Monday, June 17, 2019

Freaky Friday

I have always been a martial arts enthusiast. In school we were trained for a few classes/months – I don’t remember. What I do remember is practising my moves on Papa at home and giving him a wrist injury! But since then I have always been very very keen on martial arts. (Or maybe before that, because I have loved Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies since forever.) I like Karate in particular – for its one of the art forms which relies both on hands and legs (for instance taekwondo relies more on legs) and does not depend on any weapons ( karate means “empty hand”). BTB there is a weapons training in karate, which is the normal moves assisted with weapons . (You can see I have done a fair bit of research – mostly internet driven. So if any of the facts are incorrect, don’t take me to court).

When Chiyaa was born, it was a no brainer that no matter what she would learn karate. Ipswich gave us the first chance. Since she was not yet 4, she was needed to train with an adult which had to be K (since I was tied up with Pumpki) As the days passed, her interest in karate seemed to wane. It was worrying. K commented that since she was in the same class as dad, she did not like the fact that he was praised some times. (Weird I know – but in those classes, they used to make kids compete with adults. A free for all and super duper weird.) K asked me to come along for a class as spectator to encourage her. I did. She was encouraged plenty and did real well. But I was also convinced by the instructor to give the class a go. It was as if I was waiting for the bait. I took the trial class, a class then on and before I knew, I had bought the uniform and all geared up for my Karate journey. (Amma was there, so Pumpki was attended to, I started my classes on a feaibility basis :D )

I am eager about stuff, but don’t take me for a fool. Slowly I realised glaring defects in their mode of teaching (yes I am a die hard critic. I am optimistic but critical – be careful of me) It did not take me long to pull Chiyaa out of the class, research more classes and put her in a awesome Karate coaching club. (I just loved it there). K continued his classes at the old place, but being the one seeking company, his attendance started dwindling. In a timely fashion he got injured during sparring once, and dropped 2-3 classes, which soon turned to stopped attending any classes :D

To ease his guilt, we moved to Leeds. J

I kept searching for karate classes in Leeds. I kept taking Chiyaa for trial classes in a zillion clubs! (Boy was I surprised to find the number of clubs around!) She was enthusiastic about every class. She loved every class. But it was not easy to deceive me ;) Finally after 4 months of scouting we entered the waiting list of a club. Waiting list was step 1. She had to like the trial class(which I was sure she would), I had to like the trial class( which I wasn’t so sure I would) and then we had to get going. Luckily everything fell into place and she was a student of karate again.

On cue K joined the classes too and dad and daughter started progressing. I stood in the sidelines, proud of their gradings, their tournaments, their practice together. I kept waiting for my turn. My idea was, once Pumpki started her training after she was 4, we would rejig our time and I would somehow start attending the classes. To give a bit more detail the classes happen on Tuesdays and Fridays. The under 9s train from 1800-1900, and the main class (over 9 to whatever age is interested) is from 1900-2100. So. Chiyaa would be dropped by me, picked up by me/K and then K would rush to attend his class (we have one car) It is a bit rushed and we are scurrying through Tuesday s and Fridays.

Till a few classes back the sensei said, Chiyaa could attend the main classes since she seems to be mature enough to do so. (Belt wise and demeanor wise J )So dad and daughter started training together and they loved it! This gave K an idea, that I could train one of the days. That way I could start working on my dream! It sounded tempting but I was skeptical – Pumpki, long term feasibility etc etc. K brushed these concerns as excuses! I have no idea why he was so enthusiastic about my training. Think he loves me and could sense I was literally jumping on my feet to start training. Anyways what goes inside a man’s head! After thinking a lot, debating and trying to come up with adverse scenarios I had to give in. There is one unhandled scenario still where Pumpki starts training and has to attend the kid’s class and someone has to bring her back. We have addressed this as of now by working out that the non-class-attending parent would bring her back while the class-attending parent and Chiyaa would take the bus and return home.

Long and short of it – Friday I attended my first proper Karate class (again!) And I oh so loved it!! When I came home, I was exhilarated. It felt awesome. Pumpki was fine at home with K and Amma. It felt nice to see the kids getting independent and I being able to do my things. Now K is looking forward to all of us participating as a team in the tournament next year!! (Boy that should give us some points for cuteness ;) )

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Rain rain - do whatever you want to do

I am reformed. I am not hating it. I am not loving it either. I am liking it would be close enough. 
I am liking the fact that I don’t have to hunt for a seat on the right hand side of the bus. Let me explain. The sun’s oblique rays scorch the left hand side of the bus i.e the east. It is more of a problem for me since
a. I read a book on my phone and the reflection and glaring rays really bother me.
b. I sit on the top deck of the bus because I like sitting there. The lower deck distracts me, people getting in and out, the activities on the street what not. I am very easily distracted.
So I like the fact that I don’t have to go searching for an appropriate seat.

Also the blanket brightness removes the feeling of the passage of the day. It is the same bright day from 0600 to 2130. Literally. But when rains and the associated clouds come into play, the texture of the day keeps changing. Sometimes it dull, sometimes its dark, sometimes it becomes a teensy bit bright and then rainy. It seems to have a bit more variety. I dont mind that.

It reminds me of home, of Bhubaneswar – of the monsoon. It is nearly monsoon time there. And it reminds me of how much I hated it growing up. And all the stuff we used to do to dry clothes. We Indians are passionate about drying clothes arent we? Something I feel we share with the Brits. Any day the sun shines I see clothes magically appear on the clothes lines. I wonder if people wait for the sun to wash. Or they put clean clothes to wash just because its sunny or they put dry clothes on the clothes line just for laughs. I cannot check, but I remember back in India the passion with which we needed to dry clothes. We used to string wires across rooms – bedroom, dining space – anything goes. And put all the wet clothes there with the fan on in full speed. We hated the “fan dried” clothes. And waited for the rains to stop. We do not face the problem of drying clothes because of the dryer. But there is an inherent dampness in the coats and the shoes. I would prefer it dry, but I don’t mind it.

The place where I live, there is a general misty feeling around. An earlier me would have hated it. This new me finds it poetic! I am alarmed. I asked K if everything is ok with me and he said “It actually is beautiful, why wouldn’t you find it beautiful ?” Point. He can shush me!

I am happy with the changes though. Age has come with some positive changes I would say. I am not grumbling as I stand in the bus stand and the bus is delayed cos of the rains. I am also thankful for the right choice of footwear and outerwear which enables me to be relatively dry (of course this is a skill developed over the years of residence in this country. I have figured out what to wear when :D ) . An earlier me would have worked from home under such inclement weather ;) But I am liking coming to work and sitting in the climate controlled 13th floor, where my window seat gives me the privilege of looking outside and the murky sky while appreciating the artificial brightness inside (I am not being sarcastic ). 

Working at office is helping me to be more disciplined rather than foraging through the fridge and food cupboard.

The rains are supposed to get worse over the next 2 days. Bring it on. I feel prepared :D  

Friday, June 7, 2019

A letter to my daughters - first of many :)

I had been meaning to write this for a long time, but today I read something which made me feel that I have to write this. This is in no way a complete message and I will keep on adding more (you know how I love expressing my inner most thoughts ;))
Many people have written letters to their offspring, to their past/future selfs. So here I stand going down the same road.

So girls gear up, here is mummy speaking.

  1. Be empathetic. It is easier said than done, but try to treat others how you would like to be treated. This will be especially true when you have your own friends circles and cliques. It will be easy to ignore the ones outside the boundary or sitting on the fence. But try to always think, how would you feel if you were them. Not so good maybe, if you were being treated like them. So be nice to people who are different from you.
  2. Have a mind of your own. Whenever you read something, hear something – think. Use your own judgement. Use your own moral compass. For instance if you read an article on Brexit, pause and think and weigh the facts. If you are not able to make your mind, read some more, research some more. Find out more and then join the dots. Think aloud your thoughts. You will etch a stand of your own. It is easy to get moved by passionate writers/speakers. Remove the emotion. Use the head not the heart. And the same goes for everything – Brexit, diets, education reforms, anything. Yeah some things cannot be read up. But as you hone your analytical mind on measurable stuff, you will start sub consciously working on the subjective ones. Then if your friends are excluding someone or being mean to someone, you will be cognizant enough to question their actions.
  3. Battles for wars. Pick them wisely. Some battles are not worth it. Don’t invest time and effort to just prove a point. Many wars are not worth it either. Don’t wage one just because you can.
  4. Accept but don’t settle down. Life will throw many things at you. You will not do well in an exam you studied hard for. You will not win a contest you prepared well for. You will not get a job you gave your right hand for. Your exercise routine will not give you the results you expected. An endeavour wont be successful. Accept them all. But don’t give up or settle down. Don’t think you wont ever do well in exam hence there is no point in studying. Or no point in contesting, preparing, applying for jobs or exercising. You are the work in progress. As you study, prepare, exercise – you get better, you develop life skills. You will become better. There is no judge for that, that is the contest you have with yourself. What did I do better? How did I become better?
  5. Read a lot. It is a way to understand the minds of other people. It is a way to delve into cultures and lifestyles. It is a way to give wings to your imagination. It is a way to escape. It is a way to be grounded. It teaches you to count your blessings. It is a trait that enables you to never be bored. If you have a book and if you like the company of a book, trust me you will never be bored. Just like life will throw lots of hardships and disappointments your way, it will also throw lots of opportunities to get bored – state where you are not sure what to do and time stretches like an endless desert – if you have a book you will not endure that unending pain of watching time pass. There will be occasions where you wont be able to read a book – but if you can – you wont know an emotion called boredom. That my kids is a blessing. People get bored in multifarious ways and try to alleviate it with silly stuff  like eating, talking nonsense, watching mindless television. There is nothing better than picking a book and losing yourself. There will be phases where the habit mine wane – an exam, a new job, a change, your own kids. But  always come back to the habit. You will be glad.
  6. Write a lot too. If you read, you will write. As you read, you will feel the saplings of ideas and thoughts in your own head. As you write, you will feel as if you have created something. You will feel the logical pathways of your mind. You will analyse your thoughts and emotions better.
  7. Believe in God. It just helps. No one has seen God, no one has proved God. But the belief in Him helps. Believe in Him as a doer of good, as a protector, as a friend.

Hope this helps J

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The lull

It has been over a month since I blogged. I used to come over to my space once in a while and return without writing anything.. something akin to opening the fridge to eat something, but then seeing nothing that I fancy and returning. The craving to eat something would die eventually. The craving to write would die eventually.

But its been over a month, and I hadnt written a word. I was getting a bit wary that I would become a member of the extinct species of “bloggers”. Bloggers are so few and far between now a days. My few random readers and one diligent reader ;) are busy with their respect upheavals to pay attention to this tiny blur “cherries blogs”.

I also write for myself. I write to commit stuff to memory. I write to give a bearing to my many random thoughts. There have been quite a few, none poignant enough to make me write. Life has been going on at a steady pace. It has been 8 months at my “new” (now not so new) place. I am totally indoctrinated to the pace and style of work here. The kids are done with the “settling down” and have now started to grow. Something like my plants at home. They started young and fragile a year back, and this year, some have outgrown their pots! I had to get bigger size pots for them. Amma is here who takes care of half the work at home and gives me ample time. So much so, I am definitely sleeping more at night, which I judge from the fact that I literally rise and shine in the morning.

Things are going at calm, sedate pace. I feel a bit unsettled by all this. This is all too good to be true. Is this the calm before some unknown storm? When I read about children having terminal illnesses, families obliterated in accidents and catastrophes – it gives me a shudder. I was mulling about a vacation during a lull period at work. I opened to run as a background thread and the news I read was of the tourists drowned in Hungary. I immediately shoved away any thoughts of the holiday for the time being. I know it sounds down right morbid.

Though that’s not my usual frame of mind. I am glad the kids are happy, work is even paced, family is doing well (more or less) and the sun is shining J

Monday, April 29, 2019

I did not expect to write a post today

But who can let go of awesome fodder for writing? So here goes another incident in the happening life of yours truly.

Sunday was going on fine. It was relatively hectic where K and Chiyaa went for a karate class and I had to keep Pumpki entertained at home for close to 5 hours. The weather did not allow us to step outside. Managing her with the week’s prep of cooking is hard work. K and Chiyaa also came back pretty exhausted from a 3 hour long class. All of us were a bit here and there once we got together around 3 in the afternoon.

To add to the melee, I had ordered some plants online and they got delivered on Friday. I wanted to plant them since I was sure there would be no time in the weekdays. But to plant them, I needed K’s help with digging a biggish hole. He is not a keen gardener. He is the one to get pretty annoyed with my constant wish to buy plants, pots, to do composting, saving kitchen water and the whole 9 yards. Well, in this case, it was he who wanted a “tree” and I had gotten a tree.  Well its more a little plant now, it will eventually grow into a tree :D

K being the unaware gardener thought tree needs big hole, I dig big hole! (Even though it is a small plant, it does need a big hole for its root system to establish). He started digging. The problem is there was something in his way! It was a green pipe. Now we never figured out what this green pipe was for, but its went across the patch. We planted stuff around it. One of our neighbours casually mentioned that it might be a cable wire. We do not watch cable since we stick to online streaming, so the wire wouldn’t matter to us. But we never got around to doing anything about it. I always thought, what if I get electrocuted!In fact, I bought extra soil to add and cover the wire.

Sunday evening, K had to dig the hole and this wire was coming in the way. And he decided to take action. He has all sorts of tools and being the true bred engineer, he got to work to cut the wire off. As I came outside to monitor the progress of the hole digging, I noticed that the wire cutting was nearing completion.
I asked aghast “Why did you cut the wire?”
“Because it kept coming in the way!”
“But are you sure it will not impact anything?”
“See it is  a co-axial wire, must be for tv”
To be honest, I was pretty impressed he knew what a co-axial cable was and could identify one! My engineer hubby :D

“But are you sure it will not impact anything?”  - I asked again
“We will soon find out” K said that with ultimate “K” coolness.

We did find out soon. “Daddddddddddddddddddddy the TV is not working”. We had the world’s best “We have messed up” look.  Notice I say “we”. I am all for team spirit ;) But if I had even scratched a co-axial cable K’s rant would have made me feel like turn back time and undo my actions. Being the good Indian wife, I chose to stand by the husband :D We did some more investigation and found out that the humble co-axial cable also brought the internet connection home. We have fiber connection, but its only the “last-leg” that has the funky fiber optics cable. Those are well hidden. (thank God) Tain tain tainnnnnnnn!!!!

What followed was frantic calls to the internet provider. Worry over the cost of re-establishment of internet. Concern over how to get approval from work for a day’s leave in such short notice. There was close to one hour’s chaos and confusion. All the while the kids went about moaning, fighting, crying, demanding our attention and being at their worst behaviour which is typical when there is an emergency ;)

So day after tom from 12-4 the “engineers” will come and hopefully our house will be back on the world wide web :D :D That was some Sunday action I had not anticipated :D

Friday, April 26, 2019

Long weekend with R

We had a long Easter weekend last week. Coming back from a gorgeous holiday onto a short work week is the stuff of dreams! To top it I had my room-mate from graduation, R visiting me. She is on a work trip to UK. Though she is posted real far from where we live, she took the effort to come and visit us. We met each other after 15 years! And it was just something. I do not live in the past, I do not attach a lot of importance to nostalgia. But spending close to 4 formative years interacting with a set of people can form some bonds. In all honesty we were not that close during our student years. After finishing graduation, life and work took us on different paths. Except keeping tab on each other’s developments via social media and the one off birthday messages on WhatsApp, our interaction was few and far between. But ever since she came to the UK we had been talking. And the 2 days spent with her did renew a lot of bonds. It was great revisiting common memories, talking about common people, discussing common places, retelling common experiences. It was good to realise there is a lot in common between the two of us. She went off to visit another friend of hers in a nearby town, so I missed on spending all the 4 days with her. Which I now wish I had.

We live more or less in isolation. The 4 of us form a close knit unit. The reason we try to frequent the visit of grandparents is so that the children form more connections. Also grandparents can stay longer thus strengthening those connections. In this any additional human interaction, especially with people we have known before is really heartening and what we long for. It was amazing to see the kids interact so well with R. She has two daughters too, so she was reliving her life. Chiyaa could not have enough of aunty and kept talking to her. One morning in fact she went and lay in her bed, messing with her phone and talking random stuff. When R went to her friend’s place, Chiyaa kept enquiring when she would be back. When I said she would be back the Monday morning, and she wasn’t, Chiyaa was visibly upset. But then kids being kids, recover fast too. Pumpki is the quiet one, but she would drag aunty and make her sit and do puzzles. They had no stranger anxiety or inhibition in being with her. Which was great. I hope we get more chances to catch up!

We made a day trip with her to the beach. It was really fun spending  a day with her. The entire duration was amazing. We just reconnected and went talking about anything and everything. Work, in-laws, family, kids, career, India, UK, finance – you name it! The 3 nights she stayed with me, it was wonderful to talk to her late into the night. She is not a late sleeper, so I must say she did real well staying up J When she went back, both she and I were left with lots of emotions. She said she was going back with a lot of memories and I hope they were all good ones J

Saturday, April 13, 2019

I will let someone else talk

And that someone else is little Chiyaa. Who is technically not so little any more.
So we went on a holiday and once we were back, she wrote post cards for her class teacher ( I know postcards don't work like that, but I did not want to correct her yet. I was  keen to see what she was upto. Yes I felt a bit like Kristoff who does not tell Olaf what summer could do to him in the movie Frozen.)

She writes ' On Wednesday I went to Portugal. First, when we left the airport, we got a taxi. Me and my family went to 'Pizzi Hut' for dinner. I still had ear ache from the landing of the plane. Next, we went to our room where we were staying. After that my sister and I started playing with our toys. My dad did things on his phone and my mum started doing chores. The next day we went to a majestic tower that has lost its importance. It was called Belem Tower. We went to the prison. One night later, we went on a 'tram. It was bumpy and I was tired from the walking. Yesterday we went to Sintra to see the amazing palace and Castle. There were bee s but they didn't sting me.'

She wrote about her next two days as follows: ' On Saturday  we went to Rue de Augusta Arch. One of the people on arch was Vasco da Gama. On top of the arch I could see the core. There was also a gigantic castle. It was the highest thing I could see. Underneath there was a lady pretending to be a statue wearing a wedding dress. There were also two people doing the same thing. '

She also wrote up the words she had learnt.

I was very impressed with the way she had absorbed various facts. We had a very enjoyable time. It was our first vacation outside UK as a full family ( except our trips to India) The kids enjoyed every bit to the hilt. They used to walk close to 3 hours every day. They never moaned about the type of food. Rather they throve in the difference. We try to live like locals when we go on trips , shop like locals in supermarkets and use public transport as far as possible. We live far from the touristy places to just see normal life from close quarters. Part of the reason is that the non- touristy places are a bit less expensive. Also there are less chances to getting conned. Over zealous tour operators and tour agents are also conspicuous by their absence. Everyday after breakfast at the hotel, we used to take the local train to city centre from where we used to venture for the day. After the tour of the day we would make a trip to the nearby supermarket to get milk and some snacks for the kids. The kids thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. 

Back in the UK Chiyaa and I were reminiscing about the wonderful holiday, talking about the wide roads, the food, the majestic castle, the beautiful beach and everything in general. I cannot wait for another trip with the kids who are fast developing a personality of their own to appreciate and admire cities and cultures.