Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rounding up

The year ends today. What a year it has been! The same time last year I was having the jitters about going back to work after a years maternity break. I started nervously. A year is a long time. The 10 mins walk to the train station from home in the dark winter morning seemed terrifying to a nervous person like me.( I am nervous about many things.  Anti socials grabbing my handbag. Someone shoving me and running away. Missing the train. Getting on the wrong train.) But it all went swimmingly. Work kicked off and I was engaged in some really fruitful projects. I also managed to retain my job through a redundancy cycle. The year turned around a full circle. My four hour journey one way from Ipswich to Leeds turned to a 40 minutes as we ended up retuning to Leeds. 

We had landed in Leeds thanks to K's assignment. We left Leeds because of his change of project. We ended back in Leeds due to a voluntary decision to accept a job here. A job which came after a four months long struggle. Trust me struggling is not a cup of K's tea. He works hard but breaking the shackles of 13 years of employment for something new was definitely new, challenging and frustrating. He had ventured towards something he had never done. Coupled with it was a change of career path. It was very daunting and very unnerving. By God's grace we made through the phase and it was going to be Leeds all over again. 

The idea of movement back to Leeds made me realise how wonderful Ipswich was! It was the perfect honeymoon. Our house was in a picturesque locale. The school was fantastic. I cannot vouch enough for the amazing swimming and karate classes Chiyaa went to. Pumpki 's would be daycare was conveniently located within the premises of Chiyaa 's school. I had a state of the art- the best I have seen in my years in UK - gym within 10 mins walk. I hugely enjoyed some real endorphin inducing gym sessions. And I came across some very very good people. I connected, forged friendships, enjoyed to the hilt our quaint stay in Ipswich. The rain hater in me loved it even more because East Anglia is one of the driest regions of the UK. What I enjoyed the most was WORKING from HOME. I loved it loved it loved it. I loved the lack of distraction of interacting with people. I loved the seclusion. I loved the lack of decision of 'what do I wear today'. I loved my 'office corner' and working away in oblivion and coming to Leeds once a month to let people know that I existed. Now that we have moved back the facet that rattles me most is the hidden demand by my supervisor to come in to work more frequently. I am hating the idea of day after tomorrow when I have to entertain the idea of going into work more often. It borderline depresses me. But we got to do what we got to do. I hope the routine will kick in sooner rather than later. 

Working from home came with added benefit of perfect balance for a working mom. I thoroughly enjoyed being a mom this year. Yeah you heard me right. My kids are growing. And being someone who looks forward to the future rather than sighing with nostalgia ( yeah I do that too once in a while), I enjoyed the independence of my kids. Now we are able to enjoy activities together rather than worrying about logistics. Travels are getting easier. Even a small  activity like going to the pool which would otherwise be back breaking is becoming an enjoyable experience. The kids are bonding wonderfully too. They fight savagely over the same toys. They console each other when one gets upset. They crawl onto my lap and snuggle like puppies. I love every bit of it. 

In the extended family there was a much awaited wedding. And after 10 years next year there will be another wedding in our family as my sister will tie the knot. The year will start with a bang. I am nervously excited about what will pan out. I hope we will have summery summers, crisp autumns and bright winters. I hope the sine wave of our lives over the next year is manageable crests and troughs. I hope the new year comes with enough good and bad and enough humility and strength to cope through either.

Here is wishing each and every one a very happy new year!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Perhaps this is called settling down

Leeds has not been treating us well. Chiyaa started her first day in school with amazing promise. When I picked her up, she said ‘I had a brilliant day at school. I was not shy at all.’ I was so proud of her! It would all be fine. She was ok the first couple of days after which she started getting reluctant to go to school. This was a far cry from how she was in ipswich where the mention of school used to brighten her up. In fact she used to get annoyed when the weekend came. We were very sad to see this facet of hers. We hoped it would settle down with time. It in fact got worse. She started to cry when we dropped her off. As a change K started dropping her instead of me. He is a fun dad while I tend to get a bit emotional. Though I don’t show it we wondered if the vibes might be rubbing on. She did not cry with daddy around, but she lacked friends. She did not have peers to run a mock with. She did not have classmates to go crazy with. As I used to prod, she said she had her meals alone and played by herself during the lunch breaks. She mentioned playing with an older student sometimes. I felt sorry for my child. I felt sad for my child. But then my mom and sister gave me strength. We had changed a lot of schools as kids since mom and dad had transferrable jobs. We might have felt sad during the changes, but it didn’t scar us. In fact we are more adaptive to changes cos of those experiences. Yeah it does feel sad to see ones offspring go through pain, but this pain would make her stronger. 

Pumpki on the other hand was having troubles of her own. She had been signed up to attend a certain daycare. But I saw another right next to Chiyaa’s school. I declined the place in the previous daycare and went forth for the new one. I thought it would go smoothly from then on. As usual there were a couple of settling in sessions. I knew she would cry. I knew she would be upset. Our experience with Chiyaa had prepared us for the worst. There would be a couple of instances where she would spend time in the nursery to get to know the staff. Then she would have to start off. Like Chiyaa had. She would have trouble getting used, but prior experience made us feel she would cope. The surprise came from the daycare. After a couple of sessions, they said since she was not ‘settled’ and they would continue with settling sessions. Meaning she would come intermittently and try to settle in. Err... I had no choice. But the troublesome part was they were calling me every time she cried a bit uncontrollably. And my dear Pumpki can cry real loudly. Secondly I was paying for the sessions. I never asked for the sessions. Why would I pay for them when it was me who was coming and comforting her every time she got upset? I compared notes and none of my friends had seen such a bizarre set up.  The sessions were also so few and far between that it was going to do no good to anyone. We chose to fail fast. I got in touch with the previous nursery that K had booked. They too had the same long drawn settling in sessions. But.... the good points were:- they took the child away and did not call parents back and I did not pay for them. 

But the visitations were to be over 4 weeks! Managing a toddler with work for 4 weeks is pretty onerous. Anyone who has worked from home can vouch for it. I took a week’s emergency leave.  Amma came as a saving grace in this. She volunteered to come over. It was like manna from heaven, without that support, surviving through the on and off nursery arrangement would have been a night mare. 

I used to feel very distraught initially. I used to feel ill at ease and suffocated by all the changes. Everything made me miss Ipswich. We were so settled there, but one thing after another in Leeds made me crave for that comfort which was Ipswich. It used to make us think that we unnecessarily spoiled the apple cart. I remembered the last days in Ipswich when I was talking to one of Chiyaa’s classmate’s mom. She mentioned that moving houses was the next stressful thing after having a baby ! Wow! That must be true. She also mentioned that it takes around 6 months to settle down. As I was going through the flurry, I thought of her words. And I felt, there was no need for me to rush around. I think I had to let it go and let time take it’s course. Things have a way of evening out don’t they?

Monday, November 20, 2017

The first day is the hardest

It's been a week. Feels like yesterday literally. The same murky weather. The same desolate feeling. 

Mummy started at 0430 last Monday . There were a lot of tears. I tried to sleep after she left. But I used to sleep with her and Pumpki since we moved to Leeds. And the bed seemed weird without her.  It smelled of mummy but she wasn't the. 

Routine kicked in once we all woke up. But it was so lifeless. Mummy had left an unfinished cup of tea. What wouldnt I do to have her back. It was all monotonous. I went through the rigors of the day. I got the kids ready and K went to work. I was on leave for 3 days. It would take time to recover after such a supporting pillar was removed. After dropping Chiyaa, I reached home and removed Pumpki 's coat. She thought I was undressing her to give her a bath. And she said 'take bath. Tubi'. Mummy had always given her a bath. So she was looking for mummy. I couldn't control and burst out crying. 

Every single thing reminded me if her. She was an active part of every aspect of my life. When I opened the phone, the screen was on the last book she was reading from my phone.  It was 11 o clock and I missed her admonishing tone asking me ' it's 11 when are you going to eat?'. I took Pumpki to her nursery and I missed her beside me. After I dropped Pumpki I missed our conversations as I shopped for some treats for the kids during pick up. She had  helped me move house, shop and set up the house. She was the bedrock through a very tough part of my life and I missed her immensely. 

When Chiyaa came home from school she screamed something about what happened in school. I asked who was she telling and she casually said ' tubi'. I could not control my tears at the innocence of the child. I told her that tubi had gone back to India. She took it bravely. 

Mummy was half way at Doha by then. She tried video calling us but the reception was not good. In six more hours she would be with her other daughter. I could not help but feel excited on her behalf. 

The next day at 10 when I saw her online after a day, I felt sane again. Mummy's presence, her vibe, her positivity, her peace - what would I do without this great support in my life. Days without her are tough. Not in the physical sense. I miss her calming effect. I miss her unconditional care. As she was departing from my home she said ' I hope your kids grow up soon, becomes independent and don't need anyone.' Such selfless love. I wonder if I have seen it any one. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Whatever s on my mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Last day in first school

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A dull and borderline depressing Diwali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Back to square one

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Some training!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Part 4. The U-turn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Part 3. The implications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Part 2. That funny feeling

I know swimming. But I am not a great swimmer. So even after nearly 10 years I sometimes go through a "near drown experience". Not coming up for air at the right time , going through the slide in the water park and going splash under water, suddenly getting a sneeze in chlorinated water - the scenarios are oh so many to go through NDE. Its a funny feeling to be honest. I am scared. Oh my the  sensation of having your airways blocked with water, the feeling of going down - it's terrifying. I feel as if you are going to die. A very unpleasant death. A death people around the pool will laugh about. But I  have belief too. 'Come on, I know swimming. I am not going to drown in a pool of 8 feet water!!' And I kick. I flail my arms. I try to bring the head up. I try to remember the stroke I know best and do it. I know I can do it. I surface. I gag  and reach the other side. I are embarrassed but hey I survived. 

It was nearly the same feeling when K lost his job. It was a petrifying. What if we went under. What if he didn't get a job. What if he got depressed? Were we ready to cope? He had tried to move out of the organisation before but it hadn't worked. He had tried to change to the technical track before but had not felt comfortable. What if history repeated? But then hope kicked in. Come on he had over a decade's experience and nearly 7 years in the U.K. He had the brain. If he gave his heart and soul and studied, he would crack it. As they say" if you really wish for something the whole universe conspires to get it for you". We were about to give the conspiracy a chance. 

K started studying. Baby steps first. It was frustrating. Technology changes way fast. He felt challenged. There is little that burning the mid night oil cannot achieve. Slowly things started making sense and the big bad world of client side coding made sense. He was up till 3 in the morning debugging his projects. As his confidence grew, he put his resume up in the job portals. He started getting calls. Some were rigorous. Some old school interviewers literally took a class on software development. Some were frivolous. He had a 1.5 hour telephonic just to get the following feedback: "we found him not serious about relocating to Exeter. For him any job will do at the moment and this is not a display of adequate seriousness for the job". Someone who does not have a job would have really done with any job. We did not get why the interviewer was so high strung about the place. Anyway all we could do was move on. 

A month and a half on - the hours of study made it possible to attach technical skills to the resume. The frequency of telephonic interviews increased. He was a busy man with nearly 3 interviews every day. The conversion rate to face to face increased. He had an entire week lined up with interviews. He had to literally travel the length and breadth of the country. One day he had a 7 hour travel one way to attend an interview. He came back around 2200. Only to start the next day at 0600 on a four hour long journey. 

Every interview gave us hope. It wouldn't be long till all fell into place. Each interview made us stronger for we definitely learnt something. But every single interview turned out be a failure. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Part 1. Quitting

During the Easter  holidays we had gone out of town. We had a fantastic time with Mil and the kids. We came back rested and rejuvenated. Within a couple of hours of reaching home on Easter Monday K got a call from his boss stating that he was being released from his current assignment. There were budgetary constraints which were the driving factor for the same. Just as we were getting tiny roots, and felt adequately settled with schools, extra curricular and the people around, there seemed yet another movement round the corner. One must do what one must do. So K started looking for opportunities. 

With the recessionary trend in financial markets and Brexit, projects were scanty. The organisation was also at its most unhelpful best. The top  bosses wanted him to make a move  back to India. Even K felt jilted for being treated as a mere resource after 13 years of service. But that is the dog eat dog corporate world. Rather being pushed to do something that was expected of him, for the first time we took a risk. 

K quit his job. He decided to change tracks too - to go back to the technical line from the management one he was on. I was elated.. It was a big risk. He was to come back to the ring after 8 years. None the less it  was a risk worth taking. 

30th May. K was officially out of work.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Assorted news?

See what I did there with the title? I have no idea what I am going to write. But my head is bubbling. There is quite a lot going on. So this will be a very jarring post.

Summer hols are drawing to a close. Yes we are nearing the end of 6 weeks of no school. You know how they say the average parent gets 5 hours less sleep? ( Less sleep than who? Non parents? What defines an average parent- one with 2 kids, with 4, what age of kids? Well no one questions these aspects. We gladly wallow in self pity boo hoo look at us surviving with less sleep)  I had warned you this was going to be an incoherent post.....Coming back. The average parent according to me handles childcare responsibilities. They are not easy. Kids can be nerve wrecking. They have too much energy, are very inquisitive  and can survive a very active day with very little food. All the good qualities ideally the parent should have. God - your sense of irony is amaze! So well we had 6 weeks of a child in her activated state who could oh so easily super charge her sibling. And trying to work with not one but two kids around - that is like driving with your eyes closed. You have no idea what will hit you. So we had a topsy-turvy routine at home. I took a couple of weeks off work and it was such a pleasure hanging out with the girls! We do relive our childhood through our kids.

But I got another chance to relive my childhood. The other day I had to travel to Leeds. I am a seasoned traveller now but..... Travelling still gives me the hebbie jeebies. To take my mind off I painstakingly decide the attire. That day I even had a new handbag. I also tried a new cream I got as a sample from one of the stores which would  make my skin radiant all day long! Not sure about radiance I sure was a bit sweaty by the time I reached the station at 0540. Is that what they meant by radiance? I was greeted by a notice stating that essential maintenance work had resulted in my regular service being disrupted. So for my northwards journey I would need to go south and resume upwards. I had to spend 8 hours in train both ways to account for 7 hours of work. But I am 'supposed' to travel to Leeds at least once a month. Hmm..... Decision time. It is these sort of decisions that make up life don't they. And I decided to strut right home with my radiant face. And when I reached home to my shocked mom ( did I tell you she was around? More about that in a later post) and a very pleasantly surprised Chiyaa all I was reminded of was the rainy days in school. Remember being all dressed up for school when it would be pouring all sorts of canines and felines. And then the announcement of school being  closed! It used to make my day! Like Sia I love cheap thrills. And do you know what would be the first thing I would do once we got back home? Eat my lunch! And can you guess what was the first thing I did on coming home from the station that day? I slept an additional hour! The average parent in me was having one hellova ride !

It is these small decisions that make up life. Give the small joys or cause the minor pains. And we took one such decision a few months back. But seeing the clock has moved past midnight let me make the decision to hit snooze on my train of thoughts. I have a couple of un- snoozable alarms;) more on the  decision in the next post.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Surviving day1

I was torn between priorities. I could keep browsing aimlessly. I could read an amazing book - The tie that Binds, yet another master piece by an author who has captured my imagination, Kent Haruf. For people who might not have heard about him, he writes dramas set in the 1950s America. There is no indication of the time line, I am taking a guess with the picture he paints. And he writes beautifully. Beautiful literature. Simple characters with minor convolutions in their lives making each day a little bit harder or easier as the case may be. His stories are beautiful.... I am at a loss for words(mind you that is not something that happens often) OK coming back. I could read this book. Or I could watch the movie Hindi Medium which has become available to be streamed ;) Or I could actually get a bit more productive and write something which would give a vent to the thoughts knocking my eardrums.

So. Let me write. 

Yesterday was an epic day. Oh well SRK wasn't waking in the town centre oh no. Yesterday Chiyaa 's term got over. She started her summer vacations. A year ago, it was such anxiety. Which school would she get a place in and what not. Within the blink of an eye (cliché I know) a year has gone past. When I went to collect her yesterday, some scenes were quite emotional. There were a few kids changing schools ( it's preferably done at end of terms) and they were giving gifts and thank you notes to the teachers. There were pics being taken. I am not a pics person. Well I am more than K but  way less than the average Facebook-er. So I shied away from that. I saw everyone carrying a thick class works notebook. And Chiyaa didn't have hers. She said 'it's gone to the photocopier'.  I didn't believe it. She has a tendency to throw jargons at me. I went to her class teacher and gingerly asked ' V didn't get her book'. She said ' oh her learning journey? (That's what the thick book was called) I have kept it to photocopy. It is just brilliant with you interactions  and I want to keep it as a sample. She is a super star!' I felt proud of course. Happy too. Puzzled as well, God knows how they went through their learning journey? I know the Indian way not the British one.  And I stood facing my first summer vacation.

Couldn't help remembering my last. Yeah the one in 2001, end of first year engineering. I remember packing my bags in hostel and a fellow dorm mate  come up and say - enjoy your last summer vacation. I was perplexed. She read my mind and replied ' next year would be summer training, the next internship and by the end of the 4th year we would be pass outs hopefully in a job. So the last summer vacation.' Boy did that sound depressing. Ironically one did hope for it  - hoped for a good summer training, a good internship and of course a job hence to be seated 9-5 at a desk. Imagine one wished for depression . But the world is not so dank. Work is fun when one rationalises. 

I have been prepping for the summers since a long time. If I can prep for 5 days break and manage a routine, think about my readiness for 6 weeks. I even have this stuck on my wall. We will plan one day at a time expect for the ones already pencilled in. 

Day1 has been good thus far. We have gotten creative and made this.
Chiyaa was hyper for a bit but no scolding or tears touch wood. Well hoping for a more filled up calendar, more works to show off and wonderful summer holidays!

Friday, June 2, 2017

An utterly random post

Disclaimer : This post might not have any semblance of continuity 

A few days back I posted a pic of a cake. A school friend of mine asked if it had been baked by me. I replied 'not in this life'. To which she said ' Yes this life is for reading books and writing'. Which made me think reading is ok, but it's been eons since I wrote anything. So much is happening all around me and my blog is still stuck in the 'towel' post. 

Sticking to towels and swimming, I have started attending classes in the gym. As the public announcement system in the gym says' Group exercises are focused training sessions to energetic music which will give you a much better workout'. I tried one for the heck of it. I chose a female instructor ( God knows why as if a male instructor is going to make me the chosen disciple in the throng of 30 odd gym bodies who really have bodies I think can only be achieved surgically. Seriously I wonder kis chakki ka aata khate hain yeah log? Anyways they might have the unfair advantage of high metabolism, superb genes or might be very bad cooks. Who cares. I got to do what I got to do and try to squeeeeeeeeeeeze into those pre-second-pregnancy clothes. I have not made much progress towards those goals. Ok so coming back to the classes. I took the first one. LBT ahem legs, bums and tums. I loved it. Body sculpt followed soon. Bodypump took some self coaxing but I loved lifting a barbell. I weigh the same, look the same. But I definitely feel better after the classes. I feel entitled to the cake, the cup of Tiramisu and ice cream. I also feel better during the class. I don't dance in public. Wouldn't dance even if thakur from Sholay asked. In the class I let loose. I do the kicks, the burpees, the deadlifts as if no one is watching. My ultimate favourite is the body combat class set to the principles of karate, muay thai, kick boxing and boxing. The punches, elbow jabs, knee jabs, axe kicks are therapeutic. The most liberating is a sequence which feels like the traimer is  making us pulverise an enemy. Two conclusions from the session
1. I totally understand role play gamers. 
2. I believe I am very passive aggressive.

Another aspect which has dominated life has been work. I have been through a cycle of 'assessments and selections' which is a fancy term for cut backs. I managed to keep my job. Phew! We have lost a lot of people in our department. Some voluntarily some compulsorily. Many close friends and peers who were colleagues are now ex-colleagues. With a thinning layer at actual office, my remote working arrangement does not seem so odd now. As I might have mentioned in my previous posts I mostly work remotely, again fancy term for I mostly work from home. Earlier this seemed like a favour from my bosses. But when work kicked in, it seemed harder. It requires a different discipline to constantly work from home. My OCD helps in forcing me to log in, log out and have lunch exactly at 0815, 1630 and 1300 respectively. Pumpki was being minded by Mil at home. The urge to rush into the other room at her slightest cry, the wish to swoop her into my arms at the sound of her cooing and many such instincts got suppressed over time. 

Time has flown. Since the time I set my out of office for being on maternity leave to being through a cycle of assessments and selections to having completed a mid year performance review. 

The weather has improved and everything seems sunny and bright. There are uncertainties looming but hey might as well enjoyed the sunshine.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

There is a first time for everything

So as I said I started swimming to try to lose those piling pounds. I try to make it 3 times a week. So yesterday I went in the right earnest. 

I had an early call for which I scooted out of the pool and went for the shower. As I was in there I heard an announcement 'there will be a male staff  in the ladies changing room'. Well... Not to be bothered since I was in the shower and would be able to perfectly avoid the male staff. 

Moments later I heard the fire alarm! Oh dear! I thought might be a mistake which would have set off the alarm. Then I heard the announcement ' the fire alarm is in operation. Please evacuate the facility immediately.' 

OMG! What now! I was a hurricane of thoughts. Shall I complete the shower? But what if there is a real fire? I won't burn if I am in shower.  What about asphyxiation. As many people  die of it  as from actual burns. With all these critical thoughts, I certainly out of the shower and saw the other ladies walking towards the exit. Many is the same state of un-dress as me. 

I thought  of getting dressed. Since I lived close by, I could take a shower back home?  What if someone came in and dragged me out. That would be wayyyy more embarrassing. So I stepped out in the towel. This towel to be precise 

We all stood shivering till everything was reset. We all knew it was a drill. It is always a drill 😉

And I returned home with the most bizarre song in my head 

Yes..only I tend to remember  such b grade bollywood songs. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Weaning her

P.s. A personal post ahead

Everything with Pumpki  has been tinged with a different emotion. A weird sense of 'this is the last time ever'. It is a very funny feeling. Something a 'practical' person like me would be loathe to accept. 

As with her birth, I felt I missed out on a normal procedure. I was more than over the moon with a healthy child but I took some time to recover from the sense of missing out. My year of maternity leave with Pumpki  went way faster - being coupled with Chiyaa and her school, trip to India and a change of place. Within the blink of an eye it seemed she was one year old! She was walking, protesting, mimicking us in her own distinctive way. As they say ' she was becoming her own person'. 

One point of attachment for her and me was the feeds. She still depended on me. On one hand I was keen for her to get on with solids ( I had heard stories of how weaning got more difficult as the babies got older) but on the other I quite enjoyed the time cradling and feeding her.

Once Amma was here, she took on to feeding her and actively weaning her. With Chiyaa it had been a gradual process since she stopped one feed at a time as she increased her intake of solid food. But Pumpki had never dropped any feeds. So it was quite a drastic measure for both of us. My body was not used to it and neither was she. She protested but gave in slowly. I had some initial discomfort after which my body started getting acclimatised. The first sign of it was the return of the monthly cycles (which I had not missed at all) after one year of sabbatical!  

What remained was weaning at night. She was still taking 2-3 feeds at night. We tried all sorts of bottles, waking her, calming her. But nothing worked. It was defcon red for her. She would blow her bugle at full throttle risking Chiyaa 's sleep. I had even more embarrassing stories of babies not weaned at night. I was on a mission to wean her. I took ideas - ranging from the practical one of 'let daddy handle her totally at night ' to the radical one of' apply something distasteful to ward her'. The practical ones did not fall through because smarty pants knew mummy was around. I had to go for radical. Don't judge me but I tried pudin hara to put off feeding. She cried, she wailed. She fought back like a soldier should if it's defcon red :D I felt like it was a loosing battle. I felt I would live to tell embarrassing stories of my own. Each night K and I would have an 'argument' about the approach. Each night was a failure. Till night six, she just took on to the bottle. Just like that. Seven nights ago, it seemed like forever. It seemed outrageous that a 13 month old was still breast feeding. All it took was six nights and I was missing the proximity. All it  took was six nights and my baby was sitting up and having milk from a bottle. All it took was six nights and she was completely weaned. 

This time my discomfort was way more. I resorted to sage tea and I will highly recommend it to anyone in my state. The discomfort went in a week. But something  more insidious was happening. Breastfeeding burns calories - upto 500 per day. And this miracle was working without me putting in any effort - well consciously. 2 weeks down the weaning, I noticed a plumper face. I attributed it to 'water retention' ;) whatever it may be women attribute a lot to it ;) But then how long would it last? I stepped on the weighing machine and was not happy. Oh well maybe I was gaining muscle mass and muscles weigh more than fat :D I tried on a pair of trousers since a trip to Leeds was in the offing and boy did they not fit. Ones that used to zip through would not go beyond the hips. Enough said - time to join swimming. Since with Chiyaa everything was gradual, it was a gentle transition all around. With dear Pumpki it has been a bit of shock and awe. 

I long holding her at nights, I long to smother her with my kisses and cuddles. As has been with most things around Pumpki, I have given my last feed. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Your head is in the right place girl!

20th January! I am wedded to K for 9 years! Phew! But the whole world watched this with anticipation..

As did we.  

Chiyaa: (with awe in her voice) " She is so beautiful"
Me: (knowing she is referring to Melania Trump) " Who?"
Chiyaa: She, the one in red!
Me: (with disbelief) You think so! The one on the left?"
Chiyaa: (running to the tv and touching Michelle Obama) "She. She is so beautiful. I think she is a princess!"

I am so proud of you for not sticking with beauty stereotypes. Stay sensible my clever kid!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Creatures of habit

We are amazing creatures of habit aren't we? I am a very jittery traveller. I check, double check the trifecta of essentials - phone, wallet, id card. I check the platform on every available wide screen disbursing that information. I keep an ear on the announcements for the next station in the train. I do not sleep lest I miss my station. I go to great lengths to awaken if I am groggy. The first day of travel I was going through all these motions with the an undercurrent of panic. I didn't like being anxious because it was exhausting. But I couldn't help it. Not only was I on the edge regarding my travel, I was anxious about the state at home too. 

In a day I was 'seasoned'. The next day I was way calmer. The process of letting go had also kicked in and I was not pestering Mil with updates about the kids. The third time around I was on auto pilot. It was unbelievable that I looked at the wide screen displaying information at the entrance of the station only. I did not check it 7 times before getting on the train. In fact I started recognising some regulars. I even labelled a seat as my favourite. On the onward journey, till the first leg I was so engrossed in the book and some other random stuff on the phone, that I realised I was about to reach the station only after I saw a few passengers getting ready to alight. The second leg of the journey I even risked a little nap. The journey was 90 minutes long and I of course had an alarm set.  During the return journey, I did not even look at the platform information. I knew which platform I had to get to! 

My colleagues think I have a very long commute and I spend a lot on it too - a little less than 1/4th of my earnings. But I feel I get to have a job and contribute and maybe have a chance at a long running career. Some friends feel its strenuous and I should maybe opt to stay in Leeds. That way I would get some rest and also a much needed time away from home chores. But I feel, the days I travel, I do nothing at home absolutely. Even if it's 4 times a month, it's a lot for a mom with two kids under 6. I remember travelling with Chiyaa and Pumpki. On all occasions I noticed the travellers without kids. Ladies sipping gin and tonic in the flight or people unencumbered by numerous luggage making the platform changes with a phone in one hand and a coffee in other. I would wistfully think - I would just want to travel without kids. Being far from them, away from them - is not something I would ever want. But just the travel.... I wouldn't mind. I would rather like it. As I always believe be careful what you wish for. In a strange way it has come true for me. I have travel time, away from kids. I am so tired that even a good night's sleep does not recharge me. I feel sluggish till mid morning the next day. But snuggling next to the two brats on other days, I just sigh. Its all worth it.