Monday, June 17, 2019

Freaky Friday

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

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

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

To ease his guilt, we moved to Leeds. J

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Rain rain - do whatever you want to do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

A letter to my daughters - first of many :)

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

So girls gear up, here is mummy speaking.

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

Hope this helps J

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The lull

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

I did not expect to write a post today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Long weekend with R

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

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

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

Saturday, April 13, 2019

I will let someone else talk

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

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

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

She also wrote up the words she had learnt.

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

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The other two

“Thank you for telling us about Button Bear, we will replace it here so please do not worry about it.
would you like to take Button Bear again?

I hope you have a lovely Evening”

My first reaction was “pagal hai kya fir se lungi wo bhalu?” (Am I crazy to take that bear again?)
But I professionally responded
“That is just so kind of you! We really appreciate it!
I think Shambhavi had her share of fun with Button Bear when he was with us. It would be fair to let the other children have a turn. :) 
Again we are very touched by your gesture. “

Phew! That was on bullet dodged.
Also now you see why I blog? If I kept saying what was on my mind, I would make the world an unhappier place ;)

No I have not forgotten about things 2 and 3. Lets get on with them. Monday morning Chiyaa woke up with a smile. Chiyaa can wake up in multifarious ways
  1. Howling Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyy
  2. Groggy
  3. Reluctant – Can I have a few more minutes of sleep
  4. Worried – Is it going to rain today? Is it PE (Physical Education) today?  Have you signed my book log? And so on..
  5. Hyper
  6. Mature – just gets on with what shes meant to do without any of us even telling.
  7. Happy
But last Monday was yet another way – with a smile. As I went to wake her up, she opened her eyes before I said anything and smiled. Then I asked her to come and brush her teeth. She said she wanted to come down first. I comb her hair downstairs.  I reached downstairs but she was nowhere to be seen. It is a small house, but then I went looking for her (On hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered. Not that she ran away to the streets). I felt she was in the bathroom and I opened the door. She was trying to brush her teeth. Her intention had been to surprise me. But when I opened the door, I ruined her surprise and (hehe she got a nasty surprise) . She was majorly upset and started crying. I am generally bit hurried in the morning. I started shouting back that she was being ridiculous. K came running and shouting at me. All the shouting woke Pumpki up.

Pumpki has 2 ways of getting up
  1. Happy – wassup guys types
  2. Grumpy – Go away I want to sleep.
Thank God she chose option 1 that day. All the shoutings later, we had a big group hug, lots of kisses and sorries and then I dashed out.

I felt bad about losing my cool so easily. It was all sorted eventually, but I ruined the smile Chiyaa had the first thing she woke up. Anyways that was one bad thing for the day.

I got my bus and was 2 stops away from my destination when K called. This did not augur well. I picked the phone and he asked in a very calm expectant way “Hey Mu, have you seen my car keys?” (He drops the kids and I pick them up and we need the car for that )
I was filled with a gazillion OMG, Oh no, and other unparliamentary words.
I knew the answer. Cos the answer came to me Bang! Like a thunderbolt. And I replied
“Its with me”. (Well before the said outing where we lost Button Bear, K had moved out with my car keys to open the car. Since Chiyaa was hovering around doing something which she felt was ultra important to do before stepping out (I don’t know what) I came with her a few minutes later. I picked up K’s keys to lock and put it in my pocket. I stayed there warm and cosy the entire weekend. Monday morn, when I saw my keys hanging on the key holder, I picked it without thinking much)
“What both the keys are with you? Yours and mine?”
“How, What, £$*”£$*  OK BYE”

I was shoot shoot shoot, too bad. It was 0818 and the Chiyaa needed to be in school at 0855. Taxis are highly unreliable in the mornings thanks to school and office runs. I was worried. I wanted to go back just for moral support. I called again. K picked “WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME ??? I CANT TALK TO YOU RIGHT NOW”.
I reached my bus stop and called him again
“ Did you get cab” I asked before he could say anything.
“I have booked Uber, but please don’t call. I cant talk to you”.
“Shall I come back?”
“Why? It will be of zero use”
I messaged him to send me a message once the drops were over.
0853 I got the message “Dropped in school, going to daycare now”

Phewwwwww!!! Chiyaa wasn’t late. The school is quite stern about being on time. Its not that an off incident is not pardoned. But if shes delayed Chiyaa gets very nervous. I have been with her once and she was literally having a panic attack when she thought she might be late. Anyways that was another horrible thing within a span of 1.5 hours!

I crossed my fingers through the rest of the day which was rather uneventful (Touchwood!) So that’s my happening weekend + 1 folks!

Monday, March 25, 2019

3 bad things

I am generally a very positive person. Touchwood. My manager does a spot quiz where she makes us tell 3 good things that happened over the last 24 hours. Like she literally jumps that question on you. So you need to be thinking all the time. It is not so hard for me, cos I can come up with 9 good things that happened over the last 24 hours.

But this time, the bad is a bit easier to say. Technically its not over the last 24 hours, more like its over the weekend covering Monday morning too. But some real bad, horrible things have happened.

Friday, Pumpki got Button Bear. Now for the back story. Her day care is called Little Buttons (Aww cute! I know :D ) They have a teddy bear called Button Bear, who is given home over a weekend and the child can take Button Bear for adventures (aka everywhere the child goes, the bear goes and this is the big adventure the bear has! ) I know I sound so cynical don't I. The child just chugs along, while the parent notes (or fabricates) experiences of the child and the bear. There is the option of supporting the adventure with pictures too. Very drawn out assignment. But I have no comments. Its how this country works! Chiyaa had some Twinkle Teddy I think! *rolls eyes* When K sees any of these creatures coming home, his language becomes very colourful. Anyways, so for Pumpki's "good behaviour" on Friday, she got the bear. She did not care so much, while we nudged her to play with it, and slowly she got the drift that she has to play with her. We took some customary pics too.

Saturday we went for lunch. Pupmki was happy posing with the bear for lunch. Then we made a trip to a supermarket. (By this time you might be aware of where this story is going ) The kids were going berserk. But then they were being kids. So we did some shopping. Chiyaa managed to break an entire pack of eggs! Boom! 12 eggs gone! Not one egg tried to put a brave shell and not shatter. Huh. The shop assistant came and calmly said "It's fine it was just an accident." And promptly asked for someone to clean it. Since no one saw, everyone assumed Pumpki was to be blamed for it "Was it you little one? Did you want to bake a cake you cheeky". We did not bother to correct. :| For shes still at an age "where she does not understand" many things. But Pumpki if you are 18 and want to sue us, here is some written proof.

Ok, so we went to the billing counter. Billed. Kids had some cookies to make them feel better, because they were a bit ill at ease after the egg-breaking episode. I asked, "Where is Button Bear". Chiyaa - the ever clever, observant one said "Oh we left it in the car". For a change K was correct when he said " No you girls were going crazy running around chasing each other. The bear was with Pumpki then". That's when the penny dropped.We searched. We spoke to customer services. No result. The store asked us to call in 3-4 hours in case it got handed over by some one. ( But we knew, we had lost it for good) Pumpki was crying her lungs out by this time. And got a good shouting (which ironically made her stop crying, so maybe it was a good thing)

Back home Chiyaa was the most impacted by the incident. She went on telling alternatives. She said one time, she thought she had lost something, but when she came back, it was back in her room. (Not the case this time) Then she said, what if someone from Little Buttons saw it and kept and returned it to the nursery on Monday. (Very optimistic, kudos to that, but again, a far stretch) Another alternative - what if we buy a new bear and give it back (I had already worked to that end and emailed the daycare. I even tried searching for an identical bear, but nothing matched the definition. I hope its not some custom made fancy bear which will take half of my March salary). We were happy that Pumpki was ok, since the teddy was meant for her. It was only next morning, when she woke up that she said, "Where is Button Bear", that we felt that she was not that unscathed either.

In one of the episodes of South Park called Follow That Egg, the kids in the class are paired and given an egg to take care of as if they were parents. I felt like we had broken our egg. I felt very incompetent that we had managed to lose something which maybe held sentimental value to many kids! K commented " Big adventure huh! There you just got lost!" Well, maybe I was jittery about being judged too. All the nursery staff know we are the parents who lost the bear!! 

Well, the only way to cope is to think that it was not a matter of life and death. 

That has been a long summation of bad thing number 1 ( I am not counting egg-breaking because technically I did not do it. Well I am responsible for actions of a minor child, but then, lets leave it at that). 2 and 3 in the next post maybe. :(

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Updates time

The last post was very solemn. The fallout from there on was grim as well. Every time I came upon my space to post something, I would see the last post and retreat.

I was hugely impacted by the state of events in India in February. I have always felt very strongly about defence and defence personnel. In fact I was very keen to join the army short service commission back in the day. But I spoke to a very distant relative of ours who was in the armed forces. He gave me a good reality check. He did not dissuade me, but gave an overview from an employment and employability perspective. I had my well meaning parents who also gently nudged me towards a more traditional career. But the dogfight in February made me think about it and I decided to start a signature campaign to get justice for a martyred soldier. I was skeptical about signature campaigns, and I read up a lot online. The verdict was still out there. I thought it was better to take steps and know rather than not know. I went ahead and raised a campaign. I got a slow trickle of signatures. The initial aim was to reach 100. As soon as there were 20 signatures, I received an email to make a contribution of £20 to get the campaign publicized. It would get more views and its chances of going through would be more. Now this seemed like a proper scam to me. I was not averse to paying the £20, but the whole raison d'ĂȘtre of such campaigns was being violated by asking for money. Wasn’t the whole purpose of such campaigns was to bring in such issues to the forefront about which people had a certain opinion about. Linking money to it, made it seem very trivial. There was also the very real threat of accounts being hacked. I would be putting my payment details into yet another site! And with the current spew of hacks, I was not so comfortable doing that. So in case you have thought of online signature campaigns, you know a bit more now.

While I was trying to make this impact (and failed), I was also motivated to make another change. Again historically I have been quite an environmentally aware person. I used to carry plastic bags with me as a teenager in India. I tried to continue as far as possible. In the western world it is quite easy to be flippant about nature since for the sake of convenience a lot of things are  disposable. I feel in that respect a lot of Indian values are far better. The way many street side foods are served in plates made of leaves, snacks are served in paper and in fact my sis and I were reminiscing that in Indian railways, the eggs used to be cut with thread and given. The Indian lifestyle is far more harmonious with the environment. Our wedding decorations are reused, we use so much bamboo and environment friendly artifacts. Any bad habits that are creeping in are more due to the mindless emulation of economically developed countries.  In the west, there is a manic obsession for plastic packaging. I was reading an article which questioned the rationale behind packaging something as transient as fruits in something as undegradable as plastic. The fruit rots away in days while the plastic remains for centuries. It is hard to eliminate plastic – they are all pervasive. As I was setting up our house last year, I tried to get stuff made of natural products like rubber, fiber or recycled plastic. I have also opted for cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda which can be bought in huge bulk and thus abstain from using a lot of bottles. I read up on making natural body scrubs and for the past 3 months have stuck to using a sugar scrub (sugar + olive oil /any oil of preference + few drops of essential oil for fragrance), thus avoiding the shower gels. It also helps me avoid the body lotions and the bottles there of. There are few other changes too, such as doing away with disposable wipes for cleaning surfaces. Last month after toddling with the idea for a long time, I went full throttle. I started using menstrual cups. I was completely cynical of them at one time, but then without dilly dallying I went full on in one month. And I would recommend to anyone who has been thinking about them. With my environment friendly ways, I feel better. I don’t feel like a hippie, but I can imagine how they might be feeling being so one with nature. It’s a good way to live though in all honesty it is time consuming. Everything natural takes time. Again in all this I think how much has the west got to learn from India. I remember how my mom used to apply turmeric and yogurt on our face, wash our hair with egg and yoghurt, the mandatory oil massage, the natural way of living. I just hope and wish we keep going back to them, because for the sake of convenience of a few minutes, we do end up doing a lot of damage to ourselves and to the world around us.

Speaking of the world around us, to anyone and everyone who likes to pick a book – I am recommending The Spellman Files!! It is an amaaaaaaaazing book! Please read it. It’s a book about a family of PIs (Personal Investigators). They are a quirky family and the way the book has been written is quite quirky as well. There are so many instances in the book that just make me chuckle aloud in the bus. It is a fantastic book. I see a few regular people who take the bus from my neighbourhood. And the book makes me want to find out more ;) (Recreational Investigation as book calls it! ) Don’t worry I am not going to go around following others, nor am I going to keep looking over my shoulder. But well, it’s a very interesting book and well worth a read. This is one book I will ensure my daughters read when they are ready. This along with Summertime by J M Coetzee. Thankfully both my girls like reading. I hope this is one habit they retain as they grow up. Because this is the only habit I have managed to retain. I think I am old enough to find TV boring!!

Well my old fingers have run out of strength to type any more. So till next time, be well :) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

In the hope of peace

I had a lot of thoughts in my head. Lot of things to write about. But the news of the attacks on 14th February kept hovering. The attack made me feel sad, as if something heinous had happened in my backyard. What haunted me most are the images of the families. I couldn’t  help thinking of the lives lost. The men hailing from villages in India, mostly join the forces as a source of employment. They are posted in the most remote and inaccessible places by government order – waiting for the tiny thread of making it back to family. 44 of them will never make it back. Sitting in the convoy one minute and disintegrated the next. The families will never see their sons again. Any death leaves one with a sense of loss. There is a void which is hard to fill. My heart goes out to families of the martyed security personnel. 

I came to know of the attack via social media. Quite a lot is being expressed through these channels. I have been devouring a lot of articles, reports and analysis on the topic. One facet I have noticed via social media is that, the country seems to be riding on the backs of the recent movies Manikarnika and Uri. Both held Indian pride and Indian-ness at the forefront. I have not seen either of the movies, but I feel movies are as far from ground realities as possible. Something shot in a climate controlled studio in Mumbai is a far cry from the sub zero temperatures on a glacier. Referring to dialogues in movies as the solution, or a representation of what the armed forces think is a far cry from truth. There are videos of news being interlaced with dialogues by actor K K Menon who essays the role of an army officer are outright a ridiculous representation of the problem. The anger is understandable. But referring to something on screen as the right way is not something rational people should do.

Speaking of rationality there was a fair bit of misinformation as well. Strategically placed captions doing the rounds such as “the soldiers were going for holiday”, pictures of dogs wearing flags of Pakistan, that “terrorism has a religion” and a cry to abolish article 370 which seems to be the elusive solution. There is a video doing the rounds on social media where a Sardarji explains in great detail about the demerits of Article 370 and 35A. I am part of a whatsapp group by people from my college. When it was shared in the group, a local from Kashmir in the group said, “yes that would solve the problem to some extent, but there are deeper issues. It will not only take the abolition of an article in constituion to be resolved”. I then started seeing a lot of neutral reports. I do not think there is anything neutral in the world of media. But then, we have to go by the ones trying not to lean towards either side. I saw reports that confirmed there was a very strong anti India sentiment. India never did the referendum that was agreed in 1948. But if we go a step back, the then Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh did acede to India too in return of seeking India’s help in combating militants from Pakistan. The problem was left lingering in the British’s hurry to get out of the country.  The 1948 war did not resolve it and nor have the subsequent wars. It was never tackled properly by reign after reign of governments. The insurgency started with fuel in the form of men and material from Pakistan.  It has escalated over the decades and taken a different shape now where the youth from Kashmir are being radicalised. I pray it does not go to a time where both men and material are ingrown.

There have been all sorts of responses in the real world too. There was a protest organised in front of Pakistan High Commission by Indians in London.  I later saw a footage where a journalist (I think) was interviewing the protestors. He asked “ How do you justify army presence in Kashmir?” . To that my straight answer would have been “to protect the sovereignity of the country”. A nation cannot let militant outfits roam around without taking a combat position themselves. They are now walking on the streets of Kashmir, what is stopping them from moving on to Punjab or further south? He claimed he was from “India occupied Kashmir” and remarked “I do not see a single Kashmiri here, there are just Indians”. That made me wonder  do Kasmiris consider the part of Kashmir “with” India as “India Occupied Kashmir”? I read articles that stated that Kasmiris felt more affiliated to Pakistan or towards an independent nationlity. Leeds has a lot of Pakistani population. And many of the shops run by them have the name “Kashmir”. So does the average Kasmiri think he is not Indian? Then is it time that we heard that voice, and gave them what they are seeking? But this time with no strings attached. Not like the last instance when India went on to support the Maharaja in the hopes that he would acede to India. This time full independence with no strings attached, no help, no association. It seems like a simple solution. But it is tough to implement given the geo-dynamics. Pakistan does not have much to lose for it controls the sparsely populated, highly inaccessible one-third of the region. Though India might not be gaining a lot economically, the foundation of India holding on is that they would not want to set a precedent. Today it is Kashmir, tomorrow it could be any border state. It is natural for any nation or tribe to think like this. That is what is happening in the Brexit negotiations too. No one would be better off or worse off if its just Britain who leaves the European Union. But the EU does not want to set a precedent. Tomorrow it could be any nation asking to move out thus defeating the purpose of the organisation. The EU in all reality is a trivial issue – it’s a voluntary organisation. India’s problem is way more deep seated. As said by Sadhguru in a telecast, “it started very simply. It was a border dispute. And a nation is bound by borders. We have let a it linger for too long with a Line of Control.”
Coming back to the questions being raised by the person with the microphone in front of Pakistan High Commission, London, emotions were running high in the crowd and no one answered properly or rather the answers were just a lot of voices over each other. There were slogans of “Kashmir is a part of India”, “One nation” and so on, but no concrete response. It was truly representative of situation in India all the time. There are just so many voices over each other. We are never united. It is so easy to splinter us.

Now it is more necessary than ever to consolidate our thoughts and our actions.  We should have a plan – from the head. Not based on emotions, not based on vote banks, not based on petty politics. We owe it to all the lives lost in this long drawn battle over the decades. We owe it to the families who send their sons from other parts of India to fight for no-man’s land.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Moving on

I noticed how we have matured as a family. My earlier posts when a mom went back to India used to be the weSurvive series. We were barely making it through, even though we had only Chiyaa to take care of. Lately we all joined in together. And now its going to be 2 weeks and though of course I feel the absence of mummy, we are not barely surviving.
The days are very hectic. The run from morning to evening is relentless. I finish the meal prep for kids, dress Chiyaa and am out of the door by 0725. K takes care of waking Pumpki and getting her ready and packing them off to daycare and school. I finish at 1600 after which it’s the crazy home rush and pick ups. I manage to have a cup of coffee in between feeding them their evening snacks, playing and hosting a video call with family. I try to make something for the adults if the children allow me. I generally have some curry cooked from the weekends for the first couple of days of the week. One day its generally a chaat which is an amalgamation of chole with all sorts of things, another its generally a sandwich be it sweetcorn or potato tikki or raw vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce etc. K is happy to have things like fruit custard and scrambled eggs and toast which makes matters cool. Fridays we can stretch the bedtime because Saturday can be a late start. So we mostly have the luxury of having a ‘Friday special’. That is the general trend, but again with kids, nothing is a static.

To be honest this is the first time I am working full time with 2 kids. I have always worked from home or had the option to do so. But now I do not have that. Come Mondays and the week stretches in front of me. As I pick the kids and listen to the radio jockey saying things like “its nearly hometime” or “its Wednesday already, the week is halfway through” – it makes perfect sense to me. I feel the pain of waking up and getting to work and the joy of finishing up. WFH made me a “pseudo” worker. Yes, I worked. I had deadlines and pressure. But somehow getting to work everyday is a different game altogether. But another fact is I am definitely a better worker being at my desk. I am not multi tasking or trying to multi task. Home is 45 minutes away and I can do nothing about it. Once I am done work, I am really done. I step out of my work place, and I can do nothing more about whats at my workdesk. Its all gone till the next day. This makes me a better worker and home maker which is good I would say.

In the midst of all this, a sudden unanticipated break really helps. Like last Friday. Idealy Chiyaa should have scooted for Karate after school and once I picked her up, K should have gone for his Karate class. But instead of that, Chiyaa asked if she could rest because she did not feel like going. I allowed, for it was Friday. K had suddenly come down with a bad cold and he chose to dump his session too. The kids begged for TV which was allowed cos it was that beautiful day of the week. K had some frozen pizza and then we were all sorted by 2000. It was so odd to just plop on the sofa and rest. On any other day we would be madly scurrying around, trying to feed the kids, putting the dish washer, brushing teeth, doing the daily reading and a zillion plus one things. The next day was swimming day, but since the ‘cold’ situation of the family wasn’t great, we decided to bunk swimming lessons. We had decided to go for lunch at a pub. It was decided keeping in tune with the fact that it would ease by burden on a Saturday morning. In the absence of swimming my burden wasn’t much. But since we had decided something,we went with it anyways. It was calm and relaxing to just not do much. We shopped some clothes for the kids and came home in the evening to book reading and puzzle building.

It was very nice not to try and do a lot of stuff. It was brilliant to relax without a care. The last time we were without a parent around, the days were sunny and it was much easier to handle the kids. The days are cold and short, but it is still lovely to have the kids just by us. As I said, we have matured as a family. I never rue the fact that my kids are growing up and growing up fast! I rather look forward to the time when they will be independent and can take active breaks which involves bike riding, swimming and the likes! The only way is forward and forward is good!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Could should would

He could have waited to finish the last bits of work.
He should have left an hour earlier.
He would have to leave now.

He could have called a taxi.
He should have driven to work.
He would have to walk the stretch to the station.

He could have taken the main road.
He should have avoided the tunnel.
He would not have missed the call.

He could have checked his phone.
He should have turned the silent mode off.
He would have woken up when they rang again.

He could have so easily missed the blinking phone as he stepped out of the shower.
He should have hurried for the meeting.
He would have missed checking the phone till he got to work.

He did not clearly see who was calling. He did not clearly hear the initial reprimands for not answering the calls. 
All he did was feel grateful for having heard the words “you became a dad yesterday”

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