Sunday, November 5, 2017

Whatever s on my mind

There are just so many thoughts swirling in my mind. The first is the dialogue from the movie airlift where Akshay Kumar says which loosely translates to 'one reaches out for mother when hurt'. My mom is a bit of a super mom. She knows when I might have trouble and comes to shield me. Yes just like that. How she happens to be around my most difficult times, I have no clue. 

She was here when we shifted from Leeds to Ipswich and she is here on our return. She takes care of so much that I don't even notice. It is only when she won't be here 11 days later that I will see the difference when I take care of the kitchen, when I feed the Pumpki, when I engage Chiyaa, when I take ownership of so many small small tasks which none the less add up. 

Mummy takes the brunt out of many things. She makes changes bearable. I would have been borderline depressed without her with the movement, the house in total disarray, the shorter days and the overwhelming amount of work. She goes about without a complaint through the messy and disorganised house. She even sleeps with the little one so that I can have a better sleep at night. I just can't start to be thankful to her. 

The farewell to Ipswich with her was amazing too. The last week was half term break for Chiyaa. So we used to walk to and from her karate classes. The weather was perfect, slight dusk with a hint of winter, the company was perfect and the feeling was perfect. We were savouring the last few days with Ipswich. 

Packing was as usual a nightmare. I worked from home most of this year. So most of my clothes were unused. They literally made a trip from Leeds in a box to hang in the wardrobe and go back to Leeds back in a box. If I knew this would be the state I would have never unpacked :) 

In our frenzy with two kids and work and what not, we had grossly over estimated how much stuff we needed for a week of stay in Ipswich. So there was a huge amount of grocery, toys, clothes and knick knacks. Since we were coming to Leeds in the car space was a constraint. We went berserk dumping things, keeping things, and as usual playing the blame game. We had to give away quite a lot of eatables and grocery which would have helped us immensely in Leeds. But at least they got utilised by our friends there. The most precious thing we left behind was the electronic brushes of the whole family :( 

It's been over a week. I am still not settled. I had taken four days off work, but the house is still upside down. We are yet to fine tune the pick ups and drops from schools and daycare, the extra curricular activities for kids and a thousand and one things that make up our routine. Ipswich seems such a quiet peaceful haven from the distance. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Last day in first school

This was one last day I was dreading. Chiyaa 's last day in school. Chiyaa was counting down. While we waited every day for the school gates to open and the kids played around I could see her telling  her friends how many days she had left. I might be the shy one, but she is the open one. Thanks to her, most of her classmates knew she was finishing school. 

On the first day of her school, last year I had asked her if she made any friends. And she had said that she made one friend. She thought her name was Kashauna. Her name turned out to be Keshawna, but Chiyaa had got the pronunciation right. Over the days they would greet each other with elaborate hugs. Many a times group hugs which included Keshawna 's brother. If one of the pair was in a bad mood, the other could cheer her up easily.  She did turn out to be Chiyaa 's first school best friend. 

The last day of school, I felt very emotional. It was a dark, stormy day. It was as if the elements of nature did not like what was happening. While we were waiting for the gates to open, one of her classmates came and asked if it was her last day. She did yes. And he in all his naivety asked why was she going away? I told it was because her dad had found another job in another place. And I could feel myself chocking up. The return route was jam packed with traffic. The distance which takes me 5 mins took me 40 minutes that day. As I idled the car, I felt as if again some power wanted me to spend as much time in the place as possible. There would be no chance that I would ever be travelling this road again in my life. I would love it if the chance came. But I doubt it will ever happen. I reminisced the initial days - walking up to pick up Chiyaa with Pumpki in the pram, my good fortune at being on maternity break during the first 4 months of school when I could actively participate in the school affairs, the period of dropping her after the bout of chicken pox which was quite a restart for Chiyaa, the later parts when we started taking the bus to return home, and finally me driving her home after I secured my license. How things have moved on in less than a year. 

When I went to pick Chiyaa up, she who is usually  one of the first to come out was waiting. I had got some chocolates for the students and everyone was taking  time chosing a few. She was waiting for her class mates to take the sweets. The teachers thanked me profusely for getting the chocolates. Most kids came out and the first thing they were told  their parents was that it was Chiyaa 's last day at school. My heart melted. Chiyaa was holding a gift bag. Keshawna left a doll for  her. And she had received quite a few cards from friends. One mom stayed back to wish us  luck. I felt too touched.

I took a picture of Chiyaa next to the school entrance. She gave a vivacious smile. As we sat and buckled up in the car she said 'everyone got a letter but me. Because I won't come to school anymore right?' I said ' yes right. You won't come to this school anymore '. Then I asked her' are you feeling sad?' To which she very confidently replied 'why should I be sad?' I was so glad at her practical, resilient answer. Hope you stay that way girl! 

Evening we video chatted with Keshawna and her mom. Her mom said Keshawna  would be fine over the half term break but once she would come back to school, she would definitely miss Chiyaa. I imagined Keshawna looking for Chiyaa. In my mind, kids are occupied in class. But it's during the time before the gates open, during lunch and the playtime during lunch that they need the friend. They get comfort and security from that  friend. I hope Keshawna is not left alone. I hope my child is not alone in her new place. 

I felt I was leaving school. My heart felt wrenched. As if it wanted to remain here. As if it wanted nothing to change. I remember changing schools, many times. Once in fact when I was the same age as Chiyaa. For that matter when I sent Chiyaa 's picture to Papa, his reply was she reminded me of when I had left Central School. I don't remember exactly how I felt then. I don't think I felt sad. I hope Chiyaa is not sad. I hope she will get used to her new school, new friends, new teachers. I wish a lot of strength to my little fighter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A dull and borderline depressing Diwali


Last year Diwali came and went without a fizz. And this year it seems a bit more lacklustre. 
First things first, our family is not together. K is already in Leeds. So I don't feel the enthusiasm to gear up for anything. Papa is also all by himself in bbsr. My sis has not been able to make the trip home this year and mummy is here. So he will have a lonesome  Diwali. 

Secondly K was here last weekend. In his enthusiasm to contribute towards the packing get he has packed the lights and the batteries. I do not have the patience to rummage through the boxes and find out which one might contain them. And what is Diwali without the brilliant lights? Last year in fact to have a more vibrant atmosphere I had bought a lot more lights. Alas they all lie packed up in a box. 

Thirdly I am dreading the changes that are on my way. Chiyaa 's change of school. Pumpki's start of day care. Mummy leaving for India within a few days of it will end up in me being in a strange set up with the cold dark months stretching ahead. 

To top it my college friend in Leeds will be ironically coming to Ipswich. We shared a good bond and it feels good to share with someone who has known you previously. But it's as if the Gods don't want us to be together. 

I have nothing to look forward to this year. Nothing that gives any sense of joy this Diwali. My natural optimistic self seems to have taken a beating. 

I am so sad at leaving Ipswich. I feel a tug of pain as I cancel payments for Chiyaa 's classes or slowly tell everyone that we are leaving. I am the shy sorts so rather than broadcasting I tell people of the topic comes up. I wish I could be open and tell everyone and say a good formal goodbye.  Today one of Chiyaa 's class mates joined her karate class and he said to his mum that Chiyaa is going to a different school. His mum wished us luck. But he remarked ' I am going to be so upset'. I felt too bad.  I will miss the long journeys to Leeds which initially seemed daunting but then became fun and an opportunity to devour books. I will miss the playarea just near our apartment which gave so many fun filled hours to the kids. I will miss the riverside, the shrieks of gulls which sound like human cries, the foot over bridge across the river. I will miss every bit of the place which I scoured quite a lot. 

The silver lining in this is a child's mind. Chiyaa and her attitude gives me hope. She is counting days to go to Leeds. She said she would be sad at leaving her friends. She is concerned that she will forget her friends. But she looks forward to going to Leeds, making new friends, and seeing the change. You make me proud kid. You give me hope. Hope that things will settle down. Hope that things don't be so bad. Hope that things will in fact get better. Hope that all will be well.  And hope is a good thing.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Back to square one

I don't believe I wrote this. Really? I will always love Leeds!? 

I kept going back to Leeds over the past 10 odd months. And every time I missed Ipswich. Yes Ipswich was home. But there was also something slow, steady and satisfying about the place. I was ready to fall in love with the place. I did fall in love with the place

It proved to be a much better place in terms of engagement of kids. Since it has a more rustic setting, there are lot of open playgrounds and fields. From our current location we have 3 playareas within 5 mins walk. I was able to enroll Chiyaa in brilliant karate and swimming lessons. Though they were expensive, they were effective. She has progressed by leaps and bounds in both areas. Her school has been lovely too. Saying hello to the parents in her class I understand what 'community' feeling is all about.  I feel ready to grow roots.

Chiyaa has definitely grown them too. But she is being very mature and cognizant of the change. She now understands what's moving. She has been telling her friends and teachers. Today her best friend's mom was shocked and said she felt sad for her daughter. Her lil girl and Chiyaa have been friends since day 1. Chiyaa 's sports teacher said, he wished she stayed in Ipswich forever. Chiyaa found it funny and felt good at the importance. But even I wish she stayed in Ipswich forever.

Wishful thinking but. It's time to move on again. We have some way of coming to square one!! We are going back to Leeds!!! Just when everything was going great. When Chiyaa was doing well in class and close enough to get her third gradation which would have gotten her a gold medal( not that they mean anything but they are a major encouragement). Just when she was doing so well in karate that her teachers were going to recommend her for higher grade training. Just when Pumpki was on the verge of starting daycare and her journey to independence. ( We had to delay that since things were in a flux for us and we did not want her to be unsettled with the already occurring changes. We opted to put her in daycare once and for all in Leeds) When I was so so so loving working from home. I am an anti social to the core. I don't enjoy interaction with people. Wfh enables me to concentrate on work without the distractions of human interaction. I am also able to do 50 squats as the application builds. In Leeds  I will  need to go to work more often. I will need to participate in 'team building events', 'charity drives' and 'senior leadership meets'. Things that make me nauseous. 

It is unthinkable that I am looking for reassurance from others about Leeds. A place I would have proclaimed my love of a year ago. I was calling up the swimming academy to cancel Chiyaa 's session. For sometime the reception was bad over the phone. When it got better  Liam on the other side said ' oh hello!' I said 'the reception goes a bit off'. Then he said ' that's Ipswich for you! The reception in Leeds will be much better. It's a lovely place you will like it.' Thank you Liam for reassuring me. 

I will miss Ipswich. Though it's called all sorts of names like being 'the murder capital of England' or 'a place for witness protection' - I feel it's the locals who under play what this place has to offer. The quaint little place with the river and the swans. This year the swans laid 7 eggs and all of them survived and have become full grown swans! This little gem surrounded by places of natural beauty and families. I will miss the many unknown people with known faces. Over the year we have seen a bout of chicken pox, Amma's trip, mummy 's trip, K's job hunt and the eventual success, Pumpki turning one, and many more little moments that sum life. Over the year we have collected so many memories. Over the year we have grown so much richer in experience. Now it's time to box it all and go. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Some training!

I was to go for a training. In Manchester  that was 4.5 hours from Ipswich :'( I was not even interested in the training. But I had to. My manager recommended that I book a hotel and stay the night. I decided I would reach Leeds which is an hour away from Manchester and attend the training the next day.

I would miss the kids terribly even if it was for a day. Coincidentally the day of the training was a Friday. K was supposed to start work on the Monday in Leeds. I suggested that we all travel to Leeds on the Thursday. I would start for the training the next day while mom and the kids could spend some time at my college mate's house. K could drop them at the station for the return journey. I had timed my return from Manchester around to catch them return to Ipswich. Seemed like a pretty tight plan. 

The onwards travel was brilliant. The kids were very well behaved. We had a change of trains. The next train was a bit crowded. Luckily Pumpki slept off. 

We reached the hotel and the kids were superb excited. The usual bouncing on the beds and exploring the toilet started! We were tired but what can you do to control two hyper kids? We let the battery run out naturally. 

Next morning was an early start for me. I went forth to Manchester with the belief mummy and K will be OK with the kids. I had a very boring training. K and mummy had an eventful day. It was pouring cats and dogs. Going to my friend's house was challenge no 1. Pumpki had a load of stranger anxiety and keeping her calm was challenge no 2. There was a whole  lot of fun and games too which I missed. Getting two super exhausted kids to the station with a biggish luggage  was challenge no 3. Kids seem to generate stuff. Even for an overnight stay we had a big bag full of things we 'might need'. 

My training got over at 1600. My train was at 1635. It was an hour's journey to Leeds. If all went well I would have reached at 1735. The return train to Ipswich was at 1745. Close call. But trust me it seemed enough. And I did run the plan by K and get his approval. 

I was able to get the earlier train at 1620 since I reached Manchester station a bit early. The train was jam packed and was running really slow. Seriously slow. In fact because of the slow running the driver said it would go no further than Leeds though it was supposed to carry on further. Thank God the service did not get terminated before reaching Leeds. 1635 - the train was outside Leeds Station waiting for platform. K was nearly getting a heart attack. Something told me that like Geet from Jab We Met I would make it ;) 1638 touch down at the platform. 

I ran. Luckily I did not have to cross a foot over bridge. I kept crazily typing the message to K that I would some how board the Ipswich train. I got into a compartment and made my way to our designated one. All of a sudden I hear 'f****** great plan' and looked out of the door to see K hyper ventilating and shouting his head off :D
I said though it was a close call I didn't miss the train ;)

Our seats were fantastic. The train wasn't so crowded and the kids had a very nice time. Chummi did miss daddy but she was placated soon enough. Our change of train and return to Ipswich was seamless. I am indeed thankful for such travel friendly kids :) and no more trainings for a long long time. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Part 4. The U-turn

It takes courage to get suited to face a long travel and then wait in anticipation for another negative result. It kept happening to K all too often. We had to draw a line somewhere and gave ourselves time till Christmas. We had the wall full of interviews and their status. 

One day we got a call from one of the recruiters stating that K had done really well. He was sort of second best though. So in case the candidate who was numero uno did not accept the offer, the job would be K's. Well! That was something. Maybe. Maybe not. 25 interviews later it did sound good. 

The number one would in all probability accept the job. We could not rest on our laurels. It was quite far from Leeds or Ipswich which meant total relocation in all respects. I could not continue my job in Leeds since the travel one way was nearly 5.5 hours long. Still we made plans that if nothing happened, we would accept it. K was not so optimistic though. He felt he was always going to be second best or there would be someone better than him. I assured him that competing against life long programmers and coming second was not bad at all. 

A few days later he got an acceptance from a leading retail company. He was elated! It was closer to Leeds. The benefits were fantastic which included childcare and discounts in their outlets. We would need to relocate though. But I was not too keen on relocating to the place because I knew the locality was not up to my liking. It was predominantly populated by Indians. I did not want my kids to be brought up in a ghetto. I did not want the pressure of attending janmashtami and diwali functions else neighbouring lady would not let her kids play with mine. K furious at my stance. But I felt since we had taken such a risky  step, we should make  a move for the better. Not just better for the best. I asked him to accept the offer and dabble with the joining date. People did that all the time. It was not a natural thing for K to do. But with much persuasion he took the step. 

Meanwhile the company which had placed him second came back with an offer. There was an opportunity to expand the team and they were eager to get K on board. But we politely refused the offer. We had moved on with the decision that we were not going that far geographically. 

In a couple of days he secured another job in place which literally took me within arms reach of Leeds. The place was also highly rated, coming third as one of the best places to raise a family in the UK. But it was a very small place. Our next move and especially K's next move seemed murky. What if we wanted to change our jobs in future? The place offered only a handful of companies. Which meant we would need to travel to one of the nearby cities which would raise more issues in terms of travel, child care and the lot. 

Little did we expect that K would strike gold in Cambridge. He cleared some gruelling rounds to qualify for a top software firm in Cambridge. Cambridge is regarded as the silicon valley of the UK. Which made the next move for both of us not only feasible but also highly likely for the better. Cambridge comes up very high in terms of job satisfaction index and also as a place to raise a family. It is a lovely place and the place which houses the world famous university must have a lot of culture and character  attached to it. To top it all the company had some amazing perks and a really cool domain. K felt like a spoilt kid during Christmas. But. There is always a but. Because of all this aura of Cambridge, it has a very high cost of living. One that is 16% higher than average UK. It was very tempting to make a move. But who would want to live in the outskirts of the dazzling city, to live in reflected glory, to just visit the city for work and claim to live there. 

Painful as it might sound, we harboured thoughts of rejecting the offer. Because finally K got an offer from a firm in Leeds! It was ironical. When I had gotten used to the thin thread of limited contact with Leeds, when we were so used to the rustic and sedate life of smaller towns, when we were so sure that Leeds did not want us - K managed to get a job there. After God knows how many attempts of trying to get a job there. The timing could not have been more bizarre. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Part 3. The implications

There are some things that I believed happened to other people. Like one of the earning members not having a job. I felt I have an adequately cushioned life to not have the scenario. We were both non-risk takers with stable jobs since we graduated. When K was without a job, it seriously seemed temporary. We know a lot of people who are contractors. Being 'between contracts' is a very fashionable thing. There are folks who take extended breaks to see the world! Such was not our fate. We were not proud of K being 'between contracts'. So one impact of our decision was:

1. Social - I had a don't ask don't tell policy. I didn't tell anyone but immediate family. In that too I chose my mother and sister. I didn't even tell Papa. He already has a lot on his plate. Mummy was with us so he would worry all alone. With his blood pressure I didn't want to burden him. He did figure it out eventually when he saw K at home during untimely hours of video call. He knew K clocked longer hours than me and seeing him around in the afternoon did heckle him. It was delicate for him too. Eventually mom broke the news and as expected he had some sleepless nights. I used to reach out to people asking if they knew any openings. It was rare I told them the full story - just that K is looking for a new role. 

K on the other hand is way more extrovert. All his colleagues knew. But he didn't feel bad about it. He sat with people who specialised in aspects of software development to get pointers. He called ex-team mates to get clarifications regarding why they solution ed a certain thing in a certain way. People were helpful. Being someone who connects easily and well with others, most people genuinely wanted to guide and help him. Some applauded his bravery! Which the cynic in me resisted. Bravado doesn't get dinner on the table.

But to each his own. K derived solace in well wishers. I with drew. There were some weird interactions. We had invited some recent acquaintance home and one of them asked K ' so who is your client' K just said the name of his employer. I thought the conversation  might go forward into work domain which might turn out to be awkward. Luckily it didn't. There were quite a few such near misses. It wasn't that we would have lied. But we might have to divulge more than we wanted to to people who didn't know us well enough. We might have received some unsolicited advise which I am K would definitely not have appreciated.

2. The obvious - Financial - The first thing we did when K was out of work was cancel a holiday. We had booked it with a lot of enthusiasm for the kids. It was a visit to Cbeebies land. The kids were at the right age to go for it. Chiyaa was at the threshold where she liked some of the characters  but was getting bored of others. She would outgrow them in 18 months time. Pumpki was falling in love with some while didn't get others. It would be the right time to have them both adequately entertained. Unfortunately this time it was not to be. We decided to save the money since it was close to a month's rent. 

We kept up the essentials like Chiyaa 's swimming and karate which in spite of being on the expensive side we deemed important. What upset me was when I failed my driving licence test the first time. Driving lessons are expensive and so is the test. I postponed buying some real good pillows since they seemed like luxuries. 

Thankfully working was never optional for me. I was somehow raised with a mindset that I should work. So by God's grace my income was enough to support a family. But just support. We couldn't be aspirational. Things like dresses, holidays eating out needed budgeting. I have always rationalised expenses. But for the first time I was doing  so with much greater attention. K took long winded and uncomfortable journeys for interviews instead of taking the costlier and comfortable ones. 

3. Emotional - The emotional implication was expected but took time to kick in. The adrenalin rush of going on an adventure was immense. As reality sunk in I chanced upon K applying as store operator in local super markets or checking for openings in McDonald's. He thought the pay would be enough to take care of a portion of the rent. But I advised against it. I wanted him to concentrate on the job search and only the job search. To train and train for war. It would be draining. Being on some odd job would take his mind off. But that could be  counter productive. 

One day I booked a cab to pick Chiyaa from school. The driver casually remarked that the school was pretty far from our house. I replied that since we were late applicants because of our movement from Leeds to Ipswich, that was the school we got. I also said that generally my husband did the school runs but he was away for a job interview that particular day. I think he  got the drift and filled me in regarding details of driving a cab. Coincidentally he lived in the same apartment complex and gave his home address in case we needed any further information. 

K and I found the thought of driving cabs rather palatable. Since he ended up being self employed. He could drive the days and times he wanted. During lean periods he could study. But we kept that option for a later day. 

As the days progressed, K started stressing out. We quarrelled a bit more. He misunderstood my irritation on innocuous issues like the kids not eating or my inability to get a workout to be because he didn't have a job. In calmer times I tried to convince him that I might be getting angry on any of things but it would be never for him not having a job. 

The days dragged on. We geared for round 2 with a more resplendent resume. One adequately highlighting his new earned skills. 

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