For Uma

It’s close to 8 PM, and I am waiting for an 8:30 PM call. In the half hour I had, I had a hurried dinner. Hurried, but extremely satisfying. And that has prompted this impromptu post.

We had a cook for a year before Covid hit. Uma was probably in her early 50s and cooked brilliantly well. When I first met her she came across as slightly rude, and her MyGate reviews said the same thing. But the cook I’d had for a week had been SO bad that I was ready to take a chance. And it was a successful.

For the almost-year she spent with us, she never took time off. She introduced us to homemade Daal-Dhokli which became an indulgent Saturday Brunch item. She would talk of her daughter in another village, who was expecting soon. And her son, who refused to study and had decided to become a truck-driver. She would hardly ever be on time, but we could live with it, given no one left for work before 10.

One day, she made plain dal, and she said that the right way to eat this was, ensuring that we chopped up some garlic, fried it in a little ghee, and put fresh tadka, right before we ate it with white rice. I never ever did it because I am extremely lazy that way.

In the May 2021, when the world had taken a horrible turn, and I was still in worst year of my life, she called saying she was ill – high BP, she said. Not one to take time off generally, I asked her to take care. But then, when she did not turn up for 2 days, I finally called her number. Someone picked the call up, and told us that she’d passed away. High BP – he said.

Today, I was having plain dal, and there was no one else at home. So I finally decided to give Uma’s recommendation a try. I chopped garlic, fried it in ghee, and added it to my Dal-chawal. It was amazing. And actually a very satisfying end to my otherwise tiring day.

For that, and for all the time she fed us, I thank Uma.

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Rain

I am waiting for some time before I step out for a short stroll, because every passing minute these evenings, means slightly cooler air. Actually, it is not cooler, I should call it less warmer than it was some time ago.

Summers in my city are tough. They are short, but they are unforgiving. You start feeling the shift in the air early on, as soon as early February, and by the time it is March, and Holi arrives, you can feel the burn. Funny thing, you feel like that is bad, but that is because you have forgotten how crazy April, and then May get. Then during these months, every time you tell yourself, ‘Aha – so this is what summer means here’.

June is usually respite, because the Monsoons come knocking. Sometimes right on time, sometimes delayed, but the anticipation that the rains will be here soon are a bright spot in itself. Like last night, I was closing the kitchen windows, and there was this God-awful warm breeze (at 11 PM!), but it smelt of petrichor. The sky was clear, not a cloud, the atmosphere was stuffy, but the smell, Oh man, the smell!

It was momentary, but it meant that it had rained – somewhere. I am sure it had rained somewhere. Not here, somewhere – maybe close by, maybe far, neither of which indicated anything about it raining here. And of course, it didn’t rain here. But that smell, that indication that somewhere around the heat was gone, even if it was for a little while, made me very very positive about the fact that the monsoons aren’t far for us too.

And that feeling makes me want to step out today. Thought I know I will return fairly annoyed, fairly sweaty, and definitely not any closer to actually knowing when the monsoons will actually hit (I don’t trust weather forecasts, more about it some other day).

But the slight probability of my nose sensing far away rains, that will reach us someday, still make it worth a try.

18:45

I am glad to report that this whole ‘write for 10 minutes and don’t think about what you are writing’ has been more therapeutic than I imagined. Not like it destresses me or anything, I don’t know how being de-stressed feels like really, or for that matter what ’emptying your mind of all thoughts’ means. But I’m game for this because it just gives me 10 minutes to do something without bothering about repurcussions.

Given that this is a milestone year for me (in numbers, new decade etc. coming up soon), I constantly feel the need to wonder just how I am going to make it different. It’s also the fact that I read or see so much about how people brought in their big year with a bang, or did something absolutely amazing in that year, or maybe found their purpose or something, and that makes it an even more bigger deal than it probably is. I don’t know what to do.

When I entered into the last of my 30s last year, I told myself that I will keep this whole resolution thing to something as generic as ‘I’ll do everything and anything that makes me happy’. It goes back to the whole ‘One life, make it large’ stuff you hear about all the time. But fact is, it’s going to be 6 months since then, and I doubt I have done anything differently, anything more, than what what I would have anyway. And that’s not the only thing. I am not sure I even want to do anything differently, I think I am fine.

I genuinely enjoyed every bit of my 30s. I entered it with a one year old in tow, and so much to do even in the routine, mundane manner, that if you ask me what else would you have wanted to do, I got nothing. I don’t have a ‘things to do before you turn’ list. I don’t know what to put on it. Not to say that everything worked out perfectly – there were losses, there were as many downs as there were ups, but overall, I was fine.

So as I hit the second half of the last my 30s later this month, I don’t know what to wish for, or want. From the universe, or from myself. And I am not sure I really want to put so much thought into it either. I would rather fix myself a drink, order in my favorite food, sit around with my favorite people, and watch one of my favorite movies. That should do.

I’m sure I’ll be more than fine.

14 minutes to the next meeting

I have strong feelings for meetings. Not ‘for’ as in ‘favor of’, but ‘for’ as in ‘towards’. For someone who has spent 17 years (this 15th!) in the Corporate world, you shouldn’t be surprised about it.

The thing is, it is actually an evolution of feelings. Before you start working, meetings seem to be that mysterious get togethers where brilliant ideas are thought of, discussed, where the world is changed, or steps to make it a better place are decided upon. When you actually do start working, you realize that meetings are just a place where the one who has worked the longest tells the others what they are supposed to be doing to deserve their salary. Once you have worked for a while, meetings become the place where you need to say something, anything, just to ensure that you are not lost in the melee of extremely similar, very much cut-from-the-same-cloth peers, and that you are noticed, at least for a second.

But when you have worked for a long time, meetings become both a necessity – to justify your existence in the corporation, and an annoyance, because there’s got to be a limit to how much one can speak and listen to, right? The most amazing bit is how everyone talks about making meetings crisper, more effective, ‘set up only if absolutely relevant’, and then – progresses to set up a meeting to discuss just how to go about doing it. It is a vicious circle people, and we have created it.

Over time, I have made a little more peace with the concept though. It has to probably do with the fact that I am finally in that bucket where meetings are probably what make up my entire work day. However, that does not mean that I don’t groan every time a new meeting request hits my inbox. Or when someone says that they will set up a meeting (soon) while on a meeting (already). That is just a human reaction, I would say.

Or want to believe. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it in the next 4 minutes, before I get into my next meeting.

Free writing

If you know me you know my love for all things Social media. Which means, I am open to knowing, seeing, learning, absorbing from every possible bit of information that is out there. I once wrote about how easily I was inspired, and this is no different.

Well, maybe it is. For one, this is my attempt at trying something off a 7 minute podcast I heard last week, because I read/heard somewhere that podcasts these days are very helpful, very informative and definitely useful. So this podcast spoke of free writing. Which meant , I had to google free writing. Free writing apparently is a form of meditation. Actually, it apparently is also a means to get out of a writers block. It is what it says it is – free writing – writing freely. Without a thought, without any attempt at making sense, or writing perfect grammar, it even said spellings didn’t matter, but my OCD when it comes to spellings is much bigger than my current need to meditate via words (I have no writer’s block, I am no writer), so I am definitely fixing those red squiggly lines once I am done.

Yeah, so you basically fix a time – 10 mins, 15 mins – whatever works and you write at that time. You write what you want to, you write what comes to your mind, and usually it helps to have some sort of a prompt. I had none, but then it also made sense that I first write about the whole concept itself, before I jumped into the idea. I have given myself 10 minutes to do this. The only worry I have is that I might end up writing a lot more than I intend to, because there is no check whatsoever, but then technically, that’s the worry I am not supposed to have.

That, by the way was 5 mins down. Over the past couple of years, the words awareness, breathing, meditation, living in the moment, loving yourself, selfcare, have been thrown about so carelessly, that I sometimes worry if I have missed the bandwagon. FOMO strikes (that’s my favorite acronym from today’s generation), and I am left wondering if I am whiling away my life without doing what I am actually supposed to do.

Good thing, I lose track of these thoughts because something else comes by. Case in point, this concept of free-writing. While the person who was speaking of it is an actual writer, one thing he said, and which made sense to me was that we should not, in any way, stop doing things that bring you happiness. There is no point to fixing a date to start something like that. I thought it made sense. Writing did bring me joy. It always does.

That however, did not mean that I started immediately. That podcast happened a week ago. And no podcasts happened since. But the very fact that I remembered it, I guess, means that I wanted to give it a shot. So here I am. Free writing, for the past 10 mins.

What new things did you hear about recently? I am all ears for new inspiration to strike!