Fine

It just struck me, as I booked a meeting room for a catch-up to discuss how I was going to survive a two-day workshop which I am supposed to be facilitating (God save me. And the poor souls attending the workshop), that today is my Blog’s birthday. I clearly remember one of my oldest blog-buddies, also one of my friends from K, making a mockery out of my over enthused announcement of the blog’s 2nd or 3rd birthday saying that he can pretty much guess what I would be writing 10 years down the line – basically the exact same thing with the year updated by a decade, if I was still blogging, that is.

I cannot find that now, but guess what, I actually am here, on the blog, writing today, 13 years to the day I created my livejournal blog, and copy pasted my post from the K blog to get started. Yes, I know my frequency has been close to pathetic, but hey, I don’t think any of the folks who I started this whole journey with, have written in years now. It’s amazing, and amusing, how this habit stuck. And it’s also interesting that I have never thought of closing the place down.

So my blog is a teenager, and that would be the most important thing about today. Other than the fact that life is has been moving along at the regular pace with the regular speed breakers and other basic breakdowns once in a while. In terms of headspace, I’m happy to report that I am way sorted and settled than I was when I last blogging frequently, towards the end of last year. Not that things changed, they don’t that easily, but instead of trying to change everyone and everything around me, I focused on changing the one person I have control over; me. The end result has been quite miraculous.

If you ask me, I am living the textbook life of a working mom. I say so because the two things that keep me on my toes are my professional and parenting status. Everything else is peripheral, adjacent, being force-fitted into the blank spaces scattered around. Ofcourse, there are days when I feel that I am failing at both the central and the side responsibilities, and then there are others where I feel like a champion, but these days are too few and far. But like I said, I’m handling it.

So yes, blogging is just another of these peripheral items which seems to fall off the radar more often than the other things, because it needs me to switch on the computer. Fortunately, yet another item, reading, has managed to stay afloat thanks to my resistance to making the Kindle my primary source of books, which means there is always a book with a bookmark on my bedside table. Plus, the television seems much less attractive when it is placed in 40 degree Celsius + atmosphere, and I am a total television snob who refuses to watch anything on a screen smaller than 42 inches. So the only entertainment I can imagine in my air conditioned room with pathetic wifi, is a book, which will let me turn the pages without having to struggle the way I do with my Moto G’s screen. I’m not complaining, at all.

I do read blogs though; there is some sort of comfort I find in reading about the lives of folks I hardly know, or rather hardly knew some time back. A lot of the older bloggers have quit, but I still have them on the reader, because you never know, they might just return. Back to that sense of comfort, maybe it’s that whole ‘you’re not the only clueless one’ vibe that reading about others’ gives. I also spend a fair bit of time on Instagram which makes me happy, sappy, and warm. And it’s probably my main connect to social media now, since Facebook is fast receding in the background. I mean, who knew checking out selfies of school/college friends and staying updated on what they had for dinner and reading their declarations how much they love their families would get boring yes?

Other than all this, I have been spending hours and hours in the last few months; on designing what I am assuming is our dream house. It’s been awesome and exhausting, picking colors and themes and textures and laminates. Making space for the books, and the bar and the photo walls and the balcony gardens. It’s been very tiring, but very gratifying to see all those thoughts and talks take form on paper, I can only wonder how it would be to see it all in reality.

Ofcourse there is a lot coming up too – like being mommy to a primary school kid (yes, Zo is in Class 1 now!), like the actual movement to the new house, the holiday we are working on fitting in between all of this chaos, and the actual work at work, which seems to be relentless. But I am alright, I always ultimately am. In fact, if there’s anything the last 16 years of adulthood has taught me, it is that everything, ultimately, does work out.

And I am not questioning that.

Lazy picture post – Episode 1

I am not sure if I am ever going to garner the motivation to blog to the extent I was doing this time, last year. Heck, I had started my second blogathon. But this year, thanks to my ‘Let it be’ plan, I have pretty much ensured that I have let everything be and I am back to my lazy ways.

Except, that I have sort of been around on Instagram. So I thought of combining the two things, and keeping this page alive, by starting a Lazy picture post series that would just be whatever I update on Instagram. Which is usually mommyhood situations, Friday/Saturday night updates, the good food, and the pretty places.

Hence, here we are. Starting right away.

Fables from India – Book Review

I have hardly been reviewing books on the blog for a while now. And I have definitely never reviewed short stories, heck I don’t even read short stories. But when I came across Fables from India, by Uday Mane, it immediately caught my attention. Mainly because I am no longer the only reader in the house, and my reading time is now dominated by what I read to Zo.

The book is slim, and has 22 stories, which means none of them would be too long. The blurb spoke of a variety of stories, ranging from kings and princes, to farmers, to trees to dogs and pet lambs. The stories span over 5-6 pages each, which is just slightly higher than what would hold the attention of a 5 year old.

I started reading the book, and was not disappointed. It was fun, the stories were interesting, they all ended with a moral, some more obvious than others. All of them are set in traditional, ancient India, and will definitely remind the readers of the stories they have been told by their grandparents during summer vacations. This also seems to be the setting visualized by the author himself, going by the cover of the book, which has a story telling session on with a bunch of kids.capture

The language is very easy and clean, and made it possible for me to glide through the pages with absolutely no difficulty. The sentences are simple, again, I assume keeping in mind the target audience. At first, I tried reading out loud to Zo, but as expected, the stories were a tad too long to be read out aloud. I then switched to reading on my own and then narrated the simpler versions to Zo. All were well received!

Overall, this is a very good book for children. While each story eventually reiterates upon the learning we have all been brought up with – like the victory of good over evil – it never gets preachy, making it all the more palatable to a younger audience. The variety of stories keeps the reader interested.

I for one will keep this copy handy for when Zo moves to her next phase of reading. And that should be enough said about it.

Tooth tales

I almost lost a tooth yesterday.

It actually started a week ago. Last week, around Tuesday, I was sitting, enjoying one of the most cherished parts of my day, and also poking my tooth with a tooth pick, because I sort of believe in multitasking. This was basically around 9:45 PM, when I am usually sitting on the couch. I have finished dinner, and also the nighttime ritual with Zo, which would include reading to her, and then singing to her till she falls asleep. The books I read vary as per the flavor of the moment, but on that day, I think it was one of the Crayon books by Oliver Jeffers because that’s all I have been reading since they arrived. Or, maybe it was both. It has to be both.

The song is a classic – Hanuman Chalisa, the MS version. The reason being that I have successfully convinced Zo, just like my mother convinced me, that there is no greater mantra than it for problems in the world – which roughly translate to ‘bad dreams’ at this age. In any case, it works like a charm, to settle her down and then get her to fall asleep, because it’s got FORTY couplets after all. On a side-note, I have to accept that I did chant it while driving to and from work, every day, for a whole month, both ways. So yeah, it works like a charm.

Yeah, so I was sitting there, peacefully, watching pre-recorded episodes of the Mindy Project and poking my tooth with a tooth pick. This show has become one of my favorite pastimes in the recent times. After we gave up Netflix (and I had written a whole post about this but never posted it), we are back to limited options. Which do not seem as limited on weekdays, because I have like a half hour of TV viewing time maybe. So The Mindy Project is what I resort to. The dude finds it too girly, but I think it’s nice. Plus I really like the character of Danny Castellano, maybe a TV character crush after a long time.

So, I was watching a particularly fun episode where Mindy is trying to juggle between life and pregnancy and job and basically messing everything up which is mostly the whole theme of this show, and poking my tooth with a tooth pick. I might have gotten over-excited at a point and suddenly I feel something loose in my mouth. I was scandalized, to think that I actually was able to break a whole tooth in itself, using a puny wooden tooth pick, not the best thought and definitely says something about my dental habits (not that the other teeth would have anything better to say). But yeah, I nudged it around with my tongue, and Lo! There was a tooth in my hand.

Now this tooth has a history involved. This tooth has seen so much that it has lost itself in the tides of time (and a root canal, remember?), and is only a small part of what it was, literally. Ofcourse, there is a crown, which you would know if you have ever had a root canal. This crown is fixed with some sort of glue and works just fine, and looks just fine, except that I guess it was a tad smaller than it was required to be, meaning there was a tiny gap between the fake tooth and the real one. Not that I ever felt or noticed it, but food somehow tended to find its way through, after which I very much felt it and noticed it.

Hence, the toothpick. So what had fallen off was that fake crown. First, I breathed a sigh of relief because, hello! Then I wondered what I should do, I needed to go to a dentist, but when? Tomorrow is too short a notice and in the evening, I was off to Mom’s, and then I would return only on Thursday, which was Republic day; and that left me with just the weekend to fix and appointment and get the tooth fixed.

Only, I didn’t. And I have reasons. One, I had a birthday party to take Zo to, but that was in the evening. So I could have gotten it done in the morning. But then there was this crucial life or death decision I had to take – which basically was a choice between

  • looking like Kroor Singh for dinner, or
  • having an innocent crown hang around loose for a few more days, not that it was causing trouble anymore.

Superficiality won, and I did not get it done.

Over the next couple of days, I actually got used to it. The crown wouldn’t come off as easily, but a little nudge and it did move. I read up about how it was better to get it fixed because have swallowed crowns (!) and we all know how expensive they are. But I had that much confidence in me, so I let it be.

Until last night that is. Last night, I was returning after a very tiring day, that had started at 4 in the morning(because of an early flight), and was followed by a long drive to the office in Mumbai (because all drives are long in Mumbai), a whole day of meetings, and then a drive back to the airport. I had been eagerly waiting to board, and we did, on time, only to be told that we couldn’t take off due to congestion for the next 5-7 minutes. These became 45 minutes and then an hour. I usually wouldn’t care but after I was done thinking about whether I’d go for the Cup noodles or the Chicken Junglee sandwich, I got bored. You see, I had no book. And the 3G on my phone had decided to suck. So I was left with no entertainment.

Except, um, poking my tooth, with my tongue this time. And for some reason, it came out quite easily. And then the horror happened. One minute I was happily trying to fix it back, and the other, it was gone! No tooth. I was horrified thinking I might have swallowed it since I was quite hungry. And then I decided that was not possible, and that I had dropped it. And what can be more disgusting than dropping a tooth on the floor of the disgusting airplane floor, and then picking it up, knowing it needs to be put back? Only I couldn’t see it anywhere, and now disgust turned into worry because now I was thinking of the 3000 rupees lost if I didn’t manage to find it.

I did, finally after a terrible 3 minutes. Actually, it was where it belonged, and had slipped back on the baby tooth underneath, and was sitting snugly. So snugly, that I did not feel its existence. But I did feel exactly how I would feel if I lost it again.So I have decided to go get it fixed first thing on Saturday. I actually have some time after this thing we have at Zo’s school maybe.  Or I can just go for a movie instead.

It’s not like I actually lost a tooth yesterday.

2017

So 2017 is here, and I have stuck to my word and taken it very easy – no resolutions, no I-have-to-do-x-y-z-today-so-that-I-do-it-through-the-year on Jan 1st, no anything. Instead, I woke up on 1st Jan to a very messy house, something you can expect when the night before involved 3 couples and 3 extremely high-on-adrenaline girls between the ages 5 and 7, let loose to do their thing after dinner – which lasted way past midnight. Plus, our house help was also on an official off celebrating. So if the 1st of Jan is a trailer of how the year is going to be, the one thing you should avoid is visiting us.

I also did not do any of the things I ensure I do on the first day of the year. Like I did not read, at all, not even the trashy fashion magazine I subscribe to. I did not write, and there was no pressure this time – because I did not sign up for the Blogathon this year. I definitely did not eat healthy, because how else were we supposed to finish all the leftovers from the party, including the delicious cake one of the guests brought?  And the 1st was a Sunday, so there was no workout class either that would force me to move my butt.

What I did do was relax. I woke up, drove down to the mall to check out clothes for Zo (it’s amazing how nothing lasts more than a couple of months, and not just because they grow out of them), and came back empty handed – again a never-before kinda thing to happen to someone who thrives on end of season sales. The clincher was the fact that I did not even wander towards the aisles and aisles of clothes displayed for grownups, and not even ‘70% off’ tags in gigantic fonts deterred me from my plan. I actually only checked out what I had come for – Zo’s clothes, or to be even more specific – Zo’s leggings.  Anyhow, that was an epic fail mission, so we returned, finished all the Chinese food and some of the tandoori platter’s remains, and then slept for 2 hours.

In the evening, The Dude decided to go to the gym. Once again, his decision to workout did not motivate me, at all. This is also to be noted as a rarity because the only thing that makes me guilty about not working out is if The Dude does. Talk about being self-motivated. Anyway, I decided to continue my day’s schedule of having done absolutely nothing and took Zo out to the sand pit. And we spent a good one hour doing just that – nothing, and surprisingly, neither of us got bored.

Once we returned, we finished our dinner, and Zo watched her first hour of TV in the day – big win for a no-school, no-daycare day. After which, she went to sleep because Monday was school day, and I wrapped up the day with some online shopping to make up for the stuff I got nowhere in the day. I think we were all in bed by 11, though it would have been 12 before I fell asleep because of all the afternoon sleeping.

Now that the week’s started, nothing’s changed still. I am still taking it easy. Only, I can slowly see that line demarcating easy from lazy disappearing, so I thought why not visit the blog? And that’s the only reason why I am taking the pains to update you with the details of my laid-back, resolution-less, unplanned, useless, lazy 2017.

As far as I can see, I am on the right track.

Making way for the new year

I have been dying to do a 2016 round-up post, more so because everyone around me in the virtual world is, but I had two things stopping me – 1) Laziness (surprise!) and 2) A precondition I had set for myself, something I just had to do before I was “allowed” to post.

I know I am supposed to explain the precondition a bit more at this point, however, I would rather make it a part of my retrospection. 2016, as I already mentioned in one of my earlier posts (I think), began quite bright and enthusiastically, but through the year it slowly faded away because (and here I will ask you to excuse me for using such exaggerated cliches), life happened. 2016 was crazy busy, professionally, personally, generally. And quite honestly, I had myself set myself up for it.

There were a few things I had decided to ensure in 2016, quite simple things really. Things I claimed I loved doing. Like read more, and write more, spend more time with Zo, spend more time with The Dude, work out, see new places and also, study. Considering I had also started a new job in December, and a new job pretty much means flailing your limbs around trying to catch hold of something, anything that would keep you afloat, there were just way too many things to handle. In other words, 2016 punched me in the face with all that it had.

I did not give up, no. Thankfully. I did what I do best instead – I got completely stressed out. Nothing seemed to be working in my favor, and I seemed to be doing nothing right, or atleast right enough. So I whined and whined about it, to myself mainly, and then to The Dude. 2016, on the other hand, decided nothing of this was worth it’s time and refused to slow down. Time just flew. And I went along with it.

Things happened, ofcourse. For one, I wrote, a lot I might say. I did two blogathons, one in January, one in April – successfully. I started one more in November but heh, who was I kidding? But still, of the total 510 posts I have published in 12 years, I did 76 posts this year. And this is only second to maybe 2004/2005 when I was jobless, baby-less and a B-schooler, which pretty much explains it all.

I read a bit, not as much as I would have liked but I fell more in love with the two Japanese authors I feel rule the written world for me right now – Keigo Higashino and Haruki Murakami. I did not study at all, and I missed the deadline for my assignment submission by “let’s get real, you haven’t touched the books till now”.

We traveled ok – there was his gorgeous trip to Germany and Switzerland. We did just 2 road trips, much to the indignation of The Dude. And we closed with a short trip to Goa, our back up plan for holidays that don’t materialize. I definitely did not meet my own expectations when it came to spending time with Zo. Again, maybe it was the new job, maybe it’s because I think a lot about what people think, but I was unhappy. This added to my general melancholic attitude towards the year.

I definitely worked out a lot this year – not in terms of quantity maybe. But I joined classes for the first time, and I stayed put. With 3 months of bunking between March and now, I think I still rate myself “achieved” for this goal. Also, I grew to love this form of a workout, where you have company, variety and basically new levels to push yourself to each day.

There were things I did which I did not plan to as well. Well, there is this one thing I did. I started driving. This was a big tick off my mom’s “must-do” list. I still think it is a wee overrated as a concept, especially with all the options available now, but I do enjoy the bit of time I spend behind the wheel. Also, it beats getting drenched in the rain or waiting for the Uber to arrive or the surge to go down. And I am sure it will lovelier in summer.

So after all the moaning and complaining through the year, I am strangely at peace now. I have worked out a couple of things for myself, including charting out a timetable of sorts, that lets me give my all to work, and also to Zo. The last two months helped me in that. And just going by that, I do not dislike 2016 as much anymore. I am fine with it, there were goods, there were not-so-goods, there were bads too. But eventually, it’s all worked out ok. Except for maybe the study thing.

Which brings me to the precondition that was the bottleneck to this post. I have 4 subjects, and the new timeline for submitting the assignment is March 31st 2017. I finally started studying in December, and promised myself to finish one of the assignments before I wrote on the blog. But man, it’s not easy. I mean who knew that writing an essay on 20th century British Drama, or attempting a critique of Shakespeare’s Dramatic poesy, or discussing The Alchemist as a satire (only ONE of which I had to do, since everything else in this course assignment was done), was so bloody tough! I tried and tried, and finally found a loophole. I did a 20 mark question in another course to sort of make up for it last night.

Which is why here I am. And I have decided that I am making no wondrous statements and resolutions for this year. 2017 is the year where I will not pressurize it with my expectations of awesomeness. 2017 is the year of letting it be.

And then sitting back and seeing how it goes.

Work rant

Over the last 2 years, I have had the thought of quitting work more often than ever. And I have also wondered why I feel the way I do. Is it the work itself? Is it the folks at work? Is it the stress? Is it the fact that it eats into my time with Zo? Is it the people around me making sad, sorry faces when I tell them I work?

I don’t have an answer. I guess it is way too many things together that give this feeling. Yes, so I have started feeling this way a lot more since Zo came, and definitely more since she grew up a bit. But it’s not the only reason. It is the general attitude of people towards work.

I have spent 12 years in a relatively ‘less stressful industry’, as they like to call themselves. But I cannot think of one month, or day when I was completely off work, mentally. It doesn’t work that way for me as an individual. But unfortunately, those are things only I am aware of.

The great Indian working scenario, I believe is still sarkaari at heart. I also find the analogy extremely offensive because the folks who define sarkaari as a bunch of seat warmers who will leave when the clock strikes 5, are pretty much doing the same thing today; albeit in larger MNCs with better air conditioning. Maybe not as much 9 to 5, as 11 to 8, or 12 to 9 – only now this is the timing of choice because who can get up and rush to work so early anyway? Also, the plethora of entertainment options at work – ranging from online shopping to social media to Youtube videos means that they can hang around for even longer hours -10,12,14, and do exactly what they would have done back home, only there will be no one nagging in the background to lend a hand in the kitchen.

Slowly being at the workplace becomes the definition of hard work, rather than getting work done. And God forbid you fall in the latter category, because then, you are destined to be deemed as average.

I have a life beyond work, I always have. I was quite proud of it, still am. But as I grow up the ladder, this seems like an odd thing to accept. Doesn’t matter if I am dot on time to work, have lunch at my desk, skip tea and have my calendar blocked continuously through the 9 hours; just so that I am done on time. Doesn’t matter if I do all that I am expected to and even more, just because I know that I will be one of the few folks who will leave when it strikes 7 to go home.

Go home for those little things that matter just as much, if not more than work. Like checking Zo’s homework, or reading with her, or reading for myself, watching a TV show with the Dude. But no, it seems to amaze people that I want to do these things, and not hang around chatting a bit more because you know, networking? Apparently, how can you expect to grow if you are not giving it your everything?

Thing is, I cannot give work my ‘everything’ because it is not my ‘everything’. It will never be. I refuse to make work the most important thing in my life, at most give it a sort of low position in the top 5, but nothing more. And the more vocal I get about it, the more hurt I get in the process. This is where the Indian-ness of the people comes across, because I have worked with folks in the west, and there everyone – men and women, seem to think the priority is to get your work done and head to your family. Here, eh, not so much. Here, having an hour long tea break takes precedence over wanting to help your kid with homework, because your wife will do that.

And whatever I do to make up for it is not enough. Doesn’t matter if I am taking calls every day after Zo goes to sleep, because well you left office on time right? Doesn’t matter if I take up more projects than any other damn person because, well, you won’t come for the sports event on Saturday right? Doesn’t matter if I come in early so I can leave on time, because well the others work from 2 to 11, so they can’t be expected to stretch right? Eventually it’s about how you have taken a call to not grow beyond a point by being restrictive in the time you spend sitting at your work desk.

I try not to think of it but it is true. Companies on paper these days are much more flexible, but what goes on in the heads of those you work with is best known to them only, and no policy, no ‘best place to work’ ranking , no mention in the ‘list of most women friendly organization’ fixes this. Once they have made up their mind that the person will always do less than the others because she needs to go home, there is no looking back.

Like I said, it sucks, and it makes me very unhappy. It makes all versions of me sad for being made to feel not good enough – the professional, the mother, the wife, the individual. And I have absolutely no idea how I can get out of this rut, except for maybe wish for a miracle.