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

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The accident prone one

Pumpki is highly accident prone. Highly. She will be playing a minute and bam she will hit her head against something, get her finger stuck some place (some times she does it deliberately too )or have something fall on her. She will be doing horsey ride on K or my back and she will topple down (any child could topple down, but Pumpki will definitely topple down!) So much so, she would be standing one minute and the next she would fall down. We learned that she has a knack to get physically hurt (no combat sports for her!). But we had a few near hits!

When she was younger, I used to massage her once in the morning and once in the evening. One evening I was giving her a massage and as advised by my mother, I was applying adequate pressure (Mummy’s strict words were to apply a lot of pressure so that her bones became stronger. How scientifically true this is, needs validation J ) And think I applied a bit too much pressure on her hand and she started crying. I immediately stopped as K went on ranting about the need of massage, about my careless (yeah *rolls eyes*) , and about nearly everything except my cooking :P ) I called the emergency care line. Given her age of around 13 months and hearing the intensity of her cries (now Pumpki can cry, she can blast eardrums!), the advisor thought it would be a good idea to get her to the out of hours service immediately. Thankfully Amma was there with us then and we could safely leave Chiyaa in her care and rush to the hospital. It was around 2000 by that time and Pumpki was fast asleep. When she was drifting out of sleep, she would grimace a bit and then sleep again. It had us worried till the doctor saw her and said, there was absolutely no need to panic since she did not see any dislocation of any sort. She asked us to administer some paracetamol and keep an eye for any changes. She was fine the next morning. We were immensely relieved. We made a note to self that her hand was a bit fragile and to treat it with care.

But I am not one to remember the notes to self. I am not one to remember many things for that matter. So once day in the recent past I was playing with her. When I play I get too involved and forget that I am an adult with adult strength. Essentially I was sitting, holding her hands, she was leaning on my back and I was rocking back and forth (like a piggy back). Suddenly she let go. I should have allowed her to fall, since she would have fallen on the sofa. But I held on, rather I tried to hold on. In the pull one of her arms got hurt. She cried! She cried in desperate pain. K wasn’t around to give the earful to me. But I was genuinely worried. I was sure something was wrong, I had dislocated a joint or something worse had happened. We gave her some pain killer and since it was around 2100, she started drifting off to sleep in spite of the pain (I have no idea why such treacherous incidents happen at night) I called the emergency care line again (they must have started judging me as a mother by now ) and they recommended we get her examined. But if she was asleep it would not need rousing her. We (Papa and mummy were thankfully around) waited till morning. We all had a fitful night. Pumpki took a couple of doses of ibuprofen. First thing in the morning we scooted to the hospital. She was x-rayed. Then a doctor came in to examine. Now there is not a lot of response you can elicit from a 2 year old. The doctor performed some maneuvers. There was no dislocation per se, but she could sense that there mild disjoint. Since the joints of kids are smaller, they go through this a lot and it happens quite easily. She said that chances are, when her hand was being twisted and turned for the x-ray, it would have sorted itself. But still was going to try a few moves just in case there hadn’t been a 100% fit.  Kudos to the doctor on gauging the response from a child. Pumpki had given up using her affected arm. So the doctor brought in two toys, with the more “attractive” one on the side of her hurt arm. Pumpki made a slight motion to reach to it, but then went for the toy closer to her unhurt arm. It was not a conclusive test, but the doctor advised that, there seemed to be no problem and it would be safe to go home but as usual keep an eye.

We kept 4 pairs of eyes glued to when she would use her left arm – to lift a toy, to hold an adult’s arm and walk and to move around. When after 2 days, she used her left arm to support herself and get up from the floor were we certain that she was clear. The days had been filled with such anxiety!

Pumpki is accident prone by herself, but those incidents made us think to be extra protective.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What do you say about such a day

Yesterday was a maha weird day. Like something from the start was going wrong. Let me tell you all about it.

First, Pumpki woke up early. She is generally asleep by the time I start from home. She moans for me, but she is all right. Yesterday she woke up, so she was very angry and frustrated seeing me getting ready. She started bawling “I don’t want mummy to go to office”. K and I were fearing the worse, but somehow she pacified after some time. She was in the dining room and I sneaked out.

Since I was sneaking out I was nervous with all sorts of butterflies in my stomach. In the rush, I dropped my phone on the hard cement steps. Instinctively I checked if K was watching (chances were slim, but you never know! ) . Cos he would have given me an earful and gone on scolding my carelessness! Thank God, he hadnt seen me. Also thank God I have a sturdy phone cover. Else I would have been majorly sad.

At work I was borderline (that’s when I wrote the last post). But then a team mate found a bug in my code. Its good that a bug is found sooner rather than later, but I was a bit jostled by the stupidity of what I had done. I had been plain careless. Carelessness doesn’t cost lives in IT but again, you never know!

Then – another hadsa! So on Thursday an email is sent out to the office to order breakfasts for the next day, since we get company paid breaker on every alternate Friday. Its not mandatory J but you can if you are interested. I sign up for it, since – no reason, I am not for the free food or for the company of my colleagues – I dunno why, I did it once and have done ever since. Now everyone was going for paninis. And I thought it must be good. So I too went for one. But which one would I chose. I eat anything, but lately reading about how much adverse environmental impact consumption of higher order animals has, I have started to refrain from bacon and ham. So … I chose a chicken panini. The person who was coordinating (the person is like a cool kid with piercings and tattoos and I am sure in the person’s head I am old and uncool) replied that there was a breakfast option further down in the menu. I could chose the panini if I wanted to .. but chicken sounded a bit un-breakfasty. Well… whats the perhez from chicken in the morning, it’s a dead bird no matter what time of the day you consume it :D Anyways I was very embarassed. I felt the person must be thinking of me as even older and even uncooler :’( :’(
PS. All was ok today and when we consumed our breakfast (I revised my order to scrambled eggs ( dead unborn birds – eww that’s worse)). (Wow the brackets look as if writing programming language :D ) But in my head, the person must be thinking of me as uncool person no 1. In her head. Not that I am bothered J What I am I am J

Then one more thing happened. I went to the bus stop. There are 2 services that can bring me home – bus no 51 and bus no 52, which are at a frequency of 10 minutes theoretically. I generally catch the 1611 51 bus service. I reached the bus stop and there was nothing in sight. Then a 52 came. I got in, and it packed up very quickly. Suddenly the driver said, “There is a 51 behind”. I was comfortably seated. I had no reason to go just cos the driver gave some information which meant nothing to me. But I did! Cos I did a lot of calc. The 51 must be the delayed 1611 service. This 52 must be the 1621 service. This will start later (it was 1614 then) since buses will start only their departure times from a designated bus stop. They can start late but not early. So I got down and walked like a stupidly proud person to the 51. 52 stood in front of me, I sat in the 51 behind praying my bus starts first. What do you think happened. Yes – the bus in which I was not sitting went first. The bus in which I was sitting, started not some time later but a good 10 minutes later!!! I don’t know who was it waiting for , since I was already inside! I felt so supremely moronic and made a note to self “don’t go around changing buses!"

Anyways reached home late, there were some cascade impacts on the kids. But glad the day wZ done without further incidents!