Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What broke?

 I start work early. The house is dark when I clamber down the steps to our home-office. I put on a little light in the kitchen, get my glass of hot water and coffee and I am set for the next 1.5 hour-ish before the kids wake up. 

A few days back, I woke up and went into the kitchen. There were a few vessels which were next to the sink, left for drying. As the kettle boiled the water, I thought it would be a good idea to keep the dried vessels inside the cupboards. I went about doing it. I have a glass cutting board. As I was going to keep it away it fell down. With a big crash! I was devastated and my first thought was Gosh! Now all the cleaning of the glass! I put on the bigger light of the kitchen. I picked up the cutting board from the floor. It did not have a scratch. But I was sure I heard a big crash sound, the resouding sound of glass breaking. So what broke?

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I anyways picked up the cutting board. I managed a side ways glance. And I saw the door of the washing machine broken. Pic for proof. 

How did the cutting board manage to make a sideways kick to the washing machine (which is just under the kitchen work place) is beyond me. How did it manage to survive without a scratch is also beyond me.

I worried about the replacement and the response of K! But! Thankfully K was more intrigued by the quirk of the incident to be angry :D Some laws of physics are beyond us mere software professionals :D


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Hai koi jawab?

 Pumpki had her graduation from nursery. It was quite a novel occasion and an excuse for her to make a trip to the nursery after 5 months of break. We were quite skeptical about how she would be, since she was not a very keen nursery goer to start with. But she got dressed. Once back she claimed she enjoyed the party, had a lot of pizza and cake and had fun playing some games with her friends. She was also very proud of her graduation picture. 

The next week she was to start school. The night before, we told her, that she would get ready with her didi and go to school. She asked us "But why do I have to go to school?" We said "To learn lots of things". To which she replied " But I already graduated from Little Buttons". 

To this, we had no answer!! Some argument that!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

How it unfolded

 August was the summer holidays so luckily Papa, Mummy ended up spending a lot of time with us. They were to depart from the UK on a Monday, so we had a Covid test booked for them for the Saturday. We went to the city centre to get the test done. After that, we had some food stuff to get for K from one of his favourite shop. As we made the trek, we bought a hummus and falafel wrap and some cakes from the shop. We ventured through the farmer's market and got a few veggies in the kitty too. It was very pleasant to be walking around with Papa Mummy, unbothered by the kids or other worries. I really felt like a child going to the market with her parents. 

Once back home, we had the finishing touches on the packing and weighing to be done. The evening was spent chatting and calling up friends and saying final goodbyes over Whatsapp video. 

Sunday was the big day. Mummy was in full form. She kneaded some flour, made dosa batter. She also made a truckload of pakoras. It reminded me of the time when she was posted in a different city from Papa, my sis and I. She used to come to us over holidays and before going back, she would cook at break neck speed. She would stash the fridge with curries and snacks. Some would even go bad eventually. But that never deterred her from working just as hard in stocking the fridge the next time she came.

She was very keen on going for her evening walk one last time. And I was very keen on going for one last evening walk with her. So as soon as the kids had their "TV time", the mother-daughter duo scooted off. Every time we went for a walk, like a child Mummy would ask me if we can go this way or that. And I would agree and we would end up finding a new way. On that day too we took a new route, went through some dilapidated buildings. Mummy said "One last time, I wanted to see all this scenery and etch this in my mind" We love talking about plants and flowers, gardens and houses during our walks. Beside her that evening, I wasnt sure when I was going to have the pleasure of her company again. 

The evening was jam packed. We finally received our Covid negative results. But it was not a smooth sailing. We received Papa's results, but not Mummy. What ensued was frantic calls to the clinic. We had paid a lot of money for the private tests. We were informed that the test had gone "missing". We still had time, but it was harrowing. Finally, 90 minutes later, we received the results. After that we had to fill in 1001 forms. First there was something with British Airways, then a form with New Delhi Airport, then a record with Air Suvidha, and exemption report with Air Suvidha and a gazillion other things. Papa Mummy had a kilo of documentation to carry each. Thank God we have a printer at home :D What came forth with all that documentation was a good amount of fear too. We hoped that all the paper work was in order. 

The next day, they started off at 0830 leaving tears in their eyes and ours. They had a long journey. They reached London from Manchester. They had an over night stay in a hotel there. We were very nervous about this, since London is not familiar territory. Given their age, they were also a bit nervous. Luckily, they approached someone who showed them the way to the hotel. The hotel was very comfortable and they had a much needed rest and internet connection. This resulted in calls to us and to my sister. 

A special mention to that little girl of mine. My sister knew that I would be a bit upset and hence kept on calling me sporadically. We were feeling very distraught. To keep our minds off the matter, we got some lunch from outside. Then we went for a good long walk in the nearby woods. It was a holiday for us, and I would not be wrong in saying, that it was a an awful day. 

The next day, Papa Mummy had their onward flight to New Delhi. After 11.5 hours they finally reached Matribhoomi! The quarantine exemption approval had been accepted by Delhi government and thankfully Papa Mummy had received the email during their stay in London. They were able to come through immigration quite quickly. They had a further 7 hour long wait for their domestic flight to Bhubaneswar. Finally after 60 hours of leaving their home in UK, they reached their home in Bhubaneswar. 

My sister had ordered most grocery and food stuffs online which had been delivered to our tenant. The house had been cleaned by our help the previous day. What had seemed very very harrowing, was luckily a smooth and peaceful journey. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Parents are so annoying

 They leave and we are left with all the emptiness.


It is so weird to turn the intruder alarm off when I wake up in the morning, because for the past 8 and a half months Papa who used to wake around 5 was in charge of it. 


It is disconcerting to walk downstairs and find every room dark. Mummy who used to wake up next used to ensure that all the curtains were drawn back and the rooms were awash with light. If it was one of the chill mornings,she would also turn the heater on to get the rooms to just the right temperature.


Mummy would not even let me make my morning glass of warm water and cup of coffee. She would ask me to log in straight away and bring the two things to my desk. 


Papa had a keen eye on the weather and used to advise us which day would be best to do the laundry and put the clothes out for drying. Being the economically wise one, he didn't want us to waste electricity in running the tumble drier. 


Papa would clean vaccum the house every alternate day, clean the windows and even the toilets and bath once a week.


Mummy of course had taken over the kitchen.

K and I had time to go on runs on a weekend morning. We used to go grocery shopping together leaving the kids at home. All this was taken for granted and normal. 


We had immense help, even for childcare. But the most important thing we had was the vibes. 


There was a genuine feeling of love and warmth. There was a flow of conversation. Out of the blue we would start discussing politics or economics or people and relatives. We would play wordscapes which a word game or word search. Mummy would whip up delicacies just like that. Her uber simple cabbage curry or her decadent carrot halwa or the awesome jhal muri which is a dry and spicy version of bhel puri with hot ginger tea on rainy mornings without anyone asking for it - it was nothing but love. 


I made a trip to the supermarket yesterday and I had a blob in my throat when I saw a melon. Mummy and I would cut and much through an entire fruit in one afternoon with Pumpki joining in. As I went through the biscuits aisle I realised we wouldn't need rich tea biscuits for a long time. We don't eat them, but it was a regular when papa mummy were here. 


The house is cleaner now, since there is way less cooking and less people. The rooms are stark and empty. There is a coldness in everything. Everything reeks and smells of them. It is weird. We are going through the motions of living, but it feels weird. As if an important thread is missing. We are at a weird stage in life where our mental age is closer to our parents. So we understand them and I am sure they see themselves in us. It was a lovely stress free time that we had. We will take a while to recover and stop missing them. 


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Best summer ever!

 It seems they take forever to come,but once a year the summer does grace us. And it is lovely every single time. 


This year there has been a lot of work from home thanks to the pandemic. But a work day is a work day whether from home or office. I had my first set of holidays booked for August. I had 2 days and 2 weeks off work. And I was eagerly waiting for it. 


As a run up I finished quite an important chunk of work. The day I started my holidays, Papa found out about the British Airways commencing service to India. We had made a lot of attempts to get on the Vande Bharat repatriation flights but with no luck. And we did not want to get on the wrong side of law by not taking any steps to get their return booked. So we went ahead and booked the flight for the 24th of August. But, the flights kept getting rescheduled. Thankfully I was on holiday to be on calls, waiting a good 30-40 mins to get the next available flight booked. 


That's the drab part of the holidays. Now for the fun part. I researched a load of outdoor places we could go to for free. It was not too difficult. There were lots of woodlands and walking paths nearby. Also there was no dearth of parks around either. I managed to round up the kids to some place or other every day. It was a bit of a struggle getting the kids ready and enthused for the walk outdoors. But once they got started, they loved it whey single time and asked for more. 


I also managed to catch up on some good ol reading! I finished two books! Holidays have a wonderful impact don't they! Even though I might have been physically more active, I wasn't tired. I felt well rested and could easily go till 1 in the morn reading a book and be up with no sign of tiredness. It is never the case with a work day where even if I hit the bed at 2200 I feel tired in the morning. And all I do all the day long is sit in front of a laptop! 


I did a load of cleaning and cleansing of toys. Cleaning doesn't mean disinfection. Means actual dumping of 'not so often used' toys in the bin. It was a very satisfying feeling and something I had been meaning to do. There were a few more decluttering operations undertaken around the house, but the toy box cleanse took the cherry on the cake. Getting the uniforms sorted for schools was another big yay! 


My holidays gets over this weekend. It's K 's turn for the next week. And I in a moment of emotion told Chiyaa of it. She exclaimed 'wow! The last days of bossiness and then it's fun, fun, fun!' I was aghast! When I told K, he chuckled and said ' I wouldn't choose me :D' 


Well I am not complaining even if Chiyaa thinks she had days of bossiness! Lots of check boxes ticked. The weather was perfect with not a single day of rain. It was a very wholesome holiday. Papa and mummy's unplanned stay was an added bonus. I could not have asked for a better summer!

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".