Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The planets had aligned

Papa simply wished to celebrate the birthday of his grand daughters. That was his plan for his trip to UK 2 years ago. He also harbored a secret desire to make a trip to the London Natural History Museum. He had plans to return in March 2020 after Chiyaa's birthday celebration in February. The day her birthday party was held, he said the words "What a great celebration! Now time for return " But! Man proposes God disposes eh? Come March and we know what hit the world :D All plans cancelled, including the tickets for London. Everything in the back burner and Papa and Mummy were slated to be here for a long run.

My sister teased them on the day the tickets were cancelled that, "Ah! you are going to stay for your birthdays too" Papa and Mummy have their birthdays in July. Sitting in April, July seemed a faraway time. Mummy was confident they would travel by the end of May when her tickets were scheduled. Well, everything was up in the air wasnt it. Including sweepstakes happening at work where people were betting on when we might return to work place.

April went and with it May. Things were a bit better in June but the lockdown was not going anywhere. Till the PM of Britain gave the news of "non-essential businesses" opening from the 4th of July. On Mummy's birthday! Yay! Not that we were going to do much! But still yay! This was the fourth time Mummy was with me for her birthday, since I got married. (My life after marriage is like a watershed moment for me ;) Its like Before Marriage and After Marriage :D ) She was in the UK one time to take care of Chiyaa since she was keeping very unwell. After that, I managed to be with her one other time, since I was in India for my second maternity leave following the birth of  Pumpki. Mummy again managed to be with me when she landed in Ipswich for her birthday, again to support us through the difficult time of K's job hunt. And this! This might be the last time she is around for her birthday, since we do not anticipate our parents coming in that frequently. The kids are growing up, making their own independent worlds. And our parents are aging too. I did not desire to go out and go shopping for a birthday gift for her. But how could I not gift her anything? So, we made something. I made the kids make drawings with acrylic paint on cups. It was very exciting especially for the little one to be engaged in this secret activity. We closed the door to a bedroom and got busy with our work. There was a moment where she had to step outside and had to get some stationery. Mummy happened to come across her and asked her what she was doing. That four year old little one lied through her teeth "We are exercising". Mummy asked where. She said "In mummy and daddy's room" When Mummy asked what exercise she was doing, she convincingly replied " Just normal exercise, press ups".

God that little one is dangerous! I clarified to Mummy that they were making cards in secret. The real special gift was a secret. Since Mummy is an avid walker, I decided to get some walking shoes for her. Now I am an absolute dud when it comes to making cakes. And the kids would not let me live if i did not order a cake on a birthday. But where would I get a cake from given the situation. I scoured the internet and came across some bakers. Some were not offering their services yet, some were super busy, some did not respond. God! I was reaching a road block. I found some online sites. But which one to trust. Finally I took a leap of faith and ordered from a place which guaranteed to send it by the date. Fingers crossed now.

Come her birthday, the kids were super excited. They did not want to wait at all. They ran into her room as soon they woke up and gave her the gifts. The joy on Mummy's face was beyond expression. We had plans for lunch from a takeaway. Once that was on the way, I got the cake. The cake was all right though a bit sweet. I decided to go for the same place for Papa and K's birthday which was 3 days away. 

Mummy was very glad at the end of the day since this was first time in ages that her birthday had been celebrated! The last time was a decade ago when her students from college had come in and surprised her. I felt very glad to be able to have her around me. 

I remembered that around the same time last year, I was hoping I could have my parents over for summer. Around the May-July time when it is really hot in India and quite pleasant here. But it needed some miracle of sorts to come true. There are no school holidays during that time and my parents would not like to be at home without the grandkids hovering around. They prefer even bearing the bone chilling winter, just because the children are around for Christmas holidays. So having them over for the English spring/summer was a far off dream. But you never know do you?! It was as if God just sat on my shoulder and heard my prayers. I will be eternally grateful to him for facilitating this for our family. Not only were my parents spared the Indian summer, they had the kids around too! Since March. It was a once in a lifetime event. The stars needed serious aligning for this to work. 

For this time and also for 7th July. The dual celebration of Papa and K's birthdays! I always bask in the fact that my two favourite men share the same birthday. I had them together for the first time ever. It was also the day when it was 10 years since I arrived in the UK. That morning I had bid a tearful bye to Papa after wishing him a very happy birthday. And in the evening I had landed in UK to wish him a happy birthday. Now in 2020, I was with both of them again, wishing them both a happy birthday. This seriously needed some supreme divine intervention. This was indeed again another once in a lifetime event. 

As the day wound to a close, the chapter of birthdays drawing to a finish, all I do was thank my lucky stars.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Coming out of it

The lockdown restrictions are going to be eased. It seems like yesterday now doesn't it when it all started. Shutting down. Some of things slowly, some of things suddenly. Our office for one, shut down with remarkable alacrity. We got a notice in the afternoon to pack up and go till further notice. The school and nursery were gentler, with a bit of prior notice.

Those were such uncertain initial days. I recall the "Christmassy" feeling. The schools were the last to close, allowing parents to work uninterrupted for as long as possible. I thought the schools would be the last to reopen - going by a last in last out policy. But it looks like schools will be the first to reopen, again allowing parents to resume work as quickly as possible. I am not very concerned about the health aspects of it. I think there are many much more qualified scientists, policy makers, doctors and educationists  who are way more well endowed for such decisions. For me, children are relatively low risk, so it might be fair to start schools first. The disease is here to stay, the idea was to avoid overwhelming the health care by the pandemic, which has been done more or less. Also we have to start somewhere. As I read in an article, "history will the judge of which country got it correct and how". So that is for a later date. 

On an aside, I never felt too worried about the disease per se. It's fatality and communication wasn't one to make me panic. I am more panicked by say a cholera or plague. Also people die of the flu as well. Being a pandemic, it could easily over whelm health care systems and result in preventable deaths. But that is the nature of anything related to diseases and a gamble we have every day. Anyways that is me. 

For now, June 1st is when things start kicking back to normal for our family. The nursery sent out a letter informing that they will be re-opening. That means Pumpki is definitely going back. It was a wonderful feeling having the kids at home. Though at times it was brain splitting-ly annoying, tiring, over whelming and a whole load of other negative emotions. But isn't parenting all about this superb roller coaster - the throes of joy and the chasms of despair? So though we found Pumpki tougher to manage, especially when Chiyaa had to do her school work, though we found it hard to manage two of them when they bickered and hoped for her to be a bit more "grown-up" and complaint, though we wished for it to all end - we actually did enjoy most of it. It was a different and special experience. 

Now when she will go back to nursery, we will miss her complains, her demands, her constant need for attention, her call for us to come and play with her. We will miss serving that extra bowl of food for her, having her set of demands, her clamouring for the very same toy or colouring pencil that Chiyaa has. We will rue waking her up, dropping her . But then she has to move on, go on with kids her age, play with kids her age and be back with her nursery teachers before she moves on to school in September.

Slowly we will have the emails trickling in about restart of schools and day cares. It seemed like forever, but it was a merely over a couple of months. I had moments when I was over whelmed. But I loved having the dining table full of papers, colouring sheets, pencils, crayons, dolls and of course the two work laptops. It was wonderful being all homed in. It was indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity. As an old advertisement went "Daag ache hain".

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

What's Normal

"This is the new normal" This term is being flung quite liberally. They say it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. It has been double the number of days. The locked down-ness is definitely more than the new normal. It is not even new any more.

There are a lot of people dealing with it in different ways. The home chefs with their Instagram worthy pictures of delicacies were a regular feed on my Facebook. It amazes me how people get the time to do all this?I for one started going proper crazy early. The home schooling was new. There was loads to do there. Pumpki - not yet in school - was a different challenge. She needed constant attention when Chiyaa was doing her tasks. It was quite difficult to manage that in the midst of work. I had no time to even read a book.

As a team member, I felt isolated. All the other team mates of mine got along fairly well. They were in similar personal circumstances which made it a bit easier for them to get along. They could get into impromptu calls as and when required, while it needed a bit more planning on my part. They were ever helpful, but their helpfulness made me feel over whelmed. There was a moment when I had a chat window and a teamie just asked "How's it going" and I had tears in my eyes. I was not doing very well emotionally.

There were personal challenges as well in terms of self control. There was the constant urge to snack upon something. This lead to an increase in mass of your truly. Which led to a decrease in morale and urge to eat just to feel better. It was a very vicious and unhealthy cycle.

But a good friend always says "this too shall pass". The work slowly dwindled to a steady pace or maybe I learnt to pace work. The kids got used to a new routine - the routine of the absence of a routine with still some method to all the madness. 

The children wake up later now, around 9 in the morning. As we blissfully work downstairs, they have matured within the span of these lock down days to finish their brushing and morning chores and come downstairs. It seems like yesterday that we used to be shrieking and shouting at them to use the washroom and brush their teeth after waking up. Chiyaa has been phenomenal in keeping Pumpki under control through the mornings. Breakfast is a hit or miss. Some days they are very plaint and go through it all without a hiccup. Other days, there is a lot of arm twisting - especially for Pumpki. They get busy with playing for some time, after which I take a break from work to do a couple of hours worth of school work with Chiyaa. This time is a bit tedious for Pumpki since she misses the company of her elder sister. Still mostly its under control. Post lunch, they have a few hours of play or television. On warmer days its a pure delight watching them go crazy in the garden. They play with flowers, leaves, mud, water - whatever comes their way. Luckily they are not at their wits end. Some evenings they do some home workouts with Joe Wicks who is the YouTube sensation with his workout videos. Again in remarkable maturity they have acquired over the past 7 weeks, they acquiesce to a bath and dinner mostly without a fuss most of the days. They play after dinner most days and Chiyaa does a bit more of her school work. Bed time has slowly moved from 2130 to 2230-2300. 

It is phenomenal the way the children have grown. They are increasingly self reliant. I feel for the parents who have younger children. It must be definitely very hard for them managing a million responsibilities of younger children along with work. Everyone is in a different boat of struggle and difficulty. Everyone's situation is unique and there is no comparative measure. A friend of mine has three children of school going age. On one hand things are easier for her since they are a bit grown up and can manage themselves with little adult supervision. On the other hand, she has three lots of school work to do which makes things very tedious. She does not have enough devices and has to use her work laptop to get some of the tasks done. Another friend has a 1 year old and a school going kid. It is very difficult to get any quiet time to get school work done. Yet another friend I know has two much younger children and there is the relentless cycle of feeding, changing, playing silly baby games for her.

I am sure everyone has their own set of struggles. We have greatly reduced venturing outside, which has brought an end to walks with kids and our runs. It is not too bad to be honest. Its safer to be inside. At least I have the weekly trip to the super market which gives me an excuse to step out of the house. My parents are with me which gives me the solace that they are well cared for without depending on others for their grocery and other stuff which would have been the case if they were back home. They pass through moments of boredom, but they make the best of what they have. 

These are definitely unprecedented times. We are living through, as the cliche goes, history. There will be definitive changes once we emerge from all of this. Here is hoping, each one gets the strength to go through their struggles. See you on the other side!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Barely sane

Ever since I took up my current role,I missed my working from home days of my previous job for a very long time. Acclimatization eventually kicked in and I grew used to going to work. Every. Single. Day. 

If the kids were ill the odd days,I used to take emergency family leaves at work.( We have 5 per year). I fell in love with the routine. Going to work clearly demarcated home and work. I could not imagine any other way.

Till three weeks ago, we were asked to start working from home in response to the corona virus pandemic. The first day was a Friday. Friday has a different feel to it! I love Fridays :) I loved being at home, being served tea by mom and generally doing work sitting on the dining table.

The next week was a bit different. I was in a dilemma. Since there was no office commute, sleeping a bit late was tempting. But then I had my internal routine which wanted me to log into work at 0800. Schools thankfully forced me to still rouse at a certain time and get going. The kids went to school and nursery, K to work and it was a bit of a relaxed sprint for me. I thought I would have time in the middle of the day to do my workouts and other such, but nothing of the sort happened. I was quite jealous of my other team mates (all of whom are single without kids!) who were able to carve out time for video games and Netflix!  There were informal meets where team mates hung around, solved online murder mysteries, crossword puzzles and the like. But I just had work :(

Things were escalating fast. The world was winding down to a halt and it was a matter of time before the schools would be closed and all who could work from home would work from home. There were no activities for kids over the weekend, no training over weekday evening. There was a sudden lull. The first weekend, we had spare time. But no idea how to use it. When we used to have the crazy whirlwind weekends, we used to savour the time when there was a holiday or off from regular classes. Now when we had unlimited off till the end of time, we found it weird. The weather was too bad to step out (the rigid measures were yet to be implemented). There is only so much TV time that was permissible to kids in the house. But there was only so much reading, colouring, playing with toys that children could do as well. It was new for everyone of us. Everyone was feeling funny at the new set up.

We were made aware that children would be "home schooled" going forward. This was not equivalent to virtual classes. They were to be sent tasks and parents had to be the teachers. Guiding them, teaching them. In our house, both parents had to do their day job as well! To make matters worse, the schools had not streamlined their way of giving tasks (they did not have time! They were given maybe 2-3 days to prepare.) There were different sources through which work came. The worksheets were ill formed. Some didnt print fine, some tasks didnt get submitted ok. There were enormous technical glitches since some of the sites had a 500% increase in traffic! We had to be IT support along with supporting our IT tasks. With work, schooling issues, and Pumpki being younger and needing entertainment we were mega stressed. 

We enlisted the services of Chiyaa to keep Pumpki entertained. Since she had her elder sis at home, she constantly wanted to play with her. Chiyaa also was tempted to play with her (Which kid wants to study when her sibling is having fun!)  But Chiyaa also had her school work to complete. If she had a normal school day of 5 hours or so, it would have been ok and well spaced. But since she did not have that and we had no way of enforcing that, even Chiyaa had to stay up after Pumpki went to bed to finish her school work. It was not ideal, but there was no other way. Luckily, being someone who wants to put her best foot forward, she always gave her 100% when it came to doing her tasks. Touchwood.

I was not able to give my fullest at work and even said the same to my manager. Luckily (inspite of not having kids of her own) she was very understanding. She assured me that I needed to give the situation more time to settle down. A week, even two wasnt enough for a semblance of routine to come through in these times. And she reiterated that she had full trust in me. The definitely relieved me. One day at a time. Not someone who likes pending tasks, I started staying up late and working over the weekend to get the pending chunks of work done. I did not like it. But I did not have any other way. 

Friday, end of week 1 of school closures, I checked with a few other moms on how they were faring. Most were in the same boat and barely sane. They had not been more stressed ever. One of the moms shared that one of her colleagues woke at 5 to finish the work before kids were up! This made perfect sense to me. Kids' sleep time can be flaky, but they dont tend to wake up before a certain time. In my case its 0730 at the minimum. Waking up early is not my forte since I am not a morning person at all. But then desperate times call for desperate measures. So I moved my wake up time to the 5-0530 am zone. By the time the kids arose which was around 0830-0900, I ended up having 2.5 to 3 hours to nice peaceful work.Once kids were around, there was the usual scurrying with them. Their studies, activities and the lot. As soon as I finished work, I made time for the mandatory walk to get some fresh air, even if it was for 30 minutes only. After their evening chores were over, there was still a bit of pending work to catch up on. Factoring in reading and a bit of stretches and its midnight most of the days by the time I called it a day.

I feel stressed on many days and over worked too. But I am sure I will get used to it eventually. All this will seem like the new normal. The challenge after that would be getting back to going to work!!! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Silver Linings

I always look forward to and love the stay of my parents at home. The current stint has been extra special. We of course had all the birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate. My parents love seeing their grand daughters in action. They come over to watch their swim lessons. They accompany them to karate tournaments. They come over for school functions and events. The girls love showing off to their tubi and aja. (Tubi  is a customized name given by Chiyaa to my mom and aja is the Odia for maternal grandfather)

The blissful months in their merry companionship was going at break neck speed for me. I feel sad when I think that Papa will be returning in a month. When I say the same to anyone else they are “they have been here since ages!” Well relativity. I cannot have enough of their company. I love seeing how they just bask in the company of the kids. Chiyaa comes and just plop lands on Papa’s lap. Pumpki keeps chatting incessantly J My work is quite packed and I have reserved my holidays for the breaks from school. I was ruing not being able to spend enough time with my parents.

A weird twist of fate came in the shape of the Corona virus pandemic. Our company declared “mandatory work from home till further notice”. For me the first thought was “I can be around Papa mummy!”Working from home after 1.5 years was a novel experience in itself. Remember Ipswich days? I used to love working from home and dreaded going back to office. It was kind of the other way around here. I missed getting dressed and the rush of stepping out of home at 0730. The demands of family changed in a day. K wanted me to cook his oats or give the egg omlette. Chiyaa wanted me to brush her teeth (on second thoughts I offered because I love babying her J ) Pumpki had her hair done by me which I oh so enjoyed! I had done it so infrequently for her. Pumpki returned home around 1. Though I was in another room, I could hear her pitter patter. It was real funny and cute!  I generally start work by 0815 but now the time moved to 0830 after the kids started. It did annoy the side of me which is a stickler to time – but small price. Once the house was quiet, I had mummy bringing me a cup of ginger tea! Once my calls were done, she would step in and discuss something, some family politics, international politics, benefits of yoga, work life balance or just anything under the sun. Papa would also similarly come over and discuss something. It is a blissful feeling to be able to work and also be with touch with them.

We are to be in this work from home state for a month. I am getting habituated to this new “work life balance” J

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Ready, Steady, Run

K and I have picked up running. It started with me wanting to run with Chiyaa. I tried a few times. But my God! She is one hellova reluctant runner. Giving up on her, I tried K. As daughter he started on the journey reluctantly. He used puff and pant and give up quite easily. But gradually he started enjoying it. He started doing runs on his own. He started running 10Km on his own and many a days 12-15km! He started running to work. He joined a local running club where they would go for runs once a week. He enrolled for a running coaching session run by the local club where they would give tips and tricks and then run some more. For someone who was a foodie and a proper couch potato sure this was no mean feat. He was transforming into a “runner”.

My running took a backstage (someone has to look after the kids *rolls eyes*) But K still “enjoyed running with me the most”. His words entirely :P So we kept looking for chances to run together. Which was only possible when our parents were around. We did our runs kids permitting over the weekends. But there was a lingering desire to take part in a running event. I wasn’t very keen on it. I did not understand taking part in such races, especially us being amateur runners. We would definitely not be competing with the others. And if we were aiming for a personal best, then we do it by ourselves in our personal runs. There was only one element which was the “force factor”. If one registers for an event, then it is mandatory to go for it and hopefully to complete it. I am not a stickler to the completing bit, since, if the body gives up, it is ok to return. What are we trying to prove by going on at the cost of physical trauma. And one could have that determination during personal runs too.

But K wanted to take part in one, and I too wanted to see what the deal was. K had registered for a few events, but we found one which we could both undertake given our limitations of someone needing to be there to take care of the kids. With my parents around, there was one to be held in the end of January which fit our bill. The only issue was – it was 10miles not kms! That equates to 16kms. We had never run that sort of distance. But well, we had time, hopefully get there.

We never got the chance to run 16kms during our weekends. I estimated that running 16kms would take 2 hours approx. We have a somewhat functional exercise machine at home, it is neither a proper cycle nor an elliptical trainer. It is a bit of a mix. It does not emulate actual running or a treadmill, but something is better than nothing. I started doing 60 minutes on it and tried to build up the time. I failed miserably since who has heard of a mother having 60mins of exercise time! Yes, I would have to generally jump off to mediate a war between the siblings. One day I managed 75 minutes. I was generally fine, but towards the evening felt extremely groggy.

One weekend K convinced me to take the “long” run that he had done once. I agreed. We went through territories I was familiar with to start with. But eventually I had no clue where we were headed. It was around 1700, none of us had a phone or any money. And we were running and running and running. I started getting worried for the kids back home. What if there was an emergency? You guys know I have a creative imagination! As if that was not enough, I needed a wee! K was in a toss. He couldn’t believe that I needed a wee! He asked me to enter a pub and use the facilities. But come on, the pub wasn’t a public toilet. If we had some money, I would have got a bottle of water and been a paying customer to use their facilities. But going inside just for the toilet seemed preposterous for me. K then recommended that I knock on one of the houses and use the toilet! My God! The man was creative but not practical! No way was I going to do that! So we carried on. Trust me on one thing – running on a full bladder is very painful L So I started slowing down. Which exasperated K. I was loosing my endurance too. And on one secluded stretch said, I am going to go behind the bushes. K was reluctant, but when you need to go, you need to go! Ah sweet relief!!!!

Bodily fluids eliminated, we restarted our run with renewed vigour (I am not going to talk about my thirst K) After what seemed like forever we reached home. We had done ….. a mere 11km L L L And spent 2hours!!!! Gosh how long were we going to take for 16? K after some reflection suggested that we skip the run. It would be a mere monetary loss. But he felt “ we were not ready for it” I was fine with it. For he was the real runner now J But then his sessions at the running club enthused him, and he reverted his earlier decision. “We should give it a shot”. “Whats the worse that could happen” – I chimed in J We bought new shoes. We geared up J

D day. I was all right, but K the serious one, had nerves. We reached the venue for registration. As we were making our way to the starting point of the race, we had to cross a few roads. The jittery participant K jumped a few pedestrian signals and made his way, while I waited for the green sign to flash like a law abiding citizen. This caused an altercation. Some start! As usual  there was a few melodramatic words thrown in by yours truly “this is our first and last run together” which were fairly rebutted by K “Why are you making a big deal? You should have some trust and cross with me!” Who was more right? Votes in comments please :D (Seriously if you are one of the 10 readers of this blog, you have to comment) (And don’t I sound like a social media influencer with 0 followers :D :P )

Anyways that was some start. Before we commenced running, we patched up. The initial stretch was beautiful and there was a throng of runners. Slowly we started being over taken. We were sandwiched between 2 ladies who seemed middle aged (guessing by their backsides ;) Don’t judge me, I am guessing :P) and a lady who was middle aged (I could see her face, so I categorized her :D ) We were chugging along. K commented that I was running like a champ! Which was high praise indeed. He has one of the fitness monitor watches and I asked how far had we come. Honestly I expected the answer to be 9-10 kms and he shattered my wishes by saying, “5”. Five??!!! Did you say 5???!!! Are you kidding me? It seemed like I had been running forever! But of course it must be 5 since there was a drinks and refreshments station at  the mid way mark and we had not come upon it. We carried on. We had a game of sorts, where the lady behind us overtook us and we overtook her. J Healthy sportsmanship ;)

We passed through some real picturesque views beside a river. While others were busy running, we took some pics :P At one point as if by divine justice, K needed a wee! *lol in head* And that made the lady behind us really really overtake us. Well… physical comfort first, race results later.

There was one of the organisers running behind us. He was collecting the flags that marked the course. He was close behind us with shallow words of encouragement(I am sure he meant them :P) “you have done the hard bit, its all downhill now”, “just round the corner and you have reached”. Yours truly *Says expletives in head* All those were LIES. It wasn’t all downhill. It wasn’t round the corner. It was God knows how far!! We reached a familiar territory and I knew that it was where I had last checked the distance covered to be 5k. Means we had 5K more! My back and hip was cramping and K’s legs were giving up. K wanted to let the organizer coming behind us, that we were ready to quit. I was reluctant, cos we had to get to the start point, since our car was parked there. Might as well finish the race. When we reached the next marshal K was ready to say that we surrender. But the volunteer luckily said, “you are only 2 miles away”. We paid attention to 2 and ignore the unit of distance J 2 is a small number isn’t it? :D  After a point, we could not physically run any more. We walked. K tried to summon some dying power and run a bit, but I made up my mind to walk the rest of the distance. To hell with running.

When we finally reached the finishing point, I just sat on my haunches. I had never felt more tired.  We had a drink of cranberry juice in the pub. Walking to the car seemed torture! We somehow made it and came back home.

I felt I would be dead beat at home. But more than anything else I was ravenous. I had some home made nuts bar in the car. But the fish curry and rice mummy had made was the stuff I wanted! Mummy asked me to lie down and put my feet up to let the blood flow down. Contrary to what I thought of needing the bed straight away, I was faring fine. I had a luxurious boiling hot water bath, which was immensely good for my aching muscles. I had a bit of an ache in my hips the next few days, but nothing I cannot cope. The icing on the cake was the results. We were sure we were last (didn’t we see one of the organisers collecting flags right behind us? ) But no!

Since mummy and papa are here, we have signed up for our next 10K race in March :P :D

Friday, January 31, 2020

Alarming stuff!

Last Thursday in the middle of the night our intruder alarm started blaring. Well.. we have no possessions an intruder would be remotely interested in. In fact K has a joke that if ever there was an off chance of an intruder, the said person might deposit some cash in our cupboard and write a note for us to get better jobs :P But then we have had 3 instances of the alarm going off in our house. Once we had left a window open, which caused the curtain to blow and trigger the alarm (the sensors thought someone was entering through the window ;) ) .  The second and third times we have no idea. But so far it has been nothing serious. (We sleep with a hammer and a rod just in case ;) )
Side note: The intruder alarm system has two motion detectors for the two entrances of the house. There is remote to arm or disarm it. Once armed if any movement is detected or the doors are opened/closed, the alarm sounds a siren which is mounted on top of our house, 15 feet above ground. 

As an aside, don’t worry, we don’t live in a rough area. But you never know ;) We hear stories. The most bizarre one was  from a friend of ours who is a chef. Now one morning, their baker did not turn up. The baker was one with an inclination to get into trouble, so they assumed he must have gotten into a bar fight and knocked himself out. The story was revealed when the baker came back about a week later. He had gone home late that night and on opening his house sensed a stranger in his house. His wife and kids were sleeping upstairs. He snuck upon the intruder who put up a fight. Not one to give up, the baker thrashed the living day lights out of the ruffian but himself ended up being in police custody on assault charges !  God forbid such a scenario to anyone else. Back to my story.

So when the alarm started off on Thursday, we went ahead and did our customary checks downstairs. As expected we found nothing amiss. We guessed that one of the toys must have fallen from the toy box. Now a bit of elaboration on the toy box. We have not one but two toy boxes. The aim was to put all the toys inside the box and close the box at the end of play every day. But!!!!! Expectations are always far from reality aren’t they? So every night, most of the toys are either sprawled across the floor. Or they are dumped on top of one another in the toy box (if either parents have been particular about enforcing some discipline in the house. That fateful night the toys had been dumped on the toy box. Dumped toys tend to fall (gravity you see) and falling objects can have the semblance of movement which can trigger the motion detectors attached to the alarm. That was our theory. So after the check, we went for our beauty sleeps. The same event repeated the next day (also around the same time – 2am!) which made us suspicious that something was wrong with the system.

We tried reaching out the original guy who had done the installation, but to no avail. Guess new installations pay way more than repair works and his decision to avoid us obviously made sense. So we tried reaching out to other people who might remediate our issue, but responses were few and far between. We also had the weekend fast approaching when it would be even more difficult to get hold of a repair man. As our efforts went on to get someone to fix the alarm, we reached Saturday night. The alarm kept going off intermittently and we had to scurry to switch it off. We tried all sorts of tricks to keep it quiet. 

We put a dark cloth over the motion detectors. No motion detection, no alarm activation. That did not work. K had a theory that the “arm” button of the remote seemed pressed, which might be making the connection and arming the alarm. So we took the batteries off the remote so that even if the “arm” button got pressed, it did not end up actually arming it. That seemed to work! Till 2am! When the alarm started blaring. It is a 110 decibels noise – so imagine a shrill  jet taking off in a quiet English suburb! To make matter worse our neighbours are of two types – old retirees, who need their sleep and little kids under 10, who too need their sleep. We are not blessed with neighbours of the glorious 21-31 age group who would be out partying on a Saturday night. So, 2 am and we have a blazing intruder alarm. And remember we have take the battery from the remote which has the powers to shut it off. Now this remote is half the size of a standard female (I am assuming females have smaller palms) human palm in length and width with a teeny battery. K shoved the battery in, the remote did nt work! Damn!! It was about 2 minutes that we had the thing on, but trust me it felt like 20. We kept trying and there was a knock at the door. That’s it! Some one’s kid was awake and he/she had come personally to deliver the death threat. I opened the door and it was a couple of community police officers. Said police officer 1.  “We heard your alarm going off during our patrols, is every thing ok?” I was embarrassed but glad it was just them “ Yeah everything is ok, there is some problem with the remote” Police officer 1. “Oh fine, if you are handling it.” It was very comforting to have them over. But I hope they don’t dismiss us as people who cry wolf!! 

So, at last we somehow managed to shut that banshee down. 

It was quite through Sunday when we continued to find a person to fix in vain. Then as if it has a personal vendetta it started blaring at 2130! K shut it off. Then it went again. Every. 2. Minutes. God! What were we going to do ?!! I had a backup plan if everything failed. We had 4 adults in the house and all of us could have a shift to stay awake and turn the alarm off. Huh. Well…. Not a brilliant plan, but beggars cant be choosers right? While I was thinking all this, luckily K managed to get hold of a guy who was willing to come and do the work. But for the moment, he started sending v-e-r-y d-e-t-a-i-l-e-d messages to K to resolve the issue at hand. His text messages would have filled A4 sheets of paper. K went ahead to disable the alarm with a flimsy ladder and papa for additional human support. They braved the 4 degrees temp to get it all sorted. And we managed to have a very peaceful Sunday night’s sleep. 

Come Monday, the guy turned up in person and the thing is all sorted :) Phew!