. 44 of them will never make it back. Sitting in the convoy one minute and disintegrated the next. The families will never see their sons again. Any death leaves one with a sense of loss. There is a void which is hard to fill. My heart goes out to families of the martyed security personnel. 

I came to know of the attack via social media. Quite a lot is being expressed through these channels. I have been devouring a lot of articles, reports and analysis on the topic. One facet I have noticed via social media is that, the country seems to be riding on the backs of the recent movies Manikarnika and Uri. Both held Indian pride and Indian-ness at the forefront. I have not seen either of the movies, but I feel movies are as far from ground realities as possible. Something shot in a climate controlled studio in Mumbai is a far cry from the sub zero temperatures on a glacier. Referring to dialogues in movies as the solution, or a representation of what the armed forces think is a far cry from truth. There are videos of news being interlaced with dialogues by actor K K Menon who essays the role of an army officer are outright a ridiculous representation of the problem. The anger is understandable. But referring to something on screen as the right way is not something rational people should do.

Speaking of rationality there was a fair bit of misinformation as well. Strategically placed captions doing the rounds such as “the soldiers were going for holiday”, pictures of dogs wearing flags of Pakistan, that “terrorism has a religion” and a cry to abolish article 370 which seems to be the elusive solution. There is a video doing the rounds on social media where a Sardarji explains in great detail about the demerits of Article 370 and 35A. I am part of a whatsapp group by people from my college. When it was shared in the group, a local from Kashmir in the group said, “yes that would solve the problem to some extent, but there are deeper issues. It will not only take the abolition of an article in constituion to be resolved”. I then started seeing a lot of neutral reports. I do not think there is anything neutral in the world of media. But then, we have to go by the ones trying not to lean towards either side. I saw reports that confirmed there was a very strong anti India sentiment. India never did the referendum that was agreed in 1948. But if we go a step back, the then Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh did acede to India too in return of seeking India’s help in combating militants from Pakistan. The problem was left lingering in the British’s hurry to get out of the country.  The 1948 war did not resolve it and nor have the subsequent wars. It was never tackled properly by reign after reign of governments. The insurgency started with fuel in the form of men and material from Pakistan.  It has escalated over the decades and taken a different shape now where the youth from Kashmir are being radicalised. I pray it does not go to a time where both men and material are ingrown.

There have been all sorts of responses in the real world too. There was a protest organised in front of Pakistan High Commission by Indians in London.  I later saw a footage where a journalist (I think) was interviewing the protestors. He asked “ How do you justify army presence in Kashmir?” . To that my straight answer would have been “to protect the sovereignity of the country”. A nation cannot let militant outfits roam around without taking a combat position themselves. They are now walking on the streets of Kashmir, what is stopping them from moving on to Punjab or further south? He claimed he was from “India occupied Kashmir” and remarked “I do not see a single Kashmiri here, there are just Indians”. That made me wonder  do Kasmiris consider the part of Kashmir “with” India as “India Occupied Kashmir”? I read articles that stated that Kasmiris felt more affiliated to Pakistan or towards an independent nationlity. Leeds has a lot of Pakistani population. And many of the shops run by them have the name “Kashmir”. So does the average Kasmiri think he is not Indian? Then is it time that we heard that voice, and gave them what they are seeking? But this time with no strings attached. Not like the last instance when India went on to support the Maharaja in the hopes that he would acede to India. This time full independence with no strings attached, no help, no association. It seems like a simple solution. But it is tough to implement given the geo-dynamics. Pakistan does not have much to lose for it controls the sparsely populated, highly inaccessible one-third of the region. Though India might not be gaining a lot economically, the foundation of India holding on is that they would not want to set a precedent. Today it is Kashmir, tomorrow it could be any border state. It is natural for any nation or tribe to think like this. That is what is happening in the Brexit negotiations too. No one would be better off or worse off if its just Britain who leaves the European Union. But the EU does not want to set a precedent. Tomorrow it could be any nation asking to move out thus defeating the purpose of the organisation. The EU in all reality is a trivial issue – it’s a voluntary organisation. India’s problem is way more deep seated. As said by Sadhguru in a telecast, “it started very simply. It was a border dispute. And a nation is bound by borders. We have let a it linger for too long with a Line of Control.”
Coming back to the questions being raised by the person with the microphone in front of Pakistan High Commission, London, emotions were running high in the crowd and no one answered properly or rather the answers were just a lot of voices over each other. There were slogans of “Kashmir is a part of India”, “One nation” and so on, but no concrete response. It was truly representative of situation in India all the time. There are just so many voices over each other. We are never united. It is so easy to splinter us.

Now it is more necessary than ever to consolidate our thoughts and our actions.  We should have a plan – from the head. Not based on emotions, not based on vote banks, not based on petty politics. We owe it to all the lives lost in this long drawn battle over the decades. We owe it to the families who send their sons from other parts of India to fight for no-man’s land.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Moving on

I noticed how we have matured as a family. My earlier posts when a mom went back to India used to be the weSurvive series. We were barely making it through, even though we had only Chiyaa to take care of. Lately we all joined in together. And now its going to be 2 weeks and though of course I feel the absence of mummy, we are not barely surviving.
The days are very hectic. The run from morning to evening is relentless. I finish the meal prep for kids, dress Chiyaa and am out of the door by 0725. K takes care of waking Pumpki and getting her ready and packing them off to daycare and school. I finish at 1600 after which it’s the crazy home rush and pick ups. I manage to have a cup of coffee in between feeding them their evening snacks, playing and hosting a video call with family. I try to make something for the adults if the children allow me. I generally have some curry cooked from the weekends for the first couple of days of the week. One day its generally a chaat which is an amalgamation of chole with all sorts of things, another its generally a sandwich be it sweetcorn or potato tikki or raw vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce etc. K is happy to have things like fruit custard and scrambled eggs and toast which makes matters cool. Fridays we can stretch the bedtime because Saturday can be a late start. So we mostly have the luxury of having a ‘Friday special’. That is the general trend, but again with kids, nothing is a static.

To be honest this is the first time I am working full time with 2 kids. I have always worked from home or had the option to do so. But now I do not have that. Come Mondays and the week stretches in front of me. As I pick the kids and listen to the radio jockey saying things like “its nearly hometime” or “its Wednesday already, the week is halfway through” – it makes perfect sense to me. I feel the pain of waking up and getting to work and the joy of finishing up. WFH made me a “pseudo” worker. Yes, I worked. I had deadlines and pressure. But somehow getting to work everyday is a different game altogether. But another fact is I am definitely a better worker being at my desk. I am not multi tasking or trying to multi task. Home is 45 minutes away and I can do nothing about it. Once I am done work, I am really done. I step out of my work place, and I can do nothing more about whats at my workdesk. Its all gone till the next day. This makes me a better worker and home maker which is good I would say.

In the midst of all this, a sudden unanticipated break really helps. Like last Friday. Idealy Chiyaa should have scooted for Karate after school and once I picked her up, K should have gone for his Karate class. But instead of that, Chiyaa asked if she could rest because she did not feel like going. I allowed, for it was Friday. K had suddenly come down with a bad cold and he chose to dump his session too. The kids begged for TV which was allowed cos it was that beautiful day of the week. K had some frozen pizza and then we were all sorted by 2000. It was so odd to just plop on the sofa and rest. On any other day we would be madly scurrying around, trying to feed the kids, putting the dish washer, brushing teeth, doing the daily reading and a zillion plus one things. The next day was swimming day, but since the ‘cold’ situation of the family wasn’t great, we decided to bunk swimming lessons. We had decided to go for lunch at a pub. It was decided keeping in tune with the fact that it would ease by burden on a Saturday morning. In the absence of swimming my burden wasn’t much. But since we had decided something,we went with it anyways. It was calm and relaxing to just not do much. We shopped some clothes for the kids and came home in the evening to book reading and puzzle building.

It was very nice not to try and do a lot of stuff. It was brilliant to relax without a care. The last time we were without a parent around, the days were sunny and it was much easier to handle the kids. The days are cold and short, but it is still lovely to have the kids just by us. As I said, we have matured as a family. I never rue the fact that my kids are growing up and growing up fast! I rather look forward to the time when they will be independent and can take active breaks which involves bike riding, swimming and the likes! The only way is forward and forward is good!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Could should would

He could have waited to finish the last bits of work.
He should have left an hour earlier.
He would have to leave now.

He could have called a taxi.
He should have driven to work.
He would have to walk the stretch to the station.

He could have taken the main road.
He should have avoided the tunnel.
He would not have missed the call.

He could have checked his phone.
He should have turned the silent mode off.
He would have woken up when they rang again.

He could have so easily missed the blinking phone as he stepped out of the shower.
He should have hurried for the meeting.
He would have missed checking the phone till he got to work.

He did not clearly see who was calling. He did not clearly hear the initial reprimands for not answering the calls. 
All he did was feel grateful for having heard the words “you became a dad yesterday”

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The accident prone one

Pumpki is highly accident prone. Highly. She will be playing a minute and bam she will hit her head against something, get her finger stuck some place (some times she does it deliberately too )or have something fall on her. She will be doing horsey ride on K or my back and she will topple down (any child could topple down, but Pumpki will definitely topple down!) So much so, she would be standing one minute and the next she would fall down. We learned that she has a knack to get physically hurt (no combat sports for her!). But we had a few near hits!

When she was younger, I used to massage her once in the morning and once in the evening. One evening I was giving her a massage and as advised by my mother, I was applying adequate pressure (Mummy’s strict words were to apply a lot of pressure so that her bones became stronger. How scientifically true this is, needs validation J ) And think I applied a bit too much pressure on her hand and she started crying. I immediately stopped as K went on ranting about the need of massage, about my careless (yeah *rolls eyes*) , and about nearly everything except my cooking :P ) I called the emergency care line. Given her age of around 13 months and hearing the intensity of her cries (now Pumpki can cry, she can blast eardrums!), the advisor thought it would be a good idea to get her to the out of hours service immediately. Thankfully Amma was there with us then and we could safely leave Chiyaa in her care and rush to the hospital. It was around 2000 by that time and Pumpki was fast asleep. When she was drifting out of sleep, she would grimace a bit and then sleep again. It had us worried till the doctor saw her and said, there was absolutely no need to panic since she did not see any dislocation of any sort. She asked us to administer some paracetamol and keep an eye for any changes. She was fine the next morning. We were immensely relieved. We made a note to self that her hand was a bit fragile and to treat it with care.

But I am not one to remember the notes to self. I am not one to remember many things for that matter. So once day in the recent past I was playing with her. When I play I get too involved and forget that I am an adult with adult strength. Essentially I was sitting, holding her hands, she was leaning on my back and I was rocking back and forth (like a piggy back). Suddenly she let go. I should have allowed her to fall, since she would have fallen on the sofa. But I held on, rather I tried to hold on. In the pull one of her arms got hurt. She cried! She cried in desperate pain. K wasn’t around to give the earful to me. But I was genuinely worried. I was sure something was wrong, I had dislocated a joint or something worse had happened. We gave her some pain killer and since it was around 2100, she started drifting off to sleep in spite of the pain (I have no idea why such treacherous incidents happen at night) I called the emergency care line again (they must have started judging me as a mother by now ) and they recommended we get her examined. But if she was asleep it would not need rousing her. We (Papa and mummy were thankfully around) waited till morning. We all had a fitful night. Pumpki took a couple of doses of ibuprofen. First thing in the morning we scooted to the hospital. She was x-rayed. Then a doctor came in to examine. Now there is not a lot of response you can elicit from a 2 year old. The doctor performed some maneuvers. There was no dislocation per se, but she could sense that there mild disjoint. Since the joints of kids are smaller, they go through this a lot and it happens quite easily. She said that chances are, when her hand was being twisted and turned for the x-ray, it would have sorted itself. But still was going to try a few moves just in case there hadn’t been a 100% fit.  Kudos to the doctor on gauging the response from a child. Pumpki had given up using her affected arm. So the doctor brought in two toys, with the more “attractive” one on the side of her hurt arm. Pumpki made a slight motion to reach to it, but then went for the toy closer to her unhurt arm. It was not a conclusive test, but the doctor advised that, there seemed to be no problem and it would be safe to go home but as usual keep an eye.

We kept 4 pairs of eyes glued to when she would use her left arm – to lift a toy, to hold an adult’s arm and walk and to move around. When after 2 days, she used her left arm to support herself and get up from the floor were we certain that she was clear. The days had been filled with such anxiety!

Pumpki is accident prone by herself, but those incidents made us think to be extra protective.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What do you say about such a day

Yesterday was a maha weird day. Like something from the start was going wrong. Let me tell you all about it.

First, Pumpki woke up early. She is generally asleep by the time I start from home. She moans for me, but she is all right. Yesterday she woke up, so she was very angry and frustrated seeing me getting ready. She started bawling “I don’t want mummy to go to office”. K and I were fearing the worse, but somehow she pacified after some time. She was in the dining room and I sneaked out.

Since I was sneaking out I was nervous with all sorts of butterflies in my stomach. In the rush, I dropped my phone on the hard cement steps. Instinctively I checked if K was watching (chances were slim, but you never know! ) . Cos he would have given me an earful and gone on scolding my carelessness! Thank God, he hadnt seen me. Also thank God I have a sturdy phone cover. Else I would have been majorly sad.

At work I was borderline (that’s when I wrote the last post). But then a team mate found a bug in my code. Its good that a bug is found sooner rather than later, but I was a bit jostled by the stupidity of what I had done. I had been plain careless. Carelessness doesn’t cost lives in IT but again, you never know!

Then – another hadsa! So on Thursday an email is sent out to the office to order breakfasts for the next day, since we get company paid breaker on every alternate Friday. Its not mandatory J but you can if you are interested. I sign up for it, since – no reason, I am not for the free food or for the company of my colleagues – I dunno why, I did it once and have done ever since. Now everyone was going for paninis. And I thought it must be good. So I too went for one. But which one would I chose. I eat anything, but lately reading about how much adverse environmental impact consumption of higher order animals has, I have started to refrain from bacon and ham. So … I chose a chicken panini. The person who was coordinating (the person is like a cool kid with piercings and tattoos and I am sure in the person’s head I am old and uncool) replied that there was a breakfast option further down in the menu. I could chose the panini if I wanted to .. but chicken sounded a bit un-breakfasty. Well… whats the perhez from chicken in the morning, it’s a dead bird no matter what time of the day you consume it :D Anyways I was very embarassed. I felt the person must be thinking of me as even older and even uncooler :’( :’(
PS. All was ok today and when we consumed our breakfast (I revised my order to scrambled eggs ( dead unborn birds – eww that’s worse)). (Wow the brackets look as if writing programming language :D ) But in my head, the person must be thinking of me as uncool person no 1. In her head. Not that I am bothered J What I am I am J

Then one more thing happened. I went to the bus stop. There are 2 services that can bring me home – bus no 51 and bus no 52, which are at a frequency of 10 minutes theoretically. I generally catch the 1611 51 bus service. I reached the bus stop and there was nothing in sight. Then a 52 came. I got in, and it packed up very quickly. Suddenly the driver said, “There is a 51 behind”. I was comfortably seated. I had no reason to go just cos the driver gave some information which meant nothing to me. But I did! Cos I did a lot of calc. The 51 must be the delayed 1611 service. This 52 must be the 1621 service. This will start later (it was 1614 then) since buses will start only their departure times from a designated bus stop. They can start late but not early. So I got down and walked like a stupidly proud person to the 51. 52 stood in front of me, I sat in the 51 behind praying my bus starts first. What do you think happened. Yes – the bus in which I was not sitting went first. The bus in which I was sitting, started not some time later but a good 10 minutes later!!! I don’t know who was it waiting for , since I was already inside! I felt so supremely moronic and made a note to self “don’t go around changing buses!"

Anyways reached home late, there were some cascade impacts on the kids. But glad the day wZ done without further incidents!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Toilet Traning - enough said :)

Today I was a bit bored. So I started reading my own blogs! (How pathetic right? ) But, then hey, I can read anything. Whether I like it or not is a different question :D

As I was reading through my own posts, I realised that I have covered Chiyaa’s life and antics in a lot of detail ( its not just while reading, I had this nagging thought for quite some time). Pumpki has always had some one with her, so the lime light is shared for sure. But she has had her share of ups and down as well. This will be a start to some exclusive Pumpki tales. They will not be bereft of references to Chiyaa, because truth be told, Chiyaa will always be a background thread even if Pumpki is the main.

This was the post I read, so it got me thinking about Pumpki’s journey with respect to toilet training. Having prior experience with the first born, we were a bit more relaxed when it came to Pumpki. We did not kick start the training until she was a year old. The main reason for it was that our house in Ipswich was entirely carpeted. We could not risk not having diapers on for we were renting the house. Any damages to the carpet would leave us penalised. Once she was a year old, and Amma was around to help with her care, the training started in the right earnest. The poos were mastered in no time and she started having a schedule. We were surprised at how quickly she got the hang of it. It went real well till she joined day care at around 2 years old. As expected, since she was on a diaper at the nursery, the schedule took a bit of a hit. She used to be on and off. We knew the only way was to be patient and hang around.

It was all manageable till a couple of months into daycare, she started being very funny with using the toilet. She started with being reluctant. On other days she would ask for a particular person to take her to the loo -  a person who would be winning the popularity contest with her that day. It could be me or K or Amma. Then she started avoiding the toilet as much as possible. She would try to not use the toilet be it for a wee or a poo. We were a bit concerned at this point. But then we had heard stories of children disliking to use the toilet at home if they were used to a nappy in daycare. Maybe she was more used to eliminating in a diaper when she was playing or doing her own stuff rather than sitting in the toilet and getting bored. We also wondered if the toilet was a colder place which made her reluctant to go. Again it was something which could be left to time to be eventually sorted out. The situation would be bad on some days when she would be in literal pain but would abstain from using the loo. She would be in general physical discomfort, be unwilling to eat or drink much and be cranky and annoyed.

When Amma went back and papa, mummy came to Leeds, they were quite distressed by the poor girl’s state. They too hoped and prayed that she would feel better. But things went to worse. She had a bout of constipation. She became even more averse to using the toilet. We also noticed that there would be some blood when she emptied her bowels. All this must have been causing her so much pain! We were very worried. We got in touch with the doctor. He said that constipation and a bit of bleeding (given their very soft skin) was quite common in kids and he recommended a dosage of laxatives.

Making her consume the laxatives was a challenge in its own right. It would be a miracle if she managed to consume even one-fourth of the recommended dosage. But the difference was substantial. She would pass the stool very easily. We thought forcing her to have the medicine was way less painful than having her miserable because she was unable to go to the toilet. But we could not be indefinitely on the laxatives. As the situation improved a bit, we started skipping the dose some days. Her stool was fine though she was quite irritated at the idea of it. It was just that she had a mental block against using the toilet. She associated it with pain. She went to the extent of crying and shouting if she needed the toilet and we took her to it. Somedays would be awful when Pumpki would wail and cry bitterly. We just hoped and prayed that she would be ok soon, because there was nothing else we could do.

One day, she managed to use the toilet without any fuss. Just like that. With no precursor or no change of any form. She came to mummy and said “ Tubi, I did a happy poo”. Mummy nearly had tears in her eyes (yes melodramatic – I know :D ). From then on, we used to urge her to do a happy poo. It was standard to ask her “ Do you need a happy poo?” and we would take her to the toilet only if she said yes. The agony of the past 6-7 months was immense. We had worried she would not be toilet trained(again not possible, which 13 year old still uses diaper) , she would regress, she would always feel averse to the idea of using the toilet. But from that day on, it has been positive changes only. She has gradually reduced the usage of nappies at daycare. In due course we were confident to let her go to daycare without nappies and now she very promptly uses the toilet even at the daycare.

Time sorts out a lot of these developmental challenges when it comes to kids and we are hugely thankful for this one!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

One chocolate

Mummy started back to India on Saturday. To be honest, it was not that nerve rattling this time. Maybe because I am getting used to it. Maybe because she was leaving me in a much better state this time – a bit more settled, with the kids adjusting as well as they can to daily life. Maybe because it is inevitable, parents can only stay so long. I was sad – of course – I was sad. But it was just the sadness of missing her, the sadness of her absence. It was the not the devastating sadness I have felt at other times which makes me feel clueless and lost.

But one thing had not changed, there was too much to do now. Mummy still takes over so many tasks that the feeling of doing them all by ourselves is quite overwhelming. We decided to skip swimming class for kids on Saturday morning since the lunch and dinner preps were daunting me. The kids got busy with K and minded their own stuff. We went on a trip to the city centre.  Going through the places where mom and I used to roam around made me feel the pang of nostalgia. But then… My sis was keeping me constant company and she was like a pillar of support. So concerned! She is seriously so grown up! Saturday passed relatively uneventfully.

I hoped the next day would be better because sleep does cure a lot of things for me J It was a sunny day while Saturday had been cloudy and outright depressing – so one sleep did sort out something there J But there was again the rigours of keeping the house in order – the cleaning, the clothes, the ironing.  Pumpki had a birthday party to attend. We divided and conquered. K went with Pumpki while I convinced Chiyaa to come along with me for a walk. She grudgingly agreed – which 7 year old wants to go on walks *rolls eyes* Since I was pre-occupied with the tasks for the day, I did not manage to get much done for coming week in terms of cooking etc. We decided that we would concentrate on the kids this week and keep cooking for adults to a bare minimum. Seemed like a good plan till we got the rhythm.

So yesterday was the first work day sans mummy. Anything could happen! I had set the alarm for 0540 – one never knows how much buffer time one might need and the more the merrier. Mondays I don’t face much of an issue waking up since I am rested over the weekend. I woke up, got my stuff done, cooked the fish and rice for kids and was ready way ahead of schedule. Chiyaa also woke up on time and was a very peaceful baby. I left them at 0725 with K geared up to handle it all. He has been tremendous. He has been cool. I noticed over the weekend that though he would have loved to watch tv or read up about the tech being used in his latest project, he was trying his best to be with the kids. Come Monday morning, he was quite chilled about handling the kids. Kids are white bodies when it comes to vibes – they will reflect the vibe that is being  projected to them. Fear, optimism, nervousness – you name it, they will push it back to you. K was being positive and chilled out and so were the kids with him.

In a mega role reversal I was being high strung. So. I finished work a bit early ( I had started work a bit early). I picked Pumpki first, then I picked Chiyaa. My route is something like this.

I wanted the kids to have some food on the way. Since mummy was around, she was my backup. If the kids didn’t like the snack, she would prep an alternative in a jiffy. I planned to utilise the distance to get some stuff in their tummies so that they would nt be cranky. And I decided to stuff it with something healthy and something they like – there might be 3-4 food items which would come in this category. Cucumbers are one of them. My girls love cucumbers, also its filling and a good thing to have. So I packed cucumbers. They had a few. I could not keep them on a sugar deficit either (kids can get crazy when blood sugar levels are down!) . So I gave them both a small chocolate once the cucumbers were done.

We reached home. No crying till now! So far so good! There was a mild skirmish when they got on each other’s nerves, but I managed to handle it. K also came in early (ah! Backup!!!!) Soon after the week’s grocery got delivered too. K in a major bout of magnanimity gave Chiyaa a chocolate – one that was meant to be a treat, one that was supposed to be hidden from her, one that was not supposed to be given to her since she was yet to have her dinner.

I erupted. “Why did you give her the chocolate” I howled. Like a mad person I tried to hide a few as if Chiyaa would not be able to see my futile attempts (seems so laughable now, imagine me hiding chocs from a kid in front of her, and trying to do so quickly but that attempted haste making the process slower. Comical is nt it!)
K responded “ She saw it and she asked for it. “ (this is know as a lie because I saw him offer the choc. We agree to disagree on this point)
“Good now she is not going to eat any dinner. All this while I have been trying to keep her away from junk food so that she has something healthy for dinner”
“Why are you shouting, its just one chocolate. She will have her dinner when she needs to “
At this moment Pumpki walks in and asks for a chocolate. I have to give her *rolls eyes again*
“Now little one has also had a chocolate, she wont eat dinner either, she will be hungry through the night and will keep asking for milk. And I have to keep waking up to fill her bottle”
“Just one chocolate and you have already thought till 1 at night! It was all going so well till now”
“Yes and it all went down once you came”
“Fine I wont come from tomorrow, I will stay at office. That’s what you want isnt it”
“Very good. Just one chocolate “ (It wasn’t a big piece frankly ;) and I know at this point it all seems like my fault but, trust me my intentions were good.)
“Just one chocolate can hugely ruin the appetite of kids. But why would you care”
“Yeah why would I care”
“If you care, I dare you to feed them the dinner they are meant to eat.”
“One day since your mom left and look at how wrecked you are”
“I am not. You are disrupting everything”

The kids went about munching their chocolate. I approached K to ask if he needed his dinner. He replied that he was no mood. I blasted again asking what was the need to be cross for so long. He said my reaction for one chocolate was a bit over the top too. And we go debating about the size, impact, related health concerns and what not of that “one chocolate”. I cried a bit, he shouted a bit and I went off to change in to normal clothes ( I am in workwear till the window of opportunity comes). I took a bit longer to come down. And the vision once I was back was surreal. K has managed to feed the healthy salmon to the kids! (Challenge accomplished!!! ) The kids ate the well intentioned “healthy dinner”. I got a card from Chiyaa.
Pumki asked me “Are you happy now?” And I was very happy indeed. We shared a cheesecake and end of story :D #DaagAcheHain

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Looking forwards and back

A bit of history lesson first. I recently read an article which said that when Julius Ceaser implemented the Julian calendar, there was some debate around which month should be the first month. They chose January after the god Janus who has 2 heads, looking forward and behind. So it seemed an apt choice where January would be the first month which would be one for introspecting about the past and looking ahead into the future. So as I stand on the 3rd of January, let me look back and forward.

I have given the year’s recap so I will not go on that topic again ( I tend to speak about the same thing again and again! L ). I will look back with a narrower vision – at the holiday season in particular J

December hails the advent of Christmas, which drives people into a frenzy. There is something in the air with the shopping, the crowds, the lights. Kids are super excited and the excitement is contagious. The office Christmas parties are a major point of discussion around breakout areas. Traffic starts dwindling as people start taking time off. Some days there are huge jams because everyone is out of the house shopping! One can never predict. But the unpredictability has a certain charm to it. Its all easy and light. From around the middle of December, the Christmas spirit is definitely on. It all feels awesomely festive, vibrant and joyful. It also heralds the office Christmas party.

I had the office Christmas party on the 20th of December. It was my first at the new place. Office Christmas parties can go any way – they can be very boring or they can be fun or they can be something in the middle. The parties at the first place I worked were proper sit down affairs, where people sat around a table, had food, wished each other happy Christmas and went home. In fact one year, the management (which was very snooty) did not even bother keeping a party. They handed some cash to the team leads in January to take the team where ever the hell they wanted! It was quite flippant, but we had a heyday mocking management. The second place was a mix. People started prim and proper, had food. The chats slowly got louder and the booze flowed. By the time the meal was over, decibel levels raised, talk got wonton and I never stayed much longer than that to see the worse ;). I always had the good ol excuse of ‘got to pick the kids’. Not that I ever thought I missed anything. But from the office gossip I gathered that some conversations did go out of hand.

I wasn’t sure what to anticipate here. During the last catch up with my line manager, she let me know that, the next 10 days, she did not expect anyone to work! Ahem, sounded good to me. The day of the Christmas party, there was an hour long round up meeting, general chit chat, followed by secret Santa. No one was in any mood to work. The lunch was slated for 1300, but people started moving at 12! Surely there was no need to get any work done. The food was amazing, the conversation was easy. I followed the gang to the pub post lunch and stuck to the alcohol free drinks ( I don’t drink alcohol. Never got a hang of it, and never had the need for it). around 4, it was ‘got to pick the kids’ time and I made a move. The next day was a Friday and we ha 6 people at work! Well that’s 20% attendance. There was an extended breakfast with people sitting around for 1.5 hours and chatting. But the penultimate day at work for the year and there was an issue in production. The senior guy (good that he was around) and I put in a fix ( I gave in my best, with the mere 2 months work of knowledge that I had ;) ) . Well that made coming in to work worth it.

Christmas eve, the office shut down at mid day. It was a lovely morning with the sun shining and people running helter skelter to get the last minute shopping done.  I finished work and went home with some delicious cakes.  I reached home and saw the kids in the bath screaming the roof off. The holidays had truly begun!!

We do not get many gifts for the kids for Christmas. We are against the culture of big expensive gifts. Chiyaa far from believes in Santa Claus anyways :D which is good and bad. Good cos I like the fact she is being so realistic – I don’t know how , genes? upbringing? I dunno. Bad cos I cannot bargain with her that she behave well else there would be no gifts for her :D   But, they live in a country where gifts are a big thing, so mummy and I had got something for them before hand. We don’t even put a Christmas tree J have not yet, since the kids have not demanded yet. So… Christmas morning madame Chiyaa was a bit upset that there were no gifts under the absent tree. I told her, "you never know, Santa might have hid it!" I asked her to search ( I had not bothered to wrap the gifts or to keep them in a nice place, they were still in the hideout :D ) She rummaged through the house. And she found it! And she was mighty pleased with her gifts. There was a board game for her, a puzzle book for Pumpki and a doll for both. We spent the entire day separating the two kids, because they kept wanting to take what the other was playing it. We had some delicious mummy made puri and chole which gave us the energy to keep acting referee.

The next day was boxing day where people go crazy shopping. I do not see the point of it. Allegedly stuff are half price. But I wouldn’t wake up at 230 am even if stuff was free. I don’t want such stuff. Anyways, the craziness continues through the day and mummy wanted to have a look. The last time she was around this time, I had been expecting Pumpki and was due to be induced the next day, so we never managed to venture out. But this year we did! The places were jam packed, my God people like a good sale indeed!! We too participated in the sale by being onlookers and spending some money on eating. Yeah we got our priorities right.

The next day K went to work while the four girls spent time pottering around the house, going to play area, and generally moving without any routine. I remember waking up late, sipping the morning coffee without the rush, getting the girls ready for moving out and having a good time. Who needs alcohol when the morning start with coffee. On Friday, Pumpki turned 3! We had a nice lunch at a Kerala restaurant. The food was delicious and enjoyed by all. The stroll in the city centre cheered us all up. We would have loved to go on longer, but the gravitational force on the bodies heavied by food was getting too tough to resist. Home was the way to go.

The weekend, the girls spent reading a lot of books and colouring and drawing. We had some called friends over for dinner on 31st and the weekend was the chance to get the shopping done for that. K and I ventured out – and it was our ‘us’ time , yeah grocery shopping :P Mummy jazzed up the weekend by some mind blowing cooking! 31st night Chiyaa was all enthused because her friend was coming. She was very compliant and well behaved during the day. Once our friends and their children came, there was easy conversation while the young ones got busy playing. The food mummy had made went down really well! It was nice to have company till 2300, after which they thought it would be conducive to make a move. We stayed up to watch the fireworks at London Eye on TV and then wished each other a happy new year and drifted off.

1st was a holiday, but it was not a time to waste. We had to get the future planned. Well , not all of it, just the holidays. You see I am a freak when it comes to holidays. I book and plan mine and other's impacted by mine or impacting mine like a maniac. We had been having conversations about the coming year, how to cover for school holidays and who takes what leaves, which grandparent comes in when, etc etc. We had to get the deal finalised. We had to ration and allocate the leaves to cover for school holidays between us. It took 5 iterations. :D The real deal looks much cleaner than this first draft.

Amma has her travel slated from May – September, to be with the kids, beat the heat and provide the much wanted presence of elders at home. If all goes to plan, mummy and papa might travel around the middle of December to be around for the birthdays. We have gone as far as December 2020 to probably pencil in a trip to India! Man proposes, God disposes is a true and famous adage. But as we look ahead, we can hope that God looks at all us kindly and helps us.

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