Monday, December 31, 2018

This will be a close call

To the year end post... Huff puff. 

Year end! And what a year it has been. One that started with a bang. My sister's wedding. An event our family was eagerly waiting for for many years. I wasn't sure if the following months would be able to top that. As I sit at the end of the year I would say - no. But all gave their fair share of highs and lows. 

Feb was a big one where we moved to our own house after nearly 8 years of nomadic existence. It was quite exhilarating, tiring and fulfilling. The day we celebrated Chiyaa's sixth birthday was the day we moved in to our own place and that was a crowning glory. 

Through March, April and May the struggles and push and pull relating to work and life continued. My sister had to make a move from Pune to Bangalore to be with her husband. Those were tough months for her, looking for a job, managing the house, managing all  aspects of her life. Since she was in between jobs, she was at home. Even I was light with my projects and managed to have some time. So we spent a lot of  time chatting and messaging and just being with each other virtually. Such was the frequency of our conversations that when she got her offer and joined her job, we missed our regular conversations. 

While she was busy looking for a job, I had temporarily suspended my job hunt. Amma had returned to India and without her support around it was tough to manage work and the additional task of looking for jobs. Once mummy, papa joined us in August, I resumed the search. By God's grace I ended up having an offer which was good in all respects. Since papa mummy were there, I would have some cover at home to be able to settle into the new job as well. It all seemed perfectly timed. It had been a long and arduous job hunt which had gone on for nearly 9 months!

During the same time there were some hiccups in my sister's life on the personal and professional front. There were health issues that impacted her personally and office politics that impacted her professionally. She did not have any help since mummy and papa were here. One child wins the other looses :( They were worrying few months. We kept praying for things to settle down. 

By October things had assumed a semblance of normalcy for sis. I started my new job. Things were challenging for me. I used to think, we don't need earth shattering events to make the fabric of life. The daily struggles are enough. The dash of catching the 0730 bus in the morning, running out at time to pick the kids from school and nursery, the karate and swimming drops and pick ups, getting the uber for making to work in time, making new friends in new work places - they are the threads that make life. The every day mundane stuff. 

November was mostly packed with preparing for papa's return. December was a festive month with the birthdays in the family and the winding down for year end. In fact things have been so busy that I have barely managed to post my year end post. But I intend to make it before the clock strikes 12.

Year 2018 has been unique. A year where we went to India, amma was here and so were mummy papa. Year 2018 had been unique where I learnt that my metabolism is definitely no where near where it was 6 years ago. I have managed to gain 1.5 kgs in 10 days of year end holiday and I would not say I am very indulgent or frivolous when it comes to food. Year 2018 has been unique where I have bonded even stronger with my sister and seeing our bonding and the one between my kids have reaffirmed my firm belief in sibling love. Year 2018 has been unique where I have learnt that time holds the answer to many things. Its best to just accept some of the events of the present and move on though it may not always be easy. 

Year 2018 has laid the foundation for a future. A future that is our hands to shape and God 's wish to design. May 2019 gently nudge those small everyday dreams to attainment. May 2019 help us put into action the small steps needed to lead to fulfilment of our aspirations. May 2019 be a step towards a better future. 

Here is wishing every one passing by a very happy new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ei jaate hue lamhon

Many  of us remember the lyrics from the soul touching song of the very forgettable movie Border which loosely means “time, please stay a bit longer before you move on”. That would be somewhat the state of my mind. Somewhat – not exact. I am looking forward to the holiday season. I am looking forward to waking up late, reading books to the kids, reading some books myself, cooking and eating, relaxing without bothering about work and generally wrapping up the year. But there is a slight sense of dread too. I want time to move a bit slowly too. I want the days to be a bit more drawn out.

Because - Mummy’s return looms close too. I am having to steel myself for it. For me, its not that she only lives in our house and helps around a bit. She seeps into our daily life – especially mine. I start from home first, she ensures that the door has been opened. Also, I always carry the house and car keys with me. She argues against me carrying that load!! – the ever protective mom. She stands ready for me when I return from work with the car keys so that I can dash off to pick the kids. She comes with me every day when I do the return pick ups. She does not need to especially in these horrible cold months, but she does. We have a lovely catch up on what happened during the day when we drive. Oh yes! And like all caring moms, she insists that I have dry fruits :D While we are on our car trip to pick the kids, she feeds me a delicious mix of perfectly roasted cashew nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecan nuts, almonds mixed with raisins. (The emptiness of the car, her conversation and her periodic feeding in spite of I many a times yelling at her to stop it – will be what I will miss the most once she goes back) She makes me the evening coffee. I just have to mutter a need, for instance “I need new black trousers” and there she goes browsing online for the perfect pair of black trousers. Another award winning contribution of hers – she enables me to sleep late on a weekend. No one has been able to manage the kids without me around on weekends beyong 0800. Case in point, last Sunday I woke up at 0930!!! A feat which only mummy could accomplish. One of the kids coughs or is restless at night, she runs from her room and stands at the door ready to help. Sometimes the kids get agitated seeing her, wanting to be closer to me, so she stands by the door ever ready. If the children are unwell, I leave them in her care with full faith. Pumpki has an ongoing mild cough, and every single day mummy rubs warm oil on her feet and chest and back. She sends her wrapped up nicely with some vapour rub on her feet ( a remedy she swears by , and I believe too!). She tries to feed Chiyaa a fruit before she starts for school.

She just magics herself and makes things easier for us. We are getting ready for the next few cold and drab months without her. Till then  - ei jaate huye lamhon, zara thehro zara thehro.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Compare and contrast

Always helps – comparing and contrasting. Listing out the pros and cons and just thinking about it. I have had a lot of categories to compare and contrast and then stand back and think about.
First and foremost the elephant in the room – my job! Yes I have been writing about it ad nauseum. It has been recent and I have been taking some time to settle down. 4 years of working in a certain fashion does make one get used to working in that fashion J. So it takes time to break the shackles, come out of the old mould and accept the changes. I am 2 months and 10 days old in the new job and I can finally say that I am glad to have taken this role. It lacks the flexibility but I have made my peace with waking up and getting to work everyday. I have become a seasoned public transport taker too where I can sniff an empty seat in the bus ;) I have also sushed out the workings of cab services to some extent and predict with some accuracy, how much in advance should I be booking a cab to reach in time. Since I am at a work environment I concentrate more. If there is a bit of a downtime,  don’t run and do the dishes or vacuum the house or cook for the kids, which I might do if I was at home. I read up something, even if it is the news. I write a blog post (which must be making the only reader somewhat happy J )Also I am learning new things. Over the span of 2 months I can say I have learnt 2 new things. Which would not have been possible in my old role. Yes it had the flexibility, but it lacked defined work. I was in conversation with one of my bosses in the old place, and I learnt that they are going through a fresh selection procedure. That means some of the people could be facing redundancy again!! It would not have been a nice position to be in a span of 3-4 months to prep for a round of selection or termination. I know, no job is permanent. But if the same situation were to come up here, my resume would have 2 new things to put forth, which is a benefit.

So that area definitely looks better.

As I finished yet another revolution around the sun, I could not help but marvel at how different it was from last year. Last year K forgot  my birthday!!! That is how I will remember my 2017 year. I was miserable. He remembered at the end of the day, and came home with a lousy bouquet. Chiyaa hated the bouquet and started crying that it was a horrible gift (she totally said my thoughts :D !) and that there was no cake, and no one told her it was mummy’s birthday. It was a very down in the dumps kinda day. This year, I had mummy with me! That just puts a smile on my face. Chiyaa is a year older and remembered my birthday. In fact she started a countdown ever since it was December. Counting down to my birthday and Pumpki’s which is in a few week’s time. The day before, she  kept telling people at school, at her karate, at her after school care that its mummy’s birthday. It was also the first time ever in my working career that I went in to work. Since I am on  pro-rated leaves this year, I have managed to accrue 6 holidays.  I took most around school holidays which meant I did not have one to spare for my birthday. I did a load of interesting work, which was good. We had evening cake cutting and snacks which was good. Evening when I picked Chiyaa, the staff at her after school care sang happy birthday! It was just so cute. K remembered my  birthday!  Think after the debacle of last year, he was on the defensive for the whole year. For his birthday in July, I had got him a gift. But we needed to change it in the shop. While there, he really liked a piece and wanted me to buy it. He said, he would forget my birthday when it came, so I get something early on. I did not say to no to such an attractive offer and went ahead with it. 5 months down, he still remembered :D He got me a beautiful bouquet. I am not a flowers person, but its always the thought that counts.

In the evening we were pondering where to eat out. There were quite a few criteria to consider -  proximity from home, state of kids, state of hunger of adults, availability of place in shortlisted places, the service time in shortlisted places, and many more! Finally we zeroed in on good old Kentucky Fried Chicken! :D Cheap – I know. Unhealthy – double check. But we had way too many criteria to satisfy. Since we were all too hungry, the dinner tasted amazing! So satisfied – triple check ! A fabulous birthday indeed J

Same time last year, everything was so unsettled. Chiyaa’s school, her after school care, Pumpki’s daycare, our house, the unhappiness at my job and K starting a new career. Things take time to turn around. Sometimes a year.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A speedy recovery

It has been a week. I can say that though I miss his presence, I am not crestfallen. In a nutshell, I feel normal.

The day he started it was a crazy busy day. I came in to work. I had to rush back to Chiyaa’s school for a meeting with her headteacher around mid day. Then at the end of the work day I had to leave Leeds to goto Oxford for a training. It was  a very hectic and jam packed day. The impending travel did not help me get over my emotions regarding Papa’s departure. I would have loved to mull over and think about the time spent with him. But I was going through the motions of the day in a rather robotic fashion. As I said in my post a week ago, I just felt numb. 

My training was slated till lunch time. I thought I would take a train around 1300 and manage to reach home by 1800. That way I would be with the kids before they went to bed. Yes! It was the first time I was away  from the kids for a night! Even when I used to travel to Leeds from Ipswich, I would make the grueling journey back the same day so that they did not sleep without me. But for this particular journey, the timings of the trains were very weird. Mummy was confident that she could handle them. She  was also insistent that I need not take unearthly train times just to be with the kids. It was important that I rested and had a relaxed journey. Well as relaxed as I could have while thinking about things back home! It did not help that I had to go to an unknown place and face unknown people. My manager had very kindly agreed to accompany me. She did not need to, but she decided to come along on the 4 hour long journey just to keep me company. Since my manager was coming along, the HR rep, who sits in the office in Oxford, decided to keep a meeting with all of us in the afternoon from 3-4. The meeting invite came close to the time I was about to log off. I checked with my manager as to what would I do during the gap from the training to the meeting. She assured that there would be plenty to get on with. In spite of that, I somehow felt very shattered that I would be late to return home. And I felt shattered that papa had gone back. I rushed to the rest room and cried out. I cried till there were  no more tears left. I needed  it. 

We started off to the station. On  the way there a problem in the rail network. We had to get down and get the subsequent train which was an hour later. There were further delays and reschedules. We finally reached our destination 1.5 hours later than scheduled! 

I was checking on the kids. They were fine ( or so was reported.) Chiyaa had a rare treat of watching a movie on a week night. Pumpki was kind enough to sleep off early. So it seemed relatively peaceful. The training went good. I was graced with the wonderful presence of my manager who was lovely  company. There was never a dull moment with her. And I never felt awkward of inhibited either that I was with my boss. She was just a normal person having everyday conversations with another person. The return was uneventful though delayed. Since I had clocked close to 10 hours in travel, I was due for some time off. During the return journey , she kindly mentioned that I would be totally ok to take the Friday off if I wanted to. And I am not the one to say no to time off :D 

Once I was back home I was given the real low down on how the kids had been. While I was away at Oxford, the kids had behaved relatively well, though Pumpki had thrown some tantrum at night. She wanted MUMMY! And was demanding that I come :D Poor dear, she did not now mummy was away – far far away. Know what, at times during the journey I felt so exasperated. I was going really far from home and with the delays and railways issues, I felt so stuck. I could not go ahead or return. I was just stuck. And I imagined myself on the map of England being really really far from home. I am quite a visalisations person. Same reason I love seeing the flight itinerary when we travel. As I was travelling papa was travelling too. I kept checking the live flight updates. I could sense him slowly go farther and farther from me – geographically at least. He had reached safely and had spoken  with the kids. The kids unfortunately could not fathom what was up. Chiyaa understood  that he was in  India, but she  was too busy with her school and extra curricular activities to fully appreciate what was happening. . Pumpki was a bit clueless. But it seems whenever there was a knock, she used to say its Ajaa. Since she had not gone to her regular day care session, her routine was not the same as every other day. So she did not feel the difference of the absence of her grandpa. 

But time heals. Time moves on. As Roomie dear said, if I read the last post when papa is here next time, I would realise how fast time has gone. In fact reading it today makes me realise that a week has gone. I had the Friday off and mummy and I had plans to just venture out and clear our heads. We had had quite stressful couple of days. We had a simple meal of burger and milk shake which she enjoyed a lot! (She has very low demands!) . The weekend passed with the kids and here I am having survived yet another Monday. 

Time heals and I have recovered. A part of me misses papa , as will always.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The numbness

The numbness is weird. I am supposed to feel sad, anxious, uncomfortable. But I am not feeling any of it. I am feeling weird for sure. I wish I could crawl into bed and  lie in this numb state. Or  talk to my mom or my sister. 

Papa has left for India and I  feel blank. 

 K and I had plans of taking the day off, as we tend to do when a parent leaves for India. But Chiyaa had a day off because her school was closed on the Friday. So I took the day off to be with her. And of course to be with papa and mummy and Pumpki. It felt like it would be better use of a holiday to be with papa rather than to think about him after he has left. Since I am on a shoe string holiday allowance in the new place, I did not have any more leaves to take. 

On Friday we planned to finish off some official work during the morning. Once that was done, we  went for lunch nearby. Five of us marched  on to the pub to have some  classic British pub food. It was delicious. But more importantly we all had an immensely good time. We laughed, we shared stories, the girls even played with the dog of the pub owner. It was amazing fun. 

Thankfully I was not counting down to the day papa would leave. I was being calm and enjoying the moment. I knew I had three days and I was to make the most of it.  The next day was quiet. Papa continued with his writing and text book work while we were busy with chores with kids. Sunday I made plans to go to the city center to enjoy the city lights and Christmas decorations. Papa was quite keen to have a last look at them all. He  enjoys and soaks in the sights and sounds of the city. But rain played spoil sport. It was too soaky and papa wasn't too keen to venture out. Mummy, the kids and I stepped out. We had a lot of fun though we missed papa. We chatted late into the night.

 Today  when I woke up in the morning papa was already up and at the dining table.  He said his fun time was over. I knew he was feeling torn inside. He is also a very nervous traveller. So I was very worried about his state of mind. He seemed ok in the morning. He started to finish the final preparations for the journey.

Chiyaa  likes papa a lot. More than she likes mummy to be honest. Papa didn't want her to be tormented by the information that he would be travelling to India soon. So it was only over the weekend K told her that ajaa was travelling back. She has a different way of dealing with things. She asked him who would vaccum the house when he was gone ( papa used to vaccum the house everyday. She used to be annoyed if she was watching TV or he asked her to move.) That she was asking for it made us feel so sad. She also said that he had promised 6 months but he was going back earlier. We were not sure how Chiyaa would handle his absence. 

 Chiyaa woke up and was very subdued. She had her breakfast and was about to go on to get ready. Papa came back all dressed. Not seeing papa at the dining table as other days, she had assumed he had left. So she was acting quiet. When she saw him, she hugged him. No words said. No tears shed. She only hugged him. Papa was crying bitterly. He  managed to say “I love you.”

We all got ready to start to our respective work places. Pumpki also woke up and sat with Papa. It was heartbreaking. The silence, the waiting for the cab to come. It finally did and papa managed to say “take care, become even better when I come next time. I will only see you in videos till we meet again”. I was sad, but I knew it was inevitable that he leave.

I hope to have a good cry tonight and get rid of the numbness.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

100 days

Papa doesn’t speak much. But once in a while he can be very vocal. When he opens up, he can speak his heart out. So yesterday he was quite emotional all of a sudden. What triggered it was a mix of events. Yesterday mummy got some stuff from the market which he will take back to India to give to family and friends. He will be returning to India in a few more weeks L The knowledge of the fact makes me very sad. In fact this Monday I was discussing with my sister, that I have exactly 3 more weekends with Papa which I am sure will just fly by. But when all the stuff came and he had to put them in his bag, the reality hit him. 

He usually spends his time writing the book he is authoring if the children are busy by themselves or we are watching over them. Yesterday even though there was spare time, he did not get on with writing. He was just sitting. He looked dull and lack luster. Finally when K was around, he said, “Today I have completed 100 days here. There are 19 more days to go.” ( As I type this, I get tears in my eyes. I can visualize, how empty the dining table will look without his books. He does not have much stuff around, his clothes etc are all neatly packed up. He is a very tidy man. Its only his books which are always by the window sill near the dining table. He keeps mentioning that he messes the look of our dining space! He will be retuning in a few days and the lack of books will haunt me). Anyways I don’t think I can help that. He said he really loved the stay and he had never been away from home for so long. But he had thoroughly enjoyed the 100 days. He said, he would dearly miss the kids and wished them all the luck. He was getting tears by this point. K tried to diffuse the situation by saying that they should make many more frequent trips while the kids are young and are enjoying the pampering of grandparents. Papa went on to say how he was tied up with commitments related to books, the community he manages and his teaching duties. But he said he would come again for sure.

As K moved away, Papa went on to speak about some old photos my sister had sent. They were picture of us four when we were kids. He said they made the whole life seem like a dream. Memories flooded him. He remembered everything, from the day he had come to see mummy as an alliance ( the day that kick started everything J ) , the day he had to leave mummy and go for his posting after marriage, and how she stood at the window waving him goodbye, the day they first fought and he left home without eating and mummy came behind him to call him back for food, the days prior to I being born when he had to travel from Calcutta to Cuttack in the midst of a cyclone and had to get some sweets from a derelict shop since all others were closed.. the list of memories went on. He said he appreciated our struggles and mummy and he were always behind us to support us whenever we needed. But during their days they did not have anyone and managed everything between them. There was no support or friends or family around – and between work and transfers and school runs and all life’s challenges we moved on. It all seemed like a dream. 

It definitely made me count my blessings. Even mil had a tough time raising her children after K’s dad passed away. She did not receive any help from family. But life has a way of carving itself out.

As we face out struggles, our challenges and gain our rewards, I felt thankful to our parents for raising us the way they have raised us and for helping us to raise our future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

She's Funny

Who you ask? Chiyaa.
So today I get ready for work wearing this 

And Chiyaa asks ' Is it Christmas today?'.
I, all aghast say 'No, why?'
She says 'Then why are you wearing a Christmas jumper?'
I said' This is not a Christmas jumper. What makes you think this is a Christmas jumper?'
Chiyaa all matter of factly responds ' But it looks so warm and cosy, it must be a Christmas jumper '. 
Well I know, Christmas is near but it does not boost ones ego to be referred to as ' warm and cosy '. I spent the day feeling like a teddy bear.:|

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Rubbish. I have no better word to express my feelings for the weekend that went past.
It all started on Thursday. Chiyaa suddenly came into my room at night and said her ear was hurting.  I gave her some paracetamol. She struggled to sleep inspite of it. As she struggled to sleep so did we. We took turns trying to make her feel better – but how can you make an ear ache go in the middle of the night? We tried to soothe her, to placate her, to make her feel better.  We all kept drifting back and from sleep. Poor thing she just wanted the night to get over.

Friday, she wasn’t supposed to go to school. K and I started a really groggy day. I was in fact faring better than I had anticipated. I did well till lunch, after which I could barely keep awake. I so missed my “wfh” days when  would have spared of the commute and the chores of being at the work place. Anyways that should be water under the bridge one day. I kept waiting for the minutes to tick by till it was ‘home time’. I was super drowsy. Mummy kept prompting me to hit the bed, but I did not want to burden her with minding both the kids through the evening as well. I know they can be pretty draining and she and Papa had taken care of them all day.

At 2115, the kids showed signs of being sleepy. I could not ask for anything more. I hit the bed with them.  We woke relatively refreshed. But we decided to skip the usual Saturday rituals of dance and swimming lessons. This gave us a bit more time to rejuvenate. Since Chiyaa was not 100%, we decided to stay at home to give her maximum time to recover. A lazy day just moved on. We watched a few episodes of BBC Earth which were a saving grace. Other than that it was a pretty drab day.

Sunday also stretched on similarly. Plans to order food or do this or that bubbled but never led to fruition. To add to this K got on with reading and researching and was holed up in a room. So selfish! This is going to come back in a future fight for sure and he wont know what hit him :D   I had an imaginary headache due to over-resting  (yes a term I invented like just now :D ) . I felt so so so lazy and bogged down and just so bored, I did not do anything at all. The kids also lolled around and at one point Chiyaa asked “ Can we go somewhere?” Sadly it was 1700 ish by then and pitch dark outside which ruled out venturing anywhere. So we continued to watch some more PJ masks, BBC Earth and the like.

I realized there was a big pile on for the week days with not much having been done over the weekend. Monday started pretty bleary with the rains, missed buses and what not. But the sun was trying to brave it and make the world shine. So I decided to put up a brave front too. Work gave a moderate sense of achievement. Mummy picked Chiyaa from school which lessened one task from my to-do list at home. Chiyaa did a whole load of arithmetic problems and enjoyed them and it thrilled me to see her enjoying mathematics. We decided to call it an early night. Monday – you just redeemed yourself :D

PS . I decided to write this drab, mundane, super boring post to give an idea as to how rubbish my weekend was. Also as a note to self – don’t let the entire weekend be this bad!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The power to choose

I live by the mantra as said in The Matrix movie – the power to chose is an illusion. We think we chose, but we just move in the direction we are nudge by various forces. Call it fate, destiny, karma… we move in a path over which we are meant to.  

Coming back to the main change point over last month, it has been my job. My current job is way different from my last one. Apart from the fact that it is new and it is not the job I had for over 4 years in the past, there are a few more stark points that impact me. First point being it is way more challenging. My last place of work had pretty run of the mill sort of work, where I could hazard a statement like “I knew a lot technically”. Here I realise how lagging I am from a tech point of view. Everyone knows so much more than me. And tech in the current world is somewhere else. And I was being smug being a frog in a well before this. This challenges me and also worries me. I hope I am able to keep up. But I chose this job – seeing the brand, the opportunities to learn and grow, the location. If  I think on the contrary, there was no other which materalised either. Did I chose this job, or was I meant to have this job?

Also as I had mentioned in a previous post, everyone comes to work nearly everyday! I am still not used to it. I feel it quite  a task. In fact this weekend I noticed something bizarre. I had gone to bed 30 mins past midnight. And I was able to wake up bright and nice at 7. But on a working day, even if I hit the bed at 2300, waking at 0620 ish gets tough. I think there is some real or imaginary barrier at the 7 o clock mark. Hence waking around 0600-0620 on a working day to get to work is hard every day. It’s a mental battle I have to fight and win – Monday – Friday. I miss the days when I used to “hang around” the house and enjoy the pitter patter of Pumpki, and all the fuss she would be creating. In fact she is asleep many a days by the time I start. I miss seeing off Chiyaa as she starts for school and waving goodbye till the car went around the bend in the road. I miss the early finish on Friday, the ultimate flexibility to come home after the “oh-so-important” meeting and connect from home. The plus side, I see that I am not having to be mom and career woman all the time. While working from home, I would of course be distracted. If I had a call, I would beseech mummy to keep the kids quiet. I would be logged in for the same duration as I would at work and hence never be 100% with the kids. Now I am either mother or working woman. I am never both at the same time. It is a little less pressure on the brain (or so I  want to think to convince myself). Yes I get to use my wardrobe and shoes. I feel some purpose in buying stuff since I will be using them J Again – all rationalization points. Truth be told, I have not made my peace with my choice yet.

With this prime change still making its impact in our lives, we there was another change which was being nudged our way. Chiyaa at the moment goes to a school which is a bit far from where we live. We put her in that school cos, when we moved from Ipswich, that was the only school which had places. We were ok with the distance. But last year during the OFSTED review ( all schools and nurseries are periodically reviewed by a central governing body called OFSTED), the rating of the school went down(this rating is primarily driven by performance of the school against national standards, but other factors such as involvement of parents and child safety are also considered). We  were a bit concerned since we did not want Chiyaa to be in a  school that would not make her reach her true potential. With that and the distance in mind, we put her application for a few better rated , nearby schools. We did not have much hope since its rare to have a churn in students. But then it happened! We got a place in the nearest school! Also it was much better rated than her current school! We were ecstatic! Everything was falling into place.

One final thing and we were ready. We had to find a good after school care place which would pick Chiyaa from school and take care of her till I returned. And there were none! L L

The one attached to her “would be” school was over booked. We tried alternatives but were left in the lurch. I as usual got on my discussion spree. Mummy and mil recommended accepting the place. They would be around to help with the pick ups which would ease our current situation, and eventually we would get a place in after school too. They reasoned that it was a good idea to go to a school near home. But my friend A rightly suggested, that such things were best left to professionals. Even I was not very keen on having a round the year dependency on people who were back in India. It would also not be a dependency that would last a year. Chiyaa has many more schooling years ahead. Pumpki would join the same school as her and the cycle would continue. It would be very unwise to have such a long term dependency to be resolved internationally ( We seem to have a full on System running in our house :D ). Another friend of mine said, that if we were coping, it would be good to continue as is. Because, girls especially sensitive ones like Chiyaa might take a bit too long to settle down again. This did make a lot of sense since the whole rationale of bringing Chiyaa to a better school would fall apart if I put her back 2-3 months emotionally. She was just about making do in her current school and had a circle in after school. She also suggested that if it was a particular area of studies I was concerned about in the current school, I could consider tuitions.

Now that’s would be a  bit much for someone in year2. But it made perfect sense. It meant we had to invest more time in her studies. It was reason to be more involved and participate more. Its not that we desire A grade performance from her. We desire for her to be curious, eager to learn and someone who enjoys learning. It seems a good cause for now. Though it seemed like a coveted prize, we have for now chosen to decline our position in the nearby school.

One step at a time, like wise one change at a time. Life is made up of these everyday choices isn’t it. But are wereally choosing?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sometimes rains are good?

Sometimes rains are good. They force you to stay indoors. They force you not to have 'plans' for the weekend which pretty much are synonyms to shopping (even if you don't need anything). They force you to take a pause, put your feet up and just relax. ( None the less, it would help if it was sunny for sure :D)

So yesterday was a rainy Sunday. My rota in the kitchen since K once in a while likes if I make stuff ( the spices tweaked) to his tastes. After cooking it was time for a movie ( more so to calm down the kids since they were getting increasingly agitated for the lack of something to do). As I watched the movie I thought. About random things. More about what to write in my next post :) 

The main thing that struck me was  I was a week old in my new place. I had managed to come to the weekend at the new job. And it did all seem quite weird. You know how they say everything in a new job seems so much better than the old place for the first few days. And then monotonity seeps in. I think I am a bit more grown up ;) Not everything seemed sparkling to me. Yeah the kitchen was amazing. I loved the fact that they did not use any plastic cups or glasses. Everything was glassware with a dishwasher. There were proper bins with a view towards recycling. There was a dryer for drying gym or running clothes. There were shower rooms for people who might be seeking a lunch time run. Not that I am ever going to use them but I liked the fact they existed.

But it was a proper office environment. Even people with laptops were at their desks. In fact people with laptops were leaving their laptops plugged in at work and going home. ( Maybe folks really like coming to office!!) In my previous working from home was rampant. It afforded brilliant work life balance. I had not made a 5 day week in my previous place in a long time. Except my last week when I had to go in on a Friday to give my laptop back. As well as that, at the last place there were amazing Flexi time and agile working options. People worked 4 days work weeks, 3 days work weeks, 9 weeks fortnight (!! So that means they worked 5 days and 4 days alternatively taking the any day within a 2 work week period off. Complicated? I know!), finished early, started late, logged off for childcare responsibilities and what not. Here it was way more regimental. 

Coming in to office 5 days was tiring. Not just the physical exhaustion of waking up( Yes that is definitely the hardest part. How I hate the sound of the alarm), getting ready, getting Chiyaa ready ( she has her breakfast etc after I leave but I get her hair and dress sorted), getting the lunches and breakfasts ready for K and me. There was also the mental time bomb. Leaving house at a certain time else I would miss my bus, leaving office at a certain time else I would be late to pick Chiyaa, waking Chiyaa at a certain time, finishing Pumpki 's chores by  a certain time. It is something I was sure would be different. It is something I had signed up for when I started looking for a new role. I should be happy that the location is not too out of the way, the company is one of repute and I have my parents as back up. 

The worst part is waking up though. I remind myself of a book I read as a new mom called '365 meditations for new mothers'. It said it's the exact moment of waking up that's hard. You just need to get over it. I have to think of it like that every day. But it's not that easy. Waking up for a baby is something totally novel! Anyways we try to make our peace.

As I was thinking all this, I chanced to meet an ex-colleague who had been made redundant in the selection process. She convinced me, change is good. She had been with the organisation for 13 years! She was dead scared of change. But she had to and she was liking it. I who have changed 6 times in 14 years should know better. Maybe I was getting complacent and lazy at my last place. Maybe I need this scenario to get on into the professional mode full on- rather than wearing a parent's cape all the time. 

I will never have the sort of flexibility I had. But we move on and learn. No pain no gain right. Let's find out in a few years time. Till then we wake up early. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

I left the last post abruptly...

..... because   I did not want a very long post. :)

It all wrapped up Friday. A long association with my last organisation. The dots join up only in retrospect. 

Going on a reminisce trip I remember my newly married days. K was struggling to get a project. He ended up being put forth for one with an American client. Possibly an on site assignment. The Durga Puja that year was full of crazy anxiety with us deciding on what to do. I had been in my Chennai job for a little over 6 months and things were looking up for me too. We did not want to make a career move which involved the sacrifice of another. Somehow  K's project did not come through and he ended up with a real tough UK client. It involved long work hours. He used to be back at home at 2 in the morning and start back at 0530 to get the 6 am morning bus back to work. 

His hard work was rewarded with an on site trip to Leeds. It was for a year with a possibility of extension. By the time I quit my job in India and joined him, the possibility of extension seemed more certain. I started looking for a job in the UK and got my first within a few months. The extensions kept happening. My job continued. We even became parents. Life seemed 'settled'. 

After 4 years as if following a typical pattern, I felt the need to up my game. I started looking for a new job. 

What are the odds? I ended up being recruited by the same company and into the same team as K's. It was quite a coincidence. The people I had heard of, the office dynamics K spoke about and the software application I had been tangentially involved in became real - they became my team and it was my software application. The work was good. The benefits were good. I started working as a big team. There was lot of new stuff happening.  As work progressed, friendships happened too.

Seemed like a short run but I had finished close to 18 months with the firm. I had my maternity break. There was a change and we moved to Ipswich. There was a redundancy cycle through the organisation. Two of my friends moved on and one was made redundant. I managed to retain my job. 

I still remember the working from home days. That was so novel - with the monthly once trip to Leeds. I worked in that fashion for a year. Again when I was going through it, it seemed like a permanent thing. We were close to taking a house and settling in Ipswich. My distance working pattern seemed confirmed. 

Change happens. Many times unwarranted. We moved back to Leeds. And the office became permanent. Ironically the number of exciting challenges were depleting and I had to look outside.

As I pursued a new job, the simple benefits of my current role were not hard to miss. Primary was the flexibility. I was available for school assemblies, meetings with teachers and any impromptu arrangement with respect to the kids. Working from home was another.  One could work from home - no questions asked. It made me participate in simple pleasures - I could feed breakfast to Chiyaa peacefully, tie her hair, heat and have my breakfast, have green tea, pick Chiyaa and Pumpki earlier from school and recently being around my parents. They will be all a thing of the past. At least for the next 6 months while I am on probation when I have to work in the office a bit more.

That's the future. As I walked out my past, I felt nothing. I didn't feel any nostalgia. I was anxious about the future. I was worried I don't leave stuff lurking in my laptop. But otherwise there were no feelings. Maybe because I was never a part of the team. I was never one of them. I always felt like the new comer( people in my team  had spent 20 years or over within the bank)  I was always addressed from a distance. There was somehow a wall - a metaphorical one and a literal one since I sat near a pillar. 

There is no looking back anymore. Maybe it's a step forward in the right direction. The future will tell. The dots connect much later don't they?

Friday, October 5, 2018

For the love of change

Things move so quickly don't they. K just treated his colleagues for completing   1 year with the organisation. Does not seem that far away in the past that we were going through the stresses of hunting a job and settling down. Time has flown, K got a job, we moved back in to Leeds - temporarily into a rented house first and subsequently made our move permanent by getting a home of our own. The children have slowly settled in. Chiyaa has her ups and downs at school. Pumpki has her moments at nursery. Overall they are growing their roots - becoming typical Yorkshire kids. 

But my soul with its wanderlust craves action and change. I constantly felt I was not doing enough at work. I was not challenging myself. I was spending the close to 7 hours at desk and investing the time in travel. But I didn't feel I was contributing to my full potential.

I started looking outside and within  for new roles. Within the firm option closed down fast because there was not enough happening locally. Outside was what I had to go for. I started attending interviews. It was not easy. I had quite a few criteria - with respect to my next role, the package, the  technology stack and the company size. Equally important were the flexibility in work environment and the distance from home. 

There were a few which were easy rejects. I went for a conversation / interview, but I knew from the word go that even if an offer materialised I would not accept it. Some were a bit hard to decide. But things fell into place since I either did not succeed or the interviews never got set up. 

With Amma around in the first half of the year, it was possible to balance things out. When she went back, I suspended the job  hunt till my parents came over. Then I started looking again. But I was getting a bit frustrated now. It was over 7 months that I had been job hunting. I felt as if the meaty roles were already gone and I was being put forth for the scum. K asked me to be patient since companies go through a churn and roles keep coming. 

Work at my office was becoming increasingly theoretical  which was getting  harder to bear. At this point on a day I got news of a colleague moving on to a new role and the news of my rejection at an interview. It broke me down and I felt really desperate. Should I continue looking for a new job  till I found one? Or should I place a limit on the duration? Or should I make peace and stay - people do that too. What was the need for a ' challenge'? I had my personal commitments to the kids and a lackluster work was not something I had to necessarily address. I wasn't sure at all as to which path to chose. 

When God closes a door, he makes sure he opens another one. A friend of mine who has a linkedin account ( I dont have one) was contacted regarding a role and she thought it right to just pass on my details. One thing led to another and within a week I had a new job!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Chit chats

Here are two interesting conversations with 2 interesting people!

Papa: you said the neighbours were elderly couples. I saw the one on right and he is not old.
I : what do you mean he is not old?
Papa : He is as old as me.
I : And what are you? Aren't you old?;)
Papa : I am not old! Old is someone who is like really old. 

That coming from someone who is 68!

Chiyaa: Bye Darren!
Darren looks back and says bye.
Chiyaa  : He is cute isn't he?
I : (aghast) What do you mean he's cute?
Chiyaa : He is cute. He is year 2 but he is cute.
I : ( a bit relieved) What do you mean cute? Cute like your sister?
Chiyaa : Yeah cute. Short and cute. 
I had no response :D

Monday, September 10, 2018

The sun moves on

Well actually the earth moves - not the sun. But thought it was a funky title to the post after the previous one :)

How long can the sun shine? It needs a rest too. And it slowly drifts to lie down. The earth is moving away and the sun is making its journey southwards to the tropic of Capricorn. As a result our days are shortening. 

Even then who says not to make the most of what we got. Papa mummy reached here in early August. After that it has been  a mix of chaos and fun. Chummi summer holidays were on for a month. Thanks to mummy and papa the kids were well taken care of. There was fresh food, lots of games and good fun. We went on a walks together, to the parks together, on a few trips together. I have gotten  rid of the alarm at 0545 and have the one at 0630. The tea sessions in the evening are back with discussions on welfare system in UK to landmark supreme Court judgements. I can come back from work rest assured I have a back up. And that feeling is superb. Even if I am delayed by 5 minutes I don't have to keep worrying that the routine might get disrupted. 

Chummi has started her new year at school. The distance of her school is a concern for us. We would like to have her closer to home. But till she gets a place in another school, the current one is the one for her. 

Pumpki has settled in beautifully in her nursery. In spite of my parents ' protests, she goes to daycare for the afternoon. We would not want her to get unaccustomed to the schedule and people there. She goes and comes with Papa, chatting all along. She is forming a routine and also a bonding  with her carers. 

Papa and mummy also have their system. Papa sticks to his program as if he was back in India. He wakes up around 0530 and gets busy writing his book ( he is authoring a curriculum book in India). He goes on his hour long walk, which cos of the pleasant weather stretches to 2 sometimes. He cleans around the house, the garden, and plays a lot with the kids and continues his writing. Mummy is always busy. Along with the kids, she has of course taken over the entire kitchen where I get to step very sporadically. There are the texts of 'when will you start', 'where are you', 'what do you want for dinner' - which mean the world. 

 The  best thing is the way my parents are reliving their lives. The shenanigans of the kids reminds  them of  stories of my sister and me. Papa who is the nostalgic  and enjoys a good tale regales us with what my sister and I did. For that matter when he used to go pick Pumpki, he would inadvertently say my sisters name. They are being parents again - comparing my girls with their girls. And I love to see and hear the comparisons! 

As the days get shorter and air gets colder, here is hoping all the love will keep us warm enough. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Summer Sun

I love the summers. The sun shining down. The kids at home. The lack of routine. It all spells awesome.

Last summer I was freaking out before the vacations began. How to keep two kids entertained at home. I am one season older. So of course more accustomed. I took the first week off for being with the kids. And it was amazing. Waking up at 0730! Relaxing coffee followed by play time with the girls. Then a trip to the park, lunch, siesta for the little one and screen time for the elder one. Evening another trip to the park( yeah we have a lot of parks around), then dinner followed by books or TV or games. No routine, no sleep time - Chiyaa would keep playing and suddenly say 'I am tired' - her cue for bed. So would Pumpki. She would mention 'I want to lie on the bed' and off we would go. 

We made a trip to an amusement park too. We stayed in an on premise hotel. It was two days of purest fun! There were rides( we elders are chickens so we all went for the kiddie ones), walks, dancing ( mostly by the kids) and fun and games in the water park. What endeared me most was the bonding between my daughters. I am so so so happy with the way they bond that I just hope it stays like that forever. It's not hunky dory all the time. Pumpki tends to go for the toys Chiyaa is playing with which results in us telling her to relinquish it. Which in turn leads to her getting upset since its always she who is asked to give up a toy. Then a whole lot of screaming and shouting ensues. 

On the way to the resort, Pumpki was getting a bit fidgety in the car.  Chiyaa made all the effort to keep her happy. She kept offering toys, sweets, singing rhymes and the whole lot. It was really sweet to see the effort she was putting her baby sister engaged. The night Chiyaa drifted off to sleep first and Pumpki roamed around aimlessly asking for didi. They are lost without each other. They seek each other as if  pulled by some gravitational force. On the return journey Pumpki fell car sick. Chiyaa got the wet wipes and spare clothes ready even before we stopped the car. When we moved on, again she was the responsible elder sis taking care of Pumpki . They are two amazing creatures who drive us crazy and make our hearts overflow with joy. May the love always shine as the summer sun.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Right a wrong

She never got it right. No matter how hard she tried. Her cakes tended to implode. She read blogs, checked online videos, consulted friends who were adept bakers - but to no avail. Her cakes ended up being wrong. 

But she wanted to get it right. At least once. She wanted for once for every corner of the house to be invaded with the heavenly smell of baking. Over the weeks she had managed to speak to a colleague who had given her  tricks - sieve the flour, equal amounts of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, do not open the oven before 20 mins, keep it at the lowest shelf at a low temperature in the oven. Some she knew before some were new. 

As she was walking home from work, inspiration struck. Why not attempt a cake? 

She opened the door, checked the clock, put on the apron. Bowl, sieve, mixer, flour, sugar, oil, butter, eggs, baking powder and soda. It looked like a mini troop had assembled on her kitchen counter. Sleeves rolled, she took the sieve and started to pour the flour. It looked like white rain. The flour gently falling through the sieve onto the bowl. Her nose twitched. Uh! A sneeze was bubbling. In her enthusiasm she had ignored that she was highly allergic to particulate matter. Before she knew the aaaaa became a chooooo. The grip over the vessel of flour loosened and bam! there were  clouds of flour in the room. And a heap of it on the floor. 

So much for baking. Dejected she started packing up. As she was keeping the sugar, inspiration struck again. She kept a pot on the gas burner, poured some clarified butter and poured some jaggery. It started to melt, looking like shining mud. She grated a coconut and roasted it. She mixed the coconut in the jaggery, added a pinch of cardamom. She waited for the mixture to cool. She shaped balls out of the mixture and placed a roasted cashew on each like a kiss

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative forIndian Bloggers by BlogAdda.