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

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!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sisterly love

I recently finished a book called “Before we were yours” which is about sisterly love along with other things. The book is supremely rubbish and very juvenile. But I know a thing or two about it. Mummy has 2 sisters and I have one. I am mom to 2 sisters J I get loads of display of the love between my kids which also includes a healthy dose of pinching, scratching and shouting (most of which is done by Pumpki) . But one incident stands out. I had taken the girls to an indoor play area. They were happily running around. There was a covered slide in the course. It was a bit long. It must have been a bit dark inside. Chiyaa went through it easily. Done with that, she ran over to the next part of the course. 2 seconds later, she realized her sister was not with her. She turned back and waited for Pumpki to come through. Pumpki was not visible at the beginning of the slide, which means she had started her downward journey. But it should not take her that long to get to the bottom. Chiyaa stood all worried and concerned about her little sis. Pumpki is a bit scared of heights, of fast moving slides or rides and darkness too. Since nearly a minute was done, I started to get worried too. I was about to take my shoes off and make way to the play area. That’s when I saw Pumpki emerge from the other end. As soon as she came, she hugged her sister in the warmest embrace. That moment, when they both hugged each other and look of love in their eyes - stole my heart. Then they went on to play again. When they came back to that bit of the course again, Chiyaa made Pumpki sit down with proper cross legs at the beginning of the slide. She slid through and she emerged, she screamed to Pumpki “don’t come. I am coming to you”.

I felt supremely proud. I hope no force on earth corrodes this bond. J

Thursday, January 2, 2020

First post :)

As I was reading my book yesterday, I suddenly realised that I had to turn the alarm on! It had been 8 days since I had turned it off.

It seems like yesterday being Christmas eve. Last year our office closed at noon. I expected the same this year too. So I did not get my lunch from home. There was no email from the super boss about early closure. On the contrary I got an email from K that his office would close at 1400!! His work place is the stricter one. It came to noon, still no email. Well, I waited, but as noon turned to 1300, I got impatient. And hungry too. I was toying with the idea of going out and buying lunch. But what if they closed immediately after!? I would miss eating delicious mom made food! So I waited, and waited and waited. The 4 other people in the office waited too. Two lost patience and wrapped up. I was going to make a move anyways, when bam!! the email came!"
If you are still in the building please feel free to take the afternoon off (if your manager confirms) to get on the road early and avoid the rush should you need it. If you are working from home, please disconnect and relax!" 
Woo hoo!! Holidays were officially on!!

I dashed to the bus and asked K where he was. That bugger was on his way home!! But we timed ourselves and reached home around the same time. The kids were uber excited to have both papa and mummy with them! Christmas was made up of good food and a movies. Boxing day was the same. I can say the same about 27th as well :) ;) On 28th which was Pumpki's birthday, we made a trip to the city centre and wonderful meal. We came back loaded with loads of art and crafts stuff. 29th and 30th were blessed sunny days and hence deemed playtime in the sunshine. 31st we hosted a dinner with a few friends and ushered in the new year. And 1st was as usual full of sumptuous food:) 

The theme across the 8 days was food and food. Also there was reading late into the night. One night I was up till 2am reading a book which felt just awesome. There was a lot of reading to the kids as well and they loved it. A lot of art work was created and a lot of games played. It was really the most magical time. And I woke up right depressed this morning. Literally cannot wait for the same time again this year. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


31/12. Used to be a special day. It's still special but not cos it's the end of the year. But because I have the wonderful circle of family around.

 Last year it was only mummy who was with me. This time luckily I have papa too! The children have had their annual bout of severe cough, cold and fever. K was not spared either. He had a viral infection a month ago. Somehow his immunity was not upto the mark and he had another week of sickness. He was in fact so weak that one day he collapsed with a blackout. The Christmas holidays helped him recover. There was opportunity to rest which has enabled him to be spruced up for welcoming the new year. Mummy though not 100 percent, is on her way to recovery after her sickness too. 

Just a month ago we were all by ourselves. Making do with a rhythm. The kids are definitely grown up and are participating in a lot of activities. They are also much more compliant and adhere to instructions. Though the occasional meltdown occurs too :) That made K endure a 4 weeks of summer vacation with the kids. He is one who is terrified of the idea of managing both of them. But even he could sense a better fabric of discipline. It was much easier manoeuvre them at home and even outside. We made a trip to Lisbon which was our first Europe trip as a family and it was very fulfilling and fun filled . 

This year has been a year of growing. The children are growing as if evident in their bond for each other, in their awareness of the world around and in their enhanced knowledge and influence. It also brought in the 4th birthday of Pumpki which heralds her karate lessons and next stage in swimming. She is also going to school next year! Chiyaa also moved on to the next key stage at school which drove home the seriousness of studying. Growing is synonymous  to aging especially for us adults. I could definitely find a reduced metabolism, thinning hairline, the more prominent greys and other tell tale signs of approaching middle age. But it also helped K and I find a passion in running  and karate. As we are growing, so are our parents. And I can see them go down in an accelerated pace. They are loosing their health and stamina. Though they try to keep up and keep going, I can see their health taking a toll. 

As we stand on the threshold of a new year,I hope our parents have the health and agility for their stay on this planet. I hope we have passions and interests to keep us alive and we are ever connected with the younger generation - physically, emotionally and intellectually. I hope the new generation keeps enhancing their already heightened morality, intelligence and superior sense of duty. I hope the next year brings forth new challenges and accomplishments. Wishing everyone who passes by a very happy new year.